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  1. #1
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    Ok...now I'm pissed. Need a blinding taillight.

    I commute on a pretty sketchy highway. Today, it was pissing down rain and it was pre-dawn gloom. A friend from work passed me and tooted his horn so I knew it was him.

    When I got to work, he said that yes, I was visible but not terribly noticeable. In other words, my Superflash and blinky taillights don't pack enough punch to make me stand out from the car taillights and roadside reflectors.

    So that's it...all bets are off. It's time to solve this once and for all.

    I just got my DiNotte 200L headlamp yesterday and wore it for the first time today. So what I'm thinking of doing is taking my Planet Bike Blaze 1W handlebar light and putting some kind of red filter on it and mounting it to my rear rack. Everyone agrees that light is obnoxious and painful to look at so it should do the trick as a rear light.

    What do you think?

  2. #2
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    Give it a try. If you go to a place that sells DJ equipment you should be able to get "color gel" They are used as color filters for stage and spot lights so they can handle a hot light. Also 1 sheet will not be expensive.

  3. #3
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    I've noticed that the Blinking lights and LED's tend to suck for judging Depth Perception. Maybe wear a reflective vest, if you don't all ready. Heck I can barely see anything other than car tail lights when its dark and rainy out. Maybe I need glasses.......

    Good luck stay safe!

  4. #4
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    Bite the bullet and get a Dinotte 140L rear light if you really want to be seen . Same as a 200L, but the red lens cuts down the light output a bit. I got one last year because I was planning on doing some commuting over the summer on rolling dirt roads so I wanted something that would show up over a good long distance. I don't regret getting the 140L at all ( I have a 200L in front as well ).

    Back to your current rear lights, I'm surprised that your friend said you weren't noticeable. My opinion has been that the current tiny rear lights aren't too bad as long as they are pointing directly at approaching traffic. You do have them mounted to the bike, right? Not on a backpack or clothing. It doesn't sound like you do, but there are tons of people around who ride with lights, attached to backbacks etc, pointing directly at the ground or the sky, and they are scacely visible. It's a pet peeve of mine.
    Cheers, Dave

  5. #5
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    reflective vest...

    Quote Originally Posted by brain3278
    I've noticed that the Blinking lights and LED's tend to suck for judging Depth Perception. Maybe wear a reflective vest, if you don't all ready. Heck I can barely see anything other than car tail lights when its dark and rainy out. Maybe I need glasses.......

    Good luck stay safe!
    is a must for nighttime travel as well as blinky in the front and back and a headlight set up.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by dskunk
    Bite the bullet and get a Dinotte 140L rear light if you really want to be seen . Same as a 200L, but the red lens cuts down the light output a bit. I got one last year because I was planning on doing some commuting over the summer on rolling dirt roads so I wanted something that would show up over a good long distance. I don't regret getting the 140L at all ( I have a 200L in front as well ).

    Back to your current rear lights, I'm surprised that your friend said you weren't noticeable. My opinion has been that the current tiny rear lights aren't too bad as long as they are pointing directly at approaching traffic. You do have them mounted to the bike, right? Not on a backpack or clothing. It doesn't sound like you do, but there are tons of people around who ride with lights, attached to backbacks etc, pointing directly at the ground or the sky, and they are scacely visible. It's a pet peeve of mine.
    My superflash is attached solidly to the back of my helmet. I think it is pretty close to level. The reflector on that gives you a good bit of margin anyway. My Blinky is mounted to my seatpost and is aimed right at eye level.

    I'm going to give the red filter a try first to see if that will do the trick. If I still hear that I'm not noticeable...I'll pull out all the stops. I don't think I'll be satisfied until I have people rolling down their windows and yelling at me because I'm blinding them.

    Just kidding about that last bit. I just want something that makes people take notice.

  7. #7
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    I wouldn't just take your buds word on this. I can't imagine the Superflash, if angled properly, isn't noticeable at even great distances. Maybe you should do a test. Stand your bike down the street and far away and see how noticeable it really is.

