/ Front Lights, and commuter tips

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martinph78 on 16 Oct 2012
Boring question I guess, but don't have much money to waste so appreciate any user recommendations. Looking online there are hundreds of lights available but hard to know which is suitable for my needs/budget.

Looking for recommendations for a front light that I can quickly swap between my mountain bike and road bike without tools, is bright enough to see on unlit paths, and make sure that car drivers see me.

Needs to be cheap, run on aa or aaa batteries (so I can use rechargables in my current charger). Battery life not essential, more bothered about brightness/beam pattern for paths and roads.

I did have a 12v lead acid halogen cat-eye jobby which was awesome, but it broke and I can't afford to replace that :(

Budget is zero, but I'll stretch to under 20 :)

Also any tips for staying alive on the roads during these dark evenings would be appreciated. Will be buying a hi-viz jacket as well. I've biked all of my life but avoided roads for a reason. Last-night I remembered why, it's pretty scarey! Mostly worried about cars pulling out on me.

Stay safe,
Martin




Monk - on 16 Oct 2012
In reply to Martin1978:

At the budget end of the scale, I really rate my Halfords Ultrabright LED front light. I think it is around 20. I used it for a commute along very dark, tree-covered country roads on my road bike, and it works really well. It's a simple thumb screw to change the mount from bike to bike.
JMGLondon - on 16 Oct 2012
balmybaldwin - on 16 Oct 2012
> Also any tips for staying alive on the roads during these dark evenings would be appreciated. Will be buying a hi-viz jacket as well. I've biked all of my life but avoided roads for a reason. Last-night I remembered why, it's pretty scarey! Mostly worried about cars pulling out on me.
>
> Stay safe,
> Martin

If you've got a head torch then use that on your helmet - Don't deliberately blind drivers, but by looking at them you'll draw their attention more than a handlebar light. If possible use both.


Hi viz jacket is an essential, It really annoys me how many cyclists I see wearing black at night with a pathetic little led flashing under their arse.

In fact I think it should be banned selling cycling jackets in dark colours
Stone Muppet - on 16 Oct 2012
I got one of these the other day
(gah ukc won't let me post ebay links! it's a TrustFire 801 CREE Q5 LED Flashlight Torch 5w+2x 18650, 15 including charger).

batteries last about an hour each, bloody bright (use it for mtb), and I think you can get handlebar mounts for them (or buy one that's bundled with such).

Beam isn't all that wide, but I think that's a more important consideration for the rear light as you can't see stuff approaching you from behind...
Fraser on 16 Oct 2012
In reply to Martin1978:

I have a Blackburn Voyager 4 which was 50 when I bought it a few years ago. It's nice and bright, but the design of the fixing bracket was faulty and subsequently broke. (see reviews below - it's a common problem!) I can't get a replacement bracket so is currently useless, plus I bopught a CatEye replacement, which isn't as good, but at least it stays put on the bars! If you think you can fashion a method of attaching it to your bars or helmet, you can have it for nominal p&p.

http://www.mtbr.com/cat/accessories/lights/blackburn/voyager-4-0/prd_415445_130crx.aspx
colinakmc - on 16 Oct 2012
In reply to Martin1978: I googled for a Magicshine light set (good reviews on the Flow etc) for 90 odds, and I found a light under the Cree brand name.900 lumens and 3 hour run time for 36. Bought it, and recieved a nicely finished alloy headlamp with rubber-band handlebar mount, a helmet harness,rechargeable battery and charger.

It appears identical to one that J E James Cycles are selling for 60 (claimig it had an RRP of 150. Try this:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Cycling-Bicycle-HeadLamp-HeadLight-Waterproof/dp/B007WAAO70/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UT...

Mount seems very stable (haven't done any rough stuff with it yet)and the beam is excellent.
Are we being ripped off for bike lights?
alooker - on 16 Oct 2012
In reply to Martin1978: I used a my headtorch on my helmet. IMO it's easier for cars at junctions to see the light when it's on your head rather than down by your handlebars obstructed by parked cars.
Tom the tall on 16 Oct 2012
Try c and b seen (stick it in google) for a uk importer of very bright, not very expensive lights and torches. I just got a 1200 lumen front light, next day delivery, very pleased so far. This one uses a rechargeable battery, but they also have torches using AA's.
Dave B on 16 Oct 2012
In reply to

Smart Lunar 35 Lux Front Light - Black, (2xAA batt. inc.)

