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  1. #1
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    rear lighting for touring

    I am looking for advice on rear lighting for touring. I do a significant amount of riding after it gets dark during the winter, often on completely unlit highways. I have ridden with a flashing VistaLite, but on my most recent trip (600 miles) a number of motorists complained that they couldn't see me on particularly dark highway stretches. I already have a Nicad-powered rechargable, helmet-mount front light (Performance ViewPoint Single Pro) (cheap, lasts forever, easy to use) But Performance doesn't make anything - nor can I find anything - compatible with this system. I would have to carry a SECOND battery and recharger, such as the Taillight by NiteRider. NiteRider makes a single system NiCad charger helmet-mount/taillight system, but it is pretty expensive (and I already have the a helmet light.) Any ideas? Does anyone know of a conventional battery-operated taillight that sends off better lighting than the standard Vistalite? VistaLite made a practically blinding battery-powered strobe light but it was discontinued about two years ago. Want to hear how other bike-tourists are dealing with this. Thanks.

  2. #2
    Senior Member mike's Avatar
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    The best rear light I have used is the Vegas LED flasher. It gives about a six inch band of lights.

    However, in my opinion, no light is a good as reflectors. Put reflective tape on your tire valve and wear ankle reflectors. You should put reflectors on your pedals for those days that you forget or misplace your ankle reflectors.

    You should also get yourself a reflective vest.

    Finally, be sure you have a mirror and watch what the car behind you is doing. Drunks hit bikers even when they are lit up like Christmas trees. In fact, lighted bikes seem to draw drunk drivers like moths to a flame.
    Mike

  3. #3
    The Flying Scot chewa's Avatar
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    Mike, as usual, is giving good advice.


    I use a combination of a vistalite blinking light and a Cateye BS 100AU (I think) which is a 5 led v bright light and can be set to flash or stay on. I use it on steady all the time. It is very bright and I use 2 rechargeable batteries in it.
    plus je vois les hommes, plus j'admire les chiens

    1985 Custom built 531c Audax/fast tourer.
    1964 Flying Scot Continental
    1995 Cinelli Supercorsa
    1980s Holdsworth Mistral fixed
    2005 Dahon Speed 6 (folder)
    (YES I LIKE STEEL)
    2008 Viking Saratoga tandem
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    2012 BTwin Rockrider 8.1

  4. #4
    Donating member Richard D's Avatar
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    Hi, welcome to the forums.

    Mike's advice is spot on, also try a search on lights or strobe there's been a fair bit of discussion recently on the subject.

    Personally I wear a fluoro-yellow vest type thing that's got thick bands of scotchlite reflective material on it. The reflective bands show up very well under headlights (even a 2w bicycle lamp picks them up at a reasonable distance). The fluoro-yellow is great for dawn/dusk, fog or other low light conditions.

    The rear of the bike's seat stays now have reflective red tape on them, with various other parts of the frame having white reflective tape (following another member's advice this was purchased from auto stores rather than bikeshops (I tried the tape from bikeshops and it's less reflective and less sticky (and locally only available in a yellow that clashed with the bike )).

    I use a large Cateye (7?) LED with a built in reflector in steady mode on my rear rack, combined with a 3 LED unit on the seatpost, again in steady mode (over here we are legally required to only have steady lights on the bike itself - I don't think you'd be stopped if they were flashing but as I find a flashing light combined with a steady light more visible anyway it's not a problem). On my pannier I use a Smart 7 LED flashing unit, and my saddlepack has a reflector attached. Both saddlepack and pannier have reflective tape built into them.

    And yes I still get drivers who overtake too close for comfort, but it has been a while since I've heard the screech of brakes behind me.

    Richard
    Currently riding an MTB with a split personality - commuting, touring, riding for the sake of riding, on or off road :)

  5. #5
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    The standard dynamo generator setup is to power both the front and rear lights off the same power source, using parallel wiring.
    You can replace the dynamo with a rechargeable battery. I use a battery stuffed into a waterbottle, so I wire it how I like.

    LEDs are bright, but often very directional. Dynamo lamps seem to appear brighter from all directions. ESGE/SKS fenders come with a rear lamp/reflector unit.
    The best rear battery LED lamps are the ones that mount under the rack. They are bigger and brighter.

