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scrooge
12-30-2006, 09:49 AM
I got a chunk of change for Christmas and am trying to think of interesting ways to spend it (read: i want to buy something a little frivolous that i can enjoy and normally wouldn't buy) so the thought crossed my mind of a lighting system. I'm curious if folks here use lights to go on regular rides. I'm thinking that doing so could really expand the time I have to ride (the days have been pretty short in Denver since day light savings time) but am not sure if I would really enjoy it (Plus, I'd hate to disturb the sleep of the folks living along the bike path...). So, if you ride with lights, do you like it? or if you've ridden with lights but didn't enjoy it, why not?

Oh, and I know I could do a search, but if anyone wants to toss out some advise for what system to look at that would be great...

djg
12-30-2006, 10:06 AM
I like it fine. My evening commute requires a light for a decent chunk of the year (around now, say), and I'll often-enough toss in an extra few miles if there's time. I'd much rather have sunshine and mild weather, but that's not always an option. With a good light I can see fine, and certain places (the MUT, a park loop that's popular around here) that have traffic on sunny spring afternoons are blessedly quiet on a December evening.

I did a post asking about new light options not too long ago. Folks liked various things, but whereas this and that got mixed reviews (here and elsewhere) everybody who had an L&M ARC HID light seemed to like it. znfndl actually had a spare that he lent me for a bit, and I was pretty easily sold. A 10w halogen is fine 90% of the time, but when the ambient light gets a little funky or the speed picks up, it gets hard to see the surface of the road. The HID tosses enough light that I can see the surface better--mostly I notice that I'm not noticing; because I don't have to concentrate on reading surface glitches in the pavement, I'm just more relaxed riding along. It's bright, but it has a lower setting (that's still plenty for most situations, and better than the halogen) and directing the beam just a bit down and to the right makes it easier on oncoming traffic. If you do a search, you'll find that thread and others.

BTW, I recommend performance for light purchases. Bike lights are one of those things that can get iffy (I'd had problems with two niterider purchases over the years) and the performance guarantee is something an LBS cannot reasonably match.

dauwhe
12-30-2006, 10:17 AM
Randonneurs do a ton of night riding--this last year I rode all night twice, and well into the night on several other occasions. I much prefer a generator hub (Schmidt SON), which means I'm not dependent on batteries at all. I use an DLumotech LED primary and E6 secondary, and find it to be a wonderful combination, with good light at all speeds (and the optics are superior to any battery light system I've seen.

It's an expensive setup, but there's no fiddle factor, my lights are always there and available, which comes in handy if a late-afternoon ride goes longer than I thought, or even if I'm riding in fog or other visibility-compromising situations.

See http://www.peterwhitecycles.com/lightingsystems.htm for a huge amount of information on all sorts of lighting systems.

Dave

KevinK
12-30-2006, 11:04 AM
I rely on the Light & Motion Solo MV Logic system for my 11.5 mile commute. It is a well designed, light weight system with the LI-ion battery. You can find them for less than $200 with the trickle charger. I paid a little extra and got mine with the Turbo "smart" charger. It has 3 lighting levels, and will run about 2 hours on the brightest setting, which is bright enough for unlit roads and bike paths. It is a headlight system only, I use two Cateye LED rear lights for redundant visibility.

Kevin

manet
12-30-2006, 11:32 AM
light + motion helmet mount. for road riding i mount it under my stem with the battery in a retro-fitted old water bottle. it's a few years old. i sent it in for work _ you have to charge the battery ever once and a while in the off season or the battery will stop accepting a charge. it has 3 candle power settings. i use low when looping around the park and usually crank it up full candle when the leaving park to ride home on the mean streets of JC.

all in all, it's fine. i would buy something similar again. though now the switch is acting up. i purchased it during a deep sale. you should be able to get twice the light for half the price nowadays. and like Kevin, i have the turbo-smart charger _ it's worth it.

A.L.Breguet rides with a nightrider single light helmet mount. basically just another company's version of mine. he also has a pretty cool bar mount flash-lite style light (planet bike?), takes normal rechargeable batteries and for the money it's pretty damn nice. we both have rear red blinky lites. when we ride together with both nicad lights a blazin' we scare motorists.

in my experience motorists (and pedestrians) have shown more respect when i ride with a powerful light. my luminated rides being done in the eve/nite hours, and generally are 1 1/2 to 2 hour rides.

these lights are definately geek material but kinda fun!

manet
12-30-2006, 11:43 AM
stevep swears by 'em for frog hunting and collecting night-crawlers.

