3 Tips to Avoid a Crash

Nobody likes to talk about crashing on a bike, but unfortunately it can happen.  It’s one of those voodoo type subjects where you feel like you need to sacrifice one of your bikes to the bike Gods after talking about it.  We recently did a podcast all about crashing over at Cycling 360, and I invite you to listen to it for a full report on everything from crashing properly, mitigating a crash, and what to do if it happens.

I would say that paying attention is the ultimate tip for staying safe and avoiding a crash, and the post I wrote on nearly being flattened like a pancake is a perfect example of just how important keeping focused really is.  But on top of that, I’m here today with what I feel are three solid tips that all riders can use to help prevent a crash:

Short People: If you’re blessed with the goodness of being short as I am (I’m somewhere in the neighborhood of 5′ 5″), then there is something you need to know about how your bike frame could cause a crash.  When you have a smaller bike frame, your front tire is located closer to your pedals than if you’re riding a bike with a larger frame.  What that means is when you’re moving slow and making a tight turn, your front tire is very likely to hit your shoe.  If this happens, your bike is going to stop…and if you’re clipped in you might not have enough time to un-clip before falling over.

Sure it’s a low-speed (or no-speed) crash, but can still be prevented if you’re mindful while doing these turns or trying out a trackstand.

New Road (especially downhill): If you find yourself cycling a road that you’ve never been on before, my recommendation is that you take it slower than normal.  Even if you’re riding with a group, it would be a good idea to be a little more aware of what’s ahead and keep yourself distanced from the other riders.  When on a new road, you aren’t aware of blind corners, holes or uneven pavement, and any other surprises that could pop out at you.  Keep your eyes peeled and your speed down for your first time down a new road.

Overlapping Wheels: This one is for any of you who ride in a group or plan on doing a group ride.  Overlapping a wheel is when you ride with your front wheel next to the back wheel of the bicycle in front of you.  When overlapping a wheel, you can find yourself in a situation where the front rider suddenly moves in your direction causing you to go down.  When riding in a bunch, sometimes it’s difficult not to overlap a wheel from time to time….but limit it from happening and keep yourself upright.

What are your top tips for avoiding a crash?  Be sure to let us know as we can never be too safe out there.

  • Matthew Doyle

    Great Tips – the one thing I see in group rides more than anything as spring approaches are new riders coming on the circuit.  I am a firm believer if you want to get better, ride with better.  What happens is a new rider either – a) doesn’t tell anyone he is new or b) this is a faster pace than they normally and struggle to do their fair share of pulls.  They get tired and start making mistakes that can cause a crash in a hurry.
    My advice;
    1) Love having you to the group, tell people you are new (or this is fast for you)
    2) Don’t struggle or feel the need to do equal amount of pulls
    3) If you are tired, simple stay in the back, hook onto the closest riders wheel and recover. 
    NO REASON to be embarrassed, we were ALL there once and even I still have a bad day. 

    Hey Darryl - Love the show: Any way to address the different teeth count in a crankset.  Getting competing advice on whether to stay in a compact versus going to a race crank.  I am sure Victor could fill 20 minutes of the podcast on the subject!  :-)

    • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

      Hey Matthew, thanks for checking this out and leaving your comments behind.  Yeah, Victor could definitely talk about compact vs race cranks for at least 20 minutes…..hahahahaha.  I’ll let him know that you’re interested and we’ll either include it in a Cycling 360 podcast or I’ll have him respond to you directly.

  • http://twitter.com/cyclelogical cyclelogical

    Great advice! 

    • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

      Thanks @cyclelogical……I appreciate you checking it out.

  • Anonymous

    Solid advice for anyone.  
    The only thing I would add from my experience is (and I will admit to this sounding obvious and somewhat silly): 

    1. Talk less.  Long conversations and even if its all about biking can distract one from paying attention to the road.  There is always time to have long talks at the breaks.

    2. Keep your hands on your handlebars.  Outside of the need to signal turns and hazards you shouldn’t lessen your control over your bike by riding with no hands.  I have seen my good (and more skilled) riding buddies bite it just by pointing at something cool off to the side and not noticing the small branches on the road.

    3. If you are going to ride a fixie, all bets are off.  

    Thanks for the post.

    • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

      Thanks for adding in your tips.  Great list.

  • Anonymous

    Good tips Darryl. I’m short as well (5’8″), ride a size 52 frame and have this same issue. It’s only caused me a problem once and luckily I was able to avoid crashing.

    • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

      Thanks Bryan, I had always thought you were taller….hahahahaha.

      • Anonymous

        Oh no. I’m short and dumpy. :)

  • Bethel

    Good advice Darryl. I’m also short, but so far not had that problem. Keep the tips coming. Very helpful. BETHEL

    • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

      You’re welcome, Bethel.  When I was writing this one I was actually thinking that you’d be interested in reading it.  You are one reader that always so much appreciation for our “tips” posts.

      • Bethel

        Always,keep them coming. I read all of them and take notes.

  • http://www.annsrunningcommentary.com/ BrennanAnnie

    I crashed the very first time I rode my short framed bike and that is exactly why. I was trying to get out of the way of a firetruck and the front wheel clipped my toe and I went flying.

    • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

      Yikes……sorry to hear about that, Ann but thanks for sharing your experience.

  • Koifla

    Good points. I must be more blessed I am maybe even shorter but the Cervelo small frame used 650 wheels to help with the toe clearance and keep the geometry nice.
    My three points are watch out for right hand turners, left hand turners and Tina Turner. All are drivers that will cut you off or not see you. Tina gets out of the car when it is parked and gets you with the door.

    • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

      Great list of tips, Koifla.  It’s funny you call those door swings “Tina Turner”….my urban bike has that name.  More on that at http://lovingthebike.com/bikeschool/tina-turner.