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Category Archives: Cycling At Night

Bicycle lights, reflective clothing and safety devices for riding your bike at night.

Niterider Sentinel 40 Taillight Winner

Eric-Overton

Eric Overton

We recently held a contest to give away a Niterider Sentinel 40 Taillight to some lucky reader. The rules for the contest were simple: just pick a number between 1,000 and 1,500 and leave it in the comment section for the review. The contest ended at midnight on Monday, December 28, 2015. The winning number for this contest was 1250 and Ohio resident Eric Overton hit the number exactly.

Eric is the organizer of a cycling group in the Cleveland Ohio Area called Long Distance Cycling Cleveland. The group has a series of long distance rides that prepares the group for events such as Calvin’s 12 Hour Challenge, the National 24 Hour Challenge and other organized tours. Eric has been doing the 12 and 24 hour races for 15 years.

1250As usual, we used a random number generator to select a number between 1,000 and 1,500 and that is how 1250 was selected as the winning number. The rules to state that the winning number has to be the number closest to, but not over, the number selected by the random number generator. However, since Eric guessed the number exactly it saved me a lot of time sorting through the comment section to find the closest number.

 
 

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Niterider Sentinel 40 Taillight with Laser Lanes (Product Review and Giveaway)

NiteRider_LifestyleIMG_SentinelTail_URBAN

Over the past twelve or thirteen years I’ve purchased at least a two dozen taillights—some were brighter than others, but the new Niterider Sentinel 40 Taillight is in a class all by itself. I am not one to gush over new cycling gadgets, but this taillight is the coolest product I’ve ever put on my bike! The folks at Niterider sent me one for review and now I am going to give this awesome light away to some lucky reader (see the details at the end of this article).

The Sentinel 40 has a super bright 40 lumen output (and thanks to a well-designed lens it actually looks much brighter than that). The taillight has four modes (two flashing, plus high and low steady). I never use the steady (always on) mode because a flashing light is so much easier for cars to see (plus it saves battery life). In the fastest flash mode the built-in 1000mA LiPo (lithium polymer) battery on this unit will last an amazing seven and a half hours. The charge time for this light is only four hours and uses a USB cable which is included with the light. As for size, the light is approximately 3.5 inches tall, 1.5 inches wide and 1.5 inches deep. For the “weight weenies” among us, it weighs a mere 2.5 ounces (73g).

niterider-sentinel-40I’ve saved the coolest feature for last: the Sentinel 40 has Laser Lanes which project two parallel bright red lines onto the pavement to give you your own personal bike lane. I honestly don’t know how far back cars can see this feature at highway speeds, but in town it a obviously helps. One warning: you are going to have to be ready at every stoplight to tell motorists about the lights since it seems like everyone is curious about them. Did I mention how cool these Laser Lanes look? By the way, the Laser Lane lights are real lasers, so don’t look directly into them.

Like most bicycle taillights, this unit can be mounted to either the back of most saddlebags or attached to your seatpost with the included clamp.  While the clamp seems more robust (sturdy) than most clamps, I prefer to mount mine on the saddlebag so the light will sit up higher on the bike. I used to lose a couple of taillights every year because they would fly off my bike the first time I hit a big bump on the road (but I wouldn’t notice it until I got home). The simple solution is to mount your taillight on the saddlebag as usual, then wrap a zip tie (cable tie) around your light so it extends behind the clamp (I haven’t lost one since I’ve started doing this).

The Niterider Sentinel 40 Taillight retails for $49.99 and is available at your local bike shop or online for a couple dollars less (but be nice and buy this from your local bike shop).

