Winter is dark, dirty and murky. The reduced hours of sunlight, combined with wintry weather, make it difficult to leave the house, never mind see where you’re going.
When visibility is low for a cyclist, out in the open, it’s even lower for people in vehicles, so you need to compensate and dress your bike up like a Christmas tree. Don’t know where to start? Here’s your three-step plan. No excuse now not to enjoy those winter rides, they are what make summer amazing!
There are two types of lights: lights that get you seen and lights that help you see.
The most essential light for every single rider on the road is a red rear light to get you seen. This light tells all vehicles behind you that you are there.
Your routes dictate what other lights you need. If you are travelling down a lot of unlit roads, a bright front light that can act as a headlamp is essential, but if you travel at night on mainly lit roads, go for a front light that’s designed to get you seen – rather than emit a beam.
For commuters in busy towns, it’s worth investing in lights that strap to your arm, leg, or helmet too and even to any bags you’re carrying – just to give other road users that extra angle to see you from.
Top tip: Flashing lights are more noticeable than constant beams and save on battery.
Like lights, there are two levels: clothing with reflectives and clothing in high-visibility fluorescent colours.
High-visibility jackets are a must in the dark, fog, rain, snow and in busy towns, but shorts, shoes, tights, jackets and bags (don’t forget your panniers) with reflective strips can be all you need at other times.
You can bolster your clothing’s visibility with armbands and clip-on leg bands too, or just spray everything you own with Volvo’s LifePaint – a water-based product that’s invisible in daylight, yet as reflective as high-visibility clothing in the dark.
Top tip: Get fluorescent gloves too, as these will help road users see your hand signals.
This is where it gets creative. Every bike comes with reflectives on the wheels, but the style-conscious rider takes them off and turns the bicycle’s frame into a beacon with 3M reflective tape.
This high-grade reflective tape for bicycles is produced in several colours to match most frame paintjobs. The width fits all tubes on all frames and it should be applied to the back of the seat stays, the top of the chain stays and the back of the fork for starters.
US start-up company Rydesafe goes a step further with this idea, designing reflective decals in funky designs for not just your bicycle frame, but also helmet.
And Albedo 100 reflective sprays can light up your wheel spokes – and tyres, if you’re into that.
Top tip: Remember the side angle. Lights tend to sort out front and back, but this is a great way to improve side visibility
Follow these must-dos and suggestions and you’ll have a safer, happier winter commute or spin.