the best battery lights for being seen?

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
iviehoff
Posts: 2411
Joined: 20 Jan 2009, 4:38pm

Re: the best battery lights for being seen?

Postby iviehoff » 12 Sep 2011, 10:30am

niggle wrote:Been wondering about Reelights actually as an 'always on' solution. Not sure how bright they are though?

I have Reelights. For those who are unfamiliar with them, these are a no-battery LED light that is powered by the motion of magnets fitted to the spokes. You can get them with a capacitor to stay on when you stop, but they won't stay on very long if you are stopping frequently, and the max is about 90 seconds.

Personally I would recommend fitting some such light to a bike as a day running light and back-up night light, particularly for teenagers who are inclined to be forgetful and find their detachable lights lost or not working. But you should normally have a second lighting system for when it is dark, and the Reelights are a get-you-home solution when the main lights aren't working.

They are really pretty bright when they are working. They are bright enough that the fact that the front light "leaks" some light back into my eyes results in annoying loss of dark acclimatisation on a dark night. Perhaps I ought to tape it.

I use them as a subsidiary light, ie, when it is actually properly dark I use a battery light as well. They will normally "get me home" if I have had an accident with the battery lights, but it is quite difficult cycling on a dark road with nothing but them. However there are also reasons why I would not wish to use them as my main light when it is actually dark, and there are also difficulties with the design. I do not know to what extent the unreliabilities I suffer with them, especially the front lights, is some isolated faulty manufacturing or a general problem.

The main problem with the design is that the magnets are strong enough to cause the arm the light is on to deflect towards the magnet. This is a problem at lower speeds of cycling. So although they tell you to set up the lights with a gap of so many mm, (I forget the precise number) in practice at such a small gap the arm will deflect sufficiently to strike the magnet at low cycling speeds. So you have to set them up with a larger gap, and then there is less power to make them nice and bright at lower speeds.

I have two sets of the lights, and with both of them I find the front light seems to need more power and the capacitor lasts less long. I find that they work less well when it is cold. On one of them, the capacitor stops working when it is cold. In fact it didn't work at all for the first 6 months or so and then suddenly started working when the weather warmed up. I also found that one of them decided to stop working at all below about 15km/h last winter, and then once the warm weather arrived randomly decided to work perfectly again.

But even when they are working perfectly, the front lights are a bit of a liability on steep hills when 4km/h can be insufficient to light them, especially with the widened gap to avoid striking the magnets at low speed.

niggle
Posts: 3237
Joined: 11 Mar 2009, 10:29pm
Location: Cornwall, near England

Re: the best battery lights for being seen?

Postby niggle » 12 Sep 2011, 2:18pm

Russcoles wrote:I would suggest a rack mounted rear

Good idea, err... as long as you have a rack :wink:

niggle
Posts: 3237
Joined: 11 Mar 2009, 10:29pm
Location: Cornwall, near England

Re: the best battery lights for being seen?

Postby niggle » 12 Sep 2011, 2:51pm

iviehoff wrote:
niggle wrote:Been wondering about Reelights actually as an 'always on' solution. Not sure how bright they are though?

I have Reelights. For those who are unfamiliar with them, these are a no-battery LED light that is powered by the motion of magnets fitted to the spokes. You can get them with a capacitor to stay on when you stop, but they won't stay on very long if you are stopping frequently, and the max is about 90 seconds.

Personally I would recommend fitting some such light to a bike as a day running light and back-up night light, particularly for teenagers who are inclined to be forgetful and find their detachable lights lost or not working. But you should normally have a second lighting system for when it is dark, and the Reelights are a get-you-home solution when the main lights aren't working.

They are really pretty bright when they are working. They are bright enough that the fact that the front light "leaks" some light back into my eyes results in annoying loss of dark acclimatisation on a dark night. Perhaps I ought to tape it.

I use them as a subsidiary light, ie, when it is actually properly dark I use a battery light as well. They will normally "get me home" if I have had an accident with the battery lights, but it is quite difficult cycling on a dark road with nothing but them. However there are also reasons why I would not wish to use them as my main light when it is actually dark, and there are also difficulties with the design. I do not know to what extent the unreliabilities I suffer with them, especially the front lights, is some isolated faulty manufacturing or a general problem.

The main problem with the design is that the magnets are strong enough to cause the arm the light is on to deflect towards the magnet. This is a problem at lower speeds of cycling. So although they tell you to set up the lights with a gap of so many mm, (I forget the precise number) in practice at such a small gap the arm will deflect sufficiently to strike the magnet at low cycling speeds. So you have to set them up with a larger gap, and then there is less power to make them nice and bright at lower speeds.

