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Old 10-02-12, 08:37 AM   #1
storckm
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Lights on a Trailer

I now find myself captaining a 15 foot long bicycle 'train': tandem, tag-along, and child trailer. I have bottle dynamo head and tail lights on the tandem, but I realized last night (in a gentle rain) that it might be a good idea to have a taillight on the trailer, and perhaps even on the tag-along (in case I ride without the trailer sometime).

What do you think? I'm partial to non-battery lights, and am thinking about some of these reelights.

When I first thought about the problem, I imagined some sort of hookup where you could draw power from the generator, perhaps via an audio plug of some sort, but that might be more trouble than it's worth.
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Old 10-02-12, 09:46 AM   #2
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I put two Planet Bike Superflash-es on the back of our trailer and Superflash attachment on the TAB.
If I pull the train I don't turn the TAB light on blinking, because it really blinds the kid in the trailer. I also don't turn my bike rear Superflash on blink for the same reason. It was ok to turn them on solid (non blinking). The ones on the rear of the trailer are on blink.

I like the idea of non battery lights (for example I have early pedalite pedals), but seem to always come back to simple battery lights as I can swap them easily between all the bikes/trailers/TABs in the house.
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Old 10-02-12, 10:22 AM   #3
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+1 for Planet Bike battery lights. They all use the same mounting clip, so you can attach a bracket to everything you've got and swap the lights around as needed. You can also use their lower powered (and cheaper and longer lasting) lights as "marker" lights in the train where other passengers riding behind might be blinded by a Superflash.

If you are feeling ambitious, you could probably rig a bottle dyno onto the trailer and have it power its own lights.
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Old 10-02-12, 10:56 AM   #4
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If you are feeling ambitious, you could probably rig a bottle dyno onto the trailer and have it power its own lights.
I thought about that. The problem is that, with so little current being used, I would expect the taillight not to last very long. I could use a bottle dynamo with five or six taillights, but that would be pretty expensive.

That's what made me think of the reelights.
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Old 10-02-12, 01:05 PM   #5
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I've got three blackburn mars 3.0 taillights on our burley, which i removed the stock reflectors from, and added a 2' piece of scotchlite red tape to.

Gives me alternate blinking lights low down on the trailer, and one up high in the middle, forming a large alternately blinking triangle, with a bright red reflective strip at the base, plus the silver reflective accents around the back & sides.

I've been contemplating adding some cheap white lights to the front to help light up by my bike/the ground in front of the trailer and a blinky to each side to help mark it from the sides to cars.
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Old 10-03-12, 08:06 AM   #6
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I thought about that. The problem is that, with so little current being used, I would expect the taillight not to last very long. I could use a bottle dynamo with five or six taillights, but that would be pretty expensive.
That's what made me think of the reelights.
If you are really bent on using bottle dynamo, you can just use a good LED taillight designed for dynamos (or tinker with your own )
Also another strike against reelights is that they don't provide any light while stopped - a significant drawback in my opinion.
There are generator lights which do provide "standlight" function (Busch & Miller comes to mind)
But all of these cost more than PB Supreflashes ($20) which typically last me the whole winter season on one charge of Eneloop rechargeable batteries.
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Old 10-03-12, 08:23 AM   #7
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Also another strike against reelights is that they don't provide any light while stopped - a significant drawback in my opinion.
+1 on this point. Waiting to cross somewhere or just stopped you would be without lights.
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Old 10-03-12, 11:57 AM   #8
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Also another strike against reelights is that they don't provide any light while stopped - a significant drawback in my opinion.
Some of them do have a standlight. Take a look at these and these.

Last edited by storckm; 10-03-12 at 12:04 PM.
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Old 10-03-12, 12:21 PM   #9
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Assuming the OP is riding at least one child along in that train, I'm kinda shocked that the taillight issue wasn't of utmost importance. I honestly cannot imagine a scenario where I'm hauling kids without active lighting. I'm glad the OP has "seen the light," so to speak.

With that, I'd say to screw the hassle of generator lights and just stick some battery powered units on there. Flashing tail lights last forever, are bright, and always illuminated, even when stopped or moving slowly.

I'm a huge fan of the Portland Design Works "Dangerzone" light, and recommend them highly. They grace my kid's bike, the tagalong, and my trailer. Additionally, my trailer and sidecar are fitted with multicolor LEDs, and I fire up my Monkeylights on the utility bike when I'm hauling my most precious cargo.

Here are a couple of videos showing my kid hauling light setups. It may seem like a lot, but I'd be absolutely devastated if my kids were maimed or killed when out riding, and night lighting seems like simple, easy, insurance against the inherent dangers of night riding.

You can see the PDW Dangerzone on the left side of the trailer in this vid, although it is not on at this time. I have it angled to deliver peak brightness to a car driver's eyes at about 50'.



The LED kits are waterproof, car wheel well units, with lots of color, speed, and pattern adjustability, and are easily powered for several hours off a simple 8AA battery holder. IIRC, I got 4 x 24" strips and the control module and remote fob for $80 on eBay. $8 bucks for the battery holder, plug adapter, and zip ties was all it took to put the two carriers on the road.

With three months of almost weekly night rides this summer, I've not had to replace the Energizer Lithiums yet. Most of the rides aren't more than 20-30 minute chunks of lighted riding, however.

Last edited by chaadster; 10-03-12 at 12:24 PM.
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Old 10-04-12, 08:04 AM   #10
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Anyway, have any of you tried the reelights?
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Old 10-04-12, 08:25 AM   #11
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Wow. Just. Wow. Very impressive chaadster!

I'd almost worry that you'd be MORE likely to get hit when a passing driver tries to get his phone out to take a picture of you! Just kidding, of course!

Seeing this makes me wonder, though, if there isn't some benefit to making one's rig look more like a "vehicle" that a driver would understand as such. For example, drivers learn to recognize, and eventually instinctively understand, that 2 steady red lights mark the width of a vehicle from behind. Adding a third at the top center would be similar to the third brake light on a car - a convention that would get a driver's attention. B&M has some video on their web site proposing that their "Line" tail lights enable drivers to judge the distance to a cyclist much better then a point source light does. OF course, on a bike by itself, there's no way to get 2 points far enough apart to mimic car tail lights, so a line is the best you can do. On a trailer, you can get some horizontal seperation of lights.

Of course, too much visibility is always better then too little. Just thinking....
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Old 10-04-12, 09:31 AM   #12
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Wow. Just. Wow. Very impressive chaadster!

I'd almost worry that you'd be MORE likely to get hit when a passing driver tries to get his phone out to take a picture of you! Just kidding, of course!

Seeing this makes me wonder, though, if there isn't some benefit to making one's rig look more like a "vehicle" that a driver would understand as such. For example, drivers learn to recognize, and eventually instinctively understand, that 2 steady red lights mark the width of a vehicle from behind. Adding a third at the top center would be similar to the third brake light on a car - a convention that would get a driver's attention. B&M has some video on their web site proposing that their "Line" tail lights enable drivers to judge the distance to a cyclist much better then a point source light does. OF course, on a bike by itself, there's no way to get 2 points far enough apart to mimic car tail lights, so a line is the best you can do. On a trailer, you can get some horizontal seperation of lights.

Of course, too much visibility is always better then too little. Just thinking....
No, I hear ya, and I usually run the trailer/sidecar LEDs in steady red or simply flashing red modes. I'm a pretty extroverted guy, but the full, color and pattern flashing thing would be too much for even me to deal with every day!
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Old 10-04-12, 09:35 AM   #13
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Anyway, have any of you tried the reelights?
Oh yeah, dude, Reelights are the best.

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