Light Yourself and Your Ride

As the nights begin to stretch out and riding in the darkness becomes more of a lifestyle and less of a choice - it's even more important to get your lights right.

Goals

When it comes to night rides, your lights play two important roles: helping you see and helping you be seen. When picking and positioning your lights, remembering those two goals will make it easier to get everything out of 'em.

Be Seen

Making yourself more visible is arguably the more important lighting objective. Nobody likes a ninja cyclist and riding unlit in the dark dramatically increases your chances of being in an accident or getting hassled by the fuzz. Slapping some flashy/blinkies on your bod and bike will help cars pick you out of the cityscape and keep pedestrians from stepping out in front of you as you race home.

See

The other important role of lights is to illuminate the road ahead, help you see where you're going, and avoid nasty road surprises (did you know potholes get 3-6" deeper at night?). Having some higher-powered, solid beams pointed at the road ahead should keep you covered on the "light the road" front.

Lighting Yourself

When it comes to making yourself visible, the goal is grabbing attention and making sure you're easy to see. Lights pointed at yourself will make your whole body visible (and that's easier for drivers and peds to pick up than some mysterious floating lights on the road).

Consider a helmet lamp, tacking a light onto your backpack, and/or, mounting some lights on your frame but having them pointed up at you, instead of the road, to light up your whole bod.

In this instance flashing or solid will probably work fine, but I prefer to run one of each - that way I'm always fully illuminated but also get the benefit of the blinking to grab tired/lazy eyes. Just make sure you don't blind yourself with a poorly placed light blasting you in the face :).

Lighting The Road

Front

When it comes to lights up front, most places will only let you run white or yellow, so check your local laws and make sure your color is up to code. Given the choice, I'd recommend white lights over yellow as they're generally brighter and less likely to blend into the backdrop of streetlights, city lights, etc... And that shouldn't be hard since most front lights are white by default anyway. And, since we're lighting the road, you'll want a solid beam as opposed to flashing so it's not like you're riding through strobe city.

You'll likely mount your headlight(s) to your handlebars, but you can also try your fork, headtube, basically anywhere that you can get that beam pointing forward. You also want to make sure your light's pointing at the road ahead of you and not off into space (and the eyes of other riders and drivers). Car headlights use shaped beams to keep most of the light pointed down at the road, so with your bike lights just keep them canted down a few degrees and you'll have better light on the road and street-mates that can see.

Rear

With rear facing lights, most jurisdictions will require red, but again check your local laws (and count your lucky stars that 99% of rear lights come in red by default).

And rear lights are really more about letting traffic see you than lighting up the road, so consider using a couple, one solid and one blinking. That way you're never "invisible" for a moment as can happen when you only run a blinky, but you also get the added "eye-catchiness" of a flashing light to really make sure people see you up ahead.

And that's it! A well-lit bike is a must for getting the most out of night-rides. Keep the road lit for yourself, keep yourself lit for traffic, and you can spin the night away safely. And if you really want to go over the top, grab some Revolights and you can ride that light all the way to sunrise! We'll see you out there.

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