Monday, October 16, 2006

Brevet Lighting

The Cateye fork mounted twin halogen HL-500II setup shown above (complete details are here) on my Surly LHT was what I planned to use for brevets. It is fine for night riding - even on unlit rural roads, but it has two serious drawbacks:

1. They are not "SUPER" bright and as a result I can't ride as fast as I am capable of because I out run the power of my lights - not ideal for a timed event where a higher average speed means more sleep and less stress.
2. It only lasts 2-3hrs on a set of 4AA batteries. With two lights that would be 16-24AAs every night. Not only is that expensive, but a real environmental nightmare to dispose of. I tried rechargeable NiMH batteries. They work, but only provide 1.2V/AA vs. 1.5V of alkaline disposable batteries.

Having said all that - if you want an inexpensive lighting solution for casual night riding at moderate speeds this setup with rechargable batteries is a decent option.

I have decided to bite the bullet and get myself a SON dynamo hub and Solidlights 1203D 6w LED headlamp. This system provides a lot of light so I should be able to ride as fast as I am able at night and requires no batteries or spare bulbs. The cost of this system is not inconsiderable, but if you factor in the operating costs of battery headlights (batteries & bulbs) it breaks even after a season or two of randonneering.

I'll mount the light to the derauilleur post at the front of my bike using a Terracycle light mount and a R&M handlebar mount. I may also consider a fork mounting option depending on how I like the intial setup.

The SON hub has to be built up into a new front wheel. I'll use a Velocity Aeroheat rim to match my existing Velocity Tharacian wheelset.

is a thread on Another Cycling Forum discussing Solidlights 1203D with SON hubs for Audax rides.

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