Ten Tips for Night-time Cycling

Many cyclists are reluctant to ride at night because they think it is uncomfortable or dangerous, but with good planning and the right equipment, night riding is are safe and an amazing, almost magical and highly addictive experience.

Cycling in a well-lit urban environment is very different from cycling on fast, busy roads or riding MTB or gravel routes in the mountains. All can be very rewarding whether you decide to continue cycling after sunset, due to necessity or for pure pleasure. But, without a doubt, the most charming experience, which may well surprise and captivate you most, is night cycling in nature, on a gravel or mountain bike. You will find that the usual paths and tracks are transformed into landscapes that are difficult to recognise, that the technical climbs and descents require greater attention and that your senses are sharpened by sounds that go unnoticed during the day, especially from the numerous nocturnal fauna. In short, you will enjoy a totally different experience.

In this article, we give tips, which are the result of our accumulated experience, in order to make your night cycling routes safer and more enjoyable. Most are valid for all situations and others are specific to particular environments.

  1. Be Visible

This is the first and most important piece of advice, especially on roads shared with traffic, where the stakes are high and the cyclist is the weaker party and at greater risk, in the event of an accident. It is important to, at least comply with the legal regulations, which vary, according to each country, and to equip your bike with lighting and visibility elements.

According to the UK Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations (RVLR), it is illegal to cycle on a public road between sunset and sunrise without lights. Rule 60 of the Highway Code also states that your bike MUST be fitted with a:

  • White front light Flashing lights are permitted but it is recommended that cyclists who are riding in areas without street lighting use a steady front lamp.
  • Red rear light. Again, flashing rear lights are permitted.
  • Red rear reflector (not triangular) and amber pedal reflectors.
  • Reflective clothing when riding on roads. This is not compulsory, but it is highly recommended. It does not have to be a vest or jacket, but this is the most recommended garment when sharing the road with other vehicles.

These elements are illustrated in the image below:

And you can deepen your understanding in this video on visibility for cycling:

  1. Choose Suitable Lights

It is very important to choose the right lights for riding safely and in comfort and this depends on the type of environment and how you intend to use the lighting. Fortunately, new technologies have revolutionised sports lighting so that night cycling is now possible in any situation.

If you need lighting to make yourself visible on urban roads, inexpensive lights, combined with the other visibility elements are sufficient.

If you want to ride on interurban roads or cycle at night, in the countryside or in the mountains , not only do you need to be seen, but you need to see the road in front clearly, so your lighting has to be powerful enough to last for the estimated time of your cycling route.

We go into more detail on the subject of lighting in this other highly recommended article, where we explain How to choose cycling lights and in this video on the same subject:

  1. Check the Quality and Duration of the Lights

It is essential to check the function and quality of cycling lights, as well as the duration of the batteries, before venturing out on a route. As we explained in the recommended article above, manufacturers do not always provide accurate information on the capacity of their lights and battery life, as this depends on several factors. Test all the components, so that you can plan what you will need on your rides and avoid unpleasant surprises. Battery life can be extended by adapting the light intensity to the type of terrain. On climbs or wide trails, you can reduce the intensity of the lights, so that you reserve the maximum power for fast descents or technical areas that require greater visibility.

  1. Carry Spare Lights

Running out of light on a country trail or on an unlit road is a very unpleasant and dangerous experience. In the best scenario, if accompanied, you can follow the beam of light of your cycling partner, although this is uncomfortable, but at least it allows you to finish the route together. However, if you are alone, you will have to cycle very slowly or even walk. It is therefore highly advisable to carry a spare front light , which does not have to be as powerful, but it will help avoid dangerous situations. A good option is to wear a light on your helmet , because this can fulfil three functions:

  • Spare light, if your main light source fails.
  • Complementary light illuminates technical routes and bends that the bike light beam is unable to reach.
  • Secondary light for when you get off the bike, for map reading, bike repairs, etc.

It is also better to carry an extra battery, even if you think you won't need it. It is useful if the route is unexpectedly longer than you thought, or if one of your batteries fails.

Always minimise the risk of running out of light, as far as possible.

Specialized Flux 800 Headlight

  1. Use Glasses

Even for night riding, glasses are still essential for protecting your eyes from wind, dust, splashing, insects and a multitude of particles that can be thrown up from the wheels. The lenses should be category 0, preferably clear, so that it doesn’t reduce the low amount of light, at night.

Scott Shield Glasses

  1. Take an Extra Layer of Clothing

At night, the temperature drops and the wind chill is lower than during the day at the same temperature, due to the lack of sunlight and colder wind. Your daytime cycling clothes will probably not be enough, so add an extra layer of protection: a windbreaker or vest and some sleeves can be very useful, even in the middle of summer. It's preferable to pack them just in case than to suffer from the cold, wishing you could finish the route.

  1. Equip yourself with Essential Accessories

On night rides, it is even more important to carry all you need so that you are able to solve a possible breakdown, as it will be much more difficult to find another cyclist who can lend you a hand. It is essential that, apart from water and nutrition, you carry your mobile phone with a fully charged battery and the basic tools and spare parts that we list in this other article on the 10 essential accessories for cycling routes. Especially, the 5 essentials that appear below:

  1. Plan your Rides in Advance

Unless it is unavoidable, we advise you to go on routes that are already familiar and planned in advance, especially in the case of urban or road routes. But even if you know the route, as soon as you leave your immediate surroundings, it is always advisable to carry a GPS device with a pre-loaded track to help you with navigation. At night it can be difficult to find your way around and identify the route, especially if they are complicated by inclement weather.

  1. Increase Difficulty Gradually

As with any sport or adventure activity, we advise you to increase the physical and technical level of the routes gradually. Start by familiarising yourself with the use of a GPS in night mode and with the sensations of cycling at night.

These first rides will also help you to check your equipment and to see if you need anything extra or are carrying too much. When you feel comfortable and confident, you will probably want to go further and may even set yourself some ambitious challenges, such as the Non Stop Madrid-Lisbon, which has brought us such pleasant experiences.

  1. Better in Company

Avoid going out alone at night outside the city centre, because, as we have already mentioned with breakdowns, it is very difficult to come across other cyclists who can help you. It is also more difficult to be found, if necessary. In addition, these experiences are much more enjoyable in a group, as the good things are doubly good when shared, and when problems arise, they are much better dealt with in company.

In all cases, it is advisable to inform family or friends of the route you are going to take, whether alone or accompanied. It is always better to have someone who knows the area where you are going to move, in case of emergency. And, whenever possible, use one of the many technologies provided by modern devices and smartphones to be safer on your rides and be located.

If you have no choice but to go out alone or you prefer cycling solo, we recommend you watch this video, where we give tips on cycling safely when on your own.

You will find the best advice and a wide selection of the best cycling lights and accessories in Mammoth shops and at

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