5 reasons we don’t ride at night

From single track


According to our survey data, 55% of mountain bikers have tried night riding. That means that 45% of mountain bikers haven’t even tried it, and of that 55%, I’d be willing to bet the number of riders that strap a light to their bike at least once per week is much, much less.

As I thought about it, I realized that lately I haven’t been night riding nearly as much as I have in past years. Here are 5 things, based on my personal experience and my conversations with others, that might keep you from riding at night… and reasons why they shouldn’t hold you back:

1. It’s expensive.

The number one excuse I hear from mountain bikers who don’t even want to dabble in night riding is, “Lights are so expensive! I can’t afford one of those!” Yes, there are expensive lights out there on the market. But if you took a look at our light buyer’s guide, you’ll realize that there are plenty of lights right around the $100 price point. And if you shop eBay, there are even no-name bike lights on sale for much cheaper than that.

My first night ride of the season. Pictured here is the Fenix BT20, which is a good-quality light set that can be purchased for about $150.
My first night ride of the season. Pictured here is the Fenix BT20, which is a good-quality light set that can be purchased for about $150.

In my opinion, buying a light is the #1 thing you can do to extend the amount of time you can ride your mountain bike in the fall and spring. Even if you have a lower-end bike, chances are your bike is worth at least $1,000. What good is a $1,000 (or a $10,000) bike if you can’t ride it during the week? Drop a hundred bucks on a light, and keep on pedaling!

2. It’s dangerous.

There seems to be this pervasive opinion among night riding n00bs that riding at night is dangerous. But the reality is, it’s no more dangerous than riding during the daytime. With even low-priced bike lights pushing 750-1000 lumens, and some lights boasting a whopping 6000 lumens, these lights can illuminate the trail as brilliantly as the sun.

3. It’s cold at night.

This one really depends on the time of year and the location, and in the northern reaches of the continent during the middle of the winter it can get really frigging cold at night! Honestly, sometimes this is a really good reason to stay indoors. However, with the advent of fat bikes, clothing manufacturers have made huge strides in recent years in producing lightweight, low-profile bike clothing that is surprisingly warm. With the right layers and preparation, you can easily mountain bike comfortably in zero degree (F) weather… or colder.

4. There’s no one else to ride with.

While at times it can be daunting to night ride alone, I’ve found that night riding solo is the most peaceful mountain bike experience ever. There’s usually no one else on the trails, and the quiet and solitude can’t be matched! Of course, if that makes you uncomfortable, it’s pretty easy to find people to ride with. Many shops conduct night rides all year long, as do mountain bike clubs and individuals. There are tons of people who night ride, and many of them will be willing to show you the ropes!

5. It’s hard to get motivated when it’s dark outside.

If we’re honest with ourselves, many of us already know the points and counterpoints listed above. But really, most of the time it’s just hard to get motivated to wrangle all of your bike gear, and pedal your bike in the pitch black of night. However, there are some steps you can take to make it easier.

The first step is to find a regular night ride to be a part of. I touched on this above, but there’s nothing more motivating than knowing a group of your friends will be riding at the same time, on the same day, every week.

The second step is almost just as important, and that’s to keep your gear ready to go, all the time:

When you get back from a ride, toss your battery on the charger so it’s ready to go at a moment’s notice. (Some higher-end lights feature charging stations that you can leave your battery on, ensuring your battery is always topped off.)
Wash your clothes quickly, and keep your warm winter riding clothes in a dedicated pile, ready to be donned in minutes.
Keep your hydration pack full of all the gear and layers you might need, so all you have to do is fill your water reservoir.
If you run a bike-mounted light, keep it mounted on your bike at all times so you don’t have to take it on and off.
And if you’re partial to a helmet-mounted light, dedicate one helmet to night riding alone, and leave your mount attached so you’re not constantly putting it on and taking it off when switching from night to day.
While at first blush going out for a night ride can be a daunting task, the right mindset and the proper preparation can make it a true joy and an utterly unique experience!


Police operation targets cyclists and gets criticism but I think it is a good idea …..

just my opinion but I think this a good approach from the police (fines skipped if they can prove they bought lights)



On Thursday night, over 30 cyclists were stopped in Cambridge in the first hour of an operation designed to crack down on people who ride without lights in the dark. Cambridgeshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Sir Graham Bright, says the annual Operation LIT is ‘not about giving cyclists a hard time’.

Running until November 22, Operation LIT – which stands for ‘Lights Instead of Tickets’ – is so-named because those stopped will be able to get out of paying the £50 fine by purchasing bike lights and then presenting the receipt  and LIT form at Parkside police station within seven working days.


Speaking to Cambridge News Online, Sir Graham Bright commented:

“This campaign is not about giving cyclists a hard time. It is about keeping them, and other road users, safe.

“Many of the people stopped had lights in their bags but had not attached them. Once attached they were sent on their way with no charge. With the longer nights, now is the ideal time to remind people of the need to keep safe and make sure that other road users can see them.”

PC Simon Railer, from Cambridgeshire police, said that as a minimum requirement, cyclists should have a good set of working lights fitted to their bike – a white light to the front and a red to the rear. He also recommended the use of a high visibility top and reflective-aids.

However, while few would argue with the importance of having lights on a bike, some locals have questioned police priorities. A Cambridge resident told road.cc:

“Police here really need to concentrate on the thing that actually harms cyclists, which is careless, reckless or impatient driving.”

