Fitting Your Bike and Pre-Ride Checks

From our guest contributor Margaret Beltrami:

Today, we are going to look at what a properly fitted bike looks like and how to complete bike checks before every ride to make sure your bike is functioning properly and that you will have a safe, smooth ride. 

A few things to keep in mind to ensure a good bike fit:

Make sure you have the correct frame size:
To help test this, stand over your bike with both feet on the floor. With a top tube that is straight across and parallel to the ground, you should have about one inch of clearance from the bike to your crotch. If you have a sloping tube (more common with mountain bikes) you should haveabout two or three inches. 

Have a good body position:
Aim for a slight bend in your arms while youare riding so you can comfortably reach the brakes.

Seat height:
Your seat should line up with your hip bone when you areoff and standing next to your bike. At the bottom of each pedal stroke you should have a slight bend in your knee.

The bottom line:
Bike fit is all about comfort. You will not want to ride your bike if you do not feel comfortable, so make sure you feel great while riding your bike!

Fitting kids’ bikes:
With any top-tube style, the stand over height should have about two to four inches of clearance. Many kids’ bikes are made so the kids can ride in a more upright position. That being said, they should feel comfortable on their bike, grip the handlebars with a slight bend in their elbows, and be able to easily reach their brakes. Their legs should also slightly bend at the bottom of the pedal stroke.

Safety checks:
Before each ride you should conduct a short bike safety checklist to make sure your bike is working properly. Doing this will help your bike have a longer life, and will help prevent problems during your rides. 

Follow these steps before every ride: 

Air: Ensure your ties are inflated enough. If you are unsure what pressure to pump your pedals to, check the sidewall of your tire, which should tell you the range you should be in. The images below are examples of tire pressure maximums/ranges on tires.

Brakes: Squeeze your front and rear brakes to make sure they are engaging and functioning properly. 

Chain: Check your chain and all of your gears. Make sure your chain is not rusted, if it is it needs to be replaced. Clean your chain if there is a lot of dirt and filth. Spin your pedals backwards when you are off your bike and listen for any abnormal noises. Your chain should easily move over the cogs without skipping, squealing, or grinding. Keeping your chain lubricated will also help it last longer and help you shift gears easier. 

Wheels: Hold the handlebars of your bike in one hand and grab the front wheel in your other hand. Try to move the wheel side-to-side. There should not be any movement in this direction. Next, spin the front wheel. The wheel should look smooth, and should not wobble or make a grinding noise. If it does, do not ride your bike and have it looked at by a bicycle mechanic. Repeat this on your back wheel. 

Stem: The stem is located at the front, where the handlebarsconnect to the bike. To ensure that it is secure and functioning properly, stand at the front of the bike with the front wheel between your legs. Hold on to the handlebars and try and move them side-to-side without moving your wheel. If the handlebar moves, do not ride your bike, and have it looked at by a bicycle mechanic.

Pumping your tires:
Pumping your tires is essential for bikes! That being said, it can be difficult to know how to inflate your tires properly, so here are some outlined steps to help:
Before you begin pumping up your tires you need to know what pressure to pump to. This information is usually located on the side of your tire. There should be a range, for example 75-90 PSI (pounds per square inch). Inflate your tires towards the higher end of the range when you are riding on paved paths, the road, or smooth trails. Inflate them towards the lower end when you are riding on rough and bumpy roads or paths (i.e. mountain biking).

To begin pumping up your tires, locate the valve (on the inside of your wheel frame), and take off the plastic cap. Then, unscrew the small nut on the top.

Attach your bike pump to your bike and ensure that it is attached correctly. You should not hear any leaking air, and if you do, take off the pump head and attach it again.

Pump your bike to your desired tire pressure. There should be a built-in gauge on your bike pump that you can use.

When you are done, take off the pump head, screw in the tiny nuty back tightly, and place the plastic cap back on.

Repeat on your other tire.  

And that’s it for this week’s post! As always, stay tuned for next week’s post which will be all about what to bring on bike rides, biking in the dark, and hand signals.

Do You do the ABC Bike Check Before Cycling?

An easy way to make sure your bike is in good working order is to do an ABC Quick Check.

