Basic Elements to Night Rides




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Wow, the new contest could be my chance to write my first instructable...
Sometimes, you're riding your bike and night comes over. What will you do? Don't take unnecessary risks, prepare your bike to night rides for a few Euros/Dollars/Pounds/Yens/_______ (Other).

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Step 1: Step 1: Think Where Cars' Lights Point At

Most times, car lights points to the floor, but many metres forward. So where will you place the lights and reflection items?

Yeah, in the lower bike zones.

Step 2: Step 2: Front and Rear Lights

Don't breake your head building your own lights, for a few coins, in your friendly bike shop, could buy the cheapest (but not a pair-o-LEDs one, at least must got between 3 and 5).

Front light must point about 3 or 4 metres forward. If your election has few light positions, a blinking one makes you more visible because differences you from a streetlamp ;), and keeps the batteries' life a bit longer.

Rear light must be in a horizontal line, over the rear wheel. Make sure there aren't obstacles between the light and your bike's back (for example the pannier rack or a long coat).

Step 3: Step 3: Reflection Items: Pedals

This is free blinking effect (like turn-side light signals), uses to be common on kids bikes, but is easy mount on an adult bike. When rider pedals were moving up and down, generates a turn signal effect, visible from the cars coming on your back.

Could happens that pedal hole is bigger than reflector's nuts. Don't panic, take some washers and put'em between pedal and nuts and... trouble solved.

Step 4: Step 4: Reflection Items: Frame

Other option is make visible your bike's frame. If you don't want to buy vinyl reflection stickys, try to obtain one of this:

Sometimes comes as a gift in sport magazines, or big events. Cut it carefully, and take off the metal inside (careful because could cut a finger in less than a second). Once you have 2 parts, glue it in the rear frames' fork.

If you want to keep your frame untouchable, fix it with electric tape.

Step 5: Step 5: Reflection Items: Clothes

Sometimes, cyclist rides by night wearing a reflective vest, but it's not obligatory (almost in iSPain). If you uses to ride with the same bag, stitch a reflective band on it, in the lower side. Could use a vest' one, or buy it in a hardware store.

Step 6: Step 6: Reflection Items: Wheels

Some brands have specific urban tires with a reflection band on both sides. It provides you more visibility on left and right cross.

Step 7: Step 7: Overdo It, Make Sure You're Visible

There're the possibility of overdo every step: powerful light systems, bought or home made, make a Christmas-Tree-bike (as seen on, or cover the whole frame on reflective stickys (as seen on Depends on your shame.

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    9 Discussions


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Very good logo ... eh creo que los dos hablamos castellano ... Buen logo,¿de donde lo has sacado? (where did you take it from?)

    1 reply

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    En efecto, ambos hablamos castellano (ehem, luego traduciré). El logo es de una camiseta de la Masa Crítica de Cádiz, y el texto dice: Conductor, respétame! Mis huesos están MENOS PROTEGIDOS que los tuyos. (Eng) Right, both speak spanish. Logo is from a Cádiz' Critical Mass t-shirt, and says: Driver, Respect me! My bones are LESS PROTECTED than yours.


    10 years ago on Step 7

    I've got two powerful lights on the front to see the way, reflectors on my handle bars, bar extensions, one on my antenna, my pedals are fully reflective, my rear fork is fully reflective, and have a 4"x5" plate on the back that's reflective and shows up like a headlight when a car's lights hit it. I've had rear lights before, but they tend to get broken by whatever my tires happen to pick up.


    10 years ago on Step 7

    Light yourself up like a beacon in the night. "I didn't see you" should never cross a driver's lips!

    2 replies

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Given my paint job, lighting system, and gear, I don't have to worry about that! At least once a day I get someone commenting to me about it when I'm stopped at a light or other traffic control, be it a pedestrian, police, or vehicle driver/passenger. :-)

    I have a general instructable about my lights here:
    and much more than just that bike and lighting system at my project blog:

    Any questions on how to "break your head but not your wallet" by making your own lights, I'll help as much as possible!


    Reply 10 years ago on Step 7

    I'm agree. I almost wear a sport jacket and a gloves with reflective lines.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    My pedal reflectors broke and fell off, but my Cold Cathodes do the trick. :D


    10 years ago on Step 2

    I think I would add a caveat to your guidance suggesting that people buy a cheap light instead of "breaking their head" (funny tern, btw... I enjoyed it) building their own. I think that works really well if you are going to be riding in an area that is fairly well lit and your goal is to *be* seen by traffic.

    If your goal is to *see* well in the dark, though, I have found the cheap lights to be inadequate. To see well in the dark, one must have a pretty high power light. The high power lights you can buy commercially are fairly expensive. If that is your goal, I would recommend either buying an expensive (over $100... could be up to $500) commercially available lighting system.

    Alternatively, if you would rather break your head than your wallet, you might also consider one of the DIY lights. ;o)

    (I'm going to try one of the ones here, but I haven't done so yet so I can't comment on their quality.)

    1 reply

    Reply 10 years ago on Step 2

    I'm agree, but i'm too lazy/busy to made a DIY lights (I try it few months ago. Result: disaster and maybe a little temporal madness). Both of lights up there, were bought for less than 25 € (aprox. 20 $), and have a blinking' effect to "be" seen by traffic. I ride trough Madrid streets, and light are wasted every night (and some days too). Maybe my mountain-biker past influenced on my advice ("must point about 3 or 4 meters forward"), and it's better to point the light horizontally. "A pretty high power light", as you say, is a waste of energy out of the city. In my opinion, there're oriented to cross-country by moonlight, making easier to see the tracks and paths. First photo shows a Topeak light for 9 €, and second is a Sigma light for 15 €, I think it isn't expensive, and made their function.