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Maximum Lighting for Visibility

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Maximum Lighting for Visibility

Old 01-06-24, 12:31 PM
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Maximum Lighting for Visibility

Hi all, I am long time lurker on this forum in hope of going car-free (or initially, car light) but I'm pointing in this section as my question is specific.

What are the maximum spec lights for ultimate safety?

Being seen. Lights on par with a car or motorbike, even if they're pricy.

Fronts, rears, and somebody else on here even suggested side strips for the pannier / frame.

If I were to depend on the bike, and all year around, I think that'd go a long way to eliminating as much excuse as possible of not being seen. They might even assume I'm a car with a missing headlight - or a motorcycle rider where they seem to do much better giving space etc.

I'd ask for brand or model recommendation, but I know many of you are outside of Europe / UK like me so we might not be able to easily or affordably get the same kinds you guys are used to. Maybe a specification like lumens, or category of light?

I would pay big money for the right kit, but I'm aware not all expensive stuff has the same reliability or quality even if the specs are the same.

​​​​​​​I appreciate any guidance! Thanks
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Old 01-06-24, 01:14 PM
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Thank you for providing the background info, because I believe that the premise of your question is wrong. Part of the reason cars have two lights (as you kind of allude to), is that if one goes out, you still have the other. In my book, maximum safety comes from running two lights that are completely independent, right down to the power supplies. I don't however, see much benefit in going to three. I do see advantages to having two lights that are not identical, as they would be less likely to fail in the same way at the same time. Also, you can light up whatever combination is appropriate to the conditions. I would try to keep two lights side by side, or one over the other, or one blinking - don't want those pesky autonomous vehicles to mistake you for a car that is far away. People have been killed by dual rear lights.
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Old 01-06-24, 01:22 PM
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That's a good point about how two lights side by side could appear as a car in the distance. Though to be clear, I don't want or think two would be ideal. I'm happy with one - one powerful one that can be seen from the distance just as we'd see a car headlight - you know, nearly unmissable!
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Old 01-06-24, 01:37 PM
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I use the Cygolite 800 series and find them quite adequate for full visibility.
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Old 01-06-24, 01:42 PM
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I run with very modest lighting, all things considered. First of all, the distance that you can be seen is limited by many factors, often curves in the road or other vehicles. Even if you can be recognized at hundreds of yards, who cares? Drivers don't need all that time to avoid you.

High powered and pricey bike lights are for seeing the road/trail ahead in dark conditions. Being seen by other drivers requires less power. The beam pattern for being seen is also different from the beam pattern for riding in the dark.

Putting too much light output on a bike causes other problems - pedestrians covering their eyes, for example.
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Old 01-06-24, 01:43 PM
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So what do you recommend in terms of being seen then? Any light models designed more for that versus pure long range sight?
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Old 01-06-24, 01:51 PM
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I like a flasher and a solid on the back to get the benefits of both. A flasher is more obvious, but a solid light is easier for drivers to follow. For safety, I believe that the back light is more important than the front. What i have on the front would scare you so I will avoid making a specific recommendation. Look for a wide angle.
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Old 01-06-24, 02:31 PM
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For what it's worth, bikes aren't as reliable as cars. To be "reliable car" reliable on a bike, I believe you need backups of everything, including an entire backup bike. I have extra lights on the charger, new in the box, and at work. I have my "wife's bike". Parts that are going to wear out anyway should be replaced and stored on a shelf ahead of time.

So a bike you ride, a backup bike for when that one breaks down or is stolen, and backups of your parts. I've ridden at times with half my shifting, half my brakes, and no seat as I slowly learned these lessons.

