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Old 12-06-11, 11:29 AM   #1
soma5
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What is a good choice of lights for visibility from the side?

I've got the front and back covered and my helmet-mounted light allows me to cover a certain cone in front of me. I was nearly taken out recently by a car running a stop sign from the side. I'd like to be more visible to such drivers.

Thanks.
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Old 12-06-11, 12:51 PM   #2
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For some reason, bicyclists hate spoke reflectors, but they work really well in this situation.
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Old 12-06-11, 01:29 PM   #3
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For some reason, bicyclists hate spoke reflectors, but they work really well in this situation.
Thanks, that's a good suggestion. However, they don't work from an oblique angle. I would rather be seen before I'm directly in front of the car. Headlights work in an range of angles forward; reflectors work in a range of angles sideways. There is a gap in there where you still can't be seen by a mildly inattentive driver. I'd like to cover that gap. Reflectors are a good and cheap solution for the range of angles they cover.
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Old 12-06-11, 02:07 PM   #4
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B&M 4D rear rack lights have half the LEDs , 1 on each side of the light.

wear clothing with more reflective tape.

in addition to reflex rings molded into tire sidewalls,
there are reflector tubes that can go on all your spokes.
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Old 12-06-11, 04:09 PM   #5
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B&M 4D rear rack lights have half the LEDs , 1 on each side of the light.

wear clothing with more reflective tape.

in addition to reflex rings molded into tire sidewalls,
there are reflector tubes that can go on all your spokes.
B&M claims 220 degree angle, and I believe it.
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Old 12-06-11, 04:17 PM   #6
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B&M 4D rear rack lights have half the LEDs , 1 on each side of the light.

wear clothing with more reflective tape.

in addition to reflex rings molded into tire sidewalls,
there are reflector tubes that can go on all your spokes.
None of that works if you're approaching a car from the side.

soma5, from the drivers' perspective, a single light doesn't give much distance information. At a glance, a dot is a dot; it needs some reference to make it easier to figure out how far away it is and how fast it's going.

When I was using handlebar-mounted lights, I had two of them for a while. Sometimes I rode on the National Mall (usually in transit to/from somewhere else). I noticed that if I rode with just one lit, pedestrians would not realize how close I was until almost the last second, even though I was riding slowly, almost a jogging pace. With both lights on, they could tell much more easily, and I never noticed a surprised reaction from them.

That said, for front lighting, and depending on the bike, I still primarily ride with either just a headlight on the fork crown and/or a helmet light. I don't bother turning on the helmet light during the day, but will have it on flash mode in twilight, and on steady when it's dark.

The helmet light itself is a Vis 360, which I've really gotten to like. I'd wager that the array of lights help give a sense of orientation and, hopefully, make it easier for an onlooker to judge distance.

At any rate, having more than one front light makes it easier for someone else to see how fast you're going and how close you already are. Motorcycles have been moving to using multiple front lights for this same reason.

Last edited by BarracksSi; 12-06-11 at 04:22 PM.
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Old 12-06-11, 04:18 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by soma5 View Post
I've got the front and back covered and my helmet-mounted light allows me to cover a certain cone in front of me. I was nearly taken out recently by a car running a stop sign from the side. I'd like to be more visible to such drivers.

Thanks.
Since you have a light on your helmet, why not just turn your head towards the inattentive driver?

Couple more ideas that work best with a round fork and not flat blade type:

-Wrap reflective tape around the fork.
-Mount Blackburn Fleas on each fork leg at a 45 degree angle.
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Old 12-06-11, 04:21 PM   #8
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By the way, I don't feel that a helmet light alone is the best solution, particularly in locales where cyclists are less common. Drivers aren't expecting to see vehicle lights any higher than headlight-level, and unless you're riding a recumbent, your head is a lot higher than that.

I often think that the only reason I see people react to my helmet light is because they've seen enough of us riding around and they've come to expect lights at higher "altitudes".
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Old 12-06-11, 06:49 PM   #9
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I really like the BikeGlow (EL wire) Works great from all directions and you really get noticed. Inexpensive too! In December I run battery powered Christmas lights. Drivers seem to love them.....
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Old 12-06-11, 07:30 PM   #10
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Went Youtube'n for Bike Glow and hit pay dirt. Quite a few up, but this is quick and to the point.

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Old 12-06-11, 10:03 PM   #11
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I've got a L&M Urban 500 handlebar light with amber side lights, but your hands pretty much block the lights when riding on the bar tops or hoods. However, the side lights on the L&M Vis 360 are very visible from the side. On the other hand, you would probably get more side visibility from using tires with reflective sidewalls -- assuming that drivers coming from the sides have their headlights on (which is not a good assumption).
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Old 12-06-11, 10:09 PM   #12
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I like using these lights for extra illumination.. The guardian lights are very lightweight and you can get different colors. I use one around the triangle just above the brakes with a velcro loop to add some contrasting light to my taillight.. I personally use the white one

http://www.ebay.com/sch/axsecure51z1....c0.m270.l1313
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Old 12-06-11, 10:52 PM   #13
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Electroluminescent wire.. or more commonly "EL wire", is popular with the overclocking crowd, for decorating computer hardware (although the sound that the driver box often makes- similar to a flash unit, is annoyingly loud)


Its used at events like Burning Man for decorating bikes, people, etc. Its pretty bright. It definitely makes a bike visible a long way off.

