Welcome. We're your premier source for fun places to explore by bicycle or on foot. Offering guides, maps and articles on road and trail riding for the novice to seasoned cyclist - helping you find your #NextBikeAdventure
Seasons change and eventually we are left with more darkness than daylight, thus night biking. day. This annual march to the darkest day of the year was the inspiration Robert Frost needed to write Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening. On occasion my “Little Horse” asks if “there is some mistake”, but of course Frost was talking about the animal and I the machine. The draw of the dark and cold is the same though, snow muffles sound and darkness can be beautiful. If you haven’t tried night mountain biking, I encourage it!
Snow, dark, and silence make mountain biking at night great.
Night biking, who turned off the lights?
You will need a good light to mountain bike at night. I recommend to start with something around 1000 lumens, but more if you can get it. Be aware of the beam pattern when you buy a light because while a wide and dim beam would be great to alert passing motorists of your presence. When mountain biking, you need all the light in front of you, so for that reason try to find a light with a rather narrow beam. Another consideration when buying a light is if it can be mounted on your helmet. Many riders prefer to sync their light with their sight line, so they can look around corners and up the trail if needed, while pointing the bike where it needs to go. By contrast, bar mounted lights only point toward where you are going at that moment.
Buddy system is best for night biking
Night riding is not a time to go it alone. It’s not as if the actual riding is any more dangerous or difficult, but if there is an issue, you are far less likely to run into a helpful passerby at night. Therefore, bring your helpful passerby along with you. The only issue I have had riding with others at night is the shadows that more than one light will produce. This issues is easily remedied by spreading out a bit further than you would in the daytime.
Night Riding in groups is fun and safe.
What to expect when night biking
The greatest part of night riding is it’s ability to surprise you. As an example, I find that trails I know by heart take on new dimensions when my light is focused but limited. This change of visual often directs me to take new lines and approach areas differently. Also, you see totally different wildlife in the woods at night. Coyote, owl, and bats are some of my more favorite night time friends. Finally, mountain biking at night gives you the feeling that you are going faster. I don’t exactly know the psychological reasons, but when you can only see 20-30 feet in front of you, those feet seem to accelerate faster than if your vision was unlimited.
Riding a mountain bike at night is also a chance to enjoy the quiet. Fewer riders and less commotion helps me eliminate one more distraction and just enjoy the trail. Add in snow to muffle any sound that is there, and you have the recipe for a Zen like mountain biking experience.
Surroundings melt away leaving only the trail ahead.
“But I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep”
We all have a life outside of our bike, and far too little time to live it. Riding your mountain bike at night is a way to find hours you might not normally have to ride. After the kids are asleep, the dishes are done, lunches are packed and laundry folded, consider mountain biking an alternative to turning in for the night. You might just love what you find!
Thanksgiving is over and the panic of holiday gift buying is in full effect. Don’t get too concerned, HaveFunBiking.com has you covered with our picks for the very best holiday gift guide ideas.
A gift guide for lovers of bikes
A bike waiting for you under the tree will be a thrill at any age. Over my 25 years in the cycling industry, I have found that the excitement of a new bike only increases as you get older. Here are a few of our very favorite bikes.
Marin has packed a ton of value into these bicycles. Their aluminum frame is comprised of highly manipulated tubing and buttery smooth sealed bearing pivots. All together, it’s hard to find a better value. As a 120mm travel trail bike, it is at home on almost any trail. The 27.5” x 3” tires offer unparalleled confidence even when the trails get rough. With models starting at $2100 that sport fully tunable suspension, a 1×11 speed drivetrain and hydraulic Shimano disc brakes, there’s very little competition.
“Set Stuff Done” is right! The Tern GSD leaves almost nothing to be desired from a utility bike. It can be easily stored upright and out of the way when not in use, loaded to the gills with cargo, or equipped to carry a passenger. In fact, thanks to the Bosch motor and ability to run two batteries, the possibilities for this bike are nearly endless. Hop over to the Tern site and see what there is to offer.
