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Brightening up my homebound winter commute

As the nights draw in and each ride home from work is submerged in darkness that much sooner than the previous day, I’ve been thinking much more about my visible presence on the road. Can other road users see me as well as I assume they do?

The Bad Boy adorned with 3M reflective Scotchtape
The Bad Boy adorned with 3M reflective Scotchlite

To be honest I haven’t taken this subject as serious as I should have done in the past, thinking it was OK just to have a light on the front and one on the back. It then occured to me that I habitually wear black/dark clothes, and now I even ride a stealthy black commuting machine, my Cannondale Bad Boy 8. I’m not giving myself much chance here am I.

Lighting up in public

Since then I’ve been conscious about making myself seen on the roads. I’m now doubling up on lights, using two 3 LED lights at the back, one static, the other flashing. One has been replaced by a super bright Smart Superflash 1/2 watt light, which is incredibly bright and can apparently be seen up to a mile away. The Fizik saddle also has a small integrated light, which isn’t very effective at all but OK as a backup.

On the front I’ve now got two Smart LED lights, one has 3 LEDs the other 5. These are complimented by a Knog Beetle 2 LED light which is set to flashing mode. Conscious not to dazzle oncoming traffic, I dip the two brighter beams to avoid being ploughed down by dazed and dazzled drivers.

Another hi-viz addition includes the application of 3M reflective Scotchlite stickers (as seen in the picture above). This stuff is absolutely great as in the daylight it appears black and is invisible on my black framed bike. Once in the headlights of a car it lights up like a Christmas tree, bright and reflective. Even better is that it comes in the form of an A4 sheet which can be cut and shaped as required. It’s very easy to apply and stays put. Another stealth weapon for night riding.

The Rapha large Fixed Backpack with reflective detailing
The Rapha large Fixed Backpack with reflective detailing

Finally, I decided to treat myself to a new cycle specific rucksack that could comfortably accommodate a change of work clothes, shower gear and a laptop as well as a few bits and bobs for work. Another criteria was style, I wanted the bag to also look good as I travelled in on the tube. Several bags met the criteria but the one that stood out by far was the Rapha Fixed Backpack (Large). It’s completely waterproof, has plenty of compartments and is finished with a sleek and slim design. It’s also very expensive though.

This is a very well thought out bag with every feature considered to the highest degree. The reason I mention this particular piece of kit is that it features reflective pin-dots beautifully integrated into it’s design on the top, back and side panels as well as on the front of the harness straps. Beautiful!

Anyway, with all this added illumination and reflective material I’m hoping now to be seen a little sooner that I would normally if I wasn’t adorned in such brightness. I’ll let you know if I notice a difference. In the meantime it still amazes me that some people think they’ll be alright riding in the dark without lights and any kind of protection.

Be safe. Keep riding.

One thought on “Brightening up my homebound winter commute

  1. Great site here! Just wanted to add that to make yourself even more visible you can put ‘blinkies’ (small lights on your helmet and dnagle around on the end of your backpack). Anything reflective that ‘moves’ about will be more conspicious than simply stickers stuck in one position. I think one of the best things to do is also buy some ankle relectors and strap them round your ankles so drivers see your legs moving – I certainly notice cyclists quicker when they light up like this when I’m driving in the dark! Hope this helps! Rebecca.

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