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  1. #1
    littlecircles bmike's Avatar
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    Long Distance Night Riding

    With the heat here in the NE, I've been waiting till dusk to start pedalling. My last 2 rides had me returning well after dark. I enjoy the night riding - nothing quite like it...

    So, here are some observations - (you other LD gurus chime in, please) -

    Equipment -

    Even before Brevet riding I struggled with lighting, primarily while commuting. I've gone through my share of battery powered Cateye's, eventually investing in a modestly expensive Night Rider system. The NR worked well for about a month - but had range (bat charge limitations), and was sent back to the factory twice for repair (their customer service is phenomenal, BTW)... the straw that broke its back was it failing on a rainy 18 mile commute, well after 10PM, out in the boonies. It's been sitting in my "almost worked" collection of bike stuff.

    Currently I ride a Schmidt Dyno Hub with dual Schmidt E6 headlights. I wish I'd have spent the $$ a few years ago on this rather than all the batteries and headaches. I love this setup. With dual lights it is very bright - and it runs as long as I can turn the pedals.

    I've added a DanoLite LED to my helmet for navigation (cue sheets, street signs, etc.) This light is super light - only 18g on your head - and the burn time on the batteries is stated as 2.6 hours. By using the light selectively I've gotten far longer than 2 hours out of it... The first 2 DanLites I used failed at the bond between the aluminum clip and the LED. Peter White has replaced both of these - and I emailed the manufacturer who assured me that the 2 were a fluke - (I HOPE!) - a problem in his early manufacturing process. I'm on my 3rd light now and it seems fine. I want this light to work problem free - as it is so light on your head! and BRIGHT!

    On the handlebars I've got a micro white LED. This can be set to blink or steady - and is my "be seen" light if I'm at a stop and the E6's aren't on. It comes in handy when changing batteries in my headlamp - and I even used it to read my cue on my 600k when my headlamp failed.

    I've got a standard LED rear blinky, along with a micro red LED on the left chainstay, and bar end blinkies.

    I wear ankle bands, as well as a Amphipod.

    I'm happy with the set-up - but am researching alternatives to the Schmidt E6 lights. I may be trying a LED or Lumotech and see how they compare.


    Riding:

    I run a single E6 from the time the sun starts dropping. This helps with visibility down the road.

    Dusk and Dawn are the most challenging times to see the road - headlights of oncoming cars seem to overpower the E6's, and my eyes seem to be adjusting to the fading light. The road right in front of me often disappears. I'll often leave the headlamp on - as it's bright enough to light the road in front of me.

    After dark I have both E6's running, and I'll selectively use the headlamp for navigating.

    Glasses - clear or yellow "shooting" lenses - keeps the bugs out of your eyes! (I learned this painfully) - bugs like your lights - and like a car, my bike is splattered with em!

    Eating and drinking - I tend to eat and drink a bit more at night - trying to keep my energy up - it can get a bit demoralizing and isolating to be riding along in a bubble of light for long periods of time.

    Descending - I do this fast on roads that I know - its fun "flying" after dark... but where I'm not sure, I take it a bit slower. I'm weary of the NE's roads, and when it starts to get choppy, I put on the brakes.

    Climbing - is interesting in the dark. If you don't know the terrain you don't really know how hard to work - and getting in tune with my breathing and cadence seems easier - I'm certainly more in tune with this at night - just me and my bike - and the sound of my breathing and the tires on the road.

    Stopping to take it all in - last night I rode out on some very quiet roads. I stopped to watch thousands of fireflies light up a field. UNREAL. Equally unreal was turning off all my lighting equipment and looking up - a thousand times more stars than there were fireflies. Made all that climbing worth it.

    Traffic - you know cars are coming a long ways out - as you are typically lit up well in advance when the pass from behind. When coming from the front I try to flash my headlamp in the cars direction (often times the brights will go off then!), and then I focus on the edge of the road - trying not to get blinded. I've had on occasion to come to a near stop until I was passed by a driver who didn't turn off his brights - I couldn't see the road right in front of me!


    Any other tips? Thoughts? Tricks?

  2. #2
    hell's angels h/q e3st ny brunop's Avatar
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    thanks dude! you're up there with machka and spokenword a long-distance gurus!
    ". . .a striped jersey under his jacket; bared calves (outside the bicycle track); cap pushed back; feet in a false position on the pedals; a barking horn, a disorderly appearance, an always-dry tongue, and a definite fondness for wine merchants. . ."

