Riding at night
January 3, 2010 at 7:00 am #3631
When I first started riding, my headlight was mis-aimed (didn’t realize that) and I couldn’t see well on twisty roads at night, felt disoriented in the dark, so I avoided riding in the hills at night. After a few months of riding, and with the headlight aiming adjusted properly, I was pleasantly surprised by how well I could see on twisty roads at night on high beam, and how much better I could take the turns. That was a newfound freedom since my fun rides were no longer limited to the daylight hours. Now I love riding at night in the hills. It’s tranquil and eerie. Fog, coldness and wetness just add to the fun and enhance the total experience even more.
At freeway speed at night, my biggest worry is not being able to see crazy debris and road hazards and react in time, so I keep my eyes peeled for those things. One time on my way home on an expressway at night, there was a mattress lying in my lane …
I wear a Halo helmet band, and have a reflective triangle on my backpack. I used to clip a red bicycle LED light on my backpack but lost that LED light. I just ordered a reflective vest from Cycle Gear; normally $50, on sale for $30 today. I’ve worn a $10 reflective vest I got from Home Depot when I felt the need to be extra visible. A motorcycle and rider without reflective stuff are very hard to see at night from behind.January 3, 2010 at 7:51 am #23870
You seem to be pushing your boundaries these days
Riding back roads at night is something I have not done yet and I’m not in any hurry to start. I do plenty of riding at night but around me most roads have street lights (there has to be some advantages to living downtown). While freeway riding might be scary I would be more scared on the back roads. More chance of crap on the road and i would think anytime you get above 40mph (maybe a lot less) you are going faster than your sight distance.
Keep an eye on the tightness of your Halo band. Mine started to loosen up after 5 or 6 months and came off a few times when I removed my helmet, leaving it dangling around my neck. That scared me so I put it in a drawer and have not used it since, moving onto reflective tape instead. I’ve heard some folks use a dab of glue to keep it in place.
I caught up with a guy on the freeway once and for miles back it looked like he was wearing an illuminated vest. I think it was just a standard reflective vest but you could certainly see him for miles under the bright freeway lights. I’m going to cover my jacket with the SOLAS tape I use on my helmet. That stuff is supposedly the most reflective tape around and is used on lifejackets. I’ve had it on my helmet for most of 2009 in all kinds of weather and it looks as good as new. Even the strip on my old jacket has not come off and that has been in the washing machine several times.January 3, 2010 at 6:26 pm #23872SantaCruzRiderParticipant
I ride in the dark to get home from work (at least until daylight savings time changes) and my commute includes boh freeway and mountain roads.
On mtn roads, I slow down to be sure I’m giving myself a bit more room in case there’s a tree or some debris in my path. I also tend to ride a bit toward the center of the road as this gives me a bit more room to avoid the rocks and mud that tend to wash onto the right edge of my lane. I’m careful not to cross into the opposite lane, but have plenty of warning of oncoming traffic as I see their headlights shining off the trees ahead. My biggest concern is deer, though there seems to be more of those crossing the road around twilight than I do when it’s completely dark.
On the freeway where it may be particularly dark, I avoid being the first vehicle in a pack and instead choose to follow a bit behind a car. That gives me a bit of warning as they are likely to brake or swerve to miss large debris up ahead. I’m especially careful right after a 3-day holiday weekend as area roads are littered with a surprising number of kids bicycles, ice chests, beach chairs and other crap that has fallen off RVs and out of pickups.
I also use the Halo band and use to have it slip onto my neck every time I rode over 70 mph. I talked to the manufacturer and he actually said that it was a safety feature designed to make riders less visible to LEOs when you’re blasting down the road at illegal speeds. Sounds like a lame excuse to me.
But I found soaking the band for an hour or so in fresh water can put a bit more elasticity into it. Then I use a couple small loops of masking tape at each quarter to tack it to my helmet. It’s stayed on for a year since doing that.January 3, 2010 at 7:31 pm #23873
“I talked to the manufacturer and he actually said that it was a safety feature designed to make riders less visible to LEOs when you’re blasting down the road at illegal speeds.”
God, I’ve not laughed so hard in ages. I think I would have cussed that person out after I’d stopped laughing. What a retard.January 3, 2010 at 8:02 pm #23874
“God, I’ve not laughed so hard in ages. I think I would have cussed that person out after I’d stopped laughing. What a retard.”
That’s what I thought when I read the lamest excuse Halo guy gave SCRider. That was absurd! How does someone make up stupid things like that? Next time he would say your headlight should go out when speeding so you’re in the “stealth mode” from LEOs… Halo should post this brilliant information on their web site.