I never keep the products that are sent to me for review, but I am going to really hate giving up this taillight! To enter the contest for the Niterider Sentinel 40 Taillight all you have to do is pick a number between 1,000 and 1,500 and enter it in the comment section below (you don’t actually have to make a comment). The contest ends at midnight (CST) on Monday, December 28, 2015. After the contest closes I will use a random number generator to pick the winning number. If no one guesses the exact number the person with the number closest to, but not over, the winning number will get this slightly used taillight. In case two or more people chose the same number the first person to pick the number will be the winner. This contest is for U.S. residents only and only one entry per household allowed. When the contest is over I will publish the results in the comments section of this article. I will send this product to the winner via U.S. Mail.

 

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Lid Lights (Product Review and Giveaway)

I love riding my bike at night. With two bright headlights in the front and a pair of high-powered taillights in the back I am kind of hard to miss on most roads. However, one of the most common forms of bicycle accidents involve side impact—and headlights and taillights do very little to protect you from this kind of collision. The folks at Lid Lights recently sent me one of their new LED helmet lights to try out and I was really impressed with what they’ve put together. If you like riding your bike at night then keep reading—you might even be lucky enough to win a free set of Lid Lights (see details below).

Lid Lights LED Helmet Lights

Lid Lights LED Helmet Lights (Helmet not included)

Lid Lights consist of a pair of 12″ long flexible LED lights that attach to your bicycle or ski helmet with 3M adhesive tape (it comes pre-attached to the back of the light strips). If these strips are too long for your helmet (and they might be if you are putting them on a child’s helmet) then you can trim them down to size with just a pair of scissors (complete directions are given on the company website). Since these lights attach to the side of your helmet it makes it easier for cars to see from the side. In addition, helmet lights are usually about two feet higher off the ground than most taillights—and this also makes it easier for folks to see you!

Lid Lights LED Helmet Lights

Powered by a single 9-volt battery

The LED lights are incredibly bright and are powered by a single 9-volt battery. The whole unit only weights 3 ounces and the battery unit attaches to your helmet with a piece of Velcro (included). Typical battery life for this product is around 15 to 20 hours of continuous use. I would suggest you use rechargeable batteries—they won’t last as long between charges, but they are a lot more cost-effective.

Lid Lights LED Helmet Lights

An easy to use switch controls the blinking pattern

Lid Lights are available in two versions: one with a static light (always on) and a blinking version. The static light retails for $25 and the blinking version is $35. In my opinion the blinking version is the only way to go—blinking lights make you a lot more visible to motorists than an “always on” light. The blinking lights are controlled by a small switch so you can choose from 25 or so different blinking patterns. Lid Lights are available in several colors, including: Blue, Pink, Orange, Green, White, Yellow and Red.

Lid Lights LED Helmet Lights

The green LED lights are pretty cool at night!

The bottom line: If you ride your bike at night these lights are a no-brainer. Buy a cheap helmet and put a pair of blinking Lid Lights on them. I use very expensive helmets during my daylight rides (both for the ventilation and cool design). However, when you ride at night you don’t usually have to worry as much about ventilation and since no one can actually see the helmet you might as well just go with a cheap one! If you would like to see how the different color lights look in action you can head over to the Lid Lights Storefront (you can order them from this same page).

If you would like a chance to win a brand-new set of Lid Lights then leave a comment below telling me why you need this product. The contest ends at midnight (CST) on Friday, May 31, 2013. After the contest closes I will read through the comments and choose a winner based solely on my incredibly subjective mood at the time—however, humor in your entry is highly encouraged (just keep it clean). If you don’t need this light yourself you are free to comment on other entries. So I can remain impartial until the contest is over I will not be responding the comments left on this post. This contest is for U.S. residents only and only one entry per household allowed. I will send this product to the winner via U.S. Mail at my expense. Good luck!

 

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Nathan 3M Reflective Tape

Nathan 3M Reflective Tape

Nathan 3M Reflective Tape

I love riding my bikes at night and have purchased several headlights and taillights so I can ride safely. Powerful battery operated headlights allow you to see where you are going, and flashing taillights make your presence known to cars up to a mile away. However, since batteries die, lamps burn out and mounting brackets break, I always have a bit of reflective gear with me as well. Most jerseys have a bit of reflective piping—I guess that is better than nothing, but if you are looking for an easy and inexpensive way to be seen at night without the need of batteries I would suggest you check out Nathan 3M Reflective Tape.