  3. #3
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    My current rig is a 5-led handlebar lamp clamped to my front fork for 'primary' lighting, a Sigma Sport EvoX halogen that I have strapped to my helmet, and a blackburn 3-led red taillight. It's totally the 'low-investment' / ghetto approach to brevet lighting, with multiple weak points; but it got me through a 600k, so it's certainly doable if not advisable.

    With fresh batteries, the 5-LED is bright enough to see the road on backcountry roads, and I never feel like I have to hold back, but it rapidly loses power over the long haul, and usually within three hours it's degraded into a weak glow. Good for being seen by other motorists and good enough for riding in the city, but not enough to see the road on a moonless or overcast night with no other lights but you and the fireflies. Riding with 4AM starts, it's usually been ok, since there's only one or two hours of complete darkness before the sun is high enough to make lighting superfluous, but I was pretty much swapping batteries at every night control on my 600.

    The halogen helmet lamp is a super-bright 10W bulb and is used as a backup for the 5-LED and so that I can read my cues and instruments at night. The rechargeable battery has a 3 hour runtime, and also needs to be used sparingly for night riding. The battery pack is also kind of heavy, and I had issues with the battery cable getting kinked and causing my light to fade on the 400k. Fortunately, the retailer was happy to exchange the part. All the same, I'd think twice of using a light with a rechargeable battery pack, as the cable seems to be a vulnerable point of failure.

    For next year I will be getting a dynamo hub with paired E6's mounted on the lowrider bosses of my fork. I didn't want to sink in the money for a dynamo wheel until I was committed to randoneering, but after completing a Super-Randonneur series and contemplating a 1200 multi-day brevet, it definitely makes sense now. The dynamo is also good for commuting use.

    I also wear a pair of yellow tinted glasses for night riding. I find it helps to cut down on the glare of oncoming cars, but SUVs with hi-beams are still the bane of my existence.

    I can also confirm what mike says about lights being bug magnets. I never had to deal with it that much in Massachusetts because the streets that I ride through never get that dark, and there's always a street light somewhere that draws more bugs than me. But night-time upstate New York was a totally different story. As soon as I'd turn on my halogen, I swear it was like every insect in a 100 yard radius would just kamikaze into me. Obviously, putting the brightest light in your rig on your head has its consequences.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Cadillac's Avatar
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    Lighting

    FoxFury features their Performance Bike System
    http://www.foxfury.com/products/perf.../bike/bike.htm
    The blurb says "Ideal for: Bicycling at speeds up to 25 mph (40 km/h)."
    "Fits Handlebar as well as Forehead and/or a Helmet"
    24 White LEDs
    Weight: 11.6 oz (328 g)
    Switches from a handlebar light to headlamp in less than 10 seconds
    Operates on 4 AA Batteries
    Battery Life: 6-8 hours (Full); 12 hours (Reserve)
    Waterproof to 20 ft (6 m)
    Cost = $134.99 USD

    It is probably an ultimate light, esp. at that price.

    However, I like to ride with two CatEye EL500 battery lamps.
    The EL500 is the latest version from CatEye with an 80 hour life to the 4 AA batteries.
    On a few of the night rides my daughter made, I was in the car looking for her and could see her EL500 light for about a mile.
    I have had cars flash their lights when I approached them -- they thought I was a car with my high beams on.
    The pattern on the road is a bright spot in the middle and two concave branches (not quite as bright as the spot) off to either side.
    Along with the EL500, I use a standard battery-powered bulb-type light (rather than LED)
    "Weary with toil, I haste me to my bed,
    The dear repose for limbs with travel tired;
    But then begins a journey in my head,
    To work my mind, when body's work's expired"
    -- Shakespeare Sonnet XXVII
    Click here to visit Motorera.com

  5. #5
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    Never believe manufacturer run times for battery lights. They are always optimistic, battery capacity and output reduces over time, and is often dependent on temperature, etc.

    Test your lights in the rain, a significant percentage fail after 3+ hours of rain (front or rear).

    Some headlight beam patterns are particularly unhelpful in fog or rain.

    We are overdue for a wet PBP...

  6. #6
    Dog is my co-pilot 2manybikes's Avatar
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    I use this on my weekly in the dark century rides. It runs a little longer than claimed. And as long as claimed in the cold. You get what you pay for.