Amazon for 18.99 fit your bill?

Regards

djb
In reply to Stone Muppet: Been thinking about trying something like this from Deal Extreme but put off by the battery life. My commute is just under an hour, so worried it would fade out as I was getting home. Are you getting an hour of light from a rechargable battery? Otherwise I guess they're not the right solution for me.
Stone Muppet - on 18 Oct 2012
In reply to TobyA: I'm getting about an hour of bright light, by which I mean offroad mtb bright. If I put it on a lower setting it is still as bright if not brighter than my cateye singleshot and will presumably last long (caution - I haven't tested this yet - though my intention next ride is to save the brightest mode for descents only). In fact it's still as bright as the singleshot after an hour on full beam.

Another thing to note is the batteries are a generic type - I've heard rumours of cheaper Chinese firms stripping them out of old laptop batteries - it could probably be replaced by a higher quality battery of the same type, though I haven't looked into this.
Stone Muppet - on 18 Oct 2012
Some further feedback on this light btw. The charger was not a smart charger as advertised, though when I complained about this they gave me a partial refund (which covered the costs of buying a separate smart charger). Also the screw threads on each end of the unit are pretty shonky. I managed to cross thread one end so badly it's never coming off again, lucky I can get the battery in and out the other end instead!

So... do you get what you pay for? Yes but not in a linear fashion, if you pay more you get more, though there are diminishing returns. For all it's faults, still a bargain at 15 quid when it's brighter than exposure products that cost 150.
In reply to Stone Muppet: Thanks very much Mr Muppet - very useful to hear. Might take a chance and buy one + a charger and spare batteries.
aligibb - on 18 Oct 2012
In reply to Martin1978:

I got a rechargeable cat eye one on sale from rutland cycling that lasts maybe 3 hours, although you don't get much warning before it stops. Its fine until its properly dark (as happened last night on the way home!) and so I decided last night I will be duck taping my torch to my helmet as well for now.

Roads have suddenly got a bit scary this week with all the rain and mud on them alongside the encroaching evenings!
martinph78 on 18 Oct 2012
In reply to Martin1978: Thanks for the replies all. Handy to see that Halfords sell the brackets seperately, so I can mount a bracket on each bike and swap lights over quickly.

Have done a search for cree (like those a lot), especially the kit from c and b seen. Might end up with spending a bit more.

Will also have a look at securing my head torch to my helmet, have that on flashing will give me a bit more visability.

The Smart Lunar Lux looks ok for the money as well.

Am very tempted by teh c&b seen Cree kit though if I'm honest. Only needed a front light as I have a rear, but two rears may not be a bad thing!

Thanks for the tips everyone.


Oh, has anyone tried teh Frog stobes? They are 7.99 and might be worth having as an extra front light?

Cheers, Martin



martinph78 on 18 Oct 2012
In reply to Martin1978:

Just managed to find the cree torches/lights on eblag. Going to order the "two Cree 5 LED Twin Pack with free rear light" for 15.

Will be great to have them as torches as well. Especially if I can get a helmet mount for them. Seems a bargain for a metal led torch never mind two, with rear light and mounts! I can use one as spot and one as flood, or one flashing one solid. Or one on each bike if they are bright enough :)

Thanks guys, I'll let you know how they are. As I say, will be happy with them as torches if nothing else. Will check ebay for a helmet mount for them as well. Will come in handy if I can get one.

Thanks all, glad I asked now!
eskimo77 on 18 Oct 2012
In reply to Martin1978:

Oh, has anyone tried teh Frog stobes? They are 7.99 and might be worth having as an extra front light?

Frog lights are extremely bright but not very hardy - usually last about 3 months. I bought a pack of 6 a few months ago and slowly getting through them, they's great for extra backup but wouldn't recommend using as main lights.

Also worth getting some LED wheel spoke lights - really helps you to be seen especially at junctions, roundabouts etc...

I actually feel safer riding through busy traffic at night if you have enough lights, more visible and cars tend to give you more room.
Jem Cowen - on 18 Oct 2012
In reply to Martin1978:
definitely consider a 2nd rear light. Quite apart from better visibility, it gives you some redundancy when one of your lights fails/falls off/leaks in the rain, and this can easily happen without you realising.