If you ever lose power at your home, bike lights are great as well.
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Old 01-06-24, 06:41 PM
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The big problem of running one hyper-bright taillight is that they almost always put out a pinpoint of light, especially at any distance. Multiple bike lights placed above and below on a seatpost or side by side on a rear rack but so close that they will not be seen as a distant car seems best. Remember cars have many many square inches of tail light and that is what other car drivers expect. The best lights I can think of would be a Shimano or Schmidt dynohub, Busch & Muller Cyo headlight, and a Busch & Muller Line tech plus taillight. Augment this with Planet Bike Superflash 65 (daytime visible). Never had a B&M light fail, don't think you'd need an extra headlight.
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Old 01-06-24, 07:11 PM
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On my e-bike (which is my utility semi-car replacement bike) I run this motorcycle headlight. They claim it pulls 45 watts, but it is actually 35W on high beam.
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

As a backup, I run this small headlamp that complies with German lighting standards and actually provides usable illumination for speeds up to 20 mph because the beam is focused and shaped. I run it steady at night and blinking during the day. It has a quick release bayonet mount and serves double duty as a flashlight for night time repairs- something I've used it for a number of times. It's small enough to easily hold in your mouth while working with your hands.
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

I run four 12v LED strips on the rear. Two on the seat stays and two on the uprights that support my rear rack. Each strip has 15 LEDs. The particular ones I have aren't online anymore. But these things put out a lot of light and are visible from the side and rear.

My ebike has a lot of battery power so I'm happy to spend a fair bit of it on light power.

This video gives an idea of how well the headlight illuminates my path - as well as the reaction to it from a couple of Scottsdale's finest.
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Old 01-06-24, 07:19 PM
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Originally Posted by ScottCommutes
I run with very modest lighting, all things considered. First of all, the distance that you can be seen is limited by many factors, often curves in the road or other vehicles. Even if you can be recognized at hundreds of yards, who cares? Drivers don't need all that time to avoid you.

High powered and pricey bike lights are for seeing the road/trail ahead in dark conditions. Being seen by other drivers requires less power. The beam pattern for being seen is also different from the beam pattern for riding in the dark.

Putting too much light output on a bike causes other problems - pedestrians covering their eyes, for example.
As important as anything IMO is that the headlight be equipped with the appropriate lens system so that the light can be accurately aimed to illuminate the road and not shine in people's eyes and where the light is not needed or wanted. You can see in the video I posted that the police officers recognize the light as being "super bright". But you also cannot see the officer's faces and you'll notice they don't raise their hands to shield their eyes - because the light is focused on the road and at the road horizon.

I value this bright light because I often would ride at night and at speeds of 20mph on average and over 25 mph at times. It is useful for picking up things like road debris and wild animals from long distances. And I can pop on the high beam if I think I need it. A properly designed headlight will also illuminate road signs, reflectors and so forth.

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Old 01-07-24, 01:18 PM
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Look for lights set up for StVZO standards those are going to be your best for visibility. A nice dynamo set up would get you there and you wouldn't have to charge anything anymore. The new Supernova M99 DY Pro would be a great option on that front if you want brightness and the ability for a high beam as well.

It is a well made light and I have used the non-dynamo version for years now and it is nice and bright and easy to see and really does light up the road well. I have this specific light currently and am going to wire it up soon I just ran into a brief issue with my rear wheel so I haven't been able to get the bike ready.

For rear lights I would look at the Busch & Müller Toplight Line Plus Brake (unfortunately I cannot access their website right now for some reason) it is nice and bright and has a brake light function so when you slow down it gets brighter.
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Old 01-09-24, 07:23 AM
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I am a firm believer in putting lights/flashers on your helmet to keep them at car window level. Also get an AirZound air-horn (you pump it up with your bike pump)...being heard is also important. And don't forget reflectors.

This is more or less my lighting set-up still. This is my only bike with the spoke lights.
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Old 01-09-24, 09:21 AM
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The brightness of lights is not for them to be seen. It's so they can cast enough light to light up unlit objects at a distance so that they can be seen by whomever is operating the vehicle the lights are on. And for something going 60 mph (about 96 kph) it's going to need things lit up at further distances than something only going 16 mph (about 25 kph).

