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Tires greatly influence a bike's riding characteristics, since they directly affect traction, steering and braking. There are two basic types of tires clincher and tubular.
Refers to a conventional bike tire with a separate inner tube
When inflated, the tire clinches the rim as its inner edges, called the bead, become captured against the rim walls
Most road and all mountain, BMX and freestyle tires are clincher
Tubular (or sew-up)
Refer to a tube that is sewn into the tire, and then the tire is glued onto a special edgeless rim
How To Size A Bike
The type of riding you plan to do will determine the style of bike you choose, which in turn will dictate the frame size and components you will need. The most important part of buying a bike is finding one that fits you.
Determining your proper frame size
Frame size is not dependent on your overall height. Rather, it is more a matter of leg length. Here are some starting points to help you determine if a particular bike is within your size range.
Generally speaking, when sizing a diamond frame bike, sometimes called a men's or unisex frame, you need to measure how it will fit when you straddle the top tube while flat-footed in the shoes you'll be riding in. So measure your inseam from the bottom of your feet to your crotch.
For a road or hybrid bike, you should have an inch or two of clearance between your crotch and the top tube
For a mountain bike, clearance should be about three inches--especially if you'll be riding in rugged terrain where an unplanned dismount is likely
BMX and freestyle bikes all have 20-inch wheels, so frame size isn't really an issue. A rider's physique and riding style is accommodated by choosing the appropriate seatpost, stem, handlebar and crankarm lengths.
When considering a women's frame, or frame with no top tube, clearance isn't an issue. In this case, the best fit is usually determined by reach.
Frame sizes come in inches or centimeters, depending on the manufacturer
Not all manufacturers measure from the same points on the frame. Some measure from the bottom of the crankset to the top of the seat tube. Others may measure from center to center, bottom to center, or some other angle.
Also, not all frames have the same geometry. All of this means that a 21-inch frame from one company may fit very differently than the same size from another manufacturer.
Finding the right reach (the distance from the seat to the handlebars) is important for both comfort and control
As a rule of thumb, when you sit on the seat with your feet on the pedals and your hands on the handlebars, the handlebars should block your view of the front hub. You shouldn't be stretched out like Superman or sitting upright.
Be sure you have at least a slight bend in your elbows no matter what style of bike you choose
Locked elbows (caused by too-long reach) are a frequent cause of shoulder, neck and back pain
If you feel scrunched up and your elbows are in your ribs, the reach is too short
If the top tube is slightly too long or short, reach can usually be adjusted by changing the stem length - the stem being the part that connects the handlebars to the steering tube
Whether you're hitting the streets, trails, or BMX course, go equipped with the right tools and protection.
How to Buy Cycling Safety Equipment And Accessories
Cycling accessories and safety equipment consist of anything added to the bike for comfort, utility, or protection. Choosing the right accessories depends largely on what kind of riding you like to do and the style of bike you have.
Choosing the Right Bike Safety Equipment
To ride safely in the dark, you not only need to see where you're going, but others need to see you.
If you ride where there are streetlights, choose a bright white headlight and an LED (Light Emitting Diodes) taillight. Low-wattage headlights (approximately 6 watts of power) are bright enough to be seen by approaching traffic.
For riding on dark roads, choose a powerful single- or dual-beam system. High-power headlights (as strong as 32 watts) can practically turn night into day.
Single-beam lights are good for road riders and commuters
Double-beam lights are especially good for off-road use
Helmet-mount lights are good auxiliary lights for off-road riding, because they will shine where you look
Taillights usually have LED rather than bulbs, which means they won't burn out. Most can run for about 200 hours before needing new batteries.
Taillights come with flashing and/or steady beams and most models will mount easily to a seatpost
Although reflectors are important to have, they only work when light shines directly on them. They do not adequately protect a rider from traffic approaching from the side, such as at an intersection.
If you plan to ride in low-light conditions, you should have a white headlight and rear reflector or taillight
Pads are particularly recommended for freestyle and BMX riding, where constant spills are the norm
Knee and elbow pads are good for beginning riders
Gloves, arm, thigh and shin guards are commonly used by BMX riders
Some manufacturers offer sport-specific apparel in which padding is an integral part of the garment
Your helmet is the most important piece of equipment you can buy. Make sure to choose one that's right for you.
How To Get a Great Fit
A helmet is the single most effective means of preventing and reducing the severity of head injuries (anywhere from 45-85% of cyclist's brain injuries can be prevented by wearing a helmet) there is no good argument against wearing a helmet. A helmet must fit right and be worn properly in order to be effective.
See our simple guide to the ABC's of fit:
Step 1: Size It
Measure the circumference of your head by wrapping the measuring tape around your head just above the ears and level front to back. The helmet must be positioned low enough in the front to protect the forehead.
Step 2: Adjust the Chinstrap and Buckle
Fasten the chinstrap buckle and tighten the straps until the helmet fits snugly. How snugly? You should be able to open your mouth wide enough to eat without feeling choked or pinched.
Make sure the chinstrap is well back against the throat (NOT on the point of the chin) and that the loose ends of the strap pass through the rubber O-ring near the buckle.
Step 3: Adjust the Interior Pads
The helmet fits correctly when it is held firmly but comfortably in place by the straps and interior fit pads. You can adjust the fit of most helmets by moving the pads slightly, or by using any combination of the different thickness pads provided with the helmet.
Step 4: Check the Fit
(A) Once you think the proper fit has been achieved, grab the helmet and twist it to the left and to the right. If the helmet fits, the skin on the forehead will move as the helmet moves. If it does not, the helmet may be too loose.
(B) Grab the helmet and try to remove it by rolling it forward and backward. If they can roll it off the head completely, roll it so far forward that it blocks vision or backward far enough to expose the forehead, it doesn't fit correctly.
Choosing the Right Helmet
You should wear a helmet every time you ride. In many states helmets are mandatory for children under a certain age, usually 14 years old. Be sure that your helmet fits comfortably and correctly, and check that it is certified for impact protection.
Bike helmets are available in four styles: sport, road, BMX and mountain bike. All are designed to be light, comfortable and protect against impact.
Are good for all-around use
Road Cycling Helmets
These helmets are designed to be as lightweight as possible
Usually the construction consists of a plastic shell, foam padding and a chin strap
These helmets often include large vents for air circulation and to cut down on weight
These helmets tend to offer more coverage around the back and sides of the head and sometimes include face protection
Generally BMX helmets are larger and stronger than cycling helmets
These helmets are intended for use on rough terrain
Mountain Bike Helmets
Mountain bike helmets offer maximum protection during off-road use
By law, all helmets sold in the U.S. must meet standards set by the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC)
Look for additional certification that the helmet meets standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) or the Snell Foundation, generally regarded as the industry's toughest
Avoid suspending your helmet from handlebars or brake levers. This may cause accidental dents and scratches.
It is best to keep your helmet on your head even during short rest stops. When not wearing your helmet, keep it in a protected area such as a shelf or closet.
It is best to store your helmet in the box in which it came or a nylon gear bag
Do not toss your helmet in the back seat or trunk of a car, especially on hot days. The helmet may be damaged if it rolls or is subjected to high temperatures.
Do not use petroleum-based solvents or automotive wax to clean or polish your helmet. These chemicals may destroy the helmet. Always use water-soluble cleansers.
Helmets with worn or frayed straps should be replaced.
Rim/Tire/Bike Sizing 101
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