It’s cycling season, the perfect time for veteran bicyclists to brush up on bike safety rules and potential new cyclists to learn how to ensure their bike fits them well. Chuck Adams, owner of Adam’s Cyclery in East Northport, gave me his top bike safety tips and fitting tricks he’s learned from growing up in his family’s business.
Bike Fit Basics
Know your needs. If you are a new cyclist purchasing a bike for the first time, do your research. There are many different types of bicycles to fit all types of cycling. Road, mountain and hybrid bikes are the most common and all involve different fitting techniques. Road bikes are ridden on pavement, as the name suggests, and require the most precise fit.
Many bicycle shops offer basic fitting services for a nominal fee. The most important measurements are height and inseam. The customer sits on a trainer bike and the seat and handlebar position are adjusted to the rider’s comfort. “[When you] put the heel of your foot on the pedal, your leg should be totally extended, and then when you put the ball of your foot on the pedal, you’ll have roughly a 10-degree bend in the knee,” Adams recommended.
Specialized equipment helps competitive, serious riders get a more “dialed in” fit for about $200-$300, but the average rider can get a bicycle fit at a shop like Adam’s Cyclery for $25-$50. Wherever you go, be sure to tell your fitter if you have any serious medical concerns. Beyond inquiring about balance issues, medical history may not be discussed at a basic fitting.
Bicyclists must follow the same rules as drivers. Traffic is heavy on Long Island, to say the least. Adams suggests riding in a pack whenever possible. If you do ride alone, stay to the right and be alert. “Most accidents are going to occur when people aren’t really paying attention, which is certainly the case in a car as well,” he said.
Reflectors come with your bike and use of a lighting system at night is New York State law. Adams advises against buying a helmet from a department store. He offers custom helmet fittings in his shop for optimum protection. Anything to make you more visible is recommended, including bright clothing and reflector vests. A bell or horn that can be heard at least 100 feet away is required.
Just like a car, a bicycle needs to be cleaned and lubricated in order to work properly, but maintenance is an important aspect of bike safety that people sometimes overlook. Adams has noticed people neglect their tire pressure most often even though it is essential to quality performance. He suggests taking your bike in to a shop for what he calls a “spring tune-up” once a year to make sure it’s safe to ride and always keep an eye on tire pressure.
Adams said cleaning your bike is important as well, not only for aesthetic purposes. “If you let the bike go and then all this stuff builds up on it, it’s going to affect the performance particularly in the gears or the speed.”