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  1. #1
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    Thoughts on Safety Lights

    My wife and I are planning to ride a portion of the Natchez Trace later this fall. It looks like headlights and taillights are required on the trace.

    We have absolutely no plans to ride anywhere near dark so I am not looking for a light to light up the road. I am looking for a headlight and taillight to meet the legal requirements and to add safety, especially for a flashing taillight. Since they will be used during the daylight, they need to be bright enough to get the attention of a daydreaming driver, especially the taillight.

    I have been looking at the Blackburn Mars 3.0 taillight along with the Blackburn Voyager 3.3 headlight. Both take AAA batteries and seem to have fairly good battery life on flash mode.

    What are your thoughts? What safety lights do you use?

  2. #2
    Senior Member NOS88's Avatar
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    Given you'll be riding in daylight hours, I'm not sure that the kind of lights you use will be as important as wearing highly conspicuous, bright clothing. When I ride, I don't want to be just visible, I want to be so garishly conspicuous that it's really hard to not see me.
    A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking. - S. Wright

  3. #3
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    I am very happy with my Niterider Cherrybomb (about $30). Small, lite-weight, good battery life, weather proof, and very-very bright.

  4. #4
    Senior Member jgjulio's Avatar
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    I highly recommend the Planet Bike Superflash. I have it on 4 bikes. They get attention even in the daytime.

    http://www.amazon.com/Planet-Bike-Bl...3615823&sr=8-2
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  5. #5
    Senior Member tntyz's Avatar
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    +1 for the PBSF. I run 2 on my bike - seat post and seat stay. Cars give me a wide berth and a friendly wave. Seriously.

  6. #6
    Senior Member dorosz's Avatar
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    If your at all geeky you might want to invest in a couple of P7 flashlights to do double duty as headlamps and for around the camp, Deal Extreme has a great selection that might even get here in time for your ride if you order soon.

    Or if the price tag for P7's is seems unreasonable, WalMart carries a Coleman Max AA flashlight that would serve as well puts out a healthy 115 lumens and is nice and bright without being over large or pricey. Its pretty easy to find mounts for flashlights that you can just velcro on or attach to your handlebars that would meet the parks requirement.

    And I don't think you can go wrong with the PB Superflash rear lights they are a real value.

    I envy you such a ride hope its very enjoyable for you.
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  7. #7
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Look around for a cheap Halogen front lamp with a Nicad battery. 20 watts will be bright enough to be do offroad gently with but These "Retro" lamps can be found on E-Bay.
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


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  8. #8
    Senior Member freeranger's Avatar
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    Here's a light that can take a variety of batteries--I have AAA's in mine and it is very bright: http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.17401, and here is a very inexpensive mount that may be used with it--except it will only point straight: http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.8274 If you want a mount that rotates, in case that mount doesn't point straight, then: http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.792 I'm guessing you don't want to invest in "odd batteries" that have to be ordered and chargers to go with them, which is why I picked that light. There are other lights that are brighter, like the P7's, but the one above should light up wherever you're headed, without being too expensive.

  9. #9
    tsl
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    Quote Originally Posted by AdrianL View Post
    during the daylight, they need to be bright enough to get the attention of a daydreaming driver, especially the taillight.
    There's only one taillight that meets this requirement--the DiNotte 140L.

    Yeah, you can see a PBSF during the day. Kinda, after you get close, at the right angle, and it's in the shade.

    I've had drivers roll down their windows to ask me about my DiNotte on days with full sun. From riding with other riders who have DiNottes, I can tell you that on a sunny day, wearing my sunglasses, I can see it over a half-mile ahead.

    Yes, DiNottes are dearly expensive, but they're much cheaper than even cremation, let alone a coffin burial.

    I have nothing against the PBSF or the Mars or the CatEye LD-1100 or LD-610 after dark. They're all good second choices for after dark, and a third to a quarter of the price. None of them hold a candle to a DiNotte during the day.
    Last edited by tsl; 05-30-09 at 05:23 AM.
    My two favorite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything.
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  10. #10
    gone ride'n cyclinfool's Avatar
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    TSL - as always you come up with the gold star for product selection. Good choice.
    "Of all the things I ever lost I miss my mind the most." Mark Twain
    If all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.

  11. #11
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    Years ago I noticed how difficult it was to see cyclists through the windshield on a bright sunny day as they "disappeared' in the shade under trees . Partially it's an effect of wearing sunglasses. So I started using an ultra bright flashing LED tail light. I noticed that passing cars were giving more clearance distance as a result.

    In urban/suburban traffic I turn on an ultra bright flashing head light. It about eliminated people turning left cutting me off. Sometimes they wait so long now it's embarrassing.

    With drivers distracted by cell phones and other stuff, you've got to really stand out. Bright clothes are not enough.

    I've read that the change in driver behavior is attributed to more consciousness of your presence and the impression that you are a proficient cyclists. Helmets and cycling garb have the same effect. Who really knows.

    One complicating factor other than these type of lights cost more, is that that the extraordinary brightnesses of these LED lights are accomplished partly by having a focused and narrow illumination cone. You have to continually check that they are pointed so they intercept the drivers vision at the distance you want them to start paying attention. Also, you need to continually check the brightness as they are of little use if they don't stand out in bright sunlight at a significant distance.

    I don't ride at night, but I'm a strong believer in dawn to dusk flashing lights.

    Another complication for many is that the lights aren't "cool".

    Now there are several brands out there. Mine are presently multi LED Cateye at around $50.00. There are some newer single LED ones around $35, but I think their cones are narrower. I was just at REI recently and was checking out what was available. You wonder if you can get too bright and get run over by a blinded driver.

    Al
    Last edited by alcanoe; 05-30-09 at 06:01 AM.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by tsl View Post
    There's only one taillight that meets this requirement--the DiNotte 140L.

    Yeah, you can see a PBSF during the day. Kinda, after you get close, at the right angle, and it's in the shade.

    .
    I just checked on them. Peter White has a very nice overview of those he carries:

    http://www.peterwhitecycles.com/dinotte.asp

    I don't care for the mounting as I carry a trunk bag which blocks my seat post. I'd have to explore other mounting options.

    I might be interested in the Ultra-3 once I find the cone angle.

    Al

  13. #13
    don't try this at home. rm -rf's Avatar
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    I had my PB Superflash on blink when riding on the Blue Ridge Parkway yesterday. I had a motorcyclist comment on my bright taillight at a rest stop. It's mounted on my seatpost, and carefully aimed horizontally. Some riders on my group rides use the Superflash clipped to a saddle bag, and it tends to point skyward or toward the ground and is much less effective.

    I like daylight blinking lights when riding through tree shaded roads and especially at dusk.

    I use rechargeable AAA batteries, and they last at least 4 or 5 rides before recharging.

  14. #14
    tsl
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    Quote Originally Posted by alcanoe View Post
    I don't care for the mounting as I carry a trunk bag which blocks my seat post. I'd have to explore other mounting options.
    I use a trunk bag and panniers. I've mounted my DiNotte taillight on my rack, using the standard O-ring that comes in the box. You just have to wrap around the twice to take up the length.


    On this bike, I mount it temporarily to the outside of the rack.



    It lives on this bike, where it's mounted inside the rack so panniers don't interfere with it.



    Battery pack is velcroed to a rack crossmember using the stock battery holder and velco that comes in the box.

    Nothing special, just thinking outside the box.
    My two favorite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything.
    The perfect day: Riding a bike to the library.—Peter Golkin


    Lucky for me, I work at a library and bike to work.

  15. #15
    tsl
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    Quote Originally Posted by alcanoe View Post
    You wonder if you can get too bright and get run over by a blinded driver.
    It's about as bright as a decent car brake light. I've had no complaints from any drivers about it.

    It bothers other cyclists after dark, but beyond 100 feet or so, even cyclists are okay with it. Keeps the wheel suckers at bay.
    My two favorite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything.
    The perfect day: Riding a bike to the library.—Peter Golkin


    Lucky for me, I work at a library and bike to work.

  16. #16
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    I do a commute back from work about 4 times a year. Problem is the town/City of Brighton. Too many drivers in a hurry trying to get out of junctions. I normally have to avoid about 3 or 4 cars that pull out on me. Not last time though. Middle of the day and lots of traffic about- but I had my very expensive "Use" Lamp on the bike set to flashing mode. This is a twin 5w LED that is bright. I even had to wonder why cars that could have pulled out of the junction safely- did not. The answer was easy- They saw me.

    A bright lamp set to flash on the bike- whether front or rear- will get noticed. Unfortunately- Good bright lamps are expensive.
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by tsl View Post
    I use a trunk bag and panniers. I've mounted my DiNotte taillight on my rack, using the standard O-ring that comes in the box. You just have to wrap around the twice to take up the length.

    ..
    Nice set-up. I am toying with making a bracket to attach to the rack to hold it ---- possibly under the rack. I want some fool-proof way of insuring it points at the correct vertical/horizontal angles all the time.

    It apparently has an 18-deg cone best I can find out so far. I assume that's the angle between the half brightness points as is typical for these kind of data. That's very roughly 27' (+/- 13.5') at 100'. However, I've been in a bumper to bumper situation where the vehicle in front of me makes a sudden move to pass or turn and here's a poor cyclist right in front of me that I couldn't see until the big SUV moved.

    That 18-deg cone becomes only about +/- 3.4' at 25 feet.

    Al

  18. #18
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    AdrianL,

    I'd give the NPS a call and ask them specifically what's required. The website says head and taillight. It also says food and water, ride single file, and call for more info. Looks to me like a poorly worded "tip" sheet. Mississippi law says headlight and rear reflector or light, and can ride two abreast.

    Enough difference to warrant a call...
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  19. #19
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    Another loyal Dinotte user here.

    I use a PBSF as well on one of my bikes when I'm too lazy to rig up the Dinotte.

    But Dinotte is the ultimate in tail lights.

  20. #20
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    Dellphinus - good thought - while the Natchez trace is mostly in Mississippi, it does run through the NW corner of Alabama and then up to Nashville in Tennessee. Being a National Park, I suspect they make their own rules, but I will give them a call for clarification.

    WOW - the DiNotte really looks like the ultimate tail light. Unfortunately, at $187, or even $167, I think I need to pass right now. Keep in mind, it's not just one, it's two I have to buy. Everything I look at is double the price. That's the bad side of having my wife ride with me but then, it's worth having her ride with me.

    The PBSF really looks good so I think I will give it a try.

    Thanks for everyone's input. It's really great.

  21. #21
    Senior Moment bikegeek57's Avatar
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    I really need to get a picture of my PBSF on my helmet. the seat post mounting ring of that light fits a piece of PVC pipe cut to same height as the mounting ring. the PVC pipe is super-glued to the top/rear of helmet and I secured the PBSF to that round mounting. works great and gets it way up above the bike and bags/racks etc. Driving in traffic with that on fresh batteries gets noticed day or night. So call me Fred. I also have 2 blinkies on the rear of the bike and my Dinotte 400L on handlebar and a Dinotte 200L mounted on front of my helmet. I commute 5:30 am daily and in dark during winter months in the afternoon. and yes it was expensive but hmmm... my life or my money... no choice for me.

  22. #22
    Senior Moment bikegeek57's Avatar
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    The OP also was just interested in being legal. No need for expensive lights. For that one trip get the cheapest set and be done.

  23. #23
    tsl
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    Quote Originally Posted by alcanoe View Post
    Nice set-up. I am toying with making a bracket to attach to the rack to hold it ---- possibly under the rack. I want some fool-proof way of insuring it points at the correct vertical/horizontal angles all the time.
    In my experience, it's really a non-issue. Point it and forget it. Keep in mind on the rear rack, the O-ring is wrapped around the rack leg 540 degrees on each side. Lotsa grip.
    Last edited by tsl; 05-30-09 at 06:48 PM.
    My two favorite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything.
    The perfect day: Riding a bike to the library.—Peter Golkin


    Lucky for me, I work at a library and bike to work.

  24. #24
    Senior Member Saltybeagle's Avatar
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    Also recommend the dinotte 140R, bright enough to be seen in daylight or a heavy 1 hr downpour such as the one this morning on the return leg of a 50 mile ride. The small blinkies were barely visible.

    I prefer the lion batteries vs the nicd.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by jgjulio View Post
    I highly recommend the Planet Bike Superflash. I have it on 4 bikes. They get attention even in the daytime.

    http://www.amazon.com/Planet-Bike-Bl...3615823&sr=8-2
    i AGREE EVEN IN DAYLIGHT IT SHOWS UP WELL AND i GET MORE ROOM FROM CARS best light IMHO for the $$$ on the market . I run Blackburn X 8 lights in front but that because I ride a LOT at night

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