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Thread: Why so high? Lights on the handlebar…

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  1. #1

    Default Why so high? Lights on the handlebar…

    I'm rather curious as to why handlebar lights are so common? I'm looking to mount a flashlight to my bike, and of course the common solution is twofish, which mounts to the handlebars…*As do the majority of cycle lights…

    So I'm wondering why? Wouldn't going lower allow you to get a longer/more useful beam out on the road, and avoid blinding drivers?

    I realize that the fork might not be the safest thing - light falls off and into the spokes and you're done for… But what about up on the stem part of the frame? Is there any good way to mount a (small flash)light here, or any good reason not to?

    Thanks for any advice - Brian

  2. #2
    *Flashaholic* carrot's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why so high? Lights on the handlebar…

    I have heard of mounting a bike light on the fork but I have never tried it. One thing to note is that placing a light source lower to the ground will create longer shadows that may obscure things, and the other is that many handlebar lights are simply used to get the awareness of drivers.
    [gearcarrot.com] Collector and distributor of (mis)information.
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  3. #3

    Default Re: Why so high? Lights on the handlebar…

    Its like mounting offroad lights too low on a bumper, if you drive through tall grass they will be useless.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Why so high? Lights on the handlebar…

    Not everyone puts them on the handlebars (or helmets) see mounts here:

    http://www.peterwhitecycles.com/light-mounts.asp

    http://www.velo-orange.com/batterylights.html

    Even down on the axle!

    Very much a personal choice and may differ on different bikes you use in different ways.

    There are comments somewhere in those sites about why you might want them that low. The right angle does increase the relief shadow for sticks. Difficult to switch modes or aim while riding when out of reach, though. AND useless in high grass. But what's a quick release for, if not dismounting and remounting easily for security or appropriate positioning?

    Hope this helps.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Why so high? Lights on the handlebar…

    Most lights don't have a remote switch so having the light on the handlebars is the easiest place to reach it.

    Also, mounting to the frame would take away turning visibility (i.e. - the light would only shine where you are going while you are riding in a straight line).

    Twofish and DX both sell non-perpendicular lockblocks-type mounts.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Why so high? Lights on the handlebar…

    Interesting, thanks all!

    I guess I wasn't thinking about grass, things other than 'roads,' etc. And for 'being seen,' that makes sense as well, in my mind I'm keeping my 'being seen' light separate from my 'seeing' light, so I didn't really put the two together into one…

    Looking into the other twofish fasteners now, only really knew about the Cyclopblock and the Lockblock… I guess the Cyclopblock is really adjustable both ways, meaning it would work on frame or fork as well…

    I'm not too worried about the light turning when my bars turn…*I'll mostly be riding in areas with adequate-but-not-great light…*More concerned about improving what's immediately in front of me…

    Thanks again, useful stuff!

  7. #7

    Default Re: Why so high? Lights on the handlebar…

    Mainly because it's easy and works well with standard tailcaps. The seeing-while turning argument doesn't really fit with the actual mechanics of cornering at speed, and I prefer my main lights frame-mounted for longer/more visible shadows of obstacles in the road. But it's easier to mount them on the bars, so that's how my current setup is.

    The one light that does belong on the bars, IMO, is a bright flood angled down to illuminate from the front wheel out 10-20 feet -- good for low-speed riding especially. The higher the light, the more uniform the field, and the less you get blinded by the foreground. And at low speeds, the steering effect is actually useful.

  8. #8
    Flashaholic* 1 what's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why so high? Lights on the handlebar…

    I'm a handlebar man because I don't like the extra shadows from lowslung lights and lowlying obstacles.. I always wonder if the pool of darkness (in the shadow) hides a hole in the road.

  9. #9
    Flashaholic*
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    Default Re: Why so high? Lights on the handlebar…

    How fast do you ride, that would require you to aim your lights high enough to bike safely?
    I have my p3d rb100 & l2d rb100 on the handlebars.
    P3D on the right, aimed slightly to the left and down
    L2D on the left, aimed [hotspot] to the right of P3D and slightly upward.

    I usually ride with P3D on medium, L2D on high. I am not blinding traffic, though I wish I could make the light warmer. [looking/waiting for xp-g neutral white]
    6.5K diving light, 5K cool-white, 4K neutral-white, 3K warm-white, 2.7K extra warm-white

  10. #10

    Default Re: Why so high? Lights on the handlebar…

    Quote Originally Posted by brh View Post
    So I'm wondering why? Wouldn't going lower allow you to get a longer/more useful beam out on the road, and avoid blinding drivers?
    It makes both more difficult. The lower you go, the shallower the angle required to hit your "target", and it takes a smaller error to throw off the aim.

    Lower source does increase the shadows, which can be a good thing to help identify debris.

    It's a personal preference, tradeoffs and compromises.

    I had a light that I was able to mount so that it hung down several inches from the handlebars, and that worked out pretty good.

  11. #11
    Flashaholic* Databyter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why so high? Lights on the handlebar…

    You want your light as high as possible, don't forget you can AIM it downward.
    Databyter (Mike)
    databyter@cox.net

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