Is Night Mountain Biking Safe? 10 Tips For Better Riding!

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As you progress into mountain biking, you may have the urge to hit the trails in different conditions.

Hence, you may sometimes also wonder, “is night mountain biking safe?”.

Unfortunately, it is a fact that night riding is going to be a tricky game, primarily due to the poor visibility of the trails.

Therefore, this article will focus on some tips that would be handy while riding your mountain bike at night.

Lets get started!

10 Tips For Safe Mountain Biking At Night

1. Be Sufficiently Lit

Is Night Mountain Biking Safe With Sufficient Light
MTB Lighting For Night Riding

Riding your mountain bike at night can be less of a challenge if you are equipped with the suitable lighting options.

Darkness not only makes it difficult to see the trail ahead but also makes it challenging for other cyclists and pedestrians to spot you.

With the right kind of lighting, you can reduce the chance of crashes and enjoy the trails with little worry.

Today, mountain biking lights are available for affordable prices, and you can quickly get them on Amazon or other marketplaces, if not in a local store near you.

Lighting solutions with different intensities would be advantageous while riding in lit and unlit conditions.

Thankfully, a wide range of options are available in lights with soft, medium, and bright light adjustments.

While a soft light would be sufficient while passing through an urban area, bright light would be required when you are riding on interior trails.

At the least, while riding your mountain bike at the night, you should have a white light in the front, a red light in the rear, and reflectors on the sides.

It would be worth understanding the rules of the game and making sure that they are met.

The pattern of light beams is as essential as the amount of light.

Having powerful light on a single spot would not be the way to go while you are on your mountain bike at night.

It is recommended to have broad beams of light in order to be able to see a more comprehensive portion of the trail while riding.

Especially when riding at the corners, broad beams of lights would provide better visibility.

5 Things To know About Mounting Lights:

  • You will have a front light on your handlebars and if possible, one on your helmet.
  • If your light is capable of focusing on to a small area, it is recommended to be fixed on your lid.
  • For lights with wider beams, you could fix them on your handlebars.
  • For lights with LEDs and battery combined, it could be challenging to mount them onto the helmet.
  • For helmets, lights with a separate battery that can be kept in your backpack would be an ideal option.

2. Ride On The Right Route

Is Night Mountain Biking Safe On Correct Routes
MTB Night Riding In Correct Routes

If this is the first time that you are going to ride your mountain bike at night, it is crucial to pick the route that you are incredibly familiar with.

Expect even those routes to look alien at night.

However, they are much better than the routes that you have absolutely no clue about.

But hold on before you become too confident and decide to go by your intuition. Look out for the proper path before you take a turn or make a jump.

Trail centers are commonly recommended for beginner night riders, as they have relatively flowy trails and are best to get trained yourself in night riding.

It is important to progress into technical trials gradually by building confidence and practicing advanced mountain biking techniques step by step.

If you are equipped with the right kind of light and have previous experience night riding your mountain bike, then you are good to explore trails at any level of difficulty.

It is recommended to equip your mountain bike with a GPS tracker. You could also check out some apps that may be beneficial when you are riding at night.

3. Ride With A Company

Group MTB Riding At Night
Group MTB Riding At Night

Is night mountain biking safe without company?

Though it is not fair to say that solo mountain biking at night is entirely unsafe, it is always a great idea to ride your mountain bike with your biker friend.

This will be more joyous and safer.

With a reassuring companion, you can easily tackle the challenges that you may come across while riding your mountain bike at night.

You could choose to go with a friend on your own, or join a club and go with a team of evening riders.

Either way, your night rides will give you memories to cherish forever.

When you ride with friends, make sure that you wait for them if you get separated.

4. Be Mindful of The Riding Distance

Is Night Mountain Biking Safe When Keeping Right Distance
Keeping Right Distance When Mountain Biking

While riding in a group or with a partner can be fun, there are certain things that you must be mindful of.

For example, when you are riding with a friend in the daytime, you do not have to keep much distance from the one riding in the front.

But, during night rides, it is essential that a considerable distance is maintained with the rider in the front, as otherwise, it could get difficult for them to ride.

This is because if your light is too bright, it could create big shadows for the one riding in the front.

This could lead to darkness on their trails.

So, make sure that you don’t hinder their view of the trail ahead by riding right behind them with flashing lights on.

Also, always make sure that your light doesn’t hit their eyes, blinding them entirely off the view in any circumstances.

5. Pre-Ride Check Is A Must

Pre-Ride Check For Night Mountain Biking
MTB Pre-Ride Check

A pre-ride check will be really helpful every time you go for your mountain bike ride.

It is so all the more when it comes to night riding your MTB.

A pre-ride check would stave off crashes that could happen due to bends, cracks, or loose nuts and bolts on your bike.

Doing repairs by the trail-side is no fun, I say!

6. Carry Right Tools

Tools For Night Mountain Biking
MTB Tool

Is night mountain biking safe without a tool kit?

Unfortunately, “No”.

Be equipped with your multi-tool kit in case your bike decides to stop working in the middle of a trail.

It is advisable to never travel without your MTB tool kit at night.

While night bike riding if your bike brakes down, it could get really difficult for you to get past the trails without repairing your mountain bike.

