Commuting - Afraid of the dark!
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If this is the wrong place to post this I apologize...
I am one of those noob overweight part time hybrid commuters that everyone complains about. I live 24 miles or so from work and drive down the hill and ride the remaining 18.5 miles to work once a week. This week I will be doing that ride twice. My goal it to be able to make the ride 3 or more times a week and be able to handle the large hill on the way home so I don't have to drive part way.
For me to be in the office for my 7am meeting I need to be on the bike by 5am so I have time to cool down, shower and change. In the Seattle area it has been pretty light out at that time, but I think I really need to consider getting some lights. As summer turns into fall I will be spending more and more time in the dark.
I have a cateye ld1100 on my seatbag and a amber lightman led that I have on my backpack. What I need is a light(s?) for the front. It looks like led lights are the way to go. I also see that several people suggest using flashlights. I have surefire flashlights and others of similar design but they don't seem like they would be bright enough for riding in the dark at 20mph.
I am trying to figure out the pro/con of bar mount vs helmet mount (or do I really want both?) I am not the kind of person that can order $10 worth of parts get out a solder iron and turn it into a wonderful lighting system so I will need to buy something turnkey. Do I want a Lion battery or pack or should i get the kind that run on AAs and get a charger or two. I see Dinotte and Cygolite mentioned quite a bit but am not sure if I should be looking at a L200, a L600, a combo of them, or the triden-x or trion600 or? What lights and features should I be looking for?
Ten miles of the commute is on a non urban MUP so it is pretty dark, and the rest of the ride is either on city streets or an urban MUP.
07-23-08, 03:02 PM
There are tons of options out there, so it would help to know how much you are willing to spend.
07-23-08, 03:09 PM
Ruckin, check your messages. I'm upgrading my lighting system and getting rid of my old equipment.
Lights really are an issue of just choosing your budget.
"bright enough" is a highly subjective thing.
Personally, I prefer bike-mounted lights for the commute.
07-23-08, 03:39 PM
I never complained about any overweight part time hybrid commuters, at least not ones in Seattle.
But seriously - a lot depends on how often you ride in dark conditions. I use a $20 front/back planet bike set, that takes AA. If they start to go dead half way to work it's not that big of a deal. I don't depend on my lights to see my way, just to be seen.
So I'm thinking you should get a fairly decent bike mount light that takes batteries, just to see how it goes. If you find you really need more light then you will be able to make a more informed choice before you drop some major $$$'s.
Also if you're going to be regularly riding for long periods in the dark, you might consider a generator run lighting system. They have their pros and cons to consider, but they should take the guesswork out of battery lifespan.
I use a battery-powered light that I really like (CygoLite NiteRider, if memory serves), but I have, on occasion, guessed wrong about how much battery is left and found myself riding home in the dark. But since my commute is only 6 miles, most with supplemental street lights, I wasn't too worried about it. Combine that with the fact that I only bike after dark once or twice a week, and my current solution mostly works. Even so, what I'm hoping to do is switch to generator lights and move the CygoLite to my helmet.
I've never used a helmet-mounted light before, so I can't give you first hand info, but having the light shine exactly where you're looking seems like a good idea, but then having light shining where the bike is going is always a good idea, too. And part of the function of your headlight is to let other vehicles know where you are, so if your only light is one that pivots with your head, it could create confusion about exactly where you are and which direction you're traveling. If I was going to pick one light, I'd go with a bike-mounted light, but it seems like a helmet-mounted light would be a good supplement.
07-23-08, 03:46 PM
Also if you're going to be regularly riding for long periods in the dark, you might consider a generator run lighting system.
Precisely the upgrade I'm finishing up. SON28 wheel (already built up) and a Supernova E3 light scheduled for delivery on Monday. :D
07-23-08, 04:03 PM
If you've got Surefire and other flashlights, I'd recommend getting a couple $15 bike mounts from Fenix and trying those, if the lights are your basic 1" or so tube. I don't know what lights you have, but a surefire e2e is 80 lumens, and pretty bright, and you already own it. You'd chug through batts pretty quickly if you had it one 100% of your commute, but if you need it only for part, and until you work out how much light you really want to pay for it would be a cheap way in. The bike mounts are pretty flexible and well designed, so one or two isn't a bad investment - they could be used for all kinds of things really.
