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Thread: Did I do it "right?" My 1-wk education to be a more visible bicycle commuter

  1. #1

    Default Did I do it "right?" My 1-wk education to be a more visible bicycle commuter

    I bought a bike to commute 5-mi (30min) to work on. I plan on doing it as long into the cold as I can, provided the roads are clear. Instead of buying expensive lights for the front of my bike, I bought this C8 XM-L off Ebay (I wanted US seller for fast shipment, the longer I wait for stuff, the more gas I burn commuting):

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/320947591814...84.m1497.l2649
    (I might of opted for the XM-L U2 if I knew about it prior to purchasing , but then it would of cost more for only 7% more output)

    I wanted the 5 mode because of the different strobe/SOS modes for riding during the day. I thought for the throw, and need for single 18650 flashlight, these were a very good bang for buck. This particular C8 pulls:

    1.75-2a on High
    .9-1a on Med
    .4-.55a on Low
    Run time 2a = 45-80 minutes depending on the battery and health of the battery (used 18650 batteries from laptops)
    (inferred this from these tests: http://lygte-info.dk/review/batterie...mary%20UK.html)

    At first I was disappointed and was hoping the light drew 3a for more lumens, but when I think about it, I'd rather have ~some~ light for my entire 30min ride that ~more~ light for 2/3rds of it. Would suck to have to stop during my ride and swap batteries.

    I still am not sure how low 18650s can be run down before damaged. I hear 3v, the batt tests above go down to 2.8v, I hear 3.5v....ugh. Well my light is unregulated (I think, haven't left it on to run down yet and see what happens) so however low it goes over 30min is what it is. If I draw it down "too low" over my commute, the life of my batteries will be shorted. Luckily I'm the IT guy at work and have access to many user laptops batteries.

    I chose 2 x Xtar WP2 II Li-Ion Chargers (w/ a discount code), from:
    http://www.sbflashlights.com/Xtar-Li...rger-p136.html

    ....one for the office and one for home. W/ these used batteries, they should make it one way on my 30min commute, and I'll just recharge them in the office and then again when I get home. I really wanted a quality charger as I was worried about these unprotected cells going haywire and burning up my home or place of work.

    I also needed blinking lights for the rear, and found a good deal on Planet Bike Super Flash rear blinking lights that draw .5w. I'll use two of the lights, w/ offset rechargeable Eneloop 800mah LSD batteries I got on sale for 8% off for Labor Day:

    http://www.batteryjunction.com/enelo...-nimh-lsd.html

    I opted for the tried and true Eneloops because the draw on these NiMH batteries won't be a ton, and run time isn't a big deal (can always recharge at work or home), but the # of recharge cycles the batteries will take was a factor.

    To charge them I bought two different chargers. The Tenergy 01108 CH-V3150:
    http://www.batteryjunction.com/chcochfornin.html

    Smart charger w/ relatively quick charge times (don't want them left in my home/office all day while I am in and out in case there is a problem), lots of saferguards and good charging algorithm.

    And the Titanium V4000 for 2 dollars more:
    http://www.batteryjunction.com/tpec-tv4000-.html

    ...so I can discharge the batteries every once in awhile if need be (still don't know a lot about that). Maybe I'll need to if there is a month of two where I don't commute much due to cold weather?

    To round out looking light a nut on the street and (hopefully) people staying away from me, I purchased....

    Hi-vis Bell Minu helmet w/ refelctive patches and lights on the back:
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/290681582168

    3m Reflexite sewable tape in yellow to sew to my backpack:
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000TP8AXU

    Clear safety glasses to kep the tears away, especially in the cold at night:
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003UY9C0C/

    The lightest C02 Inflator I could find:
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003BMDI9E

    Threaded C02 Cartridges:
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002H9US7C

    And an extra bike tube or two (faster to get back to riding that patching I hear):
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00328609W
    (I had tire levers and patch kit already)

    I also have fenders I need to throw on.

