Wednesday, November 19, 2014

More reflector ramblings and reaching 4000

After my trip to Free Ride to get some amber reflectors and adding reflectors to my rear basket, I began to wonder: are some reflectors better than others? Some of the reflectors in the bin I was rummaging in were fairly old. Had standards changed over the years? My impetus for seeking out amber reflectors was that Pennsylvania law *requires* amber side reflectors (in addition to a red rear reflector, amber pedal reflectors and a white front reflector) and Fizz came to me only with white side (spoke) reflectors and amber pedal reflectors. Fizz was lacking, technically. Between the headlamps and rear LED lights and ANSI class reflective tape I'm donning I really doubt anyone will say the bike and I aren't lit up like a Christmas tree on acid.

I'd found beveled reflectors in that bin: were these better seen from several angles by motorists approaching from different directions? Should I have both beveled reflectors AND flat reflectors? I started Googling for answers and more info. I got more than I bargained for.
Well, I'd learned there are SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) reflectors and CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) reflectors. There were bicycle reflectors and reflectors for motor vehicles.

The standards for reflex-reflectors have changed several times over the years since the SAE first introduced guidelines:
Cycling experts debate the merits of reflectors in general:
Then, a bit more Googling while I was looking for images of different applications of reflectors on bikes and bicycle accessories led me to cycling blogs and their thoughts and applications of SAE reflectors. I found it amusing that I'd already had these two bloggers in my blogroll and John of OneSpeedGo had suggested an automotive parts supply store to find SAE reflectors on my last post about my search for amber reflectors.

So, now my head was spinning from all this information, yet... I found it all very fascinating. I'm still learning from seasoned cyclists.

I did as John suggested and found an inexpensive 4-pack of SAE amber and red oblong reflectors at an Advance Auto Parts store.

I also wanted the reflectors on each side of the basket to match. I had a beveled reflector on each side of the basket, but one was white and the other amber. My obsession with symmetry wouldn't allow that for very long. I used the amber reflectors on the basket and now I have two red oblong reflectors... where can I use them?
I think I can bolt them to a pannier!

It lights up very well when hit straight on from the light source.

But, when the light source hits it from the side, not so well.

The beveled reflector seems to light (at least, in part) up no matter where the light source hits it.
 Yes, I know I'm not hitting the reflectors from several hundred feet away. I'm considering taking the bike out into the dark parking lot and simulating road conditions with the headlamp from my car. However, that would entail being alone... in a dark parking lot near a trail where drug users and homeless people travel. Maybe not.

The grey reflective tape seems to be a winner though!

The good news it that, being a total spaz about visibility and employing several different types of both passive lighting and dynamic (LEDs) lighting will net the Christmas Tree on Acid effect. Motorists see me. I like this.

Reaching 4000 Miles

There are 41 days left in the year. I have 361 miles left to ride in those days in order to hit a magical number: 4000.

Dear knee and weather: please work with me here.


  1. That is an impressive array of reflectors!

    I had been wondering the same about reflector quality; your other reflector post had gotten me thinking about it. Thanks for the info!

  2. I want to do some testing with a car and my bike at night, since it's motorists we want to see us, to try out different combinations of lights and reflectors from different angles. Out in the real riding environment where there are street lights, bushes, other vehicles, and other things competing for attention. But it seems like your setup should be great for reflectivity! I put that gray reflective tape on my crank arms. Anything to help them see "bike".


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