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  1. #1
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    Rules for mounting fender tail light?

    Getting ready to mount Spanninga tail light to rear fender.
    Any rules for height/angle placement along fender, etc.

    Thanks for any tips.

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    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    I fitted mine so as to have the support of the mudguard strut under it.. directly
    or using the stainless steel strips used on many rear racks [so shops have bins of them]

    bolted 1 end thru the steel support piece for the struts [Esge chomoplast] and then bolted the light to it ,
    with the stainless strip, cut and bent in the curve, inside the plastic fender.

    A rule? have the reflector at an angle to where headlights will make you visible,, ahead..

  3. #3
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    AFAIK, there are no legal requirements for it's mounting but you do want it high enough and angled properly so motorists can see it and you do want the mount solid enough to protect it from vibration.

    Also, in the US, you can use it in flashing mode but some European countries restrict you to a steady light.

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    Senior Member mprelaw's Avatar
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    The only rule that I'm aware of for rear lights/reflectors is that they have to be visible from a certain distance---commonly 500'. But it may vary from state to state.

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    S'Cruzer pierce's Avatar
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    i mounted my tail blinky on the back of my rack rather than on the fender. I used a NiteRider Cherry Bomb 1 Watt, which is bright as all heck. I've found adding even a little weight to the fender can cause it to rattle on bumps, and i hate rattly bikes. to mount what was nominally a seat post lamp onto the fender, I used a small right angle metal bracket (about 1cm x 2cm) that I screwed to the bracket (using stainless 'nylock' hardware), and I took apart the NR's plastic bracket, and screwed the part that the NR clips into to said metal bracket with a small self tapping sheet metal screw (also stainless). came out quite nicely. you can see it here, but I've since flipped it back to horizontal.


  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by lungimsam View Post
    Getting ready to mount Spanninga tail light to rear fender.
    Any rules for height/angle placement along fender, etc.

    Thanks for any tips.
    Rules??. Just common sense, you want it mounted so it points backward, not skyward. Anyplace between 3 and 4 o'clock is fine. Close to a brace probably supports the weight better with less vibration on bumps.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
    Rules??. Just common sense...
    True but there are so many rules and regulations covering vehicles that the fact there aren't any particular legal requirements for bicycle lighting is somewhat surprising. There are in Europe.

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    Quote Originally Posted by HillRider View Post
    True but there are so many rules and regulations covering vehicles that the fact there aren't any particular legal requirements for bicycle lighting is somewhat surprising. There are in Europe.
    I don't know about PA, but there are rules in New York, (and, I'm sure, in most other states) and even some federal rules. For the most part bikes are regulated by states, and rules vary, but don't tend to be overly detailed. I believe (haven't had cause to recheck in decades) that NY requires a rear facing red taillight, visible at a certain distance, but doesn't get too specific beyond that. BTW- in NY bicycle light rules only apply if ridden between dusk and dawn.

    Een then rules are enforced only very loosely. I illegally use a blue strobe (reserved for police) taillight on my commuter, because it commands the most attention at the greatest distance. I've had a few conversations with police about it, and every time they commented that an illegal tail light was better than no tail light.
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  9. #9
    S'Cruzer pierce's Avatar
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    this funky coastal town is full of folks riding ancient rat bikes with no reflectors, no lights, and dark clothing at night. eeek. often heavily loaded ancient mountain bikes being ridden by hobos-er-'homeless' types with everything they own on board. many of these people belong in a mental care home, not on the streets.

  10. #10
    Senior Member southpawboston's Avatar
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    I've seen a lot of fender taillights mounted too low for my tastes. I like to mount them above the stay, and high enough so that the LED is aimed *slightly* above horizontal (LEDs are directional). Here a couple of Spanningas I've mounted on my own bikes to give you an idea:




  11. #11
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    OK, thanks, y'all.
    My confusion was in that I read an article that said the LED had to be exact height as drivers' eyes, and that was a headscratcher for me to figure out how one would mount a tail light so high on a fender.

    I will mount it right over the stay for support.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Road Fan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lungimsam View Post
    OK, thanks, y'all.
    My confusion was in that I read an article that said the LED had to be exact height as drivers' eyes, and that was a headscratcher for me to figure out how one would mount a tail light so high on a fender.

    I will mount it right over the stay for support.
    I don't know if that's a regulation anywhere, but I think there is some logic to it. Did the article say why that was recommended?

