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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 02-26-05, 08:19 PM   #1
sswartzl
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Won't rear racks and bags block lights/reflectors?

I've been looking into the various things I'm going to need to obtain to begin commuting, and I'm wondering about how to carry work clothes and also keep the bike properly lit, as my morning commute occurs before sunrise for most of the year. It seems that a rear cargo rack and bag (I was just looking at the Delta Post Haste rack at Nashbar) would block any rear lights and reflectors mounted on the seat post. The description describes the use of "reflective piping", which would lead one to believe that it's intended to help with riding in the dark, but if it blocks the regular lighting equipment, that's not going to work. Are panniers the only real option?

Also, if anyone has suggestions on good bags or lights, that would be appreciated.
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Old 02-26-05, 08:38 PM   #2
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I was looking at REI yesterday, and saw some racks that had holes in the back for a light mount. I own a drill, so I modified my older rack and made a mount at home to put my rear blinkie on. At my local shop, either the Trek rack or the Specialized rack has a plastic insert with holes in the back to mount a light. The plastic insert has a big button that pushes in and the entire insert "quick releases", or slides out the back of the rack. I would recommend against putting your light on the back of your bag, since it can end up not pointing back, but at the ground, or sideways.
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Old 02-26-05, 08:50 PM   #3
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Panniers are the best option. They come off easily, they hold more, and they put the weight down where it belongs for the bike to handle well. Start off with one if you don't have a lot to carry.

As mentioned by Dchiefransom make sure your lights are mounted on the bike and are aimed horizontaly, it makes a huge difference.

Taillights compared side by side.......

cateye's new rear taillight review.
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Old 02-26-05, 09:36 PM   #4
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Why not attach your lights/reflectors to brackets mounted on the BACK END of the rack?

That's what I do; they don't get blocked that way. Just replace the flimsy mounting tabs/brackets with L-shaped repair plates from the hardware store; these look like a three-dimensional "L" with holes drilled at the ends for screws or bolts. Mount these plates to the rear of the rack through the mounting hole(s) (use a locknut so the bolt stays tight!). Then dismount your mounting bracket from the light, and bolt onto the mounting plate so that the light, when mounted, faces correctly (straight back). (Usually this requires your substitute bracket(s) to be turned so the vertically facing portion faces to the left or right of the centerline of the rack;the mounting bolt for the attached item will pass through side to side (a locknut is useful here too!). Just level the attached item before you tighten!!
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Old 02-26-05, 11:34 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Black Bud
Why not attach your lights/reflectors to brackets mounted on the BACK END of the rack?
An even more simple fix go to your LBS and ask for a reflector bracket like this.

Take the piece that I've indicated and remove it from the rest of the bracket. You can use the screws and nuts from this bracket to attach it to your rack using the vertical holes. (you'll find that they'll line up beautifully)

Remove the quick release portion of your light bracket and attach to the point shown in the diagram below.


This method works a LOT better than zip ties. I use this method on customer's bikes and have had no complaints


repost from Nov 04
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Old 02-26-05, 11:57 PM   #6
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I do what Black Bud and Raiyn do... back of rack, and using the plastic bracket bolted on.

I've also used a six-inch-long piece of narrow aluminium flat bar attached to the anchor bolt of the seat post, and with the plastic bracket attached along with the light. The arrangement becomes ineffective when using a trunk bag. However, is useful when I don't have a rack on and use a Brooks saddlebag.
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Old 02-27-05, 12:48 AM   #7
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I use a backpack to carry my stuff when I'm commuting. I have lights on the bicycle itself, and a small one attached to my backpack too. I've also got reflective stuff on my backpack.

As for panniers, I've got mine set up on my touring bicycle so that the lights shine in between the panniers and the wheel. I also tuck a couple lights into the mesh bottle holder at the back of the pannier, and I've got a light right at the back of my rack.
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Old 02-27-05, 05:26 AM   #8
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Chose a rack with a rear lamp mounting plate. You can get LED battery lamps (with large reflectors) that screw directly onto the plate. This is simple, solid and does not interfere with panniers.
You can mount reflectors onto the rear fender.
Commuter panniers should have some sort of extra reflective tape.
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Old 02-27-05, 07:04 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sswartzl
I've been looking into the various things I'm going to need to obtain to begin commuting, and I'm wondering about how to carry work clothes and also keep the bike properly lit, as my morning commute occurs before sunrise for most of the year. It seems that a rear cargo rack and bag (I was just looking at the Delta Post Haste rack at Nashbar) would block any rear lights and reflectors mounted on the seat post.
The Delta seatpost mounted rack doesn't block the light and reflectors if they are mounted on the rear of the rack. Here's a picture of my old commuter.

http://home.mindspring.com/~rhorne/Raleigh3.jpg

Here's a picture of the rack set-up on my present commuter.
http://home.mindspring.com/~rhorne/Jamis%20002.jpg
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Old 02-27-05, 07:18 AM   #10
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I have this problem with my older road bike...This bike has a rack that attaches to seat post and attaching it to the saddle post does not work because the wedgie is in the way...Tried attaching it to the straps in the pack but that is too unstable...
With this bike I wear ankle reflecterized ankle straps and a UFO light about another ankle...
The only thing I can figure is to attach some kind of clamp about the rack tubing....There once was a hole in the rack for a light to be attached to, but with vibration it apparently became stripped.
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Old 02-27-05, 08:51 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RonH
Here's a picture of the rack set-up on my present commuter.
http://home.mindspring.com/~rhorne/Jamis%20002.jpg
Ron, If I where you I would mount those Vistalites horizontally instead vertically. That way the LED's will look brighter, there will be more side visibility and there will be more reflection coming off the lens. Just a thought.
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Old 02-27-05, 09:22 AM   #12
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I sewed a pocket on to my panier made of mesh. It faces to the rear. I turn on the light and drop it into the pocket.

My problem was different, however. The light didn't mount anywhere and the plastic clip thing on the back of it broke. But it was a bright light that you can see blinking from any direction with a battery that lasts forever so I wanted to salvage it. I could have sewed a clear plastic pocket on, too, but the mesh was easy.
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Old 02-27-05, 09:35 AM   #13
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Thanks very much to all who have provided their thoughts. I now see that I have several workable options.
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Old 02-27-05, 10:14 AM   #14
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It won't matter one damn bit what you've got on your rack or
if they might block your lights if YOU are the brightest thing on
your bike in your lime green SAFETY VEST, mate.

That's right........your lime green safety vest like the police
and road crews wear. Vests work when little else will which is
why poilce,EMT's & road workers wear them. The company I
work for believes in them strongly enough to insist that all
bike commuters (all 10 and growing) wear them to hold down
their medical insurance cost to the point that any bike commuter
can ask for a free vest of their choice!!!!!!!
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Old 02-27-05, 11:47 AM   #15
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If you are using a bag and you think it is blocking your lights, not only reposition your lights, but add some stuff from the pet store. a reflective vest for a dog will cover any bag, and they have lights on collars that will position *around* any bag if needed.

second the recommendation that you get a Hi vis safety vest. won't ride without it.
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