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Monday, October 23, 2017

Lighting for Bicycles in 2017

In the past, I've recommended Exposure Lights for bicycle lighting. In 2017, my recommendation has changed dramatically. Part of it is my dissatisfaction with the Exposure mounting system, the other is that various lights on Amazon have become far better, providing much better value and now charge via USB rather than a proprietary port.

In general, all the bicycle lights on Amazon for around $20 seem to have been made by the same factory, just with different logos and packaged tail-lights. For instance, the Bitzu Gator and the Kernowo lights are essentially identical. For my money, the Kernowo is better as the included tail-light is superior, both brighter and rechargeable by USB.

These lights last only for about an hour or three, depending on what brightness setting you use them at. But if you need to run them for longer, just buy an extra, and use a USB powerbank to charge the lights that aren't in use while you're running the other light. I haven't checked to see if you can use these lights while they're being charged by an external source, but that's also a reasonable solution. You might even be able to run a generator to them and power them that way.

The lights are bright enough to be seen by, and bright enough to light up the road even while riding through a dense redwood forest during the day, so they're good enough for any situation I'd conceivably be in. Because they're charged by USB, I don't have to carry a separate charger on tour, and won't be stuck riding without a light at night.

At prices like these, you can buy a separate light for each bike in the household, and not worry about swapping lights from bike to bike.

Because I'm using the Ortlieb Handlebar bag that Pamela gave me, I can't mount the lights on the handlebars on either my single road bike or the tandem. The solution is to run a stub on the rack mount on both bikes. The Origin8 Eyelet Stub is cheap and works well for this purpose.

Are these the absolute best solution? No. But they're more than good enough, and they're cheap. There's no reason to buy anything else unless you're going to go mountain biking on technical singletrack at night.

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