Nathan 3M Reflective Tape is one inch wide and comes in a 27-inch strip—it can be applied to your bike, helmet, saddlebags or any other hard surface. This tape has a very strong self-adhesive backing, so it should be considered permanent—and it is very easy to cut to any length you need. This reflective tape comes in three colors: Yellow, Pink, and Orange. I prefer the yellow tape since I think it stands out more than the other color choices. Nathan Sports claims that this tape is “100–200 times more visible than non-reflective clothing in low-light conditions.”

When I travel out of town with one of my bikes I usually carry it on a Yakima bike rack that mounts in the 2″ hitch receiver on my Jeep. Unfortunately, this bike rack sticks out a couple of feet past the rear bumper on the Jeep and I’m always afraid someone is going to run into it—so I applied Nathan 3M Reflective Tape on three sides of it and now it is visible from a long way off!

Nathan 3M Reflective Tape retails for $10 and is available at many sporting good stores, like R.E.I., The Sports Authority, and Dick’s Sporting Goods. I was also able to find it on Amazon.com for $7. While there are hundreds of safety products available for your bike, this one has to be one of the most cost-effective products you can find for cycling at night. By the way, this product is made in USA.

 

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Serfas Thunderbolt Headlight and Taillight

If you have not shopped for new bicycle lights in a while you will be surprised at how much things have changed in the past few years. Modern bicycle headlights are far brighter and lot less expensive than the were just five years ago. Not only are the lights brighter, but they also weigh less—and most lights now have rechargeable batteries as well. A few weeks ago the folks at Serfas sent me a pair of their new Thunderbolt USB rechargeable lights to review and if you are a commuter these lights will be of special interest to you. Thunderbolt is the name given to both the headlight and the taillight, but they are sold separately.

Serfas Thunderbolt Headlight

Serfas Thunderbolt Headlight

The Serfas Thunderbolt headlight is very compact (3.5″ long, 1″ tall, and 1.5″ wide) and provides 90 lumens of light. The light pattern is non-directional, i.e., the beam covers a wide area (just the opposite of a spotlight). The Thunderbolt headlight has a silicone body and is highly water-resistant, as well as being extremely lightweight (just 50 grams). There are four light settings available: high beam, low beam, high blink and low blink. You should be able to get about 90 minutes of use in the high beam with a fully charged battery. However, cold weather negatively impacts all batteries—when the temperature drops below freezing don’t expect a full 90 minutes of use. The high blink mode is what I used the most and was able to consistently get almost four hours of use per charge (Serfas only claims 3.5 hours). The headlight can be seen from a mile away, but at 90-lumens it is intended for commuters, not mountain bikers.

Both the headlight and taillight attach to your bike with a pair of silicon mounting straps (included) and should fit most bikes. These lights attach quickly—a trained monkey could do it in under five seconds. If you use the lights to get to work you are going to love this feature!

The best part about these lights is that they are USB rechargeable. Using the included USB cord you can charge these lights by plugging them into your computer (I used the wall charger for my iPhone instead). If you buy both a headlight and a taillight you will have two USB cords—you could leave one at your office and the other at your house so you can recharge the lights at either place.

Serfas Thunderbolt Taillight

Serfas Thunderbolt Taillight

The Serfas Thunderbolt taillight quickly became one of my favorite taillights! At 35 lumens it outshines most of the taillights you will find at your local bike shop, and since it is USB rechargeable you will never have to buy batteries for it. The taillight is primarily designed to attach to your seatpost (3″ of exposed post required), but you could also mount it on your seat stays. Like the headlight, the taillight has four operating modes (high beam, low beam, high blink and low blink). I never run taillights in the high beam setting—I believe the blinking mode makes it a lot easier for motorists to see you. In the high blink mode this light runs for three hours on a full charge.