    8 hours of bright light. The new model is 9 hours. This is the best piece of night riding equipment I have ever seen or read about.

    http://www.lupine.de/en/products/komplett/edi10.html
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

  7. #7
    Senior Member
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    I'm glad you have tested your light's runtime 2manybikes. Many don't performed as claimed, whether from manufacturing variations or manufacturer's optimism. I've found that more money doesn't necessarily improve those things greatly.

  8. #8
    Dog is my co-pilot 2manybikes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LWaB
    I'm glad you have tested your light's runtime 2manybikes. Many don't performed as claimed, whether from manufacturing variations or manufacturer's optimism. I've found that more money doesn't necessarily improve those things greatly.
    I agree they typically don't for a variety of reasons. I would have to say that most lights have the run time listed under ideal conditions. I think someone shopping for a new light should take your advice.

    When I was told by the shop I was buying the light from that I would get a good run time in the cold I really didn't believe them. That's the reason I tested it in the first place. Plus it justified another ride.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

  9. #9
    Senior Member Cadillac's Avatar
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    battery life

    So far, the same batteries (AA Duracell) in my CatEye EL500 have last almost 40 hours of use on several rides. While they may not last 80 hours as claimed, 40 hours is pretty good in my books -- and they haven't quit yet.
    "Weary with toil, I haste me to my bed,
    The dear repose for limbs with travel tired;
    But then begins a journey in my head,
    To work my mind, when body's work's expired"
    -- Shakespeare Sonnet XXVII
    Click here to visit Motorera.com

  10. #10
    You need a new bike supcom's Avatar
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    I've used NiMH rechargeable batteries in my EL500s and run them all night without problem.

  11. #11
    Zinophile tibikefor2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2manybikes
    I use this on my weekly in the dark century rides. It runs a little longer than claimed. And as long as claimed in the cold. You get what you pay for.

    8 hours of bright light. The new model is 9 hours. This is the best piece of night riding equipment I have ever seen or read about.

    http://www.lupine.de/en/products/komplett/edi10.html
    I run a Light and Motion ARC Li-ION setup which produces 6 hours of 13.3 W HID light which is equivalent to 40 Watt Haologen. I feel comfortable up to 35mph on downhills. Going 25mph on flats, I do not run out of light.
    Tibikefor2

  12. #12
    Dog is my co-pilot 2manybikes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tibikefor2
    I run a Light and Motion ARC Li-ION setup which produces 6 hours of 13.3 W HID light which is equivalent to 40 Watt Haologen. I feel comfortable up to 35mph on downhills. Going 25mph on flats, I do not run out of light.
    A good bright headlight is such a pleasure, adds to the fun of night riding and makes things so much safer. It's too bad you have to pay for them. They should give them away.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

  13. #13
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    When I use a light at dark it is one of those cateye battery models. Works fine for when I need it. I don't use it much, though
    Why? You described very well the benefits of riding without lights.
    I see the road just fine without and often I believe to see the entire roadway much better without a light directing my vision towards the center of the road. I think the night is the best time to pedal. I also do not like heat. Well, I don't like sweating unless I'm going all out and I don't often go all out unless I have competition which I never have.
    I go as fast as I care to. No problems.
    Cause the more cyclists notice me the more I Love myself.
    Cause the more cyclists notice me the more I Love myself.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Cadillac's Avatar
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    Night riding

    SunofSand,
    I agree that riding on some roads at night can easily be done without a light;
    but if you were to ride where I have ridden, it would be a different story.
    It is "pitch" black with no street lights, no houses, tall pines on either side of the road.
    Unless you have much better eyes than I have (and that is certainly a possibility), there is absolutely no way you could see the road. Besides, the road has a lot of cracks and holes to avoid.
    The worst, though, are the sneaky dogs and wild life. They would catch you unaware.

    While you might not need a headlight, I hope you have a good tail light (and reflective clothing) so that approaching vehicles can see you.
    "Weary with toil, I haste me to my bed,
    The dear repose for limbs with travel tired;
    But then begins a journey in my head,
    To work my mind, when body's work's expired"
    -- Shakespeare Sonnet XXVII
    Click here to visit Motorera.com

  15. #15
    You need a new bike supcom's Avatar
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    My experience riding brevets at night is that the routes are generally on rural roads with little ambient light. My eyes adapt to the very low light conditions and so I do not require high powered lights to see the road ahead. Mounting two Catey EL500 LED lights about midway down on the fork casts long shadows that make it quite easy to see obstacles and road imperfections at normal cycling speeds. I setup the two lights so one beam projects further down the road than the other with just a bit of overlap. I also use a helmet mounted Petzle LED lamp for reading cue sheets, computer, and street signs.

