Friday, September 17, 2010

Lights! Camera! Action!

As reported earlier, the light project ironically cost me the bike ride this morning.

I left the house with the bike ready to ride. I had everything I needed except sufficient time to arrive at work within even my highly flexible standards of punctuality. So when I finally got home for good at 8:30 p.m., there was plenty of darkness, and no reason not to tool up and down in front of the house to see if this rig is as good as I hoped it would be.
The generator is so much lighter and more compact than my ancient Union. The Sanyo that mounted to the bottom bracket was pretty cool, and new versions are available, but I'll probably go with a dyno hub if I move away from this sidewall model.
The tail light would not mount centered on my ancient Blackburn Expedition rack. I have an Axiom rack in my salvage pile in the crawl space, but the tail light bracket is tucked up under the projecting end of the rack. That protects the light from such mishaps as accidental breakage and possibly being seen by overtaking vehicles. Mounting this thing made me think about the problems with bike tail lights. They should really be mounted higher than any part of your average bike. Thus I maintain my large (and growing) collection of blinking lights on myself.

My two Beamer 3 headlights added useful fill light to the patch thrown by the IQ Cyo R Plus. Even without them, though, the generator light alone threw a subtly ample field of light down the road. The R version has a reflector and is hooded to direct light near the bike. This is very useful at low speeds on rougher surfaces. It still directed enough light down the road for me to feel secure in an upper-mid-range gear on this brief trial. Further supplemented by my helmet light this should be a formidable array.

LEDs don't put down the hard white light of a halogen bulb. That's what I meant by subtly ample. At first the bluish tint seems too close a kin to the navy blue of night itself. But then you realize that night has been negotiated with, rather than banished in the hard-edged way of filament lighting. I love the long useful life of LEDs and the endless energy of the generator as opposed to the helpless anxiety of fading batteries when you clearly have more ride than electricity left.

Wires present one of two drawbacks to installed on board lighting, weight and clutter collectively being the other one. I understand why sexy randonnée bikes have internal wiring. But I often think our vain habit of hiding the plumbing and wiring inside the walls of our houses is just a fussy invitation to really expensive problems when something goes wrong. I did the best I could to lead the wires simply and directly, with only sufficient slack to avoid straining splices and connections. After dark, the feeling of power and the fact that the details of the mounting are largely invisible cancel out any remaining aesthetic qualms.

I haven't put on the permanent fenders yet. I try to avoid wet weather on the multi-gear bike. Realistically, however, wet weather finds me. I also go forth on wet mornings when fair afternoons are predicted. I'm starting to view the clip-on fenders as hypocritical and insufficient. Nothing like a spatter of wet grit to remind you that the vanity of fenderlessness is not worth the crap that gets all over you and your bike.

I have to say, it was still gross cleaning the crud out of the fenders. And I had to remind myself to look at my tires when I didn't have a view of the top of them all the time.

In any case, the bike is ready to go. I can refine the setup as needed.


Steve A said...

I hope we shall hear various and sundry follow-up posts on this topic as well. I'll bet this generator wears your tire sidewall less than the old Union as well, for one.

cafiend said...

I mounted the old Union high enough to roll on the edge of the tread. I even notched the fender a little to accommodate the roller. When I switched to the Sanyo BB generator I got an uncut fender.

I've mounted the B&M as high as I can. It swings in rather than down, so it slips beneath the edge of the fender I currently use. When I put on the bolt-on fender I think I can place it high enough to maintain the clearance.

Next tire maybe I'll get a Schwalbe with a dynamo strip. Don't know. I really like these T-Servs. Rubber loyalty is not always supremely rational.