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The Proper Bike Gear: What to Wear and When?

May 9, 2010

Riding a bike can be a positive experience when you have the proper gear. Knowing what to wear and when to wear it will help get you where you are going in a practical, safe manner.

The Helmet

Bike helmets can be purchased pretty much anywhere these days so being vigilant in your choice can mean the difference between a manageable whack, a concussion or worse. Look for certified helmets by the CPSC (Consumer Products Safety Commission) and do not skimp on what you spend. Also, make sure you are not swayed by the many colorful, artistic designs out there if they do not have a sturdy, safe, shell casing and proper fit.

Feet

Bicycles are most popular in warm climates so hopping on one while wearing flip flops or sandals is common. However, open toed footwear when riding a bike is a recipe for disaster. Besides enduring an accident, getting an unprotected foot caught in a chain or spoke can be extremely problematic. Keep a pair of old sneakers in your basket, side bag, or in a backpack when traveling in warm weather.

The Bottom Half

Whether you are going to casually ride, take long treks or even enter biking events it is imperative to make sure your seat is comfortable and shock absorbent. Many products offer ergonomic cheek and back saving designs. For most, it is usually trial and error, however, the more popular seats offer a gel filled cushion or a split design to better accommodate the human anatomy. In addition, there are biking pants or shorts with a padded bottom that work just as well.

Be Seen

As previously mentioned, drivers have difficulty spotting bikers. In fact, most motorist report never even seeing the rider until it was too late. It is a life saving choice when choosing what to wear before riding a bike. Dark colors and biking do not mix. There are two ways to approach clothing safety:

  • Bright Flight: Choose whites or brights covering your torso for safe riding.
  • Reflector Vest: If you insist on wearing the new black on your way to a neighborhood party then go out and purchase a reflector vest. These are great as they are usually bright lime or orange with built in reflector material on both sides. It can be easily stored in a side pouch or basket so dressing never has to be an issue.

Inclement Weather

Heading out for or getting caught in rain or snow can create a difficult ride. Dressing properly will make such a scenario less uncomfortable and much safer.

  • Ponchos are the most convenient and can be folded into a small square that can easily be stored on a bike. Make sure your poncho has a hood and is made of decent material that repels water.
  • Gloves are a real life saver on cold and/or wet days. Make sure they are tight fitting, waterproof and insulated.
  • A wool hat will also keep you warm and dry. The best design is a snug fitting 'skull cap' that won't fly off during fast or windy rides.
  • If you want to get fancy, investing in amber or yellow tinted driving glasses can do wonders on a gray low-visibility day.

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