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Thread: Night riding

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    SF Bay Area

    Night riding

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    So I am a newbie myself, have had my road bike for about 2 mos, and recently switched to clipless pedals (2 days ago in fact! ). As it begins to get darker earlier, I know I will find myself returning home in nearly complete darkness. Therefore, riding time becomes a bit more sketchy.

    How do most of you find riding at night to be? How feasible is it and what kinds of adjustments will have to made, equipment and so forth?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    foothills of the Ozarks aka Tornado Alley
    Ninerfan, I don't know what kind of roads you will be traveling, but when I rode home on the streets at dusk, I found the headlights hit at the right angle and I was temporarily blinded. Now I get home before the sun sets low to avoid any problems.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Sydney, Australia
    I enjoy night riding. In Sydney, the weather is starting to warm up, and the night air can be refreshing.

    Bright clothing is essential, a bright safety vest might be dorky but it works.

    Decent bike lights are also needed. I'd go with 2 rear lights & a decent front light (or 2).

    Some reflective tape on the bike & helmet is also a good idea

    And last of all, some common sense. Keep to well-lit streets, be aware of your surroundings, carry a moblle phone & spare tube, and stay away from off-road bike paths.

    Have fun out there

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Vancouver, BC
    anything reflective is really important, but make sure you're also wearing light clothing, so a driver can easily identify the glowing object...

    I ride with yellow lenses at dusk and at night. The yellow reduces the glare from street lamps and oncoming cars.

    Make sure you're paying close attention to the road, as cracks and bumps are far less visible... I didn't realize how much I use my periphery when riding until it was so dark that I had to really focus in order to avoid cracks (and a possible crash).

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    I sometimes ride in Danville on the Iron Horse trail at night. The Dinotte light is great in the dark and I feel safer. It's a little pricy for some, but I can see the path and be seen when I'm on the road with cars. The customer service is great, btw.


    Nashbar is selling at decent (high) price



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Portland, OR
    Due to my extended work+school hours, for me bike commuting almost always means night riding, even around summer solstice.

    I have all of the following mounted on my bike:
    Super bright Red blinky light (Cateye TLD-1000) on the end of the rear rack
    4 spoke lights mounted on the front wheel, for side visibility (Hokey Spokes)
    Super bright White front headlight (Exposure, rechargeable bright LED)
    Second white front headlight (Cateye Opticube) that I keep on strobe mode (it is also a reasonable better-than-nothing backup light in case I've forgotten to charge my LED light)

    And then I wear:
    Plain ol' red blinky light on the back of my helmet
    Bright yellow vest or jacket or rainjacket

    So far I've been able to see and be seen quite well with this setup. Many cars give me a wide berth, and are generally polite because they don't get scared when I appear "out of nowhere!".

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2007
    All things considered I prefer to ride during the day, but since it is going to be completely dark before I leave work in a couple of weeks, I don't have much choice. I ride home on some country roads that are not lit, so lighting is really key to me.

    I have a reasonably bright CatEye Opticube on the front of my bike, it isn't good enough to really see anything in total darkness, but it works fine on lit paths and helps get the attention of cars. I usually use it in blink mode.

    I have a super-bright headlamp that I wear on my helmet. It is blindingly bright and does a great job of illuminating the road/signs/etc. I much prefer it to an on-the-bike lamp because it lights up what I am looking at.

    I attach as many blinky lights to the back of me & my bike as I can (I have a collection of them) and I have a timbuk2 bag with a reflective panel (like this one...though TE doesn't carry the one I got anymore). I went in search of the bag after I saw a guy riding with one at night, the reflective panel is huge and really bright. I get so many comments from both cyclists and motorists, day and night, about the bag.

    I wear reflective leg bands too, the movement of legs draws attention too.


  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Everett, WA
    I am a newbie who just recently started riding at night also....the lack of peripheral vision is a little odd, but I'm finding that I really enjoy it. You'll want to wear shades with clear or yellow lenses so that you'll still have eye protection - especially because bugs will be attracted to your bike lights. Bright and/or reflective clothing is definitely helpful, especially on your legs where the motion will call attention to the reflectors, but realize the cars are going to be fairly close to you already by the time they see your reflective clothing or bike reflectors. Bike lights are the most important factor both for seeing and being seen.

    Regarding front lights, there are a lot of choices out there for a lot of different price points; your choice will be dependent on how much you want to spend, and what you need for where & how long you'll be riding. For me, 10 miles of my commute are on a moderate-traffic road with no shoulder whatsoever, so I ended up getting an HID light (Planet Bike Alias HID) and I don't regret it even though it was pricey, because I know my beam can be seen on the road from a long way out from all directions (I'll possibly be mistaken for a motorcycle or a car with one headlight out - but I'll be seen nonetheless ) I have a Planet Bike Superflash blinky as my rear light.

