What this blog is about

Bicycle commuting, bicycle touring, bicycle racing; bicycle ADVENTURING.
To the grocery store, up a mountain, across the country or to the finish line--
it's all an adventure.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Bicycle Light Comparison

Light Comparison from Rebecca Jensen on Vimeo.

Here is a light comparison of my bike with:

  1. No lights
  2. Cheap lights
  3. Good lights

"Cheap lights" = one red Blackburn Mars 3.0 light and a Blackburn front light that runs on AAA batteries. 

"Good lights" =  adds a Planet Bike SuperFlash to the Blackburn rear and uses a Light & Motion Stella 300 Dual (rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery) on the front. 

Other lights featured are the Planet Bike BRT Strap and an amber Down Low Glow from Rock the Bike.

Conclusions from this demo:

  • Cheap lights work okay (so long as you keep feeding them batteries) front and rear, but have basically no side visibility.
  • Cheap front lights drown in headlights.
  • Good lights work great front and rear and provide some side visibility.
  • Good lights continue to be seen even when flooded by headlights or competing with sign lights, etc.
  • The Down Low Glow provides some flippin' AWESOME side-vis and a wide spot beneath you, discouraging cars from getting too close.
  • Also note that I wore dark blue jeans and a black jacket for this demo. While I do own neon cycling clothing, I don't rely on it as my (only) source of visibility. It's best to have your BIKE always be visible so that you can wear whatever you fancy.

Notes on reflective parts (which I didn't include in the video, oops!):
  • Reflective sidewalls on front tire (Schwalbe Marathon)
  • Reflective/light-up ankle strap
  • Orange reflective tape on frame
  • Blue reflective "slap bracelets" on head tube
  • Reflective detail on trunk bag
  • Reflective rear triangle (with a dowel slid in to hold its shape)

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

A great comparison, thanks! It really brings out the effect of both active and passive... things. (English is not my native language)

Where I live quite many people have started to use neon yellow vests with really good reflectors. I see them as a marvelous "passive" solution to visibility, they really light as soon as a set of headlights as much as glances at them. Runners, cyclists, nordic walkers etc. can be spotted really far away wearing these.

P.S. I am now officially a fan of this blog.

- L.R.

Miguel said...

I use Dinotte's on front and rear and it's pretty impossible not to notice them. They are not cheap, though not as expensive as the Stella. The Stella look pretty damned powerful. I like that the Dinotte's use standard rechargeables. Cool Tools reviewed them a while ago: http://www.kk.org/cooltools/archives/003032.php

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