BikeCommuters.com

Tag Archive: Safety

NiteRider Sentinel tail light review

It has been a little over eight years since we wrote our non-scientific rear light comparo. Planet Bike’s Super Flash rear light was a top favorite and it is still one of my personal favorites.

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We were offered to review the NiteRider Sentinel rear light featuring lasers. Yup, lasers! In top of the lasers, this light also features a 2 Watt LED light producing about 40 lumens. Let me tell you, even without the lasers, this light is freaking bright. Another cool feature is that the Sentinel is a USB rechargeable light-a huge plus in my book.

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I’m guilty of purchasing those inexpensive Chinese laser rear lights and they eat batteries like crazy, not to mention that the quality of the lights was horrible. Lesson learned.

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We used the NiteRider Sentinel during most of our weekly nightly off-road cycling ride. Our local ride offers a variation of horse trails, small streets and big avenues; a rear light is a must for safety reasons. The Sentinel performed with no hiccups even going through some bumpy trails.

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The Sentinel was also tested during our morning rides to the beach on Pacific Coast Highway. Although the lasers were ineffective during daylight, the 2 watt LED was clearly noticeable.

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Pros:
USB rechargeable
Super bright 2 Watt LED light
Freaking Lasers!
Mount can adapt to most seatpost shapes and sizes
NiteRider Quality
Good run time
5 running modes

Cons:
Lasers are invisible during daylight
A little pricey at $50.00

What I would change:
I think that the concept of having virtual laser bike lanes is a good one, however, I don’t really think that we need a laser on the right side since most of us ride close to the curb. It would also be a good idea if the left laser would be 3-feet away from the bike since a few states have a mandatory 3-feet passing law.

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With its super bright 2 Watt LED, convenient mounting strapping system, USB charging and cool lasers; I can definitely see the NiteRider’s Sentinel being one of my favorite tail lights.
Our review disclaimer.

Bandbox Helmet Review

“Ninety-one percent of bicyclists killed in 2009 weren’t wearing helmets.”

That’s a quote from a website dedicated to Bicycle helmet statistics. (According to Bandbox LLC’s website the number is 95!)

It’s sad that that number is so high especially when plenty of styles could be worn to make it more fashionable–there are helmets in the style that skateboarders use to helmets designed by companies with roots in extreme sports like snowboarding.

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But even with the many options available with, people still ignore the dangers of riding without a helmet all for the sake of avoiding “looking goofy”.

Bandbox LLC, a company similar to Rockinoggins, aims to increase helmet use by designing “attractive bicycle helmets”. While Rockinoggins makes add-ons for helmets, Bandbox LLC makes helmets that deceivingly look like hats.

A couple months after Bikecommuters.com profiled Rockinoggins, Dr. Cheryl Allen-Munley sent Bikecommuters.com a helmet to review. And after a couple of months, here is the review for the model!

 

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Is it a hat?

When I first received the helmet, I asked those around me to see what they thought of the helmet. I wondered if people thought it looked more like a helmet or if it passes off as a hat. The result? People couldn’t tell if it was a helmet or if it was a hat. I suppose somebody could argue that the product doesn’t fully meet its goal in that some are not totally fooled but one thing everyone mentioned was that the helmet looked good.

Safety?

Bandbox Helmets adhere to the U.S. Law–the CPSC Standard which stands for Consumer Product Safety Commission. http://www.bhsi.org/standard.htm#CPSC

But there is one thing that may prevent some buyers purchasing a Bandbox Helmet–the helmets do not have a surface that can slide upon impact (Bandbox Helmets have fabric for an exterior instead of plastic) I personally think that anything that can increase helmet use is okay so if not looking cool/fashionable is preventing a bicyclist from wearing a helmet, I recommend purchasing a Bandbox Helmet.

 

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Can I use it everyday?

Because the helmet is not ventilated like performance helmets, getting a sweaty head can be an issue. I personally wouldn’t recommend to commuters that like to go fast or to those that have commutes that are longer than 5 miles. Perhaps I’m being nitpicky but I certainly don’t want to arrive to work being more sweaty than I need to.

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Bottom line?
I think it’s an excellent product. It fills a need in the market for helmets since plenty of people hate the idea of looking stupid or foolish (use whatever adjective you like) in a helmet. We all agree that any cycling death should be prevented especially if it’s something as simple as wearing a “stupid” helmet.

Our FTC review disclaimer.

Orp Smart Horn – soon to be tested here

Orp in red. Also comes in asphalt black, frostbyte white, safety cone orange, wail blue, snot green, and worm white (glorp)

With 5 days to go on this Orp Kickstarter campaign, the Orp Smart Horn is soon to go into production and we’ll be getting one to test!

As a safety conscious cyclist I value that this product attempts to make cyclists both more visible and audible on the roadways.

THE IDEA: Make bikers more visible and /or more “hearable”.
THE SOLUTION: A combination dual tone, high decibel bike horn and front beacon light.
Meet Orp.

As creator Tory Orzeck says on the page:

“Really long story short, we developed this super loud, dual decibel horn. Only after that did we discover the Piezo speaker and its circuitry barely taxed the battery to drive the sound. Sitting right there in front of us, we had everything we needed to add LEDs. So, we ended up combining two products: a beacon light and a horn into one small and (we think) beautiful product.”

This product was thought up in Portland and we’ll certainly put it to the test in Chicago.

Just the other night I was nearly right-hooked by a driver insistent on getting into the right lane to make a turn. He had just passed me and then nearly pulled in front of me. Not even my two front LED blinkies and bell got his attention; my yelling and the screeching of my squealing brakes did get his attention – “WHA…WHOA…LOOK OUT!” (or something to that effect)


Orp’s Horn has 2 modes: soft and WAY loud

The Wail Tail is the ergonomic and intuitive switch controlling the horn.