Tom
12-30-2006, 12:47 PM
At a certain point it's necessary for the rides before work, I use the L&M Arc HID and it's great. I said I was going to do some midnight rides during the summer but never did. I definitely will next year. There's also an overnight century done by some of the local loonies. That sounds like fun. I met a bunch of them one night, I had no idea what was coming at me. One you can figure out pretty fast, a half a dozen is a weird shape to try and understand. I was on my bike and what threw me was they weren't making any noise. That was cool.

woolly
12-30-2006, 01:12 PM
I like riding at night. While I'm curious about the HID's and newer LED's, my Turbocat lights just won't quit.

For headlights, I run a 2-light setup on the handlebar, and a spot on my head. For taillights, I have a red blinky in the end of my handlebar, a larger/brighter one on the chainstay, and one on my messenger bag (if I'm carrying it). The low beam on the handlebar is a 10w 20deg flood, and the high beam is a 12deg medium spot. The one on my head is a 10w 10deg medium spot.

For commuting, especially in an urban setting, I highly recommend a helmet-mount light. You can quickly move the light directly where you want to see (i.e. at that dog that's running at you from the side, or directly at that motorist who is behaving like they haven't noticed you yet). It helps to both see and be seen. It's also a big help when changing a flat or other repairs.

I also very much recommend more than one flasher in the rear. Make yourself visibile!

While I feel that the Turbocat products are very high quality, it's the extended run-times of the HID's and LED's that may turn my head when it's time for something new (but that won't be until one of my current batteries reaches the end of it's useful life).

djg
12-30-2006, 02:21 PM
And just to follow-up on a couple of the posts--yep, a rear light is key too, if you're not riding solo in the wilderness. There are all sorts of options--one that I've got mounted on the commuter is a niterider blinkie that's inexpensive and pretty darn visible. znfndl swears by his dinotte, which apparently is sort of a torch, but it's pricey.

Bradford
12-30-2006, 03:35 PM
I always liked riding with a light when commuting but hate it for normal rides. So if I'm not commuting, I have no interest in riding in the dark.

znfdl
12-30-2006, 03:52 PM
djg: thanks for the compliments.

My spare L&M is making the rounds as Too Tall is now using it.

I also gave Too Tall a Dinotte tailight for Hanukah, Too Tall feels that it is too bright for the bike path so he turns it off. However, when I am riding on the road to get to the bike path, cars give me a 6 foot berth, as I have the rear light on blink, which is blinding.

The L&M HID on the front and the Dinotte on the rear is a great combination.

Too Tall
12-30-2006, 04:23 PM
I've got two setups. For commuting nothing beats massive stupid overkill. My regular commuter setup is a niterider HID that has a fairly wide beam compared to ZNFNDLs loaner L&M which is one heck of a nice unit...my nitrider is out for repair...don't ask :rolleyes: For everything else I've conccur with Dauwhe. If you *might have to change batteries on a long night ride...DON'T!!! Use the schmidt lumotech system with their light, it rawks! I made a bracket for the light that attaches to the front QR and the light is fabooo :) It is not massive overkill like an HID but hey! It was good enough for two fast PBPs.

rdparadise
12-30-2006, 05:47 PM
I've done a regular Tuesday night ride year around now for about six years. We start at 5:30 and do approximately a 28 mile loop. As long as black ice is not a factor, our group pretty much rides. I like riding in the winter because it helps maintain my fitness level for summer cycling.

We typically ride 1-3mph slower than our summer pace for safety purposes. I use a $75 Cygolite that I bought from REI but can be had just about anywhere. It has two six watt beams and will last (advertised/not tested) up to six hours on a full charge and only one beam lit. I usually ride with the one beam and it's fine for seeing the road. Towards the end of the ride I go to double beams for about the last 10 miles. This light is reasonably priced and does the trick for night riding.

In the rear, I recently purchased a blackburn blinky light that is a killer on the eyes. Some of our clan has this very same light and it's so bright I can't stand riding directly behind them.

