Lights for commute on unlit roads

Discussion in 'Road Bikes' started by The Luggage, Oct 19, 2009.

  1. The Luggage

    The Luggage Guest

    Hi all,

    I've been a bit quiet on urc recently, so thought I'd ask a question
    on the new group...

    I'm about to move for work. The place we're buying is about 6 1/2
    miles from work, and I'll be commuting by bike. I've already done a
    test ride, and can do the distance ok (though twice a day in the dark,
    with freezing rain might come as a bit of a shock to the system!)

    Part of the route is on unlit roads, some 30 limit (hah!) some NSL,
    some small twisty lane, some footpath across lock gates. The rest is
    urban, including town centre.

    I currently have a fairly old Cateye HL1500 front light, which does
    fairly well for my current commute which is mostly lit. However, the
    case is cracked after a recent light to concrete floor interface
    event, and probably won't do too well in the rain.

    How much will I have to spend to get a reasonable front light that is
    suitable for such a commute? I'm also looking at having to spend quite
    a bit on a new cassette, rings & rear derailleur as the current set
    has done over 10k miles and is rather past its best. Both wheels are
    quite sound, so a hub dynamo is probably not the way to go at this


    The Luggage, Oct 19, 2009
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  2. The Luggage

    Clive George Guest

    See answers to Mike P in the recent thread on uk.rec.cycling. Here's some
    highlights :

    Although your front wheel may be sound, that doesn't mean you shouldn't get
    a hub dynamo. IMO it's the best solution for a commuting bike - the lights
    just sit there working. LED lamps mean no bulbs to blow either. 120-150 quid
    total? (two lamps, one of which is an IQ Cyo, new wheel with shimano hub)

    Cheap bright LED torch, bodged to the handlebars somehow. Various
    recommendations elsewhere. Lowest cost bright solution. 15-20 quid?

    MTB light. Much choice, insanely bright and expensive - 100 quid upwards - I
    think I've seen one for over a grand. The brightest solution, but it's
    probably overkill for a commute.
    Clive George, Oct 19, 2009
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  3. The Luggage

    comp.john Guest

    My advice would be to spend the dosh and get one of these:

    You're riding in the complete dark for part of the way and this is a
    light that you can really see by. If I had to cycle on unlit roads, I'd
    use this.
    comp.john, Oct 19, 2009
  4. For commuting there is nothing that beats a hub dynamo and a LED lights.
    As I have said before my only regret about my hub dynamo is not
    getting it sooner. Even with halogen lights the dynamo was o.k. and was
    never flat. With the LED is it fantastic and still is never flat. (I
    have a 21 mile commute with more than 10 miles on unlit roads).

    Get a new front wheel with a dynamo. You wont regret it.

    Chris Gerhard, Oct 19, 2009
  5. The Luggage

    Martin Guest

    I use a cateye Single shot plus (HL610) list price is £100, but I got it
    online for about £65. The only real problem with this light is
    remembering to recharge it, as the batteries cannot be replaced. Apart
    from that it is an excellent light, and will (probably) fit onto the
    same bracket as your current light, so you can keep the old one in a bag
    as a spare.

    I would also recommend have a second cheap flasher on the front, as well
    as at least two lights on the rear.

    As to the weather, I have commuted every day 17 miles round trip in all
    weathers. It really is all about having the right clothes, and being
    able to dry them at work.
    Martin, Oct 19, 2009
  6. The Luggage

    Adam Lea Guest

    I have one of these and I agree that the light output is excellent for
    seeing by, however I found that the brackets were crap and part of the
    plastic eventually broke off as I had to keep adjusting it vertically (the
    roads I cycle on are not the smoothest). Now if I want to use it I have to
    hold it in place with a load of elastic bands.

    Cateye front lights would be great if they could make some decent sturdy
    Adam Lea, Oct 19, 2009
  7. The Luggage

    Martin Guest

    I have mine on the bracket for a previous front light. I agree that
    cateye brackets are in general, very poor, and this is the biggest
    complaint on websites about cateye.
    Martin, Oct 20, 2009
  8. The Luggage

    Paul Rudin Guest

    Something like <> -
    fantastic value for the amount of money compared with cycle specific
    lamps. (You may need to get a couple of 18650 batteries and a charger
    too, dealextreme also have these at good prices.)

    <> is more expensive, but
    better for the purpose and still very good compared with branded lamps -
    and has 4 batteries included.
    Paul Rudin, Oct 20, 2009
  9. The Luggage

    Guy @ live Guest

    Another vote for dynamo lighting here. I commuted on similar roads
    for a couple of years, the best solution was definitely a SON and dual
    headlight setup.
    As others have said, don't reject out of hand having a hub dynamo
    built into that wheel.

    As to cost, the Shiano one starts around £50 and the SON at over
    £100. I would buy the SON without hesitation for a daily commuter
    Guy @ live, Oct 20, 2009
  10. The Luggage

    James Guest

    I use a Lumicycle setup, which was expensive, but also gets used for
    night-time MTBing. It works well for commuting, though a good dynamo
    would have a number of advantages.

