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Lighting systems

Old 09-11-09, 01:56 PM
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adamtki
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Lighting systems

It would be great to see bicycle lighting systems so that there's only one battery (rechargeable, lithium) and one button to press every time you turn on/off your lights. The button and battery would control the front lights, rear lights, and an additional light you may want on the sides. It would make dealing with lights quicker before and after the ride, it would make it easier to manage the batteries, and you'd never forget to turn of those rear blinkies!

Anyone know of such a system?
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Old 09-11-09, 02:40 PM
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There are plenty of dynohub systems with front and rear lights.

Not only do you never have to worry about turning off the rear blinky, you never even have to charge a battery.
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Old 09-11-09, 02:45 PM
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With dynohub you don't even need that one button. Light(s) turn on automagically in dark (when you ride into a tunnel, for example) and switch off when there's enough natural light.

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Old 09-11-09, 02:52 PM
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Ditto on the dynohub.
Probably one of the best bike purchases ever. I never think about my lighting, just hop and the bike and go.

I do use a blinkie in the back though because I didn't want to run a wire from the front of the bike to the rear, and a set of batteries in a PB Superflash last a very long time.
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Old 09-11-09, 03:00 PM
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How about auto lights that use a
1. light sensor
2. motion sensor

If both darkness and motion are detected, the light comes on. If no motion is detected for 5 minutes, the light switches off. There could be an emergency mode where the light could detect the bike is on it's side, and no motion detected. It could call emergency services with gps-assisted location services. Mmmh technology.. sounds good.
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Old 09-11-09, 03:07 PM
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I don't know how bright of a light you can have with the dynamo systems, but I'd want at least 400 lumens for the front. A battery based system would be better for me since I don't want to add any rolling resistance either.

Recently I was thinking about adding side lights in addition to the two rear and one front light, but that would be just too many things to turn on and off every time I ride.
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Old 09-11-09, 03:30 PM
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My IQ Fly headlight is pretty darn bright and I don't notice any rolling resistance.
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Old 09-11-09, 03:51 PM
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Originally Posted by adamtki View Post
I don't know how bright of a light you can have with the dynamo systems, but I'd want at least 400 lumens for the front. A battery based system would be better for me since I don't want to add any rolling resistance either.

Recently I was thinking about adding side lights in addition to the two rear and one front light, but that would be just too many things to turn on and off every time I ride.
Dinotte makes a helmet light with a headlight & taillight (http://www.peterwhitecycles.com/dinotte.asp).

However, I agree with the others about a dyno light. I have an IQ Fly which is extremely bright, but the IQ Cyo is now about 50% brighter and priced at a fraction over $100. I use my IQ Fly with a sidewall dynamo & the resistance is not really that bad. I've been able to bridge up to a breakaway with it on when I've been in poor condition, so it can't be too bad!
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Old 09-11-09, 04:04 PM
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A guy that works for my company built his own system. It's the most visibility I've seen, even before he turns on his headlight and taillight (also homemade, very bright and, I believe, on a single switch).



You can see more here: http://www.allyn.com/bicycle/bicycle.html
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Old 09-11-09, 04:37 PM
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I don't want my front and rear lights to be controlled together. For me the decision to run front and/or rear are independent decisions. Plus I use different blink modes depending on the weather and time of day.
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Old 09-11-09, 05:03 PM
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Originally Posted by ItsJustMe View Post
I don't want my front and rear lights to be controlled together. For me the decision to run front and/or rear are independent decisions. Plus I use different blink modes depending on the weather and time of day.
I will add that a single switch means a single point of failure too. I've had far too many wires come loose and switches fail to want a single massive ON button.
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Old 09-11-09, 05:14 PM
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Originally Posted by adamtki View Post
I don't know how bright of a light you can have with the dynamo systems, but I'd want at least 400 lumens for the front. A battery based system would be better for me since I don't want to add any rolling resistance either.

Recently I was thinking about adding side lights in addition to the two rear and one front light, but that would be just too many things to turn on and off every time I ride.
You can have a ridiculous bright system with store bought equipment, and even more insane if you're a good electrical tinkerer.
I run a Supernova E3 off a SON28 hub, and it's bright enough that I rip down Novelty Hill at 40+ in the pitch black on my morning commute. I use the E3 tail light, and 2x PBSF blinkies, plus a flashing Princeton Tec Quad on my helmet. This setup is enough that I feel confident about visibility on 24 hour rides on roads like Rt 9, coming down from Granite Falls. (saw your location, figured the references wouldn't be out of line.)

