For most cyclists in Australia the end of daylight savings generally coincides with the best time of the year for cycling. But from my own experience, after spending the past decade cycle commuting, this time of year is when I have the most incidents and near-misses with dreaded ‘ninja cyclists’.
What is a ninja cyclist? Well, urban dictionary defines the ninja cyclist as “someone who operates a bicycle in dark or low light conditions with no lights or reflectors and usually wearing dark clothing. Ninja cyclists typically ride against traffic and/or on sidewalks in violation of local laws.” I think this is a pretty accurate definition.
The fact is ninja cyclists are a danger to themselves and others. Please, do everyone a favour and invest in a set of lights at least so other road and path users will be able to see you. Bright, reflective clothing is optional but recommended.
Generally ninjas are new cyclists who started in summer and haven’t bought a set of lights yet because they haven’t needed them and didn’t see the sense in spending money on lights. If you want to continue riding your bicycle through the darker, winter months, then here are my three top picks for bicycle lights to help you light up and stay safe.
Option 1 – Riding on well-lit streets: Moon Mask
The Mask is a compact commuter light featuring 5-LEDs, water resistant, tool free attachment and is USB rechargeable. It is excellent for ‘being seen’ while riding on lit urban streets; however it isn’t as well suited to riding on dark, unlit roads and paths. You’ll pick one up online for about $50.
Option 2 – Riding on dark, unlit roads and paths: Magicshine MJ-808E
The MJ-808E, and all other generic, high-powered LED lights with similar specs, is an excellent option for those needing powerful light on dark roads and paths without breaking the bank. A word of caution: quality varies depending on source. So make sure you buy from a reputable seller. The first one I owned was dead on arrival, but thankfully I received a full refund. This will cost around $60 to $120 depending on the model and where you buy it.
Option 3 – City commuting, unlit roads and everything else: Ay-Up Road Kit
Ay-Up lights have an almost cult following amongst Australian bike riders thanks to their versatile, high quality, high powered, reliable, customisable and well-designed light kits. I’ve used my Ay-Up lights for years in all weather conditions and they’re still going strong. Yes, the $275 price tag seems expensive compared to some other light sets, but they’re top quality and from an Australian company with an excellent customer service reputation. Remember: Quality is remembered long after price is forgotten.
Forgetting something? Rear light! I’ve owned and used the Moon Shield rear light for the past couple of years and have been very impressed with the quality, brightness and design. USB rechargeable lights are definitely a welcome development in recent years! Generally these cost around $50.
A word of caution: Be considerate of other road users when riding at night and using high powered bike lights. When riding around other people, it’s wise to ensure your lights are not on ‘high power’ mode and angle them downwards at the ground to prevent dazzling or blinding other road users.
Don’t be a ninja cyclist. Be seen and light up at night!