    So as the orders arrive, I'll try to update and see how everything works out. I'm still worried about the unprotected 18650s and how low I can run them, and I'm not very educated on when I need to fully discharge the NiMH batteries, but otherwise I've gained a TON of info from this website and I really appreciate it.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Did I do it "right?" My 1-wk education to be a more visible bicycle commuter

    It should work!!Just an FYI there is a section for transportation lighting..With that said for my trek 4300 i have a planet bike superflash rear light..like this http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j...w&cad=rja..and a front twin led light by cygolite like this..http://www.rei.com/product/826648/cy...-light..plenty of light from both ends,,,however there are some lights for the front which are WAAAAAY over kill...but that's good yhough,,right?
    SLPP 4 AA LUX; AT-100 10 LED; ARC AAA P; photon 1;Pewter 2C M@G with LED drop in; NEXTORCH Saint HID; SF E1B; RR 2AAA headlight; Vector 1 MIL CP spotlight: Q-Beam 2 Mil CP spotlight ;Sams HID; L2D RB 100; 6P

  3. #3

    Default Re: Did I do it "right?" My 1-wk education to be a more visible bicycle commuter

    Quote Originally Posted by 2000xlt View Post
    It should work!!Just an FYI there is a section for transportation lighting..With that said for my trek 4300 i have a planet bike superflash rear light..like this http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j...w&cad=rja..and a front twin led light by cygolite like this..http://www.rei.com/product/826648/cy...-light..plenty of light from both ends,,,however there are some lights for the front which are WAAAAAY over kill...but that's good yhough,,right?

    Well I'll be damned... mods feel free to move this thread! I know there are laws in Europe about bicycle lights have to be asymetrical so as not to blind others, but I figure if I aim the light correctly, that won't be a problem. We'll see!

  4. #4

    Default Re: Did I do it "right?" My 1-wk education to be a more visible bicycle commuter

    With most light mounts, you can aim them how you need,,most likely if you have a light on your handlebar and its aim in a way like a motorcycle it's still pretty low as to not really blind others..There are so may different light mounting options..I have saw to small fenix lights on fork mounts,,even a 200 or 250 lumens EACH that's plenty of light...Post up when you get set up...BTW that super flash i would get again if i had to
    SLPP 4 AA LUX; AT-100 10 LED; ARC AAA P; photon 1;Pewter 2C M@G with LED drop in; NEXTORCH Saint HID; SF E1B; RR 2AAA headlight; Vector 1 MIL CP spotlight: Q-Beam 2 Mil CP spotlight ;Sams HID; L2D RB 100; 6P

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Did I do it "right?" My 1-wk education to be a more visible bicycle commuter

    Sounds like a well thought out plan to see and to be seen while commuting. I will only add that you are missing one thing from your arsenal as all of your lights I would classify as "defensive" lights: you need an offensive weapon. You need a helmet-mounted thrower. I started running a helmet-mounted thrower to be able to point the light wherever I want to, which primarily meant that I put the spot on any driver's face that I was trying to get the attention of. Usually, it's someone on a cross street stopped and trying to cross and I'm close enough that him/her doing so will potentially be bad for me so I let them know I'm there by putting them in the spotlight. Works like a charm. I honestly believe that this light saved my life one night as I was trying to cross a highway and an unattentive SUV driver was trying to make a right turn onto the highway with me in the intersection despite the back of my bike being lit up like a Christmas tree. I heard him step on the gas and I swung my head around and put him in my spotlight and he slammed on the brakes. I gave my wife and children each an extra long hug that night. The only thing to remember about using one is that you need to be responsible with it and to try to avoid accidentally blinding everyone with it. I ran mine on the right side of my helmet using my helmet as a way to prevent glare to oncoming drivers on my left.

    One other thing: there's a lot of debate about flashy vs constant on tail lights, the general consensus is that flashy lights get their attention, but, they have a difficult time judging distance to a blinking light while drivers can judge distance to a constant light source even though both you and they are moving, but, a constant on light doesn't get their attention. My solution was to run two PBSF lights on the back as well as a PB Blinkie3 set to On. The blinkies identify you as a cyclist and the tail light let's them judge their distance to you.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Did I do it "right?" My 1-wk education to be a more visible bicycle commuter

    I'll have to research a thrower for the helmet, but I'm going to wait until the helmet arrives to see where it will fit, perhaps with some zip ties. There is the Blackburn front and rear flea that is supposed to fit the helmet, but something tells me it isn't so bring, and $54 for the set seems a bit steep:
    http://www.amazon.com/Blackburn-Bicy.../dp/B001GAOR5C

    I hate lights w batteries I can't replace either.

    I'd love a tiny 18650 thrower....any ideas? OR are they too big, and would make the helmet top heavy? Or if it was tiny it wouldn't be enough of a heat sink?