Air: Be sure you have enough air in your tires
Brakes: Look to see that your brake pads are not worn
Chain and Cranks: Pull on your cranks to see that they are not loose and look to see that the chain is not rusted and it is free of gunk
Quick Release: Make sure all quick releases are closed
Check: Take a slow brief ride to check that your bike is working properly

What to Wear While Bicycling

There is no need to go out and buy special cycling gear – you can ride in your everyday clothes. 

Riding in the cold: Wearing layers is the best way to control your body temperature. Gloves and ear warmers are particularly helpful when trying to stay warm. 

Riding in the dark or rain: Wear bright clothing as you should make special efforts to see and be seen. Hi-Vis yellow and green are best colors for visibility — you will want to steer clear of dark colors.

If your chain doesn’t have a guard on it, you can roll up your pants legs to keep from getting caught.

Buying and Wearing a Bike Helmet

From guest contributor Margaret Beltrami:

For this week’s post we are going to dive deeper into bike helmets. I will highlight how to find the perfect helmet, what to look for in a good helmet, and when to replace it.

First, how should a helmet fit? Overall, your helmet should fit snugly, level on your head, and not rock back and forth or side to side. 

To find the perfect helmet fit:

Make sure you have the correct size: Try on multiple different helmetsand adjust the fit ring (located on the back) until your helmet is snug.

Check to make sure your helmet is in the correct position: Your helmetshould sit level and pretty low on your forehead. Check this by placing one or two fingers above your eyebrow. If there is too much space, your helmet should be lower on your forehead to ensure the greatest protection. 

Check your straps: Your side straps should sit under and a little in frontof your ears (the straps should form a “V” shape). Adjust your chin strap so that only one or two fingers fit snugly under the strap. This part is very important, because you do not want your chin strap to be too loose!

Do an overall check to make sure your helmet is fitted correctly: Yourhelmet should not rock back and forth or side to side. On the other hand, make sure it is not too tight that it chokes you or is uncomfortable to the point that you won’t wear it. Another way to test your helmet fit is to open your mouth widely. Your helmetshould pull down on your head and you should feel pressure. Do these simple checks before you ride to ensure a perfect (and safe) helmet fit!

Other things to look for when buying a helmet:
Whenever you buy a helmet look for a sticker that says it’s CPSC certified. Do you know what a CPSC sticker is? CPSC stands for the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and they regulate and promote the safety of products. What this means for bike helmets is that the helmet has been tested and approved by the CPSC standards. Before you buy a helmet make sure there is a sticker on the helmet (usually on the inside of the helmet) that names the standard, and states specific information.

Take a look at the labels on these two different bike helmets to see examples of what this sticker can look like.

How to know when to replace your helmet?

The most important thing to remember is to replace your helmet after one impact. This means to replace your helmet if you ever fall from your bike, even if you do not visibly see any damage. This is because the foam material inside the helmet will crush to help absorb the impact from the crash and the materials will not be protective from another impact. This is why it is important to still replace your helmet after a crash even if visibly on the outside of the helmet it looks fine.

But should you replace your helmet after a long time of use even if it does not look damaged? Yes! A good rule of thumb is to replace your helmet after about every five years, because of the natural wear and tear. But be sure to also buy a new helmet if it looks broken or cracked. 

Taking care of your helmet:

Taking good care of your helmet is also crucial. Never sit or lean on your helmet, and never intentionally throw or slam it against the ground. Additionally, try and store it in a place that is not too hot or cold. 


That’s all for this week’s post! I hope you learned something new about helmets, or just had a refresher. Stay tuned for next week’s post all about properly fitted bikes, bike checks before rides, and tire pressure!

May is Bike Month! Learn How to choose A Bike

Answering these few questions will help you discover what type of bike is best for you:

•Why am I buying a bike?
•How fit am I?
•Where will I ride?
•What kind of terrain will I be riding?
•Will I be carrying anything?
•How much do I want to spend?

Types of bikes:
Road: Dropped handlebars and skinny tires, for racing or touring
Mountain: Flat handlebars with a wide range of gears, large tires and suspension for unpaved terrain
Hybrid/Comfort: Provides an upright position for a more relaxed ride
Recumbent: Have a reclined position and come in a wide variety of styles
EBikes: A good alternative for those who may need a little extra push

Third Friday Is Friday, April 16 – Join Us and Get Some Swag from GA Commute Options!

