Author Topic: Lights, please  (Read 3468 times)

Lights, please
« on: September 29, 2013, 10:01:11 pm »
Can someone talk me through the contemporary lights market, please?

I last bought lights a decade or so ago. Outrageously expensive (several hundred!) early LEDs from Exposure, IIRC.

Don't really want to spend that much again but would like a *lot* of bright (particularly at the rear). I'm *exceedingly* paranoid about being seen. Mrs M would be most annoyed with me if she has to collect me from the krankenhaus again.

Re: Lights, please
« Reply #1 on: September 29, 2013, 11:32:31 pm »
Too much bright at the rear dazzles, & is pointless. Ultra-bright point sources aren't very visible off-axis, & are hard to locate precisely. A big red glow is much better, & that can be achieved from pretty cheap LED lights of moderate brightness. I have a Wilko one on my Brompton, which attracts admiring comments for its visibility. Flashers attract attention, but are also hard to locate. I favour the combination of a big red glow & a modest flasher.

At the front, there are now dirt cheap (£20 or even less) Chinese-made retina-burning LED lights, which on their low settings (still bloody bright) last for a goodly time, e.g. all night. High setting is single car headlight brightness, but only for a few (maybe three) hours. Quality ain't great (though one can always buy two), & they have simple round floods, though for a fiver or so one can get an add-on plastic lens to give a more road-friendly beam shape. See thread here about Cree XML lights. Several people here have them, including Mrs B.

Unless one really likes paying early adopter prices for mature technology, I don't see why one would pay more than two figures for a front light for road use. There is quite a choice  of better made battery lights than the aforementioned cheap Chinese sizzlers, some equally bright (e.g. the Fenix LD20), some with better shaped beams (also the LD20, among others), & bright enough to satisfy most road cyclists, for less than a hundred quid. Hope Vision 1 springs to mind. Quite popular. And there are others. Li-ion batteries are common, & universal among the death rays, but good lights using NiMH (e.g. 4xAA) are still out there (Hope Vision 1, Fenix LD10, etc).

Or one can splash out a little more to avoid the hassle of batteries & get a dynohub & light to suit. Others know more about that than I do.
"A woman on a bicycle has all the world before her where to choose; she can go where she will, no man hindering." The Type-Writer Girl, 1897

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Lights, please
« Reply #2 on: September 30, 2013, 12:00:37 am »
What Bledlow said, especially on what works and doesn't work as rear lights.  Static + flasher is the way to go.  Anything brighter than a well-aimed Smart Superflash is superfluous in darkness (more powerful rears may make sense for being seen through bad weather in daylight).  Surface area makes it easier to estimate distance/speed.

For a first-order approximation of what's what in dynamo lighting, have a look at the Busch & Müller range.  The IQ Cyo (in its various flavours) is extremely popular around here, for good reason.  Other manufacturers' lights are going to be in the same sort of ballpark performance-wise - standardised dynamos setting a hard limit on power availability, and LED technology being what it is.  B&M's optics are generally considered superior to competitors for road use.

Dynamo rear lights tend to be moderate in brightness, well designed and fit-and-forget.  They don't usually have flashing modes, as this is illegal in Germany/The Netherlands (where most are sold).  Augmenting them with a battery-powered blinky is a good approach.

For hub dynamos, it's basically Schmidt (expensive, utterly bullet-proof) or high-end Shimano (much cheaper, extremely reliable).  Some people get a bit religious about the differences, but I don't think there's anything in it performance-wise (a couple of percent of bugger-all drag is still negligible).  Low-end Shimano dynamos are much less efficient, but cheaper and would be fine on a commuter bike.  Other manufacturers like Shutter Precision are in the game, but the jury's still out on their reliability.

Bottle dynamos are an option, and will drive good LED lights workably well.  They're noisy, cheap and can slip on the wrong tyres in wet conditions.  They're a good option for exotica like tadpole trikes, and as an upgrade path if you can't afford the wheelbuild.

Dynamos can be used to provide power to charge batteries, given an appropriate gadget to convert AC to DC and regulate the voltage.  The de-facto standard is a USB-compatible power output that will charge smartphones, GPS receivers and the like.  This is a useful option for audax and high-mileage touring, but the amount of power delivered is relatively low.  You won't get a useful amount of charge into your iPhone on the 5 mile ride to the office!  Charger gadgets vary in quality, efficiency and reliability.  Some are shockingly badly designed.  Recently, light manufacturers have started integrating power sockets into their dynamo lights.  This makes sound electronic sense, and works out much cheaper than both a light and separate gadget.

