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night riding. fear!

long fingerlong finger Posts: 9
edited October 2008 in Road beginners
hi, i'm new to the forums. i've been lurking for a while since getting my first proper road bike a few months ago.
inspired by the winter night riding thread

http://www.bikeradar.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=12584704&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=0

and the clocks going back, i've just been on my first night ride, on one of my usual routes, taking in some unlit lanes and some lit A-roads.
I'm using a Fenix L2D (following advice from this forum) and together with a half-decent set of bike-specific LED lights.

OH MAN UNLIT ROADS ARE SCARY!!!

I can't understand how you guys are happy on unlit roads - I could just about see enough to make progress, but too scared to go at all quickly! I love the idea of riding at night but i'm suffering a few problems i've listed below. is this just me? how do you cope with them?! any advice much appreicated!

PS. I'm thinking about trying to find some routes on lit A-roads, but these are much busier, faster (eg dual carriageways) and probably pose other problems of their own. what do you think?!


my night-time (unlit road) issues:
- cannot use drop bars as need to sit upright to see down the road at all (peripheral vision useless)
- downhill sections had to brake all the way so i' slow enough to see what i'm doing
- particularly slow (poor visibility) in any bends - maybe a helmet-mounted light would help this?!)
- road positioning is a long way out from the kerb because i see the bends/ potholes way later so need time to react - this means i am more vulnerable to cars from behind?
- car headlights are blinding! even when dipped, after a car passed me i'm plunged into darkness and have to readjust to my own pale glow
- have to 'feel' gears because i cannot see the chainrings to tell what gear i'm in
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  • rjsrjs Posts: 9
    I wouldn't touch A roads at night. Commuters in a rush in the dark + cyclists is asking fro trouble. For night training I head for the quietest lanes I can find.

    A couple of your issues are in fact common sense. Taking it easy on downhills at night is sensible, as is positioning yourself well away from the kurb. A good road position away from the kurb offers greater visability and will often make drivers reduce their speed as they apporach you from behind.

    But above all I say aim for roads with the least traffic, take it easy until you know the roads in the dark and dress like an xmas tree on steroids.
  • doyler78doyler78 Posts: 1,951
    Well tonight I averaged 18.6mph on my commute home and I didn't feel unsafe or feel I was outrunning my lights even at a max speed of 34.3mph on a unlit downhill section of road.

    I have never experienced any problems with dipped headlights however have been blinded by full beam lights which is scary and plain dangerous of drivers not dipping. Kerbs and corners are easily visible and ride where I normally do which is out from the kerb unless coming to junctions, traffic lights, etc where I move to the centre of the road.

    You actually don't need that much light I find straight down in front of you however you do need a good spread down the road and I think some people aim their lights to much downwards in order to really light the road up immediately in front them however they then can't see anything or very little down the road. If you are looking ahead you can see the hazards before you hit them thus you don't need a big plume of light right below you. I don't know how you have set your lights up but you may want to look at that.

    I myself do not have your setup. I use an ayup intermediate lightset so I can't comment specifically how good they are however there seems to be good reports on here however most setups I have heard have involved using two of these lights.

    Helment mounted lights are generally best with much narrower beam that can stretch well down the road with a broader beam on the bars to give you a better spread of light. I myself manage just one the one set of ayup lights however I will probably get myself a helmet mounted one at some stage.

    I think you just need to check your setup and once you have a good setup you will find that riding in the dark can be a lot of fun and no more dangerous than during the day indeed it is my own view that I am much more likely to be noticed at night than during the day because I am lit up like a christmas tree between rear lights and reflective stripping on my clothes.

