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  1. #1
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    Lights for commuting...suggestions?

    I am going to start commuting to school next week (8-9 miles round trip) and wanted to at least get a light for the front of my bike. Any suggestions on a cheap reliable one? Pictures would be cool too.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by MTBKR-328
    I am going to start commuting to school next week (8-9 miles round trip) and wanted to at least get a light for the front of my bike. Any suggestions on a cheap reliable one? Pictures would be cool too.

    Thanks!
    If you're going to be riding in low/no light conditions, I would recommend getting a rear light, most definitely, as well. Flashing led red rear lights can be gotten in a lot of stores (doesn't have to be LBS .... even cheap flashing leds can be seen from a great distance and do indeed get drivers attention.) As far as headlights, I'll leave that to others - I'm using a Cateye Cube (or somesuch) white led front - works well enough for commuting, I think, but not well enough for riding trails at night. Some seriously powerful headlights can be had for that purpose, but may be overkill for commuting..... or not - depends, perhaps, on your route/conditions. I'm too cheap to spring for a "real" front light, so my offroading is limited to daylight hours, for now

  3. #3
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    I'm going to build one of these in the next few months. It will probably be a single or double version. That way I can increase battery life.

    http://www.bikeled.org/

  4. #4
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    You have to decide if you want a light that allows you to be seen or a light that allows you to see. The former is cheap, the latter is expensive. Get a front and rear blinky light set. Whatever's cheap at your LBS. That's usually enough for any city riding. If you want a light that you can use to actually see where you're going, buy an Amoeba light from Scar on the forums. Should be in the classifieds.

  5. #5
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    I recently bought a couple of lights from Planet Bike. The rear flasher is a Super Flash.
    http://ecom1.planetbike.com/3034.html
    Works well under the seat;
    I chose their Sport Spot for the front.
    http://ecom1.planetbike.com/3028.html
    While its not the bightest of lights, I like the form factor and spread. If I could find someone to mod it with CREEs instead of the Nichias, it would be killer. BTW, both these lights take commonly available AAA and have very respectable run times.

  6. #6
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    What Schmucker said... but you need something that will suit both purposes. Get a light that throws enough light for you to see to ride safely by; and if you do that, it'll meet the second purpose of throwing enough light to let other road users see you.

    State law requires that you have a white light on the front of the bike, and a red light on the back -- both visible from at least 500 feet away. Some states will let you substitute a red reflector instead of a red tail light, but go with the tail light. It's safer. Perversely, the CPSC says you only need reflectors on the bike -- but every state traffic law says you need lights. Go with the lights, and use them if you're out riding betwen the hours of sunset and sunrise. It's the law...

    For winter commuting, I run a Cygo-Lite NightRover II, a 12-watt, two-lamp, rechargeable battery rig. Battery life is only a little over 2 hours on a charge, but it's almost like having a set of car headlights. I also have a Cateye EL-320 AA battery powered light that I sometimes switch among my road bike for when I get caught out after dark during the summer. It's an excellent light to see by, and you can get the AA batteries for it just about anywhere.

    In the rear, I run a Planet Bike Superflash. It's simply one of the best, most noticeable tail lights on the market these days.

    Lights are something where you pretty much get what you pay for in terms of light and reliability. Get a good set, and be scrupulous about using them

    Reflective stuff (vest, ankle bands, pedal reflectors, Illuminite, Nathan's/3M Scotchbrite tape, etc.) is good and useful stuff too.

  7. #7
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    I commute with a Planet Bike Blaze in front and a SuperFlash in back. The SuperFlash is one of the best rear lights I've seen and is pretty cheap. I've done some night riding (on streets only) and the 1/2 Watt Blaze did a fairly good job, although I probably would have gone for the 1 watt version if it had been available when I bought the light. Both work well.

  8. #8
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    Dynamo light is the way to go

    If you never want to worry about charging or having a battery going flat during a ride, or you never want miss out on a ride because you forgot to charge your lights the night before than build yourself a Dynamo LED light.

