Dave Moulton

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Bicycle Accident Lawyer




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Riding Position Simplified

There is so much information available on bike riding position, it can be confusing to both beginners and experienced riders alike. A whole cottage industry has sprung up dealing with bike fit, and one can spend a great deal of money, and often be no better off.

So let’s forget about computer programs and magic formulas, and look at the basic issues we are dealing with. Assuming our bike is the right size, and not too big or small by extremes, how can we find a good place to start? Find a position that is both efficient and comfortable.

There are really only two main issues we need to concern ourselves with. That is saddle height, and position of your arms in relation to your legs. Whether you are looking for an extreme aero racing position, or a more upright leisure riding position, the same principle applies. You need an efficient position, whether your goal is to go fast, or ride in comfort.

1.)    Saddle height. Imagine you are doing squats with a weight as shown in the picture above. Note that when in the lowest possible squat, the knees are spread apart. That is because the hip joint in the pelvis has a limit to how far it can travel. When you reach that limit the only way to squat any lower is to spread the knees apart.

When you see someone on a bike riding with their knees spread, it is often an indication that their saddle is too low and the hip joint has reached its limit of rotation. An extremely low back position, or the saddle positioned far back will exacerbate the problem because you are rotating the pelvis forward. However in most cases if the saddle is high enough, no matter how low your back, at the top of the pedal stroke, the hip joint will not be at or near its limit.

When doing squats with a weight it is hard to lift from the lowest position. It would be much easier if you started from the half way position. In other words, leg muscles work more efficiently near the top end of the lift. So if you can ride a bike with the saddle as high as it can be, you are pedaling with more efficiency that with the saddle set low.

How high would be too high? Well, if you are stretching for the pedal at the bottom of the stroke, and your pelvis is rocking side to side, it would indicate your saddle is too high. With one crank at its lowest point, your toe should be pointing down, but not stretched. You should be then able to lift your butt 1/4 inch (6mm) above the saddle. If you can lift yourself more than that, your saddle needs to go higher. When riding, it is easier to tell by feel if a saddle is too high, but not so easy to tell if it is slightly too low.

2.)     Position of arms in relation to the legs. When pedaling at maximum effort we are pushing down with more than our body weight. The only thing holding us down is our hands grasping the handlebars. Power is transmitted through the arms, shoulders, and back muscles to the legs.

Look at the top picture of Peter Sagan. With the crank arms horizontal and the pedal on its downward stroke, the red line line drawn from the hip joint to the pedal, is approximately parallel to a line drawn from the shoulder to the hands on the drops. In other words arms are in exact opposition to the legs.

Notice I said approximately. The lines do not have to be exactly parallel, but if there is a wide difference this is not a good position. It doesn’t matter what your back angle is, horizontal or a leisurely 45 degree angle. Arms opposing legs still apply.

Many recreational riders make the mistake of raising their handlebars higher and higher to achieve a more upright back angle, when a better approach might be to fit a shorter stem and raise it less. (The resulting back angle is the same.) If the arms are not opposing the legs, backache can result, or you find yourself constantly sliding forward on the saddle.

Weight distribution too comes into account. Weight should be distributed between the pedals, saddle and handlebars. If the bars are above the saddle then all the weight is on the saddle.


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If you ride a bike, check your auto insurance

If you ride a bike and own a car, and let’s face it most of us do, check your car insurance. That’s right your car insurance.

If you are hit by a car while on your bike and end up with $60,000 or more in medical bills, it will not help you if the driver at fault has only minimum legal coverage of say $25,000.

Worse yet he may have no insurance, or as is happening in more and more bicycle/car crashes, it is a hit and run. The driver leaves the scene and there is no one to make a claim against.

Most cyclists do not know that in most cases you can claim for expenses and compensation from your own insurance company, and if you are not at fault you are not penalized. However, this is only the case if you previously bought sufficient coverage on your own policy.

I was advised to do this a few years ago by an attorney friend of mine, and as a result I upped my underinsured and uninsured driver coverage to $250,000. It is advisable to carry at least $100,000 and up to $300,000. It may cost you $8.00 a month for the extra coverage, but the peace of mind it brings is worth it.

