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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 08-26-05, 07:02 PM   #1
New2Cycling
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Riding in the dark in mornings

Hey guys and gals!!

This board has been really helpful and inspiring to me as a new cyclist. I have a commute in which I will have to leave in the early morning, like 6. What would you all recommend for me to equip myself with? I'm not sure if it matters, but I drive a hybrid bike. Thank you.
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Old 08-26-05, 07:19 PM   #2
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Bright lights. See the total geekiness thread.
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Old 08-26-05, 07:25 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by New2Cycling
Hey guys and gals!!

This board has been really helpful and inspiring to me as a new cyclist. I have a commute in which I will have to leave in the early morning, like 6. What would you all recommend for me to equip myself with? I'm not sure if it matters, but I drive a hybrid bike. Thank you.
Assuming it will be dark, or low light, you need front and rear lights, minimum. LED lights are ok for the rear but a bright white light that illuminates the road is necessary on the front. You probably need to carry some spare batteries for them. And a loud bell or horn. Many cyclists might also put reflective strips on their bikes or clothes
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Old 08-26-05, 07:30 PM   #4
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Lights: I use a Cateye EL-110 or EL-500 battery powered headlight and an LD-600 red rear light or two. The EL-500 is about $50 which is not cheap but is about 1/10th of what some headlights cost. It works well enought for me.

Also a flashing light on the back of my helmet. 3M industrial Reflective tape on the the bike and on your helmet (assuming you wear one) helps too. Reflective cloths like vests can help as well.

I have read that a flashing light and a steady light together are best because it gets the drivers attention and gives a better idea of how far away you are.
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Old 08-26-05, 07:45 PM   #5
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LED lights are slowly getting brighter, and will eventually be as bright as 10w halogens. Until then, I will stick with my Cygo-Lite Night Rover Xtra 16w. It really is nice on my commute, especially when it's raining.

A good flashing red LED tail light on th erear. Make sure it uses cheaper AA or AAA batteries, not the expensive coin type.

Also, make sure your clothing has some good reflective striping, it'll help save your behind.
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Old 08-26-05, 08:41 PM   #6
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I use a Nite Rider dual beam. It's great because cars can see me as well as I can see the road. On a 30 minute commute, the battery should last about a week before you need a recharge, and the battery fits in the bottle cage. Any decent flashing LED should do you for the rear.
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Old 08-26-05, 08:48 PM   #7
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MY boss who is color blind passed me on the way to work the other morning. He said my reflective road vest from Lowes for $9 made me stand out more than my bright LED taillight that was flashing.

Yeah I think it looks dorky And I feel it is better to be alive dork then a flat x cyclist. Riding in the dark with people waking up, or still asleep while driving to work scares me. But I wouldn't change riding in the dark, I'll just do everything I can so that drivers see me.
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Old 08-26-05, 08:56 PM   #8
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I leave every morning at 5:30 am and I have the 10 LED cateye blinky and the cateye HL-EL500 headlight. I also have a few reflective stickers on my bike and my pannier and seat bag both have reflective areas on them. Havent had any people almost run me over yet! Theres hardly no cars this early anyway.
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Old 08-26-05, 09:30 PM   #9
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Get a flagman's vest, with lots of reflective crud on it. Put reflective tape on your rim, and on your helmet. Bright front light. The more you ride at night, the brighter you'll wish your light was. I finally caved and bought an HID from batteryspace.com; about $200 and worth every penny, though I built a halogen for last year for about $30, and a bright LED such as the cateyes mentioned, or the Planet Bike SuperSpot, can also work well. I've also found a Luxeon-based LED flashlight at WalMart that uses 3 AAA batteries; I zip-tied it to my helmet and it's surprisingly bright; brighter, in fact, than the Planet Bike superspot that's supposed to have the same LED; I think this must be overvoltaging the LED (which works fine, just reduces the lifetime by a few thousand hours).
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Old 08-26-05, 09:39 PM   #10
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oh, and one more thing. The farther your lights shine the faster you can ride.

Well I suppose you can ride as fast as you want. But if you are riding faster than your light shines, your reaction time to pot holes and such isn't very good.

