Wednesday, November 5, 2008


I had a harrowing ride through the construction zone the other day, as even my 15 watt NiteRider halogen light was inadequate to pierce the visual clutter in the face of oncoming headlights. I was worried that if there was something lurking in the road, I'd find it the hard way.

So when I noted one of the national catalog stores had a twenty percent off sale on headlights, I bit. A new HID Light and Motion headlight is on its way here. While the newest versions of LED and HID have higher output, this one is supposed to put out 550/675 lumens, way more than my old beast.

I'm sure there are other great lights out there and this is not an endorsement for any one model, but it was on sale already and had an additional discount applied. I'm cheap. These lights cost an arm and a leg, but so does a bad crash. Lights are better than the alternative, which is not being seen or knowing what is waiting for you out there.

So the NiteRider will be returned to its original configuration: a ten watt spot beam, and mounted as a backup light on my helmet.


Anonymous said...

After years of having my light go dim shortly after the sun did, I finally decided to get a side wall dynamo. I know, people hear that and think of their old Schwinn with a noisy, underpowered piece of metal rubbing against the tire.

I commute year round and got tired of dead batteries. I spent way too much for the LightSpin. That was three years ago and I've replaced one bulb since. Every system has drawbacks, but I love the light. It's bright enough so that if I flashed my hand over it, oncoming cars will dim their brights. It also has voltage protection so that the output is a constant 6.5 volts. I get to feel really green, too.

The dynamo itself is actually pretty quiet and has little resistance.

Khal said...

The Lightspin I found on the web is a 4.5 watt unit. An interesting upgrade, if it works, would be to install an aftermarket 6 volt campatible LED lamp in the Lightspin. I think LEDs with as much as 5 watts output are coming available.

That much LED throws a bunch of light and could potentially be powered with a dynamo such as this one.

Neale said...

I'm interested in the prospect of a dynohub and an LED front light. If the light were low-power enough it could have a capacitor in it to save up charge for powering the light while the bike is stopped. That would be totally rad.

Nothing wrong with a sidewall dynamo, anon. I think they're kinda sexy, but then I think bikes look weird without fenders.

Greg Kendall said...

Speaking of Sexy (or is no bike safe?).....

From the

A man has been placed on the sex offenders’ register after being caught trying to have sex with a bicycle.

Robert Stewart was discovered in his room by two cleaners at the Aberley House Hostel in Ayr, south west Scotland, in October last year.

On Wednesday Mr Stewart admitted to sexual breach of the peace in Ayr Sheriff Court, where depute fiscal Gail Davidson described how he had been found by the hostel workers.

She said: "They knocked on the door several times and there was no reply.

"They used a master key to unlock the door and they then observed the accused wearing only a white T-shirt, naked from the waist down.

"The accused was holding the bike and moving his hips back and forth as if to simulate sex."

Both witnesses, who were extremely shocked, notified the hotel manager, who in turn alerted the police.

Mr Stewart was placed on the sex offenders’ register but his sentence was deferred until next month.

He is not the first man to be convicted of a sexual offence involving an inanimate object, however.

Karl Watkins, an electrician, was jailed for having sex with pavements in Redditch, Worcs, in 1993.

Khal said...

Not sure how big a cap you would need, but I've always wondered why no one is marketing a dynamo system coupled to a rechargeable small battery to cover stops at traffic lights, etc.

Seems simple enough. Is that why no one is doing it? We go for big projects (carbon sequestration, storage of renewable energy, etc.) but not the simple stuff.

Anonymous said...

I researched the dynohub before I got the LightSpin. I liked the fact that when you don't need it, you can disengage the side wall and not have the constant drag of the hub.

I really would like to figure out how to install a battery that gets recharged by the dyno. That way the light would stay on when I'm not moving. Maybe some the electrical engineer brain power out there can help me on that.

Anonymous said...

off topic but an interesting concept:

Anonymous said...

let's try that again.

Khal said...

Returning from a road trip on Monday evening, I was waiting cued up behind a car about to make a right on red from Central onto Diamond. At the last minute, the driver stopped short, and I saw two dark shadows zip past on Diamond heading north. The lead cyclist had no lights at all, and the second one had a tiny, nearly worthless and dim light. Frankly, I've been keeping a mental tally lately and have seen about ten lightless cyclists for every one I've seen lit up.

Those two riders are probably lucky the driver saw them, as they were wearing dark clothing as well as riding fast. Nearly lost in the backdrop of other vehicle headlights and other visual clutter, they could have easily ended up T-boning the car had it not stopped. As far as I am concerned, they would have been significantly at fault through their lack of proper equipment and compliance with the headlight law.

Critical safety items like helmets and headlights can be purchased for what is a reasonable outlay; a decent but not spectacular headlight throwing a hundred or more lumens can be had for a price in the range of $100-$200, esp. if you are willing to surf the web for sales or use your imagination (I picked up an excellent, 3W LED head lamp at REI for $85 bucks and zip tied it to my helmet) . Such an outlay is not as painful as a trip to the ER and the extended time spent recovering from a serious injury. And, it lasts for years.

As I like to ask Road I students, how much is your health worth? Check your pay stub or your loved ones expression when you get home if you can't figure it out any other way.

Khal said...

Used the new headlight for the first time today. Have to say that its low beam was more than sufficient.

Khal said...

I've used the Light and Motion for most of a week now. It is impressive on low beam. Enough that I often leave my headlamp off except for going through town, i.e., the Diamond intersections with Trinity and Canyon. If I want more light on a dark road, I turn the headlamp spot (an old Night Rider 10 watt spot beam) on so I can shine it on things like obstructions and potholes.

Last night, I used the helmet spot lamp to figure out what the heck a dark object was while I was riding past the golf course. It was a battered traffic control barrel partially caved in and sitting sideways in the bike lane. A lightless cyclist could have found it the hard way.

I actually was following a (lightless) cyclist down Diamond towards the San I roundabout last night, about 30 yards back, and he kept turning around to figure out where all the illumination was coming from. Me.