Earlier this week, a similar blitz in Oxford saw 267 cyclists given fixed penalty notices in three hours. Again, it is possible to avoid the fine by purchasing a set of lights.


The importance of proper bike tail lights

Cyclists often downplay the importance of bicycle tail lights in comparison to headlights. The headlights of a bicycle are required to be visible from at least 100 feet away while the red reflector positioned at the back of a bicycle merely has to meet very basic legal mandates. Perhaps the most puzzling piece of this aspect is that bicyclists are required to ride in the same direction as traffic, leaving the motorists passing a bicycle only able to see the red rear reflector positioned usually just beneath the seat. If a motorist is unable to see this red reflector, they may also not be able to see the bicycle which could result in severe bodily harm or even death to the cyclist.

The number of accidents reported from cycling and motorist activities, along with increased bicycle safety programs, have led to cyclists across the globe to trend more toward brighter and more obvious bicycle tail lights regardless of legal requirement.

Numerous reports and articles exist today that discuss the dangers associated with new cyclists taking to the roads without first educating themselves on proper safety protocols for sharing the road and maintaining safe cycling habits. Most state laws merely require reflectors, however, it is highly recommended for increased safety to purchase and maintain actual bicycle tail lights for increased visibility to motorists and other cyclists.

Cycling safety programs have increased awareness to a point that cyclists are often even pulled over for not having an actual bicycle tail light. Specific examples are present throughout the cycling community of cyclists being struck by vehicles for not having tail lights for visibility. Most cyclists injured during motorist and cyclist accidents have headlights, yet, lack bicycle tail lights.

Research suggests that almost 700 bicyclists were killed each year during accidents involving motorists and cyclists between the years of 2000-2005. Fortunately, this number has decreased slightly during the past few years in large part to increased safety awareness. However, without the proper cycling safety skills, this number could climb once more.

LED Rear Bicycle Lights

There are a few types of tail lights for a bike but now the most popular and common are LED rear lights. Note this: although it is the most popular it is not the best. LED lights are chosen mostly because of very long lifespan, because they are cheap and consumes less battery energy than other bulbs.

Usually LED lights come in two or 3 modes: flashing, steady or random. Research shows that flashing mode drives much more attention (3-5 times more) than steady mode. Flashy taillights are forbidden in some countries, probably because it irritates and partially distracts motorists attention. However it is allowed and recommended in mostly every country. Random pattern lights are not allowed in the UK as far I  remember (correct me if I am wrong) unless it is a second light alongside another steady or flashing rear light.

My lights

I use two cateyes when out on the road – one is at the top of the seatpost and I normally attach another either to a bag or to my shorts or belt. This gives a change in light and direction over the bike mounted on especially when doing some out of saddle cycling …. and anything that attract a motorist’s attention is good in my books. I also use a more powerful USE flash and flare on my Brompton which I am a big fan off – especially on darker roads.

A great cartoon by Yehuda Moon to finish off

Exposure Lights Flash and Flare Review

Flash and Flare

I bought these lights a while back for the Brompton as I thought their neatness and compact dimensions would make them perfect as they wouldn’t interfere with the fold.

The parcel came and I was impressed by the build quality of the units – It is £70 for the pair which is quite spendy but then I am using them everyday in winter so they need to be well made.

The back (flare) light is 75w lumen and has a very nice flash mode where it doesn’t go on off but rather there is a steady light and it flashes brighter.

The light clips into its moulded bracket quite firmly and the bracket is attached to the bike with a silicone band that will fit all seatposts from 25.0 to 34.9 apparently. It’s real easy to get on and off the bike, no need for screwdrivers or allen-keys here – you can leave the mount in place and just click it on or off and put it in your front pocket. If you are a  multiple bike user or you don’t want a light bolted on their bike all the time for security reasons, then this is a godsend.

neat under the brompton saddle - no fold issues

Turning it on is a simple matter of twisting the lens clockwise, and turning the Flare off and on again within three seconds will change the mode from constant to flashing or vice-versa, and once turned off (by screwing the lens anticlockwise) the light will automatically turn on again in the mode you turned it off in. I found it a bit tricky to do on the move as when you twist the light the casing twists in the mount … again this is because I go through a darkened tunnel on my commute and want to be seen. The work around is to leave it on.

Flash on

The flare front light is not quite as good for a brompton as there is a bit of light spill which ruins night cycling. I know the front is designed so that light is seen side on but this interferes with eyesight on brompton as head is directly above light. The bottom spill also then reflect back off the S-bag so doubly compromised.

Saying that a tiny bit of gaffer tape cures any night vision worries – most users wont notice especially if they have street lamps as well – it’s only the country jaunts in pitch black that is an issue.

Battery time at the moment seems fine – bought a pack of 20 batteries for £12 (on expenses) but will probably get a rechargeable set in the long run.

RED means ....

Update: Front plastic lens on FLASH front unit since cracked – emailed USE and they told me to mail the light back to them …. what great customer service – new replacement arrived 2 days letter with comp slip and no charge. Fantastic – won’t hesitate to support them again.

So was in the PX (shopping place) when I…

So was in the PX (shopping place) when I spotted fak (battery) flares in the sale.


Tactical Lighting



$8 instead of $20 so bought one and lashed it on to the tail of the brooks.


2 zipties and on the lugs



I have a blinky but this seems quite cool a type of underglow feel.


lightsabre arse