What You Need to Know About Bike Lights

As the days become short and daylight savings time kicks in, it's important to figure out how to keep riding, even in the dark. Luckily, one of the biggest advances in technology in the bike industry over the past several years isn't in carbon fiber composites—it's in lighting.

If it's minus 20 degrees Fahrenheit outside and the roads are covered with glare ice, it might be best to stay inside anyway. But, if you're someone who can tolerate a little bit of cold and feel good about your technical riding skills, riding in the dark during the winter isn't as scary as it may seem. All you need is the right reflective clothing and a good set of lights.

More: Why Bike Lights are Important...Even in Daylight

Be Safe

Clothing is a key component for winter riding, but without proper lighting it doesn't matter what you wear. It's unsafe to ride in the dark without lights.

You can verify this yourself by watching pedestrians on poorly lit streets. They are almost invisible, even in light colored clothing. In order to be safe in the dark, you need front and rear lights as well as reflectors.

Reflective Clothing

Reflectors are the easy part. Many of the new styles of riding jackets and pants have reflective stripes sewn right into the clothing. There are also new products that put small reflective strips on each spoke of your front and rear wheel that can significantly increase your visibility at night. If you don't have reflective cycling clothing, it'll be worth the investment to get a cycling-specific jacket with reflective piping in the seams.

More: 6 Safety Tips for Bike Commuters

The more reflective you are the better.

Improvements in Technology

Choosing the right lighting combination can be more complicated. Not so long ago, if you had a bright light, that meant your battery only worked for a short amount of time or you had to carry a battery that weighed 3 to 4 pounds. Not only were the lights and batteries energy inefficient, but charging the batteries took hours.

More: How to Choose the Best Bike Light for You

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About the Author

Bruce Hildenbrand

Bruce Hildenbrand's writings have appeared in Outside, Bicycling, Cycle Sport, VeloNews and a host of other cycling and outdoor-related magazines and websites. His assignments have taken him to such prestigious events as the Tour de France, Tour of Italy, Tour of Spain, Tour of Switzerland, Paris-Roubaix, Tour of Flanders, the World Road Championships, the World Track Championships and the World CycloCross Championships.

Bruce Hildenbrand's writings have appeared in Outside, Bicycling, Cycle Sport, VeloNews and a host of other cycling and outdoor-related magazines and websites. His assignments have taken him to such prestigious events as the Tour de France, Tour of Italy, Tour of Spain, Tour of Switzerland, Paris-Roubaix, Tour of Flanders, the World Road Championships, the World Track Championships and the World CycloCross Championships.

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