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Early morning riding (in the dark)(16 posts)

Early morning riding (in the dark)ronniedee
Jul 29, 2002 4:43 PM
I plan to start riding early in the morning (starting around 4:30 am), before sunrise. Any suggestions until I can hook up with a group ride would be appreciated.

Of course, riding during sunlight may be safer, but I don't have the time with family and work responsibilities.
re: Early morning riding (in the dark)CKS
Jul 29, 2002 4:48 PM
get a blinking LED light for your seatpost and a niterider (HID is best, but expensive) light for your handlebar. Sleepy motorists in the early hours need to see you!! I used to do this 2x/wk, few things start your day off better than watching the sunrise on a morning ride.
any recommendations???ronniedee
Jul 29, 2002 4:56 PM
Thanks for the feedback...and the encouragement. I was expecting to get flamed a little for even thinking about hitting the roads in the dark.

There are so many different lights to choose from. What specific products are recommended?
Jul 29, 2002 5:53 PM
I run a NiteRider Trail Rat single lamp set up that is more than adequate and fairly small. Gets about four hours or so before needing recharged.

Good luck!

Lots of lightsDrPete
Jul 29, 2002 6:09 PM
I run the Performance ViewPoint Pro single, which was pretty cheap, lasts a good few hours, and was much cheaper than other brands. I think that just about any high-end light (not the glorified flashlights) works for average road riding.

If you're going to ride a lot of country roads or roads with potholes, a quality dual-beam setup might be nice.

MOST IMPORTANT: Get a good taillight... I run the VistaLite Eclipse, which is small, compact, and bright as all get-out. I often run just the taillight on dawn and dusk rides where I don't need the taillight but I want to be seen by cars.

Enjoy the dark--It's actually great riding. Just for fun, try out some of those normally traffic-ridden roads that you can't ride on during the day... For me, it's route 355 in Montgomery County. 6 lanes all to yourself... can't beat it!
Another Eclipse userboneman
Jul 30, 2002 2:45 AM
Most of my week day rides are done when the sun's not out. I run a Vistalite Eclipse as it's light and bright, plus runs in 3 modes, steady, blinking and disco as I can't remember their term. Just be aware that the batteries run down slowly and when you set off on a ride, it looks bright but after a few minutes it will have gotten dimmer. I usually change them about every 3-4 months which equates to about 60-80 hours run time.

On the front I use a Light & Motion Solo Logic or a small white strobe.

I ride in London and city streets with lots of traffic and pedestrians but generally do not need to see the road lit. Hence the strobe up front so that cars and pedestrians can see me coming. Of course, just like in daylight, one has to assume they don't see you or don't care.

Some people advocate also using a helmet light as you can direct it at the pedestrian or vehicle in question and really get their attention.
Riding in the dark actually felt saferronniedee
Jul 30, 2002 5:41 PM
To be honest, I feel safer from the traffic before sunrise. On the big roads, traffic is sparse. But when one approaches, I admit I am filled with some fear. Nonetheless, I will stick to it and get more lights. It was a joy to be out on the streets. The city was so serene. The only noise being wind, my breathing, and water sprinklers!

The biggest problem I encountered was avoiding the early- morning runners. They run right down the middle of the street in that time of the morning.
re: Early morning riding (in the dark)zray61
Jul 29, 2002 6:20 PM
Beside lights I use an Illuminite jacket. From 4:30AM
till 6:30AM not only do you wish to see but you want
to be seen.
Trust me on this one, get theLazywriter
Jul 29, 2002 7:01 PM
Marwi Pro elite light. Go to this link and you can get them for a great price. I got these and they were rated very high in Bicycling and are the same ones with more burn time as the Performance brand (Marwi makes them for Performance). Go to and look up this link below and see the review for the Performance light and see the picture of how it illuminates the road. That is the Marwi light with less wattage and battery time and it works the same if not better than the lights costing $200 more. The Cateye Stadium which is supposed to be the "best" doesn't look anywhere near as good as the Marwi (Performance).Plus the black casing and battery pack looks awesome. Let me know what you think, but $189 is a very good deal.
I Second the Marwi Elite ProStewK
Jul 30, 2002 5:54 AM
Excellent light. Approaching cars actually dim their healights when they see me coming.