I have two sets of the lights, and with both of them I find the front light seems to need more power and the capacitor lasts less long. I find that they work less well when it is cold. On one of them, the capacitor stops working when it is cold. In fact it didn't work at all for the first 6 months or so and then suddenly started working when the weather warmed up. I also found that one of them decided to stop working at all below about 15km/h last winter, and then once the warm weather arrived randomly decided to work perfectly again.

But even when they are working perfectly, the front lights are a bit of a liability on steep hills when 4km/h can be insufficient to light them, especially with the widened gap to avoid striking the magnets at low speed.

Thanks for all this. If I get the Reelights they will be the front basket mounting SL620 and rear seatpost mounting SL520 varieties as she has a retro style loop frame bike with front basket and no rear rack, and as these look a better design than the axle mount ones on the end of the long flat plate, I anticipated the problems you describe with that design. The basket/seapost ones have the induction coil clamped closely to the fork/seatstay with worm drive clips, which appears more likely to stay put reliably and easier to adjust to a closer gap, which I believe is directly related to the speed at which they light up. The lamps are separate to the coil with a wire between.

http://www.spokesandpedals.co.uk/laa969.html

http://www.spokesandpedals.co.uk/laa959.html#

You describe my concerns exactly re the risk of a teenage girl forgetting/losing the lights, or forgetting to replace the batteries or to remove the lights when parked thus having them stolen, forgetting to switch them on, breaking the mountings due to impatient ham-fistedness, lending them to a mate and forgetting/failing to get them back, etc., etc. With the Reelights all these risk appear to be eliminated without resorting to expensive and hi tech hub dynamo systems. I have an old set of Smart halogen/lead acid front lights she can use to see with for when its actually dark, plus as you say to get an extra battery LED rear light thus further increasing her chances of having at least one functioning rear light.

niggle
Posts: 3237
Joined: 11 Mar 2009, 10:29pm
Location: Cornwall, near England

Re: the best battery lights for being seen?

Postby niggle » 15 Sep 2011, 9:58pm

Just fitted the Reelights, using the versions I linked to previously. Did not seem mega bright when I first span the wheels in daylight, but surprisingly effective in the dark when test ridden up and down the street by daughter number two, the lamp reflectors seem well designed with a wide beam spread. Fitting them to work just right did take an hour or two but this design of coil mount seems very solid so hopefully going to be reliable.

JohnW
Posts: 6232
Joined: 6 Jan 2007, 9:12pm
Location: Yorkshire

Re: the best battery lights for being seen?

Postby JohnW » 18 Sep 2011, 11:35am

I have three lights front and rear, on the basis that two lights of different characteristics are deirable - i.e. one flashing and one steady - and that with three lights you can have a failure and still have enough light.

I find that Cat-Eye are losing the plot a bit, having been automatic first choice for over a decade. I have three "Smart" lights on the rear and a "Hope" and two Cat-Eye HL-EL135s on the front. The pair of Cat-Eyes are on flashing all the time, and the Hope, with it's four power settings and one flashing setting is amazingly adaptable. The handlebar fixing bracket could be a lot better though.

gilesjuk
Posts: 3270
Joined: 17 Mar 2008, 10:10pm

Re: the best battery lights for being seen?

Postby gilesjuk » 18 Sep 2011, 2:10pm

I don't think anyone will claim to have not seen you with these:

http://www.hokeyspokes.com/

Video:

http://www.hokeyspokes.com/videos.htm

They're good for side visibility which seems to be important given accidents happen at junctions a lot.

Tonyf33
Posts: 3926
Joined: 17 Nov 2007, 3:31pm
Location: Letchworth N.Herts

Re: the best battery lights for being seen?

Postby Tonyf33 » 18 Sep 2011, 3:33pm

gilesjuk wrote:I don't think anyone will claim to have not seen you with these:

http://www.hokeyspokes.com/

Video:

http://www.hokeyspokes.com/videos.htm

They're good for side visibility which seems to be important given accidents happen at junctions a lot.


Sorry but that's a horrible gimmick IMHO, the rider in the video didn't have any light front or rear for one thing (is that how they are promoting it so that lights are not required?) and they look far too distracting.
A normal set of lights is fine and if people are worried about side junctions at night (A front light would be seen by a motorist on approach anyhow) wear a reflective armband or even one of the LEDones which is at a height that is more effective.
Though I don't have any facts I've had far far less trouble at night (in fact never) with cars pulling out from junctions/roundabouts than in the day time so certainly I'd say these are redundant overkill.

uphillbothways
Posts: 239
Joined: 17 Oct 2009, 3:26pm

Re: the best battery lights for being seen?

