10 Annoying Things Cyclists Should Stop Doing

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10 Annoying Things Cyclists Should Stop Doing

While the act of riding a bicycle is fairly simple, the rules of the road can sometimes be a bit more confusing.

In order to clarify some of that gray area, we’ve created a short guide so you can put the etiquette into practice.

To be clear, these are 10 things cyclists should never, ever do:

1. PROMOTE AN ELITIST CULTURE

You’ve seen these people before. They sneer at other cyclists, yell at motorists and think pedestrians should cease to exist. Whether you’re a road cyclist or a mountain biker, the only way to encourage others to take up the sport is to make them feel welcomed and encouraged. Acting like the road is your own personal raceway and everyone else is an obstacle just gives all cyclists a bad name.

The next time you’re out on the road and see a fellow cyclist, wave and say hello. Taking your eyes off your data, believe it or not, isn’t going to result in the end of the world.

2. WHEEL SUCKER STRANGERS

So you’re cruising along, minding your own business on the way home from work, when suddenly a shadow approaches from the rear. You move to the right, then to the left and the shadow follows. When you turn to look over your shoulder, there sits the wheel sucker in your draft — head down, eyes forward, with a serious-looking grimace. No introduction, no “how are you.”

Don’t be that guy. Riding up behind another cyclist without introducing yourself or taking your turn at the front is just weird.

3. DISOBEY TRAFFIC LAWS

Yes, there will be times when you’re sitting at a red light all by yourself without a car in sight. There will also be moments when you’re about to break a course record, and all of a sudden a stop sign appears out of nowhere. Regardless of what you’d like to do, you should not ride through that red light or stop sign.

Disobeying traffic laws isn’t just dangerous; it gives motorists the fuel they need to act abusively and irrationally toward other cyclists on the road.

4. RIDE ON THE SIDEWALK

There are some cyclists who think they are safer riding on the sidewalk. Regardless of which end of this argument you may agree with, riding a bicycle on the sidewalk is illegal in most states. Sidewalks are intended for pedestrian use, and if you don’t want them walking in bike lanes, it’s best to return the favor and stay off their sidewalks.


READ MORE > 35 SIGNS YOU’RE A CYCLIST


5. RIDE WITHOUT A HELMET

Do helmets look cool? No, not really. But you know what’s way less cool than a helmet? That’s right, a head injury. No matter how short or long you plan to go, you should always wear a helmet. It could make the difference between a simple spill and an overnight stay at the hospital.

6. TIGHTEN BOLTS ON CARBON PARTS WITHOUT A TORQUE WRENCH

If you think a bolt can never be too tight, this advice is for you. All carbon parts on your bicycle have torque specifications that you must adhere to. If you tighten past these recommendations, you’ll likely cause damage that can’t be repaired — whether it be a handlebar, seat post or even your bike frame.

The good news is torque wrenches are pretty inexpensive, not much more than your standard set of Allen wrenches.

7. TURN THE COMMUTE HOME INTO A RACE

Getting “chicked” can make some men go mad. But really, whatever it is that causes you to go bonkers when you’re passed by another cyclist, take it easy, stallion. Not every ride is a race, even if you are a racer at heart. Stick to the training plan, and let other cyclists on the road do their own thing. That Gran Fondo or century ride isn’t too far away.

8. RIDE AT NIGHT WITHOUT BIKE LIGHTS

I know. I really like those old ninja movies, too. But riding at night without bike lights isn’t the time to mimic your heroes. And in most states, riding with lights is a legal requirement between sunset and sunrise.

9. BE UNPREPARED FOR A MECHANICAL FAILURE

Even if you usually ride in a group, there will come a day when you jump on the bike and everything goes wrong. A flat tire, a loose screw on your handlebar and a broken chain are just a few of the things that you’ll need to be prepared for and know how to fix.

Instead of always relying on others, check out this video (and maybe this one, too) to learn how to do basic repairs yourself.

10. GO CHEAP ON YOUR CYCLING SHORTS

Cycling-specific clothing is expensive. But one item you definitely don’t want to skimp on is your cycling shorts. A good chamois is worth its weight in gold, especially if you plan to spend more than an hour on the bike.

