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Early morning riding - bike lights question

Hello all, newbie here.

I've been bitten by the tri bug this year, haven done a couple of sprint tris and the Oulton Park duathlon last weekend (really liked that racetrack!).

Naturally, I'd like to improve a bit next year. The problem I have is finding the time to train enough, what with work and family etc.

One idea I've had is doing some early morning bike riding before work. Where I live I'm lucky that there's a long section of the National Cycle Network nearby, where I can do several miles of traffic-free cycling.

The problem is that it will obviously get darker earlier over the winter. There are no lights at all where I am looking at riding, it would be very dark indeed. Therefore I'd need lights that would actually let me see where I'm going, rather than just making me visible to traffic.

My question therefore is how much would I have to spend to get lights that would do the job? (Realistically, how little can I get away with spending!). Any recommendations?

If the answer is "a lot of money" then I'll have to have a rethink and ride on lit roads (taking my chances with the traffic) or just run instead in the darkest parts of winter and ride the bike when I can at weekends.

Many thanks.


  • GHarvGHarv Posts: 456
    Turbo trainer?
  • JulesJules Posts: 987
    Yeah, that's an option, I'd just prefer actual real cycling outside, if I could.
  • GHarvGHarv Posts: 456
    Can't say i'm a lights expert but if you want to see where you're going i've got a great Petzl head torch (Tikka £24) that got me up Mount Kilimanjaro at midnight - might be one option.
  • electron 10+5w lamp set is what i use for riding cross country at nights in the winter. Last few hours. does the job.
  • puddlespuddles Posts: 37
    I just got the [color=#3c4d92]Cateye EL220 and LD150 LED Light Set[/color] from wiggle 24.99. I ride to the gym and back in the dark about 5.5 mile round trip, the lights arnt the best so if you can afford somethin a bit more expensive it'll be worth it. i feel a bit dodgy doin 20 - 25mph or more due to restricted vision. they just dont do it for me- although if you know ur route and not pitch black these should do. i'm lookin at spendin about 70- 100 qiud to try n get some some decent lights so any reccomendations much appreciated.


    Matt G
  • I use a Cateye EL600 but would strongly recommend a head torch too.

    Light output from the EL600 is fantastic for total darkness rides and the low power mode still puts out a really bright light.

    It does have a quirky fitting though which might annoy if you're swapping it between bikes.

    Head torches don't need to be so bright but they point where you look so twisty routes become easy to ride in the dark. You can see your computer too.

  • BritspinBritspin Posts: 1,655
    How much lightspill from the surrounding area is there? I ride some of the network home at 10pm, but being in Brum there is a lot of ambient light so my cateye & electron combo works for me..mostly, every now & then I almost run into dog walkers..its usually the reflection of the dogs eyes that gets my attention, but mostly it is heart attack free at a fair old pace as well.
  • JulesJules Posts: 987
    Britspin wrote:

    How much lightspill from the surrounding area is there? I ride some of the network home at 10pm, but being in Brum there is a lot of ambient light so my cateye & electron combo works for me..mostly, every now & then I almost run into dog walkers..its usually the reflection of the dogs eyes that gets my attention, but mostly it is heart attack free at a fair old pace as well.

    The area I'm proposing riding would have very little ambient light. It's either surrounded by trees or in open countryside a way from anywhere.
  • BARNYBARNY Posts: 157
    FUnny you shodul ask this as just today I decided that I woudl beat the system and make my own high powered bike lights.

    oh yes

    My thinking is as follows - I can buy 2 pretty high power LED torches from tescos. I am then going to take them to bits and run power cable from the power inputs.. what is left of the torches I will form into a handle bar fixable unit - maybe using my aerobar fixings which I've taken of for the winter: using the grips that normally hold the the bars i.e. facing the way we want. I then intend to get a nicad batery pack for about a tenner (like you get for RC cars) and put this in my top tube bag rigged up to the lights. buda-buda-bing!

