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Living Car Free Do you live car free or car light? Do you prefer to use alternative transportation (bicycles, walking, other human-powered or public transportation) for everyday activities whenever possible? Discuss your lifestyle here.

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Old 01-22-07, 02:13 PM   #1
endless
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lights?

what kind-of bike lights do you guys recommend? i'm gonna be riding to school and back and i'll be goin through some areas with NO lights at all at like 9 or 10pm and that makes me nervous on the road bike (pot holes dont exactly stand out in the dark lol)

i was lookin at knogusa.com and they have some pretty cool LED lights that wrap around a bar anywhere on your bike. anyone have any experience with those? i just don't want to buy a light that might cost me a new bike and/or parts.
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Old 01-22-07, 02:24 PM   #2
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Look at both the "light selection guide" and the "total geekiness" in the commutting forum

Building your own light system is easy and cheap if you have just some minor technical skills

The knogusa things seem to be a little gimmicky. They would be alright as auxillary lights but never as main source
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Old 01-22-07, 02:28 PM   #3
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cool, thanks man!
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Old 01-22-07, 04:42 PM   #4
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I just bought a Vega light for 125$ on Ebay. It costs a small fortune but I will save the money on batteries and if saves me from crashing just once it has paid for itself many times over and them some.

There is no separate battery pack and wires to mess with.
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Old 01-22-07, 04:47 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by littledog
I just bought a Vega light for 125$ on Ebay. It costs a small fortune but I will save the money on batteries and if saves me from crashing just once it has paid for itself many times over and them some.

There is no separate battery pack and wires to mess with.
It is a Light and Motion Vega.
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Old 01-22-07, 05:25 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dwoloz
Look at both the "light selection guide" and the "total geekiness" in the commutting forum

Building your own light system is easy and cheap if you have just some minor technical skills

The knogusa things seem to be a little gimmicky. They would be alright as auxillary lights but never as main source
This is a great way to build a cheap, but useful light. For travelling where there is absolutely no lighting, I think most of the LEDs you see for around $50 won't work too well. But some kind of a halogen system is available.
http://www.nashbar.com/profile.cfm?c...Front%20Lights
This one is $50. You'll also have to add something like a PlanetBike superflash, which is the best rear blinkie available right now and runs about $20.

I built the following light (front and rear) for about $60.
Pond Scum DIY halogen light

But it does take a while to build.
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Old 01-22-07, 05:34 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by endless
what kind-of bike lights do you guys recommend?
I built one of the "pond scum" halogen lights from these forums, and it works great. I did invest a bit more in the battery, opting for a 14.8V lithium rechargeable battery pack. It shortens you life on halogen bulbs, but they are so cheap, it's worth having the brighter light that 15 volts gives.
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Old 01-22-07, 06:50 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by endless
what kind-of bike lights do you guys recommend? i'm gonna be riding to school and back and i'll be goin through some areas with NO lights at all at like 9 or 10pm and that makes me nervous on the road bike (pot holes dont exactly stand out in the dark lol)
I switched to generator lights on all my bikes a few years before I went car free. For four years or so I also rode at 9 or 10pm through an area with no lights. The generator lights with halogen bulbs were bright enough to illuminate the path. I used several types, a hub generator and several brands of bottle type. With the very cheapest $10 at target, I carried spare bulbs and when I got to the dark section of the path I shut off the tail light to make the headlight brighter. For the high end check out the Schmidt hub generators.

A car free friend who as an enviromental streak to him claims I'm being greener by eschewing batteries but I did it for realiability. I had problems on the long nightime rides especially when the temperatures were down in the 20s F the battery systems would fade. That was a decade ago. Still I like the always available aspect of generator systems.
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Old 01-22-07, 07:22 PM   #9
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I will second the hub generator, by far the best way to go if the finances will allow it. I too have had problems with battery powered lights in low temps. For a rear blinky I would highly recommend the Super Flash from Planet Bike. I bought one a couple of weeks ago and have 2 more on order My current light setup is a Shimano Generator hub, a D Toplight Plus taillight with a B&M Lumotec N headlight. I ride primarily on unlit country roads. Check out the light section at Peter White Cycles it is full of good information.

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Old 01-22-07, 10:38 PM   #10
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About once a week I ride to a friend's house in the suburbs. It's a little over an hour to ride there, and after I get out of the city there is little lighting. I think there are two issues: seeing and being seen. I bought this setup to see:

