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Old 04-18-13, 12:20 PM   #1
GeraldF
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Generator lights - best bang for buck

I'd like to purchase a generator light set (magnetic or dynamo) with the following features:

-lights blink
-lights continue to blink when stopped
-likely to last > 1 or 2 years [Note: I'll be locking the bike up outdoors most nights with no shelter from the rain]

What's the best bang for the buck that meets these criteria? So far I've found the Reelight SL120 Flashing Compact Bicycle Headlight and Tail Light Set, but some reviewers say the lights died within a year or two.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...cm_cr_asin_lnk

Is there a comparable set that has a better reputation for lifespan? Thanks.
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Old 04-18-13, 01:30 PM   #2
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I've got some of the Reelights, and one of them died about 18 months after I got it. I just emailed the company about it and they sent me another unit, didn't even ask for the original back or a receipt.

That said, the lights are quite weak. I would not be relying upon them, especially the headlight, but they make nice backup lights just in case something happens to your main light (including simply forgetting to turn it on.)
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Old 04-18-13, 02:13 PM   #3
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I am not aware of any generator powered blinky lights. Most of the better quality generator lights are manufactured either in Germany or Japan, where they frown on blinking lights. My personal commute bike has a Schmidt dynohub with the Supernova E3 headlight and tail-light set. I augment that with a Dinotte 140 tail light, which is battery powered, and blinks, with a battery charge lasting me over a week.

The headlight is plenty bright to see by when moving at 15mph or less.

As far as longevity, the current rig has been used as a daily commuter for 4 years with no issues.
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Old 04-18-13, 03:39 PM   #4
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I've got some of the Reelights, and one of them died about 18 months after I got it. I just emailed the company about it and they sent me another unit, didn't even ask for the original back or a receipt.

That said, the lights are quite weak. I would not be relying upon them, especially the headlight, but they make nice backup lights just in case something happens to your main light (including simply forgetting to turn it on.)
Thanks for the info. I noticed that the SL 120 lights are mounted barely a foot above the ground, at the wheel axles. Do you know if Reelights has any models with lights that can be mounted higher on the bike, particularly the front light? Thanks.
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Old 04-18-13, 03:40 PM   #5
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I also use a battery powered light to provide blinking taillights. Not sure if we will ever see blinking dyno powered lights. It is possible, but dyno lights seem to be off the radar in countries where blinking lights are allowed
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Old 04-18-13, 07:31 PM   #6
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The only readily available blinking dynamo light is Planet Bike's Blaze Dynamo http://ecom1.planetbike.com/3048.html
I am not aware of any dynamo blinking taillights. The lymotec Lyt is likely the best and cheapest LED headlight $30-50 (depending on the version), while there are several $25-30 taillights depending on whether one wants a fender or rack mounted one.
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Old 04-18-13, 07:53 PM   #7
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I wouldn't go too cheap you're just asking for trouble and the lights are not very bright. Hub generators are the best way to go and Sanyo makes the lowest costing one at just $50 for the hub, then you have to add in the cost to have it built around your front wheel. Then Phillips Saferide 60 makes a great generator powered headlight at around $100.

Or you can contact Peter White Cycles and he can build you a generator hub front wheel and light plus tail light if needed in a package deal.
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Old 05-08-13, 12:26 PM   #8
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Look on ebay for SunUp generator. Very nice.
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Old 05-09-13, 03:02 PM   #9
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The efficacy of blinking bike lights has not been proven, as far as I know.

The German government, which heavily regulates bike lights, forbids blinking lights. The lights that meet with their approval work very well. I'm very happy with my Euro-spec lights.
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Old 05-09-13, 03:29 PM   #10
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The efficacy of blinking bike lights has not been proven, as far as I know.
Yet, they are used routinely (think of airplanes, radio towers, emergency vehicles, etc, etc). There's actually (old-even) research flashing lights are more noticeable from a further distance than steady lights.

Flashing also allows the lights to be brighter for a particular power level.

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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
The German government, which heavily regulates bike lights, forbids blinking lights. The lights that meet with their approval work very well. I'm very happy with my Euro-spec lights.
And there's no indication that there's a good reason for this. (Note that we are talking about "being seen" lights, not "see by" ones.)

Last edited by njkayaker; 05-09-13 at 03:33 PM.
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Old 05-09-13, 03:32 PM   #11
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njkayaker, you are right on all points. But being satisfied with my Euro-spec lights, if there were a dyno-powered flashing headlight, I honestly don't know if I would buy it. What I have may not be the best, but it sure is good.
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Old 05-09-13, 05:10 PM   #12
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njkayaker, you are right on all points. But being satisfied with my Euro-spec lights, if there were a dyno-powered flashing headlight, I honestly don't know if I would buy it. What I have may not be the best, but it sure is good.
People might need different things for different situations.

For a headlight, there would have be an option of being steady since a flashing head light would be kind of annoying to see by.

A flashing headlight would be a good option for daytime use.

If one only used a head-light for seeing at night, I would suspect that very few people would want it to flash.

But people in well-lighted areas (for example, urban areas with lots of competing lights) might be better served with a flashing light.
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Old 05-09-13, 08:06 PM   #13
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njkayaker, you are right on all points. But being satisfied with my Euro-spec lights, if there were a dyno-powered flashing headlight, I honestly don't know if I would buy it. What I have may not be the best, but it sure is good.
Tom, tell us about your lights.
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Old 05-09-13, 08:33 PM   #14
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Check out Peter White's website for lots of info about the German lights.
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Old 05-10-13, 11:43 AM   #15
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Tom, tell us about your lights.
Thank you for pushing me to write the article I've been meaning to write for a few months. I took my bike into the light, shot pictures, and wrote it. Please offer constructive criticism. I'll be citing this in various threads on bikeforums and other places now.