When you need to alert other cyclists or pedestrians, a small displacement {up or down} of Orp’s Wail Tail produces a friendly chirp at 76 decibels.

When you’re in traffic, and you need to let cars know where you are, then just push a little harder {up or down} and Orp’s “HERE I AM!” sound emits an ear blistering 96 decibels. This is FAR louder than the most popular bike bells.

I could use a horn!

Commuter Cycling 101 – HBL Free Class

Just a quick announcement from the HBL newsletter that found its way into my inbox: for all you new or long-time returning bike commuters on Oahu, if you need to brush up your skills on how to Ride Aloha and share the roads with everyone, check out either of these $free.99 classes offered throughout summer and fall.

Frank ITB Cycle Commuting 101

Frank from ITB leading Cycle Commuting 101

Free CC101 and Walk, Bike, Drive Classes

HBL is now offering our Commuter Cycling 101 and Walk, Bike, Drive classes for FREE at Windward CC and UH Manoa!

Commuter Cycling 101 (CC101)

CC101 is a one-day mini introductory course on riding your bicycle in Hawaii, following bicycle traffic laws and being safe while commuting. With a League of American Bicyclists certified Instructor, 30 minutes will be spent in a classroom learning how to navigate Hawaii’s roads and interact with pedestrians and motorists. Another 30 minutes will be spent practicing defensive bicycling skills in a safe and controlled parking area. One hour will be spent implementing these practices and developing your skills on a group safety ride through the local neighborhood.

Walk, Bike, Drive (WBD)

Walk, Bike, Drive is a safety course for anyone who sets foot or tire on Hawaii’s streets and roads. Learn about comprehensive traffic safety, with an hour long classroom session on how to ensure your safety and the safety of others as a pedestrian, bicyclist, and motorist. We will cover the rules of the sidewalk and roads, and best practices to safely interact with those using other modes of transportation. Learn how to get safely across the street as a pedestrian, how to keep others safe when operating a motor vehicle, and more.

Take a friend to the class nearest you! Schedules are available to view here for CC101 and here for WBD.

Review: ElectroStar Wireless Signal Pod Turn Signal

A while back, ElectroStar sent us their Wireless Signal Pod Turn Signal for review.  ElectroStar is an LED company by background – their parent company, Buztronics, manufactures LEDs for a very wide variety of uses (RL, you should get some scooter lights!) – so we were happy to test out the Signal Pod.  The Signal Pod retails for $49.95, a price ElectroStar justifies given its wireless capability (a wired version sells for $10 less), and comes with the Pod unit, a control unit, a seatpost-mount bracket, and pre-installed batteries. With the controls, you can signal a right turn, left turn, or turn your “hazard” lights on by having everything blink (though I’m not sure I want people to start thinking of me as a hazard as I go down the road!).

All lights blazing

Out of the box, things looked good – the LEDs were very bright, and the wireless signal works from well over the required distance (I tested it at up to 30 feet).  It mounted to my bike fairly easily as well, and the signal buttons were pretty intuitive.  I also liked that the turn signal was sequential – each chevron lights up in sequence, making it very clear which direction you’re turning! Unfortunately, that was where the good things ended (had I known this, I would have taken more pictures earlier on… sorry folks!).

Pod controls

One of the advertised features is that the Pod beeps when the turn signal is on.  While some sort of noise is definitely a good feature since you can’t see it, the beep is incredibly annoying.  It’s not bad if you’re taking a turn on the go, but sitting at a traffic light for a couple minutes is somewhat brutal.

The noise wasn’t the worst part though – the worst part was that it only has a seatpost mount, and when I got on my bike the backs of my legs hit the pod!  I’d like to say it’s because I’m just so muscular, but I’d be lying…  I’m sure it works for some bikes, but it didn’t work for my commuter… and I’d never thought it was an unusual design.

All set up... and in the way

Determined to get this thing through a more extended test, I jury-rigged a setup (using an old piece of PVC and an extra stem I had laying around) to attach the mount to the back of my Burley trailer.  I had trouble getting the signal mount off my handlebars though, and ended having to cut one of the bolts off.  Before I could get a replacement bolt in, my kids (ages 9 months and 3) bumped into the signal pod (still mounted on the back of the trailer) a couple times and broke that bracket.  SO… that was the end of the test for me – and somewhat of a deal-breaker, since if my 3-year-old can break something by walking by it, I know it’s not going to stand the test of staying on the trailer for a long time.

Signal Pod on the Burley

While I can’t give this a huge thumbs-up as is, I think there are 4 things that could make these some killer lights:

1. Different brackets.  Almost everything else I buy to put on my bike (lights, fenders, computer, etc) comes with multiple mounting options or at least a flexible fit system – I think this should too.  I’d especially like to see a rack-mount option – most commuters use rear racks, and what’s on the rack often blocks the view of a seatpost.

2. Durable construction.  I won’t say I never break stuff… but I don’t usually break stuff unless it’s on my mountain bike and I crash.  These lights are meant for commuting – they should be able to take a hit from another bike in a bike rack, for example.  Currently, the brackets just aren’t durable enough.

3. Incorporate some bar-end signals for forward and side visibility.  When sitting at a stop sign, I still had to use hand signals, since those coming from other directions couldn’t see the light.  I’d be excited to buy something with that capability – and ElectroStar already makes bar end lights.

4. Change the beeping noise!  Yes, it’s a minor complaint, but I was frankly relieved when I didn’t have to listen to it anymore.