Tag Archives: visibility

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.

Quiet

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).

Construction

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.

My transition into winter has been cushioned by fine products from Sealskinz, most notably the Halo Overshoe. Read on to learn about my first impression

First Impressions of Sealskinz’ Super-visible Halo Overshoe

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

The pond in my back yard is frozen, all the leaves have fallen off the trees and the snow blower is ready. These are all signs that Minnesota is firmly in the act of becoming the ice planet Hoth, as history suggests. Happily, my transition into winter has been cushioned. I have some fine products to test, most notably the Halo Glove and Halo Overshoe, from Sealskinz. While I have written about the Halo Glove, learn about my first impression of their Overshoe for winter biking.

Out of the box, the Halo Overshoe

Sealskinz has made every effort to keep their products as waterproof as possible, including the packaging. The Overshoes came to me on a cardboard backer and was held in place with paper bands. In short, the Halo’s Overshoe construction is as impressive as its packaging. All the seams are in the product are welded (so no stitching). Plus, tape is bonded to the backside of all the seams to ensure they stay waterproof. The closure uses a zipper with large teeth so they operate under pressure. Then at the top of the zipper a large rubberized Velcro strap keeps everything tight. Also, the toe and heel are reinforced with a Kevlar fabric for durability. Finally, the most unique feature of the Halo Overshoe is its LED light mounted in the heel for visibility up to 500m away.

Packaging for the Halo Overshoe is neat and ensures the bootie stays waterproof.

First fit impressions

Trying the overshoes, my first time was a bit of a challenge. They fit snug and I had issues getting them to zip up due to where my shoes buckle was located. However, I am happy to say that was a onetime experience. I am not sure if the overshoes stretched, or what since that first time? Now, the overshoes fit on with ease and the zipper hasn’t offered any resistance. The fit is great as they are snug without being too tight. Not like many overshoes for bikes that often suffer from the toes flipping up due to a bad fit. While the Halo Overshoe stays put perfectly.

Halo Overshoe

Waterproof material, high visibility LED, and bulletproof construction are hallmarks of the Halo Overshoe

Overshoe Warmth

So far, I have ridden with the Halo Overshoe in conditions ranging from 30’s and raining down to windy at 11 degrees. Through all that weather I can happily say the Halo Overshoe has kept my feet warm and toasty. Even with the large holes in the bottom of the overshoe for the heel lugs and cleat, all the other waterproofing features kept my feet dry.

Added Visibility

The great thing about the overshoes LEDs is that, while blinking they are also moving up and down as you pedal. This gives them a unique appearance that is virtually impossible for drivers to miss. On top of the LEDs active visibility the Halo’s also have reflective material applied on the side, cuff and along the zipper. The red LED lights are also easy to activated by pressing on them.

Continuing tests

As the weather continues to get colder, I plan to see just how low a temperature I can go with the Halo Overshoes. As I mentioned above, so far I have had good success down to 11 degrees with wool cycling socks, standard cycling shoes, and the Overshoe. Moving forward, I plan to use the Halo Overshoes in combination with Sealskinz Superlight sock to see if I can be comfortable into single digits, Stay tuned for more info.

Sealskinz' has evolved their product line to include the Halo Bike Glove.See what makes these gloves interesting for winter rides.

Out of the box first impression of Sealskinz’ Halo Glove for winter rides

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

In a previous article, I talked at length about the Sealskinz’ new Super Light Pro Sock. While Sealskinz as a company began with socks, they have evolved their product line to include headwear and gloves for winter rides. One of the products that piqued my interest was the Halo glove. It drew my attention because it is a waterproof, winter glove with an active blinker system built in. Read on to see what makes these gloves interesting and some of my initial thoughts.

The Halo Glove for winter rides

Even though Sealskinz made a name for themselves with socks, they didn’t allow themselves to get caught on their heels (HEELS! Get it!). Sealskinz is committed to keeping all your extremities warm and dry. That mission is the inspiration behind the Sealskinz gloves we will be reviewing for winter rides. My first review will be on the Halo glove, a unique waterproof glove with powerful LED lights built into the back of the hand.

Halo Glove

Waterproof doesn’t stop at the product for Sealskinz. Even the packaging that holds your glove is considered. Rather than punching holes in the glove to mount it to a backer card like most brands, Sealskinz sews loops into the glove to ensure it never gets damaged.

The Halo bike glove is an $80 investment full of many features. It is constructed with a synthetic suede palm, incorporating gel pads for greater comfort on winter rides. The outer shell is completely waterproof, and the glove is machine washable. Additionally, the liner uses an anti-slip material that won’t pull out of the glove when you remove them. Finally, the cuff closes with soft Velcro straps that are large enough to be manipulated with a gloved hand.

Bicycling Glove Features

One thing that is unique to cycling gloves is the way they insulate. Most cycling gloves are windproof, waterproof, and have minimal insulation. I can hear you asking already “minimal insulation?”, yes minimal. Cycling gloves rely on you to generate heat by exercising on winter rides. Under those circumstances, the glove holds the heat you create, keeping you warm. By being water/windproof and relatively thin, cycling gloves offer better dexterity than a normal winter glove.

First Impressions

Immediately upon putting the gloves on, I was impressed. The liner is soft and warm to the touch, and the glove fit was great. All the fingers articulate well without any pulling of material folding uncomfortably. Additionally, the lights activate easily and are really bright.

