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Road Cycling at night

I live in the South East, around the Bracknell area. I am a fairly poor road cyclist. I've never felt overly safe although I do enjoy being out - it's just the traffic I don't like.

I don't cycle that much on the road bike but I always feel the urge too. I often will choose to go running or use the mountain bike instead as I enjoy the freedom of it.

Anyway, I've been seeing quite a few people still going riding after dark on their road bikes. Would you say this is perfectly acceptable?

Do you have any advice on this, particularly:

1) What lights to get - nothing too expensive
2) High vis I am assuming?
3) Helmet light?
4) Anything other equipment?
4) Any other advice?

I can cycle during the day at the weekend, but weekdays are not possible due to work. I also can't cycle inside as I live in a flat and don't have room for a turbo


  • daniel_bdaniel_b Posts: 11,406
    edited November 2020
    All you need, in my opinion is:

    Good quality front and rear lights - I'd be looking at two front, and 2 rear as a minimum, in case one of them fails when you are out.

    If you are riding on country roads you need a light to see by, as opposed to a light to be seen.

    A moon light has just been posted in the bargains thread which fulfills that criteria - £44.99 currently.

    One rear on your seatpost, and perhaps one on your helmet would work, or 2 on the seatpost, whatever works best for your setup.

    Rear ones can be had for less money, especially if you get lucky in a sale OR get lucky with one of the Aldi or Lidl bike events, as they in my experience are pretty hardy and good quality - I know others have had different experiences though.

    Mudguards of some description will make your lights last longer, so they are not being pounded by water spray off your tyres when the roads are wet.

    High vis, or rather something or things that are reflective will always help in this situation.

    Ride like you are driving a car, be assertive, take your postion on the road appropriately, be aware of traffic around you and approaching.
    When approaching a pinch point (Where the road narrows and it is not safe for a car to pass - usually around a traffic island) see it coming way in advance, look behind you, see what traffic is about, or could end up there at the same time as you, make eye contact with the driver if there is one behind you, and work out if they have time\room to pass, and if not, ensure you move out smoothly into the middle of the lane in advance, as otherwise they may think the overtake is on.

    Also ideally ensure you have someone you can call if you have a mechanical, but as with all cycling, try and be as prepared as you can - have warm kit, an emergency jacket you can throw on if you have to stop, make sure you have relevant tools, spares with you, and if it's a longer ride, adequate drink and food.

    Some light deals here - just try and get ones that are rechargable if you can, as otherwise you need to shell out for batteries, or buy rechargable batteries plus a charger:
    Felt F70 05 (Turbo)
    Marin Palisades Trail 91 and 06
    Scott CR1 SL 12
    Cannondale Synapse Adventure 15 & 16 Di2
    Scott Foil 18
  • Cycling at night is actually quite nice, but this time of the year be careful, as occasionally roads freeze over before they have the chance to grit them (if they grit them at all)
    left the forum March 2023
  • 2 rear lights, one on constant and the other flashing. Decent front light, preferably one which won't dazzle oncoming road users. High viz is pointless at night, what you need is plenty of reflective stuff on you and the bike. Beware the possibility of ice, and give way to anything with antlers.
  • elbowlohelbowloh Posts: 7,078
    Yes, just take the sensible precautions as outlined by everyone else. I don't think its really any more dangerous than cycling in the day, as there are fewer cars on the road (generally). You just need to make yourself visible and have enough light for you to see.

    If you are still concerned, is there anyone you can go cycling with. Always good to have a buddy out with you. Look at a local club also, don't worry about being a new or "poor" cyclist, they're used to having new members and can help with improving skills (not just fitness/speed)
    Felt F1 2014
    Felt Z6 2012
    Red Arthur Caygill steel frame
  • oxomanoxoman Posts: 11,724
    All the above. I would recommend reflective spoke straws for both wheels, 4 or 5 on each wheel will light the whole wheel up when car lights hit them. Try and ride more assertive and out of the gutter.
    Too many bikes according to Mrs O.
  • davep1davep1 Posts: 836
    I can't add anything to what has been said above, except I think it is actually safer, from my experience. If you are away from street lights, you get a lot of warning when a car is approaching either from in front or behind. Cars trying to pass you will take more care, and more time, and pick better places to pass; I think this is because they are less confident about exactly where the edge of the road is on either side.

