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Nathan 3M Reflective Tape

Nathan 3M Reflective Tape

Nathan 3M Reflective Tape

I love riding my bikes at night and have purchased several headlights and taillights so I can ride safely. Powerful battery operated headlights allow you to see where you are going, and flashing taillights make your presence known to cars up to a mile away. However, since batteries die, lamps burn out and mounting brackets break, I always have a bit of reflective gear with me as well. Most jerseys have a bit of reflective piping—I guess that is better than nothing, but if you are looking for an easy and inexpensive way to be seen at night without the need of batteries I would suggest you check out Nathan 3M Reflective Tape.

Nathan 3M Reflective Tape is one inch wide and comes in a 27-inch strip—it can be applied to your bike, helmet, saddlebags or any other hard surface. This tape has a very strong self-adhesive backing, so it should be considered permanent—and it is very easy to cut to any length you need. This reflective tape comes in three colors: Yellow, Pink, and Orange. I prefer the yellow tape since I think it stands out more than the other color choices. Nathan Sports claims that this tape is “100–200 times more visible than non-reflective clothing in low-light conditions.”

When I travel out of town with one of my bikes I usually carry it on a Yakima bike rack that mounts in the 2″ hitch receiver on my Jeep. Unfortunately, this bike rack sticks out a couple of feet past the rear bumper on the Jeep and I’m always afraid someone is going to run into it—so I applied Nathan 3M Reflective Tape on three sides of it and now it is visible from a long way off!

Nathan 3M Reflective Tape retails for $10 and is available at many sporting good stores, like R.E.I., The Sports Authority, and Dick’s Sporting Goods. I was also able to find it on Amazon.com for $7. While there are hundreds of safety products available for your bike, this one has to be one of the most cost-effective products you can find for cycling at night. By the way, this product is made in USA.

 

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Glo Glov Reflective Sport Glove

Some us of ride our bikes at night because it is fun, others do it because they have no other choice. Regardless of why you are cycling at night you want to get back home safely—and that means proper lighting and reflectors. One of the greatest pieces of safety equipment I’ve ever bought was a pair of Glo Glov Reflective Sport Gloves and I never ride at night without them.

Glo Glov Reflective Sport Glove for cyclists

Glo Glov Reflective Sport Glove

Glo Glov Reflective Sport Gloves are lightweight gloves that have several pieces of yellow retro-reflective vinyl sewn onto the back (and a red piece on the wrist). These gloves are specially designed for outdoor sports and are great for cyclists, runners, walkers or anyone who has to exercise near road traffic—the reflective strips can easily be seen from 1/4 of a mile away. While a reflective vest and taillight will allow motorists to see you, these gloves will allow them to see you signal for turns (or for a stop if you point the red reflective strip towards the back). These gloves work so well that I’ve had several motorists pull up beside me at a stoplight and ask about them.

These gloves have a padded grip palm and you can wear them alone or over your regular cycling gloves. These lightweight (only 1.5 ounces per pair) gloves are highly breathable and made of a non-fraying fabric (80% nylon, 20% spandex). As for sizing, these gloves are advertised as “one size fits all.” Incredibly, this is one of the few times that a claim like this is actually true—the gloves should fit any size hand from Medium to XXL. I wear XL cycling gloves and the Glo Glov fits of them without any trouble (and they come off just as easy).

Glo Glovs are made in the USA and sell for $20 on the Glo Glov Website (price includes shipping). I would highly recommend this product to anyone who cycles or runs at night.

 

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BikeWrappers Removable Reflective System

If you ride your bike at night you already know how important it is to have a good headlight so you can see where you are going and a taillight be keep cars from running over you. However, many cycling accidents happen when a car runs into a cyclist from the side—usually because they couldn’t see the bike even though it was directly in front of them. BikeWrappers are the best way I’ve found to protect yourself from a side-impact collision while on a bike (in fact, they work from all directions).

BikeWrappers Removable Reflective System

BikeWrappers Reflective System For Bicycles

BikeWrappers are a set of highly reflective bands of spandex and Lycra that wrap around the top tube, down tube and seat tube of your bike and they make your bike nearly impossible to miss at night. When the headlights from a car hit the reflective BikeWrappers your bike will be visible at least 1/4 of a mile away. In addition, these reflective bands are reversible and you can choose from over 30 different styles for the non-reflective side. You can choose from many bright colors or interesting patterns, such as leopard print, camouflage, plaid, stripes, etc. I chose a bright yellow color for the reverse side of my BikeWrappers and use it for rides in daylight when it is raining. By the way, riding in the rain will make you BikeWrappers look pretty bad after a few hours—fortunately, they are machine washable.

BikeWrappers attach to your bike in under a minute using the Velcro fasteners that are sewn into the material. They will easily fit on just about any size adult bike. Since these wrappers are so easy to put on or take off you really one need one set of BikeWrappers regardless of how many bikes you own. However, since they are so inexpensive you might want to buy several sets just to dress up your bike.

