Our Guide to Riding E-Bikes At Night In the City

Taking your ZuGo Rhino out for some riding at night can be a source of great fun, stress release, and/or exercise. Just as with any kind of traveling at night, though, there are ways to decrease your risks and increase your enjoyment

If you’re a city dweller, safety becomes even more important -- pedestrians, cars, and other road obstructions can make even the most confident rider a little wary of getting hurt or injured.

Let’s go over some of the ways you can safely ride your e-bike at night in the city, and enjoy your freedom as securely as possible.

Light the path

Predictably, darkness is the single biggest challenge for people riding at night. It makes it difficult for others to see you and for you to see where you are going. The easiest solution to the dark? Well, light, of course.

Headlight

ZuGo gets you started on addressing the issue immediately when you purchase a Rhino. Included in the $700 of free add-ons is an impressively-bright 1200 Lumen headlight. At nearly twice the lumens thrown off by car headlights, it’s a must for city riding.

For one, it will light your way effectively even in urban areas with few or dim streetlights. Even better, it’ll do so without creating vision problems for those riding or driving towards you.

It’s general wisdom that, if you can only have one light on your bike, it should be a front headlight. Still, two lights are always better than one, so we suggest a helmet light or headlamp as well.

Not only will you be able to see better, the second light can be helpful if something goes awry with your bike. Roadside repairs certainly aren’t ideal, but they’ll be a lot easier at night with a headlamp than without.

Taillight

While a headlight is a good and necessary tool, it predominantly benefits your vision. To make sure you’re not just seeing but being seen, we recommend a taillight as well.

Blinking taillights are the best choice, considering the fact that e-bikes are a bit smaller. They’ll be more eye-catching than a continuous beam, while being a reasonable size and brightness for your bike.

Picking the right kind of light

Choosing a style of light comes down to two different categories: halogens and LEDs. There’s no right answer when it comes to which is better, but how you use the bike can help you make the right choice.

If you plan to ride for a fairly long time in the evening, LEDs will likely be your best bet. They throw off less light than their halogen cousins, but also consume far less power. With most models, you could ride from dusk ‘til dawn and never have to worry about outrunning the battery life.

But for shorter rides, especially through a part of the city you know has poor lighting, halogens would be a better fit. They run down a battery faster, but for short distances, the extra lightwill be worth the tradeoff.

Make your own light

In addition to generating your own light, another way to keep yourself safe at night and visible to others is to reflect what light is available.

This is easily accomplished by adding reflectors to your bike. If you rode a bike as a kid, you likely had reflectors on your tires at all times. Most e-bikes don’t come with reflectors already attached, but there are a wide array of aftermarket products available that are super easy to add yourself.

Take, for instance, the reflective halo on the tires of the ZuGo Rhino, which offers maximum visibility for your bike at night.

Whether you pick something as simple as reflective stickers or as complex as flashing LED wheel reflectors, as long as they make you more visible to others, they’re getting the job done.

Light yourself

Making your bike visible to others on the road is essential. But a rider shouldn’t overlook the benefits of making themselves visible as well.

People will come to many of these solutions on their own, without much need for guidance. A brightly colored shirt, jacket, or helmet are the most common ways riders tend to make themselves pop during the night.

As with the bikes, we can also add reflectors to our bodies to catch the light. A reflective vest or removable triangles attached to a bag or around your waist are fairly popular choices.

While outfitting your upper body is a fine choice, a recent study suggests that lighting your legs may be a far more important factor. Drivers are naturally more likely to focus on motion. When you ride, movement comes from your legs. As a result, wearing bright colored or reflective pants or adding reflective stickers to your pants will increase the likelihood of being seen.

 

Test your add-ons

Once you have yourself and your bike kitted out for riding at night, you need to test your materials. Making yourself visible won’t be useful if your equipment falls off while you ride or otherwise interferes with your riding.

A day or so before you plan to ride with your new equipment at night, try it during the day. Check to make sure your new clothes feel comfortable, your helmet light doesn’t create the need for more padding in your helmet, and the bike add-ons are well-secured. An ounce of daytime testing will deliver a pound of nighttime safety.

The ride itself

Visibility will do wonders for ensuring the other people on the road notice and avoid colliding with you. There remains plenty under your power to do to increase your safety though. As an attorney specializing in cycling-related cases points out, you can’t control what others do, but you can be aware of how they’re behaving and adjust your actions accordingly.

Defensive cycling choices include remaining alert while driving. Scan the road for foreign objects in your path and adjust to avoid them without endangering yourself. Note people or animals nearby who may veer into your path. If you wish to take a picture or make a phone call, stop, move to a safe place, and do so. Don’t try to multitask.

Planning your route and even riding it during the day can also be a great tool to ensure nighttime safety. The less you need to learn about your surroundings at night, the more focused you can be on unique stimuli that could prove dangerous.

Finally, whenever possible, ride with a partner or in a group. You can look out for one another and provide each other warnings about threats that might have gone unnoticed by just one person. Also, if something goes awry despite all precautions, you have support and assistance if needed.

Riding with others will require some changes in behavior. To avoid ruining your night vision, you’ll have to be aware of where to focus your eyes. If a rider is heading towards you, focus your eyes up slightly to avoid directly staring at their headlight(s). If you stop for a moment to talk or plan, either dim your lights or shoegaze to stay visible and protect your vision.

The next day

All of the above will keep you safe and free to enjoy yourself while riding. But we also want to make sure you don’t regret the next morning.

As with most exercise, riding at night will elevate your heart rate. For many, your adrenaline might kick up as well. After all, night riding can be fun, thrilling, and even a little scary—in an enjoyable way—all at once.

Elevated heart rates and high adrenaline do not make for a quick bedtime when you return. To fully enjoy your nighttime ride, make sure you plan some decompression and recovery time after your ride, shortly before bed. This way, you should be able to get enough sleep to be rested the next morning.

Now that you have your lights, reflectors, proper clothes, a plan, and a buddy or two, the time has come to ride the city. Enjoy the night astride your ZuGo bike.