    I have actually considered switching to a dynamo for the road tandem
    but never got round to it, partly due to the difficulty and expense of
    getting a tandem wheel built round such a hub sent to me in Japan (or
    even the parts for DIY). Maybe when the front rim wears out...

    Just a data point, which may not be useful.

    James, Oct 20, 2009
  11. If you can find an LBS that stocks a few different brands, try them
    out. As mentioned in another thread, I'm using the Light and Motion
    Stella 180 (now replaced by the Stella 200). This is good because it's
    small and light, and has three power settings, the lowest of which
    runs for 20 hours (it's nice only to have to recharge once a week); at
    full power at night, it lights up at least a hundred metres, and
    picks out a reflective jacket 500m away.
    Its major disadvantage is that the beam is tightly focused in a "hot
    spot". If I were buying again, I'd want to compare the beam spread of
    several similarly bright models.
    Julian Bradfield, Oct 20, 2009
  12. Check out Exposure Lights

    I got an Exposure MaXx2 last year, I do a 25 mile ride into work all
    year round, all weathers, along unlit country roads and it is way
    better than anything I've used before. Rock solid construction, great
    run time, warning light for when it needs recharging, no wires.
    Daniel.Dignam, Oct 20, 2009
  13. The Luggage

    Dylan Smith Guest

    It sounds like my route (except I have 12 miles).

    I found a sealed rechargable LED light with a (IIRC) 1W Luxeon LED in it
    did a very good job. Unfortunately I lost the damned thing so I can't
    tell you what brand it was :/

    It was bright enough that on the downhill sections, I could see far
    enough ahead to freewheel up to about 25 mph. The interesting thing
    about "white" LEDs is most of them aren't white, but pale violet -
    they look more like the colour of moonlight. Once you're used to
    the colour though after the first 30 seconds or so of riding, when
    you see a car coming the other way, the car's tungsten lights look
    as orange as a sodium light. Amazingly orange.
    Dylan Smith, Oct 20, 2009
  14. The Luggage

    The Luggage Guest

    Thanks for this, Paul - looks very interesting, especially with free
    postage from US to UK. As I mentioned in the OP, I'm on a limited
    budget, so the £200 lights mentioned by some other posters are
    completely out of the question. I'm hoping to spend less than that
    getting a front light, 2 chain rings, rear cassette, rear derrailleur,
    chain and BB for less than that. At least I'm still on 7 speeds, so
    might be able to manage it!

    The alternative was a 2nd hand Marin Lucas Valley in good nick at
    £295, but by the time I'd made my mind up, they'd sold it to someone
    else. Obviously it wasn't meant to be mine :-(

    Any thoughts from the group on a suitable similar bike for a budget
    under £300? Needs to be fairly light & quick - I'm used to the racer,
    and don't want a heavy BSO that I'll hate riding! It's 15 years since
    I last bought a bike (yes, I know I said 12 in the other group) so it
    would be intersting to see what is available these days...

    The Luggage, Oct 20, 2009
  15. The important word here is "was". The dynamo and LED set up is orders of
    magnitude better than the double head light was. At the time the double
    lamp was great but the LED is better.


    and like many before I rejected dynamos for years however I would never
    go back to batteries now.

    Chris Gerhard, Oct 20, 2009
  16. The Luggage

    Ben C Guest

    I used to aspire to a hub dynamo, but these days you can see where
    you're going all right with a 1W LED which runs for ages on a few AA or
    AAA batteries and fits in your pocket. So I'm quite glad I didn't get a
    dynamo sooner, or at all.
    Ben C, Oct 25, 2009
  17. You can, and I too have some lights like that, but there's still a lot
    to be said for a 3W LED which runs forever and isn't easily removable #
    so you don't need to put it in your pocket.
    Alan Braggins, Oct 25, 2009
  18. I have a 1W LED and as an emergency light or on lit roads it is great
    but on unlit roads the 3W dynamo is way better and that is before I
    don't have to worry about spare batteries and them being nicked.

    Actually just for the always on the bike and always ready the Dyanamo
    is way better than battery lights for me.

    Chris Gerhard, Oct 25, 2009
  19. The Luggage

    wafflycat Guest

    If I was in the market for new front lights, as the vast majority of roads
    round me are devoid of street lighting, I'd be wanting to get some AyUps.
    Everyone I know who has them loves them.
    wafflycat, Oct 28, 2009
  20. The Luggage

    TerryJ Guest

    a dynamo with one of those new led lamps (at least 2watt led aren't
    they?) must be the best solution. Loads of light without having to keep
    charging batteries.

    Pending forking out for that I am using any old front light (smart 5led
    or cateye el320) and a really bright head torch 140lux max:
    the batteries start to fade after an hour or so, but for at least that
    hour it really reaches up the road on narrow or you can spread the beam.

    You will also need about 12 aaa rechargeables and a good charger.

    Actually you might as well get the dynamo set up , because if you add it
    all up there's not much difference between this lot and st john st's
    cheapest dynamo wheel and a good light 40lux.

    I ride several bikes, so swappable lights are desirable.
    TerryJ, Oct 28, 2009
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