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Old 09-21-07, 12:54 PM   #1
ccd rider
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Help with (relatively) informal poll.....

Fellow cyclists,

I've read heaps of formal reviews and anecdotal impressions about taillights....which one to get, how many, steady or flashing, etc. From that I have my own idea about this question but wanted to do a poll to see what the consensus might be in this forum. I ask that you resist the temptation to submit any more than a yes or no response....no qualifiers or conditional feedback please. The question is:

Yes or no.....does a cyclist riding at night need something at least as bright/substantial as a Planet Bike Superflash or Dinotte to be safe?

Thanks.
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Old 09-21-07, 12:57 PM   #2
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Sorry, I am not familiar with those specific brand and model names. I do use two bright red 5-led flashing blinkies (with radically differing blink rates), one on my backpack, the other on the rear rack, and I change the batteries when either begins to dim.
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Old 09-21-07, 01:07 PM   #3
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No.
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Old 09-21-07, 01:08 PM   #4
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I had a cheapy Pyramid 5 LED read light and have used it in flashing mode any time the light appears to be a bit dim outside. Various folks have done some informal testing on bright days, and every one has stated that if they ask a friend to ride up behind what they see 1st, the blinky light is NOT on the list. During lower light conditions, this is very different. I have seen cylists up to 1/2 mile out during a slightly foggy night. At first I could not make out what it was, but the blinky light got my attention way before I got close enough to the cyclist to worry about how I would pass them safely.

Recently my wife was driving behind me in the evening and complained she could not see me very well. It turns out that I needed new batteries and then the light was at least 5 times brigher again. If you do ride at night, do replace the batteries frequently enough. I've had mine since March so I'll have to replace them a bit more often than once every 6 months.

After my recent night visability issue I did some more reading and everyone raves about the brightness of the Plant Bike blinky light. They had a free shipping deal at Nashbar so I bought it for under $20. I did some testing in my office with the lights off, and WOW - the Plant Bike blinky is MUCH brighter than the 5 LED unit I already had. I am going to do some evening testing this weekend to see what combo is most visiable. Right now my 5 LED light is attached to my Trek rear rack (very convenient mounting point that lets me use the belt clip and a simple thumb screw). The Planet Bike Blinky is attached to my seat post right under my seat. Now I need to test the following three settings:
1. 5 LED solid and PB Blinky solid
2. 5 LED blinking and PB Blinky solid
3. 5 LED solid and PB Blinky blinking

One nice feature of the Plant Bike Blinky is that there is a descent amount of side visability. I've had a few occasions this summer where I didn't see the cyclists till they turned, and the LED lights were pointing at me. Don't under estimate the importance of side visability.

I also added the following to my bike to aid night visability:
3M SOLAS tape (Coast Guard required on boat safety gear)
- Added to last 8" of my rear fender. The tape was 1" wide and two strips nicely fit side my side to follow the side to side curve of the fender to give a wide viewing angle.
- Added a strip about 8" long on the rear lower frame starting just in front of the rear wheel mounting point going forward. There was no need for a longer strip because they would be getting blocked by my feet.
- added a strip around the front fork.
I'll try to take some night time pictures and post them if it works out.

Happy riding,
André
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Old 09-21-07, 01:11 PM   #5
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Under what conditions? Brightly lit city with lots of light noise? Dark rural road with fireflies as the only light competition? Daylight? To many variables for a yes/no answer- refine it a little bit.

That said, PB Superflash is really cheap and really bright, especially for the $25... why _not_ run one?
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Old 09-21-07, 01:57 PM   #6
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Yes.

I just got another PB Superflash for $20 including free shipping from Nashbar. Well worth it.

What you mean by less bright that PBSF is subjective, but I am aware (as in have seen them regularly and know what they look like with fresh batteries) of LED blinkies that are insufficient. Don't bother with those to save $10. I have also seen blinkies that are nearly as bright as the PBSF, but they cost about the same.

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Old 09-21-07, 05:42 PM   #7
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Kudos to invisiblehand for understanding the spirit of the question. This is just generally speaking. At night. Forget the variables for the time being.....other than you would be on a some kind of road with traffic. And this is not about whether or not I would buy a specific kind of light....rather a poll of yes or no. Humor me. I'm trying to get a sense of what the consensus might be just from the question as it stands.....without all the analysis (I've seen plenty!).

If you feel you can't submit a tangible and definitive answer from the criteria given, then refrain. It's not that big a deal. :-)
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Old 09-21-07, 05:56 PM   #8
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If the question was:

Yes or no.....does a cyclist riding at night need something at least as bright/substantial as a Planet Bike Superflash or Dinotte to be safer?

Then yes.
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Old 09-21-07, 06:38 PM   #9
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The brighter the better. Fewer excuses for the dope that hits you.
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Old 09-21-07, 07:04 PM   #10
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No.
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Old 09-21-07, 07:42 PM   #11
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Old 09-21-07, 07:46 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ccd rider View Post
... If you feel you can't submit a tangible and definitive answer from the criteria given, then refrain. It's not that big a deal. :-)
I would welcome a more definitive discussion, with quantitative comparisons among competing brands and models of lights. I have no idea how my CatEye unit stacks up against a Planet Bike SuperFlash. I know Harris Cyclery used to sell a huge 15-LED array that looked as though it would capture attention.

