Mountain biking at night: What questions do you have?

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    • #225192

      What do you want to know about mountain biking at night? Ask your questions here and we’ll do our best to answer them directly or incorporate them into an upcoming article, podcast, or video.

      Whether you need specific light recommendations, are looking for tips, or want to know where to go, there’s no such thing as a dumb question!

    • #225200

      Is it scary?

      Will you hold me?

    • #225201

      Haha. No, and no.

    • #225202

      Okay. If it’s no to question 1, question 2 won’t be necessary 😉

    • #225206

      How bright of a light do you actually need?

      • #225209

        If you’re buying quality lights, I would suggest 700-1000 lumens split between a helmet and bar light.  If you’re buying cheap Chinese lights(like I am wont to do), you should at least double that number.

    • #225217

      I love riding at night!

      My biggest question is why don’t more people do it?  When summer is hot and crowded it’s really nice to get out and enjoy a ride. The trails you are used to riding will take on a whole new personality.

      • #225233

        Great question. I’ve noticed that some of the trails I used to night-ride, have a “Closing” time. You can’t night-ride without special event permission. Bummer.

    • #225219

      I always thought night riding happened mostly because it gets dark so early in the winter months and therefore no one can ride on the weekdays. So I guess my question is: do many people ride at night for fun? Or perhaps is it better than riding during the day?


    • #225220

      You guys do group rides or solo? been thinking about doing it, just creeps me out going solo. Was forced to “night ride” once when I got stuck waiting for a very slooooow friend since I’m the only one with a decent light. Not a pleasant experience.

    • #225221

      Always solo and I like night riding more than day.  It transforms the trail, making it seem like you’re on rails and hauling buggy.  If I could only ride one or the other, I’d pick night, hands down.

    • #225222

      Which light should be brighter the bar light or the helmet light, and why?

    • #225223

      I prefer the brightest light to be helmet mounted because my head is always facing towards where I want to see.  The bar light follows where you’re turning which is often a small correction that doesn’t point towards the general direction.

      Which may lead you to ask why even have the bar mount?  Why not just a brighter helmet mount?  The reason is because running only a helmet light can cause the terrain to look two dimensional due to a complete lack of shadow.  The bar light being farther away from your eyes will provide a topographical quality to the illumination, allow you to more easily see dips, bumps, rocks and more.

      • #225226

        Thanks.  It’s interesting about the shadows when using a bar light with the helmet light.  I’ve noticed that too.  Makes a big difference in in depth perception and judging the roughness of the terrain.  My setup is currently: 2300 lumen (Wiz XP3 on the helmet) and I occasionally use a bar light, 850 lm USB style light (L&M Urban 850).  The latter has limited battery life at full blast (1.5 hr).  Wondering if more light on the bar would be better.  So far it’s a decent setup.

    • #225228

      I’ve got 2 Night Rider lights I got on the cheap that are 750 lumen.  They are the flashlight-type, meaning light and battery all in 1 unit.   I put 1 on the bar and 1 on the helmet.  Problem is, they give me a headache after an hour; too much weight on the helmet.

      Recommendations for a light, bright, helmet light?  I’m OK with it being wired to a battery that I stow in the Camel.  Also, I’ve had bad luck with the Chinese lights, so don’t go there.



    • #225230

      I want to know how well these Chinese lights actually work.  I heard stories that the batteries tend to corrode or go bad quite quickly, but I don’t care as long as it lasts me a season–I can store it outside in a box in case it would start on fire.

      Seriously, less than $4.00 for a 2000 lumen bar light?  More than 6500 orders, it must be worth it?!  Can I just get 5 and mount them to my helmet and handlebar?  Or what about this 7000 lumens for under $20?  I know there are opinions out there, but any actual experience?

    • #225231

      When you’re dealing with Chinese lights, you can completely disregard the lumen count. It’s in no way indicative of any actual value.

      That being said, I run nothing but the Chinese lights and the two I currently run have been in use for three years with no issues.  I did buy one replacement battery so I could get more time on a ride without swapping batteries.

      When buying Chinese, more important than any spec that the manufacturer prints on the box are the reviews. Even if you’re buying elsewhere, use Amazon’s reviews to see what thousands of other buyers think. Stick with verified purchases and disregard fluff reviews that usually are sponsored in some way.

    • #225234

      I believe Seth’s Bike Hacks has a couple of videos tackling this subject on youtube. Chinese lights definitely seem to be a gamble at best. Lately I’ve been trying to stick with one brand manly because the mounts tend to be the same and it’s easy to switch from bike to bike with a light. It seems to make sense to put more brightness on your helmet but at a weight penalty. Also, I’ve heard the difference between flood and spot but rarely do I see that indicated on the packaging. Currently I’m running the Volt 400 and it’s not nearly enough. Does anyone have a recommendation for a stronger Cat Eye floodlight? The 400 is more of a spotlight.

    • #225237

      @Apvdh, you can buy a lens adapter like this one They work well.

      Where I live, there’s group rides on a trail system every Tues. and Thurs. evenings, after work time. Year-round. So from Fall through early Spring, lights are necessary.

      I find Velcro indispensable for keeping the wires from flopping around and catching on stuff (bar-mounted lights anyway). And I too use cheap Chinese lights. Been using them for years. Bright as hell, never had one fail or explode or whatever. I just pick them up off eBay. Guess I’ve been lucky so far.

    • #225333

      When it comes to night riding, I like to stick to trails that I know really well. No need to find that new drop-off by accident!

      I’m a big fan of NiteRider. I use two 650 Luminas on my bars and a MiNewt 350 on my helmet. Probably overkill, but I’ve had the MiNewt forever. The MiNewt was $100 about 10 years ago and that’s all I used to ride with!

      I’m always looking for the best bang for my buck when it comes to anything, but this link below is enough for me to stay away from cheap Chinese lights.

      A Cheap Chinese Bike Light Nearly Burned Down this Rider’s House



    • #225337

      It’s all about  the spider eyes glowing at you as you ride along….I learned that was what we were seeing last Tuesday. Awesome stuff. I have a cheap Chinese light on my helmet. I never charge the battery unattended. The light has been flawless and its bright. I have a Bontrager 700 lumin on the bar. One thing Ive learned is the bar light and the helmet light should be the same “color” I have a riding buddy that has the same set up but his Chinese light on the helmet is a different color than the bontrager on his bar. When i mention color I’m talking about the light beam color. Not sure if it causes him problems or not but it is noticeable.

    • #225366

      Second what other’s have said about the “cheap chinese lights”……The Lumens ratings don’t mean a thing, and not very reliable.  I went through two cheap ones before investing in a Cygolite Centauri 1700 (while on the other hand I ride with someone who has had no problems whatsoever with the “cheap” lights).   I am happy with my Cygolite.   My goal was to maximize lumens & runtimes…My only complaint would be the weight, otherwise I love it.

      I ride at night more out of necessity due to lack of daylight, versus choosing it over riding in the daylight.   What I like about riding at night is:  more flexibility on when I can ride, the narrowed focused on the trail, the solitude, and sense of rebellion from playing in the dark when the rest of the world is sleeping.   What I dislike about riding at night:  shadows,  depth perception (feeling of riding in 2 dimensions), and riding against the clock due to battery  life…The limited depth perception & visibility can sometimes result in slower speeds, poor line choice, and less ability to pre-plan for obstacles/gear choice/etc…

      Riding at night is fun, and will improve your skills no doubt, but it is different IMO…My advice would be ride on familiar terrain and less demanding terrain (where line choice/avoidance of obstacles is not as crucial) to minimize some of the “negative” aspects.

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