Re: first night ride & lighting questions

Discussion in 'rec.sport.unicycling' started by mikepenton, Oct 28, 2004.

  1. mikepenton

    mikepenton Guest

    With the Nottingham night rides & Phil's canalside ride, this evening I
    thought I'd have a go for the first time. particularly good timing as it
    had just finished raining heavily & I had gone home from work early
    feeling ill.

    did I forget anything? yes - I forgot that the Muni was in the car and
    that the car was 15 minutes walk away... anyway it was a nice walk.

    I had a Petzl zoom headtorch and a £10 single-LED Cateye light (mounted
    as low as possible above the forks) to show the way and some spoke LED
    lights for the Blackpool illuminations touch. It wasn't particularly
    dark as the low cloud was reflecting the London light pollution well.

    it was a pretty flat, well trodden path with a little mud, leaves and
    branches, but what a challenge! it's kind of... umm.... zen-like? I may
    as well have been riding blindfold. The lights weren't bad, but subtle
    changes in gradient were invisible. a few UPDs later I tried mounting
    the cateye on my shoe, under the laces (taking the attitude of you're
    not going to find out if you don't try!). a bit better, but off-putting.
    2 may have worked... but I reverted to the mounting.

    it was my shortest ride for a long time ( a mile maybe?) but I returned
    covered in mud & itching to do it again, but with more lighting!


    the questions:

    what's the best lighting setup? I got the cateye as I knew it wouldn't
    get in the way and I could get the right mounting. I'd like to know what
    joemarshall's is but I imagine it's very expensive for a casual rider.

    where do you mount the lights? the lower the better I assume, so you see
    shadows & therefore terrain changes can be more easily tackled. I'm
    probably over-paranoid about knee-room - is side mounting lights
    common?

    thanks in advance
    Mike

    PS - the under-the-laces idea could be good as additional secondary
    lighting...!


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  2. ParadoX

    ParadoX Guest

    Uhh I dont know about the lighting setup but you should probably mount
    the lights below your seatpost (I cant imagine anywhere else)

    -ParadoX


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  3. dubmuni2004

    dubmuni2004 Guest

    my freind and I sometimes go down this 2 mile downhiil trail that leads
    right to our school. and we go at 5:30 in the morning (still pitchblack
    for us) and ride to school. we use very crap headlamps, but its more fun
    when you have tunnel vision, it makes it way more challenging. but i
    wish i had more light. night riding is fun, except one time we came
    across two bears, but it ended all ok.


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  4. mandarin

    mandarin Guest

    I just started night rides two weeks ago. My usual solo route is mostly
    off-road, with a little street
    (http://www.flashbangstudios.com/tests/hike-red.jpg , if you're curious
    what Arizona terrain is like). I did a little research before I
    purchased, both here on the forums and elsewhere on the web. I was
    hoping to get by with a similiar light to the one you're using, simply
    because the bike lights on the market are extremely pricey. There are a
    lot of hiking/camping head lights out there that aren't very expensive
    at all.

    After reading up and talking to some people, though, I decided it was
    worth the money. It just isn't feasible to go with anything less than a
    mid-range bike light setup. This is what I use:

    http://tinyurl.com/6eh5x

    The high-end of bike lights are HID setups. They're insanely
    bright--very blue/white light. In my opinion, they're overkill for the
    slower speeds of unicycling (as compared to downhill/freeride on a
    bike). HID lights are $400-500 USD; something like:

    http://tinyurl.com/47zve

    The cheapest quality head-mountable lights seem to be around $100 USD.
    The charge time is longer, though, and the low-end systems aren't aware
    of battery life while in use. You can easily damage them by depleting
    the battery. The light I purchased is Niterider's cheapest "digital"
    setup, with a smart charger and low-light reserve when the battery runs
    out.

    The other big bike light company, at least in the US, is Light & Motion:
    http://www.bikelights.com/ . They seem comparable to Niterider in all
    respects; I'm not sure if one company produces better quality lights
    than the other or not.


