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Preview: LED by Lite Sol-48 (yes, this means turn signals!)

Oh Bikey friends and Internet stalkers (isn’t it funny to capitalize Ye Ole Internet?) – we have some grand news announcing an upcoming review of LED by Lite’s latest bike light system, Sol-48. Unbeknownst to you, dear (newbie) readers, Mir.I.Am reviewed the Sol-36 rig back in the day, which was a Wednesday by the way to test out version 1, which never officially “hit the shelves.”

http://www.ledbylite.com/

Oh man, Brandon and Rick from LED by Lite have WAY better photos of their product at night than I do. Note to future Mir: Must pull over and try to get a bridge photo selfie that rivals this one!

Lucky for us, and you, we received a friendly email from Rick Smith:

Hello Bikecommuters,

You reviewed and commented on our LED By LITE Version 1 back in August 20, 2012. Your article and all the comments at the end hoped for our improvements and success.

We took the suggestions of our Version 1 users and incorporated them. We are now ready to release and begin sales of our Version 2 Sol-48 and would like to send you a set for your review.

If you are interested please email your address to me and a LED By LITE Sol-48 is on its way.

Thanks,

Rick Smith
LED By LITE

If you are as excited about turn sigals for bikes as I am, let me get a secret fist pump under your desk or a jump-kick IOU, Bike Commuters. Because, here comes Version 2: the Sol-48!

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The Specky-Specs:

PRODUCT DESCRIPTION

Sol-48

The LED By LITE bike light Systems include up to 48 state of the art, High Intensity LEDs to provide a cyclist with the most radiant 360 degree “to be seen” visibility. The LED bike lights are encased in  flexible polyurethane/silicone straps making them waterproof and extremely durable.

The LED bike lights are powered by our BlackBox², a 12 Volt double cell Lithium Ion Battery Pack, which produces intense lighting without sacrificing run time. The technology of the microchip circuitry includes “dimming pulsating” modes, not blinking on and off. The BlackBox² can be recharged with the wall adapter or from a computer using a micro USB cord.

The Plus of this system is our innovative LBL Wireless Dashboard.TM A wireless controller mounted on the handler bar controls both pulsation mode and directional turn indicator system. Your bicycle becomes a more relevant vehicle for the road.

QAD SystemTM is unique and allows for quickly attaching and detaching of the LBL LiteStrapsTM to help protect your lights from theft.

LBL modes of operation:

  • Hi Beam:  550 lumens run time of 7 hours
  • Low Beam: 275lumes  run time of 14 hours
  • Pulsation Mode:  Pulsating from 100% brilliance to 60% and back in one second
  • Day Mode: Pulsating rear lights only
  • Directional turn indicators

The system itself:

  • 2 white front and 2 red rear light strips
  • Lithium-ion rechargeable battery Dashboard: Wirelessly change between modes and toggle turn indicators. (4hr recharge)
  • Wire harness: Connects system together
  • QAD clips: Allows for quick attach and detaching of system in 30 seconds

*Using your arm is still considered a universal turning signal

That should keep everyone mildly curious for the REAL review to come, where I will lay down my Velvet Hammer of constructive criticism mixed with assinine accolades to give you, the readers and bike commuters, the real deal on this super-bright light system with turn (gah!) signals (gasp!).

In the meantime, let’s let this snowstorm blow through, so I can hop back on Brick the Bike with the LED by Lite rig, to be the envy the green bike lane in Somerville, seen from a mile away, blinking, turning, and salmoning up my little baby hill to my house. I can’t wait to really put this setup to the test! As Tyrese says in (can you guess the movie before clicking the link): “BRING THE RAIN.”

 

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My Somerville, MA year-round ride: Brick the Bike sportin’ the LED by Lite Sol-48!

Oh yeah, and for the record: here’s the BikeCommuters.com FTC Disclaimer.

Review: Dorcy Hawkeye Bike Lights

I thought I was doing just fine with my current bike light setup—yes, my front light is secured with electrical tape and it needs to be encouraged to turn on with a good smack or two. And yes, rear lights mysteriously disappear en route between my apartment and the office on a regular basis. Ok, who am I kidding, I need a new bike light system. Luckily for me, I’ve been tasked with testing out a couple different options. First up, Dorcy Hawkeye lights.

1-Dorcy Hawkeye Light

Dorcy doesn’t mess around with lights. The company’s products range from personal flashlights and headlamps to heavy duty spotlights and signal wands (for directing traffic). The Dorcy Hawkeye LED bike lights promise to pack a punch with the front light boasting 200 lumens, guaranteeing to light the path 200 meters down the road and to be seen from even further away—same goes for the rear light.