One other thought: I think those of us who put a blinkie on our rear racks would be way ahead with a pair of blinkies at opposite ends of a 2-foot or half-meter length of horizontally mounted tubing, on the theory that motorists tend to notice horizontal objects more than vertical ones.
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Old 09-21-07, 07:48 PM   #13
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To be safe? No, but I like to be bright and noticeable. I've got a Superflash on the back of my rack, and will get a Planet Bike Blinkie7 because it has more side visibility than the super Flah. I also mount a Cateye TL-LD1000. In California, a red reflector on the rear is still mandatory.
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Old 09-21-07, 07:52 PM   #14
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I've always just used two of the $3.75 taillights from MEC. I don't know what brand they are. However, I have had people in vehicles tell me they can see them from quite a ways off.

I figure there's no point to getting expensive taillights. Taillights are disposable. They fall off, break, stop working in the rain. I get the cheap (but bright) ones that can easily be replaced.

Combine your taillight with lots of good reflective gear and you'll be visible.
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Old 09-21-07, 11:03 PM   #15
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Safe? no. Safer? yes.
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Old 09-22-07, 07:02 AM   #16
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[QUOTE[quote=John E;5311842]I would welcome a more definitive discussion, with quantitative comparisons among competing brands and models of lights.QUOTE]

I felt we had information like that ad nauseum. If you do a search for taillights just on this forum there are 20 pages worth. Most seem to think it was worth having a Superflash, LD-1000/1100, or Dinotte....if not more than one. The rationale being relatively no price tag on saving your life.

But some thought it was overkill (bad choice of words perhaps), and several were kind of on the fence. The ones they had were bright enough if not quite up to the standards of one of the afore mentioned lights. I was just trying to get a yay or nay....esp. some of the fence sitters.

Bekoligist had a good take.....safer but not necessarily safe. It would seem logical that at the margin most motorists would notice a brighter light quicker and respond in kind. But only if they see it in time.

Someone in a previous thread mentioned the side visibility being somewhat overrated.....arguing that by the time a vehicle could see you from the side it might be too late. I thought that was interesting.

Last edited by ccd rider; 09-22-07 at 07:03 AM. Reason: something left out
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Old 09-22-07, 10:07 AM   #17
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Sorry I have to qualify but I will try to be brief

Rural roads: emphatically yes
Urban with street lights: no
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Old 09-23-07, 06:32 PM   #18
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Yes.
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Old 09-23-07, 07:00 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ccd rider View Post
I ask that you resist the temptation to submit any more than a yes or no response....no qualifiers or conditional feedback please. The question is:

Yes or no.....does a cyclist riding at night need something at least as bright/substantial as a Planet Bike Superflash or Dinotte to be safe?
Sorry, but the way you've constrained the question, there is no way to give a meaningful answer.

Now, if we were allowed qualifiers or conditional feedback...

A cyclist at night is safer with a taillight than without one -- usually by a large margin.

She is safer with a really good taillight than with a mediocre one, but how big a difference this makes depends strongly on the circumstances. On a foggy night with a new moon, far from city lights, on a curvy road with short sightlines and fast traffic, a powerful taillight will make a major difference (though it still won't substitute for good riding habits.) On a clear night with city streetlights, a full moon, and straight roads with long sightlines, it's not as important.

And because life is already complicated enough without trying to know in advance what road conditions and weather you'll be riding in, I would suggest buying the best lights you can find and keeping your batteries charged.
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Old 09-23-07, 07:26 PM   #20
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No.

There are lots of ways to do it. I usually run 3 blinkies in the winter, none the brands you mention, combined with reflective jacket, leg bands, tire sidewalls, and detailing on my panniers and frame. Sometimes it seems I get more passing room in the dark than during the day, and last winter I had two motorists on the same night compliment me on my visibility.
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Old 09-24-07, 08:54 AM   #21
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There are many rear lights equivalently bright at the ones mentioned in the OP. (Cateye LD-1000, Cateye LD500, Blackburn Mars 3.0, PB BRT-35)

There are many rear blinkies that are too dim to be safe with no other lighing/reflective gear. (Cateye LD100, Nashbar mini-light, bar-end LED lights, most single non-high power LED lights)

Al

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Old 09-24-07, 09:03 AM   #22
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yes
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Old 09-24-07, 09:15 AM   #23
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Yes.
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Old 09-24-07, 09:29 AM   #24
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noisebean, while the first batch of taillights you mention are some of the brighter ones on the market,

none of those are as bright as the PB Superflash or the Dinotte.
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Old 09-24-07, 09:35 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bekologist View Post
noisebean, while the first batch of taillights you mention are some of the brighter ones on the market,

none of those are as bright as the PB Superflash or the Dinotte.
They are within the same category of sufficient brightness. I ride with folks at night who have a range of this type of light and they are all sufficient to be visible when dark. I could not tell the difference between a PBSF and the Mars 3.0 from 100' back.

The later category is not sufficiently bright

I listed specific lights to clarify my orignal post where I reponded with a 'yes'

I own two PB SF, an LD-1000, bar end LEDs and an equivalent to the Nashbar mini light. I don't use the last two any more as they don't provide any addtional usefulness.

Al
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