This is a shameless attempt to save the the most advanced civilization in
history from imminent self destruction by eliminating carbon emission,
dependence on foreign sources of fuel,obesity, hypertension and diabetes.
Cycling accomplishes all those things at once and helps us develop a better
understanding of ourselves, each other and our relationship to the cosmos.

Oh, horse puckey!
I like to ride bikes, have been doing it all my life.
The rest of that crap is just a fringe benefit,
and the blogosphere gives me a chance to share my interior
monologue with virtual rather than imaginary friends.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Bicycle light choices

  While I don't recommend or particularly enjoy riding at night, I do it.  When you cycle year 'round it is inevitable that you will be caught in the dark, or will go somewhere in the dark.  In that case you need light.  There are two types of lights for bicycling, the bright,nice ones that help you see and the other ones that help you be seen and keep you legal after dark.   Here in Michigan, we have long days most of the year, but in the winter the daylight is a precious commodity which we only enjoy for about 6-8 hours.  Consequently my winter bike, and all purpose folder get real lights that help you see and have their own power source.
Even though I frequently use the bikes in the dark, I still didn't go overboard with the lighting systems.  The headlights on both bikes are Spanninga brand LED lights each of which cost less than $30.  They have "stand light" features which simply means that, unlike dynamo powered lights of the past, these store enough energy to keep the light on for several minutes when the bike is stationary.  You will notice I use the simple tire driven dynamos rather than the dynohubs which are the "latest greatest ever" thing on the internet.  I would probably consider a dynohub if I rode in the dark daily, but they are more expensive, heavier and create additional drag all the time.  I know a lot of people say they don't notice either the weight or the drag when they are riding, but it is still there.  Since I only ride in the dark occasionally, I opt for the simpler, cheaper, lighter solution.
   Now that my winter bike is put away I needed to move that light system to the Hunqapillar.  Why not put it on Byron the city bike? If I get caught out in the dark in the city, there are plenty of street lights which make it easy to see.  So I use a battery powered flashing white light on the handlebars to keep me legal, and help me be seen.

These Blackburn Click lights are great.  They put out a nice white flashing light on the front, just snap on the handlebars and you become visible and legal on the city streets.  The red ones are nice, but I opt for the Planet Bike Super flash for the rear on my bikes.  The only disadvantage to these lights is they use the little CR2032 batteries, you know the giant watch batteries which don't really last that long and don't come in rechargeable models.
    Mounting the dynamo and light on the Hunqapillar was a dream come true because there are all kinds of extra bosses built onto that bike.  I liked the idea of mounting my light on the left fork blade where it is fairly close to the ground, out of my way but visible to oncoming traffic.
All it took was a long screw and a nylon spacer to make it fit, no brackets, drilling taping or patience required.
With that being so easy, I was encouraged to mount the dynamo.  I like to put the dynamo on the front wheel because I don't need to wire a rear light (since I use the flashy things), and I hate having 183 1/2 feet of wire draped all over the bike in odd places.  It's also a little easier to turn on while you are riding when it's on the front.
     Because of the spring action on the dynamo, I had to mount it to the right hand fork blade to keep it close.
I just took a mounting bracket I had lying around my parts bin and attached it to the inside of the boss on the front of the fork
and after some careful and extremely scientific modulation and adjustment of the mount

it fit just fine.  All I needed to do was scrub off the winter corrosion and hook up the wiring.
  This was a clean deal, I used a short (maybe 10 inch) piece of wire and draped it over the fender
connected the light and dynamo terminals and I was done.
If I have any problems with the wire shifting around, I'll tape it down.
   Now I am happy, I have an all purpose bike with reliable lighting for those inevitable moments touring when I end up in the dark.

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