Night Rider

As daylight is getting shorter, I’m curious what lights people are using to ride. I have LED flashers on both forks to the rear which work great. My problem is in front. I used a helmet mounted light last year which worked great for lighting up the path but wasn’t so good for me seeing the undulations which resulted in a few UPD’s, surprising on a path I ride almost daily. I’m thinking it was because the light was so close to my eye level I couldn’t see shadows?

What lights do you guys use?



I remember we talked about this before. A few days ago I rode some at night with just a head mounted light. It works fine to see the pedals for free mounting and I could ride but had more UPD’s on the bumpy surface I was riding on. Based on past threads on this site and even bicycle light recommendations there does seem to be a consensus that the main headlight should be mounted on the frame. This is especially true for a bumpy surface. A main light on the frame and a head mounted light seems to be the best combination.

For road riding in Washington state, of course unicycles are not covered but bicycles are. For night bicycle riding, a white front light (not a reflector) visible for 500 feet and a red rear reflector are required. A red rear light may be used in addition to the required reflector (RCW 46.61.780). I suppose that would be reasonable for a uni also.


Also this thread.

I use one on the helmet for the distance and another on the frame to see the immediate terrain. It is surprising how much we depend on peripheral vision to see what is right in front of the wheel.

I have a Cygolite Expilion 850 on the helmet for the general lighting and a Niterider 250 on the handlebars to create some shadows up front to aid with depth perception.
I’m always riding off road so in town I would add a flashing red for behind me.

For a beast of a front light I use an L&M 550. I’ve had it mounted a number of ways as it swivels around, so pretty much any of these should work!

Obvious one is just clipped onto your handlebar if you have one (Works on both the Q-Handle and KH T-bar). Slightly less obvious is using a little attachment to clip it onto your seatpost if you’ve no handlebar, but I used this setup with great results.

I’ve done a serious amount of riding at night (Seeing as I finish work at 10pm!) both on-road and on unlit cycle trails, and this light has never let me down.

It would seem to me attaching a light to the post will move around too much. I wear a very bright light on my helmet which works very well, though last time there was heavy fog which reflected the bright light. Then was pretty hopeless

Night riding

I do most of my riding at the crack of dawn ie around 5.00am mostly on cycle paths. I use a 1000 lumen magic shine helmet mounted light with a battery in my backpack. i also use a 1200 lumen light mounted on the frame the same way as piecemaker has mounted his i have that light pointed pretty low down lighting in front of the wheel. I do find i have to turn the helmet light off when anyone is coming towards me. Then just cheapo red LEDs mounted on the frame for the rear.

I’ve been very happy with the Moon Comet for unlit cycle path commuting. I use two of them (actually, one Moon Comet and one cheap unbranded imitation that seems identical), one mounted either side of the fork.

Lezyne Macro Drive 600XL on the front and Niteflux Red Zone 4 on the back.

The beam doesn’t move much if pointed down a few feet in front of the wheel.

Moreover, I actually used my lights to improve my riding technique. I pointed the head lamp down to shine just in front of the beam from the frame mounted lamp. Any swinging movement of the frame became very obvious and I worked at smoothing my style to keep the beams aligned.

Yeah I never found the frame-mounted light to move around too much, handlebar-mounted ones do a bit though.

I don’t like helmet mounted lights for the exact reason described earlier - FOG! Even if it’s just a bit cold, the mist from your breath can completely blind you.

I’ve tried various things including a “brighter than a thousand suns” Hope Tech head torch. I now find that for normal riding on the road and easy trails, just a decent USB front LED light mounted on the fork crown, and any decent rear light below the seat will do.

I don’t like head torches: they can be unfair to other road users, they can confuse people’s judgement of distance (especially if you’re on a 36), and they can also fill your face with insects if you ride in the countryside or near water. Also, with the light source so close to your eyes, the way shadows are thrown can flatten out the appearance of bumps.

If it’s safe to do so, riding by moonlight is a lovely experience.

I started riding to to/from work in the last year or 2 and needed some lights. I found this site pretty informative:

I was riding on asphalt sidewalks along a road. There wasn’t too much foot traffic to worry about and I was never on the road other than a street crossing. I got the Cygolite streak which was pretty cheap and came with a tail light as well. I just clipped the headlight on my handlebars and never had any issues. Visibility isn’t amazing or anything, but sidewalks are easily rideable and at least traffic could see me and I could avoid potholes.

I actually spoke to the guy who makes that site, and he’s the one who recommended the L&M light to me :smiley:

Can that Cyglolite light rotate on its mount, so that it’d be shining parallel to the bar it’s mounted on?

It can, but it wasn’t meant to. There’s a small extrusion that fits into an inlet, that gives the light ~5degrees of rotation either way. You can rotate it farther, but you will feel it pop out slightly. It still holds its position well when rotated 90 degrees

I do agree with that. I remember people not looking too happy when I turned to them wishing them a good evening. My helmet light is very bright and isn’t pleasant to look into.

If you actually want to ride off-road at night then I would recommend both head light and frame light.

I use a cheap Chinese X2 light that claims to produce 5000 lumins. It does not, but still very good. My guess is that it gives out about 3000 lumins at full wack but… what is good about it is that it gives a really good pattern. Broad and tapered light that makes it possible to ride comfortably in the dark off-road. The light is cheap and I end up stripping the batteries and rewiring them or they blow up (yes, I mean that!). The cable to the light it self has been replaced several times. I have used it at least twice a week in the winter for the last 4 years.

I then also put an LED strip light type front light on the legs of the frame. This gives you profiling of the ground in front of you. It does blind you every time you mount though, so I get used to mounting with my eyes closed.


Ha! Yup, this can be a problem. Nothing like getting speared in the eyeballs with a bright light just as you go to mount and ride off. I’m intrigued by the eyes shut mount.

While they’re not so good for seeing ahead of you, I have a strand of color-morphing LEDs around the rim of my 29", and they’re great for showing you the immediate vicinity around the wheel. They also light up the pedals when mounting. The LEDs are woven through the spokes and the battery pack attaches to the spokes as well. They also provide a ton of visibility from the side.

Here is my take on lighting. I used two 50 lumen lights, one on my head and just under the saddle for the main lights. Also had a smaller maker light under the seat shining down to light the pedals for mounting. The set up seems to work fine in the dark area I was riding. Maybe brighter lights would be good if there were street lights or lights from cars that would spoil your night vision.
Then just for some bling I added the red, white and blue lights on the wheel.


Neat photo! The pattern from the wheel lights reminds me of the spyrograph toy I played with as a kid.