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  5. gohfish

    gohfish Guest

    I haven't actually tried night muni yet but I've gone out at night a bit
    on that other cycle I have with the extra wheel. I've found the head
    mounted light to be the best for me. It always points where you look so
    you always have light where you need it.

    The decent lights that are made for off road riding have much brigher
    and cleaner light than the really cheap lights. As someone else
    mentioned, they can get outrageously expensive ($500) but I think those
    are way overkill...at least for me.

    I spent 100 bucks on the nightrider single headlight.
    http://tinyurl.com/5jr5z

    This was a dramatic improvement over my AA powered crappy light. I still
    keep the crappy light with me as a backup. It would suck to be caught
    out in the middle of the woods at night with no light at all if the one
    on your head breaks.


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  6. Joe's lights are a set of lumicycles from http://tinyurl.com/3ncv5
    which are very nice and about £170.

    Mine are a based mainly on 'this' (http://tinyurl.com/5fon7) using 5W
    and 10W MR11 bulbs and 32mm pipe bits, and they do the job nicely, but
    are a bit of a faff /exciting and interesting experiment. (delete as
    applicable). If you want I'll post some more details.

    If you want to buy lights I suggest looking at smart lights, which start
    at about £40 depending on what you want, or there are some good one's by
    electron which are supposed to be good even if no-one has heard of the
    brand. You can find those on wiggle.co.uk.

    On our nightrides we've all had helmet/head mounted lights, although I
    have thought about using frame mounted to add some shadows. The problem
    there is that off road a frame mounted light won't always be pointing
    where you're going on complicated bits where you really need it.

    Hope that helps.

    John


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  7. GizmoDuck

    GizmoDuck Guest

    All good advice above.

    Personally, if you're going for Halogens I'd get at least 20W of
    lighting- but 35W is even better. I find that 10-20W is adequate but a
    little scary and tiring if the trail is not smooth- you miss a lot of
    bumps, and when you hit them unexpectedly it takes some effort not to
    UPD. It's just so much more fun if you can see where you're going.

    The other thing is to go for a wide angle bulb- something like 30
    degrees, simply because you are not interested in seeing 100m in front
    of you- you want to see 5-10m ahead. If the beam is too focussed you'll
    end up following this intensely bright spot in front of you, and that
    actually makes your vision worse as your pupils contract.

    I use 'Nightlightnings' (http://www.nightlightning.co.nz/) . I'm
    thinking of upgrading to a Luxeon LED system- heaps cheaper than HID's,
    and almost as efficient.

    Ken


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  8. joemarshall

    joemarshall Guest

    Mine are lumicycles with 20w flood bulb and 12w spot bulb. Most of the
    time I ride with just the 12w spot. For muni riding, the spot is enough.
    Sometimes if I'm going very fast, I want the 20w flood. I previously had
    a 10w flood+12w spot, which is also a nice combination. If you're riding
    a 29er or bigger wheel, 20w of light is nice to have, especially if
    you're quite a fast rider. I'm not sure I quite ride fast enough to
    justify 35w, but I'm sure Ken does.

    Gary (unicus) has a cheap head torch, which came with a battery holder,
    a 6V 5W halogen bulb and an LED backup. They're pretty common. He
    upgraded the bulb to a 10w bulb (£2.50 from maplin) and uses a 4ah lead
    acid battery which he replaced the battery holder with (about £5 or so).
    Add a cheap charger and some wires and you've got a 10w light for not
    very much at all. If you've already got a charger that'll charge lead
    acid batteries, this costs about £20. A cheap charger isn't much more.

    John's is a bit more expensive, but more posh. The brightness of that
    setup is pretty much the same as lumicycles, the only difference is that
    he's running lead acid batteries.

    What you pay lots for in the lumicycles is the nice relatively
    lightweight batteries and the nice smart charger and also for the
    convenience of having it all wired together for you. If you're not
    completely cack handed with a soldering iron, I'd suggest doing
    something along the lines of Gary or John's setups, as you get a good
    light for not much and you can always upgrade the batteries if you get
    hooked.

