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Old 02-17-08, 12:57 PM   #1
Smen
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Let there be Light?

Setting up my MT bike to be an offroad touring beast, got the rack, got pans, got all my super-duper light weight camping equipement...I just forgot 1 thing. LIGHTS! I don't plan on doing much riding at night, but I've been caught out hiking at night before and I'm headed out to some pretty lonely mountain roads. I have 2 different headlamps, one LED and one monster that I bought second hand from a dude that used it spelunking he said.

Here's my problem though:

I'm not gonna be anywhere that I can recharge something unless I use a hand or pedal crank or perhaps a solar recharger

Help?
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Old 02-17-08, 01:47 PM   #2
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This page from www.biketouringtips.com provides 6 sites with information about bike lights and dynamos.

Several of the links have more information than you will need to answer any question you have!

Ray
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Old 02-17-08, 05:24 PM   #3
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I wouldn't mess with riding lights unless you PLAN to ride at night. Carry a light weight flashing tail light and I cheap LED headlamp and you can limp home/set up camp/read maps/etc if you get caught in the dark.
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Old 02-17-08, 06:22 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Smen View Post
Setting up my MT bike to be an offroad touring beast, got the rack, got pans, got all my super-duper light weight camping equipement...I just forgot 1 thing. LIGHTS! I don't plan on doing much riding at night, but I've been caught out hiking at night before and I'm headed out to some pretty lonely mountain roads. I have 2 different headlamps, one LED and one monster that I bought second hand from a dude that used it spelunking he said.

Here's my problem though:

I'm not gonna be anywhere that I can recharge something unless I use a hand or pedal crank or perhaps a solar recharger

Help?
Fenix L2D flashlight.

Takes AA batteries. Use it on low around the campsite, on Turbo fastened to your helmet w/ a strip of velcro. You can buy AA batteries anywhere. If you intend to use it a *lot*, get a 15-minute charger for whenever you pass by a piece of civilization.
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Old 02-17-08, 06:46 PM   #5
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The 3 watt LED Maglite Mini is a much better value than the Fenix. Lowe's has them for $23. You can make a mount or buy one online for about $15.

I bought two of these and mounted one to my bike and one on my helmet (with super-strength Velcro). They work great especially with Lithium AA's.
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Old 02-18-08, 05:51 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by yater View Post
I wouldn't mess with riding lights unless you PLAN to ride at night. Carry a light weight flashing tail light and I cheap LED headlamp and you can limp home/set up camp/read maps/etc if you get caught in the dark.
+1
We carry a small LED headlamp that takes AAA batteries primarily for seeing around camp, but it does double duty if we need to ride at night. It doesn't provide much light but you can be seen if on the road and can see well enough to limp along on or off road. I always have a LED blinkie, again with AAA batteries, whenever I ride. The whole works only weighs a few ounces even with some spare batteries.
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Old 02-18-08, 10:04 PM   #7
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"Don't mess with lights unless you plan to ride at night". This used to be what I thought. But recent advances in lighting technology have helped me to change my mind.

1. I use the same bike for touring (daytime), commutes and local rides (often at night)

2. I like the hub generator for its convenience.

3. Decent battery taillights and be-seen headlights don't eat batteries and are useful at camp.


In practise, I tend to turn on a couple of Superflash taillights in flashing mode when the sky is dark or it's raining. It helps improve visibility. If you aren't convinced, lock your bike to a fence (make sure it's well aligned) and walk back 150-200 m; then look at your bike with and without taillights.
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Old 02-18-08, 10:24 PM   #8
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I can't imagine doing a serious tour without a dynamo! You can plan daylight hours only tours but you will inevitably run late and end up riding to the next scheduled stop in the dark. Obtaining and hauling disposable batteries is a pain as well. After several years of serious touring as a guide or just for fun I developed the following circuit.

