The Reflective Bike of Authority

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.

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115 Replies to “The Reflective Bike of Authority”

  1. @frank

    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).

    Ruckus Carbon Repair fixed it; it was only a few hundie, too. You’d never know anything happened.

    And here I thought that you should just convert it to a track bike for your next hour record attempt.

  2. I love the new lexicon term. My Nine Bike is of course my previous #1, the ’06 Marinoni Super Vectra with durable 105 Group-San. Last year the #1 was the Cipollini Bond with Dura-Ace & Miche Supertype demo bike.

    This season, I will building this baby up…

    Right now, it is displayed with the 38mm Carrefour clinchers, but I think it will be sporting my own pair of the V Special Edition Arenberg 60s. Makes sense, n’est pas?

  3. @Teocalli

    @Dan_R The other point behind having bike num 1 and 9 bike is you have to fill in num’s 2 – 8.

    I guess technically speaking, I have around fifty in the stable. Although 40 of them are for sale….

  4. @teleguy57

    I do have a small pump by SaveDaily Deals”>garden sprayer which I keep filled with water, and any bike ridden in Rule #9 conditions gets a quick spray upon arrival back home, then a bit more of a cleaning once I can feel fingers/toes again.

    Brilliant. Of course, if south Texas actually had weather (besides heat, humidity, wind and sun), I’d be heading over to Home Depot, er, scratch that, I mean my LBS, tomorrow for a pump garden sprayer!

    But Selling my old ride, a Trek 1000 upgraded with a Neuvation wheel set, was a condition for buying my 2014 Cannondale EVO. But now I’m thinking the Trek 1000 is a perfect Nine Bike commuter. It’ll need some 25’s, a little tread, and some small discreet fenders.

    Yeah, I know snow. Like Frank, I grew up skiing the snow and ice of Minnesota and cycling the dirty, slushy, salty snow of springtime. In fact, a good friend and Minnesota neighbor, a Belgian hardman no less, just posted his first bike commute ride of the season!

    Top ‘Durable Person’ Chosen (Wins Trip With GearJunkie Crew!)

    Our “Durable Person” project with CORDURA® Brand asked readers to submit a photo of an individual “doing something durable” (read: wild, tough, crazy, admirable, or extreme). We received hundreds of submissions and highlighted the top images in two posts last month. After sorting through the entries and vetting photos our judge panel made the tough decision to pick the four individuals below.

    Grand by SaveDaily Deals”>Prize: One entry floated to the top. Christian Franken of St. Paul submitted the durable selfie (above), taken on New Years Day, in below-zero air after a 20K ski near Lake Superior. “It was a perfect still winter morning,” he said. “I was skiing and looking for fox tracks in the new snow.” He was also pushing himself, training and honing his classic skiing skills for the races on his circuit each season.

    Franken, a native of Belgium who moved to the U.S. 25 years ago, has a background in mountaineering. He has climbed major peaks like Mount Blanc, Kilimanjaro, and Mount Kenya. Now 52, and with two sons, he focuses in XC skiing, cycling, canoeing, orienteering, and other endurance sports. “I love to go out and explore anywhere,” he said.

    Daym. What is it about Belgians?

  5. @Teocalli

    @Dan_R The other point behind having bike num 1 and 9 bike is you have to fill in num’s 2 – 8.

    Yes, there it is !

    Time to start working on numbers 2 through 8.

  6. @frank  “Lightweights” makes reflective decals that  (side by side) are brighter, lighter, and thiner than the 3M tape (black or silver). Can get it at amazon:

    If you are doing significant night riding I definitely recomend the 86 Piece wheel tape for your spokes. Little bit of a learning curve putting them on.  Bike #2 has them full time and they are on Bike #1 training wheels. You can tastefully put leftover pieces on cable sheaths or quick release levers. It is surprising how reflective this stuff is. They also make colored tape that you can match to your helmet or other parts of your bike. Spoke tape might not look super pro but you will definitely be recognized as a bicycle. I do at least two rides per week after the kids are in bed so the trade off is worth it.

  7. In terms of visibility, what is the general consensus of my fellow Velominati/a on Revolights? Technologically I think they’re fantastic, both in terms of Rider Safety, and looking like something out of Tron, but a thinks they’re too over-the top and even so far as being (dare I say it) tacky.

  8. Spend so much time keeping one bike in good shape to ride…can’t imagine it with two…and they would fit differently no matter how hard you try to make them do others manage?! I would think the “rain bike” would have eyelets (and tire clearance) for full fenders..otherwise why bother.

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