Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Autumn Experiment

Since my rechargeable light has become unreliable, and I don't really want to install the old generator light I used to run in the flatlands 20 years ago, I'm going to try a new approach.

The other night I noticed that my newer Planet Bike Beamer 3 puts out a pretty good beam. Nothing will overcome oncoming car headlights except something expensive and heavy. The LED lights burn brightly so I can be seen. The only question is whether I will be able to see well enough to ride efficiently. I did not feel like I was groping the other night, with just the new spot 3 and the old flood 3, but it was a quiet country road with few cars to blind me.

I added a Beamer 5 to the lineup today. I hope it will stab just a bit further than the 3, giving me a staged light patch. With the 5, the new 3 and the old 3, I should have adequate coverage. The lights use AA batteries, which means spares are easy to find and compact to carry. I can put one or more of the lights on flashing mode to attract more attention if I don't need them for road illumination right then, such as in the dusk.

We'll see how it goes. I don't know how intrepid I feel about the whole haul in the darkness anyway, but some new path construction has given more options for dropping a car partway.


steve said...

I went through 3 Beamer 5's last year in the winter, the plastic becomes extremely brittle a few degrees below freezing and the catch snaps if you try to take the light off the bike. It's fine if it's left on the bike, but I like to take my lights off when I lock up my bike, which is how I found the weakness out. MEC are pretty good about returns, after the third one broke I got a refund and bought a SLA battery powered light that was on sale.

cafiend said...

Dang. I didn't know that. But I don't commute through the winter, because my winter job is too far away. And I get to park inside.

I hope Planet Bike will address the issue for winter commuters, because the setup with the 5 and the 3 worked really well last night.

steve said...

The Super Spot lasted me well for a couple of years until a combination of internal rusting (from all the salt on the roads, and living by the sea) and me hamfistedly dropping it a few times killed it. I also have a Dual Spot that works well as a "be seen" light with the flashing LED, plus the additional halogen option helps on the fire trail portion of my commute. I think these lights lasted so well because most of the stress is on a metal bar rather than a bit of plastic, whereas the Beamer 5 light had a bit of plastic as the clip holding the light on, which is what got stressed.

If you're not riding in the winter, though, I don't think it'll be an issue - it worked fine for me in the month before I started breaking the lights, when temperatures were hovering around the 5C mark.

cafiend said...

Five Celsius is well above freezing. Did you mean -5? If the plastic gets unreliable at 41F that's a higher order of risk.

steve said...

Oops! I did indeed mean -5C (or 23F, to put it another way). If a piece of plastic died at 5C I'd be really disappointed!