Take care and good luck. It's worth riding at night. I would encourage you to find a group to ride with however, just incase you do crash. It's good to have somebody around to call for help.

Happy New Year!

Bob
:banana:

Ginger
12-30-2006, 05:55 PM
L&M Arc Lion HID...yeah, what they said. Helmet mount for commuting.
Bar mount for riding with others unless you're VERY careful not to look at anyone when you're talking to them.
Why helmet mount for commuting? When cars come in from the sides and roll their stop sign I can fill their car with light. Gets their attention...they think I'm a UFO. And that's just fine with me. Still working on the rear blinkys...I usually run several on the bike and one on the helmet.
I'll have to check out the Dinotte.

A weird experience with lights: Riding a mtb trail backwards with lights and having 30 riders (with lights) coming the other way...Spooky in the woods like that! Woods lights up bright as day as everyone passes, then closes back down to your one light. Makes everything darker. Fun! (Of course, it really sucks because everyone looks at you...eeeg, helmet mount lights! Takes about five minutes to get any night vision back...)

rbtmcardle
12-30-2006, 06:25 PM
Just purchased (1 month ago) the Dinotte 5w headlight and 3w taillight package. Perfect for my 14 mile commute, often I ride both ways in the dark and my niterider 15w wouldnt hold up for both directions, its nice and light and very well made. Of course I would like it brighter but its comparable to my niterider on the medium setting.
It also doesnt interfere with my wireless computer.

cdimattio
12-30-2006, 06:32 PM
Dittos on the Light and Motion HID bar mount as a commuter tool.

+1 on the thought of purchasing from Performance. I started with a Niterider product for a week or two which was ultimately not as much to my liking, and they readily accepted it in return for the L&M.

scrooge
12-30-2006, 09:58 PM
thanks for all the advice--if I do this I'll probably go with the L&M.

But the really important question--do you ENJOY riding at night/in the dark? or do it merely out of necessity? In other words, would it be better just to find a different exercise routine on the dark days/months?

Jack Brunk
12-30-2006, 10:27 PM
If you ride a lot of ultradistance races like I do, your bound to do your fair share of riding in the dark. I feel for me I'm at my best when the sun goes down. I think there are a lot riders who become timid at night. Not sure why but it does happen. I become the oppsite. I love the dark.


Jack

paulh
12-30-2006, 11:10 PM
No advice, but here's a photo.

Ginger
12-30-2006, 11:17 PM
There's nothing better than riding before the sun comes up.

There are however two types of drivers out in the early am:

Very VERY courteous people who are driving at that time of morning because they're avoiding the morning rush too, they sort of understand it seems...

and

groggy/not woke up yet/pissed off people who have no freak'n clue that they're driving a car. These people are worse than drunks.

Be careful around 7-11s and bagel places before first light.

CNY rider
12-31-2006, 07:20 AM
thanks for all the advice--if I do this I'll probably go with the L&M.

But the really important question--do you ENJOY riding at night/in the dark? or do it merely out of necessity? In other words, would it be better just to find a different exercise routine on the dark days/months?

For me it's a mix of both.

I'm hooked on commuting to work by bike, so with short days I have no other choice than to ride in the dark. My ride to work these days is in twilight; I can usually see fine by the time I get to work. Ride home in the evening is in total darkness.

There is ambient light on most of my ride home, until I turn off on to my final 2 mile hill climb. It's a ride through utter blackness. On a cloudy night there is not even a hint of light. I had a 10 watt halogen from Performance that I was using. While I could see the road surface, I found those last few miles very disorienting and anxiety provoking because I felt like I was riding into this little patch of light and I could not perceive anything around me. Around 3 months ago I upgraded to the L&M HID. What an incredible difference. I now enjoy that ride home at night and feel much safer.

Also as noted in other post make sure you have several blinkies for your back. Give it a try. Good luck.

Too Tall
12-31-2006, 07:40 AM
what Jack said. I feel transported to another world when riding ultras at night. For me riding thru Brittany passing the cut fields, twinking stars and FAST long roads is the *ultimate night ride...on a bike ;) (*insert ATMO Rat Pack quote here.......) I really look forward to this time of yr. when my commute is largely in the dark because I have a sense of privacy and exclusivity...hard to explain. In a world where we have so much pressure the dark give some peace.