You can see lots of pictures on Google Images.

http://www.google.com/search?q="el+wire"+bicycle

Slso adafruit has a cool device called spokePOV that - well, Google for it.
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Old 12-06-11, 11:29 PM   #14
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One commuter has some spoke light mounted and it's not to bad when viewed from the side. Last month I had a chance to speak to one of the founder for Revolight at the bike Expos. I saw their demo of the Revolight and I was pretty impress by it. Very eye catching from the side, and from the front and rear. They are soon to be out in the market. Only thing I did not like about it was the price might be at around 200.

http://www.revolights.com/
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Old 12-07-11, 12:02 AM   #15
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In addition to using lights, I like to wear reflective ankle bracelets when riding in the dark as they provide extra visibility from all angles.
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Old 12-07-11, 01:17 PM   #16
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Remember, reflective stuff needs light hitting it to work. The last time I checked, cars don't spray a lot of light at 90-degree angles, and that's where you're approaching from if they're coming from a cross street.

Get your car one night (find a friend with a car if you have to), put your bike off to the side as if you were riding it towards an intersection, turn on the car's headlights, and see if they reflect from anything on the bike.

If you're concerned about reflection directly from the side, well, I don't think you have to be. Unless you're stopped halfway through an intersection, you're not going to be in front of a car for more than a second or two -- and if you're cutting it any closer than that, you've got a heck of a lot more trust in them than I ever will.
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Old 12-07-11, 02:25 PM   #17
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Remember, reflective stuff needs light hitting it to work. The last time I checked, cars don't spray a lot of light at 90-degree angles, and that's where you're approaching from if they're coming from a cross street.
I was about to say the same thing, after seeing all the recommendations of reflective material here. I love reflective stuff, I have bikes plastered with it, but active lights will work in situations where reflective stuff doesn't. People driving around with their headlights off, for example.

On my main commuting bike, I clip one of these to the side pocket of each front pannier. http://www.jbimporters.com/web/check...t_number=95589 They could also be zip-tied to a fork blade, although you might need to space them away from the fork so you can get at the power button on the rear. Amber, flashing, good runtime, uses AAAs so you can use rechargables. They're available from the LBS, or Amazon has them: http://www.amazon.com/SunLite-95589-...dp/B004E3R2W8/

The spoke lights from NiteIze (SpokeLit) and Cateye (Orbit) would have even more effect, with their cyclic motion. They're affordable to buy, but I wish they didn't take lithium button batteries. At what price safety...

If you're a legband user, Planet Bike and Nathan make blinkie legbands. If your bike's a flatbar bike, the Bontrager Beacon bar-tip taillights are visible from all side angles as well as the rear.

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I like using these lights for extra illumination.. The guardian lights are very lightweight and you can get different colors. I use one around the triangle just above the brakes with a velcro loop to add some contrasting light to my taillight.. I personally use the white one

http://www.ebay.com/sch/axsecure51z1....c0.m270.l1313
I used to have some of those in amber, which I zip-tied to the fork legs aimed sideways. My main gripes are 1) they take two CR2032s per side, which is expensive to replace, and 2) the CR2032s have to be heat-shrinked together or the light may randomly turn on when you think it's off.

Last edited by mechBgon; 12-07-11 at 02:33 PM.
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Old 12-07-11, 03:03 PM   #18
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I get my cr2032s on ebay and can get 25 of them for 5.00, so pretty cheap.. I have been using these lights for over 5 years and never had one turn on by itself. The twisting to turn on and off has a fair amount of resistance.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/25pc-CR2032-...item230fb2e47a
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Old 12-07-11, 09:57 PM   #19
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I had a Fibre Flare that I really liked (got swiped off my bike at the supermarket). It's tough to find them in the US, but they seem to be available elsewhere:


http://www.wiggle.co.uk/fibre-flare-...r_Light-Yellow

They're bright. The yellow color is a good side-viz choice.

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Old 12-07-11, 10:33 PM   #20
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http://www.performancebike.com/bikes...0#ReviewHeader

I bought these. Haven't tried them yet but they get good reviews. Very lightweight if that matters. Of course this is would be best as a cheap way to augment your lights etc, not as a substitute for real lights.

http://www.amazon.com/Serfas-TL-G-Gu...pr_product_top
http://www.amazon.com/Serfas-Guppy-L...d_sim_sbs_sg_1

I'm going to get a set of these to supplement my current lights. They are supposed to be visible from 360 degees, very cheap, very light. You can hang them off your jacket when taking a walk at night too.