    I would not even consider an SLA battery light that gave me only 3.5 hours of use. That's worthless for any long distance riding and comes at a very high weight penalty.

  16. #16
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    1) Don't even speak to me about lights ... I've never had a light successfully finish a ride with me. OK, that's not quite true ... the cheap little Planet Bike lights are reasonable, although not very bright, and not very long lasting (3 hours tops). I'm still working on the lighting thing. But a helmet light is a very good investment ... you can see road signs so much easier with one!

    2) Reflective gear ... see attached photo

    3) Glasses ... I'm still working on this issue too. My problem is that I'm as blind as a bat without my prescription glasses. I've tried to get prescription sports glasses but the curve of the glasses throws the prescription right off, and objects ahead of me are much, much closer than they appear. I nearly rode into the rear end of a vehicle the first time I wore them. So bugs and tearing up are a part of my night riding life.

    4) Eating and drinking ... I tend to forget to eat and drink when I ride at night. After all, who eats after 10 pm?? To solve that problem, I put a Bento bag on my bicycle which contains my food. With my food right in front of me, I'm more inclined to eat, and my night riding has improved.

    5) Descending ... I'm as slow as molassas on a cold winter day on descents at night. I always feel a bit gyped when there are descents at night because I can never enjoy them. There are two issues with descents, one is the fact that I over-run my lights and can hit potholes (and if there is a single pothole anywhere on the road, I will hit it), and the second is the fact that all sorts of wildlife are prone to leap out of the bushes in front of the bicycle. On flat ground, this is not such a big deal because I'm not going that fast, but it could be a big deal on a descent. I suppose a better lighting system might help.

    6) Climbing ... climbing at night is weird and I'm much more inclined to walk hills in the dark - because I can't judge where the top is and how much effort I need to exert. However, I will add that if the hill is relatively gradual, I can climb it without realizing that I've been climbing. Somewhere about 3/4 of the way up the hill, I'll start to feel like I'm working harder than I think I should be and will realize that I'm actually climbing a hill. The same thing happens in a thick fog.

    Riding at night can be quite a good experience ... I've seen fireflies, all sorts of wildlife that tend to come out between dusk and dawn, the aurora borealis, stunning sunsets and sunrises. And on an event like the Last Chance, riding at night was almost preferable to riding during the day because the sense of sound became more important than the sense of sight ... we could hear the coyotes, the pumps and sprinklers in the fields, and so on ... and we could imagine that there was actually scenery out there!!
    Attached Images Attached Images

  17. #17
    Senior Member socalrider's Avatar
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    On top of good headlight and taillight, think of adding a lightweight flashing LED helmet light.. You can direct the light at approaching cars.. I found this to work the best of all.. You can use a Princeton TEC aurora or the New EOS.. The EOS can also double as a decent light in a pinch, when used in standard mode.. I found these 2 lights to have the most adjustability when used on a helmet and the best thing is that they are very lightweight, right at 3 ounces w/ batteries installed.. You just need 12 to 18 inches of velcro with a loop, similar to a pump strap and your ready to go.. Princeton tec actually now sells these as bike lights.. They come with both handlebar and helmet mounts and are under 50.00.. The EOS is a 1 watt Luxeon star which is 4x brighter than the stock 3 led headlamp..

    http://www.princetontec.com/products/index.php?use=4

    http://www.geocities.com/mar10stuff/...metwaurora.jpg

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    EL500 mount to fork?

    Hi, I am new to randonneuring and have been wondering how to mount the EL 500 to the fork, which you say you have done, b/c with aerobars + computer, handlebar space is at a premium-- also I hear that lights work better when mounted lower down. Could you describe your setup, and tell me where you got it?

    Thanks

    Quote Originally Posted by supcom
    My experience riding brevets at night is that the routes are generally on rural roads with little ambient light. My eyes adapt to the very low light conditions and so I do not require high powered lights to see the road ahead. Mounting two Catey EL500 LED lights about midway down on the fork casts long shadows that make it quite easy to see obstacles and road imperfections at normal cycling speeds. I setup the two lights so one beam projects further down the road than the other with just a bit of overlap. I also use a helmet mounted Petzle LED lamp for reading cue sheets, computer, and street signs.

