Too many cyclists ride at night without lights. We offer a small review of various lighting systems. No more excuses to play the invisible cyclists! The main goal? First and above all be seen, it is vital for your safety! Then, if you ride in less urbanized areas, see.
Here’s a small inventory (not exhaustive) of various systems allowing you to be seen, what is the most important, but also to see.
Make your choice according to your needs, your trips, of your (your) bikes and your style.
- Diodes, lights or lamps?
- Fixe or removable?
- Piles or dynamo?
- Vous have chosen?
Diodes (LEDs), lights or lamps?
At the rear, a fire at red lights is a good solution: it is well visible, light, energy savings, inexpensive and easy to find at your dealer. The diodes are very compact. We find even now integrated in pedals, fluorescent armbands…
At the front, you choose. To be seen, the new headlights with LEDs (Light Emitting Diode) white powerful (3 W) seem to be more visible than the old lamps with yellow diodes. These new headlights are compact and work more than 120 hours (250 h in intermittent mode). More and more, with dynamo bikes are equipped with headlight with LED and the power can reach 40 Lux.
To see if you borrow poorly lit roads, headlights halogen (> 20 Lux) are more effective than the lighthouses with a simple light bulb. But beware: the batteries do generally last only about 1 hour. There are devices with batteries attached to the frame of the bike. They are heavy, but essential on courses in open country. There are now such lights powered by dynamo in the hub (see free service bikes). These can go up to 60 Lux.
The usual weak points of electric lamps are: the pins plastic ensure closing the case. the “clip” of the lamp on the bike and the flexible metal blades, ensuring contact with the batteries. If you use several times a week, choose good quality lamps. Even if they are 2 to 3 times more expensive, you will be winning in the end! Also, choose good (NiMh), rechargeable batteries to pollute less.
Fixed or removable?
Removable lighting can be interesting if you use several bikes and essential if you do off-road. One drawback: you have to take it in your pocket or your bag every time you park your bike in the city, in order to avoid flight test (“clips”) setting before purchase and choose a practical and solid model.
Fixed lighting, are essentially those that you find original on city bikes or the “VTC”: a dynamo and lights attached to the frame, rack or the fenders. But some lamps to LEDs can also attach themselves firmly to the bike.
If you have a good rack, it is preferable to use a rear light fixed on the luggage rack and a small removable headlight type pencil to 3 LED (2 batteries AA or 4 AAA batteries) on the handlebar. A small lighthouse pencil, this is easily in my pocket. A big basic lighthouse, is more difficult. The front also, there now “old style” LED headlights, but that are powered by batteries and which are permanently attached to the level of the fork.
Battery or dynamo?
All side dynamos (tops or pebbles that rub on the side of the wheel), significant advantages: complete autonomy, modest weight, durability, protection of the environment.
Disadvantages: lighting cut when you’re standing (or reduces to very low speed), and their performance is almost always bad (+/-25%)! In addition, bulbs have a very limited life and dynamo brakes the bike.
Try to get an idea of the quality working by hand: the axis does not have any lateral play and must turn in “rubbing” as little as possible.
Other points of criticism: the mechanical device to 2 positions to dump the puck against the tire or to reject it. At the beginning, no problem. Then, quickly, it is necessary to reposition the lever arm, or even to “tweak” to ensure the training without sliding. From there on, things will get worse…
There are however a few models of high range dynamos, which had a yield of 60% to 85% (in 6 or 12 Volt), and are equipped with optional capacity or a small battery that keeps the lighting for a few minutes at the stop.
Finally, there are the hub dynamos: heavier and not always easy to set up (you must change all the rays), but wear-free and do not fear the rain. They fly the lighting according to the brightness. They also have a 70% return, but slow down a bit even if they do not work. More and more high range city bikes are equipped with such a dynamo.
Note: certain lamps and dynamos are equipped with voltage limiters. Useful especially if you have a halogen headlight, to avoid strain or toast bulbs when you drive fast.
That said, today, on a lot of new city bikes equipped with lighting used for the taillight of the Red LEDs powered by batteries while the lighthouse before (halogen) is powered by a dynamo.
Batteries / batteries
The batteries are a good solution if you ride little. For everyday cyclists, the batteries are needed. Know that 20 to 40 hours of use are sufficient to amortize batteries (rechargeable batteries).
Attention: with the rechargeable power down very quickly at the end cycle, especially with halogen lamps. It sometimes gets caught and we end the trip in the dark… With batteries AA Nickel Metal hybrid (Ni-MH) of greater than 2000 mAh capacity, you will need to recharge less often and are likely less to crash in the middle of the course, especially if you have lamps to LEDs.
In all cases, prefer independent batteries lamps combined with a built-in battery.
They are essential for your safety including failure of your lighting. These are usually “reflectors”. They shed no light but reflect the light. The legislation requires to deal with the (red) back on the sides (fixed on the shelves or glued of origin on the tires), on the pedals (orange), and also in front (white). Sure you are visible in the headlights of a car regardless of the angle under which the driver can see you. There are also reflective stickers that can be put in different places on the bike.
Clothing with reflective strips are still too few. Yet, there are very useful in case of extreme conditions (rain, darkness). Wearing them, it can be located at 150 m (compared to 50 m by simply wearing light-colored clothing). Various models exist, the “harness” to the vest through the greenhouse-pants. Make sure that they are not only “fluorescent” but that they also have reflective strips.
Two reflective products currently share the market: 3 m of white and yellow Reflexite. Reflexite has the advantage of better keep his power reflecting under water. It’s the material that reflects, not the fabric. The color yellow or orange fluo especially to be better visible in daylight. A harness is already enough to not look like a Christmas tree!
Visibility material thus comes in different qualities. The reflective colored refer notably less light than the reflective strips of gray color.
Attention! If you carry a backpack, this diminishes the reflecting surface visible. Put your vest/harness above your bag or, preferably, use of bike bags to carry your business / shopping. Some (including Ortlieb) panniers are equipped with two reflective surfaces (front and back).
Finally, clothing with reflective elements and accessories should carry the CE label. If they are more standards in 1150 – EN 13356 – in 471, sure they correspond to European standards on clothing and protection material.
You have chosen?
Look for the lighting of your dreams at your dealer, one who is near home or on your way. Some are willing to order an item that they do not have in stock. On the internet, you can also find products, but you will need to pick them up yourself. At cheeroutdoor.com, there are several lighting systems: very good lighting easily cost between 50 and 100 euros, but a basic lighting is already at 15-20 euros!
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