Riding at night can be very satisfying with the roads less crowded and distractions swallowed up in the dark, but you have got to take some extra precautions to make it safe as well as satisfying.
These are our top tips for riding once the sun's gone down.
Can you see clearly?
Obviously you need a clear visor but make sure it’s free from scratches and clean. Scratches will distort your vision at night, especially with oncoming headlights.
The eyes have it
Cat’s eyes are your friends: they help guide you at night and give you some indication of what is ahead. They can not only indicate which way the road twists and turns but if it’s legal to overtake, as double white lines have a heavier concentration of cat’s eyes. Don’t forget that motorways have different coloured reflectors, red on the hard shoulder, amber on the outside lane and green on slip roads.
Make yourself known
It still might not be perceived as being fashionable, but it’s important to be seen; fluorescent or reflective clothing really makes a difference. Some kit has built in reflective strips - even gloves and boots, but I’d still advise a reflective vest or waistcoat.
Keep your headlight clean, for obvious reasons. It might be a pain in winter but it’s worth doing before you set off on a night-time ride. Most garages have a simple sponge and bucket of water near the pumps – and don’t forget to clean your indicators and brake lights at the same time. It makes a surprising difference.
Proper bobby dazzler
It’s difficult but try to avoid looking directly into oncoming headlights. If you think oncoming headlights are on full beam, don’t flash back as you may dazzle them and cause momentary blindness; simply reduce your pace to a safe speed and avoid looking directly at the oncoming vehicle.
Don’t miss a thing
It’s more difficult to spot potential danger at night so use all your senses to look out for clues. You can usually smell diesel before you can see it. If you can smell freshly cut grass or a recently fertilised field be aware of mud on the road or slow moving farm traffic.
Guessing is stressing
At night it’s tempting to ‘link the dots’. For example just because you can see a car in the distance it doesn’t mean the road is straight, there may be a hidden dip or turn. Always assume the worst.