Uni / Muni nightriding

Anybody do it? Where do you put the lights? Was out having fun playing on some bumpy bits in the local park in the dusk this evening, but reckon the experience would have been better if I’d been able to see the bumps which kept making me UPD.

I’d put some little LEDs on the seatpost front and back so the drivers could see me on the road bits, but not sure I could put proper lights there, and not keen on just a helmet light because of the lack of shadows to help with seeing where the bumps are.

I use a high powered headlamp with a lithium battery pack, mounted on the helmet is really the only safe place, works great, you just need to buy a good one. $100-200.

I pull out the light once the time changes, this will be my standard after work situation until we get our daylight back.

It’s fun to ride with lights, but it gets old fast. I tend to ride trails I know when I ride with lights, also avoid harder stuff as nightfals are rough.

I use a handlebar off road so I mount a light under the bars, as far forward as I can without worrying about it hitting the ground. I also wear a light on my head.

The under-handlebar MUni light works well but I have considered making some sort of chest mount light. It is an odd feeling when you UPD and your trail is no-longer lit.

I’m going muni-ing tomorrow night. I’ll have a nice headlamp (backpacking style, I don’t have a bike one), as well as a bike front light (used for city riding) hooked onto my mini handlebars I have set up on my muni.

I’m also considering coming up with a chest-mount. The problem with using only a helmet mount is that you can’t see any shadows and if a rock or bump is the same color as its surroundings, you can’t see it. With the lights lower (as on the handlebars of a mountain bike), you can see “behind” the lit objects and see the shadows that are cast and give you a much better visual on what’s ahead. Same with most dips and ruts. Not so bad on a bike, but on a muni, it’s UPD-outta-nowhere city when you can’t see terrain features coming.

Also as on a bike, you can supplement the low-mounted light with a helmet light so you get the look-around ability.

Fenix

I use this set up

http://www.fenixlight.com/viewnproduct.asp?id=38

with one of their flashlights. It works great.

Gotta keep practicing even though it’s winter.

Exactly my thoughts - on a bike I much prefer to ride with only a bar light than only a helmet light (though both is better on a bike, and I’d have thought almost essential on a muni).

I’m wondering if anybody has tried mounting a light directly beneath the saddle - seems like the optimum place as your legs won’t get in the way of the beam, and you won’t hit it when you UPD. Though I suppose you can’t mount it quite directly underneath as your hand would then get in the way when grabbing the nose. How about right at the fork crown where your legs should be splayed enough to clear the crown? As I have a DIY light which I’ve never really made a proper mount for (just use zip ties) I should have a play around.

I made up a rig that sits under my saddle. It can hold 2 variable focus torches. I also wear a torch on my helmet.
With this setup I’ve got plenty of shadows and can also see where I’m going as I turn.
I got it all from eBay for under $100.

Under my motto of “use what you got.” I’ve done plenty of night trail riding but didn’t want to invest in any expensive lighting systems that I felt were unnecessary for such a infrequent activity. So I used the LED headlamps I have from my ultrarunning; Petzl and Black Diamond. I agree that mounted on your head, both from a night running and trail unicycling standpoint, aren’t the best because it tends to flatten out the terrain and you can’t see the rocks and drops as easily i.e. no shadows! So I loosen the headlamp straps out as far as they’ll go and mount them around my chest at armpit level. Sometimes I’ll wear two at a time if I need a lot of light or have had good look wearing one and then using some small straps to mount another light on the seatpost of my unicycle. With the two light system I’ve had pretty good luck riding the easier, well known XC paths around my house in the local park at night. The big issue in my area is the large amount of leaf fall that hides all the rocks; makes riding even in the daytime very difficult!

It’s a lot of fun and you don’t need a whole lot of extra equipment to try it out. I’d love to have a super bright lighting system but it’s not in the cards…

Helmet light works best IME. There is the issue with not being able to see some kinds of bumps (and nasty glare in mist) but you get used to that. Frame-mounted lights aren’t too good because they get blocked by legs, broken in crashes and are usually pointing either straight at the floor (on a climb) or up in the air (on a descent) because the uni frame is always roughly vertical.

I used a vistalite 10W or 15W halogen for years with battery in the camelback. Recently bought an Exposure Diablo so I’m using that now, but it’s overkill for unicycling on full power - middle setting is similar to my old 15W halogen and works well. The Diablo on full is nice on the bike, but you just don’t need that much light at unicycle speeds. (the 10W was fine for Mountain Mayhem and similar)

Rob

EDIT: One thing I have done in fog on the way home from work (easy stoney xc track) is to hold the light in my hand at waist level - which works quite well if you’re riding something fairly easy.

A light can only take so many shocks, so UPD’s could get expensive. There’s also the issue of losing your vision when you UPD.

Headlamps are great, but you need a very bright one for it to be great.