 

The first time I rode with the Halo bike glove the temperature was just below freezing and rainy. Luckly, it wasn’t a real downpour and more of just a misting, but it was wet none the less. My forty minute commute ended with all my fingers being warm and toasty. Since that day I have ridden down to about 20 degrees and the gloves never left me wanting in the warmth department. My commuter bike has a flat handlebar, so when the Halo’s lights are activated, they shine forward giving me more visibility to oncoming traffic. In the case of a drop handlebar, the Halo glove will shine to your sides.

halo glove

The Halo’s lights are really bright, and really lightweight.

Moving Forward

I hope to push these gloves as far into the cold as I can handle. Once I reach the Halo’s limits, I get to switch to Sealskinz Highland Claw Glove for the colder temps. Overall, I am really excited to see what the life of the lights on the Halo glove is and if they can survive the cold and moisture of Minnesota’s winter. Stay tuned for more info.

This year's Interbike show had a ton of great new bike helmets. Read on to learn about this year's best options for Comfort, Connectivity, and Visibility.

Bike Helmets showcased at Interbike featured comfort, connectivity and visibility

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

Bike helmets are more than a good idea in this day and age, they are a necessity. This year’s Interbike show had a ton of great new options in multi-functional head gear. Overall, The helmets listed below are some of this year’s best options for comfort, connectivity and visibility.

The Bolle bike helmets

Bolle is a company born in France in 1888. Through their first 70 years they worked almost exclusively in industrial production before launching their first tinted eye wear product in 1956. From that point forward they have pioneered the world with sunglasses, goggles and now cycling helmets. Bolle’s newest helmet, “The Trackdown”, is a prime example of their innovative approach to bike helmets. Within the Trackdown, they use a MIPS system to protect against rotational forces during a crash, offer ample ventilation and incorporate a clever “Sunglass Garage” into the helmet. Additionally,there is also a fleece liner designed to replace the helmets pads during cooler months.

Helmets

Bolle’s “Trackdown” helmet, Fleece liner, and “The One” helmet with liner and vent covers

Stay tuned because we plan to review “The One” helmet from Bolle in the coming months. Like “The Trackdown” it uses a fleece liner, but they also add vent covers to make it even more cold weather sensible.

The Coros Omni Helmet offer hands-free connectivity to your ride

Coros is a new brand on the scene with a unique approach to helmet connectivity. By connectivity, I mean a hands-free connection to your smartphone while riding. Make no mistake, there are plenty of ways to answer your phone or listen to music while riding. Where Coros has completely changed the game is they allow you to listen to the world around you while still being connected to your device. How Coros achieves this is through Bone Conduction Technology that activates your eardrum through vibration applied to the cheekbone. This leaves your ear open to receiving all the surrounding noise, while still listening to your favorite music. Additionally, the new Omni helmet incorporates LED lights into the rear to aid in visibility. Furthermore, those lights have a photoreceptor to turn on automatically when light levels are low.

Bike Helmets

Coros Omni Bike Helmet

Bike Helmets

The Omni Bike Helmet, with photo receptor covered and lights on.

Bike Helmets

Coros Omni bike helmet and Bone Conducting device (inset)

MagicShine Genie adds lights to its helmet

While talking about integrated lights, it would be impossible not to discuss the MagicShine’s Genie helmet. This helmet is the brainchild of one of the leading light makers on the market. They have integrated a 350 lumen headlight into the front of the helmet with a 20 degree swivel. For the back of the helmet, MagicShine uses 32 LEDs to light a rear blinker mounted to the helmet. The most amazing thing about this helmet is the fact that beyond the headlight and tail light, this helmet has handlebar activated turn signals, allowing you to easily signal your direction without taking your hands off the bars.

Helmets

MagicShine Helmet and remote (inset)

Helmets

Left turn signal, Right turn signal, and Both lights on

In the next few years we will be seeing more connectivity, more visibility and greater safety from all bike helmets. Based off the recent developments from the brands above, I think they will be leading the way.

These RAGBRAI cyclist are wearing safe visible clothing with an extra dab of orange.

Bike Pic Sept 14, wearing safe visible clothing with a dab of orange

Here are some bicycle riders having fun, pedaling into the morning Sunday on RAGBRAI wearing safe visible clothing with an extra dab of orange.

What better way to continue your summer fun and your #NextBikeAdventure. View all the great ideas and bike destinations in the latest Minnesota Bike/Hike Guide. Then plan your next outing with family and friends in one of Minnesota’s HaveFunBiking Destinations.

Thanks for Viewing Our ‘RAGBRAI Pic’ of the Day  

We are now rolling into our 10th year as a bike tourism media. As we pedal forward our goal is to continue to encourage more people to bike and have fun while we highlight all the unforgettable places for you to ride. As we continue to showcase more places to have fun, we hope the photos we shoot are worth a grin. Enjoy the information and stories we have posted as you scroll through.

Do you have a fun bicycle related photo of yourself or someone you may know that we should post? If so, please send your picture(s) to: editor@HaveFunBiking.com. Include a brief caption (for each) of who is in the photo (if you know) and where the picture was taken. Photo(s) should be a minimum of 1,000 pixels wide or larger to be considered. If we use your photo, you will receive photo credit and acknowledgment on Facebook and Instagram.

As we continue to encourage more people to bike, please view our Destination section at HaveFunBiking.com for your #NextBikeAdventure – Also, check out the MN Bike Guide, now mobile friendly, as we enter into our 8th year of producing this hand information booklet full of maps.

Remember, bookmark HaveFunBiking.com on your cell phone and find your next adventure at your fingertips! Please share our pics with your friends and don’t forget to smile. We may be around the corner with one of our cameras ready to document your next cameo apperance while you are riding and having fun. You could be in one of our next Pic’s of the Day.

Have a great day!