a red light on the back that is visible
up to at least 600 feet from the back.
California only specifies a white headlight in front and at least a red reflector,
plus white or yellow reflectors on each
pedal or on a rider’s shoes or ankles, as
well as visible reflectors from the sides,
or reflectorized front and back tires.
Erring on the side of more visibility
is always better. The United States
Consumer Product Safety Commission,
the same people who demand reflectors as OEM equipment on bikes, found
that 47 percent of all cycling deaths
occur between the hours of 6 p.m.
and 5: 59 a.m., yet only 12. 4 percent
of the cyclists surveyed even rode at
night. Don’t let that deter you, just let it
encourage you to be more aware.
Your need to be seen may be less
when you’re riding trails, but your need
to see is even greater. In daylight you
can detect drop-offs, rocks, branches
and roots quickly and easily. At night,
good lighting is the difference between
you seeing what’s on the trail ahead of
you and winding up off your bike.
It’s good to have both bar-mounted
lights and one on your helmet. You
need them above and below your line
of sight. If you’ve ever driven a country
road at night, especially one with hills,
you know why. With headlights alone,
as you crest a hill, you can’t see any-
thing on the backside of the hill. This
is why people mount lights above their
windshield for off-road driving. If you’re
night riding some singletrack, you may
not see what’s below that slight drop-
off. It could be a family of marmots,
and they’d be angry if you crashed into
A powerful handlebar-mounted light
like the Sigma Buster 2000, with 2000
lumens at your beck and call, can let
you see in front of you and enough to
the sides to help keep you out of trouble. Then a helmet-mounted light, such
as the Ethos Components helmet light
(the 800-lumen Trail Beam is a great
one), can augment your vision so you
can see over and down the trail and
anywhere your head points. The Ethos
weighs very little, and not only does it
work well as a flashlight, but it can even
charge your phone.
A bright-enough headlight will allow
you to see far enough ahead to be safe
and swerve or stop if needed.
The sun setting earlier shouldn’t curtail your riding fun.
The right lights make it safe and allow you to ride your
favorite trails. We suggest always going with friends.