Tag Archives: Lights

New lights and rucksack #cycling

I’ve never been one to recommend without having used it for while. Enough evaluation time has passed and I’m now ready to extol the virtues of my recent purchases.

A bag is a bag? No, mostly I prefer an office pannier bag, a rucksack trumps in terms of convenience, but also gives you a sweaty back. Though the fancy bag helps a little with fancy looking back ventilation:

It’s still more sweaty than not having it on your back.

(Osprey Talon 22)

But I’m going to stick with it because it’s more convenient (and the blue matches bluebell nicely LOL). The overall weight is slightly less because I don’t need a rack either now. It is also nicer to not have the weight on the back wheel and the rattling around the contents used to get, so the bike moves over bumps better. I’m happy with the bag and my new setup.

Now, onto my favourite subject, commuting lights. See my last post for an introduction http://wp.me/p1Tdgj-11j.

Here they are:

Don’t ever be fooled by beam patterns, heat maps or photos, the only way of knowing how good something is is to get your hands on one and try it on a wet road. The packaging (and website) show impressive patterns, which never match reality.

The Busch + Müller IXON IQ Premium LED Front Light Set – 1922QMLA is pretty good and I like plugging it in rather than taking batteries out and charging separately. The fact that it takes AA batteries gives me a lot of options with this light. It also lasts around 5 hours on full power so I don’t need to charge it every day. It switches to low power when the batteries are low. Looking at run time for low power is pointless, I don’t buy a high output light to run on low power. If this were the only light that I’d bought, then I’d probably rave about it, but, the Lumotec IQ-X light is even better…

The 20 extra lux on paper doesn’t do it justice, it’s a great light, even on my old and low powered supernova S dynamo hub, it far exceeds the output of the IXON IQ Premium, however I will keep using both because I like to be prepared at the least favourable time of year. The IQ-X is a nice looking light too. Anyone wanting to get a dynamo light should definitely consider this light.

I consider both of these Busch + Müller lights affordable and reasonably priced, even when the Pound is weak against the Euro. So there’s no excuse for not treating yourself when your existing lighting isn’t up to scratch.

Dark so early? Time to buy new lights #cycling @bike24net

In the UK we’ve just lost British Summer Time daylight saving and my gosh did I notice the loss of daylight, that hour really did change my commute home. I love riding in the dark provided I’ve got adequate lighting, but my main light is no longer good enough and my spare is just about usable, so it was time to replace them.

Most of the lights I looked at were massively expensive, powerful and put more light on the sky than on the road.

In September 2012 I bought a hub dynamo and a Busch & Müller Lumotec IQ Fly RT front light from bike24.com. I like the light, it’s courteous to other road users and efficiently puts light on the road while still making me very visible, so I wanted something similar but with a bit more power.

Fortunately Busch & Müller now have a more powerful dynamo light and a very good battery light that don’t break the bank, even with the awful pound to euro exchange rate.

So I’ve ordered them from bike24.com:

Busch + Müller Lumotec IQ-X LED Front Light – 164RTSNDI-01
(http://en.bumm.de/products/dynamo-headlights/lumotec-iq-x.html)

Busch + Müller IXON IQ Premium LED Front Light Set – 1922QMLA
(http://en.bumm.de/produkte/akku-scheinwerfer/ixon-iq.html)

There aren’t such good reviews of the IXON IQ, apparently it breaks easily, well, I’ll just have to be careful with it 🙂

Fingers crossed they both arrive safely and work as well as I hope they do, it’d be nice to have something that lasts another 4 years without any issues, the cheap lights on Amazon etc won’t that’s for sure.

The weather has also become cold too, it’s only the start of November and I’m already in my winter jacket and gloves!

A new chainring and pedal reflectors, yes, you heard me. #cycling

Lastly, firstly, pedal reflectors are a legal requirement in the UK, other than that, I think they are worthwhile, they can’t do any harm. Don’t be fooled though, reflectors give people false hope, get decent lights, spend a lot of money on them and be safe. Pedal reflectors won’t help when the vehicle’s windows are misted up or it’s a rainy day. Only bright lights will penetrate that.

But anyway… I was down to my last one, they keep breaking, falling off etc. So I bought some new bolt on ones, let’s see how long they last.