Dynamo lighting usually works out cheaper if bought from Europe, where such things are legally mandated and sold in bulk, rather than being a niche item as in the UK.  This includes the cost of international shipping.

If you opt for dynamo lighting, you'll want to have a basic battery front light or head torch with you on non-trivial rides, to use as a light source should you have to repair a puncture or similar.  A Chinese retina-burning 'main beam' isn't a bad companion to a dynamo system for this reason.
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

Re: Lights, please
« Reply #3 on: September 30, 2013, 12:07:25 am »
If you're riding regularly at night, then think first about a hub dynamo & LED front & rear dynamo lights. It really is hassle-free. The best dynamo rear lights are designed to be mounted on the back of a pannier rack and look very bright if they're correctly aligned. Mudguard-mounted lights, IMLE are not as good. It's a good idea to buy lights which comply with UK regs (German kit is usually OK if it has a K-number), since compliance with the law is a good idea. If you don't have a rack or mudguards, I'll leave you to explain to Mrs M.

More bright is not necessarily the answer to all problems. If you ride on fast country roads, then Grub's Dinotte (definitely bright) would be appropriate.

OTOH, if you're riding in urban traffic, I reckon that head-mounted lights are more visible, since they're above the light pollution from the cars. A decent head torch (I use Petzl, flashing mode in town) can be pointed at most of the drivers that may not have seen me & my normal lights. IME these killer events are almost invariably at junctions, and especially roundabouts, and good road sense helps a lot to identify the risky situations. Training for "good road sense" is crucial & IME more difficult that passing a driving test, but is a long way OT.
 
 A flashing rear light at head level should be obvious as well, but I've not had any unpleasant experiences that were caused by a rear-end 'SMIDSY' at night. In motor traffic I do use a rear light in flashing mode (Smart 0.5w) on either pannier rack or mudguard as well as the legallly required stuff.

I have yet to understand the frequency of rear-end collisions, despite having suffered an exciting one in broad daylight during the morning school run in a particularly badly designed junction, and two (daylight) 'offs' on the approaches to roundabouts. On all 3 occasions I was wearing very visible (bright yellow) or high-vis clothing. My conclusion was that the best solution is not the American hype that you just need more power. That's a war that cyclists can never win.

Re: Lights, please
« Reply #4 on: September 30, 2013, 12:24:51 pm »
Thanks to all for a great set of answers.

One question. I am building a new Audax bike with disc brakes and a disc specific fork. I therefore cannot mount the dynamo lamp on the fork crown with the brakes. Given the ovoid cross section of most fork legs, how have people mounted their dynamo light on the fork legs?

redshift

  • High Priestess of wires
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Re: Lights, please
« Reply #5 on: September 30, 2013, 12:38:59 pm »
Does the fork not have a crown mounting point for mudguards?  That's how my disk-braked Hewitt has its front light mounted - light + mudguard on a bolt at the crown.
L
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Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Lights, please
« Reply #6 on: September 30, 2013, 01:45:32 pm »
Presumably "disc specific fork" means no V-brake bosses either...
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

mcshroom

  • Mushroom
Re: Lights, please
« Reply #7 on: September 30, 2013, 01:57:26 pm »
I'd imagine so, but I haven't seen many forks without a mudguard mouting hole in the fork crown*. You should be able to use the mudguard bolt to hold the light

*First one I've seen was a Cube CX bike at our bike to work week last week.
Climbs like a sprinter, sprints like a climber!

Re: Lights, please
« Reply #8 on: September 30, 2013, 02:10:18 pm »
If there is no mounting point at the fork crown, no v-brake bosses, and no low-rider bosses, you will have to mount the light off the handlebars.
There are various accessory bars (such as the Minoura Space-Grip) that can be used, or you can get a dedicated mount - eg http://www.sjscycles.co.uk/schmidt-handlebar-fitting-dynamo-headlamp-bracket-prod9884/
It would be good angle the mount downwards to fit the light as low as is feasible.

There are various fork-blade clamps for fitting handlebar lights to (eg Cronometro Nob), but because fork blades are tapered there is a tendency for the clamp to work down the blade, loosen, and allow the light to swing into the spokes. Clamping over a rubber sleeve goes a good way to avoiding this, but clamping to the fork blade is a bad idea in principle owing to the possibly serious consequences if something does get into the spokes.
There are also cylindrical mounts that will screw into a mudguard stay mount at the dropout and similarly allow handlebar lights to be used there. However, at the dropout is really too low (possibly illegal as well as a poor light distribution).

mcshroom

  • Mushroom
Re: Lights, please
« Reply #9 on: September 30, 2013, 02:17:25 pm »
There are also mounts available that replace spacers on the steerer tube
Climbs like a sprinter, sprints like a climber!

