Lighting Requirements

This lighting information is adapted from the Potomac Pedalers brevet series requirements.

The purpose of the lighting requirement and inspection is to ensure that the cyclist has an adequate set of lights for riding in low and no light conditions. Backup requirements ensure that the cyclist can continue despite a failure of some component of the lighting system. This listing is the minimum requirement by RUSA for ACP and RUSA sanctioned events. Cyclists are responisible for the proper operation of their lighting system.

Also, as stated in the RUSA lighting rules: "Each rider, whether riding in a group or by himself, must fully comply with this requirement. Everyone must use their lights!" Non-compliance with these regulations during low or no light conditions will result in disqualification. Rider safety is paramount.

The performance of reflectors and reflective clothing is discussed on this site.

Primary Lighting System

  • white headlight w/bulb
  • at least one red tail light with steady operation mode (incandescent or LED types OK)
  • generator or battery power source (head and tail lights may share power or not)


    No specific requirements are made for a backup system, however the following are recommended

  • two spare bulbs for primary headlight OR redundant headlight w/bulb & spare bulb for either headlight
  • spare bulb for incandescent tail light OR redundant tail light w/bulb or LEDs
  • spare battery for headlight OR battery in redundant headlight
  • spare battery for tail light OR battery in redundant tail light

    Reflective Requirements

  • reflective vest, sash, sam browne belt, illuminite jacket or vest, etc. (small reflective stripes on clothing do not count)
  • red rear reflector (state law), note some lenses of rear lights do not qualify as reflectors. They must be explicitly marked as having been approved by the CPSC (bicycle-type) or S.A.E. (automotive-type).
  • reflective ankle bands

    Recommended Items

  • reflective material on pedals or shoes
  • light-colored clothing
  • map/cue sheet reading light

    Most Common Lighting Problems

  • incandescent bulb failure
  • low or dead battery
  • wiring problem (loose wire, short, bad switch or connector)
  • failure of attachment mechanism; light falls off and is damaged
  • failure to operate due to moisture or rain
  • generator failure or slippage
  • LED failure
  • battery enclosure problem

    Make sure that the combination of lights, bulbs, power sources, and backups you choose allows you to tolerate any of these types of failures.