Friday, October 08, 2010


While I was replacing the generator drive roller I figured out how to make the tail light mounting work better. The generic seat stay clamps I'd put back there pulled the light crooked. For some reason I could not get them to bend exactly the way I wanted. I was able to adjust the angle and get a more solid mount by inserting the thinner set of spacers from a linear-pull brake pad. We've accumulated a large coffee can full of these. They come in handy for all sorts of little tricks like this.

With the generator remounted and carefully aligned, the light works better than it has since the first night. It impressed me then. Now I realize its true power.

I'm so eager for darkness to fall, I start my ride home with my eyes closed.

People perceive night riding as more dangerous than riding in daylight. With inadequate lights that is certainly true. On rural roads without many other sources of light, a good set of cyclist's lights stands out. With fewer distractions from the scenery, the night driver tends to look where the headlights point.

At intersections the cyclist's small lights may not catch the eye of an impatient motorist. Flashing modes help there, but the wise cyclist assumes no one has seen, and rides with appropriate caution. But in the darkness a cyclist can see headlights coming around bends or approaching from cross streets, giving better warning of other vehicles than we get in daylight.

Motorists react to the sight of something different. Because bicycles don't have a standard light configuration, each little variation may serve to engage the motorist's curiosity. That's probably a bicycle up there, but it could be some weird space alien thingy. You have to hope then that the motorist does not subscribe to the "kill it before it multiplies!" school of thought popular in 1950s sci-fi flicks. Tinfoil helmet covers and cheesy ray guns may buy you crucial seconds in which to make a getaway. Extra points if you ride in a closely-tailored pastel colored jumpsuit.

Those of us who pedal get treated like an alien species anyway. Our garb often inspires harsh commentary. It might as well be a space suit.


Steve A said...

Riding at night will never be as safe as during daylight, just as it is more dangerous for motorists. It's one reason I don't commute on my road bike this time of year. It is, however reasonably safe with proper lighting and attention to the task at hand.

RANTWICK said...

I like riding at night because as you say, unless somebody is driving around without their headlights on, you can spot everybody and are notified of overtaking vehicles nice and early by reflective streetsigns and stuff.

I confess to being under-powered in the light department, sporting only small "be seen" blinkies front and rear.


cafiend said...

It's a feeling of pure power, Rantwick. I gauge the effectiveness of a light by whether I can see my light patch on the road even when a motor vehicle is driving toward me. The Lumotec definitely throws down the light.

There are less expensive lights that appear nearly as effective. I may become a bit of a light junkie if I'm not careful (or overly careful?) Lights on more bikes would broaden my selection of nightworthy bikes.

greatpumpkin said...

If you can hear much tire dynamo noise, it's misaligned or not close enough to the tire. When properly set I can barely hear it. It should reach full power at a relatively low speed. Most of the noise is from the roller slipping. Mine is so quiet that sometimes on the day after a night ride I don't notice it's still on until I see reflections from the light.

cafiend said...

I set it 10 mm from the tire in the retracted position, per the instructions. I aligned it using a taut line from the hub. It reaches full power almost instantly. The Beamers now function only as signal lights because the beam from the dynamo headlight is so bright and far-reaching. Maybe we can compare light setups next week.