Building a safer bike

April 15, 2008

So, supposing you obey all the laws, have lights and reflectors, wear a helmet, and are generally prudent. What else can you do to make your bike safe?
I found myself chatting with another biker on the trail last weekend, and I found myself pointing out things I had done for safety.

Those are:

  • Disk brakes
    Stop in the rain, stop in the snow, can get insanely hot without melting or failing. I love them. As a surprise bonus, if you break a spoke, it’s merely ugly, because the rim is not whapping into the brake caliper.
  • Fat tires
    Big, 2.3 inch, fat tires. Rolling resistance is low, bumps are cushioned and don’t reach the rim. The tires won’t even fit into sewer grates or (most) railroad tracks, so that problem is solved. Because they are so fat, their sides are not “steep”, and they are less affected by cracks and irregularities in the road. Unfortunately, lots of bikes lack the clearance for really fat tires. You can get a chain interference, too.
  • Xtracycle Free Radical
    I carry cargo, and this puts it behind me, low, and in front of the rear wheel. That means that I am less likely to flip, the bike is less likely to wiggle weirdly from the load, and the extra length makes me more stable. “Track stands” (almost) are easier; rear wheel skids, though slightly more common when unloaded, are slower and allow more time for recovery. If you didn’t want to do the xtracycle thing, you could also get a Coffee Bike, a Yuba Mundo, or a Kona Ute

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