    I took time to carefully aim my Superflashes to horizontal when mounting mine,

  8. #8
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    I checked the state laws on bicycle lights and there are basically only minimum requirements listed and nothing I can find says you can't have other colors on the back. You are required to have a white light up front and a red light or red reflector in the rear. There's no statement prohibiting having a white or blue or green or purple or orange or whatever else as long as you have the required red rear light.

    I know that human eyes are particularly sensitive to green but the voices are telling me that green might be a bad idea. Also, blue is reserved for emergency vehicles so while this might be the *most* attention getting option, it may also attract attention from people I don't really want to talk to. I think I'll start with white and see how that goes. If I happen to find some cool filters of different eye-catching colors, I might do that.

  9. #9
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tweezak
    There's no statement prohibiting having a white or blue or green or purple or orange or whatever else as long as you have the required red rear light.

    I know that human eyes are particularly sensitive to green but the voices are telling me that green might be a bad idea. Also, blue is reserved for emergency vehicles so while this might be the *most* attention getting option, it may also attract attention from people I don't really want to talk to.
    I'd say stay away from the blues, greens and violets...the "cooler" colors take longer to register in the brain (it is just the wavelength...takes longer to pick up with our eyes and get the "ah hah!" in our brains). Movement helps too...a couple lights to make "movement" as they flash at the same rate will help too.
    As if four times wasn't enough-> Psycho Mike's 2013 Ride to Conquer Cancer Page

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  11. #11
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    Stay away from white in the rear. If I were riding or driving behind you, I'd be pissed if I was staring at a ~200L lamp in my face. In fact, it might be more dangerous to blind drivers as they are attempting to pass you.

    There are some studies in EMS journals about drivers being drawn to lights on the side of the road. Many of us have been killed by drivers heading straight for accident scenes and plowing into rescuers. I don't think a bike would be much different.

    I'd go with the standard red rear light and maybe a vest if you really want to be seen.

  12. #12
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    I use a Planet Bike taillight along with my NR universal. The first/last ten miles of my commute are on a two lane road with little or no shoulder. Here in the PNW, the days are getting shorter so I am usually burning taillights if not my headlight too on my way home in the afternoon. I pass a guy in the morning who has three Planet Bike taillights, one on each seatstay down low and one on his seatpost. They are never in unison and my brain itches until I get past him. I am certain at this point that I don't have epilepsy.

    I don't get the guys I see with flashing lights on their helmets. Cars are looking for other cars, put the flashers at car taillight height.

    BTW, I used to have a Trek Discoinferno taillight but it looks like they don't make it anymore. I could see it reflecting off houses on my way to work. They do make one called the Flare that can be seen from 3000 feet by using 10 LEDs.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by poulsborider
    I don't get the guys I see with flashing lights on their helmets. Cars are looking for other cars, put the flashers at car taillight height.
    I have the Planet Bike Superflash spazzing away on the back of my helmet specifically because I WANT to stand out from the sea of car tail lights. I figured, something different would get noticed.

    Thanks for the ideas.

    Oh, for what it's worth, I rode home for the first time yesterday in the late afternoon...about 6pm (PNW time). My DiNotte 200L was running a nasty flash mode on my helmet and my Blaze was flashing on my handlebars. Every driver whose face I could see going the other way was looking right at me. One pedestrian, a middle aged guy walking with a cane, hollered "Hey, I like your lights, man!"

    So up front, I think I have things pretty well covered.

  14. #14
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    I have another question/comment.

    It seems to me the worst times for bicycle visibility are just around dawn or dusk. These are the times when there's enough light to see. The sky is still full of light but objects at ground level are in shadow. People's eyes have not adjusted to the change and their pupils are still contracted because of the flood of light from the sky. Cars are just starting to turn their headlights on at this time but their headlights don't really illuminate anything very well.