    I hope you do get your setup sorted.
  • feelfeel Posts: 800
    TBH i think solo night riding is a bit of a no no unless it is just a commute home. I can't see that you can do a night time training ride without taking a lot of risks. Fortunately though i am in the position where i can ride in daylight some week days and weekends.
    We are born with the dead:
    See, they return, and bring us with them.
  • cougiecougie Posts: 22,512
    I couldnt disagree more ! At night with decent kit and good lights and you stand out so much more than you do in day light. I use the l2d on high - not even turbo and its great on and off road - an extra helmet light does help but i have coped without it. Quiet roads are your friend - wear a peak or cap so you can block out bright car lights but they should be dipping when they see your light. Maybe you need to try these roads in day light to get your confidence first ? I would try and stay off the lit a roads tho.
  • cougiecougie Posts: 22,512
    All i can think is :
    Have you had an eye test lately?
    Is your light on high and have you got it angled far enough up the road ?
    Dont get the thing about not using the drops - cant you look up the road like that ?
    Maybe your batteries are dud - what are you using ?
    I have been riding at night on and off for 25 years now and we had such censored lights in those days but we never had all of the problems that you seem to have had ? Maybe it takes time to get used to it ?
    I was out tonight for two hours and loved it - certainly it feels a lot safer than a sunday ride with dodgy drivers around. Keep at it.
  • I was out riding in the dark on Monday and will be doing the same again tonight. It's a training ride of about 20 miles doing a few laps of a local hill on unlit roads.
    I bought a new set of lights from Halfords....bikehut own brand LED's....The back light is very bright and can be seen from a long way. The front light wasn't so great and although it lights up quite a long way and would be sufficient to ride with, it is more of a dull glow than proper full on light. There is lots of light spill to the sides and top which is good cos I can be seen from all directions. I decided to dig out my 10 year old Smart Halogen twin headlights and attach them......fantastic in combination with the bikehut front light. The halogens provide a nice 10 watt halo around me and shine a reasonable distance...I now have the bikehut front on flashing strobe effect....I can see signs reflecting down the road at least 3-400 yards away....Now drivers have no excuse! I also use an Altura night vision jacket and should have the matching nightvision winter gloves arriving tomorrow which light me up nicely with the upwards spill from the halfords light :).

    Embrace the dark.....don't go out until rush hour is over....it's great seeing pedestrians trying to cover their eyes when the strobe light hits them....gives me confidence in my lights :twisted:
    17 Stone down to 12.5 now raring to get back on the bike!
  • chuckcorkchuckcork Posts: 1,471
    Can I suggest you have two lights on, one in front of you, another pointed down the road. That way you will be less likely to outrun your vision distance, and will still be able to see directly in front of you.

    I can't comment on the Felix light having never used one, but would suggest cycling specific lighting be purchased on the ability to see with it, not the being seen which is all you'll get from a AA battery powered LED.

    A helmet mounted light can be very useful too, where you turn your head to look at you'll have light.

    Also ditto on the ride the route in the day and become familiar with it first.
    'Twas Mulga Bill, from Eaglehawk, that caught the cycling craze....
  • Rich-TiRich-Ti Posts: 1,831
    This is my weapon of choice:

    enduro-white-cut-out-300px.1.jpg

    720 lumens of power for 3 hours! That way you can see all you want on dark unlit roads (as well as an early warning of the deer in Richmond Park), and cars definitely dip their lights for me too! :wink::lol:
  • johnnyc71johnnyc71 Posts: 178
    As mentioned - knowing the route - potholes etc, really helps. I currently run two lights up front - one angled way up the road and one 5 - metres in front - seems to do the job.

    Saying that, it didn't stop me just ordering the new 800 lumen Dinotte and a 400 Lumen light for my helmet - I cycle alot at night - it's very peaceful / relaxing.
  • cougiecougie Posts: 22,512
    Chuck - you want to check out some of the new LED torches - they're the future of bike lights - amazingly powerful beams - its like magic !
  • keef66keef66 Posts: 13,286
    If you can't see far enough with an L2D in turbo mode there's something wrong with either the torch, the batteries, or your eyesight. Mine's like a light-sabre. I still think to get that much light from two AA batteries it has to be defying the laws of physics.

    Are you sure the front bezel of the light is screwed completely clockwise (when viewed from the front)? That's how you get turbo mode, and you toggle between constant and strobe with a soft click of the rear switch.
  • feelfeel Posts: 800
    Have only been out a few times at night purely for the riding, and found myself constantly worrying/thinking about road the road surface and debris. Maybe if i had really expensive lights it might be better and i suppose i would be more inclined to buy them if i didn't have the opportunity to always do daytime riding for leisure.
    We are born with the dead:
    See, they return, and bring us with them.
  • meagainmeagain Posts: 2,774
    Some folk have much poorer night vision than others - while my sight is better than good (I wear glasses for driving but even without I can (though deterirating with age) meet the driving test "standard" (which is abyssmally low!), I have always avoided night driving/riding. I was once told all to do with balance of cups/cones in the eye - and apparently no cure.
    d.j.
    "Cancel my subscription to the resurrection."
  • keef66keef66 Posts: 13,286
    Spot the cyclist!

