Be safe, be seen!


We all know that safety is everything, and that is no truer when it comes to cycling. There are a few types of cyclist out there, those who often think that as they're just going the same route every day that they need no safety equipment, those who preach the safety of wearing every type of pad, glove and helmet under the sun, and those like me, who know what you need to keep your head from turning to mush if you have an accident. So here's a list of recommendations for things to carry or wear for your safety...

Now, a helmet doesn't have to look fancy or aerodynamic, if you're riding a bike pulled from a skip, you're probably not going to ride like you're on the Tour de France (and if you are, erm, have fun!!!). You can get decent helmets pretty cheap, but make sure they are marked with safety regulations, if not, it's not safe and could be more dangerous than they look. If you damage your helmet, replace it, damaged helmets are no good and may not save your life in the event of an accident.

Knee and Elbow pads:
While not totally essential, they are very much recommended, if your tyres slip on a patch of oil or ice on the road and you go sideways, having pads can prevent you losing your flesh, my brother once came off his bike (he actually blacked out) and he shaved his skin on the road right down to the bone on one of his elbows, all because he had no pads. Again, these can be bought pretty cheaply, and don't need to carry safety certification like helmets.

"Gloves???" I hear you say, yes, gloves, they're bluddy handy when cycling!!! On hot days, fingerless gloves can help you grip the handlebars when your hands are sweating like Niagara falls, and on colder days, they stop you losing functionality when you need it (brakes, gears, fingering that stupid driver who can't see the wood for the trees!!!). In colder climates, mittens are also very useful, don't know why for sure but that's what I've read.

Water/drinks bottle & frame:
Very much an essential, carrying fluids when cycling is most definitely needed as when you sweat, you lose water, so you can replace that with the water, or whatever you put in there, you carry in your bottle. Also, having a frame to carry your bottle is very useful as you can keep moving while you grab a drink, but it takes some practise so that you don't slam into a wall or something!!!

Tools & spares:
Essential if you like cycling for hours on end. Taking a small toolkit (including a chain splitter!!!) with you can save an embarrassing walk home if your gear shifter cable comes loose or your seat falls off (it happens!!!). Also spares are essential, innertubes, a puncture repair kit, gear and brake cables, brake pads, screws/bolts & nuts, aswell as other things that escape my mind at the moment. Also, familiarise yourself in how to repair potential faults, this will help in getting you back on the move quickly.

Lights & reflectors:
Battery or dynamo, they are essential for night time cycling, and there are a lot out there, from the cheap incandescent, to the super Luxeon LED!!! But, all you need is a white light for the front, and a red light for the rear. Personally, I have a cheap LED torch zip-tied onto the handlebars, it's bright enough to see in dark places, and is enough so that a driver can see you're a moving object (coupled with the white reflector(s) you SHOULD have). On the rear, a steady red light is best, flashing red lights, although great for attracting attention, can be too much of a distraction for some drivers, plus you never know if the lights might cause an epileptic seizure in some people. Prices vary on light kits, so look around for what you thing is the best. See the "Be safe, be seen" page for more info.

Now, there are shoes, and there are shoes. You can get specialised cycling shoes which clip onto your pedals, which prevents slipping, but they require you to modify the bike, in my opinion, decent trainers or boots are fine for just cycling about, your pick of course.

Mobile Phone
Not entirely essential, but very useful in an emergency. For regular cycling, don't use your shiny new Samsung or HTC smartphone, get yourself a cheap, basic phone and a Pay As You Go SIM card, I have a couple of phones myself, one is my main, fancy shiny phone that I play with a lot, and use it for SatNav too, but, I also take an old Motorola TimePort which is pretty basic, but small and light, and has a GiffGaff SIM fitted, the battery lasts for a long time despite it's age, and I wouldn't be without it when using my bike.

You can order a Free GiffGaff SIM card here, which gives you 5 credit free when you order through this link:

Get a free Giffgaff Sim

Very much an optional. Indicators are useful if you're not confident in sticking your arms out or it is dangerous to do so (fast traffic, silly pedestrian not looking, a tree you didn't see, etc.). Like the lights, there are many out there to buy, or you could actually make your own (See HERE!!!). I'm doing the latter using a similar setup to the link provided.