    I think this is the worst time of day for bicycle commuters because you disappear into the growing gloom. Maybe I'll feel differently in a few weeks when I am commuting in pitch black conditions but I think even a small light that goes unnoticed at dawn would jump right out of the darkness at night.

    Does this make sense?

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tweezak
    I have the Planet Bike Superflash spazzing away on the back of my helmet specifically because I WANT to stand out from the sea of car tail lights. I figured, something different would get noticed.
    There is a guy at work who also commutes. He only has a taillight on his helmet. He wears dark clothes with hiviz yellow jersies (which mean nothing without reflective trim when worn in the dark) and has no reflective anything on his bike. He works in safety.

    I use a NR blowtorch HID along with my two taillights. My commuter is a Gunnar Crosshairs with fenders and rack. My rear fender is covered with hiviz reflective stickers and my rack bag has a jogger belt around it. I see two guys heading in the opposite direction each morning who have helmet mounted HID headlights. I wish they wouldn't look at me.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by poulsborider
    There is a guy at work who also commutes. He only has a taillight on his helmet. He wears dark clothes with hiviz yellow jersies (which mean nothing without reflective trim when worn in the dark) and has no reflective anything on his bike. He works in safety.

    I use a NR blowtorch HID along with my two taillights. My commuter is a Gunnar Crosshairs with fenders and rack. My rear fender is covered with hiviz reflective stickers and my rack bag has a jogger belt around it. I see two guys heading in the opposite direction each morning who have helmet mounted HID headlights. I wish they wouldn't look at me.
    LOL!

    I have (as of now) the DiNotte 200L (helmet) and the Blaze 1Watt (handlebar) running up front. I'm running the Superflash (helmet mounted) and a Blinky1 (seatpost mounted) in the rear.

    I have a rack with a single red reflector on it and Ortlieb roll-top panniers (high viz yellow) with large reflective triangles on the back and front.

    I also wear a red Showers Pass jacket with 3M reflective stripes across the back and sleeves.

    I have full fenders and I want to put reflective racing stripes (yeah...right) on them. Where's a good place to get reflective tape? If I found a good source, I'd go nuts with that stuff on my bike.

    Thanks again, man. Keep the comments coming. It only helps!

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tweezak
    I have another question/comment.

    It seems to me the worst times for bicycle visibility are just around dawn or dusk. These are the times when there's enough light to see. The sky is still full of light but objects at ground level are in shadow. People's eyes have not adjusted to the change and their pupils are still contracted because of the flood of light from the sky. Cars are just starting to turn their headlights on at this time but their headlights don't really illuminate anything very well.

    I think this is the worst time of day for bicycle commuters because you disappear into the growing gloom. Maybe I'll feel differently in a few weeks when I am commuting in pitch black conditions but I think even a small light that goes unnoticed at dawn would jump right out of the darkness at night.

    Does this make sense?

    It makes perfect sense. This time of year scares me when I ride home after 4:30 pm. My commute is 1:20 each way so leaving after 4:30pm gets me to the shaded section of road with no shoulder about 30 minutes before dusk. I would rather ride home in the dark for the reasons you stated.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by poulsborider
    It makes perfect sense. This time of year scares me when I ride home after 4:30 pm. My commute is 1:20 each way so leaving after 4:30pm gets me to the shaded section of road with no shoulder about 30 minutes before dusk. I would rather ride home in the dark for the reasons you stated.
    Indeed...and ain't it a beotch that it's the heaviest traffic time of the day?

  19. #19
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    I bought my wife the Blackburn Mars 3.0 and this thing is super bright. One of the most noticable sub $50 lights I've ever seen.
    Eat to Live...not the other way around

  20. #20
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    Well I work in eletronics and use LED's quite a bit. LED's are VERY directional. If you don't aim them properly, they're not very effective. Even if the taillight is shrouded in reflective casing, it's not as effective as directing the LED straight at the driver behind you.

    Mounting the taillight on your helmet would seem to be a terrible place to put it. You can't really make certain that the tail light will shine into the driver's eyes.

    The best thing to do is point your bike's tail to a wall or garage door at a distance and adjust your taillight mount until it's shining at the wall horizontally or slightly higher than the actual height of the light on your bike.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by ScareyH22A
    Well I work in eletronics and use LED's quite a bit. LED's are VERY directional. If you don't aim them properly, they're not very effective. Even if the taillight is shrouded in reflective casing, it's not as effective as directing the LED straight at the driver behind you.

    Mounting the taillight on your helmet would seem to be a terrible place to put it. You can't really make certain that the tail light will shine into the driver's eyes.

    The best thing to do is point your bike's tail to a wall or garage door at a distance and adjust your taillight mount until it's shining at the wall horizontally or slightly higher than the actual height of the light on your bike.
    I too work in electronics and you are right...LEDs are very directional if they have domed lenses. Some of the high output emitters have a flat or nearly flat lens and throw a wide, bright beam. We were driving a blue luxeon on a probe station at work and I was stunned at the spread. Not to mention that it was so bright as to cause an immediate aversion response.

    As far as how to aim, I take my bike out in the street at night and point my light at parked cars. If I am lighting up the headrest of the driver's seat...I'm good.

    The reason I have a tail light on my helmet is because it sits higher than the average sedan. If I am riding down the shoulder of the highway and a line of cars is passing me going the same direction, a driver's view of the lower portion of my bike will be blocked by the car in front of them until they are pretty close to me. With a higher light, they may be able to notice me earlier.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tweezak
    Where's a good place to get reflective tape? If I found a good source, I'd go nuts with that stuff on my bike.
    http://www.galls.com/style.html?asso...og&style=DE125

    I just noticed they want around $75 for a 150' roll. Since you probably don't need that much, here's what I found.

  23. #23
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    Fact is 95% of all tail lights are domed LED. And to rely on just one tail light on the helmet...

  24. #24
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    ^ OP has a light mounted on the helmet and one on the seatpost. 2 lights in the rear, nothing wrong with that. I just use a Blackburn Mars 3.0 mounted on the rack and haven't had any problems with people not seeing me.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by ScareyH22A
    Fact is 95% of all tail lights are domed LED. And to rely on just one tail light on the helmet...
    95%? Wow. I had no idea but then I never did the research. Seriously, I'm not trying to be a jerk...is there a study out there that evaluates bike tail lights? I would love to check it out.

    To clarify...I was running two lights in the rear - one on helmet...one on bike. I have now upped that to 3. We'll see how my bracket holds up. It looks pretty ghetto (and it is) but it's more solid than you might think. I notched the PVC so that it locks into the seat post.

    Something tells me I'm going to get complaints about this.

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  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tweezak
    95%? Wow. I had no idea but then I never did the research. Seriously, I'm not trying to be a jerk...is there a study out there that evaluates bike tail lights? I would love to check it out.

    To clarify...I was running two lights in the rear - one on helmet...one on bike. I have now upped that to 3. We'll see how my bracket holds up. It looks pretty ghetto (and it is) but it's more solid than you might think. I notched the PVC so that it locks into the seat post.

    Something tells me I'm going to get complaints about this.

    If the image doesn't show...go here: BAM!!

    Yes 95%! But seriously won't that headlight pointing back produce a lot of glare for the people behind you? I think that would be dangerous. Or is that one of those AAA 50 lumen lights? You can probably get a luxeon headlight that people wear on their foreheads while caving that has a red filter (so you maintain night vision) and strap one of those on the bike. The ones I've seen seem to have a luxeon main light and regular LED for night vision but maybe they exist. Something like these. http://en.petzl.com/petzl/Accueil

  27. #27
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    I'm not sure of the lumen output of the Blaze 1W. It runs off 2 AA batteries and I read at one point that it was a Cree LED. It is very bright but not blinding.