    Cups and cones more to do with bearing adjustment I think

    Cones and rods is what you have in your eyes. Non-adjustable.
  • keef66keef66 Posts: 13,286
    Rich Ti; bloody hell, your front light cost nearly as much as my last bike!
  • As long as your lights are of good quality then there's no reason why you shouldn't be able to ride safely and confidently at night.

    I'm happy to commute all winter long and take extended loops (notifying g/f of the route I plan to take and an ETA) and I feel safe doing so.
  • meagainmeagain Posts: 2,774
    keef66 wrote:
    Spot the cyclist!

    Cups and cones more to do with bearing adjustment I think

    Cones and rods is what you have in your eyes. Non-adjustable.

    Whoops! Indeed a bit of a giveaway - but principle of poor night vision holds!
    d.j.
    "Cancel my subscription to the resurrection."
  • tenbartenbar Posts: 94
    I started night riding about 6 weeks ago and I am loving it. As I stated in the linked thread, I use the AyUp road lights and have no problems whatsoever with seeing the way. The only problem I'm having at the minute is the cold. It's difficult to know what to wear when the temperature is somewhere between mild and brass monkeys.
  • chuckcorkchuckcork Posts: 1,471
    cougie wrote:
    Chuck - you want to check out some of the new LED torches - they're the future of bike lights - amazingly powerful beams - its like magic !

    I had my mind on a Schmidt Edelux (dynamo powered LED) but now that I'm unemployed, and being an architect, probably unemployable at the moment, I'll stick with the E6 Halogen I have....will be in London anyway, so won't be needing lights too bright other than in RP.
    'Twas Mulga Bill, from Eaglehawk, that caught the cycling craze....
  • MossriderMossrider Posts: 226
    I regularly commute from South of Huddersfield to Rochdale on a mixture of urban and extremely dark moorland roads. Until this year I used a pair of cheap cateyes on the front and relied on road knowledge for the descents (just one of those extra adrenaline rushes from cycling!), but never a problem round town. I've just bought an airbike light and what a revelation! On unlit roads there is no way anyone fails to dip (I've even had cars stop!) and I can go as fast as I want. Cycling at night is much better if you can find a quiet road - just the noise of the bike for company and a chance to re-invigorate after the stresses of the day. Maybe it just takes a bit of getting used to.
  • Rich-TiRich-Ti Posts: 1,831
    keef66 wrote:
    Rich Ti; bloody hell, your front light cost nearly as much as my last bike!
    Years of MTB night riding justifies it :wink:
  • andy_wrxandy_wrx Posts: 3,396
    I've just got a DealExtreme Q5 light, $23 USD inc shipping
    http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.14909
    and am using this as an helmet light, additional to my lights on the bars

    It seems a major improvement on just using handlebar lights, on unlight Cheshire lanes
    - lights on the bars are low, if there's a slight hollow in the road then you see it as a black shadow and can't tell if it's 1/2inch or 6inch deep : a helmet lamp gets you a different perspective and you can see into these hollows
    - attached to your head which swivels, you can see round/into corners, unlike your fixed handlebar lights
    - oncoming cars seem to be giving way to me more, slowing down : perhaps they're not sure what the hell's coming towards them
    - and they seem to be dipping headlights more/earlier too : if they don't, with a helmet light you can point yours back at them and they seem to get the point and dip (I'd only try this at a distance though, I wouldn't recomment deliberately trying to dazzle an oncoming car close to you...)

    I like riding round in the dark, to be honest.
    There's just you and the bike and the dark.
    The lanes are empty, you hear the sounds of nocturnal wildlife and the sighing of the wind in the trees, you get odd sniffs of smoke from cottage chimneys, cooking smells and foxes.

    I prefer it on roads I know, so I'm aware of any huge potholes or sharp bends - besides though, it's a lot easier if you know where you're going rather than having to navigate.
    Traffic from behind isn't a problem because you can see it coming, its lights light-up the road in front of you.
    Similarly oncoming traffic on twisty or sunken lanes is more visible at night because you can see the lights coming. The only issue is if they blind you.
  • BodhbhBodhbh Posts: 117
    keef66 wrote:
    If you can't see far enough with an L2D in turbo mode there's something wrong with either the torch, the batteries, or your eyesight. Mine's like a light-sabre. I still think to get that much light from two AA batteries it has to be defying the laws of physics.

