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Old 09-11-17, 10:08 AM   #1
noglider 
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Spare headlight

I see a lot of people here carry a spare headlight in case the main headlight fails. Not a scientific poll, but who here does not do this, and why?

My main commuter bike has a dynamo powered headlight, and it pretty much never fails. It has a dynamo powered tail light, and I also use a battery powered tail light, and I ALSO use a battery powered spoke light, so I have quite a bit of redundancy in tail lights.

Sometimes I commute on my racing bike, so I use a USB-rechargeable headlight. I try -- and usually succeed -- to remember to charge it while at work, and it rarely lets me down.

I guess terrain is a factor. I have a 13-mile route, but most of it is not with motor traffic, so if my headlight fails, I'm not in great danger. My way is lit the whole way except for a few tiny spots where street light coverage doesn't reach. Also, my route is not hilly, so I don't reach high speeds.
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Old 09-11-17, 10:40 AM   #2
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I do not carry a spare.

I use two headlights as a matter of practice and so there is redundancy but one is not a spare. Both are in use all the time.

An Exposure Strada 1200 is on the GPS mount as a main light and a Light & Motion Vis 360+ is on my helmet for additional lighting aimed as need dictates.

I would just pedal home slowly if both failed. I could stash the bike in the woods and walk home if it came down to it.


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Old 09-11-17, 11:46 AM   #3
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I carry a small spare headlight on longer brevets and have never had to use it. Otherwise I only have one light.
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Old 09-11-17, 11:54 AM   #4
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I don't have back up lights; I use multiple lights. For better visibility; mine and other road users.
I prefer to run lights on my handlebars & helmet. If I can only have one front light; I like helmet mounted.
Lights on my Brompton by 1nterceptor, on Flickr
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Old 09-11-17, 12:04 PM   #5
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I recall reading Paris Brest Paris Brevet Requires that.. I have a hub dynamo set up on 3 bikes. Brompton M3L.
Its a fork crown light and a Busch & Muller toplight line in place of the rear reflector.

but I don't live in Metro Gotham City either..
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Old 09-11-17, 12:41 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 1nterceptor View Post
I don't have back up lights; I use multiple lights. For better visibility; mine and other road users.
I prefer to run lights on my handlebars & helmet. If I can only have one front light; I like helmet mounted.
Lights on my Brompton by 1nterceptor, on Flickr
Same here
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Old 09-11-17, 01:19 PM   #7
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I recall reading Paris Brest Paris Brevet Requires that..
AFAIK, they don't. Many longer randonneuring events in the U.S. do, 300km and up. The inspector at PBP gave me no end of trouble because I had a spare dyno light on the bike as a spare, but making it work was going to be an exercise in re-wiring. Not sure what the French word for "spare" is, "plus?" I just got new lights and being superstitious.

I have a spare battery headlight and taillight on my dyno-equipped road bike. I use the battery headlight to augment the dyno light sometimes, do the same with my helmet light
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Old 09-11-17, 01:42 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noglider View Post
I see a lot of people here carry a spare headlight in case the main headlight fails. Not a scientific poll, but who here does not do this, and why?
My commuter has a SON dynamo and home-made headlight and taillight. Because everything will eventually break, I do bring a small LED headlight powered by 4AA nimh cells. To a large degree, it's like carrying an umbrella as a way of warding off rain. Haven't needed to rely on the battery headlight... yet.

I also carry a little Petzl headlamp (i.e. a lamp that you wear on your head) to provide light when fixing a flat at night. Haven't had to rely on this yet either.


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Old 09-11-17, 03:27 PM   #9
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Yup, my Serfas SL-255 has been my backup headlight since last year when a Light & Motion Urban 500 became my main headlight. I usually mounted the Serfas to the head tube, switching between two hybrids. I rarely ride the road bike more than 50 miles per session so I haven't needed a backup light on it.

The Serfas SL-255 uses a pair of regular AA batteries, carbon, alkaline or rechargeables. Replacement batteries are available everywhere, and I'd often keep a spare pair in the saddlebag on my hybrids.

At 255 lumens it's reasonably bright enough for a backup. More of a spotlight than flood so it's actually better suited to the narrow MUP to avoid annoying other users, but not ideal for most conditions.

