How To

Foglights for Bicycles — Update

A couple weeks ago, we discussed foglights for bikes. It was decided that low-mounted lights would be perfect for cutting through thick fog.

Well, our man in Reno (Quinn) decided to do some real-world testing of this setup. Based on his experiences setting up the original system, he did some tinkering and added another light to his bicycle. Here’s the setup:

The foglight setup

The fork-mounted lights are Cateye HL-EL 410 LED lights with rotational bases. The handlebar-mounted light is a Cateye HL-EL 220 with 5 LEDs. The mounts that come with the 410s tended to slip a little on the fork blades, so Quinn wrapped the clamping areas with cloth-based electrical tape (“friction tape”). Alternatively, one could use a dedicated fork mount such as those sold by Terracycles.

Quinn provided us with a series of test photos that showed the light pattern and intensity against a freshly-painted white garage door. These test photos were shot at a variety of distances. I could discern no difference between the test photo of all three lights on and the photo with just the fork-mounted lights on. Those little fork-mounted lights are BRIGHT!

After riding in some crappy weather, Quinn reports that fork-mounted lights are the way to go. The light is further away from a rider’s eyes, reducing distraction and helping preserve night vision. I’d still run a small “be seen” light up on the handlebars, though, to help motorists determine what that weird oncoming shape is. Two low-mounted lights might confuse a motorist, especially since that’s an unusual place to see lights (hovering mere inches from the ground)!

Here’s another shot of the two mounted lights:

Fork mounts

Quinn is running regular disposable batteries and he reports that with five 1/2 hour nighttime commutes and 2-3 weekend rides, the batteries in those 410 lights last about a month. That’s pretty good!

This (or similar) setup might be a good thing to try if your nighttime commute often includes rain or fog. Heck, this might be a great setup for ANY nighttime riding, and really maximizes the potential of those inexpensive LED lights on the market. If you can’t afford something high-end like NiteRiders or DiNottes, this might be just the ticket to being able to see the road at night and in bad weather.

Thanks for the pictures, tests and setup information, Quinn — you’re advancing the science of nighttime bicycle commuting!