We challenge you to use our '6 Tips For MTB Night Riding' to explore the great outdoors and cherish the remarkable nighttime scenery our country has to offer.
South Africa's toasty summer days are slowly coming to an end, which means days will be getting shorter and nights longer. So, as the night ride season starts, often the conditions will be cold, dark and frequently wet, there are plenty of ways to ensure the fun doesn't have to stop. Read these tips and find out how to turn the dreary depths of winter into some of your best months of riding.
1. Light Up Your Adventures
A decent front light is essential if you want to enjoy nicely illuminated trails rather than spending the whole time scrabbling around in the dark. You will be able to get away with a 750-lumen light if you know the trail. For this, we suggest our entry-level Core+ Cycle Light, this light is specifically for the more frequent road cyclist, who's looking to start doing night time off-road riding.
But if you're wanting to go faster and harder, take a look at our top of the range Ultimate+ Cycle Light. This light was made with the technical mountain biker in mind. It features a wide hotspot, which fades into an even wider beam for a near 180° beam! Rated at an impressive 3000-lumens it also comes with a very handy wireless remote, which means you won't have to lift your hands from your handlebars to switch modes in technical areas where you need to go into boost mode.
Still not sure what light to get? Check out our Cycle Light Buyers Guide.
2. Mount Up
There are a couple of options when it comes to mounting your light. The obvious choice is the handlebar, especially if it’s an all-in-one-unit. The Extreme Lights XP Quick Release Cycle Light Clamp is a bolt on replacement for the O-ring mount. All you need to do is remove the foot piece from the existing light and attach the XP Quick release mount.
Alternatively, you can fix it to your helmet, but avoid this with a heavy light because it’ll cause the lid to shift around when you ride over bumps.
The other consideration is the type of trail you’re riding. If there are lots of tight turns, a bar-mounted light won’t shine around the corners, which is where you need to be looking. For this, we suggest investing in our ultralight Basecamp Headlamp as a secondary light. This will enable you to see exactly where you're looking when going around sharp turns.
3. Pick The Right Route
If you’ve never been for a night ride before, try it out on a route you know well before adventuring into the wilds. You’ll be surprised by how alien the trails look and feel. Cues that you use to initiate turns and features you’re familiar with will be cast into shadow and won’t appear when you expect.
Take it easy — you won’t be ‘winning’ Strava on your first outing. Trail centres are ideal places to hone your night riding skills. The tracks are less likely to have hidden surprises such as stumps or rocks that could cause you to crash. You can always challenge yourself with more technical trails once you’ve built up your confidence.
If you're a local Cape Winelands rider, feel free to swing by our monthly social Boschendal Night Rides. This is an ideal place to start for beginner riders as there are two riding groups going out, one for the more experienced riders and the other for less advanced.
4. Make Friends
After-work rides with mates are a great way to keep the winter blues away. Shops and cycling clubs around the country organise evening rides too, and they’re a great way to meet new and like-minded people. Even by joining riding groups on your Facebook community pages is a great way to get engaged with new people.
There's safety in numbers, and going out in the dark by yourself is never a good idea, in case of an accident.
5. Keep Your Distance
Don’t ride too close to the person in front because if your light is brighter than theirs it’ll cast a giant shadow ahead of them, making it harder for them to see the trail. Instead of keeping your light on full power for the whole ride, reduce the output on flat sections and climbs to save battery life.
6. Stay Safe
Riding at night can be dangerous. The likelihood of crashing is higher and you’re less visible to other trail (and road) users. Make sure to bring a working rear light even if you’re planning on staying off-road — you never know what might happen.
The Extreme Lights Phoenix USB Rechargeable Red Tail Light keeps you visible from the rear - in the dark as well as during daytime.
Wait for friends if you get separated and always let someone know where you’re planning to go and how long you’re going to be out for. Wrap up warm, too — when it’s dark, the temperature drops.