Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > General Cycling Discussion
Reload this Page >

flashing light or solid light ?

General Cycling Discussion Have a cycling related question or comment that doesn't fit in one of the other specialty forums? Drop on in and post in here! When possible, please select the forum above that most fits your post!

flashing light or solid light ?

Old 12-22-13, 12:40 AM
  #1  
Nikon Rep
Banned.
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Dec 2013
Posts: 86
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
flashing light or solid light ?

after about 26 years of riding without a light I finally bought one.

it has two settings...flashing/pulsing or solid.

what are the reasons why one better than the other or which situations call for either ?
Nikon Rep is offline  
Old 12-22-13, 12:48 AM
  #2  
Machka 
In Real Life
 
Machka's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Down under down under
Posts: 51,401

Bikes: Lots

Mentioned: 128 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2851 Post(s)
Liked 50 Times in 34 Posts
Flashing can be more noticeable ... but very annoying when you ride in a group.
Machka is offline  
Old 12-22-13, 07:39 AM
  #3  
wahoonc
Membership Not Required
 
wahoonc's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: On the road-USA
Posts: 16,854

Bikes: Giant Excursion, Raleigh Sports, Raleigh R.S.W. Compact, Motobecane? and about 20 more! OMG

Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 66 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I use both. Flashing lights by themselves are hard to judge distance to, but are definitely the most visible at longer distances. In some parts of the world (NL for example) they may be illegal to use. My typical setup is a dyno hub driving a decent quality fixed tail light, then something like a Radbot or PB Superflash in blink mode on the seat post. I agree with Machka that they are annoying in a group situation.

I use a flashing during daylight hours, especially if it is overcast. It is amazing how far you can see a flashing taillight.

Aaron
__________________
Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

ISO: A late 1980's Giant Iguana MTB frameset (or complete bike) 23" Red with yellow graphics.

"Cycling should be a way of life, not a hobby.
RIDE, YOU FOOL, RIDE!"
_Nicodemus

"Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
Aluminum: barely a hundred
Which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?"
_krazygluon
wahoonc is offline  
Old 12-22-13, 07:54 AM
  #4  
Looigi
Senior Member
 
Looigi's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 8,951
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 12 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Agree with above. Flashing for conspicuity. Steady to help others judge your position and speed. The steady light isn't really needed during the day, but helps a lot at night, IMO. Intensity is a major factor. In bright sunlight, you need a very bright blinky. Riding in and out of shadows during a sunny day, a bright blinky really helps drivers spot you when you happen to be in a shadow while their windshield is brightly illuminated by sun. At night, it might be too much and can dazzle drivers.
Looigi is offline  
Old 12-22-13, 09:15 AM
  #5  
chaadster
Thread Killer
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Ann Arbor, MI
Posts: 9,336

Bikes: '15 Kinesis Racelight 4S, '76 Motebecane Gran Jubilée, '17 Dedacciai Gladiatore2, '12 Breezer Venturi, '09 Dahon Mariner, '05 Novara Big Buzz, '12 Mercier Nano, '95 DeKerf Team

Mentioned: 19 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1026 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
My .02¢ on the matter is that, aside from situations like Machka described where you don't want to annoy other riders, or perhaps pedestrians if you're on a bike path, you want to use the flashing mode primarily.

Looigi said the magic word: conspicuity. Typical city night riding is flush with light sources, and particularly steady ones, so a flashing light is more conspicuous in that setting. Rural night riding, where there are much fewer light sources and it's darker, either steady or flashing taillights are going to be easy to see (assuming decent and equal brightness in all of this).

I also agree with Looigi's assertion that a steady source is easier to judge location of (or distance to, in the case of a car driver approaching from behind), but I don't think that confers any additional safety in most circumstances. I don't have any facts to back that up, other than that I've never heard of that being the cause of collision ("I thought he was further away") and I've never experienced the phenomenon myself as a driver. So I won't argue the veracity of that claim, and I may be wrong, but given that we're probably talking about battery operated lights here, I'll just say weigh the potential of some gain in safety from a steady light against battery life and convenience; flashing mode will yield quite a bit longer battery life.

