With the roads empty of cars, many feel Yom Kippur is the perfect time to show off a new bicycle.The two days before Yom Kippur are the busiest time of year for bicycle vendors. Sporting equipment store managers reported a 1,000 percent increase in bike sales on Thursday.“The Yom Kippur holiday is a critical time of year for our bicycle sales,” said Roy Moliov, commercial director of the Mega Sport chain.“If you go to any of our outlets today and tomorrow, you will see that all of our focus is on that. Our staff members are busy assembling, tuning, testing and selling new bikes. In places where there is space, we also take the bikes out on a test ride.”According to Moliov, bike sales on the eve of Yom Kippur are traditionally up to 10 times higher than on any other day of the year, and this year is no different.“The rush isn’t over yet, but according to all the indications, we can expect to see a 20% rise in bicycle sales this year over 2009,” he said.Most of the bicycles sold are for children. “The kids grow up and need a new bicycle and Yom Kippur is a great time to break in a new one,” Moliov said.“But kids aren’t the only ones buying. We have families coming in and purchasing three or four bikes at once. Parents who want to go on a bicycle trip with their children drop in for a new bike to replace the rusty old bike that was left in the yard,” he said.Moliov said that this year people were buying more safety gear.“If there is a 20% rise in bicycle purchases, there is a 50% rise in the purchase of helmets and other protective equipment like elbow pads, flashlights and reflectors. It’s encouraging to see that people are choosing to invest in safety, and we encourage everyone who buys a bike to make sure they have a good helmet,” Moliov said.Gadi Meents, co-owner of the Meents and Rosen chain of bicycle stores, also reported a large increase in sales during September, up 35-40% compared to other months of the year, but he said that because this year the holidays are early on the secular calendar, closely following children’s summer vacations, sales had dropped off slightly from last year.“So far we have seen a minor drop, but there is still today and tomorrow. As we all know, Israelis tend to wait until the last minute,” Meents said.“Overall, Israelis have taken to cycling in a big way and over the last decade there has been a consistent rise of between 7 and 9% in bike sales every year, though 2009 was the exception to the rule; sales remained constant, because of the economic situation.“High-end bicycles are considered a luxury good and suffered from the same drop in sales as other goods in the that category.” According to Meents, whose stores tend to cater to the more serious and well-off cyclists, the bikes sold before Yom Kippur tend to be of the cheaper varieties.People should be careful when buying motorized bicycles, which have become more popular in recent months, he said. Customers need to know that there are strict safety regulations regarding motorized bicycles and the only ones licensed for sale in Israel are the ones that conform to the European standard.There are bikes around that come from other places, that people either brought in themselves or bought from unlicensed importers.“These bikes are illegal for use in Israel and in the case of an accident, no insurance company will cover the damages,” Meents said.Ahead of Yom Kippur, the Standards Institution of Israel issued an advisory on what to look for when buying a bicycle.Most wheeled vehicles in Israel, including bicycles and toy bikes, are subject to Israeli standards and all imports must meet them. Bicycles are tested by the Standards Institution for braking, steering, wheel sizes, wheels’ resistance to pressure, seat sizes and more.The Standards Institution’s advisory encouraged people to check the box the bike comes in for details like country of manufacture, manufacturer’s brand, importer’s details and instructions for assembly and operation.When buying a bicycle for children, people should take the youngsters with them, to make sure that the bike is comfortable for them and is the right size.When buying bicycles for young children, the Standards Institution encouraged buyers to make sure that the wheels are full and not spoked, so that the child’s feet don’t get caught in the wheels.As for pre-assembled bicycles, the Standards Institution advised checking carefully that all the screws are tightened properly and to ask the salesman for a statement saying that they are.