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  1. #1
    Certified Bike Brat Burton's Avatar
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    Amber hazard lights for bicycles

    I have some 3W amber LEDs arriving sometime in the next couple weeks. Initially the intention was to use them as daytime running lights because they're more visible than white during the day and would be as effective as a 'be seen' light with less power. No intention of dropping the white LEDs - the ambers would just supplement them for night-time use.

    But I was thinking that in day-time city traffic, mounting a pair on the back and hooking them all up to a flasher would give the equivalent of hazard lights. Perfectly legal for a slow moving vehicle and an alternative to a stack of red blinkies.

    These babies were a little tough to dig up. Is there some compelling reason that all LED bicycle lighting is red or white, but that reflectors are made in red, yellow and white?

  2. #2
    Super Moderator no1mad's Avatar
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    Most LED lights for cycling applications are predominately white for the front and red for the rear due to legal statutes. There are a couple amber lights available (or were- Sunlite and Dinotte), and there are a couple of even lesser available or adopted colors like blue out there.

    A couple of theories of mine why the amber hasn't been as widely embraced:

    -White and red are required by law. Any redundant set ups would also have to be red or white (depending) to be in compliance with the law if the primary light(s) fail.
    -Battery management. Of course, USB lithium ions are the latest rage in bike lighting, so keeping up with spare cells is no longer a issue for some...
    -The weight weenies and hipsters won't want 'em

  3. #3
    Certified Bike Brat Burton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by no1mad View Post
    Most LED lights for cycling applications are predominately white for the front and red for the rear due to legal statutes. There are a couple amber lights available (or were- Sunlite and Dinotte), and there are a couple of even lesser available or adopted colors like blue out there.

    A couple of theories of mine why the amber hasn't been as widely embraced:

    -White and red are required by law. Any redundant set ups would also have to be red or white (depending) to be in compliance with the law if the primary light(s) fail.
    -Battery management. Of course, USB lithium ions are the latest rage in bike lighting, so keeping up with spare cells is no longer a issue for some...
    -The weight weenies and hipsters won't want 'em
    Agree with your theory - I'm personally of the opinion that a little overkill beats being roadkill hands down.

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    Senior Member Falchoon's Avatar
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    3W may be a bit bright for night use
    If at first you don't succeed, then skydiving definitely isn't for you.

  5. #5
    Certified Bike Brat Burton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Falchoon View Post
    3W may be a bit bright for night use
    In flash mode at night I'd definately agree with you - front or back. Some testing will be on order before even using them in solid mode in the rear at night, and the intention is to mount them at drop-out level.

    On the front in solid mode is a different story. They'll not be an issue.

  6. #6
    Tor
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    Sounds quite interesting to me.

    I've actually been planning on putting in actual turn signals for night use, since I can't count on my arm being seen. Where I do merge into traffic, flashing my brake light seems to work well to get people to slow down - not terribly surprising since I have a genuine automotive approved brake light hooked up. My thought is to use amber truck marker lights for cost reasons, figuring that an arm works well in daylight and the turn signal is only really needed after dark when a smaller light is much more visible.

    Tor

  7. #7
    Certified Bike Brat Burton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tor View Post
    Sounds quite interesting to me.

    I've actually been planning on putting in actual turn signals for night use, since I can't count on my arm being seen. Where I do merge into traffic, flashing my brake light seems to work well to get people to slow down - not terribly surprising since I have a genuine automotive approved brake light hooked up. My thought is to use amber truck marker lights for cost reasons, figuring that an arm works well in daylight and the turn signal is only really needed after dark when a smaller light is much more visible.

    Tor
    So apparently the goodies are in from Korea and just waiting to be forwarded from the USA. Will post sone photos once they're in house. This was a special order and I actually have plans to make an array for winter DRIVING. At 300 lunens each they're actually as good as some LED headlights and stacking gour of them should be fine for winter driving considering the reflectivity of the snow.

    Will be trying a variety of mounts including handlebar, fork and rear dropout mounts so if you have any special requests let me know.

  8. #8
    Member Forrest74's Avatar
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    Someone posted this on Reddit today and I think the amber setup is pretty nice (the setup is by user cyclegaz, on the top reply). They're FibreFlare Side Lights.

    the pictures vvvv
    http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8325/8...ced968b2_k.jpg
    http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8331/8...85e6e51f_k.jpg
    Last edited by Forrest74; 10-29-12 at 11:33 AM. Reason: spelling
    Salsa Vaya2 Salsa Beargrease

  9. #9
    Certified Bike Brat Burton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Forrest74 View Post
    Someone posted this on Reddit today and I think the amber setup is pretty nice (the setup is by user cyclegaz, on the top reply). They're FibreFlare Side Lights.

    the pictures vvvv
    http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8325/8...ced968b2_k.jpg
    http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8331/8...85e6e51f_k.jpg
    Pretty cool!
    Dinotte 1200L and Hope Vision 1 front, Dinotte 400R rear and Fiber Flare side lighting!
    Personally I think the effectiveness of the rear lighting is amplified by the ground around the bike being painted with light. That gives a larger 'object' for motorists to notice and paints a safety zone around the bike.

    I like it!

  10. #10
    Member Forrest74's Avatar
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    Yeah, it looks really good.

    I have an older RocktheBike amber glow tube (down low glow). It lights up nice, but it is huge and the battery pack is huge also. It was too large for me to use on the bike, but I really like the look.

    Not sure if there is a place that has these in Montreal however. I've not seen any on other riders around here.
    Salsa Vaya2 Salsa Beargrease

  11. #11
    Certified Bike Brat Burton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Forrest74 View Post
    Yeah, it looks really good.

    I have an older RocktheBike amber glow tube (down low glow). It lights up nice, but it is huge and the battery pack is huge also. It was too large for me to use on the bike, but I really like the look.

    Not sure if there is a place that has these in Montreal however. I've not seen any on other riders around here.
    Just curious - since you consider this baby too big to be used on your bike - what are you using instead? And how bright was it in real life? Actually looks like it could be interesting on a BMX in the scate park.

  12. #12
    Member Forrest74's Avatar
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    I have a Light & Motion 400 and a Cygolite Hotshot, nothing in amber (but I am looking).

    I passed a guy this morning that had an amber/yellow light clipped to the front of his backpack strap, fairly high up. It was wide and narrow, maybe 3-4 LED's in a horizontal row. It looked pretty good.
    Salsa Vaya2 Salsa Beargrease

  13. #13
    Tor
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    Quote Originally Posted by Burton
    So apparently the goodies are in from Korea and just waiting to be forwarded from the USA. Will post sone photos once they're in house. This was a special order and I actually have plans to make an array for winter DRIVING. At 300 lunens each they're actually as good as some LED headlights and stacking gour of them should be fine for winter driving considering the reflectivity of the snow.

    Will be trying a variety of mounts including handlebar, fork and rear dropout mounts so if you have any special requests let me know.
    I look forward to seeing what you come up with. I'm not entirely sure what I'll do for mounting mine when I get to it, but it'll probably be something attached to my racks, though I might need to do something a little different for the front to provide a visual centre. I'm also going to put together a light for the front that I plan to put on the rack, so I might find a good way to make that the centre.

    Tor

  14. #14
    Certified Bike Brat Burton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tor View Post
    I look forward to seeing what you come up with. I'm not entirely sure what I'll do for mounting mine when I get to it, but it'll probably be something attached to my racks, though I might need to do something a little different for the front to provide a visual centre. I'm also going to put together a light for the front that I plan to put on the rack, so I might find a good way to make that the centre.

    Tor
    LOL Yeah racks can be a nuisance. Checked the dimensions of the OMM front rack, and was able to interlock and mount a 3-light bar UNDER the rack platform. Completely without any interference for the bags, and since they're completely waterproof - with no issues to the lights.

    So just as soon as I confirmed that worked perfectly on the rack here, and there was only JUST enough room to do it on the Cold Springs model - they discontinued that model and replaced it with a model an inch narrower!

  15. #15
    Tor
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    Quote Originally Posted by Burton
    So just as soon as I confirmed that worked perfectly on the rack here, and there was only JUST enough room to do it on the Cold Springs model - they discontinued that model and replaced it with a model an inch narrower!
    Interesting. That's the model I have too, IIRC. I'll have to do a bit of playing to decide exactly what to get, but this looks interesting.

    Tor

  16. #16
    Certified Bike Brat Burton's Avatar
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    OK Tor, the lights are in. They're pretty much what I expected but I'll have to do some testing for a week or two to decide what I think is the optimal mounting position / application. If I have a chance, I'll post pictures a little later on.

  17. #17
    Certified Bike Brat Burton's Avatar
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    OK - so some initial comments after some initial rides with some specific objectives in mind.
    (1) Surprisingly - the wavelengths produced by these seem to have little or no effect on reflective or retro-reflective msterials. That includes stop signs, road markings and automobile reflectors. Haven't decided if thats a plus or minus since I never had any intentions of using them on their own anyway.

    (2) The diffuser optics convert the horizontal beam to give at least a full 45 degree coverage on each side while confining the vertical coverage. The result is that at night, relative to a 10W 15 degree spot headlight (white), they appear less bright only when viewed head-on, and actually appear equally as bright when viewed from a 15 degree angle and brighter when viewed from a 45 degree angle. In spite of only having a 3W output.

    (3) Daytime performance is similar across the same angles of view as night-time except that the 10W white headlight appears to have much less of advantage when viewed head-on. I'm having some issues with photographs simply because of the limits of digital sensors. Any exposure that doesn't seriously underexpose the photograph simply results in the amber output appearing white simply because the sensor has been overloaded and that part of the photo burnt out. Same with the red LEDs. Eyes interpret things very differently.

    My initial interest in these was as fork mounted daytime running lights with the expectation that the color and lower mounting position would make them more visible in a worst case scenerio - riding with the sun at your back (which puts maximum glare into the eyes of oncoming motorists). So far it looks like they'll be effective for that.
    Last edited by Burton; 11-10-12 at 11:31 AM.

