A helmet, gloves and a bottle cage, is all a bicyclist needs to get going, that is for safety and hydration. Helmet and gloves for safety and a bottle cage to mount a water bottle that will keep a rider hydrated.
Bicycle helmets, barring the full-face ones used by downhill and of late, increasingly, Enduro (mountain bike) riders, only protect the skull. Most bicyclists fall head first, unlike motorcyclists who skid, and require only skull protection. The coverage, however, might vary.
The impact-absorbing element in a bicycle helmet is a foamed polymer liner made of expanded polystyrene. The helmets come in different shapes and sizes. Bike helmets are sized according to head circumference. Basic helmets come in small-medium and medium-large sizes. Sizing options providing a better and more comfortable fit increase as the price goes up.
The best way to select a helmet is to try it. The helmet should not move when you shake your head once you have strapped it and tightened the ratchet. It should not fit too tightly. It should sit level across your head, around mid-forehead, with the chinstrap close under your head. The strap should make a “V” around your ears. You should be able to insert two fingers under the helmet and one between the strap and your neck.
Gloves are important for three reasons. These prevent sweat from entering the handle bar grips and allow a rider a firm grip on his/her bike. Sweat loosens and makes grips smelly.
Gloves also prevent callosity (hardening of the skin due to sustained gripping of the handle bar) and numbness in fingers. There are two nerves – ulnar and median – under the surface of our palm. Sustained holding of the handle bar puts pressure on these, creating numbness in fingers. This numbness can sometimes last for months.
Most importantly, gloves prevent abrasion of hand in the event of a fall. Our natural instinct in a fall is to seek hand support. This can severely injure the hand in the absence of gloves.
Gloves – full-finger, half-finger, road or MTB -- should snuggly fit your hand, should have air vents, pad your palm and provide a strong grip.
All good quality bottle cages are designed to carry sippers. Hydration is essential and a rider should consume at least a liter of water every hour.
The other essentials for a bicycle rider are a reflective vest and front and rear lights on a bicycle.
Review: Giant Escape RX3
This is as close as you can get to a road bike in a hybrid setting. The bike is lighter in weight than other hybrids, is fast, and has an upright, confident frame geometry. It has a through and through Shimano Altus group set. This means greater integration. It is a kill, especially at the discounted price of Rs 37,520.
Yes, Giant-Starkenn has slashed the price of this beauty from the initial Rs 43,500.
The 9-speed bike with 700x28 smooth tires delivers on the speed count where most hybrids fail. Comfort, after all, is relative.
(The author is a bicyclist by choice who uses the bicycle for everyday commute, distance riding and conducts professional workshops on bicycling and bicycles)