This advice was reiterated in a free book I just received called “The Utah Bicycle Accident Handbook.” As the title suggests it applies to the state of Utah, but much of the advice is good in most states.

The book also pointed out that I might consider Personal Injury Protection, or No Fault Coverage. This allows for my medical expenses to be covered immediately, instead of having to wait for the other party’s insurance to accept responsibility for the accident. If they do eventually accept responsibility my insurance company will seek reimbursement from the at fault insurer.

I had a serious bike accident a few years ago, and I was fortunate in that the person who caused the accident owned a business and had excellent auto insurance. There was also a witness who came forward, and I had an attorney who specialized in bicycle cases handle the claim.

I would advise anyone to do the same. An attorney will take a third of the final settlement, but they take no money up front, so it is in their interest to get the best settlement possible.

Insurance companies are in the business of paying out as little as possible, that is how they make a profit. In my case I would have had no idea what would have been a fair offer, or just how much they would have paid, but an specialist bike accident attorney has that knowledge and experience. 

The lawyer who helped me was Peter Wilborn, of Charleston, SC. He is in touch with a network of other bicycle accident lawyers all over the US, and can probably put you in touch with some close to you.

Peter Wilborn's Bike Law wensite has also covered this subject here.


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Cycling Specific Prescription Eyewear

It is hard to believe it has been almost three years since I first ordered my own prescription sunglasses back in June of 2014. (Pictured below right.) Later that year I ordered a pair of clear, no tint lenses that were interchangeable in the same frames. I was then covered for both bright sunlight and low light conditions.

Fortunately my prescription has not changed and the glasses still serve me well.

Recently my wife Kathy was in need of a pair of prescription sunglasses, and once again we went to Sport RX, a San Diego based company that specializes in sports eyewear.

As before, I initially emailed then spoke with Rob Tavakoli on the phone, and he was most helpful in guiding me through the many choices. Price was a consideration, but so too was quality. Rob steered me on to the Tifosi brand.

We are all familiar with the big brand names in sunglasses, and Sport RX stocks them all, but Tifosi is an American brand, that doesn’t even try to match the big names with an army of reps on the road, and a huge advertising budget. Rather they concentrate on producing a quality product at a competitive price.

I could relate absolutely to this strategy, it was how I ran my bike business. I didn’t have tens of thousands of dollars to spend on advertising, so instead produced a quality product, and relied on a dealer network to educate the consumer, and sell it. When all is said and done, the huge advertising budget is ultimately paid for by the consumer, with the higher prices you pay for the big brand names.

This time we went with Transitions Xtra Active adaptive lenses. The kind that adjust automatically, and darken or lighten according to the lighting condition. Added to this was Sport RX own anti-glare coating. At nighttime the lenses are almost clear, making them ideal for riding in the dark, or for that matter they can double as night driving glasses, as they cut down on glare.

In bright sunlight they darken quite rapidly, within a few minutes. On some of our rides, there are old growth trees that completely cover the road like a shaded tunnel. Again the lenses adapt to a lighter shade to accommodate this.

The lenses, like my own, are fully progressive, with distance vision in the top portion, and the close up prescription at the bottom. When riding leaning forward, you are looking through the top (Distance.) portion anyway, and having the close up option, it is there if you need to read something, or make adjustments on the bike. It saves having to carry a separate pair of reading glasses.

Above: The Tifosi "Wasp" glasses come in a nice semi-hard case with a zippered closure. This picture illustrates how the Transitions lenses are almost clear straight out of the case. Included with the frames but not shown in this picture, are non-prescription clear and tinted lenses.

As I started out saying, after three years of using my own prescription riding glasses, I can highly recommend them. The curved frames and lenses, fit close to the face so keep out the glare. The curved lenses also make it easier to see sideways, and when turning the head to look behind. They also stay in place on your face, and don’t slip down your nose like regular glasses do.

They are really part of your essential equipment, along with the shoes, shorts, gloves and helmet. Not only from the safety aspect, but proper cycling specific sunglasses make your riding experience just that much more pleasurable. 

I highly reccommend Spot RX. They go out of their way to find a product that best suits the individual customer. They understand cyclists and the cyclist's needs. This is the third time I have done business with them and I have never been disapointed. Please mention this blog, because it can't hurt.


