Black reflective tape on the Rain Bike

The Reflective Bike of Authority

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Everyone knows you need at least three road bikes – two if you’re absolutely determined to make a point about minimalism. Bike Number One is reserved for good weather and events, and the Rain Bike for inclement weather. Just like our guns need to be pampered and rubbed down whenever we’re off the bike, any time Bike Number One isn’t being used as a weapon of Mass V-struction, it should be pampered and polished lovingly. Best to leave the dirty work of training in Rule #9 conditions to a dedicated, loyal workhorse with less expensive componentry. It isn’t so much that a bike can’t handle getting wet – don’t be ridiculous – but rather that everything wears more quickly; road grit gets into the drivetrain, water seeps into bearings, and brake pads and rims wear like butter on a grindstone.

I find myself in the enviable position of having my repaired Cervélo R3 holding rank as my current Rain Bike. Having such a steed at hand any time the rain falls makes riding in bad weather all the more enjoyable. I did make some modifications to it, however. For starters, the cassette and chain are both Veloce instead of Record; not only are the less expensive, they appear to be more durable as well. As for hoops, a pair of Mavic Open Pros can’t be beat for durability and reliability.

But perhaps the most important modification centers around making the bike elegantly hi-vis. In addition to Lezyne flashers front and back for visibility, I have also applied strips of black 3M reflective tape to the chain stays, seat post, crank arms, down tube, and head tube. When a light isn’t shining on the tape, you can’t even see its there, but under the shine of a car’s headlights, the bike springs to life.

Riding in bad weather is all about durability and safety; the bike should be outfitted with reliable parts, and the rider should take care to be safe and visible. So whenver you’re riding in Rule #9 conditions, remember these safety tips:

  1. Assume the cars around you do not appreciate the dangers of being on a bicycle in the rain. If you find yourself being followed by a car at a point where it is unsafe for them to pass, either be assertive and take the lane to prevent them making a move that could put you at risk, or pull off the road completely to allow them to pass.
  2. Ride with confidence and make predictable movements. Always signal clearly when making turns. Make eye contact with drivers at intersections and clearly indicate your intended direction of travel.
  3. Always assume cars around you do not see you. Use flashers in any low light situations and give plenty of room to allow for increased stopping distance.
  4. When riding at night, the use of both a helmet mounted light and handlebar mounted light helps drivers realize you are a bicycle and not a motorcycle. I’m not sure why this is, but experience has proven this to be the case.
  5. Avoid riding through puddles, especially ones you can’t see the bottom of; potholes can be bigger than they appear or hidden completely by standing water.

Riding in bad weather means you’re a badass, but it also means cars are less likely to see you or expect to find you out on the road. In accordance with two of the V Tenets of the Velominati, we are to Look Fantastic at All Times, and Return Home Safely To Ride Again Tomorrow. My Reflective Bike of Authority plays nicely in both respects.

Vive la Vie Velominatus.

// Accessories and Gear // Etiquette // La Vie Velominatus // Technology // The Bikes

  1. Excellent advice. Assuming that everyone is out to kill you is a good policy. We always try to wave when making eye contact to confirm that we have been seen (then assume we haven’t just in case). Drivers are notoriously bad at judging the speed of a cyclist. All the V in the world won’t matter against a few tons of steel and stupidity.

    As a side note, I felt the need to apologize when demoting my former #1 bike to rain bike. Makes it more of a badass though.

  2. Jezus Christ Frank, how tall are you (read: how long are you’re legs)? :O Cool bike btw.

  3. Great public service article @Frank. Liking the idea of that reflective tape if it’s almost invisible in normal light.

    By the way, I’m so pleased to hear that you managed to resurrect your beloved R3 and having ridden my new model for some time now (remember Cervelo replaced my cracked frame) I completely understand why you decided not to go for a later model. Totally different feel (that I’m not chuffed with).

  4. …in other words, ride as a commuter…
    some of them are hardmen too

  5. What was supposed to be the bike to ride the 2011 Dirty Kanza 200, turned into my work commuter when I was transferred to Belgium before the race. I tried riding my number 1 to work but the ‘tank’ aka Salsa steel (heavier than $hit) is much better suited. While Belgium has 1,000s of kms of bike lanes, they aren’t exactly awesome for a road bike. So a 700×50 Schwalbe Big Ben tire gobbles up the path.

    I know this bike has many rule violations but it is damn comfortable, especially when it is 5 deg C and raining and dark while riding to work both ways.

  6. @marco Excellent point!

    What about fenders/mud guards @Frank? I too commute daily in Cascadia (Mukilteo to Seattle). I’ll chant Rule #9 on occasion just to keep sane. Keeping my toes and back/butt as dry as possilbe though is key.