BikeWrappers Removable Reflective System

BikeWrappers Are Reversible

When I ordered my set of BikeWrappers last year I assumed I was going to have to cut a hole in the down tube wrapper since the bike I wanted to use it on has three water bottle cages. However, when my order arrived I was pleasantly surprised to see that BikeWrapers were designed to accommodate the extra bottle cage (see photo above).

The only downside to using BikeWrappers is that if you ride through a busy neighborhood at night you are probably going to have people ask you to stop so they can see what you have on your bike (yep, it happens nearly every time I use them). People always want to know “what type of battery does it use?” They are amazed when I tell them it doesn’t use any batteries—it is just highly reflective.

BikeWrappers retail for $45 for a three-piece set and they are available directly from the BikeWrappers Website. There are very few cycling products that I recommend as highly as I do BikeWrappers. The photos above do not do justice to how bright the reflective material is. If you ride your bike at night you need to get a set of these wrappers before your next ride! This product comes with a “100% Money Back Satisfaction Guarantee!” (see company Website for details).

 

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Michelin Pilot Sport HD Folding Bicycle Tire With Reflective Sidewalls

My oldest road bike is reserved for riding in inclement weather (rain and winter slush). For several years I used  Continental Touring Plus tires on this bike because they are lightweight, puncture resistant and have an aggressive enough tread pattern to make it easy to ride in the rain. Unfortunately, these tires are also very difficult to work with, i.e., they are hard to get on or off the rim. I know one experienced bike mechanic who broke three tire levers just trying to get a pair of these on a bike. For some reason it seems like I only get flats on rainy days, and fiddling with Continental Touring Plus tires in the rain is not a task I enjoy. As a result, the last time I replaced the tires on this bike I took a chance and switched to Michelin Pilot Sport HD folding tires—and I am so glad I did!

Michelin Pilot Sport HD Bicycle Tires

Michelin Pilot Sport HD Bicycle Tire

Michelin Pilot Sport HD tires are a part of the Michelin City Trekking tire series and are made with their “Protek Compound rubber mix” which provides “antioxidant ingredients and a reinforced architecture.” These tires have anti-puncture reinforcement and are designed for urban fitness riding, i.e., for those who like to ride road bikes in places that are not usually desirable due to broken glass and road debris.

I only have about 1,000 miles on these tires, but have been extremely impressed with how well they handle on both wet roads and dry pavement. They hold the road extremely well and corner better than any other tire I’ve tried. I’ve used these tires during many hours of heavy rain and have found that the inverted tread pattern helps move water out from under tire in a very efficient manner.

Michelin Pilot Sport HD Folding Bicycle Tire

Michelin Pilot Sport HD tread Pattern

In my opinion this tire offers a very low rolling resistance considering that they are designed to run at a fairly low tire pressure. On the sidewall of every bike tire you will find both the minimum and maximum pressure the tire is capable of handling. If the tire pressure goes below the minimum you run a very high risk of getting a pinch flat; if the pressure goes above the maximum you have a good chance of blowing out the tire and will certainly have a very bumpy ride. The recommended minimum pressure for the Michelin Pilot Sport tire is 44 psi and it has a maximum pressure of 87 psi. The tire pressure you should use depends on your weight—light riders can drop the pressure down towards the minimum while heavier riders should inflate towards the maximum. In the case of the Michelin Pilot Sport tire they suggest that riders weighing 132 pounds or less inflate the tire to 44 psi; riders weighing 220 pounds or more should use 87 psi. Michelin has included a weight and psi chart of the side of the packaging for this tire.

Like the Continental Touring Plus tires, the Michelin Pilot Sport HD tires have reflective sidewalls which increases visibility in low light situations. A ride in the rain almost guarantees that you will also be riding in low light—and when a the headlights from a car hit the sidewall of this tire the reflective strip can be see from at least a quarter of a mile away.

Michelin Pilot Sport HD folding bicycle tires retail for around $40 each and are available in four sizes (700x28c, 700x32c, 700x35c, and 26×2.3). These tires all have a thread count of 30 TPI (threads per inch). A low thread count usually means a less supple tire, but one that is more puncture resistant. The 700x28c tire weighs 402g. You should be able to find this tire at just about any bike shop—if the shop does not have it in stock they can order it for you.

 

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Reflective Sleeves From Nathan Performance Gear

The more years that you have been cycling the more likely you are to have acquired a lot of specialty gear, i.e., clothing that you might not need all the time but are glad to have when the occasion arises. Reflective Sleeves from Nathan Performance Gear are an item every cyclist needs to have on hand. These Reflective Sleeves look like traditional arm warmers, but they are not—they are intended to make you visible to motorists at night and they keep your arms from getting sunburned during daylight hours.

Reflective Running Sleeves From Nathan Performance Gear

Reflective Sleeves From Nathan Performance Gear

Nathan Performance Gear Reflective Sleeves are made with a form-fitting, ultra-stretchy synthetic fabric. They have a long 3M Scotchlite reflective strip on each arm and when the headlights from a car hit it they can be seen from up to 1,200 feet away. These sleeves also offer UV SPF 50+ protection.