If you want to check out a lot of dyno lights, head over to Sammamish Valley Cycles. They have a demo wheel and you can compare the output for the lights they carry. They have the Supernova line, Schmidt Edelux, and many of the Busch & Mueller/Lumotech lights including the IQ Cyo series.
If the SON28 is out of your comfortable spending range, check out the Shimano 3N80. Less than half the price, 200g lighter, same electrical output, and similar low resistance. But seriously, you're not going to notice the rolling resistance of a good dynohub. I leave mine on all the time.
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Old 09-11-09, 05:41 PM
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Originally Posted by CliftonGK1 View Post
You can have a ridiculous bright system with store bought equipment, and even more insane if you're a good electrical tinkerer.
I run a Supernova E3 off a SON28 hub, and it's bright enough that I rip down Novelty Hill at 40+ in the pitch black on my morning commute. I use the E3 tail light, and 2x PBSF blinkies, plus a flashing Princeton Tec Quad on my helmet. This setup is enough that I feel confident about visibility on 24 hour rides on roads like Rt 9, coming down from Granite Falls. (saw your location, figured the references wouldn't be out of line.)

If you want to check out a lot of dyno lights, head over to Sammamish Valley Cycles. They have a demo wheel and you can compare the output for the lights they carry. They have the Supernova line, Schmidt Edelux, and many of the Busch & Mueller/Lumotech lights including the IQ Cyo series.
If the SON28 is out of your comfortable spending range, check out the Shimano 3N80. Less than half the price, 200g lighter, same electrical output, and similar low resistance. But seriously, you're not going to notice the rolling resistance of a good dynohub. I leave mine on all the time.
Are any of the other lights connected to the dynahub? Be nice if they all came on if you enable the dynohub. Everyone here seems to swear by how well these things work. I'll have to give them a try on my backup commuter bike when I get around to updating it.

Any problems with light bulbs burning out too fast? Any problems if you ride 20+ most of the time?
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Old 09-11-09, 06:29 PM
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Originally Posted by adamtki View Post
Are any of the other lights connected to the dynahub? Be nice if they all came on if you enable the dynohub. Everyone here seems to swear by how well these things work. I'll have to give them a try on my backup commuter bike when I get around to updating it.

Any problems with light bulbs burning out too fast? Any problems if you ride 20+ most of the time?
Just the Supernova lights are on the hub. Typically what you can get from a dyno is a 2.4v for the headlight and 0.6v for the taillight. You can run a twin headlight on most systems, but you'll have to go twice as fast to get them to full brightness.
With modern LED dyno lights, there's no worry about lights blowing up/burning out from high speeds, plus the burn time on an LED light is something silly like 100,000 hours so you can just leave it on all the time.
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Old 09-13-09, 03:32 AM
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Originally Posted by CliftonGK1 View Post
Just the Supernova lights are on the hub. Typically what you can get from a dyno is a 2.4v for the headlight and 0.6v for the taillight.
That would watts (w), not volts (v).

It's also possible to put the combined 3w to a single light. It used to be easy enough to change a 2,4w halogen bulb to a 3w. Not sure how it works with LED based dynamo lights.

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Old 09-14-09, 07:19 PM
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I generally I agree with the comments about the dynohub if you're constantly commuting and need light. I own 3 bikes and 2 of them have dynamo hubs on them (though I'm regretting not buying a lighter wheel for my latest one - I got a cheaper $150 wheel, and now I kinda wish I had gone all out and gotten a light $300 wheel).

But there are some drawbacks to dynamo wheels and light -
1. There's still *some* drag. It's really not a lot. I cannot tell while riding whether the dynamo is on or off, and with the dynamo off my wheel still spins a rather long time if I spin it by hand and just let it spin to a rest. But on really long trips (did 70 miles in 2 days) I got this feeling like turning it off made things a tiny bit smoother somehow.
2. As you can see from what I mentioned, they can be expensive (since you usually already have a wheel you're replacing). A really nice and lightweight one costs $300. You can pay $400 for the top end SON hub built into a lightweight wheel, or $150 at the lower end (like I just did). And you haven't bought a light yet, which costs between $100 and $200 (the Cyo, at $100, is nearly as good as the $200 ones though, to be fair, so say $100 for the front light, $25 for the rear, and another $25 in wiring - but that's assuming you install it yourself).
3. An Ultegra hub is 200 grams. The lightest Shimano dynohub is supposedly 490 grams. I'm not 100% sure, but they also may not come in anything less than a 32 spoke version. So it will add a certain amount of weight to your front wheel.
4. IMO, dynamo lights put out enough light to bike by, but not necessarily enough light to completely comfortably bike by. For example, my Cyo tends to put out enough light on the road, but not much to the sides - city riding where you can kinda see everything is great, as is biking in the moonlight. Biking through the woods where I feel like something might jump out at me means I bring my wider beam battery light as well. To be fair though, none of my battery lights light up the road as nicely and evenly as the Cyo.