The dynamo may be any type standard 6-volt 3-watt type.
Diodes convert AC to DC.
Batteries regulate voltage and current and supply clean power for the USB connector or the LED lights.
The USB connector allows recharging a cell phone, GPS unit, camera or a PDA as long as they have a USB port and can be recharged via USB power.
At night the LED headlight provides more than just "be seen" lighting. The LED taillight is there as a backup to a blinkie. The capacitor is in the circuit to allow the lights to be function properly without the batteries in the circuit in the event they were damaged.
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Old 02-18-08, 10:40 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by DuckFat View Post
The 3 watt LED Maglite Mini is a much better value than the Fenix. Lowe's has them for $23. You can make a mount or buy one online for about $15.

I bought two of these and mounted one to my bike and one on my helmet (with super-strength Velcro). They work great especially with Lithium AA's.
Here is one modified for use with 2 externally mounted "D" batteries.

I cut a section of fiberglass tent pole so the length would be exactly the same as 2 "AA" batteries. I used some terminal connectors soldered to wire to replicate the ends of the batteries. I drilled a hole in the cap to pass the wire through. Note the extra washer made from a terminal connector, this prevents the spring in the cap from binding. The tent pole was smaller in diameter than "AA" batteries so I wrapped white medical tape around the tent pole to center it in the flashlight. 2 "D" batteries will power the flashlight for many more hours than internally mounted "AA" batteries. You may remove the adapter and return the flashlight to internal batteries with only the hole remaining. You can install a nice lanyard in the hole so no one will notice you drilled a hole in it!
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Old 02-18-08, 11:18 PM   #10
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The 3 watt LED Maglite Mini is a much better value than the Fenix. Lowe's has them for $23. You can make a mount or buy one online for about $15.

I bought two of these and mounted one to my bike and one on my helmet (with super-strength Velcro). They work great especially with Lithium AA's.
I have both the 3 watt Mag LED and the Fenix L2D Premium Q5. The Maglite is a toy compared to the Fenix. It isn't as bright as the Fenix on the medium setting (remember, there's a low 12 lumens, medium 53 lumens, high 107 lumens, and turbo 180 lumens), putting it at less than 50 lumens. Yes, you can ride by the Maglite at night (I have), but it's risky and the output doesn't even compare. By the way, I've actually had two of the Maglites. The first one broke after 2 months of occaisional use, but riding around in my pannier for emergencies. I took it back and got it replaced. This is hardly what I would consider to be reliable.

In terms of value, you'd need 4 of them to equal the luminance of 1 Fenix on turbo.

Finally, keep in mind the Maglite is NOT waterproof, but only water resistant. The Fenix is waterproof to IPX-8 standards (I'm not sure what that means, but gives me confidence it'll hold up well on my helmet in a heavy downpour).

On a limited budget, I'd get a PB Superflash and a Fenix L2D Premium Q5. You'd be out $90 + batteries (note: I'm a big fan of DiNotte - I have a front and rear as well - but believe on a lonely mountain road where there's little to no light pollution, the DiNottes would be nice, but not necessary).
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Old 02-19-08, 12:51 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Michel Gagnon View Post
"Don't mess with lights unless you plan to ride at night". This used to be what I thought. But recent advances in lighting technology have helped me to change my mind.

1. I use the same bike for touring (daytime), commutes and local rides (often at night)

2. I like the hub generator for its convenience.

3. Decent battery taillights and be-seen headlights don't eat batteries and are useful at camp.


In practise, I tend to turn on a couple of Superflash taillights in flashing mode when the sky is dark or it's raining. It helps improve visibility. If you aren't convinced, lock your bike to a fence (make sure it's well aligned) and walk back 150-200 m; then look at your bike with and without taillights.
I'm sooo in agreement about the value of the Superflash for daytime touring.

This spring/summer I'll be field testing a Vetta Microlux TSL-C system, a wired, lightweight 3 watt LED headlight/20LED taillight system. Runs on 4-AA batteries. Headlamp looks about as bright as the first gen Niterider Minewt, definetly less than the Minewt X2.