My Halo band is only about 3 months old, and it’s stayed in place so far. I’ve gone up to over 100 mph on my naked bike and it hasn’t moved. I was worried that exposure to rain might break down it’s elasticity, so it’s interesting to learn from SCRider that soaking it in water actually improves it’s elasticity. Regardless, I’m itchy to play with some reflective tapes, so when the Halo band falls off it’ll be time to play with reflective tapes.
3M SOLAS tape looks interesting. Before eon mentioned that I only knew about 3M Diamond Grade, which they use on traffic cones, and is very bright.January 3, 2010 at 10:32 pm #23877
Anyone knows how to imbed image directly in the post?January 4, 2010 at 12:16 am #23881
Use the following code but replace [ with < and ] with >
[img src=”http://i970.photobucket.com/albums/ae188/deg856/ArroyoSeco.jpg” /]If your image is on the large size you can add width=660 to that and it will reduce the size so that it fits nicely on the page. Any larger than that and it overlap into the menus on the right.January 4, 2010 at 12:31 am #23882
I’m not sure what the differences are between the various reflective tapes, it may be minimal for our purposes. I know when I read the SOLAS (Safety Of Life At Sea) stuff was used on lifejackets that made up my mind. I initially bought two 15″ strips from a local marine store for about $20 I think. I’ve just ordered a 30’x1″ roll for $40 from a n online store (http://www.colebrothers.com/solas/) so hopefully I’m not going to get ripped off. I hate buying from unknown websites.January 4, 2010 at 1:41 am #23885
Cool – thanks, eon, on how to post images.
That big round thing hanging low in the sky is the moon.January 4, 2010 at 1:49 am #23875
Some additional thoughts:
– With painted DY and reflectors, night rides are almost easy. The reflectors light up beautifully like a fiery ribbon, and you can totally see the twist and turns of the road far ahead. Some of those white reflectors on road side markers light up like light bulbs! I charged up a mountain road like that to stay ahead of, and pull away from, cars and had a blast. With the visual help of center line reflectors, I was turning and banking so effortless without seeing the surroundings, it felt like playing a computer simulation. When I thought about that ride afterwards, I realized that I was being reckless, and totally forgotten about watching out for road hazards like possible gravel, wet spots, debris, etc. Nevertheless, it shows that cornering can be so easy when you have clear visual cues, and when you’re smooth and relaxed.
– Without reflectors, the painted centerline works as a fair visual aid in the headlight.
– With no painted center line, and no reflectors, the twist and turns are much harder to follow and predict in the headlight. Light and shadows play tricks with your eyes, and you have to concentrate hard to understand what you’re seeing. It’s like trying to solve a constantly changing visual puzzle. Many times I thought the road would turn one way, and it ended up going the other. I learned to use the outline of the hill as visual aid to see which way the road’s turning, and I enjoy the game.
– I hate stopping in pitch darkness. Couldn’t see a thing outside the headlight, and you get that vulnerable feeling like something was lurking just behind you.
– After an hour of riding in total darkness, seeing city lights in the distance was a great feeling.
– I don’t really know what I’m supposed to do, other than what I already do at night (slow down, look hard), when I see a sign like “deer next 10 miles”… I’ve seen deers a number of times on the road in my headlight on the low speed twisty sections, when I was going like 15-20 mph, and that was no problem. I just hope they don’t charge into me (like you see on YouTube) when I’m in the straight sections at 40-50 mph.January 10, 2010 at 9:36 am #23960SafetyFirstParticipant
I have DOT-C2 retroreflective tape on my helmet, and a Halo.
Under any condition the Halo is more reflective than the DOT-C2 tape.January 11, 2010 at 5:56 am #23969
I ended up using my Halo on my new helmet but have used small strips of solas tape to make sure it stays on. Can’t say I notice any difference in brightness in how each reflects light. The solas tape is almost metallic so it can reflect light in bright conditions but that’s not exactly a huge benefit. Either one works well I think.
Oh, and my order from the website mentioned above came through on time so if anyone is looking to buy some tape then they get my recommendation.January 13, 2010 at 10:46 pm #23999CBBaronParticipant
If you live in an area with deer be very careful after dark. Vast majority of deer hits are after dark and most of those are in October and November.
I think in the fall I will limit my riding to urban or daylight only.
I’ll have to get some of that SOLAS tape for my helmet and rack trunk. It much less effective in an urban environment but every little bit helps.
CraigJanuary 14, 2010 at 11:43 pm #24018XRayHoundParticipant
My advice for riding at night is not to fall for the gimmick of those piddly HID lookalike blue bulbs, like the Silverstars and what not. They look like they’d be bright but they have just no reach whatsoever.January 15, 2010 at 12:08 am #24020
I read that having even beam pattern/spread is more inportant than outright brightness. It’s about having the right contrast. When the beam pattern has bright areas that cuts off sharply to the dark area, it hurts your night vision and makes it harder to see the surroundings.
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