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Bike reflectors

Old 08-17-20, 07:48 PM
  #1  
Texboy
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Bike reflectors

I recently bought a front and tail lights combo. Is it necessary to have bike reflectors for front, back and sides?
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Old 08-18-20, 07:06 AM
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Absolutely not.

The only benefit for reflectors is to provide / improve visibility of the bicycle / bicyclist, especially in low light conditions, when illuminated by motor vehicle headlights, to reduce the risk of being struck by a motor vehicle.

The added advantage of reflectors on the spokes and pedals is the increased visibility of natural motion.
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Old 08-18-20, 08:58 AM
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It would depend on the traffic laws in your state but generally they are required.
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Old 08-18-20, 12:43 PM
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Originally Posted by wingless View Post
Absolutely not.
So, what if my front & back lights fail. I think the reflectors come in handy as the backups.
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Old 08-18-20, 12:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Texboy View Post
So, what if my front & back lights fail. I think the reflectors come in handy as the backups.
Absolutely. Reflectors are life savers!
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Old 08-18-20, 12:59 PM
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I saw a YouTube guide that this pro-cyclist recommends to get two light sets. My light combo costs about $135. I donít think I want to spend another $135 as a backup.
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Old 08-18-20, 01:17 PM
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I don't ride in the dark, so I took the reflectors off. I do have front and rear facing blinking lights to increase my daytime visibility.
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Old 08-18-20, 02:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Texboy View Post
I saw a YouTube guide that this pro-cyclist recommends to get two light sets. My light combo costs about $135. I donít think I want to spend another $135 as a backup.
When I am riding at night I retain usage of my blinking Cygolite Hotshot Pro 150 tail light that I always use during the day, but also add a continuously illuminated steady red rear light, to aid the depth perception of motor vehicle operators.

My 32 LED spoke lights are also used during night operation. These provide amazing side visibility.

The Bell Z20 helmet I use is their ghost reflective color. It is basically silver during the day and almost everything is highly reflective at night.

The Stupidbright 3000 headlight is set to blink during the day and continuous at night.
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Old 08-18-20, 02:53 PM
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Reflectors are always a good idea. Reflective tape weighs less and can even be color matched to the bike.

I right a lot at night so I always carry a spare headlight. Cygolites can be had for as little as $40, keep one on the bars and a spare in the gear bag. Don't need to think about charge cycles that way, when the one of the bars gets low, swap it out then charge it up before putting that one in the gear bag.

In my opinion the two best safety devices you can have on a bike is a reflective safety vest and some type of powered light in the spokes. Wheel lights improve the silhouette making it clear you are a bicycle and not a reflector on a mailbox. Safety vest, not just colored jerseys, seem to change the way drivers approach a bike. Learned that during my commuting days in LA. Drivers could look me in the eye and still pull right out in front of me, but for some reason that didn't happen as often when I was wearing a vest.

Last edited by Pop N Wood; 08-21-20 at 05:32 AM.
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Old 08-19-20, 09:18 AM
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Some kind of reflective surfaces are important for side visibility. Lights are a must at night. My tail light is also a reflector, but I don't have anything reflective on the front currently. My velomobile is highly visible (and has reflective tape) from 360 degrees, plus a very large red reflective area on the rear.
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Old 08-19-20, 11:09 AM
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If one has front and rear lights, and if one pays attention to batteries and the like, then I don't see the value of adding reflectors on top of that. Marginal risk reduction near zero. More of a factor is that dangerous drivers don't look or think, not that they look and think and STILL miss you. Now, hopefully, no one bought a camo bike jersey - yes, they actually exist. "Phone call for you, Dr. Charles Darwin calling."
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Old 08-19-20, 05:29 PM
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I always remove them from the vintage bikes I rebuild. Sometimes it takes a while to remove the ones screwed into spokes -- a real pain.
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Old 08-19-20, 08:39 PM
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No, it isn't necessary unless your state requires it, most states say either lights or reflectors, not many say reflectors are required regardless if you have lights or not.

Reflectors are ok, problem is though they're too independent upon the angle of the cars headlights as to whether or not the reflectors will work, in most cases a motorist won't even see you till they're on top of you. I'm not saying not to use passive lighting, what I'm trying to say is not count on passive lighting, you need to be using active lighting and counting on that instead. So put your money first into active lighting, todays prices on LED lights are crazy low, you can get a 500 lumen light and a 300 lumen tail light for under $90, it's silly not to do that, and those lights are so bright a motorists can even readily see you in broad daylight from a distance.

Most cycling clothing, shoes, saddle bags etc., these come with passive lighting built into the stuff, do you need to add more? The only thing I would add at night is a pair of highly reflective ankle bands, and a neon colored (yellow or orange) mesh vest with the wide reflective bands in them that cost around $19 or so if you really want to make sure you got the best of both worlds. But that's all I would add in regards to reflectors.

Everyone will have their own opinion, that's fine, this subject is purely opinion, but you can read this for more info: https://www.bicycling.com/bikes-gear...-safer-riding/

The other weird thing about lights is that a study done at night in Europe showed that a steady rear light is better because motorists could tell how far they were from a cyclist vs a flashing one, so in parts of Europe it's against the law to use a flashing light. HOWEVER, in Canada their study showed that a flashing light was better then a steady because it attracted the motorists attention faster. What to do you scream? simple! Just use two lights in the rear, one on flashing and the other on steady; you can do the same thing with two headlights.
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Old 08-20-20, 01:14 PM
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Here in Ontario, Canada the Highway traffic Acts mandates BOTH reflectors/reflective tape and lights if riding at night. I've never heard of anyonew being ticketed for not having the reflective tape on their bike.

I have some curved reflective tape that is either yellowish green or red. I think it'd be fantastic applied to the lower non-brake track portion of my semi-aero rims. It'd be good visibility from the side.

I use TWO lights on the rear just in case one malfunctions. The backup light doesn't need to be a high cost unit.

Cheers
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Old 08-20-20, 01:38 PM
  #15  
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Originally Posted by greatscott View Post

Reflectors are ok, problem is though they're too independent upon the angle of the cars headlights as to whether or not the reflectors will work, in most cases a motorist won't even see you till they're on top of you.
Reflectors work best at moderate or greater distances, whereas at close range they become lost amongst the specular reflectivity from the bicycle's shiny paint or chrome. But by the time the passing car is that close, they should have spotted the bike already. Actual illuminated taillights are best of course but they start to lose their effectiveness at the longer distances where reflectors are working their best.

As a kid, I was always fascinated at night by how far away a distant mailbox, signpost or bicycle was visible from the car's headlights bouncing back from the reflector. A mile perhaps.... Certainly more than a half mile on a dark night without a lot of other ambient lighting. Obviously the direction and angle of the light source matters; the reflectors on a bicycle crossing the road at an angle will be tougher to see than one riding parallel or perpendicular to the road.
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Old 08-20-20, 02:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Reflector Guy View Post
Reflectors work best at moderate or greater distances, whereas at close range they become lost amongst the specular reflectivity from the bicycle's shiny paint or chrome. But by the time the passing car is that close, they should have spotted the bike already. Actual illuminated taillights are best of course but they start to lose their effectiveness at the longer distances where reflectors are working their best.

As a kid, I was always fascinated at night by how far away a distant mailbox, signpost or bicycle was visible from the car's headlights bouncing back from the reflector. A mile perhaps.... Certainly more than a half mile on a dark night without a lot of other ambient lighting. Obviously the direction and angle of the light source matters; the reflectors on a bicycle crossing the road at an angle will be tougher to see than one riding parallel or perpendicular to the road.
All reflective material use the principal of a corner reflector. As long as the light being reflected is from the car, it will be visible.
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Old 08-20-20, 05:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Texboy View Post
So, what if my front & back lights fail. I think the reflectors come in handy as the backups.
Reflective Tape will be an adequate backup..

I fit a German made LED tail light .... when the power is off it's still a reflector
when on its all lit..
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Old 08-20-20, 10:59 PM
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All you need to do is pay attention to the last few minutes of driving home in your car at night or early morning with the headlights on to see the effectiveness of reflectors. Some work and some are a miss. I'd make sure to go with 3M products, like on emergency vehicles.
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Old 08-21-20, 08:46 AM
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My all purpose bike that is ridden during dawn, dusk, overcast, or nighttime has reflectors and lights. Lights can and do stop working on occasion. I've had it happen to myself.

My daytime, good weather only bike has neither lights or reflectors, but I do wear brightly colored clothing on that bike.
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Old 08-26-20, 08:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Reflector Guy View Post
Reflectors work best at moderate or greater distances, whereas at close range they become lost amongst the specular reflectivity from the bicycle's shiny paint or chrome. But by the time the passing car is that close, they should have spotted the bike already. Actual illuminated taillights are best of course but they start to lose their effectiveness at the longer distances where reflectors are working their best.

As a kid, I was always fascinated at night by how far away a distant mailbox, signpost or bicycle was visible from the car's headlights bouncing back from the reflector. A mile perhaps.... Certainly more than a half mile on a dark night without a lot of other ambient lighting. Obviously the direction and angle of the light source matters; the reflectors on a bicycle crossing the road at an angle will be tougher to see than one riding parallel or perpendicular to the road.
Hmm, that hasn't been my experience as a motorist driving at night over the thousands of years I've been driving. Maybe back in the 70's and into about the early 2000's before LED ame out that may be true about reflectors being better since the lights back then at resembled a candle flicker! I still have, but don't use, one of those candle rear lights. I currently run 300 lumens on the rear, no refletor made omes remotely close to the brightness of this thing at night.

What you're saying is that a car with out it's tail lights on an be seen further distance than with them on, see how crazy that sounds? At night someone running without their lights on you can't even see their car and nothing reflects back. I know you've have had to seen that effect with cars with no lights on.
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Old 08-27-20, 05:11 AM
  #21  
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Originally Posted by wingless View Post
When I am riding at night I retain usage of my blinking Cygolite Hotshot Pro 150 tail light that I always use during the day, but also add a continuously illuminated steady red rear light, to aid the depth perception of motor vehicle operators.

My 32 LED spoke lights are also used during night operation. These provide amazing side visibility.

The Bell Z20 helmet I use is their ghost reflective color. It is basically silver during the day and almost everything is highly reflective at night.

The Stupidbright 3000 headlight is set to blink during the day and continuous at night.
If a 3000 lumen light is street legal, it shouldn't be. That product is perfectly named in my opinion.
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Old 08-27-20, 10:41 AM
  #22  
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Originally Posted by Texboy View Post
I recently bought a front and tail lights combo. Is it necessary to have bike reflectors for front, back and sides?
If you still live in California, then yes. And it is possible that some counties and municipalities might require more than what the state requires. IE. Lights on and reflectors installed even during the day.

It's pretty easy to google for info like that and find the real answer with respect to the law and ordinances.

From your own California governments website:
(d) A bicycle operated during darkness upon a highway, a sidewalk where bicycle operation is not prohibited by the local jurisdiction, or a bikeway, as defined in Section 890.4 of the Streets and Highways Code, shall be equipped with all of the following:

(1) A lamp emitting a white light that, while the bicycle is in motion, illuminates the highway, sidewalk, or bikeway in front of the bicyclist and is visible from a distance of 300 feet in front and from the sides of the bicycle.

(2) A red reflector or a solid or flashing red light with a built-in reflector on the rear that shall be visible from a distance of 500 feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful upper beams of headlamps on a motor vehicle.

(3) A white or yellow reflector on each pedal, shoe, or ankle visible from the front and rear of the bicycle from a distance of 200 feet.

(4) A white or yellow reflector on each side forward of the center of the bicycle, and a white or red reflector on each side to the rear of the center of the bicycle, except that bicycles that are equipped with reflectorized tires on the front and the rear need not be equipped with these side reflectors.

The reflectors and reflectorized tires shall be of a type meeting requirements established by the department.

(e) A lamp or lamp combination, emitting a white light, attached to the operator and visible from a distance of 300 feet in front and from the sides of the bicycle, may be used in lieu of the lamp required by paragraph (1) of subdivision (d).
https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/f...tionNum=21201.

Or this in summarized words:

Equipment requirements[edit]

A bicycle ridden on public roads must have a brake on at least one wheel which can make the wheel skid on dry pavement.[21]

CVC 21201 (d) A bicycle operated during darkness upon a highway, a sidewalk where bicycle operation is not prohibited by the local jurisdiction, or a bikeway… shall be equipped with all of the following[21]
  • A white front lamp (either attached to the bike or to the rider) which can be seen from 300 feet (91 m) away.
  • A red rear safety reflector visible from 500 feet (150 m) away when illuminated by automobile headlights.
  • White or yellow reflectors visible from on the bike's pedals or the cyclist's feet or ankles.
  • A white or yellow reflector on each side of the bike's front half.
  • A white or red reflector on each side of the bike's back half.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bicycle_law_in_California

or this:
Reflectors: At night bicycles must have the following reflectors:
  • Visible from the back: red reflector. You may attach a solid or flashing red rear light in addition to the reflector.
  • Visible from the front & back: white or yellow reflector on each pedal or on the bicyclist’s shoes or ankles
  • Visible from the side: 1) white or yellow reflector on the front half of the bicycle and 2) a red or white reflector on each side of the back half of the bike. These reflectors are not required if the bike has reflectorized front and back tires. CVC 21201(d)
https://www.calbike.org/go_for_a_rid..._bicycle_laws/

So yes, it looks like you need the reflectors even if you have lights.
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Old 08-31-20, 01:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Texboy View Post
I recently bought a front and tail lights combo. Is it necessary to have bike reflectors for front, back and sides?
Originally Posted by wingless View Post
Absolutely not.
Originally Posted by Texboy View Post
So, what if my front & back lights fail. I think the reflectors come in handy as the backups.
Regardless of the quality of your lights. Reflectors are useless. Your lights will be easier to see. Even with bright sun light. Your lights will be easier to see. Are your lights re-chargeable, or do they use alkaline batteries?

Last edited by Chistophe516; 08-31-20 at 01:07 PM.
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Old 08-31-20, 01:54 PM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by wingless View Post
When I am riding at night I retain usage of my blinking Cygolite Hotshot Pro 150 tail light that I always use during the day, but also add a continuously illuminated steady red rear light, to aid the depth perception of motor vehicle operators.

My 32 LED spoke lights are also used during night operation. These provide amazing side visibility.

The Bell Z20 helmet I use is their ghost reflective color. It is basically silver during the day and almost everything is highly reflective at night.

The Stupidbright 3000 headlight is set to blink during the day and continuous at night.
Originally Posted by Chistophe516 View Post
Regardless of the quality of your lights. Reflectors are useless. Your lights will be easier to see. Even with bright sun light. Your lights will be easier to see. Are your lights re-chargeable, or do they use alkaline batteries?
My headlight and tail light are rechargeable. My spoke lights each use three AAA primary cell batteries.
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Old 08-31-20, 03:46 PM
  #25  
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I do a lot of riding early in the morning when it's dark, so aside from the front/rear lights I also have spoke lights and have put reflective tape at various locations on my bike. I have large strips of red reflective tape running up the back of both seat stays, a strip around each end of each seat stay, and a strip on each end of each chain stay. I put white reflective tape on the head tube, and a strip around the end of each side of the fork. I even put a strip of white tape on each crank arm. I also did all this for my gravel bike (minus the crank arm) even though I rarely (until recently) ride it at night.

On my helmet, I do have a red light on the rear, but I also added red reflective tape on the back and a large patch of white reflective tape on each side. On the back of my underseat bag, I put a large portion of red reflective tape on it to act as a nice big red reflector.

The tape I used for all this is the white/red tape strips used to mark trailers. I simply cut it with scissors for the desired size. It may be overkill but I have yet for any driver to act like they couldn't see me at night.

Prior to buying wheel lights, I cut 32 small strips of white reflective tape and taped them to the side of my wheels, 8 strips on each side. I think it was fairly effective but now with the wheel lights it's not really needed.
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