Friday, October 08, 2010

Look! Up ahead! It's SUPERFLASH!

Today I got my Planet Bike Superflash blinky light. I put it in the middle of the three lights I wear on my bum bag, retiring the loyal but less flashy unit that had served there for several years.

I'd been impressed by the Superflash when I saw the one on my brother's Trice this summer. In full daylight I could see the flash from as far away as I could see the trike at all.

Turbulent clouds created dramatic light effects as the sun went down tonight. Bright sun would break through to illuminate colorful leaves or white buildings, highlighting the contrast with the slate-gray clouds. As the sun dropped below the western hills, twilight advanced.

Drivers rushed past me on this Friday of a holiday weekend. Finally I got tired of it. I hit the button on the Superflash.

The result was immediate and gratifying. I could tell by the sound of tires on chip seal, and grumbling engines, that drivers were slowing down five or ten miles an hour. Almost without exception, they swung wide as well. They passed politely and sedately before resuming speed.

A few minutes later I had activated the whole system: generator light, Beamers, and the flanking blinkies.

The whir of the dynamo gets higher as my speed increases. The light becomes incrementally brighter as well, urging me to ride even harder. The beam is strong and white. It seems to intrigue drivers. The sharp power of the Superflash and the steady, relentless illumination of the generator light indicate a power disproportionate to a cyclist's size.

In a more populated area where life is plentiful and cheap, the mass of drivers would probably shove on past with their usual disregard. Around here, though, a transportation cyclist is a strange bird, worthy of a second look, especially when equipped with something better than the typical toy light. When the novelty wears off I may get less respect from drivers here, too. Right now, though, the difference is night and day.


Steve A said...

I like my Superflash a lot. Battery life is shorter than on a lot of other rear lights, but still pretty good. I also found the switch to be a bit fiddly, though it's much better since I bent the contact. Overall, an excellent choice!

cafiend said...

I couldn't tell if I had turned the light on or not. The switch action is very subtle. I unclipped the light and brought it around to check. It was on. I clipped it back on the pack. That was easy enough by feel.

Now that I know the effect of the light on passing vehicles I will know if it's on by the way drivers act.

Steve A said...

My switch action WAS so subtle that the light would turn itself off via normal bumps. NOW I have to push HARD to turn it on or off, but the litlle sumbitch stayed on even when I crashed.

The Donut Guy said...

Best blinkie light ever. I run 2 of them at once plus a rear facing blinkie on my helmet when I ride at night......I would imagine the back of my bike looks like a disco:-)

cafiend said...

Or an emergency vehicle, Donut Guy. That top LED has some real authority. I'm quite impressed.

cycler said...

I bought a pair of these for my SO recently because I was embarrassed to be riding with him running such lousy lights. I liked them so much that I bought an extra one for my secondary light. I rely mostly on my generator taillight, but I pull out the extra light when traffic is bad, or the weather is awful and I do really notice the difference in how drivers react. It's almost as good as doing a head check on every car.

cafiend said...

cycler, I really like my new generator tail light, too. The flashers just give the whole array a little extra snap. I'd have a laser show if I could figure out how to set it up. Maybe have it spell out messages of approval or criticism depending on passing behavior.