    I would not even consider an SLA battery light that gave me only 3.5 hours of use. That's worthless for any long distance riding and comes at a very high weight penalty.

  19. #19
    cyclopath vik's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by agellen
    Hi, I am new to randonneuring and have been wondering how to mount the EL 500 to the fork, which you say you have done, b/c with aerobars + computer, handlebar space is at a premium-- also I hear that lights work better when mounted lower down. Could you describe your setup, and tell me where you got it?

    Thanks
    Here is a pic of the light mounts on my Surly LHT:



    Here are the details on how I mounted them:

    http://vikapproved.blogspot.com/2006...rk-lights.html

    If you don't have any rack mounts midway up your fork legs you can use Cronometro NOBs to get the same effect. They wouldn't be as secure, but people seem to be happy with them. My new long distance bike has no mid-fork braze ons so I'll be trying them out this winter and seeing how they work for me. I was thinking of applying a bit of shoe goo to the forks when I mounted the NOBs to reduce the likelihood they would slip.





    http://www.peterwhitecycles.com/light-mounts.asp
    Last edited by vik; 10-03-06 at 03:53 PM.
    safe riding - Vik
    VikApproved

  20. #20
    Dog is my co-pilot 2manybikes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka
    1) Don't even speak to me about lights ... I've never had a light successfully finish a ride with me. OK, that's not quite true ... the cheap little Planet Bike lights are reasonable, although not very bright, and not very long lasting (3 hours tops). I'm still working on the lighting thing. But a helmet light is a very good investment ... you can see road signs so much easier with one!
    I know you don't want to spend a lot on a light system. I know you have tried a few different things and have something that works at the moment with two different lights. I remember most of what you have said before about lights.

    But, I was just curious, how long does a light need to run in one night to give you enough, plus a little more in case of a flat or something ? Worst case, longest night. 4:00 pm to 5:00 am? 13 hours? longer?

    Does it need to run a number of days in a row at night? 2 days, 3 days?
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

  21. #21
    You need a new bike supcom's Avatar
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    The "nobs" above work well, though some folks I know had problems with them slipping on a tapered fork. If you use them, be sure to put a rubber pad or some double stick tape underneath the strap. I used some Minoura stubs that have a metal strap. These work well, but are not recommended for carbon fiber forks. If you have a carbon fork,, go with the nobs.

  22. #22
    littlecircles bmike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by supcom
    The "nobs" above work well, though some folks I know had problems with them slipping on a tapered fork. If you use them, be sure to put a rubber pad or some double stick tape underneath the strap. I used some Minoura stubs that have a metal strap. These work well, but are not recommended for carbon fiber forks. If you have a carbon fork,, go with the nobs.
    The nobs do work well. I used them on my LeMond with carbon fork for this past season's brevets. I had to find a sweet spot before the for tapered - and I used some exterior 3M adhesive rubber stuff under them... held the E6's just fine.

  23. #23
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    Yes, agreed about something under the nob, but also something *under* the nob... that is four or five rounds of electrical tape wrapped around the fork just below where you intend positioning the nob. This provides a ridge that will prevent the nob from sliding down the fork. The only weakness is *really* hot weather in which the adhesive on the tape softens too much, but it is more likely the tape will bunch up at the top of the wrap.
    Dream. Dare. Do.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan
    four or five rounds of electrical tape wrapped around the fork
    There ya go! My nobs have never budged. I electrical tape -- my bike is festooned with the stuff.

  25. #25
    Senior Member Paul L.'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    Arizona, USA
    My Bikes
    Mercier Corvus (commuter), Fila Taos (MTB), Trek 660(Got frame for free and put my LeMans Centurian components on it)
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    I just implemented a Shimano Hub 3n71 solution hooking it up to 4 Luxeon 3 lights. It is plenty Bright and so far is working out well. A friend and I are running a 200k permanent starting at 10 pm Friday night just for kicks. Should be a good test of the new light. I use a Princeton Tec EOS as a backup and standlight when stopped.

    As far as eating and drinking at night, usually I have been following a schedule of eating all day so it just comes naturally to me at night. I do have to watch not overconsuming fluids at night though as that slows down as the heat drops.
    Sunrise saturday,
    I was biking the backroads,
    lost in the moment.

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