Compared to not using one at all, either mode is preferred, so just turn it on and hopefully enjoy many more years of safe riding.

Last edited by chaadster; 12-22-13 at 09:19 AM.
chaadster is offline  
Old 12-22-13, 09:22 AM
  #6  
SmallFront
Senior Member
 
SmallFront's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2013
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
Posts: 403

Bikes: Bullitt Milk Plus with Alfine 11s; Dahon Smooth Hound

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I use a very strong rear light that I always set to "solid". It is really conspicious, even in the day (although I don't use it much in the day - mostly when I'm overly worried and have my daughter with me), but I think that being able to judge distances is one of the most important ones, as long as the light is strong enough to actually make you seen among the clutter of city lights.

My tail light is the Niterider Solas, and I am very happy with it. In fact, it is so strong, that I felt I had to point it ever so slightly downwards so as not to blind car drivers because their head is about the same height as the light is. It is also very visible from the sides, which I figure is at least as important as from the rear when riding in anything but the most rural areas.
SmallFront is offline  
Old 12-22-13, 10:41 AM
  #7  
dynodonn 
Senior Discount Member
 
dynodonn's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: U.S. of A.
Posts: 7,466
Mentioned: 40 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1218 Post(s)
Liked 19 Times in 17 Posts
My thoughts, flashing lights by day, solid at night.
dynodonn is offline  
Old 12-22-13, 10:43 AM
  #8  
SkyDog75
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2011
Location: Upstate NY
Posts: 3,818

Bikes: Bianchi San Mateo and a few others

Mentioned: 18 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 632 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 2 Times in 2 Posts
I normally use blinking. Like the others said, it's more conspicuous; it's more likely to catch the attention of motorists. Also, it lends to longer battery life.
SkyDog75 is offline  
Old 12-22-13, 11:33 AM
  #9  
Looigi
Senior Member
 
Looigi's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 8,951
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 12 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Yes. Some have touched on it already, but environment is a big factor. In a dark rural environment with no other vehicles, any light will stand out. In urban environments with many lights, illuminated advertising, and many vehicles' lights, a single steady light can just blend in. Flashing is good on emergency and law enforcement vehicles, school buses, road works, railroad crossings, airplanes, tall towers and buildings, life vests and rafts, etc...
Looigi is offline  
Old 12-22-13, 11:48 AM
  #10  
fietsbob 
coprolite
 
fietsbob's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: NW,Oregon Coast
Posts: 41,572

Bikes: 8

Mentioned: 183 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 6744 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 158 Times in 134 Posts
My wired to dyno-hub head and taillight, are steady , because they are German made,

The accessory battery lights coming from Asian sources offer the flashing Option.

[Though Nightrider, I think is in San Diego, Cal]

How about one of each?

Last edited by fietsbob; 12-23-13 at 11:54 AM.
fietsbob is offline  
Old 12-22-13, 12:32 PM
  #11  
JohnDThompson 
Old fart
 
JohnDThompson's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Appleton WI
Posts: 20,355

Bikes: Several, mostly not name brands.

Mentioned: 107 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1664 Post(s)
Liked 39 Times in 25 Posts
In many parts of Europe, flashing tail lights are not permitted.
JohnDThompson is offline  
Old 12-22-13, 01:14 PM
  #12  
BobbyG
Senior Member
 
BobbyG's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Colorado Springs, CO
Posts: 4,281

Bikes: 2015 Charge Plug, 1997 Nishiki Blazer, 1984 Nishiki International

Mentioned: 32 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 797 Post(s)
Liked 63 Times in 38 Posts
Flashing mode usually extends battery life.
BobbyG is offline  
Old 12-22-13, 02:26 PM
  #13  
fietsbob 
coprolite
 
fietsbob's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: NW,Oregon Coast
Posts: 41,572

