Watch That Wheel!

Probably the leading cause of bike group crashes is one rider’s front wheel touching the rear wheel of the rider ahead. And a “touch” is all it takes for the trailing rider to fall almost instantly. If rider manages to make a clean fall with minor injury, a cascade of trailing cyclists may cause a chain reaction of injured riders and damaged bikes. The rider who caused this to happen, has a reputation damaged for being a good rider. We’ll explore why this happens and preventive measures to take in avoiding catastrophic crashes.

A bicycle’s stability and balance is dependent on both wheels moving at the same speed, and the same direction. When a “touch” occurs, the front wheel loses speed, rendering the bike instantly unstable. Down you go, with rare exceptions.

Riders in a group are urged to always keep their front wheel on either side of the forward bike’s rear wheel. Should the lead rider inexplicably brake or break cadence, the trailing rider then has time to react to the speed change.

All riders shares responsibility to avoid wheel touches. Every rider must avoid sudden braking or lateral movement except in emergencies. If anybody needs to slow or stop, speak out and then cautiously move out of the pace line.

Post Author: Phil Coleman

Phil has been active with the Davis Bike Club in various roles since his move to Davis in 1996. Prior to that, Phil served in similar capacities with the Valley Spokesmen Bike Club, based in Dublin, California.