Tag Archives: riding at night

No matter your level of bicycle riding skills, bike lights are essential to make sure you have a safe ride, day or night. Bike lights aren't only needed when the sun goes down.

With more darkness then daylight the zen and the art of night biking

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

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!

mountain biking at night

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.

mountain biking at night

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!


Rotllicht "red light" off the bike is great for visibility.

Rotlicht: Out of the box review for a one of a kind rear blinker

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking

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.

Moving forward

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.

First look at an amazing new bike light, the MagicShine MJ-900B

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

MagicShine might not be the first name you think of when going out to buy a bike light, but maybe it should? The company’s beginnings were humble. In 1999, Minjun Electronic (Magic Shine’s parent company), opened for business in Shenzhen, China with the intent to produce LED light components. As a result of the need for a high quality/low cost light, in 2008 MagicShine was created, bursting onto the scene with the MJ-808 light. In fact, that light produced a startling 2000 lumens at a cost less than ½, of its competitors. Now, almost 10 years later they continue to produce cutting edge lights at approachable prices, like the MagicShine MJ-900B.

What makes this Magicshine Light so unique?

The MJ-900B is a 1000 lumen, single beam, rechargeable LED light. This Smart Light mounts to your handlebar and it recharges with a USB cable. At maximum brightness, the MJ-900B has a runtime of over 2 hours. Overall, these stats aren’t unique to the MagicShine, what is exciting is that this light can connect via Bluetooth with an app on your phone to manage light power and mode. On top of that, it retails on MagicShine’s website for $79.99 (well below any of its competitors).


Out of the Box for the first time

Out of The Box

The MJ-900B comes in a sturdy box, with a clean, die-cut foam packaging so you shouldn’t expect any damage from shipping. In the box you will find the lamp, lamp strap, battery, battery strap, USB cable, and instructions. The lamp is exquisite in design, and uses what appears to be only super durable materials. The lamp in held in place via a rubber strap that hooks the lamp’s steel baseplate. Whereas the rubber strap isn’t unique, the fact that they use steel rather than plastic for the base is special. Additionally, the Lamp has large cooling fins cast into the back of the light which are both elegant and robust.

Lamp details front and side

The battery is well sealed and sports a large, soft, rubber base that should hold well against any type of surface. The 18” battery cord is removable for storage and watertight once installed. There is a rubber cap on the backside that can be opened to expose the charging port. Next to the charging port is a USB port you can plug into to charge other devices and a power button that displays the batteries current charge.

Detail of the USB charging doc, power indicator, and removable battery cable

Bluetooth app functions for MagicShine

I downloaded the MagicShine App to see just how well it worked. The first thing I noticed was that the App started without asking for access to any of my phone’s files (it’s a major pet peeve of mine when apps need access to unrelated parts of your phone). Once the app opened, you add your email address and receive an activation code through e-mail quickly. With the code in, the app connected to my light automatically. From there, it was super easy to navigate. Changing light settings or functions is as easy as tapping the icon and if you find settings you like, they can be saved for later use.

The Bluetooth app is really easy to navigate and expands the amount of control you normally have over your light

Moving forward

I am excited to see how long the light runs and how quickly the battery takes to recharge. As a point of reference, the light came out of the package with a full charge. Considering that package was most likely sealed months ago, it’s a good indication the batteries are pretty stable. Keep an eye out for the extended review coming up soon.