Or you'll hit a road kill skunk like I did.
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Old 08-26-05, 11:53 PM   #11
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How much do you want to spend? I can tell you the cheap version because I'm cheap! My entire lighting system cost me $100 AND I have had motorist tell me how well they noticed me compared to others riding bikes and appreciated my lights.

The headlight is a Cygolite Metro dual beams with a total of 13 watts, but it's not everyones cup of tea because it runs off of 6 D batteries for up to 5 hours (either throwaways or rechargeables); I liked the idea because I'm not tied to a wall and can buy batteries anywhere should they go dead on a ride. The cost-$48. (You can option up to a CygoLite Night-Explorer with 25 watts and rechargeable battery for $100).

Next up front is a Vistalight Xenon amber flasher because bicycle headlights are too small in diameter to attract attention no matter how bright of a light you buy, so a flasher gets their attention; the cost-$12.

The rear taillight is the Cateye LD600 LED, very bright and visible from at least 180 degrees off center if mounted vertically; the cost-$20.

Next for the rear is a pair of barend plug lights, single bright LED that goes in the end of your bars; the cost-$18

Total cost for lights: $98 plus tax; if you option up for the brighter headlight your at $149.

I also use wide reflective leg bands-one on each leg, and have reflective striping on my seat bag and helmet...but reflectors do not work as well as lights, their just added safety.
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Old 08-27-05, 07:42 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Metieval
oh, and one more thing. The farther your lights shine the faster you can ride.

Well I suppose you can ride as fast as you want. But if you are riding faster than your light shines, your reaction time to pot holes and such isn't very good.

Or you'll hit a road kill skunk like I did.

Good call. We don't have too many skunk around here, but we do have a lot of squirrels.
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Old 08-27-05, 07:44 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by froze
How much do you want to spend? I can tell you the cheap version because I'm cheap! My entire lighting system cost me $100 AND I have had motorist tell me how well they noticed me compared to others riding bikes and appreciated my lights.

The headlight is a Cygolite Metro dual beams with a total of 13 watts, but it's not everyones cup of tea because it runs off of 6 D batteries for up to 5 hours (either throwaways or rechargeables); I liked the idea because I'm not tied to a wall and can buy batteries anywhere should they go dead on a ride. The cost-$48. (You can option up to a CygoLite Night-Explorer with 25 watts and rechargeable battery for $100).

Next up front is a Vistalight Xenon amber flasher because bicycle headlights are too small in diameter to attract attention no matter how bright of a light you buy, so a flasher gets their attention; the cost-$12.

The rear taillight is the Cateye LD600 LED, very bright and visible from at least 180 degrees off center if mounted vertically; the cost-$20.

Next for the rear is a pair of barend plug lights, single bright LED that goes in the end of your bars; the cost-$18

Total cost for lights: $98 plus tax; if you option up for the brighter headlight your at $149.

I also use wide reflective leg bands-one on each leg, and have reflective striping on my seat bag and helmet...but reflectors do not work as well as lights, their just added safety.

I'm a bit on the cheap side as well, so I'm definitely going to look into your suggestions.
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Old 08-27-05, 07:48 PM   #14
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My problem with riding at early AM dark..Not so much the dark , but fog..Can lighting systems overcome the fog...One item I like besides rear blinkies or a good dual beam light, are reflectizered straps about the ankles. Those give a cyclist away no matter how bright your lights are or aren't . That and bright clothes.
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Old 08-27-05, 09:55 PM   #15
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I use my bike like a car, so I spent more than an occasional rider would. My setup is : Niterider Storm
http://www.speedgoat.com/product.asp...=230&brand=351
Matching tailight
http://www.speedgoat.com/product.asp...=230&brand=351
Replacement bulbs
Mount
http://www.speedgoat.com/product.asp...=230&brand=351
300' of reflective pinstrip tape
Lightweight LED light <1lb
http://www.cygolite.com/light/products/14HiFlux200.htm
Tireflys, a case
http://www2.tireflys.com/
In case your wondering the $
Lights $800
Tailights $130
Pinstripe $80
Replacement bulbs $210
Mounts $70
Led Headlight $110
Tirefly's $110
It's alotta $ but I ride 7 days a week, avg about 160 a week. It's worth it.
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Old 08-27-05, 10:48 PM   #16
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Let's see...$800 for lights or $700 for better rims and $100 for lights.......thinking..........still thinking........this is going to take a few days to process, I'll have to get back to you.
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Old 08-27-05, 11:00 PM   #17
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$800 for lights????


