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Night riding = Reflectors, lights, safety?

Old 04-24-14, 11:01 AM
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Night riding = Reflectors, lights, safety?

I figured I would see what everyone does and thinks on this one.

The tires I had on my bike before had the reflex strip on the sidewalls. The tires now dont. The only reflectors i have now are the ones in the spokes - one reflector per wheel, span is 3 spokes. I also have a rear light that shoots out to the side some and I wear a reflective neon yellow safety vest. I just dont think it is quite enough side visibility.

What do you use? How do you like it?

Im thinking of stacking my wheels with more spoke reflectors like I have but there are more options Ive found.
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Old 04-24-14, 11:55 AM
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Originally Posted by KC8QVO
I figured I would see what everyone does and thinks on this one.

The tires I had on my bike before had the reflex strip on the sidewalls. The tires now dont. The only reflectors i have now are the ones in the spokes - one reflector per wheel, span is 3 spokes. I also have a rear light that shoots out to the side some and I wear a reflective neon yellow safety vest. I just dont think it is quite enough side visibility.

What do you use? How do you like it?

Im thinking of stacking my wheels with more spoke reflectors like I have but there are more options Ive found.
I have only the reflectors required by law in my state. In my opinion, reflectors are useless and/or dangerous. They are useless because of the "reflector" part. You have to have some light hit them to be of any use. Wheel reflectors are probably the most useless of the reflectors. If you are crossing an intersection and the car is perpendicular to your line of travel, you have to be almost directly in front of the vehicle for the reflector to "reflect". That is far too late for the reflector to be of any value.

Rear and front reflectors are better but not by much. You are still depending on the vehicle's lights for them to be of any use. In the age of extremely bright and extremely cheap LED lighting, it's far better to have active, powered lighting that works independently of external light sources. Two bar mounted lamps forward ...each pumping out 600+ lumens...will get more attention forward than a hundred reflectors. Several rear facing lights will also get more attention than a hundred rear facing reflectors. If you add a helmet light to the mix...pumping out another 600+ lumens...you can turn the light towards cars at intersections (if needed) to better effect than any wheel mounted reflector.

As for why I think reflectors are dangerous, reflectors encourage people to ride at night without active lighting. It's something that I see all the time. It's a particularly stupid practice when you can pick up bright lights for as little as $20
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Old 04-24-14, 12:01 PM
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^^ I pretty much agree with above.

I put reflective tape on my crankarms, forks, and seat stays. But that is in addition to real lights. If for some reason my lights die mid-ride, I still want some reflectivity as "better than nothing"
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Old 04-24-14, 12:05 PM
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Lights with reflectors worked for me on my summer night centuries.











Add tape and lights to your helmet

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Old 04-24-14, 12:22 PM
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None of the above will help you if you hit a crack in the road as I did on a Bright Day Ride back on Jan 11th.

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Old 04-24-14, 12:25 PM
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Great info. I agree with powered lights - i have a flashing rear light and a bright headlight (can go to 850 lumens but run on lower power, level 3 - Fenix PD35). For front/back visibility it works and I have more than enough headlight for anything Ive ever needed. I just dont trust the side visibility much. I had a car stopped at a stop sign start pulling through the intersection right as i was in front of the car on one of my rides so Im just trying to prevent that.

The reflective tape looks like a good idea. Any ideas on what material is "sharper"/"brighter"?

Any thoughts on a good/bright/sharp headlamp that flashes? My flashlight does a flash mode but i dont want to use it as that because I need it for regular seeing/navigating. Thats actually a good question- do you find the front "strobe" distracting when riding?
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Old 04-24-14, 12:33 PM
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The reflective tape looks like a good idea
Any ideas on what material is "sharper"/"brighter"?
as any color, applied over the silver to make it appear a color is reducing the reflectivity to only show that color,

in compared to the silver - white, whole spectrum reflective tape.... use the silver 3M type stuff is OK..
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Old 04-24-14, 01:24 PM
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I called up the bike shop. They dont carry any reflective tape and it sounds like they dont have any small flashing led's as the guy said the ones they do have mount to a seat post.

Surely there are some flashing led's that are small, like 1" diameter, that I can use on my helmet and other places - rear frame rails, rack, front fork arms, etc. The led in my flashlight is very small and does 850 lumens so i'd think someone has made some small and bright flashers? I know the battery source changes the space requirements...
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Old 04-24-14, 01:59 PM
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Re 3M reflective tape I got mine in the auto parts section of the Big box store (of your choice) .. it's a 2" wide roll ..
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Old 04-24-14, 02:28 PM
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Originally Posted by KC8QVO
They dont carry any reflective tape
I use the 3M reflective tape, sold by Rivendell. I put small strips on my rims, fenders, crank arms, pedals, and sometimes places on the frame.

I also use a headlight and a rear light.
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Old 04-24-14, 03:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Homebrew01
^^ I pretty much agree with above.

I put reflective tape on my crankarms, forks, and seat stays. But that is in addition to real lights. If for some reason my lights die mid-ride, I still want some reflectivity as "better than nothing"
Having been caught a few times due to malfunctioning lights, I carry multiple lights. Then I carry back ups. For extra measure I carry a final backup on my key ring. I got caught on Hermosa Creek Trail on a Gilligan ride once without a light. I don't go anywhere without at least 2 lights.
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Old 04-24-14, 04:02 PM
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Originally Posted by KC8QVO
I called up the bike shop. They dont carry any reflective tape and it sounds like they dont have any small flashing led's as the guy said the ones they do have mount to a seat post.

Surely there are some flashing led's that are small, like 1" diameter, that I can use on my helmet and other places - rear frame rails, rack, front fork arms, etc.

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Identi-Tape - All Kinds of Colored Tape

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Old 04-24-14, 04:02 PM
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One mistake I see frequently is people riding after dark with the dimmest, tiniest lights and/or lights mounted in places that you can't see until you're right on top of them.

Use multiples!

I also think that putting a white light on the front of your helmet and a red light on the back really enhances visibility because it gets your light up above the road surface and potentially over any intervening cars.

If I know I'm going to ride at night, I'll have two handlebar mounted lights (allegedly 1600 lumens but not really) and I'll usually use at least one in blinky mode near sunset and then just one after dark. I have a cygolite hot shot that is mounted low on my seat post that I use 100% of the time when I'm on streets and I have a self-leveling red blinky light for the back of my helmet. Frankly, I'm always tempted to put more lights on that that - I think what I have is a bare minimum. I saw a commuter a few months ago that had probably 8-10 red blinky tail lights all over the back of his bike and his backpack and THAT guy was visible.

I'm not really a fan of reflectors but wheel reflectors from the side are very distinctive and immediately identify the target as a bicycle, so I don't think they're a total waste. You don't really see them under most circumstances though because of the position.
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Old 04-24-14, 06:36 PM
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I use reflective tape on the rims as well as reflective sidewall tires, the tape on the rim gives is a strobe effect, been doing that over 30 years. I quite often wear a reflective vest or jacket when riding at night. My lights are part of my bikes and powered by generator hubs, I use higher end LED headlights, LED tail lights with stand lights backed up by a flashing taillight, typically a Planet Bike Superflash or something similar. Believe my helmet may have some reflective areas on it. I also run the stock reflectors on the rear of the bike as a CYA, I was told by a misinformed LEO that my bike was illegal because it didn't have the factory (crappy) reflector on it. Forget the fact I had 12" of DOT conspicuity tape on the rear fender.

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Old 04-24-14, 08:06 PM
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As I was thinking about the light ideas I thought about my truck strobe. It isn't what you would call a "compact" strobe, but it sure does get attention. It is a a North American Signal Company 625 series (amber, quad flash, 6" tall). Here are a couple pictures:







I also stopped at the auto parts place and picked up a couple of these strips:




They are 2" wide by 18" long, 7" silver and 11" red. I am thinking of cutting the silve side in to 1/2" wide or so strips to line my rims with. Maybe I should alternate between silver and red? Would that make much difference?





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Old 04-25-14, 06:15 AM
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Here is one wheel with the tape added. If I have time tonight I'll do the other wheel.




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Old 04-25-14, 07:09 AM
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Originally Posted by KC8QVO
I called up the bike shop. They dont carry any reflective tape and it sounds like they dont have any small flashing led's as the guy said the ones they do have mount to a seat post.

Surely there are some flashing led's that are small, like 1" diameter, that I can use on my helmet and other places - rear frame rails, rack, front fork arms, etc. The led in my flashlight is very small and does 850 lumens so i'd think someone has made some small and bright flashers? I know the battery source changes the space requirements...
I used one of these for a while.

Robot Check

It was cheap, long running, and very effective. I didn't notice it on my helmet. I did get several comments along the lines of where do I get one.

I replaced it with a viz 360+ as it has a head light and is brighter. However, I think the self leveling mount more then makes up for the difference in brightness.
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Old 04-25-14, 07:37 AM
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Originally Posted by TrojanHorse
One mistake I see frequently is people riding after dark with the dimmest, tiniest lights and/or lights mounted in places that you can't see until you're right on top of them.

Use multiples!

I also think that putting a white light on the front of your helmet and a red light on the back really enhances visibility because it gets your light up above the road surface and potentially over any intervening cars.

If I know I'm going to ride at night, I'll have two handlebar mounted lights (allegedly 1600 lumens but not really) and I'll usually use at least one in blinky mode near sunset and then just one after dark. I have a cygolite hot shot that is mounted low on my seat post that I use 100% of the time when I'm on streets and I have a self-leveling red blinky light for the back of my helmet. Frankly, I'm always tempted to put more lights on that that - I think what I have is a bare minimum. I saw a commuter a few months ago that had probably 8-10 red blinky tail lights all over the back of his bike and his backpack and THAT guy was visible.

I'm not really a fan of reflectors but wheel reflectors from the side are very distinctive and immediately identify the target as a bicycle, so I don't think they're a total waste. You don't really see them under most circumstances though because of the position.
There is something to having the surface area as well as attention getting high viz colors. Our speed/distance perception depends upon visual separation with horizontal separation much more effective the vertical. However, on a bicycle we have much more vertical separation available then horizontal. In defense of reflectors, the insurance companies give discounts for companies that ensure their trailers have significant reflectors, usually on the perimeters... When you're driving, attend to different visibility strategies, then decide. I notice well marked / reflective surfaces much more even during the day.

In addition we're not always on flat surfaces. When your on the back side of a hill, to a driver, your helmet will be the first seen as the hill blocks your lights/reflectors.

Originally Posted by cyccommute
Having been caught a few times due to malfunctioning lights, I carry multiple lights. Then I carry back ups. For extra measure I carry a final backup on my key ring. I got caught on Hermosa Creek Trail on a Gilligan ride once without a light. I don't go anywhere without at least 2 lights.
I really like redundancy as well, to the point that my pack is fairly substantial.
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Old 04-25-14, 07:41 AM
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No Tape Needed.

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Old 04-25-14, 08:00 AM
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Originally Posted by 10 Wheels
No Tape Needed.

If you turned those all on at once would the EMP knock out the local power grid?
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Old 04-25-14, 03:00 PM
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Originally Posted by 10 Wheels
No Tape Needed.[/IMG][/URL]
I wonder if the front of the bike is equally festooned. Considering that getting hit from behind ranks way down on the list of accident types and left hooks/pull outs from road ways and driveways is at the top of the list, having that number of lights on the front of the bike would seem more prudent.
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Old 04-26-14, 01:12 PM
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I got one of these sets:
Metro 360 & Hotshot 2W Combo

The tail light I put on the back of my helmet. I found an old head lamp I got years ago made by Princeton Tech that has a strobe mode so I put that on the helmet and used the head band in the rear to secure the tail light with the seat post clamp mount. The seat post clamp let me aim the light down (as opposed to using the belt clip only) so the light isn't shooting up in the air most of the time when I am riding.