    As for the rear blinkers...I think I'll run one on constant, and one Planet Bike Super Flash on flash.

    Quote Originally Posted by PCC View Post
    Sounds like a well thought out plan to see and to be seen while commuting. I will only add that you are missing one thing from your arsenal as all of your lights I would classify as "defensive" lights: you need an offensive weapon. You need a helmet-mounted thrower. I started running a helmet-mounted thrower to be able to point the light wherever I want to, which primarily meant that I put the spot on any driver's face that I was trying to get the attention of. Usually, it's someone on a cross street stopped and trying to cross and I'm close enough that him/her doing so will potentially be bad for me so I let them know I'm there by putting them in the spotlight. Works like a charm. I honestly believe that this light saved my life one night as I was trying to cross a highway and an unattentive SUV driver was trying to make a right turn onto the highway with me in the intersection despite the back of my bike being lit up like a Christmas tree. I heard him step on the gas and I swung my head around and put him in my spotlight and he slammed on the brakes. I gave my wife and children each an extra long hug that night. The only thing to remember about using one is that you need to be responsible with it and to try to avoid accidentally blinding everyone with it. I ran mine on the right side of my helmet using my helmet as a way to prevent glare to oncoming drivers on my left.

    One other thing: there's a lot of debate about flashy vs constant on tail lights, the general consensus is that flashy lights get their attention, but, they have a difficult time judging distance to a blinking light while drivers can judge distance to a constant light source even though both you and they are moving, but, a constant on light doesn't get their attention. My solution was to run two PBSF lights on the back as well as a PB Blinkie3 set to On. The blinkies identify you as a cyclist and the tail light let's them judge their distance to you.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Did I do it "right?" My 1-wk education to be a more visible bicycle commuter

    Quote Originally Posted by PCC View Post
    One other thing: there's a lot of debate about flashy vs constant on tail lights, the general consensus is that flashy lights get their attention, but, they have a difficult time judging distance to a blinking light while drivers can judge distance to a constant light source even though both you and they are moving, but, a constant on light doesn't get their attention. My solution was to run two PBSF lights on the back as well as a PB Blinkie3 set to On. The blinkies identify you as a cyclist and the tail light let's them judge their distance to you.
    There is a single-light solution that satisfies the need for attention-getting as well as distance-identification - use an occulting light. For some reason NO-ONE uses it on the road - even though it will clearly differentiate you from the flashing light of an emergency service vehicle or an emergency beacon.

    Have the light on for 0.4 second than off for 0.1 second i.e. a very high duty cycle that blinks OFF.

    All flashing lights today use a duty cycle somewhere between 10 and 50 %, so they will look quite different.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Did I do it "right?" My 1-wk education to be a more visible bicycle commuter

    Thinking about the TR-801 for the helmet... good bang for buck? Does it have low voltage cutoff?

    http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_nkw=...xm-l&_osacat=0

  9. #9

    Default Re: Did I do it "right?" My 1-wk education to be a more visible bicycle commuter

    Another possibility on the tail light end of things is a directional / turn signal indicator. I had one of these that I picked up at an electronics shop in silicon valley 10 years ago and I loved it. Here's a similar example: http://www.amazon.com/Acclaim-Signal.../dp/B000SMCY0E

    The best part was that, instead of just blinking, it could run in standard mode with a back-and-forth light, sort of like the eyes of the cyclons on battlestar galactica. Very cool.

    And... have you considered wheel lights? You can get anything from a steady circle of light (think tron lightcycle) to something far more flashy e.g. http://www.monkeylectric.com/

  10. #10
    Enlightened
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    Default Re: Did I do it "right?" My 1-wk education to be a more visible bicycle commuter

    Have a look at this thread
    http://www.candlepowerforums.com/vb/...ghts&highlight=
    It may give you a few ideas.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Did I do it "right?" My 1-wk education to be a more visible bicycle commuter

    That directional rear light is nice. Unfortunately it takes AAs and I only have Eneloop AAAs. Will have to think about it.

    Quote Originally Posted by sbwoodside View Post
    Another possibility on the tail light end of things is a directional / turn signal indicator. I had one of these that I picked up at an electronics shop in silicon valley 10 years ago and I loved it. Here's a similar example: http://www.amazon.com/Acclaim-Signal.../dp/B000SMCY0E

    The best part was that, instead of just blinking, it could run in standard mode with a back-and-forth light, sort of like the eyes of the cyclons on battlestar galactica. Very cool.

