I ride on local roads near my home during the week to prep me for weekend "mountain biking". I only can ride during dark hours (early morning (5 ~ 6 AM) or evenings (8 ~ 9 PM)) because of work schedule and to avoid the masses of zombie-like Miami drivers. For a long time I have been using anemic "blinky" bike lights (as shown on this picture) to avoid a very bad situation with these zombie-like Miami drivers but I have never been satisfied with them.
One thing that bothered me the most is that these drivers were over passing me very close, so close that I can easily feel the heat coming out from their engines! It did not matter if they had a full lane to over pass, they just wanted to "show" off that they "owned" the road. Add this issue along with recent road bike fatalities (read here (JAN 2010) and here (FEB 2012)) and you will understand how dangerous riding the roads in Miami could turn out to be. In my pursuit of finding a brighter rear self contained LED light I found the "DS-500" within mtbr.com forums. I was not sold at the idea of having an external battery but being an Electrical Engineer I knew that to get sustained high output light I needed to resort to an external power source. I made the blind jump and contacted Stephen whom amazed me with his knowledge of LED and battery technology along with his passion to bicycling. He poured details and superb attention to detail at each minute step that made me feel that I was setting these lights myself! I requested the front DS-1300 and rear DS-500 lights with a single 5200mAH 11.1v Li-Ion battery. The wait seemed to take an eternity since I did not venture out with my road bike until I received these superb lights.
The wait was worth each day that I waited "patiently" for them. I was surprised at how small these lights were, no picture did justice on the size, they are tiny and do not weigh much. The first thing I did was to connect them to the pre-charged battery and turned them on but guess what? They did not, why? I did not read Stephen's very detailed instructions that mentioned something called "Super-lock", I almost lost it but it was my bad for being too excited. Read the complete manual and tried again, "My God, It's Full of Stars!" is what came out of my mouth! These lights ARE bright, not just ordinary bright but it burns your retina BRIGHT!
I set them up on my road bike as seen on these pictures, with the 5200mAH battery fitting inside nicely into an Ibera IB-TB4 Top Tube bag. The DS-1300 front light was setup on the Ibera IB-PB2 Cell phone case with bar clamp and the DS-500 rear light on the seat post. I used zip ties to secure the power lines to-from each light. After securing the lights, cables and battery I decided to test drive them the same night I received them. I used mode #4 - L3/L5 for both the DS-1300 and DS-500 lights. I know Stephen does not recommend to use that mode on the DS-500 but I am still in the testing phase on how the local Miami drivers react to the different modes. So far (full week of night rides at the same time each day (8 ~ 9 PM)) these are my results on a one was two lane road:
- DS-1300: Side car traffic IMMEDIATELY STOPS when they get a glimpse of the lights and do not proceed to move forward until I pass! 100% EFFECTIVE! Front lighting/throw is superb for my night riding, for me it was like I was driving in the dark with my front "blinky" lights all these years and somebody just brought out a mini-sun! There is no RF interference with my wireless Bike computer (Sigma Rox 9.0)! This is a BIG plus since I always track my progress with Temperature, Cadence, HRM, Altitude and speed. I was unable to do this with my previous "blinky" front lights.
- DS-500: Rear car traffic slows down and wait for me or over pass me by a FULL LANE! I never had this happen! 95 ~ 98% of the traffic provides me this clearance and only 5% or less will attempt to overpass me by half a lane (which is still great compared to how it was before). Almost all the drivers either pass me by at the speed limit or slow down to find out what is emitting such a light! Many are surprised that it is just a bicycle, even motorcyclist and patrol cars! I agree with Stephen, mode #4 - L3/L5 for the DS-500 is very bright for night use (I have tested it myself by sitting in my car behind my bike) so I am testing alternative modes to fend of that 5% zombie Miami drivers.
I am very happy with these lights and my family feels better that I know have them to ride the streets at night. They are worth the cost to give me the privilege to ride safer at night on Miami roads. There is always room for improvement and these lights are almost perfect but having a bigger power button would make it easier to navigate and turn on/off the lights with gloves on.
P.S. - I really dig the Cat-Eye clamps!
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