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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Let's just start off that I am not a "weight weenie" and I don't think that removing the reflectors will reduce my "rotational mass" and allow me to propel my 235 pound fat ass and 20 pound bike (probably more with the damn pouch full of tubes, tools, air canisters, etc, that I was advised to carry) any faster.

I am however, at 35, conscious of my physical wellbeing and would like to see 36. Given the fact that if I really want an interesting ride in the town where I live, I'll have to deal with traffic and may occasionally be returning from a late summer evening ride at dusk why should I remove them?

And what happens when the insurance adjuster or police investigator picks up my crushed bike after some idiot in an SUV runs me over and finds that I have no reflectors?

Why would I not want to be as visible as possible?

The previous owner of my bike removed all of them. I will likely replace the front and rear reflectors this week, and unless someone gives me a good reason, I will replace the onese from the wheels.
 

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Why reflectors don't work.....

I'm not saying you shouldn't have them but read the whole thing; http://www.sheldonbrown.com/reflectors.html

There is a very scientific answer: reflectors work only under very specific conditions. Those conditions happen to prevail in most of the nighttime driving we do, so we get the impression that reflectors work most or all of the time. But reflectors don't work at all if those conditions aren't met, and many well-defined bicycle accident types occur in situations when we can expect reflectors to not work.

Few people understand how easy it is to wander outside the range of conditions in which reflectors will work. But it's astonishingly easy.

Why would a reflector decide to malfunction? And how could it? It doesn't have electrical components to fail, like, say, a British car.

It does, however, have other limitations. Among them:

It can be anywhere outside the beam of a driver's headlights.

It can be tilted at an angle ("entrance angle") that severely degrades its optical performance. (If you look at bikes parked on the campus bike rack, you'll see reflectors aimed in all sorts of dysfunctional directions.)

The driver's eye may be outside the narrow cone of light which the reflector sends back to the light source. (The angle between the light source and the driver's eye is the "observation angle.")

Fog can completely block the reflector when other lights remain visible. (Howzat? The farther light travels through fog, the more the light gets absorbed-and light from a reflector is making a round trip, twice as far as light from an active light source.)

The driver may have a burned-out headlight (possibly a lethal problem if it's the left headlight-generally, the right headlight's observation angle is too big for good reflector performance). Or the headlights may be mis-aimed or covered with dirt. Or powered by a Lucas electrical system in the throes of an 8-volt brownout.

The reflector surface can be abraded, covered with moisture or dust, or otherwise altered in a way that wrecks its optical performance.

This list is surely incomplete, but it makes a point: many factors can prevent a reflector from beaming light at the intended observer. This point is not hypothetical-our nightly accident rate shows that. Roughly once per night in this nation, a person is killed on a bicycle after dark. Many more are injured. Very often, I suspect, these accident victims have Consumer Product Safety Commission approved- and required- reflectors on their bikes. So here's my message to those who say, "These reflector requirements are safe and effective." You've lost all credibility.


MB1
With lights all over my bike year 'round.
 

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Call me a Fred
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Unless it is dark and a light shines on them, reflectors don't reflect anything worthwhile. The bike I use at night has lights and I have added lots of reflective tape. The reflective tape (similar to what is used on traffic signs and posts) is a much better reflector than the plastic ones that a traditionally used on bikes.

Look at a car at night and see if you see them because of their reflectors or because of their lights?

From the ever knowledgeable John Forester:
The data of this study show exactly what I have always argued: the all-reflector system required by the CPSC is dangerously deceptive. It misleads people into not using the proper equipment and it misleads even those people who choose to do something into adopting the equipment that provides the least benefit instead of adopting that which produces the most benefit. That is plenty of information to conclude that the CPSC's all-reflector system should be abolished and replaced with one that requires, when cycling during darkness, a headlamp and a bright rear reflector. The CPSC could produce a standard for the amount and distribution of light to be provided by a headlamp and for its mounting system. There is no need for the CPSC to produce a new standard for the rear reflector because reflectors made to the existing SAE standard for use on motor vehicles and highway markers are much brighter than the deliberately dim reflectors that the CPSC regulation now requires.
 

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Same reason we wear black clothes: We're sheep.

Full disclosure first: None of my bikes has lights or reflectors except the commuter, which is covered with baubles and reflective tape and flashers from stem to chainstays. If I'm going to be riding in traffic toward dusk, I want to be as noticeable as possible.
Everything else, four other bikes, is stripped, two because they came that way and two because I couldn't stand those spoke-mounted reflectors (it's purely a style issue, not functional--I won't worry about the bike's weight until I get rid of the extra poundage I'm carrying).
On every ride, though, on every bike, I wear the brightest, flashiest clothing I can find--DayGlo jackets, screaming orange shirts, yellow helmet, Illuminite vests. I have one pair of black tights because tights hardly come in any color but black, but last fall I bought some 2Loose Tights from Patagonia in off-white, and I've been wearing those. They look like crap, but I don't disappear into the darkness.
 

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Reflector reflections

Reflectors supplement lights at night. They do nothing during the day, and as others have pointed out, they only work in certain circumstances in the dark. That said, pedal reflectors and wheel reflectors can be real eye catching for a motorist if the light angles are right. So, a good set of lights AND reflectors can make a good package for riding in the dark.
 

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Still On Steel
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cka1971 said:
Why would I not want to be as visible as possible?
For a better chance of being seen by cars overtaking from the rear, get a blinking red tail light.

Also consider a mirror. Your best weapon against being hit from behind is simply knowing more about what's going on back there.
 
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