I’ve suffered from almost 30 concussions in my life as well as being hit by 3 cars, a deer, and a dog while biking. Working as an EMT for 6 years I saw a lot of auto accidents as well as bicycle\auto accidents which almost never ended well for the bicyclist. This is a culmination of some of the things I have learned the hard way.
Be wary of bare battery wires
When cutting, crimping or soldering live battery wires ONLY DO ONE WIRE AT A TIME. If you cut and strip both wires you risk shorting out the battery which is never good. Without a BMS with short protection it could create quite a show.
Treat your mid-drive chain with respect
A 750 Watt BBS02 on a single-speed will easily chew your fingers off if you get them stuck in the crank-wheel teeth and hit the throttle. It is not uncommon to have the chain slip off your gears on a single speed or on a multi-gear setup when riding. To safely put it back on, turn off the motor so there is no chance it will start. Then carefully push the derailleur forward with your heel putting pressure only toward the front of the bike, not on either side of the derailleur. If you have a single speed then grab a stick off the ground and use the stick to put the chain over the rear cog. Then use the stick to put the chain onto the first few teeth on the top of the chain-wheel. Then carefully turn the crank forward by hand lifting the rear tire of the bike off the ground till the chain is totally on the front ring. Then turn your motor on and ride away. NEVER USE THE MOTOR THROTTLE AND YOUR HANDS TO PUT THE CHAIN BACK ON AND THEN SPIN IT AROUND. You think you are smart and will not get your fingers stuck in the gear but why risk it? Treat the chain on a mid-drive with the same respect you would give a chainsaw. Make sure you don’t have loose laces and your drive side pant leg is always rolled up. Mid drives have an insatiable appetite for laces and pant cuffs and your mommy is going to be so angry when she sees that you have destroyed your clothes again.
Do you really want to go 40mph on a $100 bike?
I admit that I am guilty of this as much as anyone. Nothing pumps adrenaline through your system like cruising at 40mph on your Walmart Dolomite. If you must get a cheap bike, at least upgrade the brakes to Avid BB7‘s and put some decent ebike rated tires on. Normal fat bike tires will melt if you go over 30mph on a hot day for any length of time from the friction between the tire and tube.
Wear the brightest colors and the most obnoxious getup you can. Everyone else is too busy talking on their cellphone, eating, texting and putting on makeup while driving to notice you. It’s YOUR job to make yourself noticed. Assume everyone is out to run you off the road and kill you. At night blinking lights work great, during the day bright colors or even cheesy bike flags on poles work great.
A good helmet is your first line of defense
When commuting I wear a full face downhill helmet as it offers better protection than a normal bike helmet but doesn’t draw police attention the way a motorcycle helmet does. One of my good friends from High School swears by the Hovding bicycle airbag which goes for about 299 euros and is a viable option for those too stubborn to wear a helmet. There are lots of otherwise intelligent people who feel that helmets don’t help. Personally I don’t even have sex anymore without wearing a helmet as my doctor assures me that one more concussion and my IQ is going to drop 100 points.
Glasses are also super important for bugs and road debris. I use cheap clear 3M Virtua safety glasses that can be gotten for about $3 on fleabay, the blue mirrored lens ones are particularly sexy.
Motorcycle racing pads are great for ebiking
I have a Joe Rocket leather jacket with built-in kevlar pads which is a great option for commuting. I mounted snaps on the back and created a mounting plate for a hard spine plate as well. This jacket rules in the mosh pit as well as on the road. These jackets are designed to take the impact of hitting the pavement over 100mph so it is likely they will help with your low-speed fall. A good leather jacket will last a long time if you treat it with leather honey, mine is going on 20 years now, well worth the $250 I paid for it. Cheaper than any hospital visit would be.
Wear good gloves
In the 3 years I Mountain Unicycled the only protective gear I ever wore was rollerblading wrist guards and a helmet. The wrist guards were for protecting my face from face plants which I did several times when things got out of control like they often did. Your gloves should have padding in the palms as that is what will take the brunt of the impact if you try to protect yourself from face-planting. If you’re in the woods and you go over the handlebars which I seem to do about once a week, try to get all the way over and tuck your head and land on your back. Generally you’ll come out better than if you face-plant. I always wear a camelback with a rigid frame and fill the water chamber with air, this helps immensely with absorbing impacts.
Ditch the clips
In the old days pre-electric I used clips both on and off the roads and standardized on the Wellgo WAM-D10 pedals which have clips on one side and platforms on the other. Now that I’ve electrified I’ve decided that the extra power I get from clips doesn’t offset the extra time it takes to get out of them when I’m taking a spill. Now I’m back to bear-claws on everything from the road commuter to the trail bikes with no regrets.
If you’re going to get hit, just jump off the bike
In my early 20’s I got T-boned by a car going about 30 miles an hour when I was doing about 20 mph. She came out of nowhere and I looked down when her car bumper was about 3 feet from my leg. I jumped off the bike, rolled in midair, landed on my back and slid across the parking lot on my backpack, which got totally shredded. I looked back to see by bike literally flying through the air and crashing in a pile. The steel frame got bent like a pretzel. I walked away with a tiny scratch on my wrist and a lot of adrenaline. There is no situation I can imagine where a car ends up hitting your bike where you are going to end up ahead if you stay with the bike.
Learn how to roll with it
I spent most of my youth jumping out of moving cars (my Volvo had the doors removed for easier egress) as well and jumping around on rooftops. I broke my ankle 5 times and at one time had both ankles broken at the same time. It’s important to learn how to fall without hurting yourself too bad. The biggest key is to relax. Right before you’re going to hit the ground the best thing to do is exhale as deeply as you can and sigh. This forces your body to relax instead of tense up and will do a lot less damage. You also need to redirect forces so that you can roll with the impact instead of trying to stop when you land. Judo is great for this, but any martial arts will teach you how to fall.
Don’t expect the cops to side with you in an accident
I saw an accident happen between a bicyclist and a car that happened right before sunset right in front of the fire station. A road cyclist was zooming down a hill doing probably 30 mph when a car coming the opposite way didn’t see him a took a left turn right in front of him. He was clipped in and hit the front of the car, flipped over and his back hit the roofline above the windshield. He crumpled the metal of the roof for this large late-model Crown Victoria back about 8 inches and then laid broken on the road. I did manual traction and waited for the ambulance to come and take him to the hospital, I was surprised they didn’t call a chopper. He couldn’t move or feel his legs. The cop wrote the bicyclist a ticket for not having a light on even though the accident happened well before dark. I was flabbergasted.
Don’t be a nuisance
People that drive, cops included, look at the bicyclist as a nuisance. Assuming you have a motor on that bike and I assume you’re going over the street legal 20mph ebike speed then you are even more despicable. Unless you end up getting killed in a car/bike accident, expect that the courts will never side with you. I don’t like it, but thats the reality of the situation. The way everyone looks at it is that the roads are built for cars and bicyclists are guests in their home. If you don’t obey traffic control devices they you are begging for trouble and cops will write you a ticket for running stop signs and breaking speed limits.
Look where you want to go
The most important rule when the shit hits the fan is to force yourself to look at where you want to go. If a car is going to hit you, don’t look at it, look around at where you want to end up. Most of the time your body will take you there without any conscious effort on your part. This holds true whether you are single-track riding in the woods, or getting hit by a car, or driving a car. Always look where you want to go.
Should you get into an accident there is some good advice on what to do in this article. Take the best precautions you can to ensure that this never happens.
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