Bright Reflective Tape for Bikes / Bicycles - What it is and Where to Get it.

reflective bike tape
If you have ever been driving and have come up on a bicycle with little or no reflective markings then you know how dangerous not being seen can be. There are several types of tape that can be used for bicycles. However, the general rule is the brighter the better. If you look at different reflective tapes you will see that some tapes are brighter than others. This is because there are different grades of reflective tape and some grades are much more reflective than others. In other words, all reflective tapes are not created equal. Type 5 (dot grade) or 9 (solas grade) reflective tapes are the brightest available and reflect light via small prisms in the tape itself. When light hits the prisms they reflect back a portion of that light to the source. It is around 10 times brighter than standard reflective tapes. These reflective tapes are called prismatic or crystal or diamond grade reflective tapes. Because they are so much brighter they can be seen from very far away. It is because of this fact that we recommend these tapes for bicycles. We carry the Type 5 DOT and the Type 9 SOLAS at our "Bike Tape Web Site".

Here is a rundown of the most common types of reflective tapes. First there is engineer grade or type 1 tape. It is around 75 candlepower for the white. (Engineer grade tapes are flexible and comformable and are great for wrapping the bicycle frame.) Then there is type 3 tape or high intensity which is around 250 candlepower. Finally there is type 5 or 9 tape and it runs anywhere from 600 - 900 candlepower. A picture of the 4 main types of tape can be found below. Notice the two tapes on the right maintain their brightness even beyond 360 feet.

reflective bike tape
PRISMATIC TAPE

As stated before, the brightest tapes are prismatic and reflect light via small microprisms built into the tape. A company called "Reflexite" invented this type of tape several decades ago. Reflexite refers to their tapes as "Prismatic Tapes". Other manufacturers call them crystal grade or diamond grade. They are the brightest of all the tapes.

Because the tape uses man made micro prisms, the angle of reflectivity can be controlled depending on the tapes intended use. For example, "SOLAS Tape", which is the brightest of all the prismatic tapes, reflects most of its light back to the source. This makes the tape brighter but is is not as visible at sharp angles. "DOT Tape" is also prismatic but it reflects light back at greater angles thus making itself seen at sharper angles. Some other examples of prismatic tape are "School Bus Reflective Tape" and "Rail Car Reflective Tape".

Click Here for Prismatic Diamond Grade Bike Tape

Click Here for Engineer Type Reflective Tapes which can be used for wrapping bike frames.


If you have any questions about reflective tape for bikes free to email me at steve@colebrothers.com

Steve Cole - Owner
850-934-3157