Night riding

Then go with the essentials first which are of course the lights and find out during some two hour road rides in nights with temps well above freezing how you like riding at night. Then improve your cold weather equipment if you find that you really like it. If it’s not for you lights that you can also use as day-time running lights are no bad investment.


Here is what I have found:

  1. Lights: you’re better off getting a couple of cheap lights ($50-85 each), than one massive light. I find that quality lights rated 800 lumens are plenty. Anything over that is just bonus. Get two and you will have a backup in case your primary light fails. And if you ever want more light, you can use both at the same time, and still probably be better off than if you had one light rated higher.

Check out Hambini’s channel on YouTube. He recently reviewed some cheap lights that he recommended highly.

I recently picked up several Niterider Lumina 900s and they are great. Here they are on sale for $55 WITH a tail light:|MS-Shopping-Steals-Buys-Brand-Product-_-google|16527274000|134332880836|586921395247|pla-310136897001|m|1025116|4472318&gclid=CjwKCAiAyfybBhBKEiwAgtB7ftla1Kp7Yag9UkmX39uTFKvEDiqUivABYiR4YEiRb9tUVZVnVjYkvBoCH3wQAvD_BwE

Dang…that link is long! :roll_eyes:

  1. Clothing: For winter cycling, get a good set of tights. I mean really good. From memory I use a pair of Pearl Izumi Amfib tights. You want something that is really windproof (at least on the front) if you are going to be out below zero.

And as I mentioned above, I can’t recommend bar mitts / pogies highly enough. When it’s really cold, I don’t find any gloves do the trick.

And finally, I highly recommend a thin beanie / skull cap / cycling cap under your helmet that will cover your ears.

Beyond that, I don’t think you need any new cycling gear or clothing. I mostly use stuff I already have: base layers / long underwear tops, old merino wool sweater, jacket, etc. I care more about being warm than aero in those conditions.

If you do want a winter cycling jacket and don’t want to drop several hundo on a Castelli Alpha RoS, I can personally vouch for this jacket as being up to the task:

Przewalski Cycling Bike Jackets…

It has a very nice “hand feel”, is warm, cheap, and fits well. Just bought a second one recently.

But really: don’t fall into the trap of thinking you need cycling-specific gear from big brand names. You’re trying to keep warm. Use what you have.

Oh, and one more thing: don’t start off doing this now, but if your feet get cold, I also recommend buying a pair of cheap, larger shoes and wearing two pairs of socks. They don’t even need to be cycling shoes: throw on a pair of cheap flat pedals and you can use sneakers…

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I’m a big fan of bigger tyres at night - more planted feel, especially with many dicey road obstacles that are harder to spot at night. I’m also a fan of good lights. 250 lumen is enough on the flat, but when descending (no street lights) I use a 600 lumen mode. I use a knog PWR road, which has a reasonable cut-off / lense to shape the beam. I like a headlamp on trails but don’t use it on the road anymore.

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By the way, with all the talk of gear, I should add that I highly endorse riding at night. It feels really special to be out and about, getting exercise and having fun, while everyone else is home asleep. And the world looks totally different at night. Plus, it gives you all these hours in the day to ride, when it can otherwise be super challenging to find time to ride during daylight hours. :+1:t2::+1:t2::+1:t2:


I totally support what has been written here about the special feeling of nightriding. I enjoy it a lot in warm summer nights as well. I have an old school bike computer without backlight and never could see my current speed and that’s awesome because you feel so much faster at night!

I recommend to do it on roads you know and I’d possible not alone. Then you also have more light without paying for it.

How much light you need really depends on your need for safety and speed you’re riding at. The faster you go the more light you need.


Try phone and batteries in your jersey under your jackets. I also use a frame bag for my external battery, which keeps them out of the wind and improves life. Also set your phone to low power mode. I know just where you’re coming from and believe in paranoia.

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Oh- and buy a more powerful light than you need. Because you’ll get super long battery life at the power you do use. With a Gloworm XSV for example, I almost never use high and get nearly 6 hours, even using mid a fair bit.

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Do it. It’s great. All the good weather Sunday riders are hiding inside and you get to experience the feeling of solitude and calm.

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Absolutely love solo night riding, whether on or off road. It was night ride commuting that kept my mental health together during a period working with a lot of trauma and seeing the worst of humanity day in day out. There was one rural, flat and open 7 mile stretch where on a clear night I’d kill my lights and ride the whole section by moonlight. Fantastic.


One thing I’ve got, and see plenty of the ultra riders using over night, are high vis tabards/straps. I go for the too much is just enough when it comes to trying to be seen.

Things like this along with spoke reflective things are passive moving illumination which on top of me seeing cars I hope will help them see me. Especially since I know some quiet sections near me and also used by Colin McRae wannabes at night!

When it’s dark my looking pro ideas go out the window and I work on looking like a flashing illuminated Xmas tree!

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+1 on buying more light than you think you need…. But the best/brightest you can afford-front and rear. I like to run one rear light on the frame or seatpost and one rear-facing light on top of my helmet.

And again consider a dynamo setup. Requires a specific front wheel build, of course, but never have to charge and lasts as long as you do. Downside is the expense. I have a Hunt 700c dynamo wheelset on my stainless steel all-road bike. A great setup for night riding and/or winter and/or foul weather. With the dynamo light switched off, there is no drag on the front hub; with the light on the drag is minimal - a few watts. It does weigh less than a bright battery light with large battery, which offsets the added drag from the dynamo to an extent.

