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Medical research shows that quality bicycle helmets prevent 85 percent of head injuries. Helmets made for U.S. sale after March 10, 1999 must meet the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission standard, so look for a CPSC sticker or mention of the helmet meeting the standard in the owners' manual inside the helmet box.



How Helmets Protect

Bicycle helmets protect by reducing the peak energy in a sharp impact. Nearly all bicycle headgear is made with expanded polystyrene (EPS) often covered with a thin plastic outer shell. Once crushed, the inner foam does not recover, which is why helmets must always be replaced after a crash. The outer shell on the helmet helps the lid skid easily on rough pavement so that it doesn't catch and jerk your neck causing whiplash or worse. Molding the EPS into the shell rather than adding the shell later is a new manufacturing technique used in some high-end models. You'll find that helmets come in many colors. If you ride at night, we recommend, light and bright colors, which are best for visibility.



Get A Good Fit

Fit is the most important consideration in selecting a helmet. Find one that fits snugly out of the box (not tight, though, just snug) and fine-tune the fit by adjusting the straps and adding pads where necessary to take up any space between the helmet and your head. Some head shapes require more fiddling with fitting pads and straps. Extra-small heads may need thick fitting pads. We're always ready to help with helmet adjustments. Just ask.



Replace Crashed Helmets

It bears repeating that you must replace any helmet that's been crashed. Ironically, they work so well that you may need to examine them closely to spot marks or dents that indicate that you whacked your head. We have a great selection of helmets to choose from, and we're here to help with any questions you might have.



Adjusting Straps

It takes some experimentation to find strap adjustments that are comfortable while riding. You don't want them cutting off circulation, chafing your face or pressing on your ears. Usually, if you adjust them snug when the helmet is sitting on your head, they'll be comfortable when you're riding. You'll know right away if they're too tight.



Get The Buckles Right, Too

Buckle placement is important. Keep the chin buckle forward enough so that it doesn't chafe against your neck when you lower your head. The side buckles should rest just beneath your earlobes.



Protect Your Forehead And Face

Probably the trickiest thing is keeping the helmet sitting squarely on the head. This is crucial because if it's tipped back (the most common mistake), your face will be exposed and unprotected in a fall, which is extremely dangerous. Getting the helmet to sit right on the head requires experimenting with the relationship between the front and rear straps. If the helmet tips rearward, you can usually move it forward by shortening the front straps and lengthening the rear straps. This is accomplished by loosening the side buckles, sliding the straps in the appropriate direction, cinching the buckles and taking up any slack in the chin buckle.



Ask For Help

This sounds complicated because it is. And, it's crucial to get it right for your safety. If you're not sure if your helmet is set up safely or have any questions about fit, please come in and ask. We want you to be as safe as possible.



Practice Makes Perfect

Just like you practice other skills, you should practice braking, too. For example, you might pretend a car has suddenly pulled out in front of you and execute a panic stop, throwing your weight rearward as you forcefully apply the brakes. If you can train your body to react like this it's more likely to do so in a real emergency.



Brake Tuning

As you ride and use your brakes, the brake pads wear slightly. You feel this as more travel in the levers and you need to adjust the additional travel out before it gets to the point of jeopardizing your braking.
Fortunately, there's an easy way to do this on almost all modern bicycles. Look for knurled adjusting barrels on the levers (on most off-road bikes; illustration) or on the brake calipers (most road bikes). By turning these barrels (usually counterclockwise), it's possible to make up for the worn pads and improve braking.



Check Pad Wear

Don't forget to check the pad wear from time to time though. Because, if you just keep tightening brake adjustment with the barrels, you'll eventually find that the pads have worn out. To check, look at the pad surfaces. When new, most pads have grooves in them. When these grooves start to disappear, it's a sign to replace the pads. Depending on the design some are easily replaced, others require tools and know-how. We're happy to advise if you have questions.



Check Pad Wear

Don't forget to check the pad wear from time to time though. Because, if you just keep tightening brake adjustment with the barrels, you'll eventually find that the pads have worn out. To check, look at the pad surfaces. When new, most pads have grooves in them. When these grooves start to disappear, it's a sign to replace the pads. Depending on the design some are easily replaced, others require tools and know-how. We're happy to advise if you have questions.



Brake Safely

Remember that different weather conditions and riding surfaces affect braking performance. When it's raining, it's important to anticipate stops and brake early, pumping the levers to allow the pads to wipe water off the rims so they can grab and slow the bike. And, when you're riding on slippery surfaces such as sand and mud, reckless braking can cause the wheels to lock, which may throw the bike into a dangerous slide.



Always leave yourself an out.

Scan the situation and make sure you've got a safe exit route in the event something crazy happens. If you can swerve into a driveway or you've left plenty of room to brake, you'll drastically reduce the chances of an accident.



Be non confrontational.

Drivers are under a lot of stress and they can lose it at times. You might be tempted to reciprocate. But don't because it serves no purpose and may exacerbate the situation. Instead, take a deep breath and let it go. Don't let someone else's stress rub off on you.



Remember to signal early.

If you intend to turn at an intersection, especially if you're moving into the left-turn lane, signal early. And, don't move left until it's safe to do so. If you get trapped on the right curb due to heavy traffic, wait until it's safe to get in the left-turn lane. Sometimes, it possible to turn right (if that road is less busy), execute a legal U-turn and use the light to proceed through the intersection the way you want to go.



Be careful not to stop on an oil slick.

Motor vehicles leak oil, and the deposits are usually in the middle of the lane at an intersection. Riding through this stuff is bad for your tires and can lead to loss of traction and a crash when you start pedaling again.



Don't get doored!

If you're approaching an intersection and parked cars.



Eye contact is key.

For safety in traffic, always try to establish eye contact before moving in front of cars. When you're behind a slow-moving vehicle, try to meet the driver's eyes by looking in his mirrors and don't pass until he lets you know it's safe to.



Speak Up

If no one seems in charge, you should speak up and ask, because sometimes there is no formal leader and the assumption is made that everyone knows what's going on simply because they've come out for the ride. This is sure to cause problems. If you don't know, ask, and keep asking until you find someone who can tell you what's going on. There are always a few people who know and are willing to help and it can make a big difference in how much you enjoy the ride and how safe it is.



Pay Attention

Once the ride is underway, you can learn a lot about a group by watching the other riders. Try to find and avoid those who wobble and speed up and slow down. These are signs of poor handling skills and possible fatigue that can cause a wreck. Instead, try to ride with the people who hold a steady pace and a straight line because they're less likely to do unpredictable things that can cause mishaps.

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