2-Dorcy lights in package

The Dorcy LED bike light  is not a dainty addition at nearly half a pound including three AA batteries. Even with the option of using rechargeable batteries, I’m not a big fan of battery powered devices, if only because I never seem to have extra batteries when I need them most.

3-Dorcy light out of the package

The battery cartridge has a satisfying barrel-like design, reminiscent of a revolver’s bullet chamber. Not sure why I like that so much, but I do. Though it doesn’t help the overall weight, which seems a bit hefty to me.

5. Dorcy light size

The light itself is much larger than most, nearly five inches long. But this is no ordinary bicycle light, my friends. Thanks to a patented quick release feature, the “durable aerospace-grade aluminum alloy, corrosion resistant” light chamber pops out of the bike clamp, transforming into a handheld flashlight. Snazzy.

With the rubber-padded bracket attachment, the light stayed secured to my handle bars with no obnoxious rattling (which is just the worst) or movement up and down. Dorcy claims that the bracket will fit any bike on the North American market, so I’m guessing this light will fit just as securely on nearly any bike.

4-Dorcy light on roy

The Dorcy Hawkeye features a wide-angle, rectangular light beam rather than a traditional focused beam, which helps to illuminate the entire road ahead while limiting (unnecessary) spread of light upwards. They also claim that this feature “will not blind pedestrians.” I tested this assertion by making my friend, Sarah stand still while I rode toward her, light blaring. Sarah still seemed to cringe way from the light, but once I rode closer, the beam did indeed remain below her eyes.

Dorcy

On to the rear light: the Dorcy Hawkeye Tail Light features three super high brightness LEDs that can be seen from 200 meters away. Like the front light, the rear light’s mounting clamp is tool-free and adjusts easily to fit snuggly on any 24 – 32 mm diameter seat post. Plus, the patented bracket adjusts for a horizontal or vertical orientation.

6-Dorcy rear light

Personally, I appreciated how the adjustable pin and padded clamp allowed me to really crank the bracket on for maximum security. No more losing a rear light on a packed train car or bumpy road! (Notice the velcro remains of a previous light still clinging to my seat post?)

7-Dorcy rear light mounted

For my first ride with these lights, I ventured out through Golden Gate Park to catch the sunset and make sure that it was good and dark for my return ride.

8-Dorcy Light Sunset

Both the rear and front lights have just two setting: steady beam and flashing. As promised, I felt like my lights could be seen from blocks and blocks away. Seriously, I was lighting up reflective street signs as far as I could see (maybe five or six blocks). Also, the front light has two slits on either side, allowing light to filter out and illuminate the area right and left of the rider. While this is a bonus for visibility, I found it to be distracting with the light shining in my eyes.

10-Dorcy light at the beach

For everyday commuting, the front light is a bit large and hefty for my tastes; on the other hand, I would definitely choose the Dorcy Hawkeye for my pre-sunrise rides through poorly lit backroads. Not only would I be well visible to traffic, but my path would also be lit clear as day.

The Dorcy Hawkeye LED Personal Light front bike light retails for $55.00 and can be purchased directly from Dorcy.com—same goes for the LED Bicycle Tail Light, which retails for about $13.99.

Please click here to read our review disclaimer as required by the Federal Trade Commission.

Bike safety to the extreme: Laser lights, vibrating handlebars and more

This morning I was zipping down a six block descent on my way to work, eyeing a sporty black car that was creeping suspiciously down the hill. As a good defensive bicyclist, I slowed my roll, covering the brakes as I gained on the car and an approaching intersection. The light was green; I was headed straight through the intersection and so was the car until it made an unexpected, unsignaled right turn, cutting me off. Luckily, I had slowed significantly and changed my trajectory, turning right alongside the car. Not sure if the driver even noticed me.

I was lucky. Sometimes defensive biking isn’t enough to avoid a collision.

This was not my first near miss, not even the first one of the week, so when a friend told me about the BLAZE Laserlight, my first thought was, “I could definitely use a little green bicycle fairy.” Because that’s what the BLAZE light is: a high-powered LED that projects a green bicycle shape onto the roadway about 16 feet in front of a cyclist, warning drivers of an approaching rider. Hopefully, the green bike will alert space-cadet drivers and make cyclists less vulnerable to blind spots and other potential dangers.

A little green friend.

It’s true, BLAZE Laserlight is just the newest iteration of an idea that’s been around for several years—check out these laser beam bike buffers—but I have yet to see this concept in action on the street. Maybe it seems like overkill to have little green bikes (or laser beams) announcing a cyclist’s every turn.

