Foxfury Rook
Results 1 to 28 of 28

Thread: Why so high? Lights on the handlebar…

  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
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    New York City
    Posts
    8,957

    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.
    The Guide to High-End Lights | Flashlight Story Collection updated Sept 28
    CPF Specials | 4sevens | LED Testing | EDCF | #cpf

  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
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Australia
    Posts
    617

    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*
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    1,585

    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…

    The best reason I can think of is the handlebars are suspended. Even on road bikes the forks are designed to flex to remove some of the hits.

    Try mounting it to the crown on a decent mtb and having the light moving anywhere between 2 and 6 inches while your heads in the same place is bloody annoying!

  11. #11
    Thread Killer Illum's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Central Florida, USA
    Posts
    12,523

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

    Many bikelights are single component, that is, the light engine, switch, and battery are mounted in the same container...placing it lower and the user will have to reach to turn it on. When road conditions poor it would be the same as placing the headlight knob for a car slightly above the gas pedal.

    As for customized bikelights with the battery container mounted somewhere and a remove switch extended to a region easily accessible, I don't see why one can't mount below the handlebars if one chooses to do so.

    On a personal note I would like to have a couple foglights mounted down low that illuminates the area around my bike, but i do not ride enough hours to justify it.

  12. #12
    Unenlightened
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Bay Area
    Posts
    4

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

    I strap my lights to the handle bar since I have my Garmin Edge 500 mounted on the stem. It is also easier to turn on/off and switch modes than to reach down which makes your hand travel farther from the handlebar incase if you need to maneuver at an instant.

  13. #13
    Enlightened
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Norway
    Posts
    65

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

    Handlebar height keeps the light clean, if you mount it lower it will get drity.
    Frode P. B.

    The Norwegian winter require good flashlights...

  14. #14
    Flashaholic*
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    Baden.at
    Posts
    4,193

    Default

    the higher the light, the more angle downwards possible (needed), the less blinding others.
    You are completely wrong on less blinding by mounting the light down.

    2nd, with a light mounted at fork, or anywhere else, there is wheel, or fender, or ..., to be illimunated - stealing light and disturbing Your sight by a brightly lit object very near to You.

  15. #15

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

    Quote Originally Posted by yellow View Post
    the higher the light, the more angle downwards possible (needed), the less blinding others.
    You are completely wrong on less blinding by mounting the light down.
    Valid point. I don't know about "completely". It's a bit absolute. With a narrow weaker beam aimed down glare shouldn't be an issue, they'd be like fog lights. Still need one, or better, a pair of real lights, though.

    Quote Originally Posted by yellow View Post
    2nd, with a light mounted at fork, or anywhere else, there is wheel, or fender, or ..., to be illimunated - stealing light and disturbing Your sight by a brightly lit object very near to You.
    I agree about avoiding lighting up bike pieces. I wanted the old HID off the bars and ended up with it on a tall bracket off the brake mount about mid head tube. It was on or off and the switch is on the battery. I could reach it to twist aim it, if needed.

    On a 62 cm frame mid or a bit higher on the head tube is close to handlebar height for a lot of people. There I just caught a bit of tire making a dark arrow in the nearest of the spill of the beam just in front of the wheel. Any lower and I lit up the silver fender and disturbed my vision. Of course I could have installed a front rack and stuck it out there in front of the tire and wheel Velo-Orange style where it is 'so handy'.

    I ride a very tall quill stem so I am trying my new triple XP-G there sideways below the monitor since I have the shims to do that. First test was in the day yesterday. Beam shots and ride tonight. If I don't like it, a light bar is in my future, I think.

  16. #16
    Flashaholic* greenlight's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    chill valley
    Posts
    4,196

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

    I usually ride at night with both a bar light and a hand held light. I find that the higher I hold my light, the better I can see upcoming obstacles.

  17. #17
    Flashaholic*
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    A very strange dark place
    Posts
    3,893

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

    I use a single AA helmet light with a 2AA mounted on the bars (mountain bike) or slung under the crank boom (recumbent) The frame/handlebar mounted 2AA (Quark Turbo AA2) takes care of the distant 100 meters out stuff and the single AA I generally point behind the beam of the stronger AA2.

    I find putting a "shade" on the head of the light so the photons going up at an angle will be stopped really help prevent blinding car drivers. The helmet light is to "wake up" drivers by looking directly at them at stop signs, drive ways etc and works very well.

    Now for EagleTac to come out with their new single AA (head larger but not too large) XP-G light so the L1D RB100 can go back on my wife's helmet.
    Peak Pacific AAA UP brass (EDC) E01 (keys), Peaks, Arcs, Fenix, Q5 Aspheric HA-III Mag etc.

  18. #18

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

    Have you used a handle bar mounted light yet?

    It seems to do a good job. Helmet mounted lights are not good in my opinion. You blind oncoming cycle riders on bike tracks. If you have a badly designed light (for cycle riding) you'll blind oncoming cycle riders anyway. eg TR-801. My romson (romison?) NC has a good beam profile. doesn't annoy/bline cyclist riding towards me

  19. #19
    Flashaholic*
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Sitting' on the dock o' The Bay...
    Posts
    2,265

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

    On my commuter bike I have front pannier mounts on the fork that were unused so I made some mounts for headlights for them. I've tried my NiteRider Minewt Mini-USB on the fork mounts (half way between the dropouts and the crown), on the handlebar, and on my helmet. If I had to only run one headlight it would be on the helmet because it's jut the most natural place to have it. You point your head and the light is there. If they made some dumb law against placing the light on my helmet and I were forced to put it on the bike somewhere it would definitely be on the handlebar. Again, it just seems like a more natural place to have it. With the primary light placed low it casts a strong shadow going towards the right from the front tire but, also, it just doesn't look right to me.