The head light replaces my PD-35 flashlight up front - and clears off my drop bar (left side) of the light bracket as the new one sits on top. Once I get my second stem I will move some accessories off the bar and on to the secondary one so I have more hand room. The set up works for now though.

The good part about the head light is it lets me use my PD-35 as a grab-n-go light. I found out last night it works really well for the cars down the road that, for what ever reason, will not drop their lights off their high-beams when coming up on other motorists/bicyclists. A couple flicks of the PD-35 aimed their way at 850 lumens and they get the message
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Old 06-14-14, 06:21 PM
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Originally Posted by KC8QVO
I figured I would see what everyone does and thinks on this one.

The tires I had on my bike before had the reflex strip on the sidewalls. The tires now dont. The only reflectors i have now are the ones in the spokes - one reflector per wheel, span is 3 spokes. I also have a rear light that shoots out to the side some and I wear a reflective neon yellow safety vest. I just dont think it is quite enough side visibility.

What do you use? How do you like it?

Im thinking of stacking my wheels with more spoke reflectors like I have but there are more options Ive found.
You could get some reflectors for the handle bars. Also there are some reflective helmets you can buy that would work well. If you don't have reflectors on your safety vest I would recommend one that has the reflective strips on it. Abatix.com has some reflective safety vests that are usually priced more reasonably than some other ones out there. Here's a link to one for example: ["https://www.abatix.com/default.aspx?page=item+detail&itemcode=MAXSV22-2ZGM-M&catlist=823" Vest,Cls 2,Two Tone Tp,Mesh, Zip,Grn MD]
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Old 06-14-14, 09:01 PM
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Originally Posted by purple82
Here's a link to one for example: ["https://www.abatix.com/default.aspx?page=item+detail&itemcode=MAXSV22-2ZGM-M&catlist=823" Vest,Cls 2,Two Tone Tp,Mesh, Zip,Grn MD]
FYI - when you post a link use the link feature in the top toolbar of the reply field. It looks like a globe with a chain link (to the right of the smiley and to the left of the globe with the red X). Then your link comes out like this:
https://www.abatix.com/default.aspx?page=item+detail&itemcode=MAXSV22-2ZGM-M&catlist=823" Vest,Cls 2,Two Tone Tp,Mesh, Zip,Grn MD

Or you can highlight text and insert the link over top like this. Highlight the text before going to the globe icon to insert the link. Otherwise, with no highlighted text you end up with the above full format of the link.

I have a reflective safety vest - has two vertical bands like suspenders across the vest and one around at about the middle point just like the example you gave, just without the orange.
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Old 06-14-14, 09:08 PM
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I remove all reflectors, especially the ones on the spokes as soon as I get home and put on lights. I don't want stuff in the spokes except maybe the magnet for my cycle 'puter.

Headlight(prefer constant beam because I ride on paths at night,) had 2 tail lights but I haven't found a tail light with a good enough clip to hold onto the loop on my seat pack or backpack. May hold onto my commuter backpack(it is new and the loop is still tight and not loose like they become when aged and used) but I already lost my light before I got my bag. Funds are kind of tight so I haven't ran out to buy another yet, especially since I loose them so easily when they are not in the clip when I attach them to the bike. They don't really fit very well on the chain stays and I'm not too keen on them being so low and close to the spokes.

May get some reflective tape for the rims. I used to wear some velcro reflectors that wrapped around the ankles but I mostly use them for pegging baggy pants now. They lost some of their reflectiveness. Had a LED strip that would also velcro around the leg but it didn't last long and stopped working, probably from getting wet. Got it from a bike shop but I don't think they were really that good of a quality as it didn't mention waterproof.
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