Also, if you're going to be commuting with a rucsac, consider getting one with a hi-vis waterproof cover or buying one (search Hump on wiggle.co.uk). I can't recommend the Deuter Bike 1 highly enough, although I think it's been discontinued, so you may want to see what's replaced it. Have cycled through some monsoon like rain this year and contents have always stayed dry.
rif on 19 Oct 2012
In reply to Martin1978 > Looking for ... a front light that ..... is bright enough to see on unlit paths, and make sure that car drivers see me

I don't think any one device can fill both requirements. To minimise the risk of car drivers pulling out on you, you need one or more wide-beam flashing LED lights facing to your front and left, not a spotlight.
martinph78 on 22 Oct 2012
In reply to Martin1978: Well the creed lights arrived and they are pretty good. Loads brighter than the standard LED jobbies in Halfords.

I have both mounted on the front, one as a flood beam, the other as a flood but strobing. Plenty of light for commuting! The second rear light I have mounted on my helmet using a velcro strap. As said above, that should get seen over parked cars as well as giving me a back-up should one fail.

Happy for my 14.99 anyway :)

I shall look for some spoke LED's, think they would be great for cars coming from the side. Also going to see what sports direct have in in terms of flourescent/reflective rucksack covers/jackets etc.

Thanks all, here's hoping I survive the winter...

nniff - on 22 Oct 2012
In reply to Martin1978:

If you're worried about being seen from the side, search ebay for reflective tape - it comes in many colours and the black tape reflects white. My black fixie is covered in the stuff and it's not visible in daylight unless you're looking for it.

My road bike has a few bits on the forks and rear stays
a lakeland climber on 22 Oct 2012
In reply to Martin1978:

You can get cycle tyres with reflective sidewalls - http://www.wiggle.co.uk/?s=reflective+tyres which might be worth considering if you need new tyres in the near future.

ALC
SP - on 23 Oct 2012
In reply to Martin1978:

You could try the same as the majority of cyclists do in the daytime - wear all black or grey clothing to blend in with the road and background. I think the idea is that if the car drivers can't see you, they can't run you over - some kind of Ninja thing.
a lakeland climber on 23 Oct 2012
In reply to SP:
> (In reply to Martin1978)
>
> You could try the same as the majority of cyclists do in the daytime - wear all black or grey clothing to blend in with the road and background. I think the idea is that if the car drivers can't see you, they can't run you over - some kind of Ninja thing.

Actually I do it when commuting to blend in with the grey and black cars without lights.

ALC
lummox - on 23 Oct 2012
In reply to SP: The pedestrians and drivers once they're out of their cars ) are all decked out in flouro kit of course...
Jenny C on 23 Oct 2012
In reply to rif:
> In reply to Martin1978 > To minimise the risk of car drivers pulling out on you, you need one or more wide-beam flashing LED lights facing to your front and left, not a spotlight.

As a driver I REALLY HATE it when cyclists have flashing lights - incredibly distracting from other road hazards and if anything instead of watching the cyclist I tend to subconciously look away as I find they tend to blind me :(


FrankBooth - on 25 Oct 2012
In reply to Martin1978:
I've got these on my bike as well as the kids' (4) - they're fantastic value
http://www.7dayshop.com/7dayshop-bike-light-hand-torch-ultra-high-power-3w-led-flashlight-with-mount...
Jamming Dodger on 25 Oct 2012
In reply to Jenny C: But you noticed them right? You dont have to "watch" us. You just have to be aware that we're there, which is the point of the flashing light.
I find a light on the helmet perhaps stands out as "person" rather than "bike" which lights on the handlebars seem to convey. Or perhaps thats my paranoia coming through.
IMA - on 25 Oct 2012
In reply to Jenny C: Supposedly (read somewhere else and have no evidence to support this) it is better for drivers to see a block light rather than a flashing as it allows them to gauge distances and how fast they are closing better.

TBH I tend to notice both the flashing or block lights, it is probably more down to a persons observational skills than flashing being more noticeable.
Jenny C on 26 Oct 2012
In reply to Jamming Dodger: In reply to Jamming Dodger:
> (In reply to Jenny C) But you noticed them right? You dont have to "watch" us. You just have to be aware that we're there, which is the point of the flashing light.