    I also carry with me a small, inexpensive LED headlamp (Petzl Tikka) as a backup. It will serve as an emergency light in the event that either my battery or bulb fails, and it will give me hands-free lighting in the event that I need to change a flat.

    Good luck with the night riding, let us know how it goes!
    Last edited by malaholic; 10-22-2007 at 10:33 PM.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    (malaholic....sweet photos of your mals!)

    I love riding at night, but I like it because there is less traffic on the side streets...so I guess that's useless...

    But! You guys who ride home after dusk should have flags!!! the kind that stick out horizontally with reflective triangles on them...They give you a wider zone.
    Discipline is remembering what you want.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    At least for me, my last VERY close run-in with a deer has steered me away from riding at night. I don't know about where you guys live or ride but we have a decent amount of deer here. Other stupid little animals like rabbits, squirrels, and gophers are always something to watch out for.

    I've gone out with a friend several times and the end of our ride was in the dark. I do have to admit that it was neat and fun to ride in the dark. You feel a lot more freedom for some reason and it's fun in the sense that you can do anything you want! It's pitch black and nobody can see you! (Our rodes didn't have many street lights...if not none at all).

    So my only advice is to be wary of wildlife. They're certainly out there and now you're in their domain once the lights go out and people are in their homes.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Equus, you live in NJ? yes, you guys Do have a lot of deer, don't you.
    Here in the PacNW, there aren't too many deer in the BIG CITY... poor things wouldn' t know what to do.
    I ride in the wee hours before dawn to get to work. I have a light on my helmet and two lights on my bike which are powered by the schmidt hub on my front wheel. I wear dayglow yellow and have two tail lights as well.
    I am still terrified but it's better to ride with someone else.
    for six tanks of gas you could have bought a bike.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2005

    Which lights do you have off your Schmidt?? I'm trying to make a decision about replacement lights for my bikes

    We ride after dark all of the time - when after dark, I usually ride with DH. We're certainly well lit, and we do ride different routes. Sadly, where we live, once cannot ride but so far at night without being on either very rural roads (nice) or in terrible neighborhoods (not nice).

    Most days in life don't stand out, But life's about those days that will...

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Night riding is so much fun. It is important to find a good light that will illuminate the road or trail for you and of course let you be seen. It seems that the best bet if you have the money is to buy a light of at least $150 or more. Light N Motion seems to have good stuff that is what my buddies and I use. They have a light that looks like a blasted freight train coming down the trail and lights a few hundred yards ahead of you in a blue light (about $300 I think). Although this can cause problems with blinding oncoming traffic. Also you need lights on the back of your bike to be seen by others from behind, like traffic and other cyclists. Also remember to go slower then you would during the day at night as you cannot see as well with most lighting systems as in daylight. Also it is best to get a lighting system that is rechargable and not battery powered may be a little heavier and expensive but it will save you on batteries in the long run. It seems that most lights have a run time between 2 and 5 hours depending on brand and light settings.

    Once you start riding like this you'll likely be hooked, it is a lot of fun.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    I don't go for fast riding at night but I do it a lot on my commute. (I still get a workout depending on which bicycle I"m riding.) I got a nice dynamo hub that lights my way, but I found the Cateye lights work well, too. WIth the dynamo I just don't have to worry about batteries. (I do kinda worry about "what about when the light bulb goes out" so I tend to have my light that goes around my head somewhere in my gear just in case. I would want that if I needed to get off the bike and see stuff anyway.)
    I have put a Trek Flare 10 light on my helmet with its universal mount and cars give me a ton of room. I also got some strings of multicolored LED lights
    that are wrapped around my camelbak and another one around theback of my bike.
    I have hokey-spokes too but have to find the thingies to attach them or improvise something (soudns like an excuse to kibbitz at the LBS ) - they get lots of good reaction.
    Just the helmet light works well - getting two strings flashing too gets me comments like "NObody's going to miss you!" I'll fire up the Christmas Tree and get it on the bike before too long...
    (I'm in a college town on the prairie so I can get *some* traffic... if I go out a few miles I have to watch for wildlife but generally I'm not going fast enough to collide with them.)
    Last edited by Geonz; 10-23-2007 at 03:11 PM.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    When I commuted I had blinkys on the back and front and a helmet light because it's less jumpy and looks where I do. Bright clothes and an orange safety vest with reflectives and lights on it that goes far enough down drivers can see it even when I'm bent over the bars. And a string of battery powered bright christmas lights wrapped around the frame.

    And ride as if I was absolutely invisible to cars, pretty much like daytime riding.
    I used to have an open mind but my brains kept falling out.



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