    Nightlightnings are very nice, but even more expensive than lumicycles
    once you've imported them over here.

    I don't like frame mounted lights. Especially if you're going fast, you
    seem way too likely to break bulbs. Also the way the light wiggles while
    you're riding is just too annoying. I'm for head mounted lights all the
    way.

    Joe


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  9. GizmoDuck

    GizmoDuck Guest

    Oops forgot:

    This might be useful if you are handy with making stuff:
    http://www.jeremyb.net/projects.html

    The homemade versions are way cheaper and kinda cool (You can use things
    like baked beans/beer cans/baby-food cans as your lighting
    cyclinders).

    And the end result is a lot more lighting for you $$$. You might not
    get the fancy dimming circuitry, but at I find that I hardly use that
    anyway. The money saved can easily buy you enough batteries so you can
    run the lights at full power all night.


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  10. jefferyluce

    jefferyluce Guest

    I worked at a bike shop for about 5 years and we did a lot of mountain
    biking at night. We tried many different setups ( boy is it nice to get
    stuff at dealer cost!). What we found was the best was a light on the
    handlebars (or uni frame) to see where you are steering and a light on
    the head to see where you are looking. Here is a link for a cheap
    headlamp that works well.

    http://tinyurl.com/3r8bp


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  11. brian.slater

    brian.slater Guest

    I regularly ride at night as I get of work at midnight and ride home; I
    have red LEDs on the wheel, frame, backpack, and helmet with a NiteRider
    Storm on my helmet
    [image: http://gallery.unicyclist.com/album378/Helmet_light]

    Or, if the picture doesn't show, 'look here'
    (http://gallery.unicyclist.com/album378/Helmet_light). Note that I've
    modified the mount so I could put it on -top- of the helmet - -any-
    light that mounts on the front of your helmet will seem heavier than it
    really is.

    It cost me $250USD on eBay when the list price was 400. I wanted it
    because I was going to be using it on a recumbent tricycle that can
    easily attain speeds over 25 MPH on flat roads. I've used other lights
    but this one works for 4 hours with a reasonable sized battery and gives
    clean (no shadows from a lens/reflector) light that can reach out and
    touch. I used this one at FURECUS and some of the people there can
    attest to its brightness as we used it as the sole lighting in a cave
    for more than ten people.

    I've not done any night MUni - yet - so I cannot remark on it under
    those circumstances but it's *BRIGHT*. It may be over-kill, but I like
    it.


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  12. mikepenton

    mikepenton Guest

    As always thanks folks. I don't think any lighting could be called
    overkill, but it may reduce that frisson gained with a lack of
    visibility!

    I'll probably take it bit by bit.
    I've remembered that the Petzl I've got is about 15 years old, so it
    could do with replacing. but I'm going to pop in to Maplins tomorrow to
    see if I can upgrade the bulb. maybe the battery isnt too fresh either!


    The Nightlightnings look good & seem cheap when converted, so I may get
    someone to get them for me. the Agent Luminare seems very good - up to
    35 watts for GB£81 plus shipping! oops - forgot VAT & import duty. 15% &
    17.5% at the moment I think. Also spares could be a problem. they show
    GB£49.95 all-in to the UK for a replacement 35w bulb!

    My only concern with the DIY versions is waterproofing and (of course)
    making a total hash of it. the Petzl could possibly be a good donor...

    Cheers
    Mike


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  13. unicus

    unicus Guest

    joemarshall wrote:
    > *Gary (unicus) has a cheap head torch, which came with a battery
    > holder, a 6V 5W halogen bulb and an LED backup. *


    I bought it from Maplins, it’s 'this one' (http://tinyurl.com/4hhv5)
    for £7.99, it’s comfortable and not heavy. Add some batteries and it’s a
    good 5 watt halogen headlight (which can change from spot to flood) with
    an LED backup. If you’re not sure if night riding is for you (like I
    did) then it’s a cheap option. Of course I couldn’t leave it at that and
    as Joe said I swapped the supplied battery box (it takes 4 D type cells
    BTW) for a 6v 4.5 Ah sealed lead acid battery then put a 10 watt halogen
    lamp in. I had no heat problems and the headlight would probably take a
    more powerful lamp.