I often use these sleeves on nighttime rides—they make it a lot easier for cars to see my arms when I signal for a turn. One day last summer I forgot to wear my sunscreen and got a nasty sunburn on both arms. The following day I used these Reflective Sleeves to protect my arms from further damage and the sleeves worked perfectly. They are very lightweight and did not warm my arms up at all (they are actually made for runners and at a slow speed they probably do increase body warmth a bit).

On one of the sleeves there is a small pocket (about 2″x3″), but the only thing I found it useful for is to carry is a tube of Chapstick. There is also a silicone grip at the top of each sleeve to keep them from sliding down your arm.

Nathan Reflective Sleeves come in three colors (Grey, Yellow, and Black) and two sizes (S/M, L/X-L) and they run a bit small. The sleeves retail for about $25 a pair and I doubt if you find them in any bike shop. I purchased mine from a brick-and-mortar Dick’s Sporting Goods Store. If you cannot find them at a store in your area then you should check Amazon.com.

 

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Lightweights Hi-Visibility Scotchlite Reflectors For Bicycle Wheels

I have a horrible confession to make: Every time I buy a new bike the first thing I do when I get home is remove the wheel reflectors (and in the process probably violate numerous State, Federal and Intergalactic laws). I have a few bikes that are never used on the roads and my Trek Madone is not allowed outside after dusk. However, on my bikes that I do ride at night I have installed something far better than standard wheel reflectors—Lightweights For Wheels.

Lightweights Hi-Visibility Scotchlite Reflectors For Cyclists

Lightweights Are Barely Visible In Daylight

Lightweights For Wheels are small reflective strips that are applied to your spokes one at a time and the installation process takes about 15 minutes per wheel. The self-adhesive strips will go on much easier in warm weather and make sure you clean the spokes with alcohol before attempting to apply them to remove any road grime. These strips are made of 3M Scotchlite™ and in my experience 3M makes that best reflective material you can buy.

Once Lightweights For Wheels are installed on your spokes you probably won’t even notice them in the daylight—the reflective material matches most silver spokes perfectly. However, once the sun goes down your wheels will be visible from all directions, and when the bike is moving these tiny reflectors really stand out! I need to point out that light needs to be directly aimed at these reflectors for greatest benefit (like the headlights from a car). If you want to test these strips out just take your bike into a dark garage and hold a flashlight at eye level and aim it at your bike (get ready to be impressed).

Lightweights reflective tape for bicycles and cyclists

Lightweights Really Pop When Light Shines On Them

One of the great things about Lightweights For Wheels is that they only add 2 grams of weight per tire, as opposed to the 16 to 32 grams that you would have with standard bike reflectors. In addition, these reflectors will never fall off and they are brighter than the reflectors that come with most bikes. You will also appreciate the fact that these reflectors are perfectly balanced (unlike the lopsided weight from a standard wheel reflector).

A package of Lightweights For Wheels retails for $15 and should be available at your local bike shop. Each package has 75 reflective rectangles for spokes, along with nine circles and two ovals that you can use on other places on your bike, helmet or seat bag.

Note: The white ring on the tire in the photo above is from the reflective strip that is built into my Continental Touring Plus Road Bike Tire.

 

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Pin Ups: Reflective Velo Pins from CycleAware

Pin Ups Reflective Velo Pins from CycleAware

Reflective Velo Pins

You’ve probably heard someone say, “There’s no such thing as being too good-looking or too rich.” We need to add one more thing: for a cyclist, there is no such thing as being too visible. I ride a lot at night and in low-light situations—this means I also own several headlights and taillights for my bikes. Unfortunately, batteries run out of juice, light bulbs die and mounting brackets break. Therefore, I also own a lot of reflective gear so motorists can see me even if my lights kick the bucket.

The good folks at CycleAware recently sent me a package of Pin Ups: Reflective Velo Pins for review purposes. This is a package of 1″ diameter pins with a highly reflective surface. You can attach these pins to your jersey (they’re great for the back pockets), jacket, socks, gloves, backpack, or messenger bag.

A really good place for these pins is on the back of your gloves! I wish every pair of cycling gloves had reflective piping, but most do not. However, you can easily fasten one of these pins to the back of your gloves so motorists can see you hands when you signal a turn. Another useful place for these pins is on the back of your cycling tights, just above the heel of your shoes (or on your socks in warmer weather). Reflective material is great, but moving reflective material is awesome—as you pedal these reflective pins move up and down and make it easier for motorists to see you.

These reflective pins have several different designs. Two of the pins have small circles on them, one has the Spanish word for care or careful, and another has the Portuguese word for look out. In my opinion the most interesting pin is the one that has the Mandarin word for look out (OK, I had to ask CycleAware for the translation).

A package of five Pin Ups retails for only $5. You should be able to get this product at your local bike shop, but if they don’t have it you can order it online from CycleAware’s Website.

CycleAware has been around for 20 years and they specialize in making products to keep cyclists safe. If you really want to add some reflective power to your bike, you need to check out the CycleAware Beamer Reflective Saddle Bag—a saddle bag that is made entirely from highly reflective material.

 

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