    Are you sure the front bezel of the light is screwed completely clockwise (when viewed from the front)? That's how you get turbo mode, and you toggle between constant and strobe with a soft click of the rear switch.
    I know that generally they're highly recommended, but I had problems with my Fenix L2Ds - one was outright a dud, I sent it back. The other would light okay - but not as bright as I expected and not good enuff to bomb about unlit lanes - however flattens even decent duracell batteries in 30mins. Deffo wasn't an issue with screwing in.

    In the end had a v close call with a car not spotting me after riding with the Fenix rapidly diming down at dusk and just shelled out for the Ay-Ups, not worth the risk messing about with bad lights!

    Bit of a noob to give out advice as just been riding about at night last few weeks. But area town centres can be good to run about if the daytime traffic really dries up. Would very highly recommend the Ay-Ups tho, well worth the cost to be able to maintain biking in unlit lanes thru winter imo. Whatever you do either bring sprare batteries or lights tho for emergency faliures. Thinking it'll be okay and riding 5mins to a newsagent without lights might be when you get hit.
  • Al_38Al_38 Posts: 277
    To get the best out of the fenix lights you definetly need to be running them on rechargeables...
    I have a TK11 and one on its own is plentily sufficient for riding at speed on unlit roads, 2 makes it that little bit better i find though. If drivers aren't dipping lights for you then I would suggest that your lights are pointing too low on the road. I tend to ride with around 1-2 from my front wheel unlit by the beam of the torch - if there is something there I havn't already spotted then I wouldn't be able to avoid it anyway. And with the beams much more up the road then you can see things earlier and so can react accordingly.

    Al
  • alfabluealfablue Posts: 8,497
    This shows the dramatic difference running L2D's and similar on Alkalines - big mistake

    L1D Alkaline versus NiMH (this is the single cell version of the L2D)

    runtime_turbo.gif

    What you should get on NiMH from the L2D CE Q5 on Turbo and high

    runtime_turbo.gif

    runtime_high.gif

    See how flat the output is almost to the point of battery exhaustion using NiMH
  • BodhbhBodhbh Posts: 117
    alfablue wrote:
    This shows the dramatic difference running L2D's and similar on Alkalines - big mistake
    I didn't know that. I recently got some rechargables, so I'll give them a go.
  • alfabluealfablue Posts: 8,497
    Bodhbh wrote:
    alfablue wrote:
    This shows the dramatic difference running L2D's and similar on Alkalines - big mistake
    I didn't know that. I recently got some rechargables, so I'll give them a go.
    Yep, NiMH's deliver their output throughout the cycle at a fairly steady rate.#

    2900mah NiMH are about the highest capacity available, make sure you use a smart charger, their performance will soon deteriorate with a cheap or non-smart charger. (Smart chargers detect the state of each cell and only charge as required, dumb chargers work on a timer so the battery gets cooked if already part charged).
  • cougiecougie Posts: 22,512
    I'd echo Alfablues comments on getting a proper charger - I had one that I bought at the supermarket - and it was censored - overcooked my batteries and I got censored all life out of them. Thrown them away and started again with alfas advice.
  • BodhbhBodhbh Posts: 117
    alfablue wrote:
    2900mah NiMH are about the highest capacity available, make sure you use a smart charger, their performance will soon deteriorate with a cheap or non-smart charger. (Smart chargers detect the state of each cell and only charge as required, dumb chargers work on a timer so the battery gets cooked if already part charged).
    I believe it's a smart one...well, iirc it was about 15 odd quid, Eveready brand, with lights to indicate charge status with free set of 2500mah batteries if that sounds about right.

    The gradual reduction of output I found as dangerous as the batteries running out rapidly, it creeps up on you without you noticing, specially in town lights and at dusk. The Ay-Ups at least seem just to cut out altogether from close to full power. Cheers anyhow, will give rechargables a punt.
  • cougiecougie Posts: 22,512
    aaah - I've just thrown an everready one away - just worked on a timer - so leave it on overnioght and the batteries are hot ? The Vapextech one shuts down when the cell is charged - that was £15 alone.
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