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Advice on equipment for winter commute on unlit A road.

gsxr1000gsxr1000 Posts: 4
edited January 2013 in Commuting general
For financial and health reasons, I have decided to start cycling again after a 3 year gap with little exercise and a bad lifestyle.

I was previously quite fit and a keen cyclist/club rider and easily averaged 130+ miles a week. I am now a couple of stones overweight and very unfit!

I have decided to start slowly with my commute to work which is only 8 miles. Most of it is on an unlit Cornish A road, the A3059 from St Columb Major to Newquay. I really used to hate this commute in winter as it is so dangerous in the dark, so I have decided to invest in what I hope is better kit to make it alot safer.

My previous commute kit consisted of 'Topeak highlites' front and rear lights and a couple of reflective strips around my ankles. I could hardly see where I was going and felt very vulnerable, so I hardly ever rode to work in the dark.

I have recently tried to do a little research and have ended up buying some new kit to hopefully help boost my confidence on this commute. Any advice on whether to use the lights in flashing or constant mode and any extra safety tips would be much appreciated. Here is what I have purchased:

Moon X power 500 front light (+ using old Topeak front light)
Blackburn Mars 4 rear light (+ using old Topeak rear light)
More Miles High Vis backpack cover (for my rucksack!)
High Vis arm bands (my cycling jacket is black!)


  • Father JackFather Jack Posts: 3,508
    on one cycles have a few phaart lights on offer, two rear would be suitable, with one £5 for the front. The front isn't good enough for unlit roads though. Useful as a backup. The CREE XM-L XML T are bright and a decent price.

    For rear, one blinking one static. Front on static.
    Say... That's a nice bike..
    Trax T700 with Lew Racing Pro VT-1 ;-)
  • pdwpdw Posts: 315
    gsxr1000 wrote:
    Any advice on whether to use the lights in flashing or constant mode and any extra safety tips would be much appreciated.

    For the rear, one of each. For the front, both on steady, or one of each. When you're using your lights to see by, having them flash isn't very helpful.

    Get something reflective on your feet or pedals. They'll be in the beam of dipped headlights, and make it very clear that you're a cyclist.
  • Spoke reflectors? I put them mainly on my front wheel as they get a bit mucky on the rear but they are real cheap way of getting large side reflectors on your bike.
    Sometimes you're the hammer, sometimes you're the nail

    strava profile
  • wod1wod1 Posts: 61
    For my winter commute also partly along an unlit but reasonably busy road I upgraded most of my kit this year. Hump reflective back pack a good start, Then have got a Exposure race mark 7 head light which is really bright and a good for seeing with light, not cheap tho but as it is rechargeable it saves on batteries. Rear I now have a fibre flare to complement my cateyes.
  • I've added a small LED (Knog Frog mounted upside down) to the back of my helmet as I commute on country lanes where hedges hide me from traffic. Hopefully it'll get spotted over a hedge long before my much lower and brighter main rear light (Knog Blinder).

    I also agree with Father Jack, one blinking (to catch attention) and one static (for distance judgement). I do the same on the front with the brighter of my lights in static mode.

    Ankle reflectors and reflective helmet band (I have a Respro checked helmet band) are also useful.
  • alidafalidaf Posts: 147
    I commute on unlit A roads and have a Niterider Minewt 350. It is just about good enough without going too fast (about 15mph is the limit before me not seeing enough ahead). I think there is a 650 now, which I imagine would be more than adequate. A lot of cyclists on various forums advocate some of the the Chinese torches that have ratings of 1200 lumens. My proxy experience of these is that they get hot, are very unreliable and can be too bright for oncoming traffic. The Niterider's have 3 modes, none of which blink, so for additional visibility I have a cheap flasher.

    For rears, I have a couple of Smart R2s on the seat stays, an older Smart on the seat post, and another Aldi special on a hoop on my back pack. I am very visible from the back.

    edit: Additional

    I would avoid high powered flashers as they really distract oncoming traffic - cyclists as well as drivers. If you have a flasher, don't use it solely to see by as I quite often see and wonder how the hell they can manage. The reason I have a flasher is to catch the peripheral vision of drivers that are about to enter the flow of traffic from a side road.
  • meanredspidermeanredspider Posts: 12,550
    I use AyUps as my main lights up front and a Mars rear light. Additionally I have the Light & Motion Vis 360 front & rear combo on my lid. For the reasons above, I think lid lights are good for being seen but have the added advantage that you can "catch the eye" of drivers at junctions by looking at them. I actually think a small flashing light at the front helps drivers discern that you're a bike. Most of the time I have my lid lights both flashing.

    Whilst not everyone agrees, I think bright/contrasting clothing is important. At half-light (dawn & dusk) I can often see someone's jacket/jersey long before I see their rear light provided it's bright.
    ROAD < Scott Foil HMX Di2, Volagi Liscio Di2, Jamis Renegade Elite Di2, Cube Reaction Race > ROUGH
  • oxomanoxoman Posts: 9,235
    Get yourself a pack of spoke reflectors and just put 8 on each wheel in a block plus a knog on your helmet with the topeak on flash you should be highly visible. I currently have a couple of cheap rear lights and a cateye rear which all go on flash mode, because of the different flash speed it is really effective. ( so my colleagues tell me.) Can't fault the moon cracking light. The only other thing i would say is get something like a set of altura night vision tights or similar hi viz style and some hi viz overshoes. The reflectives moving around as you pedal get picked up by all the lights around making you highly visible.
    Too many bikes according to Mrs O.
  • I find it helpful having a lamp on my helmet and one on the bike. It seems to help with spotting potholes etc on the road and if I need to see outside the pool of light in front of the bike. I've never tried spoke reflectors but that seems a good idea perhaps more in the cities.
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