Um how much does it cost to get set up with night vision? << would work until a car came along and shined his lights at you ...LOL
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Old 08-28-05, 07:59 AM   #18
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Quote:
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Lights $800...[snip]...It's alotta $ but I ride 7 days a week, avg about 160 a week. It's worth it.
I admit I was shocked. I spend $30 or $40 on some Cateye or similar product every year or two, usually because I forgot to remove a light at the parking rack and it got stolen, or I dropped it and broke it. Still, if I think about it, I ride to work 130 days/yr, and compared to taking the bus (which I use the other 70 or so days, I save about $520 CDN. So, I theoretically have that amount to spend on my bikes every year if I consider them purely as a business transportation expense. And, compared to if I bought a second family car and used that for my 5 mile commute (my wife is the main user of the one we have) I suppose I am saving $4000+ annually in gas, parking, insurance, maintenance, and interest/lease/depreciation. So when I factor those savings in, $800 for safe, reliable lighting on one's primary vehicle seems pretty affordable.
Of course the bikes are also recreational, so discretionary spending is available too.
Carless...how do you handle security...do you take the whole lighting setup inside with you when you park the bike?
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Old 08-28-05, 12:31 PM   #19
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$800 for lights????


Um how much does it cost to get set up with night vision? << would work until a car came along and shined his lights at you ...LOL
$800 is for 2 sets, I use one at a time. I used Night Vision in the army, not an option.
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Old 08-28-05, 12:37 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cooker
I admit I was shocked.
Carless...how do you handle security...do you take the whole lighting setup inside with you when you park the bike?
Robert
I use the Led light mounted to a spray painted, fixed gear bike for quick trips. I ride 20+ miles to work 2-3x a week and use the HID and bring it inside work. All the lights come off the bike <1 minute so it's really just be prepared for conditions.
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Old 08-29-05, 07:30 AM   #21
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I have used the Cateye Opticube. It has five white LED's and runs on four AA batteries. I had a pair of them attached to the handlebars. The mounting allows for a little left-right swivel, so I aimed them so they overlapped out in front of me. I thought they were very good, but they did cost $40 each. They dismount from the handlebar attachment so they can be taken inside.

Currently I use a homemade light. It is a 20-watt MR16 halogen bulb in a PVC pipe housing. It used to run on a 2.2 amp-hour battery in a seat pack, but I have added a homemade tail light and now run on a 5 amp-hour battery in a wooden box bolted to the bike at the water bottle mount. That's excessive; the small battery and some rear blinkies would be fine but I just like to make stuff. The 20-watt bulb is a thing of beauty on a dark morning and the whole setup, light, battery, charger, probably cost around $60. It competes with the expensive lights in brightness, but not in stylishness.
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Old 08-29-05, 08:10 AM   #22
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DOT class 2 safety vest in hiviz yellow. Aside from whatever lighting system you pick, a highway safety vest makes you more recognizable by motorists as a person on the road than any light setup on your bike can. I think it makes the drivers respect you more as a cyclist in some way, can't explain the tangibles behind that one, but it seems to be the case.
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Old 08-29-05, 08:11 AM   #23
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I know many cyclists have so much stuff on their handlebars.. They could use a dashboard. I find lights do not fit all that well, with the width of the wrap making it hard to attach a light around that girth...Do your lights fit conveniently about your speedmeter, etc.?
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Old 08-29-05, 08:55 AM   #24
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Re: fitting lights on handlebars. My handlebar is full, and also my handlebar bag would make it very difficult to fit lights. So I bought a Minoura Space Saver a couple of years ago. I've been very happy with it. The only complaint I have is that it whistles when wind hits it from a certain angle... that's actually funny.

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Old 08-29-05, 02:40 PM   #25
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For lights:
http://www.performancebike.com/shop/...TOKEN=37704918

For clothing:
http://www.alertshirt.com/xhaletshirt1.html
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