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Safe Biking Gear | Print |  E-mail
In the eyes of the law, a bicycle is a vehicle that is subject to the same laws, rules and regulations.  In fact, the only difference between a bicycle and say, an SUV, is about five thousand pounds.  For that reason, if you ride a bicycle you need to be very, very sure you're properly protected.

When you purchase a bicycle, do not leave the shop without purchasing the necessary biking gear.  Having the right accessories when you're on the road will make your ride more enjoyable, more comfortable and above all, a whole lot safer.  

First and foremost, never ride a bicycle without a helmet.   It's a simple life-or-death equation and in many places, it's the law.  There are good helmets and poor helmets on the market, so visit a cycle shop and ask a professional to help you choose the best helmet for you.  Make sure that the helmet you choose is constructed of superior material that provides both comfort and protection.  You cannot compromise on quality here; you might save a few dollars by settling for a lower-priced helmet, but that helmet will not save you from head injuries if you fall or are knocked from your bike.  Properly fitted helmets can also cause neck pain.  Choose the best quality, and try to purchase a helmet with proper vents to ensure heat release during hot weather conditions.  If you still think you're too cool to wear a helmet, or if you're afraid a helmet will spoil your hairdo, or if you just don't believe that you'll ever fall off of your bike, try visiting a hospital or group home.  Sometimes, witnessing the direct effects of head injury can prompt stupid riders into becoming safe riders.

Hydration packs are a wise component of safe biking gear.   Many bikes come stocked with water bottle cages, but water bottles can be dangerous to use as they can easily cause riders to lose speed, control and their direct line of sight.  For this reason, many riders avoid taking water along for the ride, and quickly become dehydrated.  It is essential, however, to keep hydrated during long rides and on hot sunny days.  Hydration packs, on the other hand, give cyclists the benefits of fresh water, without the hassle of a water bottle.   Hydration packs also have spaces to store keys and other necessities like energy bars, a rain jacket and a cell phone.  As far as that water cage goes, it's perfect for storing an extra bottle of fresh water in case of an emergency.

Eyewear is important when cycling, to protect against bugs and traffic debris, and shield the eyes from bright sunlight.  Your cycle shop will have a selection of goggles, and more casual cyclists can opt for a pair of good quality sunglasses.  The recommended lens colours are yellow and orange, as these colours brighten tracks and roads, increase visibility and create a lightening effect in dark and shady patches.  These lenses are also beneficial when riding in the evening under low light, or on overcast days.

If you're a casual or recreation cyclist, you can ride in just about any type of clothing.  Long distance and extreme cyclists, however, often opt for padded cycling shorts.  The padded seats makes riding more comfortable, and the soft material helps to prevent rashes and chafing.

 Half-finger gloves are also great safe biking gear choices.  These gloves keep the fingers free while protecting the palms with padding.  As a result, cyclists are less likely to develop rashes and calluses, and can continue to ride pain-free for extended periods of time.

Don't overlook the safety aspects of the bicycle itself.  If you are cycling for health reasons, don't be afraid to invest in a more expensive model.  The extra money you'll spend is well worth the overall safety and comfort a lightweight bike with good suspension can bring.  

As a cyclist, you're sharing the road with vehicles many, many times bigger and heavier than you.  Accidents can happen at any time and without warning.  Don't take chances on your safety; purchase and use safe biking gear.
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