[Yak] Lighting from Re: Yak Digest, Vol 15, Issue 41
wee-willie-winkie at earthlink.net
Thu Sep 29 06:40:01 CDT 2005
Excellent Points, Marc, both on the lighting as well as obeying the "spirit" of all vehicular laws. In the US, in addition to requiring BOTH front and rear lights, some states, such as PA, also require red reflectors (even with rear lighting) ... and don't forget your "audible warning device" (but not a whistle) that most states also require.
While all of the discussion on lights has been excellent, I believe Nancy's original question was what light works well for a short ride, specifically "for a road commute in moderate vehicle traffic of no more than 20 minutes" For that application, a battery powered light would make the most sense, be it a LED clip on, or a larger handlebar light with a rechargeable battery in the waterbottle holder. As others have said, I've tried the LED lights and although they are great for being seen, they don't give the beam dispersion to really light up a REALLY dark road and if one goes this route, one (at least I) generally needs several lights - such as the 5-LED for up close and a Cateye HL-500 for looking ahead to what is up-front ahead of you. For my normal hour commute on back country roads, I have relied on my Night Sun for about 10 years, using the (5 watt) low beam for most applications and the second high beam for the fast down-hills (where I know deer will be present) or for spotlighting cars that leave their lights on bright as they approach me. As the rechargeable gel battery that fits in the waterbottle cage is getting old, I pretty much only get an hour on the battery and have left that lighting system on my mountain bike and installed a SON hub with twin 3 watt E5's on the front fork to my normal commuter bike - but would recommend this option to those who regularly commute through the winter (my commute is 1 hour in the dark each way starting about now) or those that have deep pockets. My motivation was that the cost of conversion to the hub generator was about the same as a "high end halogen lighting system (about US$500.00). The SON and E5's have opened up opportunities for extending my cycling after work and I now routinely take bike trips that extend through the night and sleep/rest during the day when it is hot out. Contrary to what those have said about the SON hub generators, the double 3 Watt Halogen lights up front put out "adequate" illumination. There is nothing so pleasant as riding on a "A" road at night without seeing a single automobile the entire night (after pub closing time.) As others have said, the SON hum has minimal resistance when it is not being used (during the day) And, at night, on uphills when I'm going slower and don't need the lighting coverage, I generally run only one light to minimize drag. On the downhills with both lights lit, the SON/E5 combination really shines. As most of us do, after a rough mountain climb, I enjoy flying down the other side of the hills. As long as I know that there are no deer (or moose) present, I have no qualms about riding down the mountain passes in excess of 40mph - passing all of the other riders that are relying on their battery powered lighting systems.
For the back, I rely on several Cateye LED's - When in a group they are on steady mode and riding by myself, if the law permits, I run a couple on the "strobe" mode. It has been my experience that with this lighting arrangements the vehicles give me more space when passing at night (especially the Pocket Rocket fully lit up like some UFO) than they do during the day (when they can see that I'm a bicyclist.)
> Message: 10
> Date: Wed, 28 Sep 2005 21:54:11 -0400
> From: Marc Plum <waranoid at yahoo.com>
> Subject: Re: [Yak] Headlights
> Just a couple of things to add on the subject of headlights.
> Concerning the legal requirement for headlights, in Connecticut, for example, a bicyclist is required to use a
> headlight not only after dark, but at all times that a car would also have to do ... Enforcement of such laws may be
> lax, for bicyclists, but we may as well know what we're supposed to be doing.
>My commute includes several miles of completely unlit roads. I've tried a 5 LED Cateye headlight, which is fairly
> bright to look at, but simply doesn't light the road well enough to ride at reasonable speeds. Right now, I'm
> relying on a 15W Planet Bike halogen light. The medium 12W setting provides enough light for almost any road,
> although I go to full power for downhills. The battery fits in a bottle cage and isn't too heavy; the light itself has a
> quick release mount. I'm not recommending it over other brands; it's just that a light of this general kind is
> necessary for the riding I do. The idea of a generator light has its appeal, particularly if there is some sort of
> "standlight" feature to keep the light shining for a while when you stop. I have trouble believing, though, that they
> really give enough light to ride on totally unlit roads, and don't want to spend a lot of money to find out.
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