Handlebar flashers and side visibility: discussion
The other day while working I happened to see a couple people using small LED flashers on their handlebars. Both people were riding at dusk. Both were very visible from the head-on position. Both were also using small self contained units. One used what look like a Frog light the other a more torch like set-up. Both were very impressive head-on, however I noticed once they came nearer to my position ( stopped at an intersection ) they became almost invisible once they were almost in front of me. I figure the lights must have about a 60 degree projection radius. I now see that there is a good deal more required if you intend to use ( only ) one of these for low-light applications.
Anyway, this begs the question, or questions if you may. What small self-contained unit offers the best visibility ( front and side ) I ask because I was thinking of buying one myself.
Anyone care to make a suggestion. I was thinking of something like this > link
I realize these are cheaply made and likely to break but at least they are inexpensive. Thoughts?
Originally Posted by Cat-man-do
The lights in your link look like a re-branded model of light we sold a few years back when I worked at NiteRider. If they perform roughly the same they work okay, certainly better than nothing at all, but they really don't put out much light to the sides from what I recall.
On the higher end of things Light and Motion makes a pretty sweet set-up for commuting that provides really bright side visibility. Here's the link: http://www.bikelights.com/vis360.htm
I generally just have the reflective material on my shoes, jacket, and pack keeping me from getting smashed from the side...perhaps I should give this a little more thought too.
Usually I have my usual helmet/bar setup with me as well as a torch. For the most part I really don't want to use my main lights at dusk unless I have too. The torches I use do have a strobe function but that is really over-kill and quite annoying. The triple ( K-lite ) I use does have a flash mode but I really don't want to bother having to change menus.
Originally Posted by BajaDesignsShannon
Some where in the pile of junk I call my home I have an old Cateye 4/AA led handlebar light/flasher that worked pretty well. Once again, I don't know about the side visibility issue though and I can't find the damn thing right now anyway.
I'm starting to lean toward some other kind of led flasher to mount on the top tube or stays that might be aimed out towards the sides. Reflectors and reflective clothing are fine but unless light is hitting the reflectors they are quite useless. Plus not all cars are using their headlights at dusk. I didn't really get this until the other day when I noticed the other riders at dusk and how "not visible" they really were from the sides.
I suppose if I have to I can turn the helmet light on low at dusk and point it at cars emerging from the sides. That would work but I still like the idea of a cheap-small-self contained light for the bars that I don't have to fiddle with too much.
Here are some nominees:
Bikebrightz from http://www.bikebrightz.com. I have an amber one zip-tied to the underside of my downtube on my grocery-getter hardtail. It's unobtrusive when turned off, so it hasn't gotten stolen yet. It's not fully omnidirectional but it definitely adds a lot of close-range side visibility at intersections and in supermarket parking lots. It takes two AAAs. Rechargeables are the best bet, because it has "soft-off" and will slowly drain its batteries whether you use it or not.
Fibreflare from various sources including Amazon.com. Note that it's speeled "Fibre," not "Fiber." These are nice, completely omnidirectional, and unfortunately my amber "shorty" model got swiped while clipped to the side pocket of a pannier outside the supermarket. They take two AAAs and seem to have true "off" so they don't drain batteries while idle. For side visibility, I suggest amber.
more Fibreflare pics here: http://s240.photobucket.com/albums/f...s/Fibre_Flare/
Bontrager and Soma market some red bar-tip lights that take one AAA per side so you can use rechargeables. They come in two configurations. One's designed to aim rearwards when plugged into a flat bar, the other's designed to aim rearwards when plugged into a drop bar. You could use the drop-bar model in a flat bar so it aimed straight sideways, but the flat-bar model is visible from the side as well. Hit a Trek dealer and they should have some to check out.
Oh, or there's persistence-of-vision wheel lights if you're the flamboyant type http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mT13Z...yer_detailpage For the rest of us, Cateye and NiteIze make spoke lights that take a button battery.
Well Mech I will say you do have an array of ideas. I like that mini-fibreflare. I might think about something like that. I am a little worried though that it might actual be a little too bright. Really I wanted something that was not so obtrusive yet still obviously visible. I also want something that I can easily remove ( or attach ) and ( even more important ) can be easily turned on or off while riding. I really don't want to look like a Christmas tree until the situation merits it.
After browsing through some of the stuff you mentioned I suddenly remembered something I already owned. Years ago I bought a couple cheap single led mini lights from Nashbar. They're just small little single led lights that attach to your bars via a thin elastic band ( think Dinotte style ). They use those little button batteries and have a steady and blink mode. Perfect for the minimalist. I usually carry it on my back pack just for emergencies. Well it turns out it works pretty good on the seat post as well. Easy to aim, easy to turn on /off. D/X sells a slew of different lights very similar to those old Nashbar mini's but the new ones look better and brighter ( not to mention a choice of led color and style ). I think a couple of those frog style lights on the seat post ( aimed to the sides ) might just fit my bill.
Boy, my next order to D/X is going to be filled with all kinds of led odds and ends. I better start writing this stuff down or I might forget. I might even try a cheapie single led spoke light...just for kicks.
Gee, who would of thought a 56 yr. old man could be so tickled pink by a bunch of cheap Chinese junk with flashing lights?