Last edited by lhorn; 12-07-11 at 10:50 PM.
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Old 12-08-11, 04:32 PM   #21
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Wow.. the Revolights are BY FAR the most "futuristic" bike light that I have EVER seen.

Their argument about the angle is a good one too.

OTOH, although they totally convinced me on the huge benefit of having your lights at a low angle to see the potholes, it seems to me that the constraints of having a light in that tiny space alongside the rims is limiting the brightness enough to make simply putting a pair of LEDs on the fork, one on either side of the front axle, make more economic sense for me.

But I'm a guy who has done enough visuals/lighting-related things in the past to not feel so compelled to do them now on my bike. (although I love seeing them done!)

Also, the Revolight looks so cool and unusual, I could see drivers being so distracted by them they could perhaps plow into things. Other drivers, pedestrians, maybe even you. Google "target fixation".

That said, someday, I want one.. maybe when the price comes down and they are not so unusual they could prompt unusual behavior!


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Last month I had a chance to speak to one of the founder for Revolight at the bike Expos. I saw their demo of the Revolight and I was pretty impress by it. Very eye catching from the side, and from the front and rear. They are soon to be out in the market. Only thing I did not like about it was the price might be at around 200.

http://www.revolights.com/
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Old 12-08-11, 04:53 PM   #22
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This is a cheap "5 LED" rear light that I have that has two side facing LEDs..


(3 facing back, one towards either side)

Each side's single LED is quite bright if you are exactly 90 degrees to the side, but one single side facing LED per side is not so bright at any other angle.

There's tons of room in there and the plastic on the sides is clear and seem to beg for some more use to be made of that area..though.. I could see 4 additional superflux LEDs (small but quite strong) fitting on each side.. Also at least two more facing backwards. Or a single power LED going back.

I doubt if it is unique among bike lights.. seems as if it might be easy to do that. Wonder what kind of add-on plastic lenses might be able to spread the light over a wider angle.

Last edited by christ0ph; 12-08-11 at 04:56 PM.
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Old 12-08-11, 06:39 PM   #23
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Wow.. the Revolights are BY FAR the most "futuristic" bike light that I have EVER seen.

Their argument about the angle is a good one too.

OTOH, although they totally convinced me on the huge benefit of having your lights at a low angle to see the potholes, it seems to me that the constraints of having a light in that tiny space alongside the rims is limiting the brightness enough to make simply putting a pair of LEDs on the fork, one on either side of the front axle, make more economic sense for me.

But I'm a guy who has done enough visuals/lighting-related things in the past to not feel so compelled to do them now on my bike. (although I love seeing them done!)

Also, the Revolight looks so cool and unusual, I could see drivers being so distracted by them they could perhaps plow into things. Other drivers, pedestrians, maybe even you. Google "target fixation".

That said, someday, I want one.. maybe when the price comes down and they are not so unusual they could prompt unusual behavior!
I wil admit that it caught my eyes right away Right across the isle from them was Monkeylectric (I think is was them), regardless the unique light from the Revolight was much more eye catching because of the way the light follow the contour of the rims and the narrow width of the Revolight gives it a very sharp contrast where it will be hard for it to blend into the surrounding.

One thing I should have asked and examine was the mounting method. It may be fragile and get damage for those who uses punture resistant tires like Gatorskin or Armadillo. The light might get bashed from rough handling from removing these stubborn tires
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Old 12-08-11, 11:59 PM   #24
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So the Revolight is just a few aimed LEDs within a hoop, one on each side- aimed - boy, I have to try to visualize the method..but I am guessing aimed outward - straight out - with a Hall effect sensor, some logic, and a battery on each wheel, somewhere..

I love the Monkey electric wheel treatment.. Thats also very cool.. Ive always loved POV stuff.. going back to when I first saw it done, at a insane party in Oakland at the Jack London Club in the late 80s or early 90s.. Those POVs were implemented in a vertical row of LEDs.. and you had to move your eyes from side to side to see the message.. (whatever it was..) Unless you knew what was going on, you'd be surprised because you would see these images sort of written on your retina - simply by looking around.

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I wil admit that it caught my eyes right away Right across the isle from them was Monkeylectric (I think is was them), regardless the unique light from the Revolight was much more eye catching because of the way the light follow the contour of the rims and the narrow width of the Revolight gives it a very sharp contrast where it will be hard for it to blend into the surrounding.

One thing I should have asked and examine was the mounting method. It may be fragile and get damage for those who uses punture resistant tires like Gatorskin or Armadillo. The light might get bashed from rough handling from removing these stubborn tires
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Old 12-09-11, 12:26 AM   #25
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I hate to tell you this but the guy who almost hit you just wasnt paying attention. You already have 3 lights on your bike. if he didnt see those, then he wasnt looking at you anyway. dont waste your cash on more plastic swag just ride more offensively.
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