Join us for the Third Friday Bike Ride this coming Friday, April 16. We meet in front of the Decatur Recreation Center and leave for the ride at 6:30 pm.

This week we have special guests so come early – GA Commute Options will be on hand with give-aways and information on how to win prizes for logging your commute.

The ride is approximately 6 miles at a social pace. Be sure to wear a helmet and a mask. Lights are recommended for your ride home. This ride is not recommended for children.

Questions? Contact Cheryl.Burnette@decaturga.com.

The Third Friday Bike Ride Returns!

Join Decatur Active Living for the return of the Third Friday Bike Ride on Friday, March 19. We will depart from the front of the Decatur Recreation Center at 6:30 pm and ride at a casual pace for approximately 6 miles around the city. This ride is not recommended for children.

Masks and helmets are required. For more information contact Cheryl.Burnette@decaturga.com or 404-456-0450.

For information on biking in Decatur, visit http://www.decaturga.com/biking.

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Children and Bicycle Safety

Bicycle riding is fun, healthy, and a great way to be independent. It is important to remember that a bicycle is not a toy; it’s a vehicle!

Safe Riding Tips from one.nhtsa.gov:

Before using your bicycle, make sure it is ready to ride. You should always
inspect your bike to make sure all parts are secure and working properly.


Remember to:
Wear a Properly Fitted Bicycle Helmet. Protect your brain, save your life. For more information see the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration publication “Easy Steps to Properly Fit a Bicycle Helmet.”
Adjust Your Bicycle to Fit. Stand over your bicycle. There should be 1 to 2 inches between you and the top tube (bar) if using a road bike and 3 to 4 inches if a mountain bicycle. The seat should be level front to back. The seat height should be adjusted to allow a slight bend at the knee when the leg is fully extended. The handlebar height should be at the same level with the seat.

Check Your Equipment. Before riding, inflate tires properly and check that your brakes work.

See and Be Seen. Whether daytime, dawn, dusk, foul weather, or at night, you need to be seen by others. Wearing white has not been shown to make you more visible. Rather, always wear neon, fluorescent, or other
bright colors when riding day or night. Also wear something that reflects light, such as reflective tape or markings, or flashing lights. Remember, just because you can see a driver doesn’t mean the driver can see you.

Control Your Bicycle. Always ride with at least one hand on the handlebars. Carry books and other items in a bicycle carrier or backpack.

Watch for and Avoid Road Hazards. Be on the lookout for hazards such as potholes, broken glass, gravel, puddles, leaves, and dogs. All these hazards can cause a crash. If you are riding with friends and you are in the lead, yell out and point to the hazard to alert the riders behind you.

Avoid Riding at Night. It is far more dangerous to ride at night than during the day because you are harder for others to see. If you have to ride at night, wear something that makes you more easily seen by others. Make sure you have reflectors on the front and rear of your bicycle (white lights on the front and red rear reflectors are required by law in many States), in addition to reflectors on your tires, so others can see you.

For more information on bicycle safety, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Web site at: http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov

Many bicycle-related crashes resulting in injury or death are associated with the bicyclist’s behavior, including suchthings as not wearing a bicycle helmet, riding into a street without stopping, turning left or swerving into traffic that is coming from behind, running a stop sign, and riding the wrong way in traffic. To maximize your safety, always wear a helmet AND follow the rules of the road.

Bike Helmet Safety – You Make the Call

Take a few minutes to watch this bicycle helmet safety video with your children. The video was created as a collaborative effort of the Johns Hopkins Children’s Injury Prevention Network and features Baltimore children.

Congratulations to our Century Challenge Bicyclists!

Lucas Dod accompanied his dad David on his rides.

In September,the City of Decatur challenged bicyclists of all ages to bike a total of 100 miles during the month. Participants received a Bike Decatur bandanna.

Cogratulations to:
Mark and Diana Mandelbaum
Paul Powers
Alice DeMille
Shawn Slemons
Mark Karell
Gael Doyle
Toni Hetzel
Neil and Naomi Norton
Clay Scarborough
David Dod (and Lucas)