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Lights, please
« Reply #10 on: September 30, 2013, 02:19:50 pm »
...which all sort of adds up to "a fork with nowhere to mount mudguards or lights isn't a very sensible choice for an audax bike".
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

Re: Lights, please
« Reply #11 on: September 30, 2013, 03:06:08 pm »
...on a slightly related note...
Kim, was it a fork mount for the B+M IXON that you said also fits the phaart lights I've got?

mcshroom

  • Mushroom
Re: Lights, please
« Reply #12 on: September 30, 2013, 03:19:13 pm »
Should be. I use one to mount a Smart Lunar, which has the same mount as the Phaarts.
Climbs like a sprinter, sprints like a climber!

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Lights, please
« Reply #13 on: September 30, 2013, 03:56:49 pm »
That's the one.  B&M's part number is 475D/492GAPB



Single moulded plastic clip to fit the Smart-style front lights, with a simple bent-wire mount.

Avoid the older plastic-based Ixon fork mount like the plague.  It's an awkward fit, and has a self-untapping Jesus screw holding the brackety bit in place (like the handlebar brackets do), which does exactly what you expect it to when it's got the whole light cantilevered out from a very vibratey bit of bike...
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

Re: Lights, please
« Reply #14 on: September 30, 2013, 09:39:13 pm »
My old Claud Butler has a boss brazed on the RH fork blade to mount a light. I used it initially with an IQ Fly, but found that the beam was significantly more effective with the light on a fork crown mount. I was happy with less near-field lighting in exchange for better lighting at long range. YMMV.

Meanwhile the Galaxy (canti brakes) didn't have a drilling for a lamp bracket. It was a simple enough job to drill & tap a hole in the front of the fork crown, though my LBS would have been happy to do it for me if I had lacked the requisite tools.

Re: Lights, please
« Reply #15 on: September 30, 2013, 10:05:31 pm »
Should be. I use one to mount a Smart Lunar, which has the same mount as the Phaarts.

That's the one.  B&M's part number is 475D/492GAPB

Thanks both. Seeming a bit unobtanium from UK suppliers, but will keep looking...

mcshroom

  • Mushroom
Re: Lights, please
« Reply #16 on: September 30, 2013, 10:14:16 pm »
Thanks both. Seeming a bit unobtanium from UK suppliers, but will keep looking...

dotbike have some in stock: -
http://www.dotbike.com/p/4119/Busch-and-Muller-Ixon-IQ-Front-Light
Climbs like a sprinter, sprints like a climber!

Re: Lights, please
« Reply #17 on: September 30, 2013, 10:17:03 pm »
Should be. I use one to mount a Smart Lunar, which has the same mount as the Phaarts.

That's the one.  B&M's part number is 475D/492GAPB

Thanks both. Seeming a bit unobtanium from UK suppliers, but will keep looking...

I have one here, new and unused, if you'd like it - not sure how much they are but (based on the first hit on Google, German Ebay) how does £7 incl UK post sound?

Re: Lights, please
« Reply #18 on: September 30, 2013, 10:33:01 pm »
Um, yeah, okay Sergent Pluck - thanks. Will PM.
Thanks too, mcshroom - I hadn't heard of dotbike before.

Sorry Montmorency, you can have your thread back again now :)

Re: Lights, please
« Reply #19 on: October 01, 2013, 08:34:49 am »

There are also mounts available that replace spacers on the steerer tube
Do you have a stockist please?

tiermat

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Spike

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Re: Lights, please
« Reply #21 on: October 29, 2013, 08:52:28 pm »
Dynamo really hassle free but not for me....steel frame bike with hub dynamo...like dragging mother in law along the road....thoughts !  I've reverted to headlamp light (2nd hand Exposue Spark) and looking for  main light...Fluxiant looks good.

Dave_C

  • Trying to get rid of my belly... and failing!
Re: Lights, please
« Reply #22 on: October 29, 2013, 10:25:35 pm »
I have a cx bike with Shimano dh 3d80 dynamo. The d denotes disc so I can use it with or without the disk as I need, when swapping between bikes.

I had a crown mudguard hole on my original carbon forks, but when they broke I got a replacement with both v brakes and disc mounts. These forks don't have a mudguard hole so I got a fork strengthener as pictured in the link below. My B&M light is now mounted at the front of the horse shoe strengthener.



Not sure what forks you have but Chain Reaction have carbon forks with both disc and v brake mounts. PZRacing CR6 forks have both disc & v brake mounts and the crown mudguard hole where you can mount the dynamo light.
@DaveCrampton < wot a twit.
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