Bikes: 8

Mentioned: 183 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 6744 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 158 Times in 134 Posts
Red LEDs are already very low current draws ..
fietsbob is offline  
Old 12-22-13, 03:29 PM
  #14  
Looigi
Senior Member
 
Looigi's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 8,951
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 12 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by JohnDThompson View Post
In many parts of Europe, flashing tail lights are not permitted.
Yes. They want to reserve flashing lights for govt, law enforcement, road workers, emergency vehicles. As a cyclist, you're not entitled to a flashing light until after you've been hit and are in the ambulance.

Last edited by Looigi; 12-22-13 at 03:49 PM.
Looigi is offline  
Old 12-22-13, 05:07 PM
  #15  
mprelaw
Senior Member
 
mprelaw's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Posts: 2,318
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Head light: steady for seeing, flashing for being seen. Use two after dark, and you have both bases covered.

Tail light: always flashing.
mprelaw is offline  
Old 12-23-13, 12:17 PM
  #16  
vins0010
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Posts: 249

Bikes: '86 Trek Elance 400; '83 Trek 520; 90s Specialized Crossroads, '84 Trek 610 (wife's), 90s Trek Multitrack (wife's), Cargo Trailers, Burley for the Kids, WeeHoo Trailer

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Front and Back Flashing if on the road. Both solid if on the bike trail. Especially in the winter (to see road, ice, etc. better...and be more noticeable) I'll also usually supplement with a dedicated headlight that is bright enough to see the road. I currently use a cygolite. I direct the cygolite towards to road (to see) and don't flash it (despite the setting)...it is painful in flash mode.
vins0010 is offline  
Old 12-23-13, 07:46 PM
  #17  
Myosmith
Lover of Old Chrome Moly
 
Myosmith's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2011
Location: NW Minnesota
Posts: 2,907
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 136 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 8 Times in 7 Posts
I always use a continuous light in the front. The rear light I leave on a blinking mode.
Myosmith is offline  
Old 12-25-13, 08:34 PM
  #18  
leicanthrope
Senior Member
 
leicanthrope's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2013
Location: Atlanta, GA
Posts: 799

Bikes: 1975 Fuji Professional • 1988 Bianchi Campione d' Italia • 1982 Fuji Team • 1986 Trek 1000 • 2007 Trek Madone • 1991 Schwinn Paramount PDG Series 3

Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 27 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I'm among those that split the difference. During the day, I generally run with a flashing light on both the front and the rear. At night, I add a solid light to both ends. Only on relatively rare occasions will I set everything to flash, typically around dusk if there is an unusual amount of vehicular chaos present (commuting near the entrance of a large shopping mall on the run up to Christmas, etc.)
leicanthrope is offline  
Old 12-25-13, 09:02 PM
  #19  
Murray Missile 
Bike hoarder.
 
Murray Missile's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: 700 Ft. above sea level.
Posts: 1,758

Bikes: Too many according to my wife.

Mentioned: 7 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 175 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 2 Times in 2 Posts
Flashing front and rear main lights in daylight hours. Both in steady mode in low light with 2 single LED lights of appropriate color at each end in addition to the main lights and lots of reflective tape on the bike and me. I just got a small LED light for my helmet as well.
__________________
Analog man in a digital world.
Murray Missile is offline  
Old 12-25-13, 09:07 PM
  #20  
KLiNCK
Optically Corrected
 
KLiNCK's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Posts: 524

Bikes: 2012 Specialized Sirrus , 2012 Specialized Roubaix Comp

Mentioned: 3 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 89 Post(s)
Liked 9 Times in 5 Posts
Originally Posted by dynodonn View Post
My thoughts, flashing lights by day, solid at night.
+1
KLiNCK is offline  
Old 12-26-13, 09:36 PM
  #21  
SGocka
Senior Member
 
SGocka's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: Connecticut, USA
Posts: 57
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I have a flashing red light on the back of my helmet, and on the back of my rack.