    And... have you considered wheel lights? You can get anything from a steady circle of light (think tron lightcycle) to something far more flashy e.g. http://www.monkeylectric.com/

  12. #12

    Default FandyFire HD2011

    Also, after further review (lots of review, haha) I have purchased a FandyFire HD2011:
    http://www.dealextreme.com/p/fandyfi...x-18650-107152

    I wanted something very tiny that could run <2a (medium for this light will work as high turns the body of the light into a hot plate in minutes) and was small enough to mount on my helmet plus floody beam pattern to fill in where the throwy C8 does not. This way if someone is coming in from a side street and they aren't paying attention I can turn my head directly at them to get them to notice me. The downside to this is that I wonder if I'll be blinding random people as I look around at night. Will have to test it out and if it isn't for my bicycle commute it will be my EDC.

    I mounted the C8 XM-L to my handlebar this morning and rode to the gym and back:
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/320947591814...84.m1439.l2649

    It worked well in SOS mode to get some attention.

    I did a run time with this flashlight as well on high w/ used laptop 18650s.

    Started at:
    2a
    4.16v

    Ended after 50 minutes with:
    1.48a
    3.68v

    I'm happy with that for free batteries. Should serve my commute well.


    I also wore my Bell Muni for the first time (hi-vis green) w/ a blinky light on the back. I dig it:
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/290681582168...84.m1439.l2648

    I also have been wearing this windshirt as it get colder:
    http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Montane-Me...item460225f69c

    It's bring orange and clashes horribly with the green helmet... the more I stick out the better.

    I also received some reflexite sewable yellow tape today. Will attach that to my backpack for kicks.

  13. #13
    Flashaholic* Steve K's Avatar
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    Default Re: Did I do it "right?" My 1-wk education to be a more visible bicycle commuter

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeAusC View Post
    There is a single-light solution that satisfies the need for attention-getting as well as distance-identification - use an occulting light. For some reason NO-ONE uses it on the road - even though it will clearly differentiate you from the flashing light of an emergency service vehicle or an emergency beacon.

    Have the light on for 0.4 second than off for 0.1 second i.e. a very high duty cycle that blinks OFF.

    All flashing lights today use a duty cycle somewhere between 10 and 50 %, so they will look quite different.
    I had to look up the phrase "occulting light", and Wiki says "An occulting light is a rhythmic light in which the total duration of light in each period is clearly longer than the total duration of darkness and in which the intervals of darkness (occultations) are all of equal duration." This seems to be a fair description of what the Planet Bike Superflash does... it has three not-so-bright flashes followed by one very bright flash, and overall, I think it is on more than 50% of the time. The complete cycle of flashes takes about 1 second, I'd estimate, so it is essentially visible all of the time. It's a pretty good choice, I'd say.

    On my regular commuting bike, I've got a steady bright taillight powered by a hub dynamo, and a Cateye LD1100 in case the conditions indicate a bit more visibility is called for. The LD1100 has two separate banks of LEDs that can be operated independently. You could have a proper occulting mode by turning one bank on steady and having the other bank flash. Very versatile, and powered by two AA cells. Not quite as bright as the Planet Bike Superflash, though, in my estimation.

  14. #14
    Flashaholic* Steve K's Avatar
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    Default Re: Did I do it "right?" My 1-wk education to be a more visible bicycle commuter

    a quick question for the group: is it possible to wear a helmet cover while using a typical helmet light? I know that I use a helmet cover in rainy conditions as well as winter weather. A helmet cover would seem to preclude the use of a light mount that runs straps through the helmet vents. Even something that used a headband at the circumference of the helmet would be a bit inconvenient if you put the helmet cover on and off regularly.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Did I do it "right?" My 1-wk education to be a more visible bicycle commuter

    Agreed. Helmet cover would mean no helmet light IMO. I plan on wearing a thin spandex beanie under my helmet in cold rain or snow. I shave my head so it work for me. Not sure how much warmer I'd be with helmet cover vs. beanie though.

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve K View Post
    a quick question for the group: is it possible to wear a helmet cover while using a typical helmet light? I know that I use a helmet cover in rainy conditions as well as winter weather. A helmet cover would seem to preclude the use of a light mount that runs straps through the helmet vents. Even something that used a headband at the circumference of the helmet would be a bit inconvenient if you put the helmet cover on and off regularly.

