Mountain bike night riding – could this be for YOU?  Would this be a fun way to extend your riding season?  Find out what you need to stay safe on a dawn/dusk or night time mountain bike ride.  This is a simple guide for first time night riders so you can gain the confidence to get out there and give it a go.

Lighting up the trail - lights for mountain bike night riding


A really important part of your whole night riding experience is having the right type of lights.  The more powerful the light the more expensive it will be.  A good starting set up of lights for night riding would be

  • front handlebar 2000+ lumens wide beam to illuminate the trail
  • along with a front helmet  800+ lumens to illuminate corners, changes in terrain – this light will track where your eyes look to

You want easy, flexible attachment options so you can get the lights on/off, move them when or if you need to.

Having a variety of modes so you can adjust the light according to whats happening e.g. less light to climb up hills, less light to ride through town, to the tracks.  This will increase your overall ride time.  When lights are used at full strength – as you will probably do when heading down the hill – it uses the battery power up.

Following on from this point… you need to have a fairly good idea of how long you will have light so you can plan a ride that matches to your light time.  Planning ahead if your battery needs to be charged, carrying spare batteries if this is how your light is powered.

You will also need a rear light preferably set on a steady mode so your friends can judge how far in front of them you are (flashing lights attract attention but can be hard for distance estimating).

For more on LIGHTS see The ‘Right’ Lights for Mountain Biking at Night
Enduro Mountain Bike Lights - 5000lumen.goRide

Small compact lights are a good option

Olympia helmet mount gemini bike light goRide

Helmet lights should be lightweight & easy to attach

night riding photo.goRide

Rear light on steady beam


Go easy on layers when heading up – try not to sweat too much.  Avoid wearing a bag that will trap moisture if possible – basically try not to make your clothing damp or wet as this will make you cold when you head into the fun downhill part of your ride.

Try to add warmth to places that suffer in colder conditions  – fingers/toes/neck/head.  These additions are a great way for you to feel protected and we would recommend thermal fabrics or merino.

Take or wear a jacket that will block cold airflow.  The air around you will not be warm, in winter at night time, in New Zealand.

winter warm combo

Add warmth to your extremities

Lightweight packable bike jacket. front orange. goRide

MTB jackets block air flow to keep you warm


Tell someone where you are going

Know what the weather is supposed to be doing – you can’t see any changes in the weather at night time or in limited visibility.

Keep to tracks you know – now is not the time to try something new.  If you are nervous about night riding for the first time it can be a good idea to start in some light/twilight.  This helps with your confidence and you can progress to darkness.

Get warm as soon as you get home – out of any damp or wet clothes, into a shower

get Ready and goRide –  Mountain Bike Night Riding

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Related Resources:

Winter Riding Tips

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