I have a steady beam headlight on my handlebar and a white flashing LED on my handlebar.

I commute on a pretty busy road in the dark and have never had a problem.
SGocka is offline  
Old 12-27-13, 12:04 AM
  #22  
claystevens
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2013
Posts: 19
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by Machka View Post
Flashing can be more noticeable ... but very annoying when you ride in a group.
Yep. It is used for some special conditions to attract attentions. Don't overuse it.
claystevens is offline  
Old 12-27-13, 08:53 AM
  #23  
Cougrrcj 
Over forty victim of Fate
 
Cougrrcj's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: NE Ohio
Posts: 2,997

Bikes: A few...

Mentioned: 13 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 294 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 2 Times in 2 Posts
I have lots of reflectors facing aft - yellow on the pedals, one round red mounted on each seat stay, one round red on my seat bag, and one red on the back of the rack, and some white reflective tape on the rear rack stays. That is all in addition to the rear-facing yellow xenon strobe that is on day or night.

In the front I have a steady white LED light (used at night only), although I'm thinking of getting a new one that would allow for flashing mode as an attention getter for daytime road use.

I also always wear a reflective mesh safety vest, and reflective tape on my helmet that can be seen from all sides.
__________________
'75 Fuji S-10S bought new, 52k+ miles and still going!
'84 Univega Gran Tourismo
'84 Univega Viva Sport
'86 Miyata 710
'90 Schwinn Woodlands
Huffy MTB - for trips to corner store
MTB of questionable lineage aka 'Mutt Trail Bike'
Cougrrcj is offline  
Old 12-27-13, 09:40 AM
  #24  
cyccommute 
Mad bike riding scientist
 
cyccommute's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Denver, CO
Posts: 21,283

Bikes: Some silver ones, a red one, an orange one and a few titanium ones

Mentioned: 91 Post(s)
Tagged: 1 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2415 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 79 Times in 55 Posts
Originally Posted by Nikon Rep View Post
after about 26 years of riding without a light I finally bought one.

it has two settings...flashing/pulsing or solid.

what are the reasons why one better than the other or which situations call for either ?
If a front light is bright enough, you shouldn't need a flashing light to get a driver's attention. And if the light isn't bright enough that you need to use the flash to get a driver's attention, you've wasted your money...especially in the day and age of $20 LED lamps that put out 600 or 700 lumens.

Rear lights are a different story. They aren't as intense (nor should they be) as front lights. Although the only thing I have to go on is personal observation, I run one rear light in steady mode so that drivers can judge the distance to me and several on flash to get their attention.
__________________
Stuart Black
Pokin' around the Poconos A cold ride around Lake Erie
Dinosaurs in Colorado A mountain bike guide to the Purgatory Canyon dinosaur trackway
Solo Without Pie. The search for pie in the Midwest.
Picking the Scablands. Washington and Oregon, 2005. Pie and spiders on the Columbia River!
Days of Wineless Roads. Bed and Breakfasting along the KATY
Twisting Down the Alley. Misadventures in tornado alley.
An Good Ol' Fashion Appalachian Butt Whoopin'.

Last edited by cyccommute; 12-27-13 at 09:44 AM.
cyccommute is offline  
Old 12-27-13, 11:07 AM
  #25  
Looigi
Senior Member
 
Looigi's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 8,951
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 12 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
What you should need and what's best are two different things. Some motorcyclists have taken to running pulsing headlights to increase conspicuity and help prevent vehicles from pulling out or turning in front of them despite running high-beams during the day. It happens all the time; perfect visibility, you're there on your motorcycle plain as day with your highbeam blaring, and they still don't see you. Physically, the light travels through their eyes and forms an image on their retinas which send the info to the brain, but it doesn't register in their consciousness. Flashing/pulsing helps wake them up.
Looigi is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service

Copyright © 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.