ALSO m'boy, this is tough to get your arms around BUT if you are kitted out properly you'll be MORE visable at night than daytime. Go figure!

cdimattio
12-31-2006, 07:46 AM
thanks for all the advice--if I do this I'll probably go with the L&M.

But the really important question--do you ENJOY riding at night/in the dark? or do it merely out of necessity? In other words, would it be better just to find a different exercise routine on the dark days/months?

I had been apprehensive about a twice daily 18 mile winter commute in the dark for safety reasons more than anything else. The riding itself is different but exceptional. Beauty of the sunrise, eerie on dark desolate roads at night.

From the safety side, I find I need to be careful in the more urban areas as the abient streetlights and such tend to dilute the impact of your lighting (and visibility to motorists).

For the rear, I am a big fan of the Lightman Xenon Strobe in addition to a blinky. The strobe can be purchased with several colored lens configurations including red, amber and clear. Clear is the brightest and will certainly get one noticed, but technically white light in the rear can violate certain vehicle ordinances.

znfdl
12-31-2006, 08:18 AM
Scrooge:

There is nothing like riding down a deserted bike path in the dark. Also as other people have said, seeing a sunrise can be a wonderful experience. My favorite time of the year is when the sun is rising over the Potomac River and in between the Lincoln and Washington Monuments.

scrooge
12-31-2006, 08:33 AM
If you ride a lot of ultradistance races like I do, your bound to do your fair share of riding in the dark. I feel for me I'm at my best when the sun goes down. I think there are a lot riders who become timid at night. Not sure why but it does happen. I become the oppsite. I love the dark.


Jack

i can understand that. In the one ultra I've done (MI 24 hour challenge) riding at night was by far the coolest part (except for around 2.30 am when I suddenly got really, really sleepy.) Nothing like seeing all those headlights floating around silently in the dark.

chuckred
12-31-2006, 09:38 AM
I signed up for my first 24 hour race last summer, and to get ready started weekly night rides. It really opens up a whole new world, as you no longer need to worry about the clock! It's also a perfect time to do easier base miles or recovery rides.

Since I travel to CA about 75% of the time, I keep an extra bike out there and do a Wed night easy fireroad ride.... lots of fun!

My night rides are restricted to off-road. Since I ride about 50/50 road and mountain, and my major racing goals are off road endurance, this suits me well. In Denver area, with the excellent bike paths, would also see it as a reasonable commuting method, if I had to do downtown often, which I don't.

I'll let others speak for riding at night on the road. It doesn't really appeal to my risk/reward ratio, though.

I use the Marwi Extreme EVO - very bright, good dispersion pattern and long battery life. I ride with a guy who has the Nightpro Moab, mine's brighter and has a better pattern, otherwise, the Moab has a better mount and a nice LED back up - limp home mode that the EVO doesn't.

Since you're in Denver, the night mountain biking is less appealing in winter as the price of breakdown is much higher. But, late Spring, Summer and Early fall, should be good. If I spend more time in CO this summer, I'm hoping to lead weekly evening rides with my club...

scrooge
12-31-2006, 11:25 AM
I signed up for my first 24 hour race last summer, and to get ready started weekly night rides. It really opens up a whole new world, as you no longer need to worry about the clock! It's also a perfect time to do easier base miles or recovery rides.

Since I travel to CA about 75% of the time, I keep an extra bike out there and do a Wed night easy fireroad ride.... lots of fun!

My night rides are restricted to off-road. Since I ride about 50/50 road and mountain, and my major racing goals are off road endurance, this suits me well. In Denver area, with the excellent bike paths, would also see it as a reasonable commuting method, if I had to do downtown often, which I don't.

I'll let others speak for riding at night on the road. It doesn't really appeal to my risk/reward ratio, though.

I use the Marwi Extreme EVO - very bright, good dispersion pattern and long battery life. I ride with a guy who has the Nightpro Moab, mine's brighter and has a better pattern, otherwise, the Moab has a better mount and a nice LED back up - limp home mode that the EVO doesn't.

Since you're in Denver, the night mountain biking is less appealing in winter as the price of breakdown is much higher. But, late Spring, Summer and Early fall, should be good. If I spend more time in CO this summer, I'm hoping to lead weekly evening rides with my club...

What club are you a member of? I'm thinking about joining one myself...