    I like the Petzl lights. I bought my stepdad one for Xmas last year. They are a quality unit. Thanks for the suggestion.

    In the meantime, I'm going to filter the 1W light with something to make it more rear-light-like (probably amber from an old motorcycle turn signal). What you see above is just a first pass.

    Edit: filter added. It is now official hazard light/turn signal amber. I cut out a section of the motorcycle signal lens and hot glued it to the Blaze lens. Works great!
    Last edited by Tweezak; 10-05-2008 at 10:13 PM.

  28. #28
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    Glad to hear the 1W is working out.

    Try a cheap single LED keyring light tied around your rear hub. All the fixter kids are doing it, although as the only light they have... however it does grab attention especially if you've for reflective strips on your rims.

  29. #29
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    dinotte's the original blinding tail light:

    http://store.dinottelighting.com/sha...t=products.asp

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by HardyWeinberg
    dinotte's the original blinding tail light:

    http://store.dinottelighting.com/sha...t=products.asp
    Yeah...those are very nice but I don't really want to spend another $130 if I don't have to.

    So far, my Blaze headlight conversion seems to be doing the trick. It's definitely bright and being a color you don't usually see can only help. The amber light should be perfectly legal since flashing ambers is what slow moving vehicles run anyway.

    I am going to keep working on improving the mount, however. I like the Dinotte seat post mount and may build something similar.

  31. #31
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    (Little late to the thread, but maybe it will help someone else)

    I have this http://www.cateye.com/en/product_detail/550 and it's dang bright (100 candlepower). You can turn on / off only one row of led's or if you really want to get their attention, you can turn them both on. I paid around $40 at REI and I don't worry about people seeing me on my morning commute.
    "Only silence is your true origin."

  32. #32
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    This is my rear light. When I use it in the 3-color distress mode I can see it reflecting off signs on the opposite side of the road in my rear view mirror. It has 1 replaceable lithium ion camera battery which lasts a long time in the flashing modes. It lists for $70, but you can get them for a lot less on ebay.

    http://www.inovalight.com/247.html click the link, play the movie

  33. #33
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    I have the Blackburn Mars 3.0. and It is seriously and painfully bright with built in amber side lights.

    Cheep too.
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  34. #34
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    Thanks for continuing this thread.

    By way of an update, my current rear light setup (superflash on helmet/amber lens'd Blaze 1W on seatpost) has been getting good comments. People tell me it is even visible in bright midday sun.

    As for my helmet mounted Dinotte 200L AA, at least twice a week I get comments about it.

    So, all is looking good for now. Thanks again!

  35. #35
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    N/m.....
    Last edited by TX_Shifter; 10-28-2008 at 01:37 PM.

  36. #36
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    I also have been using the PB Superflasher in back, and a NiteRider Evolution Smart Light System witha PB 1/2 watt Blaze in Blink mode.

    I have more of a problem in front of me then in back

    My commute is 14 miles from work to home.Starting in a highlighted Northwest Chicago suburb to a low lit far nothwest burb.

    I also look for the most reflective clothing I can find. I have an older pair off shimano SH221 shoes.They have the most reflective striping I've ever seen,and of coarse they are 6 years old and are a summer shoe. Cannondale seem to be very good at Reflective Piping. I wear bright orange or red clothing and last year I picked up some highly reflective piping gloves at the Home Depot

  37. #37
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    Regarding the directionality of LEDs: as a bike-shop mechanic, I see a lot of bike taillights on customers' bikes. Many of them are angled downwards! I guess people really don't get it.

  38. #38
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    I just upgraded to a Planet Bike Superflash taillight, and it blows the doors off of my old one...not sure on the brand of the old one, but it was a cheapy...

    but the Superflash is headache-inducing, for sure. It's incredible. You could pull people over if it was mounted up front. Which gives me some ideas...
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