    If all goes well I have a light system that would usually retail for MINIUMUM of £60, for about £20 and some time. Which when you take into account manufacturers and retailer margins is the about how much the units actually cost to make. HA! I also recakon the batery life will be in the 100's of hours.

    I'll post a pic of the results.. what fun this is waht winters all about - mine will retail at £40.. lol
  • nivaghnivagh Posts: 595

    I have a Petzl Tikka as well - I wear it over my helmet. It's not really much good for lighting the way, but because it's LEDs and can be set to blink, it's good because it makes you visible. I would go with a fixed steady light, as bright as you can afford at the front, and fixed red on the rear, with blinking LEDs on your back.

    Strictly speaking, I believe you're not allowed to attach flashing lights to your bike, only to yourself, as flashing lights and LEDs in particular don't give any cues as to the distance of the object. But I've never seen anybody stopped for having them.
  • woodywoody Posts: 52
    I ride at night back from the pool in total darkness along country lanes, and use the smart 1 watt led (lam107u) and this is OK, not majory bright, but is adequate. I have also the 2.4 watt halogen, came as a set (http://www.cyclebasket.com/products.php?plid=m6b61s543p1639), but don't use that very often. Smart 1/2watt rear is perfect, set to flash.
  • learnerlearner Posts: 100
    Jules, sorry about this but I even with the best lights on the market are you sure that an isolated track is the safest place to be riding in the dark on your own. I am lucky in that i live in a city but still have to do about a mile through a public park, which has lighting, but i have still had the misfortune to crash into two dogs and have even been chased by a couple of idiots who thought it was fair game to try and intimidate me.

    That aside, there are some fantastic deals out there at the mo, I would go for a dual intensity light to extend battery/charge life. But even so you will be looking in the £100 plus area.

    Good luck with it though and keep it up, have you thought about a turbo, can pick one up for around £100 mark so there's an option.

  • treefrogtreefrog Posts: 1,242
    In my opinion avoid cateye. Over 3 years I have had to buy a brand new set of lights at 100 quid and every year they either fail, or bits dont fit or they are too akward. This year I'm going to do a huge amount of research and look at them in the shop etc.

    How much well 2 points how much is your safety worth and I 'll get something that will suit my style of Winter riding which is a short quite safe commute and large group rides in the late morning

  • By far the greatest light I have ever used/owned is from Dinotte.

    The guys at Planet-X / On-One sell them here in the UK. - http://www.on-one-shop.co.uk/acatalog/Online_Catalogue_Front_Lights_129.html. They are £69.44.

    I have this one - 200L-AA-S - http://store.dinottelighting.com/Product2

    It is brilliant for using on multiple bikes, or if you leave your bike where others may steal the lights, as it attaches using a rubber o-ring, so is on/off your bike in a matter of seconds.

    Another bonus is that it uses standard AA batteries, so you can pickup spares ANYWHERE cheap, or use higher powered rechargeable AAs.

    It's small, light, and very bright.

    It has 3 modes: High beam, low beam and flashing. Actually - it also has an emergency "limp home" mode when your batteries are running very low - it flashes on low-beam I think, which is still much brighter than many other lights I have ever used, and would be quite happy to use it on that mode for all of my commuting.

    When in flashing mode, you get people looking around in their cars looking for an emergency vehicle when you come up behind them in the city.

    When on a solid beam, it lights up dark backstreets with no street lights really well. If you want more light, you can just throw another one on - either on your bike, or on your helmet (it comes with a helmet mount too).

    You can also get a tail light version - same design, but red.

    A brilliant little light - the best I have ever used.

    Enjoy! [;)]

  • GGBGGB Posts: 482
    I bought one of these a few months back from Chainreaction - (don't sem to list it anymore) - great light fo rthe price - very bright and takes AA batteries that last reasonably well -


    If you are on unlit roads you may need 2 of them - but I find the light very good for the price, I paid £20 from Chainreaction .

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