As a student, bikes are a great way to get around. They’re cheap, they don’t need petrol and you can always find a parking space. And you’ll get so buff you won’t even need to join a gym! (Maybe). But this magical world of two wheeled freedom can also be dangerous and is fraught with peril for the unwary. Which is why your mates at the SPG are here with some top student cycling tips to keep you peddling away…
1) MAKE SURE YOUR BIKE FITS YOU
You wouldn’t just grab a random shirt from a shop and expect it to fit. It needs to be the right size, and the same goes for bikes.
You will need to be comfortable when cycling. It will make your bike more efficient and save the aches and pains on your legs.
Most bikes come with adjustable saddles and other bits and bobs. If you are buying a bike from a shop, the staff should be more than happy to help you get one that fits your height and leg measurements. If not, then take your money elsewhere. They obviously don’t want it.
If buying a bike second hand, to ask to ride it up and down the road to make sure it is the right fit for you.
E Bicycles do a handy guide online to help you figure out what size frame you need.
2) BE YOUR OWN MECHANIC
You can save masses of time, money and hassle by learning to fix the odd problem that all bikes encounter yourself.
Although it can be intimidating at first, being able to do things like replace your bike chain, inflate the tires and adjust the seat yourself is both empowering and convenient. Especially if you break down in the middle of no-where late at night.
Speak to other mates who have bikes and if you smile at them nicely, they might even lend you their tools.
If you don’t have any friends, or they are all muppets, YouTube has tons of practical video guides to help.
3) YOUR BIKE IS LIKE YOUR MUM
You should leave it at home when you go out to the pub with mates.
(What, you think we would go for a joke that easy? PFFT! Amateurs…)
It’s an urban myth that you can get as drunk as you like and still cycle home. Firstly, you are still on the road. A road which has cars on. You know, the big metal things going at 30 MPH less than an arm’s length away from you? Wobbling about when you’re walking is OK, but wobbling into a car or onto the pavement really isn’t.
Also, from a legal point of view, it’s against the law to ride on a road while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, to the extent that you can’t control the bike properly. It is also an offence to be drunk in charge of a bike, so technically even pushing your bike along the pavement could have the police onto you (Source).
4) HELMETS ARE LIKE CONDOMS
They look funny, a lot of people think they don’t look cool but they can save your life.
Also, you should only use them once.
Make sure you get a brand-new one. Reason being is that they are designed to absorb and take the impact of any crash or bump. They destruct under the pressure, like the crash panels on cars, instead of spreading the impact to your head. The helmet might look fine, and the bloke selling it might say it is, but it’s just not worth the risk.
The Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute (yes, apparently that is a thing…) recommends you should change your helmet under the following circumstances:
“Did you crash it? Replace immediately.
Did you drop it hard enough to crack the foam? Replace.
Is it from the 1970’s? Replace.
Is the outside just foam or cloth instead of plastic? Replace.
Does it lack a CPSC, ASTM or Snell sticker inside? Replace.
Can you not adjust it to fit correctly? Replace!!”
We all know money is tight, but a helmet really is worth spending the money on. Think of it as an investment in keeping your university educated super-brain still inside your head.
That being said though, they do look ridiculous, so the best advice is to get a REALLY stupid looking one and tell people you’re doing it ironically. Maybe with the cycling proficiency badge you got in primary school. It’s the only way…
5) LOCK IT OR LOSE IT
You wouldn’t leave your car unlocked while you popped into the shops for 10 mins, so why do it with a bike? Do yourself a favour and get a halfway decent bike lock.
It’s not the sexiest thing to spend money on, as you can’t drink it, smoke it or wear it. But it will make the difference between riding around without a care in the world and walking down the street wearing a helmet with people looking at you like you have just come from the world’s worst fancy dress party.
Pound shops are normally great for bargains, but you will be shocked at how easily a cheap lock can be broken with the minimum of effort. A thin wire can be cut, plastic mechanisms can be smashed.
This isn’t trying to scare you into making your bike into Fort Knox, but with a little research you can get a lock that will let you leave your bike safe and sound.
A metal D-ring loop is best as it’s harder to cut through. Bike thieves make a split second decision about which one to nick, based on which one will be easiest to grab and quickly and be away with. Make sure you get a heavy looking one that says “DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT SUNSHINE!” To any wannabe thieves.
6) REGISTER YOUR BIKE
Bike Register.com offer a great, police approved service which helps to A) make your bike less likely to be stolen and B) much more likely to be re-united with you if it does.
Like micro-chipping an adorable puppy!
Here explains how it works and for under £11 there is a unique tamper resistant QR code to give you peace of mind.
If buying second hand, It’s also worth checking out their database to make sure any bike you have your eye on hasn’t been stolen.
They offer a FREE service here.