Night Riding 101 - The Best Lights, Cold Weather Clothing, and Accessories for Cycling!
When's the last time you got out for a night ride on your bicycle? If the answer is never, you're missing out! Night riding is a great way to experience your favorite routes in a new perspective, and enjoy the later hours in the day!
Riding at night is a whole different experience. On road the cars thin out and your headlight casts a beam down the bike lane illuminating your path. On the trail your field of vision narrows and is focused on just the 15-20 yards of trail in front of you. Choosing your line never felt so crucial! If your night rides are going to take you into any type of backcountry ensure you have a powerful light system, a proper repair kit, and ample nutrition and water. Smaller lights, typically battery powered, are not substantial for safely night riding and rechargeable systems have become the new standard.
Even your old favorite trail will be a new adventure that you don't even recognize. Trails also see a lot less traffic at night. At night you'll also have the place to yourself except for all the critters who come out to play after hours.
If you haven't ridden a trail before you may want to tag along with friends or take it easy your first lap. Lights can make it hard to judge the height of drops and the size of rocks. Start out with an easy ride and/or pace. Once you get more practice under your belt you can let it rip.
A decent light is a MUST for night riding. New LED and battery technology is so incredibly far ahead of the old stuff. These new lights are way brighter, more powerful and longer lasting. At the very least you're going to want 750 lumens on your handlebar and a decent tail light so you can be seen. We recommend using two headlights, one on the handlebar typically over 1,000 lumens and one on the helmet typically 750 lumens or above. The helmer mounted light will allow your head to swivel while riding and illuminate corners, upcoming features, as well as spot out lines. The handlebar mounted light will serve as the primary illumination of the trail in front of you, however the angle of light is controlled by your handlebars alone, so when you turn the light turns. It's for this reason the helmet and handlebar combo is superior and gives the rider a much better spectrum of light at varied angles under the riders control.
The Lumina line of lights by our pals at NiteRider (a great San Diego company) is versatile enough for your handlebars or attaching your cycling helmet. We have put these lights through the ringer and they continue to outperform the competition at an affordable price point.
A powerful one piece light capable of handling everything from mountain bike rides to daily commutes. New Boost mode allows the light to run at its absolute maximum, pushing every lumen through NiteRider’s custom engineered optics for a balanced long-throw and wide flood beam pattern.
The NiteRider Solas 250 uses two powerful LEDs to produce an amazing 250 lumens of light output. It features 4 modes (2 flash / 2 steady) and is USB rechargeable. We’ve implemented what we call “Group Ride Mode” for cyclists who want to stay visible but not distract others in the pack.
The Lumina Micro headlight is small, light and bright, it includes all the features of larger Lumina lights like Intellicharge, low battery indicator, lock mode and strap handlebar mount.
The Sabre is a super bright, lightweight, USB rechargeable LED tail light. It utilizes a multi LED array designed for eye catching visibility in both day and night. The Sabre provides 180 degrees of protection.
Cold Weather Riding Clothes
When the seasons are changing and Winter approaches many cyclists across the country begint to prepare themselves for the cold season. Many choose to hang their bikes up during the most frigid months and wait for Spring, however for the die hard cyclists there is no off season and the right cycling gear will make winter riding fun and safe!
We begin with base layers. The winter base layer is meant to keep your core muscles warm and ready for activity. Layering is a great way to help thermoregulate your body throughout a long day riding, and as the weather changes your layering system will either make or break your ability to compensate for change in temperature and weather conditions. In cycling common base layering consists of arm & leg warmers, and tights.
Base layers are just the foundation for a effective layering system. As we move from closest to the body outwards the next phase of layering commonly includes jackets, vests, shoe covers, headwear, and full finger gloves. These exterior layers provide a shield from harsh elements and cold temperatures, but are easily shed if the sun decides to peak out on a grueling climb. The ability to adapt your apparel layering system to the ever changing environment as we ride is crucial to you feeling your best and riding your fastest!
Now that you know what steps to take when planning a night ride, get out there and take the night back! Grab some lights and some best buds; the trails are empty and the critters are out! Enjoy yourself, stay safe, and keep it rolling!