http://www.sigmasport.com/en/produkt...punkt=features

This lasts the entire round trip (~2 hours), and is bright enough to illuminate the roads in the burbs. I also use a flashing white light to be seen by cars on cross streets. (I am paranoid.) I run two flashing red lights behind me: one duct taped to the back of my helmet and one on the back of my luggage rack. Everything runs off batteries. I bought enough rechargeable batteries to power all my lights, and a "quick charge" system so that they are ready whenever I need them. This was easier to set up than a generator hub, because I can ride whatever bike I want without having to swap wheels, and I can ride as slow as I want.
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Old 01-22-07, 11:49 PM   #11
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Some people may roll their eyes in disgust about this, but I just use one of those cheap $35 Cat-Eye LED lights, the kind that runs on four AA batteries, and haven't had any trouble at all; and I ride in the dark pretty much every day. I've ridden on trails with no lighting at all on very dark nights and could see the way ahead just fine. I have a battery charger and two sets of rechargable batteries; I carry one set as a spare, just in case. I don't use the flasher setting, because it irritates the bejesus out of me, but even so, the light will run a good 75+ hours on a single charge. It's inexpensive and it works. But then, I'm only riding 15-18 mph, and that's on flat ground; if you're going really fast at night, you're going to need something better than LEDs.
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Old 01-24-07, 01:23 PM   #12
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I also can highly reccommend the CatEye lights that run on AA batteries. I bought an HL-EL530 headlight and a TL-LD1000 taillight, CatEye's top of the line in their respective categories, for only $62 total from www.Zbikenut.com (although I'm having trouble getting on the website right now). They are very bright and have worked great so far. I also have a very expensive dynamo system on one of my bikes which I like very much but if you're looking for something inexpensive, my money is on the LED lights that run on standard batteries.
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Old 01-24-07, 05:32 PM   #13
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I also have a very expensive dynamo system on one of my bikes which I like very much but if you're looking for something inexpensive, my money is on the LED lights that run on standard batteries.
I use a cateye 3-LED light for night riding. I think it's great as a be-seen light, but it's no good as a see-the-road light. If you want an inexpensive see-the-road light you want something along the lines of 3-watt halogen or 1-watt LED at a minimum. For inexpensive lights, AA or C or AAA batteries are definitely the way to go. At my house we have a bunch of NiMH AA's, which work with all our bike lights.
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Old 01-26-07, 03:04 PM   #14
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My own experience is that a Cateye EL300 is a reasonable moderate speed light for night time, with a couple of blinkie tailights. But my night vision is pretty good. I also have a 1 watt led that I did an OK job. both of those lights use AAs and I use rechargables.

I really like the light from my 10 watt raptor, but the battery is a bit heavy and the run time is only about 2 hours, which limits the total darkness commute.
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Old 01-27-07, 08:55 PM   #15
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I commute every night because I work second shift. I use a $35 LED with 4 AA batteries also. It is adequate for being seen, IMO.

However, I don't think an LED is adequate for seeing in darkness, unless your night vision is better than mine (mine's lousy) or you ride slower than I do. All my night riding is on well lit city streets.
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Old 01-28-07, 11:26 AM   #16
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However, I don't think an LED is adequate for seeing in darkness, unless your night vision is better than mine (mine's lousy) or you ride slower than I do. All my night riding is on well lit city streets.
I feel that I need a brighter and more noticeable (ie: flashing/blinking) light when riding on well lit city streets. In the middle of nowhere, when it is dark, a small light will be noticed by drivers. In the city, there are a billion things around to catch the drivers' attentions. Flashing lights stand out, and makes me noticed.

I actually feel safer riding at night, because I think cars are more likely to see me than when I ride during the day.

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Old 01-28-07, 11:29 AM   #17
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And don't forget about reflectors, reflective tape and reflective trim on your gear.
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Old 01-28-07, 11:40 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BearsPaw
I feel that I need a brighter and more noticeable (ie: flashing/blinking) light when riding on well lit city streets. In the middle of nowhere, when it is dark, a small light will be noticed by drivers. In the city, there are a billion things around to catch the drivers' attentions. Flashing lights stand out, and make me noticed.

I actually feel safer riding at night, because I think cars are more likely to see me than when I ride during the day.
When it is raining at night in the city is when I feel least safe. The water makes more surfaces reflective and the rain makes lights twinkle so I worry that any blinky light will be lost in the dazzle. Maybe bikers need a special color that is disnct from any other color, like a lime green blinky or purple.
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Old 01-28-07, 01:16 PM   #19
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Depends on your basic riding speed. For most of the lights recommended one can easily outrun the effective reaction time/distance. If you're doing 15-18 mph the 3 LED Cateye would be fine w/a cheap rear blinkie. If you average over 20 you're going to want something w/greater visibilty potential. Both you and what you want to avoid(potholes, cars, pedestrians, etc.). That being said ANYTHING is far better than nothing, so get something. The Cateye Sport is 1 LED w/a blink mode and rated @ 80hrs, but seems to last much longer. Under $20 from performance, nashbar or bikepartsusa. 2 AA batteries. Rear blinkies run about $10-15 w/2 AAA batteries, usually.

I, also work 2nd shift and my commute is 38 mi rt on rural roads where there is NO lighting at all except for house lights and the occasional security light mounted to a utility pole. There's 3 in 19 miles. So, I run 5 miles at a stretch in total blackness except for my headlight. Have 2 niterider trailrats(10w halogen)w/ universal taillight. Got everything at brandscycle.com(free shipping for orders over $30) except for the taillight battery which I ordered from niterider. The headlights are about $100 ea w/batteries, mounts,etc. and the universal taillight is $55. It is EXTREMELY bright to the point of irritation...which is what I wanted. The taillight is made to be used in combo w/t headlight , but I got an extra battery I use just for the taillight. It cost $75. I've got the Cateye sport on blink mode for the ride in. An old Fisher blinkie on my helmet and 2 more w/xtra batteries in my gear. Can't be too careful.

My system may be overkill for your needs, but figure on spending $50-75 to get good stuff. Always carry backups in your gear, too.
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