On the other hand, maybe laser beams are just the beginning. A group of engineering students at Northeastern have taken bike safety to the extreme, creating the Interactive Bicyclist Accident Prevention System (iBAPS). The “smart bike” prototype incorporates a plethora of safety features.

Extreme safety measures.

Smarter than your average cyclist? The iBAPS features:

  • Sensors to detect cars impinging on a cyclists space
  • Laser beams (of course) that project a 3-foot wide virtual bike lane
  • If a car comes too close, the bike “emits a loud message, telling drivers to move further away.” (I think we’re all wondering the same thing, what is this message and is it customizable?)
  • When approaching an intersection at high speed, the handlebars vibrate as a warning to slow down. (Frightening.)
  • Using Bluetooth tech, the bike can sync up with a rider’s smartphone leading to all kinds of excessive data extrapolation. Like tracking riding trends to inform the biker how likely it is that their riding behavior will lead to a crash.
  • With the smartphone GPS, the bike can vibrate the handlebars, alerting the rider to make the correct turns to reach a destination. (I just can’t get over the vibrating thing. It would scare the crap outta me.)
  • As cars get smarter too, eventually the bike will be able to communicate with vehicles on the road. (Where’s  my self-riding bicycle, Google?)

Read more about the iBAPS smart bike from the Boston.com.

All these features make my measly helmet & flashing lights seem antiquated. I’m all for bike safety measures and, although some of these seem a bit extreme, to ensure I arrive to my destination unscathed, nothing may be too extreme.

How far would you go to ensure your safety while bike commuting? Is it possible that the iBAPS is missing any features?

 

Interbike 2013: Commuter accessories from Serfas

We ran into our pal JT at the Serfas booth today — and he was happy to show off a variety of commuter-friendly accessories.

The handsome JT:
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A HUGE array of headlights in various outputs:
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A matching array of taillights and front/rear light combos, including some with flexible mounting options:
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Even more taillights:
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Here’s a great headlight (to be released soon) where the battery pack doubles as a powerful taillight:
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Serfas lights are known for their true lumen outputs. The light pictured above is rated at 1000 lumens, and when Serfas claims an output, that’s what you get — no fudging the numbers like other companies do.

Need to light up the night on a dark commute? Serfas offers this 2500 lumen monster, complete with bar-mounted remote control!
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There were tons more accessories for the commute and for the home shop. Take a look at the wide variety of floor pumps and travel pumps Serfas offers:
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Interbike 2013 Coverage Proudly Sponsored by Black Tiger Jerky
Black Tiger Jerky

Sneak Peek: the Latest Lineup on Lights from Planet Bike

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A great set of bike lights are a must for any bike commuter. But, sometimes there are an overwhelming amount of choices at you local bike shop. My no-brainer go-to? Planet Bike: a fantastic company with standup values and reasonably priced products that perform well.

Sometimes you can’t make a decision on what lights are best for your bike commute, so you just have to put on your neon jacket.

My last set of lights were from PB, and they lasted me over 4 years, only to be bequeathed to my sister along with my orange Le Tour II as I left my bikes behind for a year of travel – (to my knowledge, all still in working condition). When I arrived back in the states, RL hooked me up with a welcome package of PB goodies to review.

Here’s a sneak peek at the lineup for the latest evolution of PB lights that I will be reviewing shortly:
Micro features:

  • High and low-power beam along with SUPERFLASH™ mode
  • Optically-advanced lens provides superior beam patternSUPERFLASH™ mode is highly visible, even in daylight
  • QuickCam™ bracket mounts, adjusts or removes in seconds w/o tools
  • Up to 64 hours runtime (flashing) on 2 AA batteries included
  • 139 Lumens

Turbo features:

  • One Watt Power LED plus 2 red LEDs for visibility up to 1 mile
  • New attention-grabbing Turbo flash pattern
  • Turbo flash mode is highly visible, even in daylight
  • Ultra compact vertical design is weatherproof, lightweight and durable
  • Includes bike mounts and clip mount for multiple mounting options
  • Soft-touch power switch accesses flashing or steady mode for up to 100 hours of run time on two AAA batteries
  • Weighs 75 grams with batteries

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The Micro Blaze 2W headlights run for $39.99 MSRP a piece and the Micro + Turbo front and rear combo sells for $74.99 MSRP. For the quality, the price can’t be beat! I can’t wait to test these guys out after my satisfaction with the longevity of my original 1W Blaze headlight. That’s about 10 bones a year, if you don’t lose it after four years!

In the meantime, if you are without bike lights, get out there and enjoy these long summer days and stretch our your evening commutes. Laters, Cycle Gators.

 

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No lights necessary: Indian Summer – Dottie’s ride in 2012. Courtesy of Let’s Go Ride a Bike.