Now, the highlight, a brand spanking new Thorn chainring, 48T and reversible (eat that derailleur lovers):

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Notice how clean Bluebell is compared with normal? I treated her to a clean not so long ago 🙂

Also, note the black oil marks are on alternate teeth, bonus points if you can guess why this is? Wow, cycling trivia, almost.

And for comparison old against new:

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Extra trivia, is the original (on top) a reversible chainring and explain why 🙂

After weeks of waiting, I finally fix up bluebell #cycling

For this I needed a new crank puller (a.k.a. extractor, Park Tool CCP-22):20130511-105542.jpg
And a new crankset (unbranded):20130511-105612.jpg
The crankset was recommended as the current replacement by SJS. Replacing the chainrings with the single chainring I already had on the old crankset.
The crank puller seems OK, though I don’t rate it above my last one, maybe equal to it. Anyway it worked twice which is all I needed. Important is to always remember to grease both threads and the tip of it, since the tip will be grinding against metal.
Here’s one side done, baby started crying that was all I managed that evening:20130511-151649.jpg
It’s also worth noting that I grease the bottom bracket axle before putting the new crank on, grease the crank bolt and give it a good tighten if you want it to remain in place. Greasing the axle is meant to decrease the corrosion that can happen between the steel axle and the alloy crank. Similarly greasing pedal threads is a must, which i forgot last time, hence the beginning of the problems I had. There are those that disagree which bits to grease, I sometimes change my mind, but I’ve had more problems by not greasing than by greasing.
After removing the RHS crank I need to swap the chainrings from new to old:20130511-153459.jpg
He’s the finished result:20130511-153521.jpg
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The hawk eyed reader will note that my chainring is not reversible and is getting on in age (miles), when the teeth are like razor blades I’ll swap it, a derailleur setup would need this replacing already, my chain is 1% worn according to my chain wear indicator, I’ll replace that at nearer 2% probably, again derailleur owners would need to replace now.
The finished RHS:20130511-154408.jpg
While I was shopping for the above I also bought a saddle, Maddison Prime:20130511-154815.jpg
Here’s it fitted, note the road profile of it and the fancy ruler for elite setup:20130511-154824.jpg
I just stick it in the middle, angle the nose up a tiny fraction and that’s fine. Maybe I’ll fiddle with it in future, but I tend not to notice much difference. It’s definitely harder than my last saddle, but doesn’t seem to bother me yet as my cycling distances are tiny now I work closer to home and have a baby that takes up my cycling time.
That was that for that night, the next evening I did an oil change and tightened my mudguard bolts (Surrey roads rattle them loose). Next morning I’m all set for commuting again:
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What a lovely steel machine she is.

A week of Rudy brings some minor tweaks #cycling

To prevent frame damage from the Rohloff bayonet connectors, I fitted a chain stay protector:
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It’s a Lezyne Chain Stay Protector, choosing the size was a guess, I chose small and it’s a perfect snug fit. Normally you wouldn’t have the cables running this way, but the step through frame leaves not much other option.

Next was a new light / accessory bar / handlebar extension, the Minoura Space Grip is vastly improved. The model is SGL-300 in Medium. It’s plenty long enough for my needs.
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It appears nice and strong, but only the miles will tell. Other than actually being able to adjust it without taking it apart (anyone who owns or has owned the previous model will know what I mean), I like the quick release feature.
Mounting this way puts the lights in front rather than behind the steerer, another annoying feature of crank forwards is the angle of the steerer. Though this is a bit hard to imagine without seeing it.

DIY rear light mount from the rack #cycling

Having no visible seat post to mount a second rear light caused some head scratching. The rack has a light mounted on it, but I wanted another.
Here’s what I came up with
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A spare rack part, a bolt, an old Burley connector (plastic pipe and a drill would be an alternative) and a standard light bracket.
The rack part (struggling to think what they are called) is bolted with two bolts to the rack, preventing it from moving in any direction. The Burley connector is bolted to the rack part which also has the light bracket holding it from moving.

Here’s the fitted results
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It vibrates a little, so a more stiff joining piece of metal would be better (the rack part). The Burley connector could be cut down an inch too.
But it works.

