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Bike Rim Reflectorization

Bike wheel with retroreflective tape

Bike wheel with retroreflective tape

Here’s a quick-and-easy way to improve the odds of your arriving home safely after dark: add snippets of retroreflective tape to the inside of the rims on your bike.

Do half the rim in one color and leave the other half untaped (or taped in a contrasting color) so that the rim flashes as the wheel rotates. I originally applied orange tape, of which I have very nearly a lifetime supply, then added white when I got a sheet as part of a surplus deal.

At 15 mph the 20-inch front wheel blinks at about 4 Hz, which is wonderfully attention-getting. The rear wheel, a more common 700C size, blinks at 3 Hz.

It helps to measure the space between spokes, then set up a template to cut all the tape pieces the same length. Wipe the big chunks of dirt off the rim, then remove the remaining grunge with alcohol so the tape actually sticks.

New York State vehicle law considers reflectorized tires as equal to those in-the-spokes reflectors, which is a Good Thing.

The more you look like a UFO after dark, the less surprised the drivers are and the less hassle you get.

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