Opposite Headlights - Please read
I really want to share this with as many people as possible because I think it's a great new way to be seen and stay safe when riding at night.
I can't take credit for it because I saw someone else with it, but I was blown away by how well it worked.
Sure you want to start with front and rear lights as usual, with the front being more of a "to see by" than a "be seen" type, for spotting potholes etc.
When it comes to being seen, the trick is to run a small secondary light, but run it backwards on the bars, so that it's pointing at your chest.
The other night I was driving and noticed a few cyclists going the other way. With all the other lights out there (street lights, stop lights, car lights, etc) the little single flashers are almost invisible. Even the bright ones are hard to focus on. You don't want to look right at them and therefore it's hard to gauge a distance accurately. It's even worse if it's raining. Even as someone that rides all the time, as a driver you sort of have to process the fact that that little flashing light is actually a cyclist.
Then I see this guy with the reverse headlight. So instead of a tiny flashing light moving down the street, I see like a whole person. Bright yellow jacket, legs moving up and down. Super clear.
Just. Wow. I was blown away. So simple. So effective. Cheap too.
Flipped my secondary headlight around this evening, and it worked great. When I look down, my whole chest was lit up flashing. I had three different cars that were pulling out of side streets stop early to give me lots of room, or one even backed up for me a bit. Awesome.
The only trick is to angle the light so that it doesn't shine in your eyes. I'm going to rearrange my bars a bit so that the computer acts like a little shield above the light to block it.
I'm using something like this, and it's just the ticket:
MEC Quattro USB White LED Front Light - Mountain Equipment Co-op. Free Shipping Available
Now I'm going to do something similar for the rear. A little front light mounted on the rear of my rack, shining up on my back.
Anyone ever see this trick before? Hope it saves someone's life.
Avoiding losing your night sight especially on unlit streets will be critical. Why I have never tried it though it crossed my mind. Maybe one at the neckline front and back aimed down. Video says that the safety vest and traffic yellow jacket do not show in low beams or all that well under street lights. They are incredible in sunlight. I have a series of videos with the split rim tape treatments for Friday night (a bit warmer) as this is one of those ride get too warm stop and rapidly freeze things to do. So the bars aimed back, the rack aimed forward, and then the neckline method. It will be interesting. I will use cheap 9 LED 100 lumen flashlights and a decent Maglite to check whether more light is better.
Never heard of that one, worth a try.
I was thinking maybe something smaller like these, I have a couple for camping & just to have in the pack...
Pulsar / Pulsar II | Princeton Tec
I'm with Brian, too easy to cook your nightvision. I'd rather grab some wheel lights for side visibility.
I have two a lot like these
LED Flashlight, Mini 2 Piece 9 LED 3-1/2"
but in black @ $2.49 (small, light cheap, and easily found in the local hardware store)
One of these: MAGLITE ST2D106 2-D Cell LED Flashlight, Silver - Amazon.com
That should cover the range of low and cheap and more than enough to get a feel for how much light is needed without being too much. That would allow people to select something that will work, if it will work.
I almost got hit testing with no headlights last week. Normally quiet street with no traffic to speak of and I get a party next door.
Anyway, I was running the iPhone as iBike and the screen output completely messed up my night vision. It was like when I was Vitamin A deficient. U turns off the road, riding off the side of a turn. Things I do for data. With my helmet light I did not notice it as much. There is nothing like actual video and experience to sort out the variables.
The idea of lighting a large surface is good, but as the other posters have pointed out shining a light in your face is not so good. A better bet would be a jacket or vest with some EL lighting on the front which would make you way more visible while directing the light away from your eyes.
2009 Redline Conquest Pro, 2008 Trek Fuel Ex8
2007 Kona Cinder Cone utility bike
Yes I spent too much on bikes.
I occasionally receive that type of light as a freebie and have dangled them from my jacket's zipper for the purpose being discussed here. It works well, but I don't like using $3 button batteries up like that, so for a rechargeable alternative, I'll mention super-lightweight 1xAAA flashlights. I have one of these zip-tied to my helmet aimed down at my bars:
Originally Posted by mtbxplorer
Olight I2 EOS XP-G R5 LED Flashlight (also available on Ebay, search for Olight EOS)
On LOW, it's just right for reading a computer. I bank my Garmin about 10° to one side on my stem so the light's reflection doesn't come back at my face. Anyway, with a AAA it's still lightweight enough to consider having on one's jacket zipper.
A couple nights ago I was out riding in the dark countryside and saw two people walking, each with an illuminated armband like this type:
A better bet would be a jacket or vest with some EL lighting on the front which would make you way more visible while directing the light away from your eyes.
