Selecting the Right Bicycle
Selecting the right bicycle is the first step to having fun and preventing accidents. Review the tips below. (If you still need help, ask the salespeople for assistance.)
Straddle the bike's crossbar with both feet on the ground. There should be about 3 cm (1.2 inches) space between the frame and you — a bit more for BMX (off road) or mountain bikes. You should be able to sit on the seat and reach the ground with your feet without leaning the bike over.
The seat should be flat and firmly attached, with no broken springs or tears in the material - that can really hurt!
Handlebars should not be loose and have grips that cover the ends properly.
Wheels should have all their spokes, spin easily, and tires that are inflated enough so that they feel hard. (Check the tire pressure before each trip.)
Chains, gears and brakes
The bike chain and gears should be clean, oiled and move easily. Brakes must work properly — when they are on, the wheels should not turn.
It should fit right, be white or a highly visible color, and have a CPSC sticker. Buy a new one if it's damaged, if you've been in an accident or if it no longer fits correctly. For more information, visit the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute for information on buying helmets and State Helmet Laws. Also, read our Helmet Buying Tips.
For safety, add a bell or horn, lights on the front and back, a white front reflector, a red rear reflector, two side-wheel reflectors, and a rearview mirror. For kids, add a bright, fluorescent flag (as tall as possible) to the back of the bike to increase visibility.
WHN Tip: In Case of Emergency (ICE)
In the event of an emergency or after an accident, emergency personnel will use your cell phone to look for "ICE": whom to contact In Case of an Emergency.
Plan ahead: In your cell phone contact list, type the word "ICE" followed by the name (ICE Jerry) and phone number of the person to call in case of an emergency. You can enter multiple entries if you want, (ICE 1, 2, 3). Make sure your contact person has your key health information: allergies, medication info, condition information, etc. Do this for all members of your family and tell your friends about the importance of ICE.
Before Each Ride
Be ready for emergencies.
- Check your bike tires, chains, brakes and gears.
- Dress appropriately for the weather.
- Wear your helmet!
WHN Tip: Practice Good Bike Maintenance
Have your bike checked out regularly. Tune-ups should be every six months or so, depending on how often you ride, to check for worn brake pads or loose or stretched out cables and chains. (Note: You should have your chain replaced every 1,000-1,500 miles.) Track your mileage in a notebook or with your odometer. Read our Basic Bicycle Maintenance and Bicycle Maintenance sections for additional monthly and annual tips.
The information provided here is not meant to be a substitute for professional legal or medical advice. These tips are from first responders, lawyers, insurance agents and people who have shared real-life experiences; always check with a doctor or appropriate professional you trust before making any legal or health-related decisions.
Thank you ...
A special thank you to the industry professionals, lawyers, insurance agents, first responders and people who gave us their time, insight and real-life advice.