Here’s what I use:

http://www.geomangear.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=4_41&products_id=295

I modified a handlebar mount attached to the seat post and it works great. With the light down low you are able to see shadows and read the trail better than with a helmet mount which makes the trail two-d. It is also pretty well protected sitting just above the post clamp.

Well, if you haven’t yet try the easiest, pedal under the moonlight on known tracks. Sometimes you really don’t need to see anything and it’s far more exciting.

I just used 2 small Blackburn Flea 2.0 for my 900km route and I had to travel at night some days. Moon light is better than anything else but if there is no full moon just try with a normal headlamp a find out what suits you better.

But if you want something really hardcore (don’t do this) you can just try going blindfolded and using echolocation. I’ve done that sometimes but not for muni, just for street riding (which is easier because of the terrain but far more dangerous because pedestrians, cars and mean people who want you to crash)

It’s amazing but PLEASE don’t try that until you are experienced with geolocation while walking, riding and also riding with a helping stick (a trekking one not for blinds) so you can check small bumps and holes.

It’s really cool but pretty scaring at first, DO NOT DO IT if you aren’t experienced because it can also be dangerous for other people.

You can see what is it about here

and find much more info about training on Daniel Kish site.

Btw, you can also try technology using TheVOICE App for Android, but that’s not good for night, just for blindfolded

I Frequently ride at night. I have two Bell “RADIAN” lights bolted to the top tube under the saddle. White in the front, red in the back. They use three triple A batteries and are quite bright. These are my “back up lights” mostly so that if anything happens I won’t get a ticket for no lights. They are not bright enough to ride with, just to be seen. I also supplement these with a reflectlive strap around my left leg, and another red blinkie light on it. I use the left leg to give myself another 7 inches to the left that the car drivers are going to focus on so that perhaps they will give me more space. My primary light is a handheld SSC P7 Bin D type flashlight with 18650 batteries that puts out 900 lumens. This light is bright, completely bright enough to ride in any situation. At dark I ride with a runner who runs 10 milers through the dirt roads in the vineyards and I ride bodyguard on my unicycle twice to three times a week. Everything is lit up. Both me and the runner use the same flashlight to see with, I mean we only use one light between the two of us. If I UPD it isn’t because I couldn’t see but because I was looking at something else and got caught by suprise by a hole, rut, or bump. Happens if I watch a train go by or zone out on something. I carry a spare battery with me since I’m out close to two hours. The unicycle is beautiful because we carry stuff in our hands easily. I tried a 3000 lumen LED flashlight for this ride, this flashlight lights up a football field easy, but really is overkill for riding on a unicycle. I don’t use it any more because it destroys my batteries. On the street a couple of times a week I run my dog at night for a 2 miler. Once again the same set up except I have a yellow blinkie on my dogs leash. Never have any problems except people trying to turn in front of me, one flash in the eyes with the 900 lumen light and game over, they stop and let me by.

Lights take shocks all the time when mountain biking - it’s just a question of the magnitude of the shock, but that can be alleviated to some extent by using a flexible mounting (I think any mount for use under the saddle is going to have a fair amount of flex whether I like it or not). I’m also looking at trying this with my DIY light (several years old, but when I made it brighter than any LED then available commercially), which is not only solid state and very robust, but also very cheap and easy to fix if something does go - the only obvious possible points of failure due to shock being solder joints and wiring.

I get Rob’s point about light angles though.

I have a Minoura Space Grip mounted vertically at the front of my Muni, to which I attach a Lumicycle lamp. The battery goes in the bottle cage at the back. It’s a reasonable solution for commuting.

If you can, bring a friend. The light behind you will shadow everything you need to watch out for and the person behind you can see everything coming ahead of time.

It’s not just shocks, it’s actual direct physical contact with the ground. If you fall off a bike with a light on the bars, the light is pretty well protected and unlikely to hit the floor. If you fall off a unicycle, a light mounted on the frame is much more likely to get struck. It’s obviously possible to put the light in such a place that it’s less likely to get hit (like directly under the saddle like you suggested), but that really only works on smooth ground like roads - not so good on rocks. And I drop my unicycle far more often than I fall off a bike!

Try it though - if you can get it mounted right under the saddle without making too many leg shadows and at an angle that works for the trails you ride, then it may work for you. If you don’t get on with it, put it on your helmet - nothing lost. Most of the people I know personally who use frame mounted lights on unicycles use them for road riding rather than muni.

Rob

I’ve been doing a lot of inner city night riding on my 24x3.

As it’s urban, i don’t use lights for seeing stuff, the street lights take care of that.

So I use standard bike lights (mainly pound shop LED ones) for the rear light, with a cylindrical hand torch one for the front.

I always scrap the standard mounts cos they’re rubbish in UPDs- rigid plastic just breaks with repeated impacts.

By far the best attatchment is several rubber bands- they’re never let me down: just make sure to replace them every month

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