Day 8. 30 Days of Biking

Note: As you read this, keep in mind that I sell bicycle lights and fenders. And bicycles, for that matter.

Quick ride. Just making sure the Giant Escape’s new fenders are installed correctly. They are.

For the past three years, I’ve ridden with lights during daytime. Today, I got in a little night riding.

At the shop, I tell customers that helmets are passive safety accessories, useful when the worst comes to pass, and lights are active safety accessories, useful whether the worst (drivers distracted by their phones) are about to pass or not.

It continues to amaze me that lights have become so powerful they have a safety effect when the sun is up.

Years ago I used generator lights to commute from Peoria Heights to the west end of Peoria. The light was all right, though I had to carry extra bulbs with me, and I replaced a headlight bulb once a week. I also had a small box of batteries that kept the lights on at stop lights. I only used lights at night back then.

Enter today’s LED “bulbs” and rechargeable batteries. Dependable light at all times and no worry about getting left in the dark. I still have generator lights on a couple of bikes, but these generators are built into the front hubs, not dragging on tire sidewalls, and they’re also powering LED-equipped lights.

The lights on the Escape? The Vibe Pro Commuter Combo from Light and Motion. No buttons–the lights come on and go off automatically, sensing the motion of the bicycle. The headlight also knows whether it’s day or night and provides either a pulsing or steady light as appropriate. About every three or four rides (remember, your mileage will vary), I take them out of their bayonet mounts and charge them for a couple of hours using my laptop.

For the money, lights have improved more than any other part of the bicycle over the past 40 years. And that’s a period that includes the widespread introduction of aluminum and carbon fiber frames, indexed shifting, electronic shifting, threadless headsets and stems, stems with removable faceplates–a huge improvement, that–GPS, hydraulic disc brakes and pretty darn comfortable saddles.

With one exception.

Helmets are better than they were in the 1970s. Way better. For one thing, they exist.




About 16incheswestofpeoria

Former bicycle mechanic, current peruser of books, feeder of birds.
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2 Responses to Day 8. 30 Days of Biking

  1. Mitch Hull says:

    The VBC from L&M seems to have two negative characteristics for night riding:

    1. A symmetrical headlight pattern which can blind oncoming traffic and render close objects much brighter than farthest away ones, and

    2. A flashing only taillight, which is difficult to judge distance for following vehicles and can distract.

    • Good observations. I’ll leave the headlight pattern aside for now, but I’ve noticed a big difference between pulsing lights like L&M and the helmet-mounted flashing headlight I saw outside an art exhibit about a month ago. Indeed, I couldn’t easily tell how far away the rider was and, because of the angle of the light, I couldn’t see much of anything else. Waited forever for him to pass. Turns out he was going about five miles an hour on the sidewalk.

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