Saturday, May 14, 2011

Bike gear and "stuff"

After my first week back on a bike in more than a few years, a few things are clear. There is a lot of gear with this sport!

Maybe it seems like there is more equipment than other sports because I'm coming off a month of running; all you need are your clothes, some decent shoes, and you're off. It's not so with cycling.

First, of course, you need a bike. Depending on how into the sport you plan to get, the price of a bike can go as low as around $100 for a used bike and as high as $500,000 for a custom bike. (Interested in what a bike that expensive looks like? Read about the Trek "Butterfly" Madone bike designed by Damien Hirst here.)

So why are bikes so expensive?

One word: components. You can add that word into your cocktail party dictionary for when it's time to wax poetic about your new love for that sweet ride you're about to buy!
Pausing on Dallas Road - gorgeous spot to cycle

Components, the parts that make up a bike, can change the price of a bike substantially. You want it light? You'll get carbon fiber, which is expensive. Don't care about weight? You can go to Canadian Tire and pick up what they've got on sale. Jim Langley, a cycling enthusiast and writer, put together a great image showing the names of all a bike's components; check it out here.

The other thing that affects the price of your bike is the brand and size. Um hmm: Bikes come in more than kid's, women's, and men's sizing.

If you plan on getting into proper road biking you will need to get sized. A few weeks ago in preparation for this month's sport challenge, I stopped by a cycling store and got sized. I'm fairly short and we decided a 48" bike would be suitable. If I had to jump from the pedals in a panic, I would be able to touch ground without landing with the "top tube" between my legs and getting hurt.

Quiet streets are fun to explore from a bike
Then of course, there's the helmet. In six Canadian provinces the law requires cyclists to wear a cycling helmet. (It's required in 22 states for you Americans reading!) British Columbia is one of those provinces, and I have to admit that when I moved from Ontario (one of the six provinces) to Victoria, BC, I noticed that people actually follow the law here. I feel like much less of a dork with my helmet on here than I did biking around Ottawa.

According to the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute, "Common sense tells you to avoid a helmet with snag points sticking out, a squared-off shell, inadequate vents, excessive vents, an extreme "aero" shape, dark colors, thin straps, complicated adjustments or a rigid visor that could snag in a fall." (I was surprised that there's an institute focused solely on bike helmet safety; I guess I shouldn't be...)

If you know of a women's size 48" used bike for sale - please let me know.

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