In which Frank and Fred go shopping.
Hi, Fred. Hey, this is the first time I've seen you
in a bike shop! Buying some new toys?
Hi, Frank. My 15-year-old nephew's getting into
biking, so for Christmas I'm gonna get him a bike gift. But he's
already got a helmet, so you don't have to tell me about safety
Wait a minute, Fred. There's a lot more to bike
safety than helmets! Of course, the most important thing is riding
properly, but if you want safety gifts, we can find safety gifts!
Hmm - his mom might like it if I gave him something
like that. Maybe she'd forget about me parking the Rambler in her
flower bed . . .
Here you go. Do you think your nephew will ever
ride at night? If so, get him one of these.
A headlight, huh? I remember you talking about
headlights. You think this is important?
Absolutely, Fred. If he ever rides at night, even
once, a headlight is the most important thing you can give him. And
second might be this.
Oh right, a taillight. But he's got reflectors - I
Reflectors help, but Ohio law calls for a headlight
and taillight. These blinky LED taillights let batteries last a
long, long time. That's important because kids forget to replace
batteries. Or how about this stuff?
"Halt" in a spray can? Do you spray that
on your brakes to make your bike halt?
No, you spray it on a dog that chases you. It's
better than trying to kick the dog, and it's way better than having
the dog hit your front wheel and knock you down. But speaking of
brakes . . .
Aw, he's already got brakes!
But there's a good chance they're not working right,
if he's like most teenage kids. How about a gift certificate for a
tuneup? His bike would probably be safer and ride better!
Yeah, that makes sense - but it might be more than I
want to spend, you know?
OK, then here's something that's cheap. Cute, no?
A bike bell? With Mickey Mouse? Get real! Does
anybody still use those?
If your nephew rides on a bike trail, it can help
keep pedestrians from jumping in front of him. Too bad they don't
have one with Lance Armstrong on it. Of course, he can always just
say "bicycle" before he passes. Let's see - here you go, a
A dentist's mirror? What's that doing in a bike
It's a rear view mirror that attaches to your
glasses. Lots of people like these. It helps you negotiate traffic.
Too nerdy, Frank. He's fifteen! But I like that one
that fits in the end of the handlebar.
There you go. Or check this - it's practical, and
it's good for safety.
A rear rack? For carrying things? How's that good
Well, a lot of teenagers ride carrying things in
their arms, or they tie a bag or a jacket to the handlebars. Either
one can cause a crash, especially if things get tangled in the
spokes. A rack on the back is more convenient, and much safer. And
speaking of jackets . . .
What, is that a bike safety jacket? Is it kevlar or
No, but it's a nice bright yellow. A bright-colored
jacket like this can make him more visible on dull winter days. And
it's got reflective material, too, for dusk or night.
OK, but I'm running out of time here. If you had to
pick just one thing, which would it be?
Fred, like I said, I think the most important thing
about bike safety is riding properly. How about a book on biking?
"Effective Cycling" by John Forester is the most famous,
but I think your nephew would prefer this one - "Urban Bikers'
Tricks & Tips" by Dave Glowacz. It does the job with
cartoons and pictures, and it's kind of fun and "edgy."
Oh yeah, this is cool. He'd like this. So, to be
safe, you just do what's in this book, huh?
Except for one problem. Dave Glowacz put some
"sly biker" tricks in there, and a couple things he calls
"sly," I call dangerous! Just tell your nephew that he's
got to obey the law, or you'll park your Rambler on top of his bike!
Hey, I already did that with his old bike. He
shouldn't have left it in the flower bed.
Ouch! OK, one last idea, Fred. Why not give him a
membership in the Out-Spokin' Wheelmen? The best way to learn to
ride is to ride with the experts. If he rides with us, he'll make
some friends and have some fun, and he'll learn a lot.
Son of a gun! Good idea, buddy! And it's in my price
range too! Hey, Merry Christmas, Frank!
Merry Christmas, Fred.
- © Frank Krygowski