I also like the VistaLite Total Eclipse Tail Light. Brightest I've found.
Cygolite, great (best IMO) value for a 16-25 watt headlight.js5280
Jul 29, 2002 8:11 PM
$70 for 16 watt w/ 2-6 hours run time, $90 for the 25 watt 2-3 hours run time at Performance. I have both for 24 hour races. The only downside is it takes 15-17 hours for a full recharge and you have to be careful about overcharging. The latter is easily resolved with an vacation timer though.
Another vote for Eclipse and CygolitePatM
Jul 30, 2002 3:29 AM
Eclipse and Cygolite are the best lights for the money around, I have been riding in the morning since March, starting around 4:15am so I only really have June where there is some sunlight. It takes some time to get used to riding in the dark, make sure you know the roads you are riding on, potholes can suck even with a light. Lots of critters out at that time as well, skunks are the worst, they seem to be as deaf as stumps, until you come right up to them. I have gotten to recognize newspaper delivery cars/people, they are used to having the roads all to their own, so be very defensive. Assume they don't see you.
Another vote for Eclipse and Cygolitetarwheel
Jul 30, 2002 4:47 AM
I've got the same setup -- Cygolite with an Eclipse taillight. The Cygolite is the best deal I've found if you are on a budget. I got mine (6/10/16 watt, 2-6 hours run time) for about $50 on sale at REI. I use it mainly during the winter months when it gets dark so early, as I normally ride in the late afternoon and evenings after I get home from work. I keep the Eclipse taillight on my bike year-round, in case the light starts getting low. Some other suggestions for riding in the dark are to wear bright clothes, like a yellow jersey or something with illuminite, and to ride slower than you would in daylight. Even with a top-notch lighting system, it is harder to see obstacles like sticks, rocks and potholes -- which are the mostly likely cause of an accident. I think drivers in cars actually can see you better after dark, assuming you have a good lighting system and taillights and wear bright clothes. When I ride at night, drivers always swing very wide around me and never pull out in front of me -- so it's obvious that they see me -- but sometimes drivers during the day come uncomfortably close.
Jul 30, 2002 5:04 AM
...because, even with a good lighting system, there is still a good bit of risk. For example, drivers who are tired and those who are a bit tipsy act in similar ways. As such, a drunk or tired driver may fixate on a red light (or blinking red light) and plow right into you.
for me...not worth the riskColnagoFE
Jul 30, 2002 5:59 AM
I'd wait until the sun comes up. Drivers are not used to seeing bikes on the road this time of day. I tend to ride a trainer if I have to workout early. Not so much fun, but much safer.
set up the night beforeshawndoggy
Jul 30, 2002 8:34 AM
Get your junk ready the night before...

air up the tires and point the bike towards the street with the lights (charged!) already set up on it.

fill your water bottles.

lay out your riding gear.

If you like coffee like I do, set your coffee maker up on a timer (the cheapo kind like you use for christmas lights work reasonably well for me) so you can swill down a quick cup before you throw your leg over the bike.

get as much reflective crap as you can, in addition to the lights everyone else is mentioning. I've got reflective legbands and little pieces of reflective tape on my rims(EGADS!), helmet, shoes, saddle, etc. IMHO Putting the reflective stuff on something that moves makes you a lot more visible (i.e. leg bands vs. reflective vest).

And on the topic of lights, it really doesn't matter for road riding... get something in the 10-15 watt range that will run for 2+ hours and you'll be happy for your purposes. All you'll really need is something to be seen by. Offroad is a different story. There you want the best you can afford.