One of the most exiting experiences you can have while riding your mountain bike is taking part in bicycle night riding on one of your favorite single tracks. Until recently, night cycling was the hobby of just a few. Lately, though, more and more bicycle riders are exploring the charm of bicycling at night. The main reason for the relatively new phenomenon is the rising popularity of the “24 hours rides”. In these rides the most interesting and dramatic parts are taking place during the evenings & nights.
Another reason for the growing popularity of the bicycle night riding phenomenon is the new bicycle lighting technology (Halogen or LED): They can supply much more light while consuming less battery power. They will perfectly illuminate your trail.
What Makes Bicycle Night Riding so Attractive?
In my opinion, the real answer to this question lays deep in our nature as human being.
Tip: Familiarize yourself with a route in daylight before cycling on it at night.
Even with the best bicycle lights, your visibility at night won’t be good enough to plan your route. The last thing you want is to get lost in the middle of the night on a deserted bike trail. Thus, you should not only plan your route well in advance, but also make a trip along the route in daylight to ensure you know exactly where you’re going to be heading at night.
We were hunters, and still we are. The feeling of riding in the middle of the night while our track is lighted by a shaking small battery plash light that creates a “light tunnel”, and trying to guess what & who will come into our light beam – and this is why bicycle night riding is so exiting.
When darkness arrives, the light spot combines the rider, his bikes and 30 feet of lighted trail to one – nothing exists beyond that (at least until the battery power will end).
Does this sound interesting & exiting for you? I am sure is does! So if you are exited from bicycle night riding, or you just like to escape from the summer heat, eventual you will find yourself riding your bikes in the middle of the night. This bicycle night riding guide will show you the way in the dark:
Selecting the Right Lighting System
Many folks like to ride their bikes at night without using any light at all. They will wait for the full moon nights and go out for the ride during those specific times of the month. Others, like me, will look for the best bicycle lights. You should know that there are so many bicycle lighting systems out there! How should we select the best one to meet our needs? Let’s examine the possibilities:
Handlebar Light vs. Helmet Light
If you plan on having only one light – I would definitely suggest to you to use a light that is attached to the bicycle handlebars. If it is not attached to your helmet it can be heavier and have a brighter light. I find that the light beam that comes from the bicycle handlebars will light the way better than the helmet light. In addition, as the light hits the objects from a different angle than your eyes, it may often draw shadows which will allow you to have 3D-like vision. Just make sure that the power of the light is at least 10 Watts.
If you like to have the best solution for lighting your way I would recommend to you to have 2 lights: one for your bicycle handlebars and one for your helmet: They will give you both a better light coverage, and a brighter light. After all, we are talking about safety here!
Led or Halogen?
Currently, there are 2 main types of bicycle lights: Led and Halogen lights.
The Halogen light will give you a more natural light, and in many cases also a brighter light. The down side of the Halogen light when compared with the LED (or multiple LED’s) light, is its battery life expectancy:
While it is quite hard to find halogen light whose battery will allow it to last for more than 2 hours, Led lights will last much longer (for the same battery & brightness). LED lights can go up to 12 lighting hours.
Another advantage for the LED light is its durability – it will last longer as there is not so much heat involved with creating the light. The weakest point however, is that there, the LED does not supply natural light: its light is somewhat bluish – which can be a turn off for many bikers.
Currently most bicycle lighting systems that are capable to give you the minimum required lighting power are quite expensive, so: you should choose the lighting system that will fit your budget.
If you are a beginner / one time night biker, you can plan on buying a $100 lighting system. If you are a more experienced cyclist you might better look for lighting systems in the range of $300 and above. For more information about different types of lighting systems for bicycles you are invited to visit the page about bicycle lights.
Tips for Bicycle Night riding
Tip #1 – Carry With You an Extra Light
It would be wise to carry with you for your night riding a spare flesh light. Do not settle down with a single light that has multiple bulbs / LED’s: when your battery will become drain NONE of them will work, but: if you carry with you to your night biking trip more than one light (as stated above – one attached to your bicycle handlebars and one to our helmet) – you are safe: If one will stop working, the other will allow you to return back home safely.
Tip #2 – Biking Sunglasses
As in daytime bike riding, you should protect your eyes also during bicycle night riding by using biking sunglasses. At night, even a slight pigment on your lenses will block the light coming from your flesh light, so the only option you have is to have clear lenses. If you are using optical glasses for driving – take them with you: they will improve your vision – and your safety.
Tip #3 – Ride in a Group
Every time I ride my bikes I am trying to ride in a group. It is not only nicer (sharing our biking adventure with a friend or with a family member is a great thing), but it is much more safest, and at night you will all enjoy a brighter light as each cyclist will naturally light the trail to the others. If you prefer so – you can save battery power and turn each other lights in sequence.
Lights for Bicycle Night Riding