Halloween season is upon us, and if you’re planning to participate in any cycling events, choosing a costume to ride in is of critical autumnal importance.
But suiting up for a festive ride won’t be easy as pulling on a funny wig or grabbing the sheet off your housemate’s bed. One minor misstep in ill-considered attire could send you sailing over your handlebars, or stranded on the side of the road with broken spokes and a shredded mermaid tail.
These tips will help you choose a costume that maximizes both safety and holiday fun.
1. Be careful with capes
There are plenty of cape-free hero options, like Green Lantern, Flash, Spiderman, Wolverine, Daredevil, the Hulk, Nightcrawler, and so on. If you already had your heart set on a caped crusader, consider altering your costume to a sleeker, capeless version—most capes have more practical downsides than aesthetic or power-based benefits anyway.
If you’re not sure which comic book character you’d like to be, consider a character who already has two-wheeled transport included as part of his or her whole milieu. Marvel’s Ghost Rider is your best choice here, but Batman (sans cape) and Captain America are also fantastic if you can decorate your bike.
2. Approach animals with caution
As with superheroes, you’ll want to stray away from obvious spoke dangers like octopi, squid, and other tentacled beings. Long tails fall under that category as well—either pin your tail up against the costume or settle for a nub-tailed critter like a polar bear or a bunny.
Also consider the distance you’re riding and the temperature. A furry, mascot-size costume will not only present a riding challenge, but you could potentially overheat. Instead try a homemade, spandex version of a slimmer animal, like a lemur.
2. Be wary of full masks
They can compromise your peripheral vision. Use face paint if possible.
3. Think inside the box
Paradoxically, a good old-fashioned robot or Tetris piece can make a great costume strictly because of the comical nature of operating a bicycle from within a giant painted box. Simply cut bigger armholes, use a smaller box that can rest above the waist, and make sure your head has plenty of room to swivel when necessary.
Again, you’re going to also need to consider the safety and distance you’re traveling—box-based costumes are best for trails or roads with no traffic, and their cumbersome nature can quickly grow tiring.
4. Make sure you can get a helmet on
Helmets are mandatory on every ride, even for superheroes!
5. Reach for the stars
Celebrities (in or out of character) and other forms of humans are often a safe option because they’re generally unfettered by capes, tails, or masks. Zombies, vampires, and witches can also fall into this category, provided you make smart decisions about draped clothing.
6. Don’t phone it in…
Avoid the temptation to settle for the classic sheet ghost, because it ticks off pretty much all of the safety no-nos listed here—spoke danger, peripheral vision compromise, and helmet blockage.
7. Unless you’re phoning home
One simple-yet-genius costume idea: Elliott from E.T. All you really need is a red hoodie, a bike basket, and a cardboard cutout of your alien friend.
Of course, a bike is much more than a Halloween prop, and we have some suggestions: