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winter commute setup...help please

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winter commute setup...help please

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Old 10-29-04, 09:39 AM
  #1  
DogBoy
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I am now riding my bike to work again. I asked a little bit ago about lighting solutions, and now I'm more confused than I was then, so please bear with me. This is about commuting, but also deals with winter cycling, so I didn't know if I should put it here or in winter cycling. Anyway, I'm seeking advice on lighting systems and tires. My bike is a Bianchi SanRemo steel-frame road/touring bike.

Lights:
Right now I have a cheap LED headlight and one red blinky. It is not sufficient. My route (there is only one way to go btw so there is no alternate less traveled route) takes me over 1.5 miles of narrow 2-lane unlit road. The rest of my ride is city(more like town) streets. Twice a week I goto the Y which increases my total round-trip from 9.5 miles to 24 miles. This is also on city streets, but some of them are fairly busy. Winter temps here in Madison are generally between 0 and 32, so reduction to burn time is a concern. I figure in the morning there will be 20 min of burn, (5 miles to work). On non-Y days, the return will be in daylight. On Y days, the trip from work to the Y (6.5 miles) will be another 25 min of burn, with 60 min of burn coming home. So I need a light that will at least handle 1:30 hr burn time in the cold temps, since I can charge at work. I am thinking about the NR digital pro-12 but that is like $400 and I'm a little concerned about reduced battery effectiveness in the cold. Are there any other systems out there that will work well for what I'm trying to do? Also, can someone with a system like this post a pic (or direct me to a pic) of how its set-up on your ride? I'm having trouble visualizing how the battery gets connected to the lights etc. I'm also wondering about the use of a power-generating hub. Worth it or should I stick with the batteries? In addition to the light-system I buy (Including a central rear light), I'm planning on using 2 red blinkies on the outside corners of my panniers for side/rear lighting, reflective tape on the rims between the spokes and on my jacket, I already have wheel reflectors and front/rear reflectors, and I wear an ankle strap reflector.

tires:
Right now I'm riding specialized armadillo nimbus 700X28's. There is only about 1/2" (maybe less) of clearence between the wheel and the top of the fork. The tread on these is not designed for snow/ice, so I'm thinking about getting something better. I hear that nokian W106's are good, but I'm not sure those will fit on my bike, especially after I add some fenders. Are there any good winter tires for non-mountain bikes? I think my wheels/frame combo can handle up to 700x32, but 700x38 is too large. I was thinking of getting some cyclocross tires, but I wasn't sure if mud/snow require the same tread patterns. I'm mostly concerned with ice/slush.

Thanks for the input.
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Old 10-29-04, 10:52 AM
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Originally Posted by DogBoy
I am now riding my bike to work again. I asked a little bit ago about lighting solutions, and now I'm more confused than I was then, so please bear with me. This is about commuting, but also deals with winter cycling, so I didn't know if I should put it here or in winter cycling. Anyway, I'm seeking advice on lighting systems and tires. My bike is a Bianchi SanRemo steel-frame road/touring bike.

Lights:
Right now I have a cheap LED headlight and one red blinky. It is not sufficient. My route (there is only one way to go btw so there is no alternate less traveled route) takes me over 1.5 miles of narrow 2-lane unlit road. The rest of my ride is city(more like town) streets. Twice a week I goto the Y which increases my total round-trip from 9.5 miles to 24 miles. This is also on city streets, but some of them are fairly busy. Winter temps here in Madison are generally between 0 and 32, so reduction to burn time is a concern. I figure in the morning there will be 20 min of burn, (5 miles to work). On non-Y days, the return will be in daylight. On Y days, the trip from work to the Y (6.5 miles) will be another 25 min of burn, with 60 min of burn coming home. So I need a light that will at least handle 1:30 hr burn time in the cold temps, since I can charge at work. I am thinking about the NR digital pro-12 but that is like $400 and I'm a little concerned about reduced battery effectiveness in the cold. Are there any other systems out there that will work well for what I'm trying to do? Also, can someone with a system like this post a pic (or direct me to a pic) of how its set-up on your ride? I'm having trouble visualizing how the battery gets connected to the lights etc.

I use a Cygolight night rover Xtra. It has a 6 hour run time on low and 2 hours on dual beam. It's dual beam and you have 3 different settings, Low beam, high beam or both at the same time. The battery is connected with a wire that leads to your water bottle cage were your battery is stored ( The battery is shaped like a water bottle) It's connected with the same type of connection as set of head phones would have. You just unplug and bring it in and plug in to your charger. Beware don't over charge.