Instead of getting multiple pairs of cheaper options, buy one or two pairs of quality cycling shorts. Chances are they’ll last a lot longer than all your cheaper pairs combined, and they will be much more comfortable on those sensitive spots when you do decide to go long.

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  • John Stevenson

    Fuck off with your ‘wear a helmet’ bullshit. The fucking things don’t work.

    • Thom Cate

      Funny, mine worked for me. On a hot ride, got a slow leak. Low pressure front tire rolled off the rim on a hard left turn. The left side of my head hit the pavement, hard. Twice. (But I only remember the first one). If I hadn’t been wearing a helmet, I might not be writing this right now.

      And wow, such passion for being helmetless.

      • Scott Hill

        I, on the other hand, commuted to work for 17 years without a helmet. Run off the road twice, laid the bike down on wet pavement several times, bumped by several taxis, taco’d the front wheel on a pothole. Never needed a helmet. All they do is obstruct hearing and get your head sweaty. I have a study which I printed and kept that shows the net result of helmet laws is to reduce bicycle ridership, and that’s where all the reductions in injuries comes from. I’m with you, John, helmets are bullshit.

    • Robert Baldwin

      Really? It is the reason I’m alive. Period.

    • Russell Brown

      It’s called “voluntary removal from the gene pool”. If he doesn’t want to wear a helmet, sooner or later he will….

      • epickett

        Either that, or he’ll end up on permanent life support with us footing the bill…

        • Russell Brown

          Not if The Donald has anything to tweet about it!

      • Larry Shaw

        Actually, the primary cause of serious head trauma is car accidents, by far. Do you guys wear helmets while driving a car? If not, you should not look down on those of us who do not wear bike helmets. If so, feel free to continue.

    • Malark_E

      A helmet may protect a cyclist from serious head/brain injury or death. An impact to the head need not be extremely hard or powerful to to result in injury. Simply falling over while stationary & the head striking a hard surface could result in brain injury. However, a powerful impact due to speed, a long fall or being struck by a motor vehicle may be more force than the helmet can absorb. A helmet may also protect a rider’s head from less serious injuries (bumps, abrasions, cuts, etc.).

  • Scott Hill

    11. Tell others how to enjoy cycling. Like not “racing” to a destination, when enjoying speed is part of the fun. Or pretending that helmets do much other than discourage people from cycling in the first place. Or telling people they need to have a bunch of proper tools or wear the proper shorts or other clothing. All of this is in direct opposition to the author’s first command of not being elitist.

    • Thom Cate

      I don’t understand some of these myself; but there is some strong advice here, which is not negated by the couple of contradictory items.

  • Chris M

    I especially agree with the first item. I was very proud of my $800 Trek road bike, which had served me well for a number of triathlons and a century ride. When I mentioned my purchase to a biker colleague of mind, his comment..”you can’t get a decent bike for less than $3000″.

    • Mark Robinson

      I have a 2007 Schwinn Peloton Pro, which happens to be their last real road bike, and other riders would roll their eyes at me. Even when they realize they are out gunned when they get a close look at my bike as I pass them they still snicker at me.

  • Alan Weitzsacker

    There are 2 that I definitely have agreement with:
    #3 – bending the road laws too many times were a main reason to stop riding with one of the local bike clubs. I stay in line with traffic, staying as far to the right in the lane as is practical. This is also how the NYS traffic law reads.
    #4 – helmets are more than worth it. A few years ago I was clipped by a car on a turn; I don’t remember hitting the road, but I was still conscious and able to get off the road quickly. I kept the cracked helmet in case some kids in the neighborhood decided to scoff at the idea. I made sure the replacement helmet was a brighter color.

  • suzy

    not a hard core rider. but since i need new knees and can’t run anymore I want to do some longer distance bike rides…starting at about 20 miles. I’m scared to death to ride in the street with traffic! so I paid for premium so I could get a suggested round trip route from my house. I’m just not sure if there are sidewalks on the route. Is there anywhere you can look to find out if there are sidewalks or not on the roads in the planned route? Thanks!