  18. #18
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    Burton,

    These ambers sound particularly interesting, especially if they could be used as turn indicators as well. Is the housing the same as the white LED ones?
    Chaad--'95 DeKerf Team SL, '02 Lemond Buenos Aires, '05 Novara Buzz, '73 Schwinn Collegiate, '06 Mountain Cycle Rumble, '09 Dahon Mariner D7, '12 Mercier Nano, '12 Breezer Venturi

  19. #19
    Certified Bike Brat Burton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chaadster View Post
    Burton,

    These ambers sound particularly interesting, especially if they could be used as turn indicators as well. Is the housing the same as the white LED ones?
    Hi chaadster - the housing and lens options are identical. Thats one of the reasons I was interested. In fact, the collimator and lens are also identical (clear) so until you turn them on there's no clue what color they are.

    The big difference is a 3W output vs a 10W for the whites. I'll actually be simply clipping these directly onto some of the existing lights (no additional mounting points required) and using them primarily as running lights during the day. The fork mounting on the hybrid was temporary as I used camera clamps to let me try a variety of positions easily. Clipping them directly onto the bottom of the existing array on the mtb will put them at the top of the forks anyway. I did mention they were modular?

    As far as I know these can be hooked up to some of the automotive LED controls on the market that will let them be used in a variety of flash sequences including wig-wag. Haven't done that yet myself but its in the plans. A simple LED flasher unit I haven't looked at yet but if you have any suggestions let me know. Once I finalize the configurations that I'll be using, I'll look at minimizing the wiring. I like neat.
    Last edited by Burton; 11-11-12 at 08:06 PM.

  20. #20
    Certified Bike Brat Burton's Avatar
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    OK Tor, here are a few photos showing a few different mounting arrangements on two different bikes with those Cold Springs front and rear racks:
    photo.jpg

    photo(4).jpg

    photo(2).jpg

    The lights are completely waterproof so there's no issues sticking them under the rack, and it has the added advantage of both protecting them in the event of a crash as well as eliminating any potential interference issues with the panniers. Mounting was pretty straight forward. The SS U-bracket was tossed and the lights bolted directly through the alloy mount to the rack strut. No holes to drill - just a rubber standoff on each side to space the light away from the rack.

    The amber lights, as noted in the post below, have the same visual presence as the main helmet light when viewed at anything outside a 15 degree angle from head-on. Elliptical beams have that advantage. The color will definitely be more visible in the winter, and independent testing by a number of sources has indicated that there is no advantage to running anything as bright as a 10 watt light during the day.

    photo(3).jpg

    In this photo the lights were temporarily mounted on the forks with some Manfrotto NanoClamps just for testing. The least complicated way to attach these is actually just to clip them below any white lights already on the bike. They're a bit like Lego.
    Last edited by Burton; 11-17-12 at 01:49 PM.

  21. #21
    Tor
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    Thanks for the pictures. I might indeed decide to try working something up with these.

    Do you by chance have a link for these?

    Tor

  22. #22
    Certified Bike Brat Burton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tor View Post
    Thanks for the pictures. I might indeed decide to try working something up with these.

    Do you by chance have a link for these?

    Tor
    I'll email you. There are lots of distributers on the web who are basicly resellers. As well as a decent product, you want to deal with someone that'll take a personal interest in your order, or your inquiry - whatever you decide to do.

  23. #23
    Certified Bike Brat Burton's Avatar
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    First snowfall today so took a run down the snow covered bike path with just two 3W amber running lights and surprisingly - they were enough! The reflectivity of the snow made up for the reduction in output and the effectiveness of the amber was very apparent. I couldn't tell it was snowing! Yeah - I did do a reality check by flipping on the main light for a few minutes.

    No noticable difference in downtown traffic that's I could see. Cars are still keeping a reasonable distance and not cutting me off. But today was rush hour traffic and the pace was a crawl. It'll take a month of varying conditions to form a realistic opinion.

  24. #24
    Senior Member dougmc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Forrest74 View Post
    Someone posted this on Reddit today and I think the amber setup is pretty nice (the setup is by user cyclegaz, on the top reply). They're FibreFlare Side Lights.

    the pictures vvvv
    http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8325/8...ced968b2_k.jpg
    http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8331/8...85e6e51f_k.jpg
    I've got two of the Fiber Flare (tail) lights, and while they're reasonable as tail lights, they don't look anywhere near as bright as those pictures make them look, even red tail light.

    Looking at the picture more closely, I think I know why -- there's more lights on the bike than the Fiber Flare lights, and most of the road being lit up is from the other lights.

    As for the "personal bike lane" picture in the reddit post, I've seen those in person and don't think they're really very effective in the real world. If you're standing next to the bike looking down they're very visible, but if you're 20 feet away in a car I doubt you'd ever see the lines on the road unless the car was actually stopped. I'd rather just put my money into some good but traditional front/side/tail lights.

  25. #25
    Senior Member apollored's Avatar
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    You can ge these in green or amber:

    400 ? 400: true);">
    Apollo Revival MTB AKA Sunshine

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