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How powerful a light for road biking/commuting?
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Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Re: How powerful a light for road biking/commuting? on 01/29/2010 13:16:06 MST Print View

> I often see drivers staring straight in to my lights, like they're mesmerized deer in headlights.

That might not be good. If they stop driving the might go strait through you in their mesmerized state.

Seriously though, the superflash is quite visible... but I have had some issues with water. I was riding my bike all of last week during the winter storms here. Some water good inside even though I made sure the case was fully shut. Enough water got in that turning off the switch didn't necessarily turn off the light and putting it on the flash model sometimes stayed on continuously. I opened it up and left it for around 6 hours after which time it seemed fine again.

--mark

Robert Blean
(blean) - MLife

Locale: San Jose -- too far from Sierras
Re: How powerful a light for road biking/commuting? on 01/29/2010 14:03:20 MST Print View

Before getting too carried away with super-bright headlights, consider the driver's side. I am all in favor of bicycles / cars sharing the road safely, but when the bicycle uses a headlight that would be illegal usage on a car, that is going too far.

I occasionally encounter bicycles whose headlight is too bright in my eyes for a car to be using. Unfortunately, the bicyclist has no way to dim it -- flashing my high beams at them gets no response. This is unsafe and does not engender good will towards bicycles.

The most recent time was last night -- perhaps was a headlamp, I'm not sure. It was OK some of the time, but got in my eyes several times. It was not a case of trying to get my attention -- we were stopped at a red light, going opposite directions.

The virtues of a bright headlamp were mentioned earlier in this thread -- sounds good to me. But if you go that route please be **very** sure you do not shine it in the car driver's eyes.

-- Bob

martin cooperman
(martyc) - M

Locale: Industrial Midwest
Bike commuting lights on 01/29/2010 14:05:34 MST Print View

I've been bike commuting all year 'round in Cleveland for 33 years. My rides take me from downtown out to the suburbs.
The street lighting varies from bright to moderate to none at all.

Most bike accidents with cars take place from the front or side; rarely from the rear.

So...
One good bright blinkie like the Planet Bike works fine from the rear. I've seen folks use multiple rear blinkies but think this is superfluous. I've never had a close call from the rear.

From the front, I generally use 3 types of lights:
One to get driver's attention - a red or white blinkie.
One to light the road well enough to spot a chuckhole, downed tree branch, patch of ice, etc - a bright white steady light.

You can get cheap ones from Dealextreme plus a rubber mounting bracket. So far they've held up rather nicely. The Planet Bike one is just about equally bright.

Both of the above are mounted on a handlebar segment fixed securely just above the front fender, so no handlebar bag, etc can obscure it and it is relatively protected from road spray and salt and as close to the road as I can get it without mounting on the fork (which would then be subject to horrible road spray). They are also mostly blocked from my view by the handlebar bag, thus don't annoy me with their light.

One helmet light to point at drivers either coming a bit too fast from the side, or coming in the opposite direction and looking like they're about to make a left turn across my path. The Princeton Tec EOS bike light with helmet attachment works well.

Over the years I've noticed drivers becoming ever more impatient, frantic and frazzled and thus more of a risk to me. My lighting has improved to take that into account.

Marty Cooperman

Michael Meiser
(mmeiser) - F

Locale: Michigan
Re: Bike commuting lights on 01/30/2010 18:33:41 MST Print View

@martin cooperman (martyc)

I'll second just about everything marty said, well put.

most accidents from front and side at night

attention / blinky lights front and rear

My only difference is while ideal I usually don't use a diffuse nearground beam on the handlebar or front rack. (the lower the better).

Mostly I don't use this because I get sick of changing batteries in a general flood light in the near ground. Just more charging, maintence. My headlamp does the trick... but then I guess that depends on the brightness and beam pattern of your headlamp.

Michael Meiser
(mmeiser) - F

Locale: Michigan
protecting rear bike blinkies from rain. on 01/30/2010 18:38:21 MST Print View

@Mark Verber (verber)

Regarding waterproof:

First I second the superflash / superblinkies. Second I'll second that they're not waterproof.

I've never found a waterproof blinkie. They all stink. Maybe it's the water coming up off the rear wheel. I don't know.

I always have small ziplocks handy in case of rain for my wallet, cell phone and superblinkie. (At least while touring.) I just put the ziplock over the blinkie and put a rubberband around it. Works well.

Prior to this I destroyed one superblinkie and one other tail light that were supposed be waterproof and dried out a few others and got them working again.

The worst is when the moisture in them causes a small short that slowly drains your batteries. It's a pain taking out batteries everytime you want to turn them off.