    Heres the the the light that I have just completed http://forums.mtbr.com/lights-diy-do-yourself/generator-powered-led-diy-413443-3.html#post4457460

    6 LEDs is a little excessive 3-4 LEDs would be more than appropriate for commuting but hey iF you really want to be seen day or night....go with 6.

  9. #9
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    I've had a few LED-type rear lights and latest as well as hidden from kids is Planet Bike Super Flash. I'll admit some bias to their products because some of their staff has helped with our trails and they're a local firm but they also have good stuff. I felt the extra for the Super Flash was well worth it because I see that it stands out at night.

    For headlights Cygo Rover series do not break the bank and mine has been perfectly fine and reliable for commuting. Your LBS could make the difference, but my favored LBS both gets and stocks parts for these so you don't have junk over time and can mount it on different bikes with ease.

    Now I have a pair of DiNotte 400L and so far I can't say enough good about them, but we're beyond a budget student and commuting setup here.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by MTBKR-328
    I am going to start commuting to school next week (8-9 miles round trip) and wanted to at least get a light for the front of my bike. Any suggestions on a cheap reliable one? Pictures would be cool too.

    Thanks!
    Cheap and reliable are sometimes not compatable choices. The biggest thing to consider are the conditions that you'll be riding in. I.e. well lit streets, or do you have dark unlit sections on your route. The head light serves two purposes in most cases. It allows you to be seen, but it may also need to let YOU see. If your entire route is well lit with street lights etc. that allow you to see well enough to avoid obsticals etc., then a cheaper lower powered, dry cell powered light will allow others to see you. But if you have dark unlit sections on your route then you need to have a light powerful enough to let you see as well! Most cheaper lights don't produce a strong or bright enough light to do this. Many of the "off road" rechargable lights do let you see quite well. They are expensive, but well worth it from a safety stand point. If all you need is to be seen then the cheapos will work. If you need to SEE, then I'd rethink the "cheap and reliable" criteria.

    As for the, "at least a front light". Forget it, get a rear light whether your State requires it or not. As both a driver and a bike commuter I can tell you from experience that one of those red LED lights on the back of a bike makes a HUGE difference in visibility when approaching a bike from the rear at night. Even on well lit streets a driver will see that light many yards before you can actually be identified as a cyclist. From a safety stand point alone this makes them well worth the few dollars that you spend for them. Another investment that you should consider is reflective clothing, or at least a reflective mesh vest.

    Commuting by bike at night can be quite fun. But you need to do everything you can think of to make yourself as visible as possible. The best thing to do is to drive your commute route at night. Pay attention to the lighting on the street, look for dark areas that are not well lit that could hide you when you are on the bike, or where you'll need additional light to see. Then let that drive determine what you need. If you have large sections where the headlights of the car take over, or sections with large dark gaps between street lights then a stronger brighter (though more expensive) light may be in order.

    Don't let this put you off. Night commuting really is fun. But BE SAFE, saving a few bucks isn't worth your life, or even a banged up bike. If you avoid hitting an old rusty muffler that fell off of a junker that's laying in along the side of the road on a dark section, a more expensive light has just paid for itself, both in repair and possibly medical costs.


    Bottom line is, safety first, budget second. Get what you need, not necessarily what's cheap.

    Good Dirt
    "I do whatever my Rice Cripsies tell me to!"

  11. #11
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    I also just started commuting but I'm going about 13 miles each way starting at about 6:30 in the morning. It will be dark soon.

    The front light I chose was the new Planet Bike Blaze 1 Watt single LED light. I think it was around $40 but it is painfully bright and the flash mode is extremely attention getting. For a rear light, I got the Planet Bike Blinky 1. Small but very bright. I had a bigger one that clipped on my trunk bag but it fell off the second time I used it. Probably on some hobo's grocery cart by now.

    Also, I was reading somewhere that the high current draw of the high wattage LED lights actually damages alkaline batteries and their run time is bad. This is the same reason alkalines don't last well in cameras. Rechargeable nickel metal hydride (NiMH) are supposed to deliver the necessary current without issue and will burn longer. So, investing in some NiMH and a charger might be worthwhile.

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