There are some other advantages:
1. Already mentioned was no time spent charging or changing batteries.
2. As already mentioned, you turn the front light on (or just leave it on all the time and it turns on when you start moving) and the back light comes on automatically.
2. As they have limited input, dynamo light tends to treat their light very preciously and have a nicer controlled beam which doesn't waste light, as I mentioned previously with the Lumotec Cyo.
3. It's easier to "permanently" attach your dynamo light to your bike. They're generally screwed on, so no one is going to casually walk by and walk off with it. If you're really into securing them, you can find ways to make it difficult to get off the bike even with tools (like putting solder in the screw heads). Since you don't need to change batteries you don't need to take them off the bike on a regular basis. They also are as tempting to steal (IMO) because it's useless without a hub, and most people assume they're crappy lights.

So they have their pluses and minuses. I use battery lights on my "race" bike, but that's also made possible by the fact that I *never* leave in unattended outside because it's to expensive.


Since I'm typing, there are 2 lights I know of (wish there were more) that, while they don't control the rear light or anything, are less of a hassle for charging and stuff:
1. The Ixon IQ - same optics as the Cyo I mentioned above, though unfortunately less light output (40 vs 60 lux). Not much light off to the sides. I personally wouldn't recommend it as I don't think it puts out enough light by itself (many many other people disagree with me, but that was my feeling).
http://www.peterwhitecycles.com/b&m.asp
2. The Light and Motion Vega 200:
http://www.bikelights.com/info.asp?uid=229&p=13

Both these lights are self contained, and yet don't require changing batteries - you just plug the charger into the light and the light charges the batteries. The Ixon IQ lets you replace the AA batteries yourself, the Vega 200 has non-replaceable batteries. Still, less work than changing out batteries.
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Old 09-16-09, 10:40 AM
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I run my Dinotte head and tail light on one lithium battery using their Y splitter. The lights remember their setting when disconnecting the battery; you don't have to fiddle with switches.

I used to have a Pioneer dynamo that came with an auto-on headlight that used a photo-resistor. Problem is it kept flashing on and off at dusk so I just switched it to manual mode.
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Old 09-16-09, 10:54 AM
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Originally Posted by Juha View Post
That would watts (w), not volts (v).

It's also possible to put the combined 3w to a single light. It used to be easy enough to change a 2,4w halogen bulb to a 3w. Not sure how it works with LED based dynamo lights.

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D'oh! *facepalm at my own flub*

With the Supernova LED light, they have some kind of limiting electronics gizmo which keeps them from getting fried if you don't use a tail light, or if you decide to turn it on in the middle of a downhill with some decent speed built up.
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Old 09-16-09, 11:39 AM
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Originally Posted by PaulRivers View Post
But there are some drawbacks to dynamo wheels and light -
1. There's still *some* drag. It's really not a lot. I cannot tell while riding whether the dynamo is on or off, and with the dynamo off my wheel still spins a rather long time if I spin it by hand and just let it spin to a rest. But on really long trips (did 70 miles in 2 days) I got this feeling like turning it off made things a tiny bit smoother somehow.
2. As you can see from what I mentioned, they can be expensive (since you usually already have a wheel you're replacing). A really nice and lightweight one costs $300. You can pay $400 for the top end SON hub built into a lightweight wheel, or $150 at the lower end (like I just did). And you haven't bought a light yet, which costs between $100 and $200 (the Cyo, at $100, is nearly as good as the $200 ones though, to be fair, so say $100 for the front light, $25 for the rear, and another $25 in wiring - but that's assuming you install it yourself).
3. An Ultegra hub is 200 grams. The lightest Shimano dynohub is supposedly 490 grams. I'm not 100% sure, but they also may not come in anything less than a 32 spoke version. So it will add a certain amount of weight to your front wheel.
4. IMO, dynamo lights put out enough light to bike by, but not necessarily enough light to completely comfortably bike by. For example, my Cyo tends to put out enough light on the road, but not much to the sides - city riding where you can kinda see everything is great, as is biking in the moonlight. Biking through the woods where I feel like something might jump out at me means I bring my wider beam battery light as well. To be fair though, none of my battery lights light up the road as nicely and evenly as the Cyo.
Thanks for the info. The light I need would have to be bright enough to light up a completely dark path for me to go 20+ mph.