    On Wednesday’s night ride I was not the brightest (light wise) rider and
    was outshined by both Joe and John (light and fitness wise) but I found
    my light perfectly adequate for me. One definite advantage twin halogens
    have is if one blows you don’t have to replace the lamp before
    continuing riding. The backup LED on the headlight I have would not by
    adequate for riding without street lights but should pass for legal
    requirements if required.

    Something to consider is your normal eyesight. I’m fortunate in having
    good eyesight and my headlight works for me but if you have some vision
    impairment (wear glasses, contacts etc.) the type of light and position
    that’s good for some may not be suitable for others.

    Gary


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  14. Danny Colyer

    Danny Colyer Guest

    ParadoX wrote:
    > Uhh I dont know about the lighting setup but you should probably mount
    > the lights below your seatpost (I cant imagine anywhere else)


    With powerful lights mounted anywhere on the unicycle, you'll tend to
    get distracting moving shadows as your knees move up and down on either
    side of the beam of light (IME). It also becomes really difficult to
    mount when your light is shining up in your eyes instead of down at the
    ground.

    My setup is similar to Joe's, 2 Lumicycles (a 10W spot and a 20W mid,
    which I'm thinking of replacing with a 20W spot), mounted on a helmet.
    It's the only reason I'll wear a helmet on a yike.

    Head mounting works well as long as it's not foggy, raining or (worst of
    all) snowing Then the light just bounces back in your eyes. In those
    situations, if I'm on a unicycle I'll take the lights off the helmet and
    hold them in my hand. I've tried attaching them to my waist, but the
    side-to-side movement of the patch of light in front of me was far too
    distracting.

    If I'm on my bike and it gets foggy then I just have to slow down and
    make do with the dynamo light at the front of the bike (although I've
    requested a quotation for a recumbent loom, which will allow me to mount
    the Lumis at the front of the bike and control them with handlebar
    mounted switches).

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  15. I'm just getting into night muni riding and use a fairly powerfull hand
    held diving torch and a less powerfull head torch as back up or for when
    my torch holding hand is occupied on keeping balance, I find it's quite
    effective and easy to point it where I want, although I haven't tried
    anything too technical yet which would require too much arm waving and
    seat grabbing.


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  16. I'm just getting into night muni riding and use a fairly powerfull hand
    held diving torch and a less powerfull head torch as back up or for when
    my torch holding hand is occupied on keeping balance, I find it's quite
    effective and easy to point it where I want, although I haven't tried
    anything too technical yet which would require too much arm waving and
    seat grabbing.


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  17. I'm just getting into night muni riding and use a fairly powerfull hand
    held diving torch and a less powerfull head torch as back up or for when
    my torch holding hand is occupied on keeping balance, I find it's quite
    effective and easy to point it where I want, although I haven't tried
    anything too technical yet which would require too much arm waving and
    seat grabbing.


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  18. nathan

    nathan Guest

    For night riding, you usually want as much light as possible. For night
    Muni, 24 hour races etc, I use a 'NiteRider Cyclone'
    (http://www.niterider.com/BIKEPRODUCTS/Cyclone.html) on my helmet. This
    is an HID light and very powerful. It lasts 4 hours on the full
    intensity setting and 7 hours on the lower setting. I used the lower
    setting in New Zealand doing the Moonride and only needed my backup
    light for an hour or two after it died. But I was kicking myself for not
    buying an extra battery since I would've really preferred riding at the
    high setting. The battery alone costs '$135'
    (http://tinyurl.com/5ku8b)

    For bike commuting all winter, I use this light on my helmet plus a
    'NiteRider Digital 6V system' (http://tinyurl.com/4ooca) on the
    handlebars. For the back, I use a 'Real Lite 18-led rear flasher'
    (http://www.reallite.com/details.htm) which is great.