As I mentioned earlier, the Thunderbolt lights are not designed for mountain bikers. However, Serfas has a wide selection of other lights available, including their brand new TSL-1500+ (1500 lumens of light with a three hour run time).

The Serfas Thunderbolt headlight and taillight retail for $45 each and are available in seven different body colors (Black, White, Red, Blue, Pink, Green, Yellow). You should be able to buy this light at any bike shop—if they don’t have it in stock they can order it for you. These lights are also available from Amazon.com and many other online retailers.

 

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Glo Glov Reflective Sport Glove

Some us of ride our bikes at night because it is fun, others do it because they have no other choice. Regardless of why you are cycling at night you want to get back home safely—and that means proper lighting and reflectors. One of the greatest pieces of safety equipment I’ve ever bought was a pair of Glo Glov Reflective Sport Gloves and I never ride at night without them.

Glo Glov Reflective Sport Glove for cyclists

Glo Glov Reflective Sport Glove

Glo Glov Reflective Sport Gloves are lightweight gloves that have several pieces of yellow retro-reflective vinyl sewn onto the back (and a red piece on the wrist). These gloves are specially designed for outdoor sports and are great for cyclists, runners, walkers or anyone who has to exercise near road traffic—the reflective strips can easily be seen from 1/4 of a mile away. While a reflective vest and taillight will allow motorists to see you, these gloves will allow them to see you signal for turns (or for a stop if you point the red reflective strip towards the back). These gloves work so well that I’ve had several motorists pull up beside me at a stoplight and ask about them.

These gloves have a padded grip palm and you can wear them alone or over your regular cycling gloves. These lightweight (only 1.5 ounces per pair) gloves are highly breathable and made of a non-fraying fabric (80% nylon, 20% spandex). As for sizing, these gloves are advertised as “one size fits all.” Incredibly, this is one of the few times that a claim like this is actually true—the gloves should fit any size hand from Medium to XXL. I wear XL cycling gloves and the Glo Glov fits of them without any trouble (and they come off just as easy).

Glo Glovs are made in the USA and sell for $20 on the Glo Glov Website (price includes shipping). I would highly recommend this product to anyone who cycles or runs at night.

 

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Cateye TL-LD610 Rear Bicycle Light

The long days of summer have passed and a lot of us now find ourselves still out on the road when the sun has gone down. Without a good taillight it is hard for motorists to see cyclists on the road (and it doesn’t help that some cyclists ride in black gear at night). Fortunately, there are many good bicycle taillights on the market and Cateye, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of cycling products, has several great taillights and they are available at almost any bike shop in America. The Cateye LD610 Taillight is an affordable taillight that should suit the needs of most cyclists.

Cateye TL-LD610 Rear Bicycle Light

Cateye TL-LD610 Rear Bicycle Light

The Cateye LD610 Taillight has five bright LED lights and is powered by two AAA batteries. This taillight has four different operating modes (constant on, flashing, random, and side-to-side). Cateye claims the batteries will last up to 30 hours in constant mode or 60 hours in flashing mode—I have found this to be accurate in warm weather, but battery life in cold weather always suffers.

There are three things that make the Cateye LD610 worthy of your consideration. First, it has a tool-free universal bracket that should fit on just about any bike. Second, the mounting bracket allows for either horizontal or vertical mounting. Third, the side-to-side light pattern is one of the most effective light patterns I’ve seen on a taillight.

The Cateye LD610 is well-built and the batteries are easy to change (some taillights make changing batteries a real pain). I need to point out that when I ride at night I always use two taillights. Batteries die, mounting brackets break and anything attached to your bike can fall off.

The Cateye LD610 Taillight retails for $25, but it appears as though the LD610 has now been replaced by the LD650 so you might have to look for it on Amazon.com. Since I have not used the LD650 myself I can’t recommend it (yet), but after looking at the tech specs I have to believe it is even better than the LD610.

 

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