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Lights AND Reflectors?(5 posts)

Lights AND Reflectors?Ginz
Dec 11, 2001 11:32 AM
I recently purchased a Niterider headlight and integrated tail light for early morning/night riding. Do I NEED reflectors on my bike in addition to the head/tail light, my reflective jacket, and my reflective camelback. I'd prefer to not have all that hardware on my bike, but I certainly don't want to risk injury. Would I be breaking the law in Pennsylvania without reflectors?
try a few small pieces of reflective tapeTig
Dec 11, 2001 12:03 PM
Reflective tape can be placed on less noticeable areas like at the bottom of chain stays and still make you highly visible at night. Places like pedals and wheels will be the most effective. Small pieces are all it takes. You can even get different colors from a good fishing tackle store.
re: Lights AND Reflectors?KEN2
Dec 11, 2001 12:52 PM
Don't know about PA, but in TX the law was recently amended from "must have rear reflector" to "may substitute a taillight for the reflector." Those Nitrider tail lights are very bright...

I commute and this time of year I'm riding home in the dark. I had my wife follow me in the car to assess my visibility. I have some reflective tape on my messenger bag, and on my seat bag. She said those were by far the brightest (they are that high quality glossy reflectorized material). But next in brightness were the backs of my shoes! And they get lots of attention because 1) they're low and so pick up lots of headlight and 2) they're constantly in motion. So I suggest you take a look at your shoes with a flashlight in a dark closet, and see if they incorporate reflectorized material. If not you can add some reflector tape (get the best quality you can find, police or fireman stuff) to either shoes or pedals. I don't see you needing a bike reflector, unless you need it by law.
re: Lights AND Reflectors?josh_putnam
Dec 11, 2001 4:52 PM
Many states do require a rear reflector, and a light isn't a legal substitute. Other states leave it up to you which to use.

A reflector can be better in many circumstances -- it gets brighter as the headlights hitting it get brighter, unlike a tail light which can be washed out by really bright lights. (Sure, if their lights are that bright they *should* see you, but they won't always.) For legal purposes, one of those ridiculous little CPSC-approved seatpost reflectors is adequate. Useless for visibility, of course, especially since the standards mandate that 2/3 of the reflector point where it isn't needed, but adequate for legality.

For actual visibility, I'd suggest reflective tape, the high-quality stuff found in industrial safety supply stores or better auto parts stores, not the cheap stuff usually sold at bike shops. Good locations for reflective tape include the seatpost and the front or rear faces of your cranks. If you have fenders, the back of the rear fender is even better.

Also, reflective tape on your helmet will be the highest point on yoru bike, so it's less likely to be obstructed by other vehicles, parked cars, etc.

I have more conspicuity tips on my web site at
both - and those darn Niteriders...Dog
Dec 11, 2001 5:00 PM
I have 2 of those $350 Niterider systems (Digital Pro 12 LCD). At least 4 times they have suddenly gone out - complete darkness - while riding at night. In that eventuality, it is good to have reflectors, too. It may be a little nerdy, but plaster your "night bike" with reflective tape. Mine (fixed gear Bianchi) has tape all over, and I even put a reflective dealie in the front spokes. It's nice to know you'll be seen if something happens.

Addionally, I started using a backup 2.5 watt headlight for when (not if) the Niterider fails. Just last night, the Niterider went out on me again. I switched on the small light, but it was aimed down too much. So, I tried to twist it up a bit. Guess what? It broke, and I finished riding another 8 miles, in the dark, with traffic, holding my 2.5 watt light in one hand while steering the bike with the other. Made it real intersting at 4 way stops - try stopping, track standing, and get going on a fixed gear while using one hand to steer and the other to hold a light. Not a good ride.