    I have a flashing rear light on my seat post, and one on my helmet, and I carry a spare. They are different brands and I can never remember how long since the last charge. The helmet one is a recent addition, but subjectively, I think it makes drivers take more care than when I don't use it.

    I have a Magic Shine front light, one with a separate battery. I think it was about £50 in a sale, but it is great. If you search ebay for CREE lights, the choice is bewildering for around £25. I have had these in the past, but something usually goes wrong with them after a year or two. If you can get a front light that gives an indication of low battery, get it, and learn what that means. Have you got 5 minutes left, or 30? I also have a back up front light, which I usually don't have on, but can get to quickly.

    Some people swear by a helmet mounted front light, you can point it anywhere. Also have a think about can you fix a puncture or other mechanical in the total dark? Most lights can be taken off a bike easily enough, but can you fix it somehow so you can work in the light it gives off?
  • RE the helmet light. I use one but last winter I was slagged off for using it.
  • slowbikeslowbike Posts: 8,498
    Front lights - 2, one main one and one that you can still ride on - but doesn't have to be as good as the main one - it should be enough to get you home.
    Rear lights 2+ - I mount one on seat post, one on seat stay and another on the saddlebag - I have 1 constant with a high flash, the other flashing (unless it's foggy - then 3 are on) - steady with a flash makes it easier for the vehicles behind to know its a cyclist and where you are - if it's just flash it take longer to locate (in the dark) as it's harder to perceive distance.
    Lights on Lids - unless you're off-road or doing some real country lanes with no cars approaching - don't have a front lid light - it's very off-putting for oncoming cars and on a good road it has no benefit - use it where it's twisty/turny and you need to see around the corners. Rear is fine, in addition to a main one on the bike - don't forget, drivers will expect to see one lower down - just a lid light may be interpreted as being further away to start with.
    Lights make - Moon for £45 is good - I used the Bikehut £50 1600 front for the main front and a Aldi bike light (about 300lumen) as a backup - on the road 1600 is way too much and I run it 1/2 power - I can ride on the 300. Rear - I've got a moon nebula which although expensive (£30-40?) is brilliant (IMHO) and the others are from old sets I've had ..
    Jacket - I've got a Provis 360 - they come up on Black Friday deals - I've got other jackets as well, the Provis is fine but very hot, probably not good for riding with others as it's too reflective.
    Reflexives on the bike - I put a strip of reflective tape on the back of the rear mudguard - again, just helps and gives the motorists no room for SMIDSY.
    Positioning - assertive, but not rudely - I tend to acknowledge when a vehicle approaches behind if I don't think they can get past easily - just so they know I know they're there - if they're courteous, then flash a thanks. If it looks like they're going to be there a long time - try and facilitate their passing - it's not nice having a vehicle sit behind you and you're out for the enjoyment, not to be hassled.

    Not much more to say than that
  • thistle_thistle_ Posts: 6,971
    slowbike said:

    Lights on Lids - unless you're off-road or doing some real country lanes with no cars approaching - don't have a front lid light - it's very off-putting for oncoming cars and on a good road it has no benefit - use it where it's twisty/turny and you need to see around the corners.

    I find a light on my lid essential on country lanes around here - you can point it at whatever you need a better look at to avoid (potholes, dead badgers) and when you have to move around said objects your light is still pointing where you need it to - not where you're handlebars are pointing.
    It also makes it really easy to ride along empty roads with a blinding bright light (if that's your thing) and quickly point it down and to the side to avoid dazzling oncoming traffic/people - and then point it back up right in their face when they refuse to dip their lights and insist on blinding you >:)

    Having said that, I usually take my helmet mounted light with me but ride with it off most of the time (using only my £5 zecto drive clone) because it's just nicer riding around enjoying the peace and quiet and looking at the stars.

  • strap some laser pointers to your helmet. At the front you can repurpose blueray player lasers as these are pretty powerful.
  • thistle_thistle_ Posts: 6,971

    strap some laser pointers to your helmet. At the front you can repurpose blueray player lasers as these are pretty powerful.

    Recently chucked out a dead Blu ray player too 🙁
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