Postby uphillbothways » 18 Sep 2011, 5:14pm

expired offer removed
Last edited by uphillbothways on 22 Sep 2011, 7:55pm, edited 2 times in total.

peterbayliss
Posts: 90
Joined: 8 Apr 2008, 12:47pm

Re: the best battery lights for being seen?

Postby peterbayliss » 20 Sep 2011, 12:04am

uphillbothways post has reminded me of this reply I started a few days ago.

For being seen I think a set like Smart Lunar Light Set from on-one would be fine. I've got two Smart rear lights and they works well, and at this price not too expensive if lost. The battery life is also quite long so you don't have to worry about forgetting to swap/charge batteries.

I also like the spoke reflectors that were in Lidl the other day they look the same as these but were cheaper. This provides some side on visibility, which most lights are poor at. They are also subtle enough in the day time not to ruin the looks of your bike.
I also have put a few of these reflective stickers on my bike from ebay. Tescos direct sell 3M reflective stickers sheets as well for £3 (I think).The reflectors are good as they can't be forgotten or left behind.

I think the point of imaging what the lights are like from a drivers view is good. I have found having just one slowly flashing rear light means the cyclist 'disappears' when its in the off phase. For really good visibility I like two rear lights (one can be flashing) as even if the second is not as bright I think it helps other road users judge the distance.

Ambler
Posts: 300
Joined: 1 Jul 2011, 10:40pm
Location: Cumbria

Re: the best battery lights for being seen?

Postby Ambler » 20 Sep 2011, 9:12am

Going back to the 80's (I'm a born again biker) I used items like these and found them to be effective. Lights not so good in those days.

http://www.hivizextras.co.uk/armbands.h ... fAod80g_5g

Reigncloud
Posts: 127
Joined: 2 Mar 2011, 2:00pm

Re: the best battery lights for being seen?

Postby Reigncloud » 21 Sep 2011, 1:03pm

With the exception of the Revolution flash and the exposure lights all the others (Cateye, Smart etc) have one common weak point - the mount. This is always the first part to break on all my lights. It's also pretty ugly to leave on when not in use. Rack mounts have a slightly longer lifespan, but not much.

IMO what we need are lights that can be integrated into the bike's own design. Cars have it, motorcycles have it, why not bicycles? Perhaps handle bars or seatposts with LEDs integrated? This pretty much solves the breakage issue and also prevents them from being easily stolen when you forget to take them off at the station. I note that the Boris bikes have their light integrated in a similar manner. The closest I've come across is this:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/BIKE-LIGHT-STEMLIGHT-NEW-STEM-31-8mm-CREE-CYCLE-LIGHT-/220679199564

In the meantime I'm sticking with my knog lights, which are really quite bright and easy on/off without requiring a mount to be permanently left on the bike.

niggle
Posts: 3237
Joined: 11 Mar 2009, 10:29pm
Location: Cornwall, near England

Re: the best battery lights for being seen?

Postby niggle » 3 Nov 2011, 9:44pm

Now that the clocks have gone back and my homeward commute has been plunged into darkness, I have taken a couple of photos of my Magicshine lighting set-up with the bike parked up at the roadside with a car passing for comparison, both are on steady setting and the front is on the lowest power and well dipped, i.e. the beam centre is aimed about 2m in front of the bike:
ImageImage

Ambler
Posts: 300
Joined: 1 Jul 2011, 10:40pm
Location: Cumbria

Re: the best battery lights for being seen?

Postby Ambler » 3 Nov 2011, 11:00pm

The rear one is impressive.
Which model is it?

niggle
Posts: 3237
Joined: 11 Mar 2009, 10:29pm
Location: Cornwall, near England

Re: the best battery lights for being seen?

Postby niggle » 3 Nov 2011, 11:10pm

Ambler wrote:The rear one is impressive.
Which model is it?

http://www.dealextreme.com/p/magicshine ... uded-42077

Ayesha
Posts: 4192
Joined: 30 Jan 2010, 9:54am

Re: the best battery lights for being seen?

Postby Ayesha » 4 Nov 2011, 7:19am

A long time ago, I bought an 'Emergency beacon lamp' from an import shop in Brum.
It was short and squat with a protruding lens that could be seen from all angles. It had a flashing function.
It had an Amber lens and a clear lens.

I glued blue celophane film on the inside of the clear lens.

Amazing how the motorists got out of my way in slow traffic. :lol: