Top Tips For Riding in the Dark From Real Riders

Words by Aaron Scott

on 28/10/2015 17:32:00

Top Tips for Riding in the Dark

It's the time of year again when it's often dark, wet and altogether a bit drab outside. But, fear of the dark shouldn't keep you from getting out and enjoying the liberating experience of riding under the moonlight. We asked four members of our staff who ride rain or shine, how they keep going whilst the sun's sleeping.

Rural Commute

�The key to a successful rural commute is preparation! Making sure your lights have batteries, your high viz jacket isn't in the wash and you have panniers to carry spare kit for when you get to work. If you're riding along unlit roads, then you'll want more powerful lights than urban commuters - I use an Exposure Axis mounted on my handlebars, and an additional helmet-mounted Exposure Joystick. I love the moonlit landscapes and encounters with nature - badgers, foxes, deer and last year a barn owl that often flew alongside me!�

Sally, commuter bike of choice is a Genesis Croix de Fer

My 3 favourite products:

Exposure Axis

1. Exposure Axis, £151.99

Nice wide, powerful beam; lightweight; easy to mount and swap from one bike to another; and easy to charge at work with a USB cable.

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Endura MT500 overshoes

2. Endura MT500 overshoes, £24.69

A nice, snug fit and they're completely waterproof, so my feet stay dry and warm. Makes a big difference on winter rides.

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Merino wool buff

3. Merino wool buff, from £21.99

Really versatile, so you can wear it just round your neck or over your head (under your helmet) to keep your ears warm too. The fleecy strip is lovely and toasty on very cold days.

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Urban Commute

�For my urban commute, head-to-toe protection is key to keeping my work clothes clean and dry. I use overshoes, trousers and a waterproof jacket in order to protect my clothes from the winter elements. However when commuting, protection alone isn't enough and it's important that all of this kit is breathable too. Combined with a good set of lights and a Buff, you will be all set for a winter commute.�

James, commuter bike of choice is a a single-speed.

My 3 favourite products:


4. Buff, from £9.99

This is a fantastic piece of multi-functional clothing for commuting. First and foremost it can be adapted to keep your neck, ears and nose warm. Second it can be used to cover your mouth in traffic, and finally it can keep your face clean from spray and dirt.

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Altura Pocket Rocket

5. Altura Pocket Rocket, £29.99

A breathable waterproof jacket is crucial for a winter commute. Not only do they protect your work clothes from rain and road-spray but they also help keep the chill off when cycling. Breathability is also crucial to avoid sweating on your way to work!

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Exposure Trace Light Set

6. Exposure Trace Light Set, £72.49

Front and rear lights are essential, not only to allow other road users to see you but also to allow you to see the road more clearly; especially important on country lanes or off-road shortcuts. Exposure lights offer high-quality and highly technical lighting solutions for every requirement.

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Off Road Riding

�Night riding off-road is one of the most rewarding experiences you can have on a bike, especially when riding with a group. The key to learning to love it, is to try and set yourself realistic goals and stay relaxed. To boost your confidence, try easier sections of trail and avoid technical sections to start with. When you do hit trickier sections of trail, it is important to keep your head up and let your head torch aid your longer vision, lightening up more than is immediately in front of your face. Make sure you try to look for the exit of the corner, or beyond your next obstacle.�

Alex, MTB of choice is a Specialized Enduro.

My 3 favourite products:

Exposure MaXx D Front Headlight

7. Exposure MaXx D Front Headlight, £309.99

Getting involved in night time off-roading requires the investment of a decent front beam. Something like the Exposure MaXx D, which will adjust its light beam and brightness depending on the gradient, your acceleration, or cornering forces is perfect for exposing the finer details of a root-ridden trail.

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Craft Extreme Baselayer

8. Craft Extreme Baselayer, £36.99

It is always worth taking an extra layer out with you. Firstly, to keep warm on the ride, as temperatures can plummet in remote locations and you don't want your muscles to seize up. But a baselayer also comes in useful if you do have a mechanical and help is a few miles walk away!

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Specialized Ambush Helmet

9. Specialized Ambush Helmet, £119.99

A helmet is always essential, even more so at night when the risk of coming off your bike is increased. Specialized's Ambush sits firmly in the 'trail' family of lids, with plenty of coverage for extra protection, just without the greenhouse feel poorly vented lids can have. The forehead location of the Mouthport vent is excellent, while there's also a small gap between the shell and cradle, which draws further air and helps avoid goggles or glasses misting.

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Training in the Dark

�You've got three options when it comes to training in the dark and getting out on your bike in the dark is infinitely more interesting than the turbo trainer, while the third option of settling into the sofa shouldn't even cross your mind! The first tip I'd suggest is to keep your eye on the weather throughout the day, check the Met Office app (other apps are available) religiously and pick your moment to go out riding in the evening. Secondly, find a reliable friend. It's amazing how the miles can fly by when you've got a mate out on the road with you.�

Aaron, Training bike of choice is a Trek Emonda.

My 3 favourite products:

Lezyne Macro Drive 600XL Light Set

10. Lezyne Macro Drive 600XL Light Set, £74.99

Light technology has advanced at a rapid pace and for fast road riding you will want a light which has a long reach to give you enough warning when a pothole jumps out of the darkness, but won't dazzle oncoming drivers.

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Gore Road Gore-Tex Gloves

11. Gore Road Gore-Tex Gloves, £51.99

The temperature is likely to be at its lowest once the sun goes down so you'll need to keep those extremities nice and toasty. Gore are renowned for their Gore-tex windstopper fabric, to give you the best protection during cold and wet rides. A pair of gloves, and a skullcap or even a headband under your helmet go amiss and can make a big difference to your performance.

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Winter Tyres

12. Winter Tyres, from £9.99

The roads in the UK are notoriously bad and unfortunately they get worse in the winter. Fitting a pair of winter tyres will reduce the likelihood of punctures and you should regularly check them for cuts or debris which could be ready to slice into your inner tube.

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