Monday, January 9, 2012

Are lights making me an easier target to hit?

For Christmas I received a great new headlight for the daily commuter. It's a Bell brand oval shaped 5 led light that gets mounted to the handlebars. With it in the package is a 3 led red tail light meant to be attached to the seat post. This was just in time, as my former led headlight finally lit its last dark morning on the day I last needed it for 2011. I like the light that issues from it. I also like the blinking feature. I almost always use the blinking function with the belief it will be easier to attract drivers' and pedestrians' attention, thus preventing collisions.

What I didn't like was the plastic housing. It looked like it would not last long holding up against freezing cold temperatures in January and February and the near daily jolting it would take from our small town streets. Also, it didn't look water proof at all; no o-ring, no gasket, no cover. So, with the goal of improving the durability of the headlight and improving the water resistance of it, too, I dug through the detritus in the workshop and came up with a used bicycle tube and a jar of rubber cement.

I reminisce on the afternoons when high school classes were dismissed for the day and I'd spend the time, among other tasks, patching motorists' flat punctured passenger car tires. It was simple enough. Once the tire had been dismounted from the wheel, it was forcibly spread open, then the inner surface of the tire around the puncture would be buffed, or roughed up with a pneumatic device. Once that was accomplished, we applied a thin coat of rubber cement to the area and when it dried, an adhesive backed patch was placed over the puncture hole. That's it.

With this in my mind, I used my wife's scissors to cut lengths of rubber from the tube. I tried to make them as uniform as possible, but I can assure you they hardly were. I applied a thin coat of rubber cement to the seam where the top and bottom hemispheres of the plastic light housing met. I also applied a thin coat to the rubber tube strip as well. Then, when both had dried to tacky, I laid it over the seam on the rubber cement.

It doesn't look factory, that's for sure. But, since I continued placing the rubber of the tube over the places I felt would be compromised by rain, I feel pretty confident I've made it pretty water proof.

I didn't like the loose feel of the mounting hardware, either. So, since I had about three feet or more of the tube leftover, I cinched the light down with it. I wrapped it around it and the handlebars several times and tied it off as tightly as possible.

I think this will increase its shock absorption and just provide it with a little more mass to keep it stable on the handlebars. I just thought the plastic a little too brittle for my taste.If nothing else, maybe it won't be stolen as easily if the would-be thief must cut away the tube, or untie it.

I received a great little flexible green light that comes in the shape of a spoke reflector, too. Like most l.e.d. lights, it has a blinking and a steady function. I installed it on my front wheel, and I've got to say I like the green. It looks nice, and seems to be noticeable. I hope it is.

I must look like quite a sight with a blinking white headlight, a blinking red tail light, and a blinking, green light that rotates with the wheel. The idea is to avoid collisions, but I wonder if all the blinking lights attracts the eyes of drivers which results in their inadvertent steering toward me, instead of the opposite effect I desire.I wonder if there's any evidence out there.?

Lastly I was given a single led blinking red light which I mounted to the only flat spot on my helmet, which happens to be on the tip top. It reminds me of the old sheriff's vehicles with the single "cherry" on top. I haven't yet used it; haven't yet switched the power on and rode my bike with it blinking. I worry that it will just be too much.

Of course, some would say too much is never enough when it comes to lighting a bicycle and rider. That may be true, but then I have to suffer through the ridicule of being "that guy", who got even nerdier, just when people thought he couldn't.

Whatever the spectacle does to my self-confidence and esteem, I'm sure I must make quite a sight coming down the road. What I need is another cyclist to wear my reflective clothes and operate my bike with its  blinking lights while I operate a vehicle, just to see what I must look like. Then, I might judge with more accuracy.


  1. Would like to see a picture of that headlight job ! You may need to patent it !


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