01 November 2016 ~ 2 Comments

Visibility Suggestions for Roadies

Several large manufactures have lately been putting more emphasis on visibility, not just comfort and speed while cycling. This is especially notable with the numerous distracted drivers these days. They include Trek and Pearl Izumi.

Also see this article published on the RBR website. (It clearly states that blinking tail lights are better than solid…something I have always agreed with).


In a brochure published by Trek, they suggest three basic ABC rules. “A” means always-on lights; “B” means biomotion, i.e. careful placement of materials and “C” means contrast to aid in visibility. Having brighter colors on ones feet and/or ankles is perhaps more important than having a visible jersey, because those parts are moving while you cycle (Pearl Izumi also calls this biomotion).

For night riding, I have always worn reflective ankle bands, but had not considering wearing bright socks, which serve a similar purpose. Consequently, in the spring of 2017 I purchased several pair of the flo-green DeFeet cycling socks (Aireator 5″ D-Logo Hi-Vis Yellow w/Hi-Vis Green – Double Layer Cuff).

On the PI site they say:

“Fluorescents, like our iconic Screaming Yellow, actually convert invisible UV light into additional visible light. Typical colors reflect a maximum of 90% of light vs. 200-300% for a fluorescent color.”

They suggest that there are three key factors in getting driver’s attention:

  1. True Fluorescent Colors
  2. Biomotion
  3. Contrast

I see so many roadies wear “cool and groovy” black jackets or jerseys. Dumb. For mountain biking it doesn’t matter, but for city road use..be smart!

Daylight Running Lights

Trek, in their brochure, is also emphasizing the importance of using daylight running lights, both front and rear. See this page for a video and additional info.

They mention three factors in lighting for cycling:

  1. Focus
  2. Flash
  3. Range

I adopted daylight running lights several seasons ago, using some tiny, but powerful USB rechargeable lights by Leyzne. (See this page on my site for more info on tail lights).

Video Capture

A few cycling friends are now mounting to the rear of their road bikes, rear blinkie lights that also have a mini video camera built in. It runs an endless loop so you will have a record of any collisions or close calls. (See this video of a guy getting hit by a car, as shot by his friends GoPro helmet camera).

During the shorter winter days, please stay safe!

2 Responses to “Visibility Suggestions for Roadies”

  1. Peter LeCain 2 November 2016 at 7:13 am Permalink

    Great Advice. Since you are talking bio motion I also hang a steady burn red LED light on the back of my helmet. As you scan the road ahead (use a steady mini white light facing forward, flashing modes seem to bug me) you get some random movement that is going to increase your rearward visibility.

  2. Joe Todd 23 November 2016 at 2:14 pm Permalink

    Well written points, all. I made my own neon orange ankle bands, using wide 3M webbing from a fabric store. Sewed Velcro on them. Daytime: orange side. At night, I flip them to reflective side. Tip: make them long enough to fit around Winter clothing. For signaling my turns I prefer to wear long sleeve, bright colored jersey or jacket or arm covers. Some Dollar stores sell snap-on reflective bands that work okay on the wrists. Good news: more choices are available for helmets in neon colors, some with MIPS anti-concussion system. As Peter wrote, a red light on the rear of the helmet makes us more visible, SOONER, when drivers approach over a hill at our back. It’s the first thing a diver sees. Now if we could convince tire makers to offer reflective sidewalls on each tire model, that would help very much.
    Lastly, would it make sense for cycling shorts to have a brilliant band across the back, maybe 3″ high? As a driver, when I pass a cyclist, the profile is so narrow! Black shorts don’t help. The main area facing traffic seems to be across the back of the hips / upper butt region.

Leave a Reply