Commuting - Low-Cost Lights
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01-14-05, 08:44 AM
I don't currently commute because I can walk everywhere on campus and home is a 2-hour drive away, but I'm going to start commuting to my good old summer job at Arby's after the end of the semester in May.
Problem is, I work nights, typically 10:00 or 11:00 PM until 5:00 AM. That means I'm going to need some lights for the ride there. What is the cheapest possible setup (be realistic...not a flashlight taped to my helmet) for me to be safe? Some characteristics of the ride:
Half rural with hardly any cars at all (especially at these times of the day)
Half state highway with consistent traffic, but great shoulder
About 12 miles (40 minute ride) one way
I don't need anything fancy. As long as cars can see me and I can see 2 or 3 feet ahead of me I'd feel comfortable. I know the roads pretty well.
01-14-05, 08:56 AM
Hey Usually at the end of winter/early spring the bike shops (especially Performance) unload their light inventories. Most bikers use lights in the winter. Wait a month or 2 beore you buy. I ride with a Performance helmet mounted View Point. I think 12W I paid 89.00 but you can get similar models cheaper...just wait a bit
The Cateye EL500 (LED headlight) is about $50. It's not great but you can see by it if you're not going too fast, and it has pretty good battery life. However, you have to factor in the cost of AA batteries -- either an up-front cost for rechargeable or ongoing for disposable.
There are cheaper LED headlights but they generally aren't bright enough to see the road.
For a tail light, any LED blinkie will do -- expect to spend about $20.
01-14-05, 09:33 AM
Here's something I'm planning to try:
Here's something I'm planning to try:
Ok that battery wieghs SIX POUNDS! I would use this one that weighs 1.7 lbs and cut the bulb wattage down to 10-15watts:
01-14-05, 02:12 PM
be realistic...not a flashlight taped to my helmet
Too bad...mag lite sells a headband for their mini-mag (2AA size) I know several commuters that use them strapped on their helmets.
I have a camping headband with an LED light that I strapped to my helmet. The light is adjustible and waterproof and can be switched between red and white. I paid $9 for it. The same light with a different band was available at the LBS for $24.
I like helmet lights because when you look at cars the light shines right at them assuring that they see me.
01-14-05, 08:32 PM
Get the Performance Bike and Bike Nashbar catalogues sent to you and look at the sale sections, it seems like there are almost always some good lights on sale.
01-15-05, 08:02 AM
Wally world has head lamps and auto parts stores have red blinkies that you can get for less than $25 total. There are much better lights, but if cost is huge factor....
I put all my lights on me, and most of my commute is 1)in the dark at least one way 2)well traveled roads 3)fairly clean roads. I might go for more wattage if it was darker...
01-15-05, 10:25 AM
I have a Planet Bike SuperSpot, 1 watt LED, it was about $30 at www.mec.ca. Part of my commute is on an unlit bike path, this light is adequate for that, easy on batteries too! For a rear blinkie, Radio Shack has a pretty good one for $5.
01-15-05, 12:10 PM
Has anyone tried this L-ion rechargeble battery. I have a Turbocat S15 (7.2V) light and I'm wondering if the battery will work w/ this light.
It seems very inexpensive compared to the off the shelf L-ion systems.
They also list a complete light set-up that looks interesting.
The Cateye opticube gives you some visibility in front of the bike for around 24 bucks (though you can get it cheaper on sale), but otherwise go with the "road rat" by Niterider (ca. 60 bucks) then you can really see.
If you're a geek and enjoy building things yourself, check out the "Total Geekiness" thread in this Commuting folder. Lots of good ideas there!
01-15-05, 06:24 PM
I agree on the Cateye TL-LD1000. I also agree checking on Nashbar.
This light is 5 Watts for $25: http://www.nashbar.com/profile.cfm?category=101&subcategory=1067&brand=&sku=8964
Think about getting a cheap $50 front light setup. This is one of the brightest for around $50: http://store.airbomb.com/Itemdesc.asp?ic=LT1026&link=qbike
01-15-05, 06:38 PM
I have a Cygolight Nightrover system. It was about $89 and works great! It has two lights a 6 watt and a 10 watt, or you can use both together. I ride a pitch black rails to trails during the week and I can see great. Running both lights at once I get about two hours on a charge. More if I only use one at a time.
01-15-05, 07:48 PM
Last year I got a Cat-eye EL-300 (5 LEDs) which wasnt quite bright enough, so this year I added a Planetbike Superspot 1W LED, which I mounted at the bottom of my fork. This arrangement has the Cateye giving the light further out and the Planet bike lighting the road for the 20' immediately in front of the wheel. Battery cost is low and both lights should run out at different times.
Here is what I use:
Cat Eye EL 500 - $30 on sale at Nashbar
Cat Eye TL 1000 - $25 on sale at Nashbar
Cat Eye EL 400 - Helmet - $25 on sale at Nashbar
Trek Disco Tech - Back of Helmet - $10 on sale at LBS
Add a cheap reflective vest and you’re lit up like a Christmas tree for about $100. After the first couple of sets of AA's, by some cheap rechargeable NiMh batteries at WalMart.I see you took some of those ideas I gave you to heart.:beer:
01-16-05, 11:25 AM
you can get the Performance brand FLare headlight and taillight, both for 32$. I am currently using this setup and it is really bright. Roadsigns/objects reflect the light up to 2 city block aways. In the suburbs where I live now I don't need a headlight to see the road so the headlight makes a good rapid flasher that can attract attention. The taillight is only 14 or 17$ if you wanted to just get that. The headlight makes a circle about 2 feet in diameter on the road but is not enough to light up the road and is just enough to get by really dark spots without running through glass and such.
I spend most of my night riding time on well-lit roads, and I'm sort of into aesthetics (even though my bikes are always in a certain state of disrepair). I'm going to be picking up some of those super-cheap tiny single LEDs from Nashbar soon. They just kind of rubber band themselves to anything, bike, human, whatever. They're 7 bucks for a red and white pair, so you could probably just hook up a ton of them. I have no idea what battery life is, though.
01-16-05, 02:28 PM
I had one of those generic tiny lights you mentioned with a planetbike 3 led taillight which I used to use and found that in bad weather the lights don't attract attention or get lost easily in well lit areas during rain at night.
01-16-05, 03:39 PM
Most of the existing taillights are poor. The technology has changed, the new lights are much brighter and easier to see than truck or car taillights. The new Cat eye TL-LD 1000 is a very good one, The pair of performance "Flare" front and back lights are amazing, they blind you if you look into them, You cannot get too close behind one. I think the pair is about $32.
I did a comparison of a few taillights and my car taillights, and posted pictures, the results are hard to believe until you see it yourself .
see post #30
01-17-05, 03:36 AM
If you're commuting, think about battery cost. Over a season, it pays to get a cheap rechargeable halogen instead, and a halogen will get you loads more light on your unlit stretches of road.
Rear LEDs? Anything big and steady is good. You may want two cheap ones rather than one humungous TLD-1000, in case one dies or flats out.
Sounds like a dynamo or dynohub light might be an option for you. Probably enough light, and no hassle with batteries (rechargeable or not). Do a search, there are already many threads discussing these. Or go see http://www.peterwhitecycles.com/lightingsystems.htm for a quick overview.
01-18-05, 12:18 AM
I've heard Laseredge cited a number of times on this forum (http://www.bicyclelights.com/index.html). Their products are very reasonably priced and the construction seems fairly solid.
I am considering their helmet mounted light for trail riding after the weather warms up a bit.
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