Friday, October 12, 2012

Can You See Me Now? Part 1

I do a lot of night ridding. Mostly way out in the country. I've got some really bright lights on my bike, but I have had times when the battery in my taillight runs low and farmers would pull up beside me to tell me that they could barely see my light or me. And with the light being behind me, obviously it's hard to tell if the batteries are running low. So I've bought some SOLAS retro-reflective tape and put it on the rear fender on the Motobecane. I chose SOLAS because it's USCG approved (for watercraft and life vests) and figured that it would be good and waterproof. Also, if it's bright enough to see someone bobbing about in the ocean at night, surely it's bright enough to see a bicycle on a street.

So here's how it looks on the fender under the kitchen lights:

It blends in quite nicely with the fender! I cut three strips. A wider strip to go down the center between the two black lines, and two narrower strips for each side.

Here's how it looks with the lights off using the flash on the camera:

That's pretty bright! It reflects a lot more than the piece of reflective ribbon I've got tied on my bag. Now to take it out for a test run. See if I can get some pictures with car headlights shining on it.


  1. Since you do a lot of night riding, have you thought of investing in the dynamo lighting option? I've got it on my primary bikes, and it's great to not have to worry about dying batteries or recharging batteries.

  2. Hi Adventure! I've got dynamo lighting on one bike. It's ok. It doesn't have a standlight, so when I stop, the lights stop and I'm in the dark. Which out in areas with no street light is not good. Also, it creates some drag on the wheel (both the bottle and hub versions I've tried). I don't want to throw a lot of money at the Motobecane to re-build it's wheels around dynamo hubs. Now, I've got a Magic Shine headlight that is amazing. It runs off a rechargeable battery and throws out a beam of light wider than the road (handy for seeing critters hiding in the ditches) and extends probably close to 15-20 feet in front of me. People have commented that they thought I was on a motorcycle when they see it coming at them. It actually throws out more light than the headlights on my in-laws volvo. I'll be buying one of the Magic Shine taillights soon.

    1. Sounds like the light on your dyno setup is an older halogen one. Having a standlight makes a big difference. I have the basic B+M LED on my Raleigh. They retail for around $60, so they aren't that expensive these days.

      As for drag on a dynohub, I've never noticed a difference on either of the setups I have, but I know some people are more sensitive to it. What kind of hub is it on your bike?

    2. Yeah, it's an older SA hub. We're in the process of gutting the light and wiring in a LED. We've got it working, just need to attach it back to the bike!

    3. That explains it. The old Sturmey-Archer Dynohubs were the state-of-the-art of the time, but the modern dynamo hubs, even the cheapies I have on my bike, are light-years better in the drag department. I've never noticed drag on my hubs. With the new LED lighting you will notice a difference in the lights, fer shure.

      Is the S-A Dynohub on a 26" x 1 3/8" wheel?

    4. Yup, it's in a 26 1 3/8 wheel. We had the LED conversion hooked up to test and it was WAY better than that old halogen. Much brighter and barely any drag on the wheel. So I'm looking forward to having it on that bike. That's good to know that the newer dynamo hubs perform better. Maybe I'll keep them in mind for a future build. But for the old Moto, it's going to be battery powered lights and lots of reflective tape. :)

  3. I have reflective tape on my rear fenders too, though only one strip down the center. I may go back and add more now, though. :)

    I've also put reflective tape on my cranks, on the part of the arm that faces back toward traffic. I'm hoping it "flashes" as the crank turns, and attracts attention.