Lights. What's the deal?

Discussion in 'Cycling Equipment' started by Dr.Hairybiker, Oct 26, 2005.

  1. Dr.Hairybiker

    Dr.Hairybiker New Member

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    I'd like to start riding some at night, and hopefully gravitate into some 24 hour endurance (road) races next summer, so I'm looking into lights.

    Basically, I'd like something that will allow me to see where I'm going(but it doesn't have to blind oncoming traffic), and will burn through the night, or at least a good part of the night. I'm pretty dissapointed in what is available, maybe I'm just not understanding. Most inexpensive lights look like they would just eat AA batteries by the ton if you actually started riding at night to any real extent. As they start getting more expensive, with rechargeable batteries, they seem to only have anywhere from an hour to maybe 3 hours burn time. So I would have to change batteries at least 3 times during the night, which I guess means that I would have to have 3 spare battery packs, fully charged, to try and ride the night through.

    Questions:

    1. How many watts does one need to be able to see?(Road) I see some lights that claim 30 watts, is that overkill?

    2. Is there a lighting system available, with rechargeable batteries, that will burn up to eight hours? So you could ride through the night, then charge up during the day?

    I would appreciate any advice about lighting from anyone with experience in 24 hour or longer endurance rides. Thanks in advance.
     
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  2. Bra T

    Bra T New Member

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    You may want to get one of these:


    http://www.nightlightning.co.nz/multisporters.htm


    The light is called Endurenz and if you select your battery well you'll get about 14 hrs bright enough light to see while not being excessively blinding to on coming traffic.
    It's rechargable and the led's will last for many many years.

    Battery can be mounte in your saddle bag and the control switch can mount under the stem with a bit of ingenuity.
     
  3. dabac

    dabac Well-Known Member

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    Very much depends on your riding conditions. MTBers who ride trails in the dark seems to be fairly agreed on that around 20W is what they require. I've seen one example of a roadie who used a pair of high power LEDs (Luxeon) and was quite happy with that, and his light output is nowhere near what a 20W Halogen can deliver. I've used a 5W which has worked out OK. But then I used it as a headlamp, so I always had good light where I was looking. For a bike mounted unit you might want more power/wider angle to ensure that cover the area you're about to roll over.
     
  4. Bra T

    Bra T New Member

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    ask yourself, Do I want to be seen or do I want to see where I'm going and whats on the raod surface?


    If the former then any weady little LED from the bike shop will do.

    But if you wantto see where you're going then you will want something with a bit more oomph.

    The Nightlightning is a oomphy LED light. 3 x 3W Luxeon LED's that can provide up to a 25W halogen equivalnt light output will ensure you're seen and can see where you're going.

    If too expensive then invest a good high power halogen system. these guys make lots of kits for your every need.

    also Lumicycles.co.uk
     
  5. sahc

    sahc New Member

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    The Lumicycles.co.uk doesn't work for me. Cause I'm in USA? Found reviews on web but no specs and no place that sells em.
     
  6. vonnieglen

    vonnieglen New Member

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    Hello All,

    In the Northwest part of the US where we live it gets dark around 5:00 p.m. as soon as daylight savings time ends, so every year we wrestle with bicycle lighting. The best website on the subject is http://bicyclelighting.com. They are not trying to sell anything, but give good advice on either buying a pre- made setup or building your own. Decent bike shop lights are definitely over-priced.

    My wife and I usually end up riding our tandem bicycle after dark. We have settled on LED blinkers mounted on both of the rear handle bar ends, the rear seat post, and her helmet. We also have a flashing strobe on the rear seat post. In addition we wear reflective clothing called Illuminite.

    For headlights we use two ten watt halogen bulbs mounted on our front handlebars one spot and one wide angle. I wear a ten watt halogen spot bulb mounted on my helmet. We use 6v 4ah Sealed Lead Acid (SLA) batteries.

    We are fortunate; the batteries are available from a local provider for $5 a piece. They are used as backup batteries for emergency lighting and burglar alarms. When they are new they will power a 10w bulb for around 2 hours when they are fully charged. I normally use only one of the two bulbs mounted on the bars at a time. This way the two batteries last about the same length of time.

    We also have a five LED backup headlight in case our primary systems go dead. This year I added two 12v 6w Chinese Dynamos. These put out their rated power at around 12 mph. I attached a full wave bridge rectifier, from Radio Shack to each. Then I hooked them up in parallel and use them to charge the battery hooked to the handlebar lamps if it gets low. The battery prevents the voltage from getting high enough to burn out the lamp.

    The biggest problem I had with the dynamos is that they slip on the tires, especially in the rain. This was solved by turning the spring around in the mount on one of the dynamos and mounting it on the opposite fork blade. Our fender had to be ground back a bit with a Dremel tool to clear the dynamo rollers.

    I made levers out of 1/8" by 1/2" steel rod about 6" long. These were attached to the bottle shaped dynamos with a hose clamp and some tape. The levers stick up a couple inches above the front fender. The ends were bent outwards and a hole drilled in each so that a bolt can tie the two generators together. The nut is finger tightened while riding, enough to squeeze the two dynamos together against the sidewalls of the tire just enough to stop the slipping.

    Initially, I had planned to use the dynamos all the time to extend the life of our battery when using both of the handlebar bulbs at once. A typical 6v 3w dynamo has very little drag, but the drag and noise from these two units is significant. It slows us down by a couple of miles per hour and the noise is loud enough to be irritating.

    I have to admit that the weight of an extra battery would not be any more than that of the two dynamos, but I do like that this system allows us to ride even if we forget to charge the batteries.

    Sincerely,
    Steve

     
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