For lit objects to be seen, like yourself or your bicycle, they don't need to be very bright at all. However just like your clothing colors can camouflage you with the background during the day, so too can lighting sometime get camouflaged with other lighting at night. And that is going to be location dependent.
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Old 01-09-24, 11:07 AM
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For taillight, I ordered this: https://www.cateye.com/intl/products...ghts/TL-LD820/

I want something that will melt retinas. And no, I don't care if it is annoying, in fact I appreciate that it is! Front is Fenix R25. Additional rear is Garmin Varia. Helmet is blinking red light. Beause: 58 days into recovery after being hit by an automobile
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Old 01-09-24, 02:41 PM
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Originally Posted by NVFlinch
For taillight, I ordered this: https://www.cateye.com/intl/products...ghts/TL-LD820/

I want something that will melt retinas. And no, I don't care if it is annoying, in fact I appreciate that it is! Front is Fenix R25. Additional rear is Garmin Varia. Helmet is blinking red light. Beause: 58 days into recovery after being hit by an automobile

I am the same way when I drive my truck. I don't care if my LED light bar is annoying, I just want to be seen because someone pulled out in front of me one time.
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Old 01-09-24, 05:03 PM
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Originally Posted by SB1501
That's a good point about how two lights side by side could appear as a car in the distance. Though to be clear, I don't want or think two would be ideal. I'm happy with one - one powerful one that can be seen from the distance just as we'd see a car headlight - you know, nearly unmissable!
I'm not sure how being mistaken for a car could be a bad thing. Know what's even better? Put a light on your helmet as well. From 200' you look exactly like an oncoming General Electric Dash 7 diesel locomotive. Maximum respect. Ok, I'm kidding, but this thread is also getting kind of surreal. Modern bike lights are incredibly reliable. You do not have to carry two for redundancy. Nor do you need to use motorcycle equipment (heavy!) on a bicycle, because you do not need to light your way to 60mph+.

The average 800L headlight is fine for both seeing and being seen. Dual taillights in any configuration cannot be a bad thing; they cannot get you killed. But it is more practical to have a taillight on your seatpost, or rack, and another on your helmet, than to figure out how to get two of the things spaced horizontally. There is no (ab)normal road situation I can think of where enough forward light TO SEE cannot simultaneously make you able to BE SEEN at the legal 200' minimum. Light for seeing should not be flashing. Your forward lights must not flash unless they are supplementing lights that are steady OR its daytime. Daytime lights is a whole nother thread. I don't do it. Waste of money and battery charge IMO. In the daylight hours I use the free (for now) energy of the Sun and call it good.

At the rear, I think it's best that the light(s) flash, because that is what is expected these days, and the battery(s) lasts longer. I've added side lights to my setup, and like them, but, and this is key: I could care less about the damn lights! Except for the lights that I need TO SEE, the rest are just for _____ and giggles. I'd happily do without them, but the Stoker likes that they are there. I make myself safe, and being seen doesn't make me safe! Drivers hit first responder vehicles that are lit up like the Mothership from "Close Encounters of the First Kind". Excellent defensive riding roadcraft is what keeps you safe out and about. In my state the minimum legal lighting is for being seen at 200'. That's it. That can be accomplished with less than $20.
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Old 01-09-24, 05:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Leisesturm
I'm not sure how being mistaken for a car could be a bad thing.

Dual taillights in any configuration cannot be a bad thing; they cannot get you killed.
I don't have the information at hand, but there was a model of motorcycle with dual taillights that kept getting rear-ended by Teslas on autopilot. The car's sensors see two red lights and see a car at 300 feet when the reality is a bike at 30 feet.
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Old 01-09-24, 05:39 PM
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As far as redundancy, you could lose one. Give it to another rider. It could fall off. Get stolen. Run out of juice. Not necessarily a knock on the lights. We've all seen cars with a taillight out.

Last edited by ScottCommutes; 01-10-24 at 06:15 PM.
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Old 01-09-24, 05:55 PM
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Originally Posted by SB1501
Hi all, I am long time lurker on this forum in hope of going car-free (or initially, car light) but I'm pointing in this section as my question is specific.

What are the maximum spec lights for ultimate safety?

Being seen. Lights on par with a car or motorbike, even if they're pricy.

Fronts, rears, and somebody else on here even suggested side strips for the pannier / frame.

If I were to depend on the bike, and all year around, I think that'd go a long way to eliminating as much excuse as possible of not being seen. They might even assume I'm a car with a missing headlight - or a motorcycle rider where they seem to do much better giving space etc.

