Why should you go night riding? Is it easy to go riding after dark? There’s nothing that should stop you from carrying on with your ride when the sun sets, as long as you have all the right information. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a road cyclist or prefer the trails, there are some universal tips that everyone should know before they hit the road under the cover of darkness.
We recently teamed up to compete in Red Bull Timelaps, a 25 hour race that keeps you riding throughout the night to try and prove you have the stamina and speed, no matter what the conditions. Riding through from one day's sundown to the next sunrise gave us the bug for night riding and training when the sun has set. After all, we'd all rather be outside than on a static bike, staring at the same wall!
To make your night riding as simple and enjoyable as possible, we've put together our ultimate guide to starlight cycling. From tools to biking buddies, here's everything you need to know about night riding.
Check Your Bike During The Day
While you might be pressing go on your Strava after the sun has gone down, do yourself a favour and still do all the necessary checks in the afternoon sunshine. From tyres, to brakes, to gears, there's no part of the bike that is any easier to change and mend in the dark.
As well as the bike, make sure you are prepared before the ride. Pack light layers for the change in temperature after the sun sets, as well as tools and spares. Most importantly, check that your lights and phone are both charged up enough to last your whole ride.
Get The Best Light Possible
One of the most important parts of night riding, is finding the right lights that will provide you with adequate lighting and detail, once the glow of city lights are behind you.
You’re obviously going to need some very good lights,. These days you can get some very bright and long-lasting lights for not a lot of money. LED technology has transformed cycle lights and there are none better available to cyclists than USE Exposure Lights.
If you’re venturing out into unlit country lanes, you need a front light bright enough to illuminate your path and reveal potholes and other hidden dangers. The Six Pack is the best front light out there for illuminating your way by delivering a powerful, deep reaching beam that banishes the night. Reflex+ Technology boosts to a massive 4750 lumens to give you confidence on steep descents but intelligently adjusts the light to your riding style, dimming for the climbs and saving the power for when you need it.
"LED technology has transformed cycle lights and there are none better available to cyclists than USE Exposure Lights"
Your rear light needs to be powerful, yet compact enough to sit comfortable on the back of your bike. The TraceR ReAKT is super compact, but still contains superb build quality. This light uses 'Ambient Kinetic Technology' to enable the light to adapt to conditions, flaring up under braking or entering brighter environments.
As well as lights on your bike, it's always worth considering an addition light on your helmet. The Link light is a clever choice, as it can be used for twin, front or rear light and offers a combination of pulse or constant beam patterns, as well as being easily helmet mounted.
Remember that the run time for both lights needs to exceed the duration of your planned ride. It’s sensible to carry a couple of small backup lights just in case your ride goes longer than expected.
Know Your Route (And Let Someone Know Where You’re Heading
Exploring on your bike and riding somewhere new is always great fun, but when you're riding in the dark it's best to know where you're heading and the route you plan on taking. There's nothing fun about being lost on a dark country road with no phone battery and no idea which direction to choose.
Planning your route doesn't mean that you have to lose all the adventure from the ride, if you're planning a long ride through the night, choose markers along the way such as pubs or villages, so you can easily return to the last marker if necessary. On shorter rides, look up the route online first to plan for any issues it might bring along the way such as poorly surfaced roads and ones that are likely to have lots of potholes.
We all use our phones as maps nowadays, but they're not foolproof. Many night rides can take you out of signal reach, so it's always best to download the route to your phone before you set off. All electrical GPS devices share one common issue, they can run out of power, there's nothing wrong with taking a trusty old paper map in your pocket, to be as safe as possible.
Ride With A Group
Night riding is a fantastic group activity. Not only is it a unique and different social date to plan after work, having a group to ride with also gives that boost and motivation we all sometimes need to get out on the bike, when the sun has gone down.
Riding in a group is also good for ensuring a safe ride. Going out with four other people means that you have five times the phone battery and five times the mechanical knowledge, than if you were out on the road alone.
Put together a gang of friends who like to train and take turns creating the route each week for your night riding. You can gain a lot of unexpected experience from riding trails and routes that you wouldn't usually pick for yourself.
Fixing a mechanical in the dark isn’t much fun, so the first step before every night ride is to ensure your bike is in order, to minimise the risk of something failing when you’re far from home, Accidents do happen however, and you need to make sure you have the tools and the skills to fix your own bike when needed.
Make sure to carry all tools needed to fix most likely mechanical failures, from spare inner tubes to a well stocked multi-tool with a chain breaker. A good basic spares kit to keep on you includes two spare inner tubes, a tyre boot, reliable pump and good multi-tool.
As well as your tools, it's always good to carry other extras such as plasters and alcohol cleaning wipes, in case of crashes and injuries on the ride.
While lights are obviously the most important thing needed for riding at night, reflective clothing is an equally important saety measure to invest in. Most brands now offer some reflective option in their apparel range, so none of us have any excuse. The choices for reflective clothing have also gotten much better in the past couple of years, with the likes of the Sugoi Zap and Proviz Reflect 360 offering full 360-degree reflectivity.
Reflectors don't have to be restrained to just your jacket either. The up-and-down motion from pedalling can catch the eye of the motorist more than a large reflective stripe across the back, so think about reflective pedals, overshoes or ankle bands to help you stand out as well.
Consider making your bike as reflective as you, by adding some reflective tape to your bike, you can make sure that you're always visible, even if you've forgotten your reflective clothing.
Special thanks to Canyon for lending us the amazing women's road bikes to shoot this feature. Check out their range of world class road bikes for women and fall in love...