Mountain bikes don’t typically come with reflectors. Even if they do, most people have them removed.
So, do mountain bikes need reflectors? Is it illegal to go mountain biking without them? When are they necessary? We’ll answer all your questions in this article, so let’s dive in.
Reflectors help car drivers and cyclists see that there’s a mountain bike rider on the way. They’re mainly designed to help vehicle drivers avoid hitting bike riders when they’re riding at night.
So, you don’t have to install reflectors on your mountain bike unless you’re planning to use your MB in dark situations. But they won’t be necessary if you don’t ride your MB close to vehicles.
Why Do Mountain Bikers Take Reflectors off Their Mountain Bikes?
Mountain bikes usually come with reflectors as the US Federal Law requires all bikes to ship with reflectors for maximum safety. Yet, most bikers remove them before going on a ride because they believe they’re unnecessary. They can also represent a hazard in some situations.
Mountain bikers ride their bikes on hills and mountains and are true fans of nature, and they want to keep the area as clean as possible. Unfortunately, since their bikes go through a lot of wear and tear because of the harsh conditions, reflectors tend to fall off their bikes, and they pollute the area.
So, mountain bikers prefer to take them off because they don’t really provide any safety. Also, the trails where you typically ride mountain bikes are away from roads and vehicles, so you’re not really in danger.
In addition, by removing the reflectors, you’re protecting other mountain bikers. As they’re speeding on challenging trails, coming across discarded reflectors can lead to severe accidents and injuries. So, by removing them, you’ll make the trail safer and more fun for everyone.
These reflectors aren’t meant to help you see your surroundings, so they won’t benefit you even if you choose to ride your MB at night. Instead, they allow vehicle drivers and perhaps other mountain bikers to see you.
As a matter of fact, they only work if vehicle riders or motorists are using powerful lights that hit the reflectors at the right angle. Since very few people go mountain biking at night, these reflectors aren’t really that beneficial.
When Should You Keep the Reflectors on Your Mountain Bike?
There are several situations when keeping the reflectors will make your ride more fun and safer. Here are some reasons why you might need them.
Mountain biking at night can be so much fun. In some areas, the only way you could go mountain biking is at night because the sun sets too early or you have things to do in the morning.
Many people love to explore their favorite trails at night when the weather is cooler, and they get to see some nocturnal wildlife. In this case, riding with other mountain bikers guarantees your safety, and your reflectors will come in handy. You should also wear reflective clothes and install suitable lights to be able to see the trail ahead of you.
Your mountain bike is primarily designed for off-the-road rides. But you can definitely take it for rides on the road.
In this case, riding your MB on the road is illegal without reflectors. This form of passive lighting is mandatory because it always allows vehicle drivers to locate you. Moreover, most states require cyclists to install a powerful headlight to be able to see the road.
Remember that the weather changes quickly, so the reflectors can enhance your safety even if you’re riding your MB in the morning. While other mountain bikers are using their lights to see the trail in foggy or other conditions with limited visibility, they’ll also be able to see you.
If you ever have to stop your mountain bike or if you need help, they won’t miss you. Moreover, you’ll unlikely get lost while riding with a group.
This depends on how you intend to use your mountain bike. For example, if you only ride your mountain bike on off-road trails in good weather, then the reflectors won’t be necessary. As a matter of fact, you’ll be helping other mountain bikers enjoy their outdoor adventure by removing them before they accidentally fall.
Yet, if you plan on using your mountain bike in the city as a road bike or you enjoy night rides, then you should keep your reflectors on. In this case, you should secure them before every ride to make sure that they won’t fall. If they happen to fall, you should put them away, so they don’t represent an unnecessary obstacle on the trail that other mountain bikers use.
You can also uninstall the reflectors before going on a trail to guarantee that they won’t fall off. Then, when it’s time to ride the bike on the road, you can put them back on.
Bike manufacturers are legally required to ship all bikes, including mountain bikes, with installed reflectors. Yet, it’s perfectly legal to remove them after you buy the bike. And as long as you ride your mountain bike in daylight and away from vehicles, you’ll be safe. So here are the steps to follow.
Your mountain bike might come with several reflectors on the wheels, front fork, seat, pedals, and rack. Some of these reflectors are permanent and can’t be removed, but the most important ones to remove are the ones located on the wheels. These are the ones that are most likely to fall off while you’re riding your mountain bike.
Examine the reflectors and the screws holding them together. Then, pick a matching screwdriver to unscrew them.
Unscrew the reflectors until you hear a click, and they come loose. And then, remove them and keep them safe in your garage, so you can secure them whenever necessary.