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ironbirdxplorer 01-08-12 10:09 PM

Lighting Strategy for long distance winter bike endurance races
I've almost convinced myself to sign up for my first winter endurance bike race, the Actif Epica, up here in Manitoba Canada.

Since I've never done this before, I have a few questions.

What do guys on the Iditarod Trail invitational and Arrowhead 135 use for lights? Ordinary AA and AAA lights don't seem like they'd be up to the task. I've used a friend's Night Sun Dual light with a rechargable "water bottle" battery, but that doesn't seem to last very long either.

The Actif Epica is 130km (80-90 miles I think), 28 hours total. Darkness will last approximately 14 hours. Most of the bike lights that I've tried or seen, seem to have a lot of plastic, especially with the mounts, so would seem awfully brittle in the cold.

I'm thinking the ideal light right now would be a less-than $100 system (due to budget constraints), be bright enough to light up the trail up to 50m (150ft) in front of me (race directors recommend minimum 100 lumen and I have no idea what that really means...), have a separate battery compartment, and be able to be augmented with ordinary AA batteries if required.

What are some of the strategies that folks are using?

Thanks for any info.


cyclocommuter 01-08-12 10:57 PM

A buddy of mine who does randonneuring here in Ontario (up to 1000+ kms with only brief stops for naps) uses a Shimano hub dynamo on his front wheel to power his front and rear lights. He used battery powered lights before but these won't last with the kind of riding he does. This solution does seem to be beyond your $100 budget though.

Your best bet might be to get a high powered LED flashlight and a mounting mechanism from, and spare batteries.

Burton 01-09-12 12:04 AM

Wish I could recommend you something in that price range cause I'd have bought it myself already! Ideally you want a helmet mounted light with a battery pack you can put in your pocket to keep it warm. Batteries are just happier at that temperature.

Looked at that same situation myself and have ended up helmet mounting an existing light and sourcing a third party rechargable battery. I'm looking at about 800 lumens which is fine for snow and a 10 hour run time vs a 3 hr recharge time. An extra battery pack would have you covered and although I used a LiFeO4 pack there's no reason you couldn't use a battery holder and 10x AA cells with spares as a backup.The whole kit will probably set you back closer to $200 than $100 but that's life. I'll be posting pictures shortly biking on the lake using a couple of these. If they look interesting you can email me and I'll give you the specifics.

siberia37 01-09-12 11:38 AM

There are 700 wheels with Sanyo Dynamo Hubs for sale on Ebay for $75 right now. Then build yourself a front light by modifying a "Tatical" 3W led flashlight to connect directly to the hub dynamo through a bridge rectifier IC. That should give you dynamo lighting for about $100.

Not the Slowest 01-09-12 01:03 PM

For a brevet you can manage with a Dinotte XML-! light that runs about $119.
Uses 4 Rechargable AA batteries. Most likely you would need 3 sets of batteries, it takes 4 of them.
You can also get away with Lithium Batteries but then need to trash them after.

A Dynohub as stated will not meet your budget.

Also buy a Headlamp to read your cue sheet, costs about $20-40 for a decent one.

The one danger is that any light can break or die. You NEED a Back-up.

Perhaps borrow one from a friend and stick with other riders as best as you can.
Your local bike shop may be able to rent or loan one to you.

Leebo 01-10-12 10:07 AM

Lithium AA batteries will last longer and work better in the cold.

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