I think the HID lights are over kill for just commuting.

A Link http://www.cygolite.com/light/products/10RoverNiCad.htm


I have used this light for 3 winters and had no problems with battery life in sub-zero temps.(my commute is 13 miles both ways)

I hope this helps for part of your question.
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Old 10-29-04, 11:10 AM
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I use multiple cheap blinkies, front and back, and LOTS of reflective gear. I have 2 ankle straps, vest, and a white helmet. My budget won't go expensive gear, and since my point is to be seen by cars, I figure reflective is the way to go...
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Old 10-29-04, 11:19 AM
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Unless you are flooded in cash, skip the HID lights. You don't need it. I use a NiteRider Raptor (10w halogen) with lead acid battery. Yeah, it's heavy, but so what? It's advertised at 2.5 hour run time and would probably give you at least 1:30 hour in the cold. You might want to get a charger for work and home just to be safe on really cold days.

A 10w halogen provides more than enough light for commuting. You can adjust the light for plenty of throw in front of the bike so you are not outriding the light and can avoid debris, pot holes, pedestrians, etc.

For a little extra cash, you can get lighter NiMH batteries, but they are more expensive to replace and I suspect they don't last as long as lead acid.

I find LED lights currently are nice and light and provide plenty of light so you can be seen by motorists, but are insufficient for riding in really dark conditions. If you are not very familiar with the road, they are scary to use.
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Old 10-29-04, 11:32 AM
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Originally Posted by supcom
Unless you are flooded in cash, skip the HID lights. You don't need it.
Same here. I've had comments form people that say what kind of light is that? It's sure is bright! I say It's just a halogen I got for $80.00.
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Old 10-29-04, 12:29 PM
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Originally Posted by supcom
Unless you are flooded in cash, skip the HID lights. You don't need it. I use a NiteRider Raptor (10w halogen) with lead acid battery. Yeah, it's heavy, but so what? It's advertised at 2.5 hour run time and would probably give you at least 1:30 hour in the cold. You might want to get a charger for work and home just to be safe on really cold days.
I just bought the same light. Just arrived yesterday, I havn't ridden at night with it yet. It's definately low-end but i think for my purposes it will be great. And also the price was right. about $45 from performance, and I used a 20% off coupon that i found in the HOT DEALS forum.

http://www.performancebike.com/shop/...tegory_ID=4320
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Old 10-29-04, 01:02 PM
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I have the Cygo Explorer NiCad (double beam), 3 hrs on a single 10W beam, that's more than enough for what I need. Besides you need a lof of reflective stuff on you.
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Old 10-29-04, 03:38 PM
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I use the Niterider Roadrat. Cheap (about $50), rechargeable Lead Acid. 10W. I spent quite a bit on an expensive light a few years ago, but I am hard on my batteries. Now I don't have to worry as much. I can get a replacement LA battery for the Roadrat for about $10 from a battery store. Sure it weighs a little more, but hey, you are commuting, not racing! Yesterday I bought the Niterider tailight for $44 at an LBS (cheaper than online!). I love it already. A little bit of reflective tape on the rims and I should be set.

BTW, I have a couple tire flies, but they never seem to be sensitive enough. I know, I should ride faster so that they are always on, but one smooth roads sometimes they don't light up. Anyway to make them always on?
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Old 10-29-04, 04:14 PM
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[QUOTE=520commuter]I use the Niterider Roadrat. Cheap (about $50), rechargeable Lead Acid. 10W. I spent quite a bit on an expensive light a few years ago, but I am hard on my batteries. Now I don't have to worry as much. I can get a replacement LA battery for the Roadrat for about $10 from a battery store. Sure it weighs a little more, but hey, you are commuting, not racing! Yesterday I bought the Niterider tailight for $44 at an LBS (cheaper than online!). I love it already. A little bit of reflective tape on the rims and I should be set.


Tell me does that Roadrat light up the road enough? My rechargeable light (a Nashbar) fell off this morning and broke into a million pieces. sigh. What is that little attachment dohickie that comes with this light?

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Old 10-29-04, 04:29 PM
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The roadrat is great on dark roads, but it is a little less noticeable when there are streetlamps, other cars, etc. I'd say it is fine at about 17 mph in town, maybe 20 mph in total darkness. I've used it on mountain bike rides too, but it definitely isn't 32W. It is fine for commuting though.

