Decreased daylight hours and looming cold weather means the night riding season has begun for mountain bikers. While the weekends are showing promise of perfect riding weather, the weekday rides are undergoing drastic change as we prepare to ride off into darkness. As with anything done at night, there is different gear that you must have before you hit the trail.
Essential Gear For Night Mountain Biking
As you get ready to line up your weekly night rides through the fall and winter, there are some essential gear items that you are going to want to have before you hit the trail.
- Good Helmet Mounted Light – I good helmet mounted light is probably the most important thing you can bring to a night ride. There a lot of options out on the market ranging from around $100 to almost a $1,000 in the marketplace. A helmet mounted light insures that you always have light where you are looking. While you could go with a bar mounted option to keep the weight off of your head, the light will often times not be pointed where you want to see and it is generally not very stable. For this reason, a bar mounted light is normally a great backup or secondary light while your helmet mounted option is your primary. I have been using the Jet Lites HID reviewed last year for my night riding, but I have also heard some great things out of the more affordable Magicshine GMC 900. Technology in bike lights has come a long way in the past two years, but I would recommend staying with a LED or HID option for the best light for the price. Halogen lights are really a thing of the past from a price and performance stance.
- Blinking Rear Light – A blinking rear light lets riders behind you know exactly where the rear end of your bike is and helps on the road if you are commuting to your night riding spot. Just recently, I found the Knob lights and they are the easiest to install/remove and they are cheap. For rear lights, always get a light that has a blinking option and burns red.
- Leg and Arm Warmers – Even if you start off in warm weather, the temperature is going to start to drop as the sun goes down. Leg and arm warmers are the lightest, easiest to put in a pack and most affordable option for riders looking for some warmth on the trail. Previously, I had used the Pearl Izumi arm and leg warmers. I have since switched to the SmartWool arm and knee warmers as they tend to stay put on your body easier (the Pearls were constantly sliding) and they do a better job of keeping you warm or cool depending on how the temperature changes on the ride.
Those are the bare essentials you will need to roll of into the dark. Night riding on mountain bikes creates a whole new experience and challenge on trails you ride every day. As the temperature continues to drop in the northern hemisphere, we will also be covering some riding tips for night riding, cold weather riding and more gear for cold weather riding…so stay tuned as we keep the stoke running through the cold months.
Image by Braden Gunem