I have a pair of Fenix L2D's along with a Dinotte L200, and either seems pretty viable option, although I've not ridden with either in really dark conditions. That said, 2 fenix's along with mounts is less than the Dinotte, more flexible. You could remove one to use as a flashlight for repairs, camping, whatever, etc. You can also aim them in sightly different directions to be more effective. But, you have two lights to turn on, mount, unmount, etc.
To echo other advice given, it really seems like all bike accessories are very subjective. I'm finding that I'm ending up with more than one of just about everything because try as I might to pick the right thing first, experience is really the best education.
I guess that I have not really figured out my budget yet. I love my surefire lights (both led and non led) but they would eat me alive in battery costs for my commute into work. For the next few weeks I will be borrowing my brothers light & motion hid light and see how I like it.
Hopefully that will give me an idea about how much light I want. From there I can start looking at led lights...or I might tell my brother he can't have his light back :)
I guess my price range would be the lupine betty at the high end but I would need to be convinced that it is that much better than something like the dinotte L600. It would also be a bonus to be able to look at the light in person before I buy it.
07-23-08, 06:39 PM
I just got a Cygolite Dual Cross 200 and really like it for trail riding. I had been using an LED light that uses four AAA bateries before that and found it okay for riding on pavement, but not nearly bright enough in the woods.
07-23-08, 06:47 PM
I have been commuting on/off for the last 10 years, but quite alot in the last year (3-5/week). Currently I am using various planet bike "to be seen" red lights on my bike along with a Brunton hiking/adventure headlamp. It is a 3 watt LED that you can put either 4 AA's on the band, or use it with 4 C batteries in a batterpack that can go in a Camel/backpack. It burns for 140 hours (no, I am not kidding) on high. Most of the time I use it on blinking mode which gets even more burn time, but when on dark sections of my commute I can easily see where I am riding. I originally bought it for a MTB headlight that I knew would never burn out, but it is really not bright enough for that, however it is the perfect light for commuting and road work. On blinking mode, I can see 5-6 small blocks worth of street signs reflecting back and people have told me they see me a mile away. Let me know if you are interested. I included the below link to their website and they list at $150.00, but I can get you one at 20% off of that. Looking for a ridiculous light for MTB, look at Trail Tech's SCMR16 (sorry, no connections on that one)
07-23-08, 07:16 PM
I really like my cateye el530 front light. If I were to get another light it might get a Fenix L2D since those seem to be highly recommended.
my current set up for night time urban riding is: cateye el530 and tl1100, knog frogs as extra lighting/backup, and sometimes I'll wear a petzl tikka head lamp if i'm feeling extra dorky. :)
07-23-08, 07:25 PM
Shameless plug- you can buy my Niterider Trinewt (http://gearreview.com/LEDs08_trinewt_images.php) which was used only for a month or so as it won't fit both my bikes. I'm asking $250.
07-23-08, 07:31 PM
Hey, if he wants to pay full price that is ok too. I am not selling my own personal one as I love it. I sell them and think they happen to be great. If it is a shamelss plug....ok maybe it is, but I just love to get people out there doing what I am doing and don't think you need to spend the high prices that others pay for Dinotte and the like. Unless you are MTB'ing, you do not need insane light. Just light that lasts long, lets you see when you need it, and especially lets you be seen. Most people focus on bike specific lights, where I tend to look to other alternatives as they seem to be better and cheeper...hence the Brunton and Trail Tech lights (ATV specific).
I commute home after 11pm every night .. I'd purchased a cygolite rover II led system where teh battery sits in the water bottle holder . .got it at rei (http://www.rei.com/product/766941) who happen to have it 20% off right now. But i like this system at this point ..plus have one of the planet bike lights for the rear lights .. thinkin i'll be picking up a 2nd .. the super flasher, or what ever its called, sometime soon
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