    Either in traffic or on technical terrain, lots of light is really an
    advantage.

    On the other hand, I started fullmoon mountain biking in 1984. For the
    next 10 years, we REMOVED our lights for all fullmoon rides - on
    purpose. The idea was to get closer to nature and not try and go fast.
    Those were some magical rides, pitch black under the trees. It was Bruce
    Bundy in about 1995 or so who introduced me to the concept that with a
    high-powered bike light you could go fast. The tunnel vision affect on
    twisty narrow singletrack is incredible. Since then I've gone on maybe
    100 offroad night rides, always with one or more lights.

    ---Nathan


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  19. GizmoDuck

    GizmoDuck Guest

    nathan wrote:
    > *For night riding, you usually want as much light as possible. For
    > night Muni, 24 hour races etc, I use a 'NiteRider Cyclone'
    > (http://www.niterider.com/BIKEPRODUCTS/Cyclone.html) on my helmet.
    > This is an HID light and very powerful. It lasts 4 hours on the full
    > intensity setting and 7 hours on the lower setting. I used the lower
    > setting in New Zealand doing the Moonride and only needed my backup
    > light for an hour or two after it died. But I was kicking myself for
    > not buying an extra battery since I would've really preferred riding
    > at the high setting. The battery alone costs '$135'
    > (http://tinyurl.com/5ku8b)
    >
    > For bike commuting all winter, I use this light on my helmet plus a
    > 'NiteRider Digital 6V system' (http://tinyurl.com/4ooca) on the
    > handlebars. For the back, I use a 'Real Lite 18-led rear flasher'
    > (http://www.reallite.com/details.htm) which is great.
    >
    > Either in traffic or on technical terrain, lots of light is really an
    > advantage.
    >
    > On the other hand, I started fullmoon mountain biking in 1984. For the
    > next 10 years, we REMOVED our lights for all fullmoon rides - on
    > purpose. The idea was to get closer to nature and not try and go fast.
    > Those were some magical rides, pitch black under the trees. It was
    > Bruce Bundy in about 1995 or so who introduced me to the concept that
    > with a high-powered bike light you could go fast. The tunnel vision
    > affect on twisty narrow singletrack is incredible. Since then I've
    > gone on maybe 100 offroad night rides, always with one or more
    > lights.
    >
    > ---Nathan *



    Yeah, I was pretty envious of your HID Nathan :) , but at the end of the
    day (or night), I was glad to be running at full power 35W all night-
    even if it took 6 very cheap and heavy 7a/hr SLA batteries to do it :D.


    Interesting you should mention riding by moonlight- sounds like fun. I
    reckon if you've got weak lights, you're actually better off riding
    without them and let your eyes focus with the moonlight.


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  20. joemarshall

    joemarshall Guest

    GizmoDuck wrote:
    > *
    >
    > Yeah, I was pretty envious of your HID Nathan :) , but at the end of
    > the day (or night), I was glad to be running at full power 35W all
    > night- even if it took 6 very cheap and heavy 7a/hr SLA batteries to
    > do it :D.
    >
    > Interesting you should mention riding by moonlight- sounds like fun.
    > I reckon if you've got weak lights, you're actually better off riding
    > without them and let your eyes focus with the moonlight. *



    I did a 9 hour road ride in the dark once, from London to the coast. I'd
    got two 4 hour batteries with me and I got there without running out the
    first one. It's amazing how easy it is to ride on roads in the dark as
    long as there's enough light for you to see the hedges/fences at the
    edge of the road.

    I can totally recommend riding through to dawn by the way, especially if
    you can organise yourself to arrive at a hill overlooking the sea or
    something nice like that just before dawn.

    Joe


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