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Had a bike with dynamo lights, wouldn’t get them again. The big annoyance is that doing climbs at night sucks, because at low speed they’re just not doing much. Stop to fix a mechanical? No light. Plus, can’t use a normal wheelset, there’s a draggy dynamo, mess of wires… meh.

Battery lights work all the same regardless of speed, and battery lights work well - on illuminated roads a high power light can be run on a low setting for 6+ hours, which generally vastly exceeds anyone’s night riding appetites.

If you’re looking to ride a hour or two at night, most battery lights are highly capable of that.


I know I’m repeating myself here, but I respectfully disagree with some of what was written above:

  1. In my experience, two mid-powered lights (800-900 lumens) are better than one high powered light (1200-1800 lumens). You have physical redundancy, and while it is true you can run a higher-powered light for longer on a lower setting than the same light on a higher setting, I’m not convinced you can run it longer than two lower-powered lights. Maybe it’s just the specific lights I’ve used, but my experience seems to correspond to others who have compared the same.

  2. I agree with adding more passive / reflective elements. When I did a lot of night riding, I added reflective tape to my bike, put reflective straps on my ankles, and “Liteweights” on my wheels ( They weigh nothing and work AMAZINGLY well!

  3. I only think dynamo lights make sense if you are doing a multi-day trip. For anything less than that, you can take multiple 800-900 lumen lights and have a cheaper, more flexible setup that will work if/when you stop or go slow.

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You know, you only need the URL up to (but not including) the question mark: The rest is just a lot of tracking, formatting, and other information that most users will find useless.

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Regarding dynamo systems vs battery powered lights there is no perfect solution, only trade-offs. Dynamos definitely have some disadvantages but for some situations they are the optimum solution. I use either types of lighting, depending on the scenario.
In summer with warm weather and the sunrise coming earlier I might do a 4-5 hr ride and need bright lights for only the first couple hours. Battery powered lights are best here. However, in deep winter where the entire 2-3hr ride is in the dark and it is 10F, battery life will be less than optimum - I have tried just about all and if it is cold enough battery life will suffer at least somewhat. Of course there is the opportunity to bring a second battery kept close to one’s body for warmth, then switch out when the first one freezes…but that’s not always practical and a bit heavy. So when it is super-cold i switch to the dynamo. In my experience it will provide light even at slow speeds (few Kph). And also on-board capacitors will provide 10-15min of light after stopping. In addition, I do always have a helmet light as backup if needed. Even with battery lights on my handlebar I always have a helmet light for fixing flats, roadside repairs etc…. Much easier that repositioning a single handlebar mounted light -
And hands-free. So while dynamos definitely have some negatives, sometimes these are outweighed by the advantages. I agree for most people, and most night riding battery-powered lights are optimal, or at least adequate.


Very helpful, thanks!

A few people mentioned tail lights, but I think a little more emphasis needs to be put on them. I have seen so many people out at night with huge headlights so that they can see, but miniscule tail lights. A driver approaching from the rear will see your headlight a little bit, but the tail light is what will really get their attention.

Get something bright. They don’t even have to be expensive. I have a couple old Planet Bike lights that are big (not very attractive, but very effective) and bright. And run at least two lights. Obviously more lights will make you more visible, but if you only have one light and it fails, you just became invisible.

Run the tail lights on a standard flash. A lot of lights come with all kinds of cool flash patterns, but the slow scrolling or pulsing is not going to be as visible as a regular flash. If you’re in a group, then you might rethink the flash to not blind your riding mates, but otherwise I think the basic flash is the most attention-getting.


Try one tail light mounted to seatpost or frame, and a second on top of the helmet. This is a very visible combo. Also one can purchase helmets these days with rear light built in - nice.

The problem with this is that you tend to lean forward / look down when riding, so that light in your helmet points UP to some degree and not AT the drivers behind you. This reduces its intensity and effectiveness.

The ideal place, IME, is actually on the bottom of your jersey, just under the middle pocket. But you need to find a style that clips vs. using a band and those are becoming increasingly difficult to find.

Another good option is on the back of your seat pack. That tends to point directly at drivers.

Also highly recommend the Garmin Varia radar rear light….very bright, the flashing mode changes when drivers approach to further alert them, plus you also know when drivers are behind you long before you can hear them. I think it is a critical piece of equipment when riding at night.

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+1 on the radar.

All problems have solutions…. For the helmet light, to an extent, the head-bobbing adds some additional attention-getting motion to the light. I tend to mostly ride in the drops so I aim the helmet light accordingly. Lastly, if you want to really be particular, you can buy a helmet light that is mounted on a swivel…so no matter what angle your helmet is at the light always points straight back to drivers. Plus it’s up high.

On my rear rack there is a hard-point for mounting a rear light, so this works well. On a bikepacking style rear bag I find it works less well. The lights I have tried tend to hang oddly downwards or off to one side. This may be just the combo of lights and bags I have tried. I have occasionally had lights fly off seatbag straps and jersey pockets.

There are also rear lights that are integrated into bar-end plugs - quite clever. Unless you have a mirror in that position…