Knowing you are in the vicinity is **** all help if I don't know your EXACT position - have you ever seen those signs on lorries "if you can't see my mirrors I can't see you"? You may not be aware that many cars have blind spots where we just can't see anything. Or if you drive a van with no rear window you are left guessing if the said cyclist is in your blind spot or totally out of the way behind you.

Cyclists have an anoying habit of weaving between cars (especially in slow/stationery traffic), jumping in/off the pavement etc. A nice big static light makes it much easier to follow your progress whilst also watching other road users - thus making it safer for everyone.

I'm not anti cyclist, but please respect other road users and help us to keep you safe.
nufkin - on 26 Oct 2012
In reply to Jenny C:

I agree that flashing lights can be distracting, but as was mentioned above that's sort of the point. Most small AA-powered bike lights just aren't distinctive enough against a background of car headlights and other urban lighting (though they seem to get better all the time), so having the flash on seems the best way of declaring 'this light is a cyclist' to other road users.

The habit of weaving in and out of stationary traffic is rather the point of riding a bike in town, I'd say (I'm not saying it's not annoying, but I'm not sure much of that doesn't stem from envy!).
When I'm driving a van - with no rear window - I have often been a bit startled when bikes and motorbikes nip by. But if I'm honest, that's mostly because I've been idly staring at the traffic lights rather than constantly checking the mirrors like a responsible urban driver should.
JMGLondon - on 26 Oct 2012
In reply to Jenny C:
There is a bit of "us v them" in your post. Have you considered that many (most?) cyclists are also drivers, and vice versa? You have also generalised quite a bit.

Also, check your blind spots. They are only blind if you don't look.
Jamming Dodger on 26 Oct 2012
In reply to Jenny C: Jenny. Ive been riding on roads for over 6 years. Ive been driving a car for 15 years, with 15 years no claims. I think your post comes across as a little presumtious and agressive if im honest. Yes, ive seen those signs, which is why i dont ride up the inside of lorries, especially near junctions. I also used to drive a van where i couldnt see out of the rear window. The way round this? Take extra care of what could be around you. Theres no real guessing to be had. If youve passed and observed a cyclist, then you can expect there to be a cyclist in or behind your blind spot, unless you have the memory of a goldfish.
Cyclists shouldnt hop on and off the pavement, but thats not what we're discussing here, so dont throw that into the mix.
Now, since ive vast experience of both driving and rpad riding, id suggest you spend a week cycling the streets of any major town or city at rush hour and let me know how you get on.
Jamming Dodger on 26 Oct 2012
In reply to Martin1978: Back to your thread Martin (sorry!), I cant help with lights under 20; i use a Lezyne Superdrive which is over and above that price and before that I had a Cateye Singleshot (also more than 20) but both excellent lights and both re-chargable. Cateye in general tend to make very good lights to suit all budgets. But whatever you get, also get a couple of little back-up lights in case the batteries die or you just feel like you need to be a bit more visible.
nufkin - on 26 Oct 2012
In reply to Jamming Dodger:
> also get a couple of little back-up lights in case the batteries die or you just feel like you need to be a bit more visible.

Ooh, that's a very good tip. I've found my batteries have died any amount of times before striking out for home of a winter's evening - teeny emergency lights are just the thing to get you back to fresh batteries, and weigh hardly anything (or you could just carry spare batteries, of course, but I always worry about them getting wet and/or leaking corrosive ooze everywhere)
dissonance - on 26 Oct 2012
In reply to nufkin:

> Ooh, that's a very good tip.

yup although personally i prefer to go for two good lights rather than emergency ones.
Make sure the batteries arent replaced in sync and get damn good visibility falling back to good if one dies.

freerangecat - on 26 Oct 2012
In reply to dissonance:

I went for a set of cheap lights I could leave attached to the bike as back up after my main light ran out of power on my way home a few weeks ago. They're not really good enough to see by in pitch black, but will get me home safely if I stay at work late and forget my decent lights, for example, or I can switch them on if it's a bit murky in the mornings without the faff of attaching my other lights. I thought about getting a cheap little set to carry but figured it would be easier and safer to have them attached to the bike.

Cat

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