    I always use a dynamo on tour, so I dont have to worry about keeping a battery charged. How do you manage your battries ?

  6. #6
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    Can't help but wonder why would one ride in the dark on completely unlit highways... I must be a wimp that's too attached to dear life!

  7. #7
    Senior Member mike's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Richard D


    I use a large Cateye (7?) LED with a built in reflector in steady mode on my rear rack, combined with a 3 LED unit on the seatpost, again in steady Richard
    I like Richard's suggestion to have a blinking rear light AND a steady rear light.

    I often wonder if automobile drivers have a hard time judging the distance between them and a flashing light. It seems that the flashing light might catch the driver's attention and the steady light would allow the driver to better judge the distance and time between them and the bicyclist.

    By the way, we all have fears of being creamed by a car from behind. Statistically, this is not a likely accident. Most auto/cycling accidents are side-swipes.

    Despite the statistics, the last four bicyclists who were killed by automobiles here were killed by drunk drivers hitting the cyclists from behind.
    Mike

  8. #8
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    Originally posted by Louis T
    Can't help but wonder why would one ride in the dark on completely unlit highways... I must be a wimp that's too attached to dear life!
    To get to the other side.

    With good lights and reflectors, visibility is not the problem. You are far more visible at night than you are at dusk or on a hazy day. It gets dark around 4:30pm here, so night-time riding is a neccessity for commuting.
    On tour, its useful to be able to ride from the campsite into town in the evening, and sometimes you just get stuck miles from camp as the dusk comes.

    Ive had one scare from a speeding driver behind me, but that was in town on well lit road. These days I try to limit my exposure to the Friday/Sat night traffic, when drink and drugs are more prevalent.

  9. #9
    RAGBRAI. Need I say more? Steele-Bike's Avatar
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    I have been looking into getting an Illuminite jacket. Performance Bike has a couple styles on sale right now.

    http://www.performancebike.com/shop/...999&Store=Bike

    As many people are saying, reflective material is much more visible than a blinkie alone.

  10. #10
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    Is illuminite the material with glass beads?
    From what Ive seen its nowhere near as effective as Scotchlite.
    You get a pale glow, instead of a dazzling reflection.

  11. #11
    Donating member Richard D's Avatar
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    I'll second Michael - go for Scotchlite. I think you can buy it as sew on tape to fix to existing Jerseys/Jackets. It's far brighter than the reactive clothing I've seen.

    Richard
    Currently riding an MTB with a split personality - commuting, touring, riding for the sake of riding, on or off road :)

  12. #12
    RAGBRAI. Need I say more? Steele-Bike's Avatar
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    I have never owned Illuminite, nor do I know anyone who has used it. I am just going by the ads I have seen. It sounds like a great idea, but I don't know how effective it actually is.

    Does anyone have any experience with Illuminite clothing?

  13. #13
    Senior Member mike's Avatar
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    Originally posted by MichaelW

    You are far more visible at night than you are at dusk or on a hazy day

    These days I try to limit my exposure to the Friday/Sat night traffic, when drink and drugs are more prevalent.
    Absolutely brilliant advice, MichaelW.

    Ride in the light or dark, not at dusk.

    Don't ride when or where there is an above average chance of drunks being on the road.
    Mike

  14. #14
    Senior Member swekarl's Avatar
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    Iím surprised everyone is so fond of flashing lights. They are forbidden in Sweden, which means you can have them, but they are not enough if you would be inspected in a police control. Of course no policeman would stop you for having a flashing light when there are drillions of people biking around without lighting at all.

    But I guess that law must be based on some research that makes sense. Steady, red lights is what drivers watch out for when driving at night. Maybe itís disturbing and, as Mike suggests, hard to judge distance with flashing lights.

  15. #15
    Slow Moving Vehicle Jean Beetham Smith's Avatar
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    I use a combination of a flashing LED on the chain stay; a steady 10W lamp with a red reflector tape over it, mounted on my rear rack; plus a couple of large reflectors on the rack. That gives me a lot of visible surfaces from the rear at a variety of viewing angles to literally "cover my b**t". The 10W lamp uses a cigarette pack sized NiMH battery that is both light and lasts about 4 hours. It was originally meant as a helmet mounted headlight.

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