  13. #13
    Senior Member Road Fan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HillRider View Post
    True but there are so many rules and regulations covering vehicles that the fact there aren't any particular legal requirements for bicycle lighting is somewhat surprising. There are in Europe.
    Europe and Japan have very different governmental structures for road and infrastructure management. In Japan all roads, signage, rulemaking and enforcement are done by one body nationally.

    In Europe that's essentially the case nation by nation, with a set of harmonization agreements for key provisions managed by the EU political structure. Usually they will defer to a nation that has created a comprehensive and intelligent law, such as to Germany for the bicycle headlamp law.

    In the USA we have multiple levels of government, all limited. We have a federal authority (DOT) that does not even have uniform levels of authority within its branches. For example NHTSA's regulations (Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards) apply with national rigidity to light road vehicles. This should include "pedalcycles" as they charmingly call us, but in reality they are driven by Congress and by crash/fatality data, with the squeekiest wheel getting the grease. As concerned as we are with cyclist and pedestrian injury and fatality, it's seen as a small part of the overall 30,000 to 35,000 annual total for traffic fatality.

    NHTSA does have a strong standard for automotive headlights, but it doesn't address bicycles. Nighttime forward crashes are a subset of pedalcyclist crashes, which are in turn a small subset of overall traffic safety. Intersection and run-off-road collisions still tot up as much more injurious and deadly than car-bike collisions.

    States may step in where the Feds "fail to tread," and if motivated by public demand could impose regulations. But how would these bocome harmonized so that, for example, residents of KC, Missouri could bike legally in KC, Kansas? Interstate harmonization is the task of Congress, and right now we don't really have them engaged on cycleing.

    Lower levels of government may in some states step in, but in some cases state laws (example: some of the state laws in MI assert that local bodies may not modify them locally) prevent localities from say, adopting the German headlight standard just based on its clarity and depth of research behind it.

    The US and Canada keep things more or less consistent by Canada "re-branding" many of the US rules and regulations. But Canada is made up of Provinces that do not always wish to take direction from Ottawa, there are indigenous peoples granted large degrees of authority, and there are still very significant linguistic issues in the country. As in the USA, there are bigger fish to fry at the federal level.

    When you look at the legislative complexity in the USA, it should be surprising we have agreed on anything as a nation, rather than be surprised we do not have a national standard for bike lighting.

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    I put mine on the metal fender mount.
    It is very exposed to bashing, unlike the much better under-rack bracket location.
    I ran an LED rear lamp directly from a rear dynamo (ie in parallel with a front lamp). When the front lamp suffers a break in the circuit, all the power is routed to the rear which can blow an expensive LED lamp or the cheap bulb of an old fashioned lamp. I now run my rear lamps from the power-out tabs of my modern front lamp.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelW View Post
    I ran an LED rear lamp directly from a rear dynamo (ie in parallel with a front lamp). When the front lamp suffers a break in the circuit, all the power is routed to the rear which can blow an expensive LED lamp or the cheap bulb of an old fashioned lamp. I now run my rear lamps from the power-out tabs of my modern front lamp.
    I don't understand this. If the headlight and tail light are wired in parallel, they see the same voltage all the time and failure of the headlamp won't increase the voltage or power to the tail light.

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    Bicycle Commuter Bluish Green's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lungimsam View Post
    OK, thanks, y'all.
    My confusion was in that I read an article that said the LED had to be exact height as drivers' eyes, and that was a headscratcher for me to figure out how one would mount a tail light so high on a fender.

    I will mount it right over the stay for support.
    LEDs are likely more effective in individual cases if mounted close to the driver's eye height, but there is pretty significant variability in drivers' eye heights. A driver of a big rig truck will be several feet higher than a car driver. Even within light vehicles, you have pretty big differences between pickup/suv's and sports cars.

    Keeping any state regulations in mind, mount your lights where they are likely to be most effective. At that point, you are safer than 99% of your fellow cyclists.

  17. #17
    S'Cruzer pierce's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HillRider View Post
    I don't understand this. If the headlight and tail light are wired in parallel, they see the same voltage all the time and failure of the headlamp won't increase the voltage or power to the tail light.

    unless the system is poorly designed and the headlight is dropping the output voltage of the generator.... but such a system would also be totally speed dependent, any /modern/ LED dynamo system should be regulated so the max voltage is developed at a fairly low RPM, and at higher RPMs, the voltage is regulated so the load on the dynamo is constant rather than linear.