    As it is I have not ridden my bike after dark these past few months but if I do I will be running a "see me" white blinkie light on the forks to get their attention, the Mini-USB on the handlebars to see the road in front of me, and a Mini-MagLED on my helmet to look into corners and to use offensively (pointing at inattentive drivers to wake them up to my presence).

  20. #20

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

    Thanks again, everyone, lot of issues I never really thought about. Since I'm going the flashlight/block route, I can always try it to see for myself, I suppose…

    I have used handlebar lights, but never great ones, and it's been a few years since I've ridden in the dark at all. I hate helmet lights, they don't feel natural to me, and I definitely get the feeling that I'm blinding everyone… Didn't think about the weird shadows from a fork light… If I tried a lower mount, it would be on the lower part of the stem, and would turn with the bike - this is a folding bike with a long stem, small fork, 16" wheels…

    Anyhow, I'll likely stick to handlebar, I suppose, but still willing to experiment. Appreciate all the feedback!

    Brian

  21. #21

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

    Great replies and ideas. I would just add that you can reach the handlebar mounted light and adjust it (a Twofish is perfect for that) up angle or down for changing conditions or uses while you ride. If I find myself riding against other riders or pedestrians, on the MUP (multi-use path) for example, I will point it more down; if trying to ensure visibility to cars, more up. I stuck an Inova microlight on my helmet with 3m dual lock and set that on flash mode to get drivers' attention when needed.
    Always on the lookout for better lights for my bicycle, and my pack!

  22. #22

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

    Good discussion. So dependent upon the bike, the ride, the environment, and personal preference. But I didn't think it would be light dependent.

    Until now. The new light is much floodier and as good or better thrower It is on the bars instead of a tall brake bracket and about mid head tube, but I am still getting unforeseen reflection. It lights up the fender from about 2" in front of the brake and the entire exposed top of the front tire. My Hi/low switch is on the light so it can't go too far away, like on the front of a front rack which I don't have.


    So it looks like one of those light bars out in front of the handlebars is in the cards. It will get it out of my way and I do so like an open bar...

  23. #23
    Flashaholic* divine's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    1,685

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

    Consider this, to minimize the shadows you see and maximize visibility, you should keep the light source as close to your eyes as possible.

    Keep in mind... there are other things to consider, too. Such as safety.
    "For every good deed, there is an equal an opposite bad deed."

  24. #24

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

    Blinded by the light isn't just a great tune.

    Too much spill up into your eyes or reflections back at you, can reduce your eye's sensitivity. Then those lumens aren't as useful and shadow detection will be the down the list of concerns. So there is such a thing as 'too close' for some lights/bikes/people/situations. But, yes, generally, a light emitting from closer to you works better. Of course we could wear light amplification goggles...

  25. #25
    Flashaholic* znomit's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    912

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

    Quote Originally Posted by divine View Post
    Consider this, to minimize the shadows you see and maximize visibility, you should keep the light source as close to your eyes as possible.
    Shadows are good at showing up bumps in the trail, rocks on the road etc.

  26. #26

    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.

  27. #27
    Flashaholic*
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Sitting' on the dock o' The Bay...
    Posts
    2,265

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

    Quote Originally Posted by brh View Post
    I hate helmet lights, they don't feel natural to me, and I definitely get the feeling that I'm blinding everyone…
    A helmet-mounted light is something that you need to be very careful about using. It's mounted high and can be pointed at people, whether intentionally or accidentally. Something as simple as looking back to see if the road is clear behind you to change lanes can blind someone beside and behind you. Another situation is where you're stopped at a stopsign and looking up the cross street either way to see if you're clear to cross. I usually put my hand over my light in the latter situation or turn it off completely. When looking back to see if I can make a left turn or lane change I sweep the light down by pointing my head down and to the left and use the corner of my eyes to see if I'm clear. The light is pointing down, still, but drivers will catch some of the light but not blind them. The Mini-MagLED that I use is a newer Rebel version that has a 2D module in it. The deep reflector puts a tight spot out in front of me and the halo is concentrated and very small. If you look into the front of the light at anything greater than a 30 degree angle you can barely tell that the light is on even with the brighter 2D module turned on. That module puts out around 140 lumens so it's not some low power light.

    For a main headlight I prefer a floodier beam, much like the beam from a Quark MiNi AA. The NiteRider Mini-USB is pretty much that way. It's pointed downwards so that the top of the hotspot is about 50 feet in front of me. The "see me" light isn't bright enough to light the ground 5 feet in front of the bike so there isn't a shadow from the front tire like I would have if I had a brighter headlight mounted down there. It is pointed straight forward. It isn't bright enough to blind anyone unless you're five feet or less from it and staring straight into it. It does get people's attention, though.

  28. #28
    Flashaholic* Databyter's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    San Diego
    Posts
    523

    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

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •