The last few years have witnessed a steady rise in the participation of women cyclists in India. Though the rate is far less than other nations, still the number of women zig-zagging through the busy streets of Bangalore or Chennai gives hope to a whole new generation.
While there are some common safety issues, women cyclists face hurdles that are unbeknownst to men. Lewd stares, eve-teasing, and the inability to view women on a cycle make going on a ride quite challenging.
However, India boasts of diversified and gorgeous terrains that can spike your adrenaline levels through the roof. Also, the climate mixed with the numerous benefits has attributed to the overwhelming popularity of women cyclists.
But, like any other sports, proper cautionary measures are essential. There are numerous rules and guidelines that you must consider. It is impossible to surmise every safety tips into one article.
We understand the value of safety and thus have listed the top essential tips here.
Choose the right type of cycle
Are you a first-timer and not sure about what to buy? Don’t worry! We can definitely help you with that. Even for experienced cyclists, choosing the right cycle type is of utmost importance.
First of all, you must decide the type of cycle you want to ride. The different types of bicycles that are prevalent in India are – mountain bicycles, hybrid bicycles, and road bicycles.
If you are an adventurer at heart, then the mountain bicycle is your ride. It is specially designed to overcome rocks, potholes, dirt tracks, and different terrains. You can easily go down slopes or traverse a sandy pathway. The cost of the best MTB cycles can range from 30,000 to 1.5 lakh INR. It depends on various factors including the frame type, material, and the inclusion of various components.
Road bicycles are usually reserved for those that compete at racking. Mostly used by professionals, they are built for fast riding. The top 3 road bicycles include Firefox Tarmak (at a price of 44,000 INR), Giant SCR 2 (at a price of 53,000 INR) and Scott Speedster 30 (at a price of 65,500 INR).
However, if you are unable to choose between the two, you can opt for the hybrid cycles. They are the cross between the mountain and road types. The best hybrid cycles in India can cost anywhere between 15,000 to 68,000 INR.
The two most popular sub-categories of the hybrid bicycles include comfort bicycles and commuter bicycles.
You can also choose from fat boy bikes, folding cycles, BMX bicycles, TT bikes, fixed-gear bicycles, tandem bikes, and trail bicycles.
Determine the perfect brand
You might think that the brand of the cycle makes no difference. Here’s where you are wrong. The right brand will instill the kind of confidence that will help you on the journey.
India has witnessed a steady rise in the women’s bicycling community. There are numerous cycling brands that aim to produce impressive cycles.
Some of the most notable brands include Hero, Avon, Atlas, La-sovereign, Hercules, Montra, Firefox, Mach City, Cannondale, Cosmic, Giant, BSA Ladybird, and more.
Before choosing any of the brands, you must consider the features, pros, cons, and price. Keep in mind that the cost of the bicycle is not the end of your expenses. You will also need to collect the accessories and save some for unexpected emergencies.
Also, purchasing the cycle that is perfect for your height is a vital aspect. If the height is not proportionate, then you run the risk of losing control.
Remember that there must be at least 1-2 inches of space between your private parts and the top tube. Make sure that you are standing flat footed while measuring the space.
Furthermore, you must also look into the height of the handlebar and the angle of the saddle. Choose customized saddles for women cyclists to avoid discomfort. You can find it within 1000-10,000 INR.
You can also get a personalized bicycle that fits you perfectly. However, that will hike the price up considerably.
Look out for loose nuts and bent spokes
Before you venture on the road, you need to be sure that your cycle is in tip-top condition. This includes checking on the tire, brakes, nuts, bolts, and spokes. For this, you must purchase the top-rated tools kit. If you don’t want to, or can’t, then be prepared to spend huge amounts on mechanics.
Make sure that the bolts and nuts of the stem, handlebar, pedals, seatpost, and wheels are tight. If there is any rattling, you must fix it before going out. Check out the position of the headset by pressing the front brake.
The best way to inflate the tire correctly is to take note of the range of air pressure mentioned in the sidewall of the tire. The best bicycle tires are available approximately in the range of 1250 – 7,000 INR. It is advisable that you do not exceed it, lest it bursts. Also, be on the lookout for deep cuts. Change them before they collapse in the middle of the road.
Note: Know how to fix a flat tire before you go out.
Furthermore, check if you have bent spokes by spinning the wheels. Also, make sure that the brakes are in good condition. Failure to check them can cause unfortunate accidents. You must ensure that the brake pads hit the disc rotor or the wheels perfectly. Do it at least twice or thrice before deciding it to be effective.
Do not go out without a bike helmet
While you may feel that riding a cycle without a helmet is a trend, it is not a wise decision. You never know the kind of incidents that can happen on the road. And, in numerous scenarios, it is the helmet that keeps you from getting a brain injury. Just think about the pain, trauma, and chaos!
Unfortunately, there are no bicycle helmet laws in India. It means that you will not be fined or punished if you are found riding without one. But, for the sake of your safety and the sanity of your family, please do wear one.
However, selecting the best bicycle helmet can be hard if you are not aware of what to look for.
Keep in mind that cycle helmets can differ depending on the type of the cycle. For example, a commuting model comes with a visor, but a helmet for a mountain bike usually concentrates on enhanced head coverage.
But, the most basic features include lightweight, comfort, and snug fit. Ensure that the straps fit perfectly and the helmet doesn’t fall off while riding. The top riding helmets in 2020 is available within 1,300-5,000 INR.
Use headlights and the tail light no matter the time
Always turn on your headlights before you start your journey. There are two distinct purposes of the front lights. The first one is that it enlightens the road in front of you. It is especially helpful during the nighttime. Now, the second purpose is that it makes you visible during the day.
Some of the latest cycling brands have incorporated a feature termed as the “Daytime run lights“. It basically alerts the light to ensure that you remain visible to other drivers and pedestrians on the road. Now, if you reside in a cosmopolitan city, the feature actually acts as a lifesaver.
When you are purchasing the best headlights, make sure to check out the weight, brightness, and battery capacity.
Tail lights are a vital cycle component. You will understand its importance when you are safe from road dangers at night. It acts as a beacon and ensures that the other drivers are aware of your presence. Make sure that they are set on flashing mode.
Stay clear of busy intersections and office rush
Busy intersections often equate to cars zooming at an absurd speed. You do not want to be in the middle of a car speeding off. The impact alone can cause you serious injury. Instead, avoid the busy roads and opt for pedestrian crossings. Getting caught in traffic, especially in Mumbai, is a disaster waiting to happen.
Also, try to opt for roads that are wide. The primary reason is that there is ample passing space and you do not have to get stuck in a traffic jam.
Another thing that you must take into consideration is the peak hours. Often termed as the office rush, it is the time the office starts and ends. The roads are filled with all types of vehicles, and frankly, the roads become dangerous for women cyclists.
To enjoy the ride, opt for bike paths or roads that have less or no traffic. It might affect your timings, but at least, you don’t run the risk of being shoved off the road.
Incorporate good habits for cycling
The foremost rule of cycling is being conscious of immediate surroundings. You must always be alert for vehicles coming from the back.
Though it will stretch your budget, we advise you to opt for the top bike computer of 2020. These are devices that exhibit different features including cadence, speed sensors, ride time and duration, GPS, options for connectivity, training modes, etc. The range of features differs based on the product. It costs 1,250 -3,000 INR approximately.
Moreover, you must know about the basic etiquette when it comes to cycling.
- Remember that you share the road with runners, cars, walkers, and even animals.
- Use your hand to signal when you are going to make a turn.
- Be on the right side of the road.
- Make sure that you obey the traffic laws. Red light is an indication for you to stop. Don’t try to perform heroic stunts by breaking a red light.
Keep your phone and headphones away. Listening to music might cause you relief but listening to it while cycling is a dangerous idea. You must use all your senses when you are on the road. When you listen to music, your mind and ears are not in sync with your body.
While remaining hydrated and energized is extremely important, you must always hold the handle bar with both the hands. You can wear the best cycling gloves to make sure you have a rigid grip. It can be anywhere between 489 to 3,600 INR.
Wear brightly colored clothing
Do you really think that a truck coming at a high speed is going to recognize a cycle from a distance? Chances are, by the time they notice, there is little that they can do to prevent a mishap.
But, you can do something to make yourself more visible.
Wear brightly colored cycling clothing. You can purchase cool bicycle clothing for women with ease. Moreover, you can also buy Velcro straps for ankles. These are reflective and attract attention to the rider due to the up and down movement.
However, you must discover your preferred clothing choice. Some riders prefer spandex clothing that fits like a glove. But, there are also some cyclists that prefer shorts. The best cycling shorts for women offer extra padding and aids in decreasing the chafing. The comfort you feel is enough to let you drive for miles.
But, if you are out on a leisurely ride, you can go out in your casual clothes.
Apart from the clothes, you must also concentrate on proper shoes as well as ankle guards. Without the best cycling shoes India, it will not be easy for you to maintain the balance.
Also, make sure that you purchase a sunglass or visor. It will help you to deal with the harsh rays of the sun. Some of the helmets come with an attached visor, and there are some that you have to buy separately.
Include a pepper spray in the saddle bag
The necessity of having a saddle bag cannot be argued. However, it is more likely to put a dampener on your outward look. But, keep in mind that safety far outweighs everything, even appearance.
The saddle bag for cycle contains tire levers (at least two), a spare tube, the best patch kit, tire irons, multitool, and your hand pump.
These are the essential tools that will aid you in case of any issues with your cycle.
Furthermore, you must also bring cash along with you. In case you are dealing with an unexplained emergency, and you cannot sort it yourself, at least have enough money that you can book a cab.
No matter our feelings on the situation, it is still a long way before Indian roads become safe for women cyclists. Always keep a pepper spray in your saddle bag. It is for your protection. You can keep other safety equipments like a taser, knife, or any sharp objects.
Keep within reach the emergency contact details and ID proof
Nowadays most of our phones are password protected or have a fingerprint sensor. It becomes impossible to open the phone without having access to either.
Before you venture out, take a screenshot of your emergency contact details. Then, put it as the lock screen saver. It will come in handy if you lay unconscious on the road. This way, anyone can contact your closed ones and save them a boatload of panic.
Also, make sure that you have ID proofs with you. It will prove to be useful if you are caught by the police or have encountered an accident.
In an era where the safety of women is, at best questionable, it is vital to be aware of your surroundings before you embark on your cycling journey. Keep in mind that while road safety is paramount, it is also essential that you understand the need for personal safety. Obey the laws of the road and avoid vacant paths. We understand that exploring an off-beaten path can be the adventure of a lifetime, but we advise caution. Go in groups and avoid conflicts.
However, no matter the obstacles, the women cyclists are an inspiration. They give hope to the young boys and girls that nothing is impossible if you have the courage, determination, and perseverance to attain it.