  7. Great piece! I finally rode #2 bike this weekend as the roads were sufficiently dry to warrant it. Otherwise, I’ve been plugging away on my mongrel winter/rain bike with judiciously applied red reflective tape. Where do you get the black stuff?

    Agreed on the lights. If I know I’m going to be out in the dark, it’s three reds at the rear (one blinking) and three solid white up front. With today’s LED lights being so good, so cheap and so long lasting, there’s no excuse to be riding literally, in the dark.

  8. The R3 isdead, long live the R3

    Will try that tape, thanks Frank.

    Put in a few km’s yest and was talking to my friend about how cars pass you and how it reflects the personalities. His theory on those that rev too much as they pass is a bully thing. You are smaller and slower and therefore we need to know this as they I pass. I dunno, but it is interesting how many personality types are driving along.

  9. @meursault

    The R3 isdead, long live the R3

    Will try that tape, thanks Frank.

    Put in a few km’s yest and was talking to my friend about how cars pass you and how it reflects the personalities. His theory on those that rev too much as they pass is a bully thing. You are smaller and slower and therefore we need to know this as they I pass. I dunno, but it is interesting how many personality types are driving along.

    For me there’s usually those that are “good” or otherwise those that are “asshole”.

  10. While I agree with you on all points, my back does not agree with the amount of saddle to bar drop on that bicycle. You must be some sort of ape, Frank.

  11. @meursault

    The R3 isdead, long live the R3

    Will try that tape, thanks Frank.

    Put in a few km’s yest and was talking to my friend about how cars pass you and how it reflects the personalities. His theory on those that rev too much as they pass is a bully thing. You are smaller and slower and therefore we need to know this as they I pass. I dunno, but it is interesting how many personality types are driving along.

    I always think that those that drive unnecessarily large and/or loud vehicles must be compensating for something. So, whenever someone guns it when passing me (when it’s really not necessary) I always have a little grin and wonder what it must be like to have such a small…downtube shifter, if you will.

    (No offense intended to any of the Community that ride DT shifters!)

  12. @KW

    @meursault

    The R3 isdead, long live the R3

    Will try that tape, thanks Frank.

    Put in a few km’s yest and was talking to my friend about how cars pass you and how it reflects the personalities. His theory on those that rev too much as they pass is a bully thing. You are smaller and slower and therefore we need to know this as they I pass. I dunno, but it is interesting how many personality types are driving along.

    I always think that those that drive unnecessarily large and/or loud vehicles must be compensating for something. So, whenever someone guns it when passing me (when it’s really not necessary) I always have a little grin and wonder what it must be like to have such a small…downtube shifter, if you will.

    (No offense intended to any of the Community that ride DT shifters!)

    In my area (The South), unnecessary revving means you are dealing with a red-necked 4wheel-drive truck. Assuming that red-necked trucks have one purpose and that is to drive thru mud and swamps — deer hunting. So I started flashing the “sign of the camo” with the latest Giro DND gloves. It only works on half of the red-necked trucks though. And you have to continue to hail for at least 3 seconds for it to register.

  13. Wise words Frank, I always assume drivers can’t see me, but have never used 3M tape before – definitely something to consider for next Winter.

  14. @unversio

    @KW

    @meursault

    The R3 isdead, long live the R3

    Will try that tape, thanks Frank.

    Put in a few km’s yest and was talking to my friend about how cars pass you and how it reflects the personalities. His theory on those that rev too much as they pass is a bully thing. You are smaller and slower and therefore we need to know this as they I pass. I dunno, but it is interesting how many personality types are driving along.

    I always think that those that drive unnecessarily large and/or loud vehicles must be compensating for something. So, whenever someone guns it when passing me (when it’s really not necessary) I always have a little grin and wonder what it must be like to have such a small…downtube shifter, if you will.

    (No offense intended to any of the Community that ride DT shifters!)

    In my area (The South), unnecessary revving means you are dealing with a red-necked 4wheel-drive truck. Assuming that red-necked trucks have one purpose and that is to drive thru mud and swamps “” deer hunting. So I started flashing the “sign of the camo” with the latest Giro DND gloves. It only works on half of the red-necked trucks though. And you have to continue to hail for at least 3 seconds for it to register.

    Ah, the redneck. Yes thanks to them I can quickly ID the “woo-woo-woo” of a thrown longneck bottle. Unfortunately my move from the homeland to New England has shown me the universality of that particular subspecies. That said we have had those rare nirvana rides where all the drivers are super nice too (giving us plenty of space, stopping to allow us to make left turns, etc). I’d try the camo trick but it just doesn’t match the kit too well.

  15. @Overijse you simply have to explain that chainring and gearing!

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