Unfortunately I broke the strap recently by carelessly overtightening it. I need to buy a replacement. The old style Serfas strap uses a rubber that doesn't stretch much and a cam lever that can exert a lot of force. I was in too much of a hurry to adjust it appropriately and tore through the retainer strap. But it took a lot of abuse to do that, so it's not inherent to the design if the tension is set appropriately.

And the strap can be set correctly once and left on the bike. It has a really good quick release -- a shoe with a retaining latch -- to slide out the light and take it with me. Makes a pretty good flashlight too, brighter than my huge older Maglites, although not quite as effective as a persuader when used at velocity.

I may buy another entire SL-255, along with a backup strap, so I'm not swapping one light between bikes. It's a good value when on sale for around $25. Above that price, there are lots of USB lights that are better values.
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Old 09-11-17, 06:18 PM   #10
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I have a small headlamp which I can use:
1. If I break down, to see what I'm doing,
2. As a forward lamp with low, high and flashing modes,
3. As a red tail lamp with solid or flashing modes.

It's USB chargeable, so I can charge it off the dynohub whilst riding if necessary.
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Old 09-11-17, 08:02 PM   #11
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My car has two headlights plus marker lamps.
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Old 09-11-17, 10:14 PM   #12
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I use 18650-powered flashlight as the headlight and carry spare fully-charged 18650 batteries.
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Old 09-11-17, 10:29 PM   #13
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I have a CREEE based lamp. I think I've only had one lamp fail due to a power cord coming loose. Oh, and I had one get stolen (and moved the rear taillight to the bars and went with visibility only lighting).

I don't carry a spare lamp, but I do try to carry a spare battery pack, but I think my current battery pack lasts several times the length of my average ride. Waterproof battery packs are handy, or at least putting the battery pack in a plastic bag.
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Old 09-12-17, 05:24 AM   #14
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My lights and small fleet are seem to be in a constant state of change. The primary daily commuter is currently equipped with dual rear red LEDs and single front dynamo light. I like to have redundancy in front and back. Having just removed and given away to my son 4x18650 type lights. Currently looking for redundancy and flexibility. I am going to try some low end USB rechargeable LED lights.
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Old 09-12-17, 06:33 AM   #15
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Only twice have I needed a spare headlight which I did not have. Once because I forgot to charge my headlight and it died 1 mile from home. The other is when I dropped my headlight walking out to my bike and it "broke" meaning that the battery connection inside the light came undone. I did not have a small enough allen with me to open it up nor did I even think about that, just thought it broke. Caught a ride home with a co-worker that night. Still to this day just use one head and one taillight for my commutes and late rides.
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Old 09-12-17, 09:34 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noglider View Post
I see a lot of people here carry a spare headlight in case the main headlight fails. Not a scientific poll, but who here does not do this, and why?

My main commuter bike has a dynamo powered headlight, and it pretty much never fails. It has a dynamo powered tail light, and I also use a battery powered tail light, and I ALSO use a battery powered spoke light, so I have quite a bit of redundancy in tail lights.
"Pretty much never" isn't never.

I had a dynamo light failure when I neglected to disconnect the cable removing the wheel to free a piece of plant that was rubbing annoyingly on the light and the terminal pulled off. 60 miles from home that would be really bad.

So I have a B&M Ixon IQ Premium with a set of NiMh AA batteries installed but can run off alkaline batteries from any 24 hour grocery/convenience store.

Last edited by Drew Eckhardt; 09-12-17 at 09:56 PM.
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Old 09-12-17, 11:21 PM   #17
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I only carry a spare in situations where there's no other backup plan. These days with uber/lyft if I ended up stranded I can pay to get picked up without it being horribly expensive. Half the time I could still bike home with no front light, just a little slower and more carefully.

With mountain biking it's very different, after some "how the heck am I not back yet, am I going to be stranded??" once, I carry at least 1 backup light. The Fenix BC21R is the smallest (counting all the parts including the mount) backup light I've found that puts out decent light:


Battery if a standard lithion size and user replaceable, don't have to replace the whole light to replace the battery.
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Old 09-13-17, 08:10 AM   #18
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I do but it's very small. It's about thumb sized, 2 LEDs on top of my helmet. It's just enough to see by. It's amazing how little light you need to see by in an emergency.

