A Cycling System For Dark Mornings And Evenings

cycle frame

Light and Motion Solo-Logic Li-Ion Lighting System by Mike Hayes

Given the long winter of dark mornings and evenings in the UK and my general dislike of training indoors on the turbo the advent of decent bicycle lighting systems powerful enough for use on unlit roads and off-road has been a real bonus.

Now I can train outdoors all year round which aside from meaning I start the season in great shape is better for my mental health, especially after being stuck in an office all day. If there's a downside it's that my washing machine runs a greater risk of being clogged with mud from filthy cycling kit, and that my bike takes a hammering (which is where my single-speed winter bike comes in,..... but that's a whole other story!).

This next bit will probably sound a bit twisted but if you've never tried it riding outdoors at night is a great way to deal with crappy weather - when you've just got a little pool of yellow light surrounded by darkness you can't 'see' how depressingly grey, gloomy and muddy everything is.... works for me!

Photo of lights described in article

For the last two winters I've been using a "Solo Logic Li-Ion" system from Light and Motion. It's relatively expensive (about GB Pounds 250 last time I looked - but nowhere near as spendy as some top-end systems) but has proven to be great value.

The headlamp unit is very small and light with all the controls fully integrated so it takes up very little handlebar real-estate. The battery is a compact lithium ion unit that, in my a case, straps easily out of the way underneath the saddle. The whole lot can be taken off the bike in a matter of seconds for daylight riding, just leaving a small mount on the bars for the head unit.

In use it has 3 power settings, they give numbers in Watts in the specs but to be honest it's not really worth looking at or using for comparison between systems because for a given wattage the actual usable light depends very heavily on things like the reflector design - which in the case of the Solo Logic is brilliant.

On full power it gives illumination levels approaching that of a motorcycle headlamp, certainly more than enough to cause approaching drivers to slow down and dip their headlamps and certainly plenty for careering around off-road single-track at silly speeds!

For road riding in Cornwall's dark and twisty lanes the middle-setting is ideal, I'll get roughly 4-4.5 hours of run time, more if I switch to the low setting for the open bits of road. Low power setting is ideal for steady riding on open bits of road (unlit), that gives 6 hours or so of usable light. One handy feature is that when the battery is getting low the unit will automatically switch to low power which should give you another 30-40 minutes as a 'get you home' (though I usually carry a little LED light as a backup).

Other stuff... well, it comes with a decent fast charger with an auto cut-off so you've no excuses for getting caught out with a flat battery and there's also a helmet mount so you can attach the lamp unit to your helmet with the battery in your jersey pocket - this setup makes more sense for off road riding though. My last bulb lasted roughly of use according to my log, not bad, replacements are easy to get and only cost about a tenner (GB Pounds 10.00).
For more info point your browser to: http://www.bikelights.com/Products/solo_logic_liion_sl.htm

2005 Copyright Mike Hayes

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