The light housings appear cheaply constructed but the wiring harness is very robust with excellent connectors. We'll see how long a set of batteries lasts in it but haven't burned it for many road hours yet.

I usually bring a small 2-AAA climbers' headlamp for camp chores.

last five years or so I've taken to also always wearing a VERY SMALL Black Diamond headlamp like a necklace while bike or ski touring. the 2008 ones cost 20 bucks, are about the size of a pack of matches, and use a half watt LED bulb- brighter than many 'be seen' bike lights.

You don't even know you have it on, but in the middle of the night you've ALWAYS got a light right there...

Last edited by Bekologist; 02-19-08 at 01:13 AM.
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Old 02-19-08, 02:11 AM   #12
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If you throw a decent dyno and light on there, you might end up doing a lot of miles at night.

Im not sure what the original question was. Solar wont work without huge panels. If you don't need much light a low brightness battery light would be ok. If you can get batteries along the way you can get a few hours of rideable light out of 4AAs on a dinotte 200l.
If you want a lot of light for moderate pace for a few hours after a day in the saddle, dyno is the way to go.
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Old 02-19-08, 02:47 AM   #13
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Finally, keep in mind the Maglite is NOT waterproof, but only water resistant. The Fenix is waterproof to IPX-8 standards (I'm not sure what that means, but gives me confidence it'll hold up well on my helmet in a heavy downpour).
From Wikipedia ("IP code"): IPX8 means it can be immersed continuously in water in conditions specified by the manufacturer. I don't have my L2D documentation with me, but I seem to remember they specify it as "dunkable", whatever that means.

In some ways IPX7 would be better, as it leaves the manufacturer less possibilities to add small print. But for L2D's intended use, IPX8 is more than enough.

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Old 02-19-08, 11:39 PM   #14
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If you throw a decent dyno and light on there, you might end up doing a lot of miles at night. ...

It depends where you tour. When I tour in Central Canada in July, daylight starts at 5:00 a.m. and ends around 9:00 p.m.. So unless I want to see the stars at night or have any other special reason to ride at night, there is plenty of daylight to tour in broad daylight, and I need the night to sleep.

But closer to the equator or closer to the solstices (or worst, in Winter), riding only in daylight would prove itself very limiting.
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Old 02-20-08, 12:01 AM   #15
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Fenix L2D flashlight.

Takes AA batteries. Use it on low around the campsite, on Turbo fastened to your helmet w/ a strip of velcro. You can buy AA batteries anywhere. If you intend to use it a *lot*, get a 15-minute charger for whenever you pass by a piece of civilization.
+1
I use a blinkie + a fenix L2DCE ( + a cateye EL500 when commuting)

AAs easy to find, light is the right shape and light enough to tape (or velcro) to the helmet, a bike block can be used to attach it to handle bars (or again just a bit of tape) and it is brighter and better value than any of the other "tactical" torches that I can find around here, or even on the net. The light beam shape is fantastic and is bright enough for travel at about 25km/h on good roads (off-road I'd want more light) with the Fenix used as a headlight. It is compact and light. The beam on turbo lasts 2-3 hours on 2 AA alkalines, maybe a little longer with lithiums. Carry a few spare batteries and you're fine.

Sure if you want to you can build your own brighter, cheaper, whatever lights. The fenix is convenient, compact, very good value, and uses cheap and easily available batteries; it is also bright enough to be useful, unlike most other lights as small or of comparable price. Add, say, 4 lithium AAs in addition to the 2 in the torch, and you're fine for emergency/occasional use or can even make it through one night if you have to.
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Old 02-20-08, 12:43 AM   #16
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Yet another Fenix fan...got it thanks to the advice of the good people in the electronics forum! Not one bad thing to say about it. I especially like the strobe for twilight and foggy days.

I'm using a double setup for commuting and will be bringing one on tour as an emergency bike light/camp light.
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