Sunday, November 25, 2007

Lighting sequel

I finally added some light to my commuter bike. Rather than spending three to five hundred dead presidents on high-zoot bike lighting, I picked up an $89 Princeton Tec Apex Pro headlamp at REI.

It seems to put out a lot of long (four or five car lengths worth of useful illumination) as well as short distance illumination and is far cheaper than most high end bike lights. I'll be running it in various modes (using the main 3 watt LED with and without the four satellite LED's, in both high and low output mode) along with my NiteRider 15 watt light.

I also added a Blackburn Mars 2 to the tailgunner's perch to try to get the attention of our Driving-While-Cellular crowd. So if I get run down, at least someone will have a hard time saying they didn't see me.

Stay tuned. If I turn out not to like this light for commuting, it will be great for walking the dogs in the winter!


Khal said...

After a couple weeks, a couple comments.

The REI light fits well on my Bell helmet. I hardly notice it is there.

The light throws a somewhat narrow (spot) beam but with the whole bunch of LEDs lit up on high (the main 3 W LED and the four smaller ones) its quite useful and the satellite LEDs fill in around the front of the bike a well as improve rider visibility. I often ride with it on low power in combination with my 15w bar-mounted NiteRider but if I am going fast I put on the 3W LED on high and aim it farther up the road than my bike-mounted light to get advance warning of obstacles coming up.

It would probably be a servicable light on its own if on full power under moderate commuter speeds.

I think if one is riding really fast at night something more like Scott Doebling's HID is better, as it lights up the world. This one does not do that.

REI sells rechargeable battery pack for my head-light and so does the Radio Shack store up here. apparently those 3v Lithium batteries are used in other applications as well.

Khal said...

I dug out my ten-plus year Nightsun Team Pro this week and am trying to see if there is any life left in the Ni-Cd battery pack. It throws considerably more light than the 15W NiteRider. I may have to rebuild a battery pack for it. This can be done cheaper than buying a store-bought pack, assuming I want to take the time. Radio Shack sells some 1.2v, 3300mAh batteries with soldering posts. Should be able to chain them together in series and make a serviciable 12v battery, for that and the price of a water bottle.

Scott said...

Heya - I'm using the Light & Motion ARC HID in the front. May be overkill but definitely gets the job done. May even be visible from space. But it was expensive ($320 or so with the 20% Nashbar discount), glad to know there are some cheaper solutions out there that work.

I have two 5-LED cateye blinkies in back (one on the rack, one on the seat) and a 3-LED planet bike blinkie on the back of the helmet. I also have two 3" SAE-rated rear reflectors, reflective ankle straps, and DOT-rated reflective tape on helmet, backpack, crankarms, and various other places on the bike.

I actually think I may be more visible riding at night than during the day.

Ride safely.