Thousands have already subscribed

Tips for Your First Night Riding

Tips for
Your First Night Riding

Experience fun night riding while stay safe.
Nathan Van De Graaff
Feb 7 2023
So, your friends finally convinced you to join them on a night ride. If the butterflies haven’t found a home in your stomach yet, they will, but we’re here to help you deal with them as you embark on this new experience. Night riding is a fantastic way to sneak in a ride after the kids are in bed and allow you to keep riding all year long, but it does require a bit of extra preparation. Here are some tips to help you get ready for your first night mountain bike ride.

1. Bike Lights for Night Riding

Obviously, we’re going to start here, but this is only part of the equation. High-quality lighting is essential for a safe ride that will get you the most out of your experience. We encourage riders to go out with three lights: A handlebar mounted light, a helmet mounted light, and a taillight.
The handlebar mounted light is where most of your light will come from. A handlebar mounted light helps to create contrast on the trail, creating shadows that allow for line choice. We recommend a light with at least 3000 lumens here. Our Monteer Series lights are the ideal choice for mountain bikers.
When setting up your mount, we typically recommend making it tight enough that it won’t bounce around on its own, but just loose enough to allow you to make minor adjustments with some gentle force. The light beam should not be angled parallel with the ground but should hit about 10-20m in front of your bike depending on how fast you’ll be riding.
Bike Lights for Night Riding
Your helmet light is a second key piece of your equipment. Whereas the handlebar mounted light creates contrast, your helmet light will be used to fill in that space and allow you to look through turns. Our most popular lights in this category are the Ray 2600 or one of the MJ Series Lights. The key here is to ensure it isn’t so heavy that it pulls your head down.
Lastly, is the taillight. Most riders find they don’t need the taillight on the trails, but if there is any riding to or from the trailhead on the road, you will undoubtedly want to be seen. Safety first people! Our Seemee series provides everything from simple taillights to more advanced lights with sensors that detect braking and approaching vehicles.
It usually takes about 15 minutes to set up your lights the first time, so don’t show up to meet your friends and make them wait while you fidget and get set up. Charge your batteries several hours before you plan to take off to ensure you have light throughout your adventure.

2. Clothing for Bike Night Riding

Most night riding is likely to be done in the darker, colder, wetter months of winter, so dressing appropriately is crucial. You’ve likely heard it before, but as a reminder, layers are the key here. Layering allows you to adjust according to the conditions and your energy level on the trail. If you start off warm, you will likely overheat. Personally, we light to be a little chilly when we set out. You will get sweaty on the climbs and cool off big time on the descents.
Bike Night Riding
1. Base layer: A moisture-wicking base layer will help keep you dry and comfortable, even if you start to sweat. Look for a base layer made of synthetic materials like polyester or nylon.
2. Mid layer: A mid layer provides insulation and helps to keep you warm. A fleece or insulated jacket works well for this purpose.
3. Outer layer: A waterproof and breathable jacket is essential for a night mountain bike ride. Look for a jacket made of a waterproof and breathable material like Gore-Tex. We like a thin jacket that’s easy to stuff in a backpack to prevent overheating on climbs.
4. Pants: Wear pants that provide a good range of motion and have some level of water proofness. Or is it water proofability? You know what we mean. Some mountain biking specific pants have zippers around the ankles to allow for easy access to pulling up knee pads before the descent. Some people love fleece lined pants, but where we live the temperatures never get low enough to justify it.
5. Gloves: We like having a second pair of gloves if we’ll be doing a big climb to start our rides. Hands get sweaty, and wet gloves get cold.
6. Socks: If you’re riding in winter, we strongly recommend getting a pair of wool cycling specific socks that will keep your feet warm even if they do get wet.

3. Other Tips When Riding at Night

• Plan your route. Know the trail you plan to ride and make sure it is appropriate for night riding. Stick to well-marked trails and don’t look to PR or hit that feature you’ve haven’t been able to land in the day. Don’t try backflips, unless you are Nicholi Rogatkin (watch this).
• Bring a cell phone with a fully charged battery, in case of emergency.
Bike Night Riding
• Bring a friend. Riding with buddy is more enjoyable, but more importantly, it’s safer. And less scary when you see creatures moving between the trees.
• Be aware of your surroundings. Keep an eye out for wildlife and be aware of any potential hazards on the trail.
• Do all your normal pre-ride checks on tires, chain, etc.
With these tips, you’re ready to ride. Night riding is a thrilling way to explore new or old trails so get out there and have fun!

1 comment

  • MJ
    June 26, 2024 at 04:17 PM


    For mountain bike trail riding, I don’t think a handlebar light is necessary, unless you do a lot of riding on straight line trails. The trails I ride have lots of turns, drops, roots, and jumps and I use an MJ 906S on my helmet to dynamically light up exactly what needs to be lit (where my eyes are looking). I personally think it is overkill to have both a handlebar and helmet mount as suggested in this post.

    I also commute on a 2 lane road shoulder and that is a case where a handlebar light would be the preferable choice since the path ahead is generally straight. For that bike, I chose to stick with the helmet mount and it works great. That way, both MTB and Commuting use the same light system. BTW the commuter definitely needs a good red tail light (brighter the better) to ensure cars approaching from the rear are aware of your presence. I also have a separate white blinking light facing aft to provide some contrast to the blinking red light. The white blinking tail light is not aimed at the driver of approaching cars but toward the outboard side of the shoulder.

    My $0.02 after night riding for 30 years in the Pacific NW.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Edit Option