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lacorota
02-11-2011, 09:07 AM
My current combo for dusk / foggy days / night are two Planet Bike blinkys, one oblong flashing Trek light, and, the large rack mounted Bush Mueller (sp.) 4D toplight. I don't burn all of them at once until the black of night descends on some of my longer weekend rides. However, during most winter Portland day rides, it can be sufficiently overcast that I keep the big Bush Mueller lamp on.

Some Saturdays I'll be on the road from dawn into night. I'll burn one lamp all day and typically have the entire host of lamps on for the final push home through rural, suburban and then city traffic. Though the combination seems plenty effective, it requires frequent battery swapping. My headlamp, however, has a chargeable LI battery pack and it works very well. It lasts for the advertised rates at a relatively high output. I keep the beam cast somewhat down so it's not pinning someones eyes.

I'm considering doing the same for my tailight, that is, a rechargeable LI version. I've been considering -- in particular -- the Dinotte 400R. Most of the reviews are stellar. Anyone out there have experience with that particular taillight? Let me know if you like it or not. It's a bright light, but I don't think it's one that's going to be annoying to a motorist such that they see me as a target. As a motorist, I've seen far brighter lights oncoming that I'd consider annoying to the point of distraction.

Yes, the headlamp was expensive, as are the Dinotte tailights, but my headlamp proved well worth its cost. It burns bright for long rides, it's survived all day monsoon rides, it charges fast and it's durable. I don't mind expense when something is going to stand up to real tests (day-long winter trips) and not just a ride to the market at dusk for some tofu and beer.

wsbob
02-11-2011, 11:09 AM
I haven't got a Dinotte light, let alone a Dinotte tailight, but after Christmas, I sure thought about getting one. Never having had a higher power bike light ( just Bell tail light and niterider fazer 3 headlight), towards upgrading my bike's illumination, I looked at a lot of different brands and models. Ultimately, I figured Dinotte was more money than I wanted to pay, and more brightness than I probably needed. Additionally, Dinotte's light design aesthetics and and in some ways, its functionality doesn't really appeal to me either.

The word on Dinotte is excellent. I've seen people from a distance using very bright tail lights that I thought may have been Dinottes, but never had a chance to talk to them to be certain.

For a bike tail light the price of the 400R seems very high at $229, but of course...it's very bright compared to all lower priced bike tail lights. Dinotte makes a couple other tail lights that are lower priced than the 400R, the lowest being $120:

Dinotte tail lights (http://store.dinottelighting.com/shared/StoreFront/default.asp?CS=dinotte&StoreType=BtoC&Count1=223369777&Count2=140510201)


Some bike lights are available that either plug into computer USB ports, or have chargers that do. I think only Dinotte's 300R has the latter ability.

I wound up getting an entry level USB rechargable head light made by Cygolite, the Pace 150 (only performance bike sells it.).

Light and Motion makes an interesting USB 35 lumen output rechargeable tail light( not much compared to Dinotte's 100-300 lumen figures...couldn't find a spec chart at Dinotte's site to be certain...but probably much brighter light than many people are running), the Light & Motion Vis 180 Tail Light:

Light & Motion Vis 180 at performance bike (http://www.performancebike.com/bikes/Product_10052_10551_1097545_-1_1572501_20000_400159)

In terms of design and performance, read the features, and you'll find it's a bit of an odd light too...but I think the L & M is definitely a step in the right direction in terms of practicality and affordability.

lacorota
02-11-2011, 11:02 PM
Thanks wsbob! I posted the same querry on Bike Forums and received lots of feedback. All the comments were superb. The split seems between the 300R
and 400R models. I'm leaning towards the 400R because: 1) I've got a rack that will accomdate the battery pack with ease 2) the 400R with the 4-cell LI pack has a lengthy run time on relatively high outputs. It'll be a tax return gift, for sure. Every comment on Bike Forums from folks that have owned the light have no issues for several years. Durability is paramount as I'll likely pit it against some long days with sour weather.

wsbob
02-12-2011, 10:41 AM
lacorota...yes, bikeforums has a lot of people with an extensive knowledge of all the various lights on the market. I've done a bunch of reading over there myself. From your first post ("...long rides...monsoon rides..."), it seemed to me that the demands on your lighting system was probably going to be much greater than that of a typical commuter or grocery getter. So then, cost would be a secondary issue. Main thing is...the light has got to work, work well, and hold up in tough conditions.

Glad you were able to receive great information!