  16. #16
    *Flashaholic* fyrstormer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Did I do it "right?" My 1-wk education to be a more visible bicycle commuter

    Regarding the batteries: if you use protected cells, it doesn't matter what the minimum safe voltage is -- the protection circuit will handle it for you. Just keep a spare battery in a jersey pocket just in case.

    Regarding the helmet-light: I prefer having my headlight attached to the bike, not attached to my head. I know some people say it's better to have the light pointing wherever you're looking, but where I'm looking isn't necessarily where the bike is going, and having the light attached to the bike means I won't accidentally point it directly in someone's face just by looking at them. Maybe a marker light is suitable for use on a helmet, since higher is better (more visible) when it comes to marker lights, but I wouldn't put the headlight up there.
    Last edited by fyrstormer; 09-07-2012 at 08:34 AM.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Did I do it "right?" My 1-wk education to be a more visible bicycle commuter

    For me what I got to be a more visible biking commuter:

    Magicshine MJ-880 bike light 2000 Lumens
    Portland Designworks Danger Zone Taillight
    Nathan Streak Reflective Vest
    Zebralight H600 Headlamp

    This should make me look like a carnival traveling show but the more the drivers can see me at night the more I hope that they will avoid me.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Did I do it "right?" My 1-wk education to be a more visible bicycle commuter

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve K View Post
    a quick question for the group: is it possible to wear a helmet cover while using a typical helmet light? I know that I use a helmet cover in rainy conditions as well as winter weather. A helmet cover would seem to preclude the use of a light mount that runs straps through the helmet vents. Even something that used a headband at the circumference of the helmet would be a bit inconvenient if you put the helmet cover on and off regularly.
    It would depend on the helmet cover and the light. BTW, the best helmet cover I've found for wet weather riding is a cheap shower cap from staying at hotels. My helmet light was strapped to the right side of the helmet and the shower cap wrapped around it.

  19. #19

    Default Re: Did I do it "right?" My 1-wk education to be a more visible bicycle commuter

    Quote Originally Posted by Bster13 View Post
    That directional rear light is nice. Unfortunately it takes AAs and I only have Eneloop AAAs. Will have to think about it.
    There's a lot of different variations so you can probably find one that takes AAs. However I haven't found any that are made by a "known" manufacturer.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Did I do it "right?" My 1-wk education to be a more visible bicycle commuter

    These ankle reflector straps will make you visible to car drivers. The reason is that they appear to travel up and down by those behind and in front of you. It is a very unique reflection which grabs attention much more than lights or blinkers.

    It is probably the single most important item to wear when riding at night.

    http://www.amazon.com/Reflective-Ban.../dp/B000KG6JB8


    I ride 2 hours pre-dawn 3x/week 18mph avg for exercise on unlit country roads. I mostly worry about deer, raccoon, skunk, newspaper delivery drivers, limo drivers, and garbage trucks. My gear.

    1. reflective ankle straps
    2. illuminite reflective vest
    3. Fenix TK-15 light on High Mode, approx. 160 lumens which is fine and provides 40 yards of usable light. I use a two-fish pump mount to mount the light to my helmet.
    4. Vista rear blinking light
    5. Pila charger
    6. AW18650 protected lithium ion batteries
    7. A voltmeter to ensure good battery management
    8. I log the pre and post charge voltage on my 18650 batteries. If the post charge voltage drops below 4 volts I replace. If the pre-charge voltage is lower than 3.5 volts I don't charge.
    Last edited by RCS1300; 09-16-2012 at 12:20 PM.
    Thrunite Catapult XM-L, Fenix TK15 (2), PD32 (with Nichia 219 emitter), PD22, LD20, E05, Pila charger, AW and Redilast 18650s, ZTS MBT-1 Battery Tester, Actron CP7672 Multimeter.

  21. #21
    *Flashaholic* fyrstormer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Did I do it "right?" My 1-wk education to be a more visible bicycle commuter

    I could never ride before dawn. The only way I can stand to be up that early is if I've been up all night, or if I came home from work and fell asleep straightaway and woke up at 3am. Under normal conditions, I like my day to start when the sun is already well up into the sky; I get my alone-time after everyone else has gone to bed, instead.

    Good setup, though. It sounds very thorough.

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