October 17, 2013
So Autumn is here. It is getting dark early and when that dreaded time change to day light savings hits, it will be dark even earlier. So I guess we need to hang up the bike for the year. Or maybe we might get lucky and get a few weekend rides in.
Yeah, I suppose that could happen, but there really is no need to. Dressed appropriately, we can bike all year with very little change. Very little bar one big one: get good lights.
So I have been riding year round for years. Mostly on the roads as my favorite form of transportation to and from work. I have always had some form of little light on my bike, but did I feel safe 100% of the time? Not really, but gosh, those bright lights were just so expensive and so big and bulky. No more!
My current bike light on the front is by Serfas and is their True500 or TSL-S500. 500 Lumens of raw power! This tiny little light retails for $139.99 or else you can also get its little brother the True250 for $99. There are bigger lights, but frankly, both the 250 and 500 lumen versions offer plenty of brightness for night time riding on the road, the trails or even mountain bike riding in the woods.
Both versions of this light have great battery life, with close to 2 hours at maximum power, and double or triple that on lower settings. The rechargable battery they come with is also user replaceable. And the great thing about using these lights for commuting? They can be charged by USB. So if you forgot to charge it up on your way to work or school, you just need access to a USB port, a cable and you are good to go. And they come with a bar or helmet mount.
Serfas makes their lights according to RoSH standards. What does that mean? Well per the Serfas website:
The RoHS directive restricts the use of six hazardous materials in the manufacture of various types of electronic and electrical equipment. Although RoHS is not mandatory in the United States, for over 4 years Serfas has elected to do the right thing for the environment, and only manufacture lights that are RoHS compliant.
Of course a front light is absolutely needed for you to see where you are going, and to let others know you are coming, but what about cars or other cyclists approaching from behind? Well a rear light is also an absolute. If you are a fair weather only rider, then really you don't need to break the bank on a rear light. There are many economical options that work great on a crisp clear night.
Riding in a bit of rain or fog or snow? Well opt for something with some oomph. Riding on the road opt for red flashing light with at least 800 meters visible distance. As cars are your "foe" you have to realize the worse the conditions the longer the distance they need to stop or slow down. So giving them maximum warning is the best thing. I currently have a nice little Cat Eye rear light, but I am going to up grade to the Serfas Thunderbolt. It offers super brightness and is rechargable via USB, which to me is so important these days.
Happy riding and don't let the dark scare you off.