Totcycle | Family Biking

Tots on bikes, kids as cargo, family cycling, and other high-occupancy velo goodness.

Not caring how much our bikes weigh since 2008.

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Nov092010

« Get Lit »

So yeah, the clocks changed, but someone forgot to tell my kids.

In addition to waking up at 6:30 every morning to my spawn wheedling for TV and Halloween candy, I now get to ride home in the total dark each and every day.

This has led to some advances in totcycle lighting technology. To wit:

Get lit for only $8!

Guess how much this rear light cost? Come on, it's got 18 freaking LEDs! It's bigger and brighter than most truck taillights. It can be seen for 1 1/4 mile!

If you buy it here, with convenient bike mounts, it's $39.95.

But for you, and just you, this most excellent emporium of science surplus goodies will send you one for ... $8.95. Fell of the back of a truck. Tell them totcycle sent you. You could buy 25 of these for the price of one Dinotte Taillight (the blinded-by-the-light gold standard of rear lights).

But you need to hack your own mount. I used 2 4mm Hex head screws through holes drilled in the back of the light, washers, and locking nuts, with wee holes drilled through the back of our MADSEN bucket. I got the idea from this guy, who used a DIY aluminum bracket. Go to it. It's a fine light for "wide load" sorts of bikes.

We're also still LOVING our MonkeyLectric spoke-mounted LED display. Stunning side visibility. And Down Low Glow is a another great side visibility light, with bonus ground effects. Our battery pack fell out somewhere in the streets of Seattle, sadly. And the Brommies will be getting some spoke lights like these. And there's that Bike Glow rope light, but I have yet to see an elegant-looking install of that product. Says the guy with a truck light on his bucket bike.

Side visibility. Do it. Remember that an analysis from Fort Collins, CO (a nice bikey burg) found that over half of car/bike collisions and serious/fatal injuries resulted from broadsides.

As for front lights, dyno hubs or Reelights are nice always-on, never-out-of-batteries options. Planet Bike blinkies and other battery-powered LED lights work well too, but often seem to run out of ions when you really want them. Mount two, they're cheap! And the new helmet-mounted front/rear/side Vis 360 from Light and Motion looks like a serious contender for Northern latititude commuters. Go ahead. You're worth it.

We found some cute reflective stickers for our helmets in flames, hearts, and stars. And then there's the Bright Bike guys, that now sell kits of reflective tape for (quicker to install) pinstripe or caterpillar looks. You of course, can hack your own from 3M reflective tape, but their videos are fun for inspiration:

What's your plan for the long dark season?

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Reader Comments (5)

Anyone want to do a group buy? Shipping on one is $6 shipping on 10 is $12.

November 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRob

I find that the side lights and front lights are most important for me, my element of cycling. The sides especially so that cars can see me when turning that fatal right, or pulling out from a side street.

I like to put one light on each side of the bike, near the front; a read light (or two); those blinkie things on the wheels just because they are fun; and a front light. The front light is more so other bikes and people can see me cruising down a dark street.

Thanks for posting the helpful links to resources.

November 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTravis A. Wittwer

I have been using a dynamo for years. But when I recently moved my light from the fork crown to down near the axle on the right side that there's this side-view benefit!! The light not only does an excellent job illuminating the road since it's so close to it (and you get nice contrast w/ hazards like potholes), but that it lights up the front half of the spokes of the front wheel. It's quite visible from the side. I've had folks standing at bus stop shout comments (Nice light!).

November 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJohn K

Man, I've been wondering about the best way to get some light in the back of the Madsen... that may have to be it!

November 11, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterjdmitch

Roman Candles baby! Strap a couple to the back of the snap deck and it's like jet propulsion, with an added visibility benefit. Plus, you can forget about tailgaters! A little like this, without the flesh-colored dude: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_s77XPQZjRl0/TIveIGZbAPI/AAAAAAAAHxg/mzDHrmKb6ZA/s1600/roman+candle+2.jpg

November 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTim K

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