Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Courtesy Switch

On the commute this morning, once we got into town, drivers were passing too fast and too close, as usual.

I reached back and flipped the switch on the Superflash.

Instant courtesy. It was bizarre.

Big G, riding ahead of me, did not know what I had done. When we got onto a quieter street I pulled up to him and explained. I switched off the light. I don't want to waste it where I don't need it.


Anonymous said...

Do you have any problem keeping it on over bumpy roads? My roads here(rural Arkansas)tend to vibrate tailights off the mounting bracket unless I tape them or put an extra ziptie over things, but they still pop off on the bumps.
Just wondering before I splash out for two of them.

cafiend said...

I wear the blinky lights on the pack I wear, clipped to the accessory attachment straps. The pack is a North Face Mountain Biker lumbar pack. The lights are higher that way and I can reach back to switch them on and off easily.

Lights on me don't take the vibration that lights mounted to the bike would.

The Superflash is not a cheap light. I hope you have good luck with them.

Yokota Fritz said...

@Anon: I haven't had problems with Planet Bike's Superflash bouncing off, even riding on fire roads, singletrack, railroad ties, etc. I *have* lost other lights to bounces and the very occasional car strike, but not the Superflash.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, I guess that I should break out the old camelbak bandito. that would solve my multiple bike problem as well.

Yakota, Thats good to hear, I will be putting the mounts on my main tourer. Its always really annoying to hear that clunk and have to stop to go back and pick up, then reassemble and try to fix, your light.

whareagle said...

Though I like the SuperFlash, I LOVE my Dinotte 200 and 400L's. Like you mentioned in the post - instant respect from motorists. It's daylight-visible, and you can usually see it from about a 1/2 mile or more. I almost feel vulnerable without it.

cafiend said...

@whareagle -- I love the AA battery option on Dinotte lights. I have four halogen heads from an old Vistalight NiMH system on which the battery has completely croaked. I'm not handy with electricity, so I don't know how to reconfigure these lights in a way I can use now.

greatpumpkin said...

I use the Superflash whenever I am riding, day or night. I moved it to my helmet to place it as high as possible for visibility. I also set my helmet-mounted battery LED headlight to flash in daytime. The more hip urban riders may think it makes me look like a dork to have so many lights, but I'd rather be a live dork than a dead hipster. I've often barely seen cyclists when I was driving, and I look for them. I sometimes don't see them when riding my own cycle, on the shade-dappled bike trails--so I believe in using some lights all the time. My full Trice rig when in nighttime operation has been described as looking like a rolling disco show.

cafiend said...

With autumn shadows and solar glare I am using the Superflash for a lot of the morning ride as well as the evening leg. After the initial rush of politeness, some motorists seem to be reacting with disdain when they realize the bright flash is coming from a mere cyclist. So far, the close passers when I'm using the lights have all been driving dark-colored pickup trucks, except for one black Audi.

kfg said...

"I don't know how to reconfigure these lights in a way I can use now."

It's actually not all that difficult, just a matter of lining up enough batteries in series (end to end, like in a flashlight). If it's a twelve volt system you'll want ten. With nine you'll be a bit under volted which will make the lights a bit dimmer (but last longer). With nine you can steal AA holders from flashlights (three per holder to make up the requisite voltage to drive an LED, then you'll have to connect the holders in series).

Or you can find someone in town who knows how to solder them together into a pack. Ask at a hobby shop that deals with R/C. They do custom packs all the time.

In fact for a six volt system you can just pick up an R/C car sub C stick pack at "Teh Shack". You'll be a bit over volted, but your lights will be a bit brighter (but not last as long).

It's possible the old batteries might be brought back with a decent charger like a Lacrosse, Maha, or a decent R/C pack charger. (which is what you want to get for your new batteries anyway). The chargers that come with bicycle lighting systems are the leading CAUSE of most battery pack failures.

All that said with today's LEDs you might come off better just strapping a couple of Fenix E21s to the bars. Four batteries total, hours of run time. It comes down to how much you really like the old system.

cafiend said...

Good tips, kfg. Thanks. I figured such things were possible, I just hadn't settled down to learn it. Mainly I hate wasting a product that has already been made, even though my generator setup with LED backups works better than a battery system for rides of unspecified length. I will dink with the old lights at some point.

kfg said...

"I hate wasting a product that has already been made"

Tell me about it. I've got a single head halogen sitting around in a rather nice housing that goes on a sturdy well made mount. I don't have any real use for it, but I can't stand the idea of just chucking such a nice bit 'o kit.

So it hangs around waiting for the day I dick around with mounting an LED in it.

I've also spent way too much time, money and knuckle blood on bikes that "weren't worth it" just because I can't stand the idea of a recoverable bike just taking up landfill space. Maybe it's my Yankee upbringing. Back in the day we didn't recycle things, we kept them going until there was nothing left of them but their molecules; then we found some use for the molecules.

cafiend said...

Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.

I agree about fixing up bikes. Customers often ask if they should spend the money one a repair when "for a little more I can have a new bike." New crap isn't necessarily an upgrade from old but better quality. Or better fit. Or just something you like. Also, there's no better friend than a good beater bike.