  18. #18
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    but (E6,Edelux)I have a plug in the back of my headlight , for the hot lead,
    and a lug around the mounting bolt for the cold/ground lead, which works thru the headlight ,
    suggests series rather than parallel wiring .. [E6 headlights as a 2 light setup,
    are in series, the secondary is on or pass through, not off ..]

    even if the mount is an insulator, to the frame, such as the Nylon ones..

    I have a Spanninga 2AAA battery taillight on my mudguard, battery EU made so no Blinking..

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    and a lug around the mounting bolt for the cold/ground lead, which works thru the headlight ,
    suggests series rather than parallel wiring ....
    If they are wired in series, a failure of the headlight would shut off the tail light, not overpower it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by HillRider View Post
    I don't understand this. If the headlight and tail light are wired in parallel, they see the same voltage all the time and failure of the headlamp won't increase the voltage or power to the tail light.
    Recently ran into the same issues. I purchased a headlight and tail light and did not want to power the tail light off the connector on the headlight housing as my dynamo is off the rear axle and I didn't want to run two wires the length of the bike. I emailed Peter White's shop before ordering the units but received no answer. Eventually I assumed I could figure it out myself if I had to, so eventually just made the order. Turns out that the headlight unit can not be opened up to see if it is just a common power bus inside or if there is a regulator circuit that feeds a lower wattage to the tail light. I emailed his shop again after the units arrived but have received no answer for about 10 days so far. The fact that the German produced units come without instructions and no wiring or circuit diagrams certainly doesn't aid the affair.

  21. #21
    S'Cruzer pierce's Avatar
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    yeah, you need to be careful messing with high brightness LEDs. they are usually actively managed by a current regulator chip, and if that chip is in the battery module and the actual LED is external to that module, then you really can't power that LED off a different source, without proving a suitable control circuit. this is particularlly true of the superbright white ones, which might draw as much as 3 amps per LED, at a relatively low voltage of 3-4V. if the current isn't limited by modulating the voltage (or pulse width modulation), then the LED will draw TOO much current and burn itself out quickly.

  22. #22
    Senior Member Road Fan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HillRider View Post
    I don't understand this. If the headlight and tail light are wired in parallel, they see the same voltage all the time and failure of the headlamp won't increase the voltage or power to the tail light.
    If the dyno is an ideal voltage source, yes, you'd see all the voltage all the time. Ideal voltage sources have zero internal resistance, but generators have a lot ov copper wire and when current flows voltage decreases with length of wire. If more current flows, more voltage loss occurs.

    Your headlamp needs something like 4 times the current the taillight needs. Assume the headlight and taillight are connected in parallel. If the headlamp fails to an open circuit, 80% of the voltage dropped across the internal wiring ceases to drop, and the terminal voltage (which is what the taillight alone now sees) rises , maybe a few volts depending on the design of the dynamo. This increased voltage causes the taillight to draw more current. Heating = more power drawn from source = Voltage times current, so a 50% increase in voltage leads to a (1.5^2) or (3^2/2^2 = 9/4 increase in power consumption (Assuming the taillight has minimal electronics and behaves like an ideal resistor) by the taillight. Depending on the design of the taillight, this can kill it.

    You are now all trained as electrical power engineers!
    Last edited by Road Fan; 12-31-12 at 01:02 PM.

  23. #23
    Senior Member Road Fan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HillRider View Post
    If they are wired in series, a failure of the headlight would shut off the tail light, not overpower it.
    Yes, but I bet they are wired in parallel.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Road Fan View Post
    Yes, but I bet they are wired in parallel.
    I'd bet that way too but fietsbob's posting suggested series wiring an I found that unlikely.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Road Fan View Post
    Yes, but I bet they are wired in parallel.
    Bike lights have to be wired in parallel because otherwise a change in the wattage of one bulb would change the voltage delivered to the other. That means that a tail light wouldn't be optional, and it would have to have a very specific wattage.

    As others said, parallel wiring doesn't solve all problems because the load is so high compared to the generator's internal wiring. But a voltage regulator in the circuit, using a battery as a buffer makes this workable for LEDs.

    Those of who used generator lighting before solid state voltage regulators remember the bad old days when speeding down hill with a dead taillight would instantly kill off the headlight.
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