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Wheel reflectors...(30 posts)

Wheel reflectors...GMS
Aug 19, 2002 6:51 PM
Excuse my ignorance, but I have noticed a conspicuous absence of spoke reflectors on most high-quality road bicycles. Now, these reflectors are mandated by law, so is there a substitute for them that is not evident from looking at a picture? Reflective tape on the wheel somewhere, maybe?

I notice Giant TCRs and OCRs come with the classic plastic reflectors, and I also notice that people go out of their way to make fun of this. But Giant's web site conveniently photographs the bicycles without the reflectors on.

Most pictures posted here by owners do not have reflectors, either.

So, is there a legal alternative to plastic reflectors on your wheels, or do people just not care anymore?

re: Wheel reflectors...filtersweep
Aug 19, 2002 6:58 PM
Most built bikes do come from the LBS with reflectors and a spoke guard... it is just that everyone takes them off.

I don't know that they are "mandated by law"- or maybe it is like the law that prohibits people from hanging things from the rear view mirror of their car... it just isn't enforced anywhere.

I don't care. I don't ride at night.
They're not mandated...phlegm
Aug 19, 2002 7:20 PM
At least I've never heard of such a law. The only night time laws I've heard of are a headlight and rear reflector. IMHO, Reflectors on the side really do very little for visibility at night. A simple, cheap rear flasher more than compensates for a lack of reflectors.
they are mandated to be PUT ON complete bike I thinkColnagoFE
Aug 20, 2002 5:33 AM
this doesn't mean you can't take them off as soon as you get the bike home.
Try putting them on your Mavic Ksyrium's...Iwannapodiumgirl
Aug 19, 2002 7:43 PM
as I have enough of an issue putting a wheel magnet on mine! ;o)
re: Wheel reflectors...aliensporebomb
Aug 19, 2002 8:29 PM
I have a Giant TCR and yes, it came with spoke reflectors. Fredulent? Probably.

My friend bought a GT ZR 2.0 and it only came with front and rear tiny spot reflectors.

Until such time as I get lighting, I'm keeping the damnable things on. Why?
Drivers around here aren't exactly Einsteins. I need all the help I can get to
be seen. My bike is extremely bright yellow (ONCE Yellow actually) and when
I wear an ONCE yellow jersey it's like I'm the safety patrol or something.

Now, the interesting thing is that my footwear, helmet, and jersey piping are
reflective to some extent, so I'll probably be brighter than a little plastic
reflector anyway.
re: what is your concern really?collinsc
Aug 20, 2002 12:43 AM
are you worried about safety? or are you worried about the law? (breakin the law! breakin the law!...)

no cop is going to pull you over and say "hey buddy, do you no youre missing your rear spoke reflector?"

reflectors are only worth anything when youre riding in conditions where you should have real lighting anyway.
valid concerns...Steve_0
Aug 20, 2002 3:20 AM
Didja ever ride in the evening? Didja ever get multiple flats on a ride? Combine the two, and you could be taking an unplanned nighttime ride.

I agree that no cop will pull you over for not having reflectors, but consider this case:

You have the right-of-way. Car on cross street pulls in front of you (because he doesnt see you). Your Brand-new Kestrel/Rocketwing/Cervelo/Whatever T-bones him.

Not only do you Not have a claim against the guy, but he could sue YOU for damaging his car. Most states have laws about lighting and reflectivity for riding at night.
re: what is your concern really?GMS
Aug 20, 2002 4:53 AM
I do think that reflectors on the wheel make a difference. I saw a cyclist the other day with no lights and dark clothing, but the rotating wheels with the reflectors really lit him up and he was easily visible. I saw another cyclist with no lights, dark clothing, and no reflectors, and I didn't see him until I was 20 feet away.

So I have nothing against reflectors, but it seems like there might be a more elegant solution (reflective material/tape on sidewalls) than rattling cheap plastic reflectors.
thelaw pertains to the SALE of bikes; not the operation of them.Steve_0
Aug 20, 2002 3:16 AM
thelaw pertains to the SALE of bikes; not the operation of them.TommyRides
Aug 20, 2002 5:09 AM
Yes..most bike shops..or my experience, will make you sign that the bike left the shop with all safety features installed..reflectors, etc.