Simple Nature
02-12-2011, 10:48 AM
I just posted this on one of my recumbent forums... this might of interest to you as well.

If you think lights are the answer, and money is no problem, then by all means, there are a lot of options out there for really getting noticed. A 400lm Dinotte sounds like a really nice unit if it has a nice wide beam dispersal. Not having seen these as yet, I don't know if they do.

If, on the other hand, a lesser expensive solution is required, you have some shopping to do. I don't have much to offer in this regard.

I am one for budget solutions and also opted for the 18650 type Cree flashlights. It requires a little bit of ingenuity and some attention to what is going on with the tech but today you can get a lot of power for very little money.

I recently obtained 4 300lm Cree 3 mode zoomable flashlights that use the 18650 LiIon cells. These are 3.7v at 3000mah. These are equivalent in power of 3 of the best AA NiMH cells. I've already had run times in flash modes of up to 4 hours. If I need them longer than this, I can switch from one to another for a full 8 hours of bright, broad beam flashing light, and I can carry spare cells. Each light, with battery, was under $10. Chargers for these cells are also quite cheap. I know that my solution, from a "being seen" perspective is every bit as effective as the best Dinottes.

There is an easy way to make red lights out of white lights. Turns out the film in the freebie 3D glasses works great in changing white light to red. I put the film under the domed lens of the flashlight, and wallah, red lights.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xX8DzWHQWrA

Last night I was out riding in the dark, in a bike lane, and people were pulling way left going around me. I -know- these lights are effective. I've had similar reactions during the day. My front flashers are slowing people in neighborhoods from their normal 40mph to 20-25mph at dusk. I've had cars -stop- because they didn't know what was coming at them at night. Seriously, my trike is now a spectacle in the dark.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pfkBKxumaoU

...and most important, to me, is being seen by people coming out of side streets, therefore I run flashers full time. I know they work just by the reactions of people normally set to run the stop sign and they suddenly sit back in their seat with that disgusted look of having to wait for me to stroll past.

You will also note my other -counter measures-... The large safety triangle on the trunk, the Blackburn Mars 2.0 on the flagpole at a car's side-window height, and a bright flag at eye level of 5'6". I also run valve stem blinkies at night and I have a 5 LED general 2xAA cell light as a center light. I have a left side rear facing constant red 120lm LED and 120lm amber -floodlight- just under my flag. Most of the later ones are only for night running. I also have a 240LM Cree on my head as a "headlight" [literally] for nighttime spot mode.

The real secret to the success of the recent Cree's is the ever advancing technology for the LED brightness and efficiency and even more, the zoom capability. This is what lets you be seen at ever greater angles.

Here is some more entertainment:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HKQdaSV2wWE

wsbob
02-12-2011, 03:34 PM
Simple Nature...the idea of using high performance flashlights for bike lighting can be a good idea. I read a bunch of discussion comments at bikeforums related to doing exactly that, and thought about going that route. Reason I didn't, is because doing so seemed that most likely I'd have to online order stuff from about four different places to put something together, and to improvise a way to mount it on the bike.

That I know of, there isn't a store a person can just walk into and get some help putting together and buy at the store, a high performance mini-flashlight using the latest, brightest, most energy efficient technology. I don't even know of a brick and mortar store I could just walk into and buy 18650 LiIon cells. Certainly not Fred's.

The zoomable flashlights you mention sound interesting. I know that a couple years ago (see below), I asked someone about Maglight brand flashlights, since they have focusable lens; the person responded, not being favorably impressed with this brand's use for biking. Maybe the zoomable lights you have perform better?

A couple years back there were a few threads here on bikeportland forums about using flashights for bike lighting, although the lights being discussed in those threads were lights with larger housings; C cell flashlights that could be had for cheap at Lowes and stores like that...not the most convenient for bike lighting.

Simple Nature
02-12-2011, 05:08 PM
Indeed the Cree series is pretty much an online option with a 2-3 week wait.

The way these zoomable lights work is to use a domed lens. This is the key feature to dispersing the light. Again, this is a -to be seen- feature more than a maximum -LUX to the ground- feature.

I've ordered a lot from HongKong and have never been disappointed. If something came up short on the quality scale, I've always received a full refund. So yes, the wait is the only real detraction. On the upside, many offer free shipping or a deep discount if shipping costs are involved.

Deal Extreme and Buy in Coins are two importers that can be used if ebay is not preferred.
I made an offer to the ebay seller at $8.44 each for 2 with free shipping. 2 weeks later I had 2 more lights. If you go through an outdoor store for the same thing, you'll be out $50 in a heartbeat.