One of the two also had a hand-held flashlight. I saw the flashlight from long range, then picked up the silhouette of the two people against the road by the ambient city light reflecting off the cloud cover, THEN finally was able to pick out the illuminated armbands at perhaps 100ft range, after wondering if I was really seeing them or not. They're not very powerful
A couple of years ago I came across a lit jacket. It was as pathetic as the armband.
This one might be better:
LEDWear LED Jacket - webBikeWorld
Too bad it is a motorcycle mag so no riding a bike to see if night vision was an issue with it. I would say constant on and let Blinkies do the flashing.
I would expect to see it at the video distances, How about from 50, 100, or more feet away?
UK company, Canadian Distributor: LEDwear Canada. Distributor for LEDwear products in Canada and the United States.
With snow, it might be a get you home light, too? LEDwear testing in Norway | News
They have a backpack cover, too.
I had actually mounted a spare light to my seat tube to get it out of the way. The mount allowed it to spin and point straight up, basically illuminating me from below. It gave some decent overall illumination but didn't shine in my eyes at all.
I used this light: Bontrager: Ion 1 Headlight (Model #11369) - The light is junk but the mount is flexible.
I see why the goal of this would be beneficial, but I'm also not thrilled with having a light pointed in such a way that there's even a risk of blinding myself with it if I look a certain direction.
Reflective and lit areas on the frame seem to accomplish a very similar goal - making your identifiable as a bicycle (though I have not had good experiences with the long term durability of products designed for this purpose). And from what I've seen from other riders, the simplest way to be identifiable as a bike is to put some actual lights on the wheels so you see the rotation. At least for me, that rotation screams bicycle, regardless of whatever else I may or may not be able to see. I use a combination of lights and reflectors. Seems to work pretty well.
I agree with this
Originally Posted by NateHawk
what about aproaching the same idea in a little different way, like maybe using one of these kinda lights attached to your helmet strap under your chin shining down at your chest?
BlueSkyCycling.com - NiteRider Lightning Bug 3.0 Bike light
Today I will do what others won't, so tomorrow I can do what others can't
Assuming enough lights so that the 80% who pay attention can and do see us, then making sure we have night vision to see the clueless 20%, seems to be the bottom line. I seem to get a lot of respect at night without a lit up jacket, but most is below an SUV hood line so easily eclipsed by traffic. I fear drunks and meth-heads. Nothing much but my diligence helps with them, so night vision is key. I am afraid of a bright white jacket front catching the peripheral vision and contracting the irises. That is why some video and experience feedback would be good to have for everyone in the forum.
I think this whole idea is pretty cool. Makes sense to me as long as you can keep it out of your own eyes. Although I'd be tempted to ride everywhere with no hands on the bars and my arms out to the sides in a "Yeah. That's right. I'm here. Look at me." cocky puffed up posture.
Competing with all the other light sources in a urban environment is definitely the challenge. I'm so rural it's really a non-issue. One blinky gets me noticed. But an entire glowing human would be pretty sweet in the city.
You have no excuse for driving to work
(unless you don't have studded tires)
(no excuse for that either)
Do we have any commuters from the Three Mile Island area who can give us a glowing account?
Originally Posted by CommuterBoy
I was messing around with my blinker light, and I think that I may have found something that will work. I will test this tomorrow night on my ride home. I will ask a co worker to test it with me to see the results. If they are positive, I will post up. If they suck, well, we will just leave it at that.
Results of test. The Maglight was too much. A cheap flashlight hanging from the neck worked very well in front. The one I hung in back did not sit right, so shone back at 45 degrees from mid shoulder and missed the back of the vest. I will have to wait for suitable weather for a retry. The Maglite affected night vision too much, but you could easily see my thighs cycling. Very identifiable as a cyclist. So lighter or more hi vis pants would work well with a front flood light. Both lights lit the forearms and chest well. The helmet lights prevented a headless cyclist look.
One of the safety triangles on your back or backpack with a light from a rack (or rack trunk) shining forward and up to flood the back in light might work well.
Proof of concept established.
Excuse the relatively raw video. I have to learn the new iMovie interface.
Last edited by BrianMc; 11-16-2013 at 07:10 AM.
I included the reverse front lights test with a reflective/glo rim tape test and a new video is on the Reflective Wheel Sticker Thread.
The attempt to also shine a light down my back shone out more than down. Needed my valet to fix that.
I would say the technique's effectiveness is pretty good even with a lot of other lights. If you are decent at soldering, I suppose a bunch of cheap coin cell lights on a jacket front and back could be wired to a common battery making them more cost effective and if a li-ion pack was used, rechargeable. That light up vest will be more than $100.
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