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Thursday, September 17, 2015

Lighting and Cycling In the Dark

It's that time of year again... the sun goes down a little earlier in Toronto.  Gone are the hours and hours of evening sunlight, replaced with darkness.

Planet Bike Beamer 1 and Blinky 3
Fine for being seen, not great for seeing...
Yesterday I was trying to make up a ride I'd missed on the weekend, but just needed more time than there was daylight.  I threw some lights on my bike that I had lying around and went for it.

The Darkness Experience

Motorists seem to give you a lot more room when you have lighting and it's dark.  I guess they don't quite know what they're dealing with, and they definitely see you (LED lights!).  I couldn't believe how much space I was afforded.

It's a bit spooky riding in the dark.  Headlights do weird things when they're coming up from behind, pretty neat.  You definitely focus on things that are closer since you can't see far down the road - that lends itself to a fantastic sensation of speed.  At one point I felt like I was just flying, looked down and I was only going 26km/h!

All in all it went pretty well, except........ I couldn't see.

Planet Bike Beamer 1 and Blinky 3 LED Bicycle Lights

The rear blinking red light was great - piercing, even.  Very easy to see from afar.

The front light... not so much.  In fact I'd go as far as to say it's completely useless in lighting up what's on the road ahead.  On their web site, the "Beamer 3" is rated at just 21 lumens (measure of light output) - I can't even guess how low the "Beamer 1" was.  They don't seem to even make it anymore, possibly because it was completely useless.

OK not completely useless, I'm sure I could be seen, which was slightly less than completely terrifying when I was in the city with the street lighting.

But in the country?  Riding blind.  I could see maybe 10 feet immediately ahead, if that... and when you get up over 30km/h that is terrifying.  Good thing I knew the roads!

MEC Zinger 480

I went out and bought this light, based largely on the reviews.  480 lumens!  That's a lot of lumens.

$49 is a bit steep for a light, but being able to see the road will be wonderful.  I'll post a full review once I get a chance to try it.

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