Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Hello Darkness My Old Friend

It being past the winter solstice technically the days are now getting longer. But just by looking out the window and seeing all the dark clouds and lack of sun makes me feel like we are still in the heart of darkness. Which I guess really we still are considering it was only a week ago.

But this seems like a fitting time to talk about lights. Lights are those wonderful things that let us blast a tunnel through the darkness of night to see where we are going. And they are also the things that let other's see us while we are out there on our bikes.

I have used several different light manufactures and at least up to this point I can't recommend Dinotte lights enough.  They are a "seeing" light. In other words if you are going out on a dark and stormy night and you need to be able to see where you are going these are one of the manufactures that I would recommend. All their lights use super LED bulbs and lithium ion batteries (either in a rechargeable pack or a group of replaceable AA batteries).  I have the 600L-Li which they don't make anymore. But mine is still plugging away after a few years of use and abuse. I've also used the 800L-Li which is a great light. And I guess they now have a 1400 (!) Lumen version. Which would be awesome! Especially if you needed to use Morris code to talk to astronauts in space. Or possibly blind an entire herd of elk. Not that I advocate that kind of thing. I mean really!? Who uses Morris code anymore.... Sorry, this is starting to sound like an advertisement for Dinotte. But I'm not getting paid. I just think they make a great product for the price.

Several other brands make very good "seeing" lights for people that neither have the means nor the desire to go after a Dinotte. NiteRider, Lupine (If you've got money to burn. Really cool lights. But retardedly expensive.) and Light and Motion  all make very good lights at (most) all price points.

I think the most important thing about a "seeing" light is to make sure that it puts out enough light so that when you ride down a hill at speed you don't "out run" (Why am I using so many quotation marks in this post?) your light. And what I mean by that is that if you are flying down a hill your light needs to cast a big enough beam for you to be able to see any obstacles in the road and react. Like a rock, a tree branch, furry woodland creatures, or naked people... You know, those sorts of things.

As far as tail lights go. I don't think you can beat either the~

Bike Planet Superflash. This thing offers a two light settings and is quite a robust little unit. It has a beam that could easily have you seeing stars if you stared at it to long. And it requires two AAA batteries.

 I really recommend using rechargeable lithium batteries for all lights that require them. They last at much higher brightness for a much longer period of time. And on top of all that it's nice to be a little environmentally responsible. Instead of throwing a bunch of used batteries in the land fill.

The second tail light I would recommend is the~

Radbot 1000 by Portland Design Works. This thing is kind of like the Superflash on steroids. The only real complaint I've heard about this light is when it's used on a group ride people want it pointed towards the ground because its so blinding! My son has one of these things on his bike. And it makes me feel better knowing that the drivers out there won't have the excuse of not seeing him from the rear.

As far as "being seen" lights go I think you can't go wrong with the Blackburn Flea. I think these handy little lights are the bee's knees. You can charge them up on any USB port. They are small, light (Huhuhu), and pack a lot of brightness for something so small.

They come in both front and tail light versions. And are easy to clip on and off.

The other "be seen" light I'm going to mention here because any fixie hipster out there would beat me to death with their chain wallet. Or even possibly there U lock that they keep ever so sutley looped in there belt (Which I don't think I could handle dying at the hand of someone who is wearing their girlfriend's pants). Is the Knog Frog~

They are handy cheap lights that are nifty design. One thing I will say about Knog product though is that I've had two of them break on me by just trying to remove them from the bike. One of them was on the third removal(!). I still think they are pretty cool little lights but fair warning on quality control.

I know a lot of people out there. Even some bike manufactures (No, really. Check out some of those warning stickers on new bikes sometime) warn about riding in the dark. But if you didn't ride in some kind of darkness around here there would be about an hour and half window to ride in (recorded fact...) everyday. Does that sound like much fun? I didn't think so....

Besides there is a lot of great things about riding in the night.  Less traffic, quieter, beautiful stars, more relaxed pace and rediscovering a piece of road that you've ridden a million times before.

Don't let the nay sayers keep you off your bike or worse encouraging you to get on the trainer! Go out and enjoy the nights sky! Just remember to be packing some lights. Or I'll sick this guys on you~

You've been warned...

Rubber side down,

Big E

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