Riding your bike at this time of year when the days are at their shortest – for the Northern Hemisphere at least – can make you nervous about being seen. So we’ve pulled together a selection of kit to enhance your visibility without making you feel like an extravagant Christmas tree.
Lights in Shining Armour
Lights are, by far, the best accessories for being seen, especially ones that have a setting for intermittent flashing. However, it’s wise to check with local laws as some countries don’t allow these, which in our opinion is absolutely ridiculous. Beware though; if you are stopped by police they may fine you.
As mad as it sounds, there is a limit for how bright bike lights can be when cycling on the road, so take note of the lumen measurement (how bright they are) on any lights you’re buying. Some lights for off-road use are almost equivalent to having a police searchlight strapped to the front of your bike, so whilst it’s great for drivers to see you it’s probably not wise to blind them in the process, otherwise it all seems a bit contradictory if you ask us.
Over the last few years there have been more innovations in lights for cycling, such as the Lezyne Laser Drive design. The rear light projects red beams along the road, in a bid to define both sides of the bike and further increase visibility. They certainly catch the attention of drivers and give a perception of the bike being wider than it is, which should mean vehicles give you more room when overtaking.
The brand Blaze had a similar thought process with their Laserlight that projects the picture of a green bike a few metres ahead on the road in order to help larger vehicles when they’re turning left or right (depending on which country you’re in) at traffic lights, by alerting them to the fact that you’re waiting by their side.
These days most lights come with really simple mounts so that attaching and detaching them to the bike can be done in seconds. A lot of lights nowadays are rechargeable, with simple-to-use USB cables that charge the light through your computer’s USB ports even whilst at work.
Helmet lights are evolving and becoming frequently used. Having lights higher up can be a real benefit to being seen above the height of the traffic and the beam following your head direction is helpful when cornering. Although these are a great addition they are just that, by law you still have to have lights mounted on the bike. The Bontrager Circuit helmet we use has a sleek magnetic design allowing the lights to be clipped on and off easily, which means there are no cumbersome, unsightly mounts left on your helmet when not needed. Another advantage of magnetic attachments is only really discovered in the event of an accident; an impact on the helmet means the lights will detach themselves easily, thereby potentially avoiding any increase in the impact on your head.
Fluoro – not just for the 80s
Not always the most flattering of colours but on dull days and nights fluoro clothing and accessories make a real difference. Luckily brands are taking these colours and being creative in ways to make them more flattering and comfortable. Isadore has made sure their kit is bright but they’ve also retained a sense of style and protection from the cold.
When choosing bright kit make sure it’s suitable for the cold temperatures and rainy days. It’s no good being seen but freezing. Beyond just jerseys and jackets, brands are incorporating fluoro into many adornments including gloves, shoes, helmets, bidons, and even bikes. Rapha’s eponymous fluoro pink design translates well across their range, as does Scott’s approach to match their shoes and bike decals.
Time to Reflect
Invisible by day, ready to party all night! We’re stoked to see these creative designs incorporating reflective material, like the Huez Moonrider gilet. A quick flash of light and we’re pretty sure it can be seen in outer space. Having kit with such undeniable visibility inspires a ton of confidence and it looks pretty smart as well.
For sophisticated visibility we suggest looking for kit that has reflective strips incorporated into it such as zips, pockets, linings, or seams. There are shoe and helmet brands that have tasked themselves and come up with many different ways of using it without ruining the overall look of their design.
As cycling has grown in popularity over the last decade, startups are continually launching new products onto the market with anything from glow in the dark spokes and paint, to reflective spray and reflective strips designed for use on wheel rims. As the wheels are in perpetual motion these accessories have a disco light effect – eye-catching is an understatement.
Don’t let the dark get you down and prevent you getting out on the bike. There are plenty of interesting ways to make yourself seen. Drivers will thank you for it as it makes their job of road safety a lot easier. These accessories shouldn’t solely be the reserve of night rides either – dark days with low light can pose just as much of a problem for visibility. Be cool, be seen!
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Words: Photos: Valentin Rühl