Saturday, 6 October 2012

Cycling Tip: Hiviz your bike for the dark rides ahead

 Just because it gets darker earlier at this time of year doesn't mean you cannot still enjoy riding the bike. Obviously you will need good lights - that's the law! But, there are other things you can do that can sometimes help in the darkness.

There are a range of products available that can be used and manipulated at little cost to the rider. One of these is the humble "snap-band" - these are usually worn around the wrist or ankle, but they can be used in other ways.

I personally found them to be good on the bike itself. On frames where you would not wish to use 3M Scotchlite reflective tape (for reasons of adhesives making a mess, or temporary installment) they can be installed with cable ties. Make sure to angle the end of the tie away from the legs of where it may snag on clothing, body or part of bike and it'll be fine.

Seat tube, cable tie angled in towards rear wheel
I find that putting the reflective element on the seat tube section of the frame conveys a sense of movement, attracts the eye of others as your legs whip past. Sometimes the snap-band diameter wont quite fit with the metal spring element - you can get around this by using scissors to cut the end off and slip the spring out. In fact one snap-band can then be cut into sections to be placed on 2-3 sections of frame.

Spoke reflectors are great too. They only cost a few quid for a box of about 20-30 and just snap on the spoke. As the wheel turns in front of normal vehicle illumination it conveys movement and a sense of "bike". Again, they are a great temporary measure that can be removed should it need to be.

Bladed spokes can be an issue. If the blade is deep then they wont grip.. some riders have managed to fit them to old style Aksium spokes, but I have always found it better to cut the reflector with a stanley knife into short lengths. Pretty much all the bladed spokes I have seen have a smooth round section by the rim, and often the hub.

The spoke reflector can also be made secure with a little strand of tape (perhaps 3M scotchlite, even). I've had a few ping off when washing the bike down at the weekends and it stops this happening.

The great thing about these tools is how even a dark coloured bike can be made to be brighter in a matter of minutes. The other great thing is that these reflectors are curved and reflect light from a variety of angles.

Obvious caveat has to be said - these measures are no replacement for safe and legal riding and depend on other road users direction of light being in the right place at the right time.


  1. Needed this post! I've just covered my bike in Black Diamond 3m Sticker... Been putting it off for far too long.

    It's now yellow and black stripy!

  2. The black diamond and black retro-reflectives are great. I put some tabs of it on the black paint of my old Open Pro wheel rims a few years back.

    One downside is that they reflect slightly less light back than the silver tape/sheets, but at night it isnt really going to be much of an issue.