The best photos of the new wheels I could manage #cycling

No day light and free time to take decent photos, so a dark and gloomy shed is what I have…

This first one didn’t come out right, but I like it so I included it 20121123-215744.jpg

The full bike
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The rear
Rigida Grizzly 26″ (559) MTB Rim – Black – 32 Hole with silver Sapim Race spokes
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The front
Supernova-Mavic MTB Front Wheel Infinity S – XM 719 Hub Dynamo Center Lock/Canti

20121123-215841.jpg

The new light
Busch + Müller Lumotec IQ Fly RT Senso Plus LED Front Light with DRL 174QRTSNDI.
20121123-215856.jpg

I am very pleased to be back on Bluebell as the Nexus bike is plain awful, though it did OK as a replacement, so I shouldn’t knock it too much.

In summary, I’m happy with everything but I did want a bit more output from the Busch & Müller Lumotec IQ Fly RT Senso Plus.

Let me go into a but more detail…

Good points:

It is really nice is having a sharp rear brake, before it had to be fairly loose otherwise the wonky rear wheel would rub.

The front hub was like a clunky piece of crap in my hands, but when clamped into the forks the rotation is smoother, not completely smooth, there is noticeable resistance, but only when spining it on the maintenance stand, on the road I don’t notice a thing.

There are three positions on the Fly RT, so you can dip it down when you need more light closer to the bike e.g. bad weather. I really like this feature.

The standlight on the Fly RT is the two bottom DRL (Daylight Running Light) LEDs, not that bright, but they last long enough to give confidence and enough light to unlock the side gate and shed.

Disappointments:

A spoke in my old (good) front wheel went ping as it just sat there in my lounge, I assume the spoke had sheared and was holing on by a hairs breadth, bringing it in the warm and changing tensions by deflating and removing the tyre must have pushed it over the edge.

The Fly RT isn’t very impressive, or maybe my Airbike is just more impressive, I was left underwhelmed. I’m sure it’ll be adequate for my needs as that extra spread the Airbike gives is wasted light anyway.

The Fly RT was a bit of a fiddle to fit because the bottom of the Orbit XL II headset on my Thorn Raven Sport Tour got in the way.

The modes on the light aren’t well explained anywhere, so here’s my findings:

0 – Off
T – Tagfahrlicht – DRL LEDs on, main beam slightly less
S – Senso – Automatic, same as T in daylight or night mode in poor light. Night mode is two DRL LEDs and the main beam on full.

I couldn’t see much difference between S and T at night so I probably won’t use the S mode as the DRL add a tiny bit of extra side lighting that I want (even more of).

The wait is over, two new wheels and a light #cycling

Finally, I’ve waited a long time for these wheels.

Firstly the lack of responsiveness, not replying to emails and forgetting to dispatch from bike24. They came good in the end, but beware if there’s a problem then you have to be patient and chase them up.

Supernova-Mavic MTB Front Wheel Infinity S – XM 719 Hub Dynamo Center Lock/Canti

Busch + Müller Lumotec IQ Fly RT Senso Plus LED Front Light with DRL 174QRTSNDI.

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First impressions without riding it, the dynamo is clunky, huge resistance to wheel rotation, however I doubt it’s a problem.

The light will have it’s own review after testing, but the hub with very little rotation has enough juice to drive the daylight function, so it’s looking good so far.

Then there’s my laziness in sending off the Rohloff to SJS for a wheel build. Amazing service from them, they got the built wheel back to me within the same week, given they got it late on Monday, wheel guy was not in on Tuesday, they built it Wednesday and I had it first thing this (Friday) morning.

Rigida Grizzly 26″ (559) MTB Rim – Black – 32 Hole with silver Sapim Race spokes

20121116-222940.jpg

The Rohloff sprocket was cracked, so I also had to buy a new one of those, it was only half worn, but better replace it rather than risk it.

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The grizzly rim has an impressively large braking surface
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But since I am a front wheel braker it’s neither here nor there.

So, tomorrow I put everything together, here’s looking forward to a rest ride in the dark.

Rear lighting options, yep, commuting in the dark again #cycling

I’ve previously posted about my favourite rear light (Cateye TL LD1100), but a bike shop email reminded me why the others in the same price category don’t get my attention.
Here’s why I chose and repeatedly choose this particular light (in no particular order):

  • high battery life
  • fantastic rear visibility
  • side visibility
  • lots of modes with 5 or 10 LED operation (lasts a huge amount of time only using 5)
  • easy to attach and detach from bike
  • rack mountable (extra cost bracket)
  • anything with 10 LEDs must be good, right? OK, that’s not true, but they are 10 powerful LEDs!