I'd ask for brand or model recommendation, but I know many of you are outside of Europe / UK like me so we might not be able to easily or affordably get the same kinds you guys are used to. Maybe a specification like lumens, or category of light?

I would pay big money for the right kit, but I'm aware not all expensive stuff has the same reliability or quality even if the specs are the same.

​​​​​​​I appreciate any guidance! Thanks
I won't mention specific manufacturers of lights', or the placement of lights. But I will tell you what I do.

I have four headlights'. That I rotate: 1-600 Lumens; 2-750 Lumens; 1-950 Lumens.

I have three of these taillights placed on both downtubes' for the rear wheel and one on a bike bag attached to the seatpost: Cygolite Hotshot Pro 200 USB Rechargeable Tail Light Red
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Old 01-10-24, 08:16 AM
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Originally Posted by SB1501
So what do you recommend in terms of being seen then? Any light models designed more for that versus pure long range sight?
For a front light, if you can see by it, you can be seen by it. A lot of lights are sold as “be seen” lights but unless the light throws out significant lumens…on the order of 300 to 800 lumens…you aren’t going to be seen against the ocean of lights in a normal city scape. I’d suggest going one better on lights over just 2. Put a 3rd on your helmet. Your light goes where you look and is a moving light that gets attention. A helmet mounted light also helps in corners where you can “look” into the corner as you go around it. Bar mounted lights tend to angle away from the corner.

For rear lights, run at least one steady red light. Flashing lights get attention but they are crap for determining distance. Augment your steady light with flashing lights but run one on steady.

Side lights or side reflectors are mostly useless. This study by the Consumer Product Safety Commission reaches that conclusion. The interval between detection of the side reflector and the distance to the cyclist is impossibly small and, as a result, the reflector gives a false sense of security. They are often required by state laws but they are useless. Get reflectorized tires as a CYA but don’t depend on them for any kind of safety.

Finally, most states require reflectors on the rear of the bike. Some allow for active lighting but many require reflectors. If you get hit without the reflector, a clever lawyer can make you culpable for not following state law. Check your state’s laws. Reflectors are stupid from the get-go but if the state says to use one, use one.
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Old 01-10-24, 06:38 PM
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Just counted tail lights, there are 7. Only 2 flash at night, otherwise the 6 daylight visible ones are flashing in the day time. My current headlamp refuses to stay off and it runs daytime running lights and night lights always, B&M IQX, it's messed up but never goes out.
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Old 01-10-24, 07:03 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute
Side lights or side reflectors are mostly useless. This study by the Consumer Product Safety Commission reaches that conclusion. The interval between detection of the side reflector and the distance to the cyclist is impossibly small and, as a result, the reflector gives a false sense of security. They are often required by state laws but they are useless. Get reflectorized tires as a CYA but don’t depend on them for any kind of safety.
Fascinating paragraph right there - Side lights and reflectors are completely useless for non-intuitive reasons. You are literally better off staying invisible. Who would have thought?
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Old 01-20-24, 08:14 AM
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As a driver, I'd disagree with that for riders using the sidewalk. I've had a couple of occasions where they've helped me spot a sidewalk cyclist as I'm pulling out of a business parking lot where trees, signs or other obstructions made them difficult to see.
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Old 01-21-24, 08:49 AM
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I'm pretty sure any veteran night-cyclist knows there are two challenges to visibility while riding at night. One is to "see well" and the other to be "seen well."

These challenges can be mitigated be using a head/helmet mount light with spot light type throw. The single most important feature to be able to aim the light at off path dangers - such as other drivers, pedestrians or animals.
The other is to have typical forward mount flood style fixed mount light - and two totally redundant rear facing lights.

I always felt pretty comfortable with that setup but there was one thing missing. I was often getting blinded or rural roads by drivers who felt a need to "see" what was up the road without offering any respect.
So I often lashed a Solarforce 1000 lumen spot-beam flash light to my handlebar -using an old inner tube for the mount. When approaching drivers failed to dim their lights - I could swivel the flashlight with enough accuracy to "spray" the oncoming car until they got the message.

However, the single greatest feature a cyclist has on a night ride is his/her brain. Use it - never get too comfortable in the dark - and never assume some one sees you unless they signal you.

.
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