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The One Thousandth Fuso


I never know from week to week what will pop up in my email inbox. Just this last week I heard from a Fuso owner living in British Columbia, Canada, he owns Fuso number 1000. He had bought it in 2008 from a friend who was the original owner.

It wasn’t until he sent pictures that the memory bank in my mind started to tick over, and I began to remember this one. It was a very special bike that was given some custom touches, like and all chrome front fork and rear triangle.

Built towards the end of 1986, that’s over 30 years ago and a long way to cast my memory back.

The first Fuso was built in 1984, I’m not sure what month, but a few months into the year.

The first frames were numbered 001, 002, 003, and so on. So up until frame number 999, it was always a three digit number.

So switching to a four digit number was an occasion. It also showed how successful the Fuso initially was as I had built a thousand of them in a little over two years.

In September every year I attended the Interbike Trade Show. I believe at that point it was still held in California. First in Long Beach, then Anaheim, before moving permanently to Las Vegas, Nevada in later years.

This 56 cm. bike was my center show piece for that year's Interbike, which is why I went all out with the special touches. It was essentially a Fuso LUX model, but on the rear end of the top tube where the “Fuso LUX” decal usually went, I put my signature, which was normally reserved for my custom frames only.

And on the front right side of the top tube it said, “1,000th Fuso.”

After the show the bike was sold to Los Angeles bike dealer, I. Martin Imports.

A few months later it was bought by the original owner, Brett Bandy, who later moved to British Columbia.

The current owner James Nicholls, still rides the bike. Here is a picture of James (Above left.) on this very same bike riding in the Vernon, BC Gran Fondo.

Thanks for the memory James.


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Horse Play

In the late 1950s I was taking part in a road race in Buckinghamshire, England, just North West of London. The race was held under the auspices of the British League of Racing Cyclists. (BLRC)

About an hour into the race, the riders were still in a single group, or “Bunch,” as we referred to it. The maximum number of riders allowed in a BLRC event was 40, so it was a Bunch rather than a Peloton.

We rounded a bend on a country road and passed two people riding horses, the bike riders startled the horses, and one of them threw its rider and bolted. The rider-less horse ran onto the road, right into the middle of the bunch.

By some miracle no one fell, but the bunch split. There were about a dozen riders in front of the horse, and they sprinted away. It was initially a move to get away from the horse, rather than to take advantage of the situation, although racing cyclists are not above seizing on such opportunities.

I found myself immediately behind the horse, and I can tell you it was a pretty scary situation seeing those large steel hooves that appeared to be directly in front of my face with each stride. I slowed as best I could, but was aware of the rest of the riders immediately behind me.

I was also aware that the horse could fall in front of me which would not be good. Steel hooves on asphalt do not make for the best of traction, plus the horse’s reins were trailing between its front legs, the animal could easily trip. As a kid, I had witnessed a runaway horse slip and fall on the road, it was not a pretty sight.

I needed to get around the horse. The road was clear so I went as wide as this somewhat narrow country road would allow, and out of the saddle, sprinted as hard as I could. As I went past the horse, I startled it again and it veered off the road and onto the grass verge.

I was now ahead of the horse and still sprinting as hard as I could. However, the horse now running on grass started to go faster. I could hear the quickening hoof beats immediately behind me. The faster the horse went, the faster I went.

I looked up and saw I was catching the dozen or so riders who were up ahead. Now I had a double incentive, and the chase was on to catch the lead riders. At the same time I was being chased by a large brown horse, and the last thing I wanted was to have him in front of me again.

As I caught the lead group, it included one of my team mates. “I see you got up then.” He said as I pulled alongside.

Another rider turned and quipped, “Did you have to bring the bloody horse with you?”

Just as I had done, the pace quickened to stay ahead of the horse, only now there were a group of riders working together. Gradually the hoof beats faded. I'm not sure whether the horse slowed, or we just dropped him. Or maybe he found some open fields to run in.

The lead group kept up the same pace that the horse had initiated. This proved to be too fast for most, and we dwindled down to three riders by the finish. I got second place that day. If I still had the horse to lead out in the final gallop, I might have won.


Originally posted in July 2009. 

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