People have different perception about drag. Drag is a big deal to me, so I'd have to test it out myself to see.

Since I'd have to replace my beloved front disk brake wheel, I probably wouldn't go this route in the end.
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Old 09-16-09, 12:05 PM
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Originally Posted by adamtki View Post
Thanks for the info. The light I need would have to be bright enough to light up a completely dark path for me to go 20+ mph.

People have different perception about drag. Drag is a big deal to me, so I'd have to test it out myself to see.

Since I'd have to replace my beloved front disk brake wheel, I probably wouldn't go this route in the end.
Many people feel that the Cyo lights up the path for 20+ mph biking. I'm not sure, it's probably enough (the last bike I had it on was more like a 16mph bike). However, it doesn't matter for me - I also don't feel comfortable going that fast without a light on my helmet, no matter what lights I have on my handlebars. Obviously a helmet light couldn't run off a dynamo anyways, and with both I feel comfortable going 20+ miles hour.

fyi, the default for generator hubs is to come with a disc mount (on the super lightweight ones don't, like the Shimano 3N80). Mine that has a 3N72 on it came with a disc mount, even though I don't actually use it. So I guess I'm saying that replacing your front disc wheel likely wouldn't be a big deal (you could probably just move the disc and not have to buy a new one) - you certainly wouldn't have to replace your disc brakes.

What lights do you run now?
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Old 09-16-09, 12:23 PM
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Originally Posted by adamtki View Post
It would be great to see bicycle lighting systems so that there's only one battery (rechargeable, lithium) and one button to press every time you turn on/off your lights. The button and battery would control the front lights, rear lights, and an additional light you may want on the sides. It would make dealing with lights quicker before and after the ride, it would make it easier to manage the batteries, and you'd never forget to turn of those rear blinkies!

Anyone know of such a system?
That's what prompted me to build my own system. It has a n-channel mosfet to turn both front and tail lights on. The fet is controlled by a small pushbutton switch on the handle bars. There's a "redundant" manual switch near the battery too in case of system failure. The only thing that's failed on the system in over two years though is the manual switch, sometimes it'll get jarred "on" and then I can't turn the lights off without accessing the manual switch. Which i suppose is not the worst type of failure.

The ability to manually wink your taillights at motorists is a nice feature. They almost immediately change lanes when you do so. Obviously only useful in the dark with sparse traffic, but still...
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Old 09-16-09, 12:23 PM
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I don't know about lighting up a completely dark path for 20+mph cruising, but they'll hear you coming............

http://performancedownhill.com/tommy...m2gbblack.aspx
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Old 09-16-09, 12:42 PM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by Kojak View Post
I don't know about lighting up a completely dark path for 20+mph cruising, but they'll hear you coming............

http://performancedownhill.com/tommy...m2gbblack.aspx
Cool. These days, you need a battery for all sorts of things on the bike... bright front lights, little rear and side lights, bike computer, GPS, music, video cam, iPhone, and even the motor. It'd be great to just have one battery for everything, just like how a car is set up. An electrical system for a bike!
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Old 09-16-09, 01:03 PM
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Originally Posted by adamtki View Post
Cool. These days, you need a battery for all sorts of things on the bike... bright front lights, little rear and side lights, bike computer, GPS, music, video cam, iPhone, and even the motor. It'd be great to just have one battery for everything, just like how a car is set up. An electrical system for a bike!
I think you're confusing "need" with "want". You don't "need" any of that stuff, other than the lights, and then only at night or in inclement weather.
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Work: the 8 hours that separates bike rides.
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Old 09-16-09, 01:16 PM
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PaulRivers
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Originally Posted by ItsJustMe View Post
I think you're confusing "need" with "want". You don't "need" any of that stuff, other than the lights, and then only at night or in inclement weather.
Yeah, but you actually *need* the lights at night, I feel I *need* a cell phone for emergencies (though the built in battery is fine by itself), and when I got on a fast club ride in a new place, I think some sort of gps borders on *need* in case I get dropped and *need* to get back to my car today, lol :-)
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