My LBS wouldn't even take them off for me.
re: Wheel reflectors...pmf1
Aug 20, 2002 4:17 AM
I think the legal part is that when the bike is sold at a LBS, it must have reflectors. Once sold, the owner can remove them without violating any law. Kinda like the tag on a new mattress.

Although it would probably be safer to keep them on, most people remove them for aesthetic reasons. I think its more important to be seen from the front and (especially) the rear at night (in the day, reflectors will not help you be visible). For that reason, most folks use headlights in front and a flashing red tail light in back when riding in the dark. Some reflective tape on your helmut will make you visible from the side if you're really worried about it.
Sheldon Brown has an answer aboutJL
Aug 20, 2002 4:37 AM
reflectors here:

Happy riding.

Lots of reflectorsDragon33
Aug 20, 2002 5:14 AM
U just don't see them. Many shoes have refelective material, so do helmets. All Mavic products are highly reflective. The only concern for me is from the back and I use small flashing light.

No biggy, if you want more use more, your call.
not needed for race bikes and can be dangerousColnagoFE
Aug 20, 2002 5:32 AM
they throw the wheel balance off at higher speeds. probably a good idea on a commuter bike ridden after dark though.
Here are Florida's rules94Nole
Aug 20, 2002 5:40 AM
Lighting (see Section 316.2065, F.S.)

A bicycle operated between sunset and sunrise must be equipped with a lamp on the front exhibiting a white light visible from 500 feet to the front and both a red reflector and a lamp on the rear exhibiting a red light visible from 600 feet to the rear.
Additional lighting is permitted and recommended.

Nothing mentioned here regarding wheel reflectors. LBS owner mentioned when I purchased my bike that the bike had to be sold with the reflectors on and that they couldn't take them off. (but I could)

I agree, I see little value of the wheel reflectors but use lights on front and rear as I typically ride pre-dawn/post-sunset.
Aug 20, 2002 6:13 AM
My Santa Cruz Superlight (MTB) came with a notice that said that basically said that because it was a "racing" bike, reflectors were not provided, and that if I intended to use the bike for purposes other than racing, I should purchase reflectors. I thought it was kind of funny, but I also thought it was totally appropriate. I'm not sure if Santa Cruz or the LBS provided the notice.

I don't often ride my bike at night. When I do, I have blinky lights and reflective clothing that is a thousand times more effective than reflectors.
NOW YOU'VE DONE GONE AND DONE IT! (Rant alert)Spoke Wrench
Aug 20, 2002 6:16 AM
Reflectors! What a constant pain in the - neck - for a Bike Shop Owner. CPSC and some states require 10 reflectors on every bike sold. Generally the bread and butter bikes all come with a reflector set, the good stuff doesn't.

So what's the problem? The reflectors we get sent are pretty nearly worthless junk. Frequently they don't fit the bikes they come with. So if you have 5 similar bikes to build, you have to dig into the reflector junk box to find mounts or shims to work with all five of those bikes. By the fifth one you may spend more time looking for a reflector mount than you do building the bike. The ones that mount on handlebars and seatposts get blocked by the bags and other accessories that people want on their bikes. If you have to adjust one spoke to true a wheel, it will be the one with the reflector. The first thing every kid does with his brand new BMX bike is to spin the handlebar 360 degrees and break off the fork mounted reflector. Then he wants an EXACT replacement (which will obviously only get broken again) and which I can't get, even from the manufacturer. We won't even talk about the stuff that comes with, say, clipless pedals. Unbelieveably ugly!

I would gladly put up with all of this if I thought they were truly beneficial, but I don't. So far as I know, every state law requires lights for use after dark. Reflectors only work when the car already has you in his cross-hairs. We've been sold on the illusion of making us safer without really making us much safer.

So who cares? Generally three groups care. Plaintiff's attorneys care for sure, about half of the moms buying bikes for their kids care, and the poor machanic who has to put the bike together sometimes cares. Cops certainly don't care. When's the last time you heard of a kid getting stopped after dark for not having reflectors? I see 'em so I know the cops see 'em too. If the rules were enforced, I think we'd get better stuff. I think that if regulators and manufacturers were really serious about reflectors, we'd have something much better than the after-thought junk we're stuck with today. It's been a quarter century for crying out loud, so they've certainly had time.