Simply put, this is the best looking E-bike I have seen. It uses a smart component selection that compliments the Shimano XT Motor, making the Bold 2 a dream machine. Ample power will lift you up the hills and the bikes great geometry, Rockshox suspension, and hydraulic disc brakes will allow you to attack the descents with confidence. Buzz over to Focus and read up on this spectacular machine.
For the Commuter on your list there is no better or safer gift than the Lupine SL-A7. It’s amazing light output and surgically accurate beam pattern are unparalleled in realm of cycling lights. For more info, take a look at our Out of the box article.
Helmets typically do one thing and one thing only – keep your head safe. MagicShine has infused their expertise in lighting into the helmet to create the very best in safety and visibility. The Genie helmet has a surprisingly bright 350 lumen headlamp, a rear blinker, and remote controlled blinkers. Click here for more info.
I received one of these fenders as a giveaway and never actually though anything about it. That is until one day when I was getting ready to leave for work on my cross bike and it began to rain. Without time to install a complete fender set, I grabbed the “giveaway”, and clipped it to my saddle. While I never thought much about the Ass Saver, the designers sure did. This fender that weighs almost nothing, can be installed in seconds, and packed away easily was an absolute epiphany. As advertised it kept my rear dry and never moved from its place. Buy one for all your friends, there that good.
Quietly and persistently, Manitou has been making a name for themselves as a sturdy, efficient, tune-able and high-quality suspension brand. Many don’t consider adjusting their suspension an important feature, and that is because most suspension is not very tune-able. This is not the case with Manitou. In fact they offer more range of tuning adjustment than most brands as well as aftermarket kits to make your suspension fit your needs perfectly. They do this while maintaining one of the most precise steering chassis around.
A lifelong cycling and industry veteran, Chris Lintaman, started the shoe company bearing his name in his new home of Taichung Taiwan. I remember him starting out the brand as a guy with a bag of shoes at Eurobike. Fast forward to today where you can see his shoes under professional cyclists around the world. The reason so many professional riders buy Lintaman shoes is because they are wildly adjustable for fit, and massively efficient. If you are looking for the most comfortable shoes in the world, look no further than Lintaman.
Minnesota winters are tough to say the least. Happily, this winter has been made easier for me by Sealskinz. Starting with there waterproof socks, saving my toes in the fall, and moving into the Halo gloves remarkable warmth into the Icy low teens, Sealskinz has kept me warm time and time again. Check out a few of our reviews for more info, or click to their site to see the whole line.
Over the last 25 years, I’ve repeatedly been impressed with Vittoria tires. That same feeling carries into my most recent test of the Vittoria Bomboloni 27+ tires. For your mountain biking gift getter, these tires are awesome!
Anyone on your holiday list that rides needs electrolyte replacement at some point. The supplement I would recommend above all else is Tailwind Nutrition. The light flavor and lack of an aftertaste are reason enough to use Tailwind. Now when you couple those reasons with the fact that Tailwind will never leave your belly sour like so many other sports drinks, the choice is easy.
What do you get the rider who has everything? Something custom! Athlos is new to the custom clothing game, and are making some serious waves. Custom used to mean you needed to buy huge quantities, and settle for low quality. With Athlos, you can buy one jersey and the quality is on par with the best cycling brands who charge three times the cost. Additionally, Athlos has a team of designers waiting to convert your thoughts and concepts into a real-world design.
For students, commuters, or rides who just love to have their bicycles well secured, RockMounts locks are a great gift. Over the past few years, RockyMounts invested heavily into their lock designs and came up with some really cool product. I love their Carlito lock most of all because it is light, tough, and easy to use.
Why not stuff stocking with stockings? Darn tough is a sock company out of Vermont with a lifetime sock warranty. Yes, you read that correctly. Forget an everlasting gobstopper, you can buy someone socks that will last forever! When I met with the sales group at Darn Tough, and pressed them about their warranty, they couldn’t have been any clearer – Lifetime Waranty! “what if I have a air of 15 year old socks?” I asked, “Lifetime warranty” they replied. “What if I wear only one pair of socks through a six month Appalachian Trail hike” I asked, “Lifetime Warrant” they replied. After a few months of wearing the Darn Tough Socks, I must say they are super comfortable, and as tough as the namesake.
We all need to get our bike from point A to point B. What nobody thinks about is the inherent danger in traveling with your bike on the back of your car. Bikes can obscure the tail lights from other drivers and make it difficult to see when you are stopping. Enter AutoRack to the rescue. This light setup weighs almost nothing and mounts to the last bike on your rack by way of a few straps. This gift is perfect for any rider!
With Thanksgiving long gone, we are firmly in the grip of winter. With colder days and darker nights, my thoughts turn to visibility on my daily commute. Here is some info and a few tips on staying visible while riding at night.
Types of Visibility
The main forms of clarity we focus on are passive and active. Things like reflectors and bright colors are forms of passive visibility, while lights and blinkers are great examples of an active visual form.
Many rides start in the light and only devolve into darkness as the ride stretches on. Provided that your ride is under street lamps or some form of light, passive clarity will get you home safely. The lowly reflector is the most common form of passive visibility. Luckily, reflectors are required by the CPSC to be installed on all bicycles sold in the united states. Reflectors come in two colors, white (front and wheels) and Red (rear). Additionally, many apparel companies install reflective materials onto their products and work like the reflector on your bike, taking any light thrown at you and returning it back to the source. Where passive reflectivity falls short, is when there is no light source to activate the visibility.
The simple reflector offers great visibility when seen by motorists.
High visibility clothing can help you stand out also.
When the area is devoid of a light source you need to create that light to keep yourself safe. For cyclists, Lights and blinkers are the most common visibility product. Where the light and the blinker differ is that blinkers are designed to be seen while lights allow a rider to both see and be seen.
Great lights are usually rechargeable and use an LED bulb. For riders who spend a lot of time off-road or on unlit paths, these lights are a necessity. While most mount onto the bars or helmet, there are a few companies who integrate lights into the bike or helmet.
You won’t get better lighting than the Magicshine Genie helmet with remote.
Blinkers are usually battery operated and use an LED to flash intermittently. These blinkers can easily be mounted to your bicycle and in some instances, are incorporated into helmets, gloves, shoes, saddles and handlebars.
Good rear blinkers like the Lupine Rotlicht are key.
What to use
Overall, think ahead before your next ride and pack to insure you can see and others can see you. Mount a pair of blinkers to the bike (one front and one back) so when you get stuck in low light conditions, you can simply switch the blinkers on. If your route is going to be unlit for any portion, a front light makes things safer. Additionally, be sure to wear highly visible clothing in combination with any other gadget.
Along with Lupine’s SL-A7 we received a smaller package containing the Rotlicht (German for “red light”). While on the exterior it looks t be a normal red blinking light, this little package houses big features. With the brightness of 160 lumens (higher than some front lights) and an internal rechargeable battery, this light might just be the best rear blinker ever made. Read on to see what else is hiding inside.
Unique blinker light features
One thing this light does that is totally unique, it gets brighter when you stop. Thanks to an accelerometer inside, the Rotlicht can sense when you are slowing and increase its output. Additionally, you can preset one of 20 different output settings (4 blink modes with 5 brightness levels).
As far a blinking lights go, this light is in a class by itself. Most lights are injection molded plastic, with poorly fitted o-rings designed to keep everything water resistant. How the Rotlicht differs is its CNC aluminum case. The lens and electronics are bolted into place and all the seals are snug and sure to be waterproof (although their site doesn’t give specifics as to how waterproof it is?). Also, the USB charging port is located on the back of the light, well protected from the elements, it uses a custom rubber plug to keep it dry.
How it fits
One of the best parts of the Rotlicht is how secure it mounts. The aluminum case acts as a great foundation for the lights long rubber pads. Those pads keep the light nearly immovable when mounted with the included rubber strap. I have ridden this light for a few weeks without it slipping down or twisting on the seatpost.
Like any product tested here in Minnesota, I am really excited to see how it handles the cold and wet winter ahead. So far the Rotlicht has shown remarkable promise even after being subjected to a cold, wet, salty ride. Stay tuned for a complete review.