The battery does not mount in a bottle cage, but by straps underneath the toptube. This is great if you need to have an actually water bottle in that cage, but some people don't like it. The light mounts on the typical Niterider mount. I've never had a problem with them.
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Old 10-29-04, 06:38 PM
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Originally Posted by super-douper
I just bought the same light. Just arrived yesterday, I havn't ridden at night with it yet. It's definately low-end but i think for my purposes it will be great. And also the price was right. about $45 from performance, and I used a 20% off coupon that i found in the HOT DEALS forum.

http://www.performancebike.com/shop/...tegory_ID=4320
I've had one problem with my Raptor. I leave the cord on the bike and one day it rained pretty hard. The rain seeped into the control switch block and the light would not stay on (it shorted the switch so the unit would turn the light off right after you plugged in the battery.) until the switch dried out. I put some RTV silicone around the edges of the switch faceplate and it's been OK since.
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Old 10-31-04, 01:05 PM
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I have used NiteRider and currently a Turbocat halogen system. For commuting 10W is the minimum for the ability to see as well as be seen. I've used lead acid batteries in the cold and found that I needed about 20% more battery to allow for temperature affects. In sizing the battery I found that if I needed 4.5 AH and I used a 5 AH I needed to replace annually. If I went with a 7AH it lasted for several years and the price was usually within a dollar of the smaller battery. In those years I used the Yuasa gelcell style and they worked well, not light weight, but rugged. I've currently started using NiMh and don't have any cold weather info yet.
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Old 10-31-04, 01:23 PM
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Originally Posted by DogBoy
I'm also wondering about the use of a power-generating hub. Worth it or should I stick with the batteries?
I use a Shimano hub generator, Lumotec headlight, and B&M Standlight (rear). It is vastly better than the small battery headlight systems, and is more than adaquate for my commute. Obviously, a high-capacity rechargeable system is brighter, and, depending upon your requirements may be better for you. Presonally, since I could never put up with the inconvenience of having to charge batteries, a hub generator is the only solution for me.

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Old 11-01-04, 09:02 AM
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ok, Ive decided to go with a 15 w halogen with 3 light settings. Its a NiMh battery from NR. I don't remember the name of the model, but it was $150 on clearence. Initially I was oging to get the 10w, but it was $100 and the charger sucked. I figured $50 was not too much to pay for a quick-charger and a 3-setting light with the ability to have up to 8 hrs burn time at the lowest setting, 2 at the highest.

Now Any help with tires? I don't know if I need studded tires around Madison or if I can get away with putting some cross-tires on my bike. I don't think I can clear anything more than 700-32. Suggestions?
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Old 11-01-04, 09:27 AM
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Decided to go, or went?

I also have a dark 2 lane road and was concerned 15w may not be enough and did not want to blow $400 for a HID system until I saw what I needed. Best buy I found was from Perf a Viewpoint evo dual headlight. I compared 21 different light combinations. This has the lowest cost to manufactor's output ratio, i.e. cost divided by watts. It's rating is $4.70/watt. Next closest were the nightpro extreme which costs $350 for an HID system and rating is $5.80/watt. Next is cygolite nitro 300 which costs $130 for a 15watt halo system and rating of $8.70/watt.

The viewpoint has a 10w and 20w headlight. Run times with 10w are given at 4 hrs, with 20w are at 2 hrs, and @ 30w are at 1 hr. My plan is to use both on the .5 mile 2 lane road and then power down for rest of commute, but we'll see the first time I ride it. Recharges in about 6 hrs. Caution if you go this route, you will need a pliers to separate the NiMh battery cord from the lights to put in the charger. NiMh is not as hindered by cold as LeadAcid. You have a handlebar switch to power cycle one or both lights and battery pack rides under top tube.

For rear lights, I went paranoid and put the the "ugly" cateye LD1000. Mounting is a pain, but it is much much brighter than those cheapies and has a burn time of 50 hrs on steady!!

Don't have a clue about tires, sorry.

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Old 11-01-04, 10:06 AM
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Originally Posted by DogBoy
Now Any help with tires? I don't know if I need studded tires around Madison or if I can get away with putting some cross-tires on my bike. I don't think I can clear anything more than 700-32. Suggestions?
Last year in Minneapolis I found that knobbies worked fine until Spring when the icestorms and (worse) the thaw-freeze cycle started up. I gave up on the local commuter trail for a few weeks after a few icy crashes in favor of a major through street (Excelsior Blvd. for the locals) which didn't get as icy.

Because of the ice in the Spring, I'm shopping for studded tires too. Unfortunately, I don't think anyone makes studded tires smaller that 35mm. If you find some 32s, let me know 'cause I want 'em too.
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