There doesn’t seem to be a dedicated thread for night unicycling and reviews of related lights etc, so I thought I’d have a crack at starting one
Night riding, especially off road, is great fun. It’s a bit surreal as even familiar trails take on a new life at night with the ground surface being quite hard to read and you end up having to use ‘the force’ just as much as your eyes to motor along.
Anyways, here’s a couple of pics. One of my helmet light setup which works great, and and a night pic taken by one of my kids.
A couple of guys asked previously what lights I use, so I’ve written a review of the Ay Up! lights for night unicycling in my blog
Bring out the night riders!
I use a £10 LED torch from Hong Kong for night muni, strapped onto my helmet. I used to have a fancy bike lighting helmet mount system, but the torch is more convenient, lighter weight, and all in one, so you don’t need to have any cables.
You can get £40 LED torches now that are as bright or brighter than almost all bike light systems (except the ridiculous £500 super-lights).
The Ay Up lights are 150 grams or so including mount, lightset and 3 hour battery. Not too shabby weight-wise. They’re also much cheaper than most lights (~£130) and LED based - CREE XRE, specs at http://www.cree.com/
My wife and kids also use the lights as a torch - go figure!
While it’s been a while (too busy lately), I’ve done quite a bit of night riding on some of our less technical trails right out my back gate in our state park. I initially experimented with Dirt, Sweat and Gears 12 hour.
Ive been meaning to get some lights of some sort seeing as i find myself out all day only returning when it’s getting dark…the only coat i have is a big black one so i presume i would be a little difficult to see. I would also love to tackle the closest off road track at night just for the hell of it.
Looks like youve got a nice setup but ive gotta ask…how do you get your photos to turn out like that…the beam looks real funky
heya, no worries, it’s just a long exposure. the lights create trails as the rider moves through the shot, like this effect you would’ve seen with night traffic photos:
except with a flash that fires at the start of exposure to capture the rider.
I have the Cygolite Dual Cross 300
It is an older model, the new Pro models seem to be a lot better.
I have had no issues with it. You have to order the helmet mount separately, but it works great. If I were to get a new light, I would probably get one of the DualCross Pro models…probably with the Li-Ion battery.
Anyway, the version I have has a small NiMH brick/battery that either attaches to my bike frame or goes securely in my camelbak when unicycling.
I have a Light & Motion ARC HID light w/ a Lithium-ion battery (675 or 550 lumens, 185g w/ bar mount, 300g battery). It’s probably bright enough for most trails for me, but I wish it would spread the light out more (it lights up a wider area & is brighter than every other light I’ve tried). When the battery gets low it shifts the the lower output level, but it only lasts ~ 20 min and since the two outputs aren’t significantly different, once it shut off w/o me noticing it powered down (luckily I had my Bullfrogs for back-up).
http://www.bikemag.com/gear/accessories/LED_Light_Test_1/index.html (hover the mouse on the light you want to see represented)
Since many of my local trails are near or over my peak skill, I wish I had more light. I’m saving up for another and putting both on my helmet, thinking about the Nite Rider TriNewt.
If I was getting my first high output light now, I’d get the Light and Motion Seca 700 Race (a bit pricey though). The light itself is a bit bulky, so I have my reservations about it as a second light, but I’ve read that it’s not heavy and is much lighter than it looks and gives a very broad beam.
Ive tried various combinations of the following: 1-4 Knog Frogs (10 lumens each), 1-2 Knog Bullfrogs (50 lumens each), Light and Motion Solo Logic NiMH (390 lumens). Also each of those w/ the ARC instead of the Solo Logic.
I’ve heard to get a significant improvement in light for it to be worthwhile you need to double your total output. From experimentation, I’d say that’s pretty accurate.
Getting back to night riding season, and I saw some off-topic discussion in the “Pics of your latest ride” thread, so thought I’d revive this discussion.
I’ve had recent success mounting two Schwinn LED headlamps on uni handlebars. Less than $15 each at Walmart, and amazingly bright for the price. http://www.walmart.com/ip/Schwinn-Bike-Torch-Light/9207797
On my KH T-bar (or should be the same on the Shadow bar) the lights mount side by side. On the Coker Pi Bar, I had to mount an extra little horizontal bar in the middle of the Pi Bar frame (PVC cut to size and shape, with holes drilled then attached with nylon cable ties), then put the lights on one in front of the other. For both setups, I adjust the angle so one light shines ahead a little further than the other.
I used this setup with my son on a recent rail-trail ride that went through lots of tunnels. We also used LED headlamps mounted on our helmets for the longest tunnel, but didn’t bother with the helmet-headlamps most of the day because the cheap Schwinn lights were perfectly adequate. See video of the lights in use: Hiawatha rail trail with my son
Note, though, that I could see more than what came through on the camera (which is not by any means a night camera).
These lights are fine for road riding with just one light, and for easy trails with two lights. If you’re looking for true night muni riding, these probably would not be adequate.
Edit: Writing this up got me thinking that if I can somehow manage to mount all four of the lights on my KH T-Bar, it probably would be adequate for at least moderate night muni. I’ll have to work on that - heck, I own the four lights already!
I haven’t ridden any off-road rides yet, but this topic get me thinking: Why?
For my normal rides in the city center I’m using just two one-led lights like this
mounted on the seat post or frame neck. These are rather to be seen, not to see anything, but in my usual rides the street lamps are enough.
If I think of some smaller streets/pavements I take my Petzl Tikka headlamp and wear it just under the helmet.
Now I’ve started thinking about getting some more light for offroad. I have to check what old bike lamps I have laying in my toolbox.
Careful, thinking like that could put an end to all unicycling!
Haha, sounds like I need to clarify my post. No streetlights for much of my usual commuting route. No ambient light at all other than moon/stars. So my riding with the one light really means riding with just the one light to see by, which I find adequate on a paved road.
I tried a few different Petzl headlights and this is the cheapest one I found useful for riding on pavement in the dark.
I also tried this one: http://www.petzl.com/en/outdoor/myo-series/myo-xp but I found that while the beam threw a long way the beam was too narrow and it only worked OK with the diffuser in place.
Neither would make good choice by themselves for off road.
But for an inexpensive solution the XP2 does a pretty good job on pavement.
Almost forgot. A couple of months ago I was riding in darkening dusk at my local airport and a plane was coming in. He was coming in from the west and I was heading west so we were coming towards each other. I was on a taxi way that parallels the runway.
When I got to where the plane was stopped the pilot told me he could see my light from 10 miles out (that was the TikkaXP2). That’s what I call a ‘be seen light’.
I tried riding in bright full moon light but for this old guys eyes it wasn’t enough even on flat pavement.
I have a pair of Ay-Up lights mounted on my helmet for night rides. I chose the medium beam which I find sufficient distance wise with the added benefit of being able to see a broader area. They came with a “three hour” battery but it runs for over 12 hours of usable light.
On the uni itself I run a Superflash tail light and a Serfas front light to be seen by others. I also have a small blinky light on the back of the helmet.
I have been using a nightrider evolution headlamp, and I still have their original dual handlebar setup… but my latest light was a gift, a water resustant 900 lumen LED lamp with Li-polymer batt… it works very well and for the price OMG!