Monday, December 29, 2014

Some Upgrades - 2 - The lights on my bike

Upgrades Part 1 -> Read here

After the first set of upgrades, I just gave a break for the second set of upgrades. And when the time came, the immediate upgrade done was, lights.

I have started with the complement lights Decathlon gave with my bike. When they gave up, I quite went through a range of most possible cheaper lights. Cheaper ones? I was a miser on spending for bike components / equipments and I wanted the ratio of every component cost to bike cost to be as low as possible. (Later got the gyan -> n components x m bucks per component was worse than 1 best component x  (n x m) bucks per component)

The lights I used,

My first light - mount failed

More brighter than the first,
but more faster it drained batteries. Also mount
I just bought and used this only because batteries lasted
for quite good time on brevet nights. Not brighter,
but I never cared - Never the mount will fail
 I don't know for what reason I am still preserving these abandoned lights. (Suggest me  DIY with these, as all of them still glow with batteries put)

I used the third one, for quite some tours and brevets as well - at a time when I never cared about the equipments used in brevet. Two important tours - A ride to Goa and ride to Mullayanagiri - Chikmanglur - Balehonnur. Well, this light never served the purpose. For the name sake, I had the light glowing and we navigated with Mustafa's light on nights.

Then came the niterider 150, when I allowed the component to bike cost ratio to go up a bit more. I used it for more than a year. I lost the mount when I went for an outstation brevet (That ride was a nice experience under constraints and holds my best timings for a 200 km Brevet. Read about it here). Kalpesh lost the light to a fast descent on an Anchetty ride and he gave me his mount. Though others had complaints on mount failure, both the mounts stay(ed) loyal to me even now.
Pic taken from niterider website of 200. I used 150

But there were other problems - mounting position of the light. The front bar bag always was an obstacle and half of the light was blocked by it if I mount near the stem. Either I had to allow the bag to hang a bit lower for a proper focus, putting risk on the velcro straps of the bag, or move the light towards bar end, where the light mount was at a risk of slipping (the mount is not screw based, to tighten. It has an array of teeth where it locks - there is possibility of slip at jerks). The mounting was actually problem in all the other lights I used too, and I badly wanted a light which can sit anywhere except the handle bar.

Over the brevets, I found even the light of niterider is not enough for me - 2 reasons.
1. Batteries didn't last more than a night for me and I was lazy to change battery every night I ride
2. The light was not powerful enough. Especially when I ride with Sandeep, I felt as if I didn't have a light at all. And the brightness won't help me to tackle a normal descent in dark - forget the potholes and switchbacks.

Obvious choice - Go for even brighter lights. Power? Two options - Carry a power Bank / get a dynamo. I obviously chose the later as I liked myself generating power for my needs on the ride.

After adding dynamo(read here), to check its working till I get a light, Arvind kindly lent me his planetbike blaze 1w. The brightness was a bit better than the nite rider, but the spread and focus were similar.

Now, the next part. In dynamo powered lights, I narrowed my selection to B & M Luxos U, and Luxos B - Just for the brightness and spread they offered. As we know, Germany has very high standards/regulations on the safety side. Luxos claims it produces brightness 600% more than the required standards.

The main difference between Luxos B and U - the USB power out. That is an important one for me as I had a smart phone and a Music Player, and mainly had a plan of buying a Garmin sensor. 

Being an electronics guy, I initially thought of just buying a Luxos B and making a DIY power converter from dynamo AC to USB standard DC. Simply I left the idea because I foresaw the mess up I could do on water proofing the unit. Then considered buying some power converters like sinewave revolution / tout terrain plug. But found there is no cost advantage and decided to go for Luxos U - Atleast the features come as single unit.

Thanks to Arvind Ganesh, Happy Earth Enterprises, I got the unit. It fits to the crown of the fork nicely.
Side View
Front View
Top -> Can see the Switch easily controllable
- Most comfortable I would say. USB output on right side of switch - protected with a cap for rain.
More details / review here. You can even find more on a further google search. Following are some of my views.

I have used it on quite some night rides / in rains as well. The light is powerful enough with good spread. Well, it has two LEDs focused at different angles. Based on the speed of bike movement (sensed through AC from dynamo), it changes the intensity of these lights to give a focus near the front wheel when slow, and a focus a bit front when riding fast. And I like the panoramic focus on the farfront.

There is a cache battery between dynamo in and USB power out - Can help avoiding surges directly hitting the devices connected. 

The bottom of the light should be protected from back splash of water from tires - well, the fenders serve the purpose.

I noticed onething - One set of lights in Luxos U focus a bit far in the front and the other set, near to the wheel. The mid region is comparatively less brighter (but far brighter than any of my previous lights) and I should admit most of the times my focus stays there only.

My personal experiences - on one of my brevet rides,there came a motorcycle rider whose light was dim and so mine was brighter. He gave a puzzled look on light and then on me. On the same ride, when we had to ride after 2AM on a complete dark section, the unit literally created a light pollution there (A comment from one of my ride buddies on a different ride)

There is a flash light option we can use on daytimes - I am yet to discover how much impact it has on oncoming vehicles.

I have used same, if not, more number of tail lights. Major problem with the cheaper tail lights is, the mount failure. Either the light will jump out of the mount / the joint holding light to mount will give up. 

First two of above - mount failure and I could find on their fall. Third one is Niterider Cherrybomb - Mount is real solid but because of frequent water/muck splash from the wheel, light lost its function.

These are the parts remained on the bike after the failures :-D

There was a period when I repeatedly bought the BSA tail lights, use for some rides where the light frequently jump off the mount - I will stop and fix it again - the loop iterates till a jump where the light really flies off where I couldn't find. For next brevet, I will go and buy the same one, to manage the brevet.

After deciding on the Luxos U, I searched for a compatible B & M dyno powered one. B & M's most lights are rack / fender mountable and this Secula Plus is the unit which can be mounted on a saddle post. I have mounted on the seat stay to support the bigger saddle bag.

There is a reflector available. The light is around the reflector and is quite bright. There is a small capacitor which holds the charge and so the light glows for some minutes even after switching off the front light.

Well, the current lighting system is satisfactory to me. I left the connecting wires without cutting, with a hope that I can transfer to any bike I upgrade in future.


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