The clocks are about to change and that means one thing – lots of filth-splattered cyclists having a quick post-ride pint in a pub. Night riding season is here!
It can be a hard habit to get into. It’s all too easy to miss out the night riding stage and go skip straight to the going-to-the-pub part. Dark, cold starts. The end of a tiring day at work. A bike that probably hasn’t been cleaned since the weekend’s mudbath.
BUT… get out there you must. Night riding is like cheating the odds. Getting one back. Fight Club. All that sort of thing.
Here’s a bunch of stuff to make it a much more appealing prospect.
Well, this is a blog about essentials and there”s nothing more essential to night riding than lights. Okay then, maybe a bike is equally essential.
Anyway, amazing lights can be had for not much money these days. If you have the funds then by all means go crazy and buy a brighter-than-the-sun system.
If you just want something that’s up to the job then you don’t have to spend much more than around the £100 mark. Read our recent Beginners Guide to Bike Lights for more advice.
Product pick: the Gemini Lights Duo LED 1500 Lumen (this is an old post and the linked content no longer exists) is a fairly unbeatable option at the moment.
If you’re mountain biking it’s all too easy to forget that at least some of your night ride will involve going on roads for a bit. Help to stop yourself being run over by clipping a rear LED to your bike or backpack.
Product pick: If you don’t want to leave brackets on your bike then have a look at the Lezyne Femto Drive LED – Rear.
Clear Lens Glasses
Even if you don’t ride in eyewear during the day you’ll find good reason to use them at night. Basically you seem to get more stuff in your eyes during night rides.
Even the brightest of lights aren’t a substitute for daylight, so you end up riding through stuff that you either wouldn’t do during the day or through stuff you’d blink and/or brace yourself for.
And I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been whipped in the face by an unseen bit of foliage on a night ride. Protect and survive.
Product pick: We’re loving the Smith Optics PivLock V2 glasses for night riding at the mo.
Speaking of protecting yourself, get yourself a mudguard. Just a front mudguard is fine. A rear mudguard on a mountain bike is usually more optimistic than actually useful. Having a front mudguard keeps the majority of stuff from being flung in your face.
Night riding on your own is not as much fun as riding with other folk. In fact it’s often more frightening than fun! You can’t really buy friends so we can’t help you out unfortunately.
Finding someone else who’s up for going for a night ride can be tricky if you’re someone who usually just rides solo during the day. There are plenty of cycling clubs out there who you can approach though.
I crash a lot more in the dark. Now we’re not talking serious crashes here. Just lots more small spills and sketchy flails. To keep my legs from being permanently purple and red I like to wear knee pads.
They have the added bonus of keeping you warmer during night rides as well.
Product pick: ONeal Dirt Knee Pads are a nice set of pads.
Always wear your helmet. You know that. If you fancy doing a fair amount of night riding then you may wish to think about getting a second helmet dedicated to night riding.
This is especially useful if you run a light on your helmet; you can just leave it in place ready for the next ride once you get back from a ride.
Chances are you’ll need a warmer helmet for night riding too, so something with fewer vents and a bit more head coverage is a good idea.
Product pick: en-vogue enduro helmets such as the Bell Super MTB make for excellent night riding hats.
Spares and repairs
Punctures and other mechanicals aren’t fun at the best of times. In the darkness they’re even less fun. Be prepared. Get some spare disc brake pads. Buy a(nother) spare inner tube. Pack a proper chain tool. Take some decent tyre levers.
Take a spare jacket – either one that’s lighter or one that’s heftier than the one you choose to ride in. As ever, zip ties are never not worth taking.
Product pick: the emergency stow-away Castelli Squadra Long Jacket.
This is related to the ‘spares and repairs’ section above, a good multitool with an emphasis on usability rather than light weight or gimmicks.
Product pick: it’s not as glam as some but the Park IB2C I-Beam Multi Tool is a dependable friend.
A good night ride should end at a pub. It’s the law. Now then, choosing a bike lock for this job is an exercise in practicality. There a couple of options.
Either go for a ‘proper’ lock that you can leave at the pub before your ride (so you don’t have to lug it around on the ride) or go for a less secure ‘portable’ lock that you don’t mind keeping on you while you ride.
There are pros and cons to both options but any lock is better than none. Try to lock them where you can see them while you’re inside too.
Product pick: BBB BBL-10 MicroSafe portable lock or the classic Kryptonite Series 2 U-Lock and Cable (this is an old post and the linked content no longer exists) combo.