I've had my headlight fail on me in the past. Once it was in the middle of nowhere. Absolutely pitch black, 2 miles from even the nearest house. I literally could not see the ground just standing there, couldn't walk down the gravel road without tripping in a pothole and couldn't ride without going into a ditch. I got out by removing my taillight, putting it on steady red and going home slowly holding it in my hand. I also have my EDC flashlight in my bag these days (that last was before the days of good LEDs and being able to get a decent flashlight that is the size of a AA cell, so I wasn't carrying a flashlight all the time then).

I don't understand people who don't have a flashlight or two and a multitool in their pocket at all times so I'm probably an outlier here.

ANYTHING can fail. It's trivial to have a flashlight in my bag and I'd have it anyway.
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Old 09-13-17, 01:28 PM   #19
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In addition to my headlight, I have a small turtle led on my helmet. I sometimes turn it on at night to read my computer, or during the day in tunnels. Makes a reasonable backup.
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Old 09-13-17, 01:55 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Drew Eckhardt View Post
"Pretty much never" isn't never.

I had a dynamo light failure when I neglected to disconnect the cable removing the wheel to free a piece of plant that was rubbing annoyingly on the light and the terminal pulled off. 60 miles from home that would be really bad.

So I have a B&M Ixon IQ Premium with a set of NiMh AA batteries installed but can run off alkaline batteries from any 24 hour grocery/convenience store.
Right, well our conditions are big factors in how important a spare is. As I said earlier, my route is lit along the way, so I can see, though not as well if I don't have a headlight. And since only a small fraction of my route is with motor traffic, it's really not a disaster if I don't have a headlight. Not only that, I don't have any big hills. If I were moving at 30 mph, a very bright headlight would be important, but I'm not. Modern headlights have enabled certain kinds of night riding that weren't possible before. Here in NYC, you didn't see lights on any bikes until recent years. That was never a good idea, but it was how it was. I was among those light-less people, and if I find myself light-less again, I'll survive.

My dynamo powered headlight has truly never failed. Twice my dynamo powered tail light failed, and both times it was because a wire fell out, and that was easy to diagnose and fix.
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Old 09-13-17, 06:16 PM   #21
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An ideal all-purpose backup light might be the Blackburn 2'Fer. Not optimal for much of anything (although it's an ideal helmet light), it's small, lightweight and versatile. Red and white modes, flashing and steady.

Skip the supplied mount to save weight and bulk and stash it in a pocket. It'll clip onto a belt, backpack or shoulder bag strap, shirt collar, hat, saddlebag light strap, etc.

It's barely adequate as a to-see front light. It's a non-directional flood. I've used it that way a few times and it was adequate for getting home at 8-10 mph. Mostly it lit up reflective objects -- lane markers, cars, signs, animals -- just enough to navigate by carefully.

The 2'Fer is best as a to-be-seen helmet light. That's how I've used mine for a couple of years. It's also excellent for nighttime use lighting up the bike for repairs, flats, consulting a paper map, etc.

Only real shortcoming I can find is the 2'Fer doesn't run nearly as long or as bright as the Cygolite Hotshot 50. If Cygolite introduced a white/red flashing/steady version of a Hotshot I'd jump on it as an all around and backup light. But the Hotshot is a bit bulkier than the 2'Fer and not really pocket sized.

The price has come down since the $25 price for one in 2015, then $45/pair of 2'Fers in 2016. So I may grab another since I'm guessing Blackburn is about to discontinue the 2'Fer.

Or Blackburn may intend to continue the original 2'Fer and offer the brighter 2'Fer XL as an alternative. The 200 lumen front should be a bit better for navigating home in a pinch, although it's still a non-directional light.

Last edited by canklecat; 09-13-17 at 06:21 PM.
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Old 09-13-17, 06:25 PM   #22
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Night riding on the road I always wear a helmet light as well as one on the bars. I only use the helmet light for downhills and then I turn it off to keep it in reserve, just in case. If I ride with someone else I bring a spare.
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Old 09-14-17, 12:18 PM   #23
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@canklecat, that 2'Fer is so good, I'm considering buying one, after saying I don't need a spare! Thanks.
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Old 09-14-17, 09:08 PM   #24
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How about a Light & Motion Urban 800 Fast Charge for $79?
https://www.excelsports.com/main.asp...ajor=3&minor=6
This is an amazing price for a high-end light. I paid $140 when it first came out.


-Tim-
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Old 09-15-17, 02:55 AM   #25
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I run an 18650 helmet light with a spare battery to get me home or until dawn.

H600w Mk III XHP35 Neutral White 18650 Headlamp
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