I own four of them, two for my bike, one for the Burley and one for the wife’s bike. She gets the one with the broken button (repeatedly dropping by me over the years caused that rather than a manufacturing fault).

The only thing I do have to do is throw away the plastic sleeves that sit inside the battery compartments, else it is a too tighter fit for my batteries. The bag / belt clip isn’t very secure, so doesn’t get used either, I wish they provided a free rack mount instead!
A friend had lost one and blamed the mount, but I’ve been using them for four years, every ride, even in bright sunshine and I’ve not had any problems. I do gently wiggle a light once attached to check it won’t bounce off, maybe that is why.

I’ve tried cheap Chinese lights, waste of money, but filled a gap at the time.

I once bought a competitor, the Blackburn Mars 4, though the single LED was bright, here’s why it was replaced after a month of being patient with it:

  • poor battery life
  • high performance of LED only on fresh batteries
  • stupid AAAs when everything else is AAs
  • rack mount or post mount but required tools to change between them
  • small and inaccessible on off switch was annoying
  • battery cover required a coin or key to open – which you did often, so it was surprisingly annoying!

There are new lights similar to the Mars around at the moment, but their quoted battery life is an instant turn off even if they don’t have the same shortcut comings.

I hope to have a dynamo front light setup soon, that’s a whole different post that is, but until then I haven’t given dynamo rear lights any consideration. Sure, the batteries wouldn’t run out, but here’s the things that put me off already:

  • permanently attached, another thing to be stolen
  • lack of support for two rear lights
  • Burley light would still have to be battery
  • more cabling / wires
  • wires can fail etc
  • they aren’t my current light

I’m tempted to do a DIY job and wire up a standard light of my choice, but I’m not an electronics guru and the AC is a bit if a pain. Maybe a USB hub for the dynamo (e.g. the plug) then a 5v DC to 3V DC (i.e. 2 x AA) converter or some resistors / whatever wired up to achieve that. Hmmm, worth further thought.

Battery or dynamo hub powered front light, the big decision #cycling

At present I have an Air Bike P7 Ever Light (SCC P7 LED, 700 lumens) and it’s been working well for several years now but a while back the cat chewed the charger cable, so I patched it up, but the lamp cable has also been patched up, the lens is cracked and the reflector surface has bubbled in places too. Sure, it still works, but a replacement is overdue.

I can’t afford a decent branded battery pack light (oooww Betty) or a SON dynamo plus a decent lamp. Given the price of the MagicShine lights I’m tempted to buy one, but I’ve also been thinking about a dynamo. Dynamos seem expensive, mostly lack a flashing mode for daytime use and quick release would have to be a DIY solution too. Why am I still interested in a dynamo? Well, the modern battery front lights have such poor runtime that I find it annoying to have to keep charging it, my rear lights last the week so they can happily be battery powered without getting annoying. Fortunately Busch & Müller’s IQ DRL lamps aren’t that expensive and have a Daylight Running (flashing) Light, so if I can keep the price of the hub and wheel down then the only issue is a DIY quick release bracket, I can deal with that. Another thing about a dynamo (in theory) is that I can upgrade or replace the lower costing lamp in future, so when the IQ2 is widely available I can upgrade (or just wish I’d have waited for it). Nexus and Bluebell have different wheel sizes, so I can’t swap it between the bikes, but then I’ll still have the Air Bike that I can use on the lesser used Nexus if I have to.

Finding somewhere that sells dynamo hubs laced into rims isn’t that easy either, some don’t, they only sell the components, some say you’re going to have to contact them with your requirements and they’ll create the custom order for you. A few people recommended Bike24, so I went there, they do sell the built wheel, but unfortunately the cheaper dynamos were out of stock, after some huffing and puffing I decided to just splash out a bit (no, not on a SON, I can’t splash out that much!), here’s what I ordered:
Supernova Infinity S dynamo hub laced into a Mavic XM 719 rim (center lock or rim brake) – €229.90
Busch + Müller Lumotec IQ Fly RT Senso Plus LED Front Light with DRL 174QRTSNDI – €49.90
Total = €279.80

The downside (there always is one) is Bike24 are based in Germany (hence the Euro price tag), so I’ve no idea how much it’s really costing, but I figure if I can afford it in pounds then it’ll be fine.

Wish me luck!