They do have these same lights with 3x AAA options. I don't like the short battery life of the AAA in these lights. At 4 hours of flash, the 18650's really adds to the attraction. Overall, these cells are way cheaper than you can get good AA or AAA NiMH for.

Oh, and there are easy attachment bicycle mounts for these at Deal Extreme. They are like $3. I'll pass and suffer the $0.50 rubber coated steel cable clamps.

http://www.dealextreme.com/p/universal-bicycle-mount-for-flashlights-and-gadgets-2cm-3cm-diameter-adjustable-15642

Simple Nature
02-12-2011, 05:27 PM
PS: This is the seller I purchased mine from twice -

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=120670665607

Make him a reasonable offer and you should get a great deal.

lacorota
02-12-2011, 06:21 PM
Yes, my current combination works fine. I just returned from my weekly "Saturday Sentury," which typically runs me along Marine Drive in the black of eve on my return home. Matter of fact, last Saturday I had the dark + drizzle + thick fog to compound visibility issues. With a pair of Planet Bike blinkies, flashing Trek LED, and my trusty kraut (Bush Mueller 4D toplight) I found most folks approaching from the rear would give ample margin, and then some. I work in a factory with fast moving fork lifts zooming by me all night, so traffic alongside rarely bugs me. My current headlamp is more than adequate, too.

It all works, so long as the oncoming motorist isn't an inconsiderate, self-centered a-hole. I submitted a thread regarding a bike crossing at Burnside and 41st -- noon, oncoming traffic signal red, bike clothing so bright it needed volume controls. The oncoming motorist ripped right through the red light. I see it at that intersection at minimum every 2 weeks. The offender broke the law -- she raced to beat the light and blatantly ran it. Fortunately those are exceptions.

Yes, I go for the budget versions of bike gear, too. However, if a few Xtra bucks spent ensures something durable, and perhaps made in the States, I go for it. I know a bloke that spends $900.00 / month keeping he and his wife and kids equipped with cigarettes. I figure my bike gear habit pales in expense to that.

Yes, I prefer -- if possible -- buying GOOD stuff made in the states. To be sure, we make our share of crap here, too. I'm employed as a machinist, and I've had far too many jobs get shifted offshore and Mexico for no good reason aside from maintaining high profits for greedy CEO's and international shareholders. Factories here have to adhere to fairly strict environmental and labor standards, whereas Asian companies can pretty much do as they please with their collective effluents. I speak from experience because I've worked offshore, and in Mexico. Dinotte lights are fabricated in Hampton New Hampshire :) I enjoy a decent middle class wage and try to trickle that back into a local economy, if possible. Trouble is, it's rarely possible.

boneshaker
02-18-2011, 06:06 PM
I have no experience with their tail lights, but I have a Dinotte 200L headlight. I got it late in '07 and have been using it for daily commuter duty over the last few years. I have had a few issues with it. First the head unit got water behind the lens. I called Dinotte & they immediately replaced it. Great service. Later I had one of the batteries die prematurely. Again they replaced it and updated my charger for free. The last issue I had was the switch went out. It was way out of warranty, but their service was great. They fixed it for the cost of a new switch & gave me a discount on a new battery & newer charger. So I have had issues with my light, but Dinotte has been great. I would buy from them again in the future and would recommend them to my friends. I'm a daily commuter here in PDX so i'm pretty hard on equipment. Not much on my bike lasts 2 years anyway so I've come to expect issues from time to time.

wsbob
04-02-2011, 11:20 PM
I just thought I'd mention, that today, I happened to cross paths with Simple Nature on his flashy recumbent trike. Quite an eye catching rig, with its two-tone gold flecked paint job (I could almost see myself riding something like that.).

The bargain basement priced mail order flashlights he rigged up do look excellent on the bent, and as he said...do show up well...even in daylight. He's got two of them mounted across from each other on the back of the bent and towards the outer sides of it, using the red 3-D cinema glasses lenses re-purposed to turn the flashlights into red tail lights. Looked good to me, both aesthetically and practically.

Simple Nature
04-03-2011, 08:51 AM
Thanks Bob! It was certainly good to met you on the trial yesterday.

http://lh5.googleusercontent.com/_HV4s5YnSv4M/TXHuulYRkcI/AAAAAAAADoU/7Nu-u8uC97Q/s640/DSCN2701.JPG