By Greg Conderacci
Recently, RBR launched this new series to enlighten our ultra-cool readers about the benefits of dorkiness. In Part I, we explored screening your helmet; in Part II, we messed with your handlebars.
Today, we’re going to plaster reflective tape on your bike. Even if your bikes are not black, like mine, they don’t show up too well at night. And all ultra-cool riders know enough to remove those ridiculous white spoke reflectors that came with the bike. You probably have a nice blinky light on the rear, but batteries can die.
I like the heavy-duty reflective tape that they put on the sides of tractor trailers. It comes in alternating white and red. I usually only use the white. I put it on the rims of the wheels. There’s plenty of room on disc wheels and away from the braking surface on rim brake wheels. I put a thin strip on the front and back of the cranks. I put a bit on the backs of the pedals. And then on a couple spots on the frame.
They even make black reflective tape that only shows up in the dark, so it’s hard to see on the bike, but it’s not as effective.
Do you have a dorky tip to share? Don’t be shy. We’ll withhold your name upon request. Remember a dorky tip has one or more of these characteristics:
- Pro riders do not do it (nor does just about anybody else)
- It’s cheap or maybe even free
- It usually adds weight
- It will NEVER be featured in fancy bike catalogs, because, well, there’s no money in it.
Greg Conderacci is a marketing consultant and a former Wall Street Journal reporter, non-profit entrepreneur, and investment bank chief marketing officer. In Getting UP!, he brings you the same skills he teaches at a top graduate school and Fortune 500 companies. Lots of people promise better performance … Greg proves it. Using his energy techniques, in 2015 he rode a bicycle across America in just 18 days — averaging 150 miles a day.
Stan Purdum says
You can also put reflective tape on the back you bike shoes, where the moving of reflected light as you pedal really gets attention and telegraphs that there’s a rider ahead.
Greg Conderacci says
Good tip! Some shoemakers have been adding reflective elements to the back of shoes, but not all the cool companies do.
They make reflective tape in so many colors (even black) that you can get find one that matches your frame, seatpost or rim color.
Buy car pin striping in reflective version. If done well most people will think that the pin striping is just part of the normal color scheme of frame, components, helmet or shoes.
Take pictures with your cell phone with and without the flash on to see how things look!
A very stealthy way to still look good while being safe and definitely light-up the night.
Mark Follmer says
Excellent tip, taking a picture with the cell phone!
Paul Ossman says
I have commuted to job 15 miles from home for years and each year I find new places to add reflective tape: my helmet, the inside of the hub in addition to the rim of the wheel, sides of the pedals, seat post, rear and front forks. Even made little strips for some spokes.
Jasha Cultreri says
Reflective tape, or dots do really well on the helmet because your head is almost always moving. I concur that reflective tape on the heels of your cycling shoes is also excellent.
In Europe you can buy 3M reflective tube pieces (slightly thinner than a drinking straw) that click onto spokes. Also arc shapes to stick on rims.
Dan Driscoll says
Been plastering some of my bike clothing with reflective, also……..
Ralph Barone says
I used retro reflective paint on my fenders (thus earning double dork points because, you know, fenders….). I also have a jacket purchased from Mountain Warehouse which is completely made out of retro reflective fabric which unfortunately turned out to be a bit small for me.
Mark Follmer says
Yes, I have reflective tape on my bikes.
White socks (or pink or orange, …) going up and down with each pedal stroke attract a lot of attention.
Reflectors that come with pedals and wheels on new bikes. (Even I’m not dorky enough to put those reflectors on the wheels.)
A bicycle bell! They are actually required by law some places. Beats yelling out “on your left.”
Gary Baker says
On a ride late at night some years ago along the Columbia River the state police were sent out to local us. When the officer final reached us he said, “I could see you guys for miles!”. I replied, ” That is why our bikes are plastered with reflective tape.”.
That sums it up!
I like SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea) tape. It is visible for miles.
Since I have several bikes and don’t want them all to be “dorky”, I use hi-viz ankle bands night and day. They wrap completely around both ankles and move up and down as one pedals so are visible from any direction – especially at night. I do have reflective strips on the backs of my cycling shoes and pedals. I also use very bright blinking lights on both the front and rear of my bikes. I have brackets on all my bikes and use the same lights on all of the bikes. I store the ankle bands, lights and head-mounted mirror in my helmet between rides.
Retro reflective tape also comes in various designs. For example, I’ve added black flames reflective stickers to my black frame. Fun!
Also, I really like the sticker brand, Lightweights. They can be used on the bike, helmet, clothing, etc.
Lastly, I recently participated in an ultra event where the rules stated: “Bicycle – must have reflective tape on the front forks, four spots on each side of the front and rear wheel rims, along the rear triangle, on front and sides of the cranks. Also place reflective tape on the back of your cycling shoes rather than trying to get tape on the back of your pedals.”
on the wheel rims
fastest moving part of the bike