Thanks for asking.
they certainly work.Steve_0
Aug 20, 2002 8:08 AM
more than once i've spotted kids in my (unlighted) neighborhold only because of the two amber reflectors bobbing up and down and up and down.

Granted, I'd would have preferred to see lights on the bikes, but kids are kids, and if not for the reflectors, who knows ??
Aren't those amber reflectors on the pedals not wheels?nmMB1
Aug 20, 2002 8:22 AM
yes, i was referring to reflectors in general...Steve_0
Aug 20, 2002 9:06 AM
those pedal-ones are the ones kids typically forget to rip off right away
re: Wheel reflectors...aliensporebomb
Aug 20, 2002 7:03 AM
Another thought:

Reflectors, in our increasingly weight conscious society
are frequently ugly, bolted on plastic pieces of junk.

The plastic and metal brackets that hold the front and rear
reflector to the bike as well as the two that are on the
wheels probably total a pound of weight I could do without.

You figure manufacturers would come up with reflectorized
decals for this sort of thing but no.....
reflective tape worksTig
Aug 20, 2002 8:03 AM
Most people I know that are into night riding apply a few relatively small pieces of reflective tape to their bikes. A few small pieces on the rims and the inner side of the crank arms will improve visibility, thanks to the rotating motion of the wheels and cranks. A small square on the back of a seat post or a stripe around the lower end of the seat stays and forks help as well. If done right, reflective tape won't detract from even the nicest bike, while adding extra visibility during those unplanned low light rides.

Blinkie rear light and a decent head light complete the package for planned night excursions.
Required in Pennsylvaniamethosage
Aug 20, 2002 8:06 AM
"an amber reflector on each side"

This is what the law states. Personally they just don't work well with my wheels. And when night riding I usually have my panniers on which are reflecting.

Section 3507. Lamps or other equipment on pedalcycles.
(a) Lamps and reflectors. -- Every pedalcycle when in use between sunset and sunrise shall be equipped on the front with a lamp which emits a beam of white light intended to illuminate the pedalcycle operator's path and visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the front, a red reflector facing to the rear which shall be visible at least 500 feet to the rear, and an amber reflector on each side. Operators of pedalcycles may supplement the required front lamp with a white flashing lamp, light-emitting diode or similar device to enhance their visibility to other traffic and with a lamp emitting a red flashing lamp, light-emitting diode or similar device visible from a distance of 500 feet to the rear. A lamp or lamps worn by the operator of a pedalcycle shall comply with the requirements of this subsection if the lamp or lamps can be seen at the distances specified
Well we like to be seen....MB1
Aug 20, 2002 8:19 AM
Wheel reflectors have some problems.

They unbalance the wheel causing high speed wobble.
They work best just before the car hits you (reflectors work best at directly reflecting light back at its source).
They weaken the spoke they are on making it the most likely spoke to break.

We like reflective material on ourselves and our bikes-not our wheels. We ride a lot at night and like to be seen, after a lot of trial and error this is what we use (not to be legal but to see and be seen).

Front light.
Rear blinkie.
Rear reflector.
Leg/ankle bands.
White jerseys.
Reflective stuff on all our packs.

Works pretty good doesn't it?
Well we like to be seen....aliensporebomb
Aug 20, 2002 9:39 AM
What is that "reflective stuff"? It literally looks like
part of the fabric of the pack. Info please?

I know when I do my early a.m. training rides that I
will typically wear a bright white/yellow jersey. I
save my black/gray blue and blue jerseys for the day.
This is where we got them.MB1
Aug 20, 2002 9:55 AM
I put the dog collars around the butt packs (it was easy to do). We got the leg bands at a LBS.
what about your side ?PeterRider
Aug 20, 2002 9:53 AM
I use all your stuff, and also wheel reflectors for the side: people who make turns see you better at intersections.

Plus, in California it's mandatory indeed, I'm quite sure I read it in the DMV's "driving in California" book.

I've already been hit at night and don't want it to happen again.

Our ankle bands and pack wraps are 360 degree reflective.nmMB1
Aug 20, 2002 10:04 AM
If you really want to be seenmethosage
Aug 20, 2002 11:52 AM