LINK
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Old 05-10-13, 01:59 PM   #16
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The efficacy of blinking bike lights has not been proven, as far as I know.

The German government, which heavily regulates bike lights, forbids blinking lights. The lights that meet with their approval work very well. I'm very happy with my Euro-spec lights.
This would be easy to prove. Take five lamps of equal output, set them up at equal distance and have one on strobe. Then ask your friends which of the five lamps draws your attention the most. You will have your answer. I don't gamble but I'd lay money down betting that the strobe is going to get the most attention.

Since I don't live in Germany a question; Do the police in Germany use blinking/flashing lights? If so why?
If the answer is, "So people see them better", then I'm going to have to invoke the, "Good for the goose, good for the gander", rule. If it works for them, it will work for us.
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Old 05-10-13, 02:46 PM   #17
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Do the police in Germany use blinking/flashing lights?
Flashing bike lights are ferboten mainly because German police and the rescue and aid services have reserved the right to carry flashing lights on their vehicles.

Because of this, it is thought that other flashing lights on the road are too distracting for the normal road users. [Ordinary car drivers have to give aid vehicles the right of way, even if this means they themselves have to stop or drive onto the hard shoulder].
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Old 05-10-13, 03:09 PM   #18
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catmando, the response when being asked which you notice might be different than the response of a driver reacting to road conditions while driving. I don't expect completely honest answers, because we're not conscious of everything our senses take in, and thought can get in the way, too.
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Old 05-10-13, 05:41 PM   #19
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Luxos U has a flashing day time mode. Just got one three days ago. Like it! Double O
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Old 05-11-13, 03:03 AM   #20
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catmando, the response when being asked which you notice might be different than the response of a driver reacting to road conditions while driving...
I think it safe to assume that the visual characteristics of any lamp will not change regardless whither or not there are distractions. That is pretty much a given. The point I was making was that a blinking light ( with all other factors being equal ) will garner more attention when placed in an environment where the majority of the surrounding illuminations are limited to "steady state" outputs.



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...I don't expect completely honest answers, because we're not conscious of everything our senses take in, and thought can get in the way, too.
The subconscious performs many tasks and takes in many things while driving. Without it we couldn't function. How many times does it take you to be driving down the road completely absorbed in some distractive thought and suddenly notice a blinking light a good distance down the road. Don't get me wrong, if that light was a steady light I might have noticed it as well. I'm just saying that it makes more sense to me that something that is not so "Usual" ( among the otherwise usual ) is going to be more obvious, particularly at distance. Pretty much this is just an extension of the old, "The squeaky wheel getting the grease" thought carried over into the visual context.
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Old 05-11-13, 03:43 AM   #21
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Flashing bike lights are ferboten mainly because German police and the rescue and aid services have reserved the right to carry flashing lights on their vehicles.

Because of this, it is thought that other flashing lights on the road are too distracting for the normal road users. [Ordinary car drivers have to give aid vehicles the right of way, even if this means they themselves have to stop or drive onto the hard shoulder].
Yes, I know all this. My statement ( "Do the police in Germany use blinking/flashing lights"? ) was stated to show the obvious "double standard" and was intended to be rhetorical. Strange it is though, I could swear every German made car I've ever seen uses blinking lights for turn signals and also has blinking hazard lights. Where I live it is not unusual to see these lights used on a regular basis. Since I'm not an idiot I'm assuming these same "blinking lights" are also used by motorists in Germany. God forbid that someone not know a car is going to turn and run into the back of that $40K BMW.. Too bad that the same consideration is not given to cyclists riding on the shoulder of the road.
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Old 05-11-13, 06:35 AM   #22
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Please offer constructive criticism.
Thanks for posting the link, I'm researching lighting systems and this helps.

I think you need an edit here: "The headlight has an on-off switch, but since drag seems negligible, and since having a headlight on during the day, I just leave it in the on position."

Did you intend to note that having a headlight on in the day is a safety benefit?


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Old 05-11-13, 08:43 AM   #23
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Thanks for the help. I've edited my blog post here and there.
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Old 05-11-13, 09:25 PM   #24
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Look on ebay for SunUp generator. Very nice.
Do you own one of these SunUp gens? if so, what is your opinion of these? and how hard was it to install?
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Old 05-11-13, 10:00 PM   #25
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Thank you for pushing me to write the article I've been meaning to write for a few months. I took my bike into the light, shot pictures, and wrote it. Please offer constructive criticism. I'll be citing this in various threads on bikeforums and other places now.

LINK
I have the Phillips AA battery version of that Saferide you have, I really like the light, it's incredibly bright for such a light, very well built, and very reasonably priced.

But how would you compare that Busch & Muller D-Toplight Plus rear light with other American type of tail lights like the Serfas Shield, or the Light & Motion Vis180 (the bigger one not the micro), or the Cygolite Hotshot, or the Planet Bike Superflash Turbo? I like the concept of the European lights and kind of like the idea of the Phillips Lumiring, or the Spanninga Lineo, or the Herrmans H-track (but not sure if those last two come in a AA battery version); but hesitant o buy one since I don't know how they stack up to the ones I mentioned that are sold in America.
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