Especially if you are riding on muddy trails, there are high chances that you may require to perform some repairs by the trail-side.

7. Do Not Forget Your Phone

Cell Phone
Cell Phone

Always carry your phone, fully charged, when you ride on the trails at night.

Also, add an emergency contact number on your phone. You never know when you will need to call someone for help.

8. Carry A Spare Tire Tube

mountain bike wheels
Mountain Bike Wheels

Tires going flat is a commonplace occurrence with mountain bikes.

However, this could lead to a really bad experience when it happens at night, in the middle of a forest.

So, carrying a spare tube would definitely be a great idea!

9. Learn How To Use Lights During Drops And Jumps

Use of Lights During Mountain Biking At Night
Use Of Lights During MTB At Night

Shadows can be created during drops and jumps, and hence you need to learn how to adjust the lights during drops and jumps.

Never try new jumps at night, as it could lead to a crash.

Do not feel intimidated to check with an experienced rider about how the light should be adjusted during drops and jumps.

10. Inform Someone

Inform at least one of your close ones about your ride– where and when do you plan to go mountain biking, and how long you will be out riding the bike.

If the owner of the emergency contact number that you have on your phone is not riding with you, it would be better to inform them about your night ride plans so that they don’t sleep off with their phone on flight mode.

8 FAQs About Mountain Biking At Night

1. Is it illegal to mountain bike in the dark without light?

In the US, it is illegal to ride your bike at night without a light.

Every mountain bike is expected to have a front light with 500 feet of visibility and a rear reflector or red light with 600 feet of visibility.

The lights must be used when you are riding between dusk and dawn and in other low light conditions when the visibility is fewer than 1000 feet.

Side reflectors and pedal reflectors are also required to keep yourself and other riders and pedestrians safe during a night mountain bike ride.

If you are purchasing a new mountain bike, it is likely that they come with all the lights that are legally required; if not, you may have to get them incorporated into your bike.

If you are buying a used bike or an old model bike, before you hit the trails at night or in low light conditions, make sure that it has all the lights required by the law.

These light requirements are the bare minimum that you need, and you can have more lights for better protection.

2. In the US, how bright should your bike lights be?

The law requires you to install lights on your mountain bike in the right places, must be of the recommended colors, and can be visible from the right distance away.

Flashing lights are permitted in some of the states in the United States, while not in some others.

So, before you set out to buy an MTB helmet with a flashing light, be informed about the law of the state.

In whichever state you ride, it is important to make sure that your light does not blind the other riders or drivers.

3. What things should you have with you when riding a mountain bike at night?

For night riding, you need to be extra cautious to wear all the safety gear, such as the helmet, knee pads, reflectors on your jacket, and the like.

Night riding goggles are a must for the ride, even if you forego them during daytime.

Safety goggles will protect your eyes from bugs that are common at night.

However, make sure that you use clear glasses, as tinted glasses could reduce the visibility in low light conditions.

Wearing good MTB gloves will give you a better grip on the handlebars, making your ride less cumbersome.

Today, reflector vests, stickers, and strips are readily available to use for added protection.

And do not feel shy to add layers, as your body would crave for some warmth when you are out at night, irrespective of the weather condition.

Also, carry a hydration backpack to drink water and keep yourself hydrated.

4. Can you ride a mountain bike at night without lights?

Riding your mountain bike at night without lights is a big NO.

It is not only illegal; it could lead to deadly crashes.

However experienced you are as a mountain bike rider, never put yourself and others in danger by choosing to ride your mountain bike without lights at night.

Lights are not only required from dusk to dawn but also when you ride in low light conditions, such as foggy, snowy, or rainy situations.

5. How to improve the battery life of the MTB lights?

It is essential that your light battery stays longer when you are on a long night ride.

Dim your lights in sections with long flowy trails and when you approach lit roads for transition between trails.

However, it is always better to carry a spare battery to be on the safer side.

6. How can I safely ride a mountain bike at night?

As this article discusses, you can safely ride your mountain bike at night with all the safety gear and lights.

You can be as generous as you want in adding more protection to yourself and your bike while riding at night.

However, if you are planning on turning the helmet lights on, be sure that the state you are in legally permits you to do so.

7. How many lumens for MTB night riding?

For sufficient lighting, 1500 lumens is the minimum recommended brightness on your handlebar light, and 800 lumens on your helmet light.

If you are an advanced mountain bike rider or ride more of technical trails, it would be ideal to have more lumens.

However, you can manage without lesser lumens as well, even though that is not recommended, significantly when you are rising in thick forests.

8. Can you use a helmet-mount light while night riding?

A helmet-mount light, along with other lights, can be used if allowed by the state in which your trail falls.

Last Words

Is night mountain biking safe ? if this is something you are very concerned about, I hope you find your answer through this article.

Wish you good luck on your night mountain biking adventure.

P.S. If you found this guide to be helpful, do check out our guide on right glasses to choose for mountain biking at night.

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Team Biking KnowHow

Rohan runs Biking KnowHow along with his team. Rohan has been a mountain biker since 2005. His mission is to simplify mountain biking for everyone. All Biking KnowHow content piece is thoroughly fact-checked. Our content is backed up with leading research and inputs from expert cyclists.