If you have just bought a new bike you may spend a great deal of time simply looking at it, and admiring every tiny detail.
Get a chair sit down, relax and take it all in. Make sure you have got your fill, because once you kit up and go for the first ride, you need to stop looking at it.
I know anyone with a more than a couple of neurons could figure that one out, but you would be surprised how many people have ridden into parked cars while doing just that. Looking down admiring their bike while riding.
The same goes for after cleaning your bike, or even shaving your legs. It is hard to claim that a parked car pulled out in front of you.
Medical bills and dental work can be extremely expensive, as can bike repairs. So the next time you find yourself glancing down at this beautiful piece of machinery, if only for a spit second, remember this little article, and get your eyes back on the road ahead.
I hope I have just saved someone a whole lot of pain, money and embarrassment.
I have always set my bikes up with the front brake lever on the right.
It was the way I was taught when I first joined a cycling club back in England in the 1950s.
This trend can also be traced all the way back to the invention of the bicycle. The early bicycles only had one brake that operated on the front wheel.
It was a crude device that pressed down directly on the solid rubber front tire.
It had to operate on the front wheel because that was the one closest to the handlebars and the brake lever.
The brake lever was placed on the right because most people are predominantly right handed. So when rear brakes were added, that lever was placed on the left, as everyone was already used to the front brake being on the right.
Also the early brakes were rod operated, cable brakes came later. It made sense for the rear brake operating rods to go on the left side of the frame away from the drive train on the right side. So I am no different from many older English and other European riders, I have always ridden bikes, even as a kid, with the front brake lever on the right, rear brake left.
So why in America is it standard to have the front brake lever on the left? Because in the 1970s when the bike US bike boom started, American bikes were mostly cruisers with rear wheel coaster brakes, and no brake levers were required.
When racing bikes started being imported from Europe, the U S Consumer Protection Agency deemed that all bikes would have the right brake lever operate the rear brake. It is just a government regulation that applies to new bikes. People are free to set their own bike up as they please.
There are many arguments which way is best, but if like me you have been used to a certain set up most of your life, it is probably not wise to switch just for the sake of change.
The English bike builder Hetchins have always been famous for their Curly Stays (Picture left.)
The design served no useful purpose, but it was a recognition thing, a talking point.
When you saw one go by on the road, you knew it was a Hetchins. Even today people will gather round one and talk about it.
In the 1950s there was a story going round about a group of British riders who went across to France to race. It was in the late 1940s, soon after WWII.
One of the group was riding a Curly Hetchins, and he crashed during the race, rendering himself unconscious. When he came around he found a group of French farm-workers were trying to straighten his bike.
I am pretty sure this was one of those urban myths that never really happened, but it’s a funny story none-the-less.
I do know however the Curly Hetchings was a source of amusement to the French.
I remember seeing a Picture of one in Miroir des Sports (But et Club,) a French Cycling Newspaper.
I never did find the full translation of the caption to the picture, but there was a mention of Queen Anne Legs.