About 50% of my riding is at night. I never count on just one rear-facing light, particularly LED lights, because they are highly directional. I have a NiteRider taillight (the brightest taillight made as far as I know) on the rear rack.
Behind it is a highly-reflective Slow Moving Vehicle triangle. On my Camelbak are two blinking LEDs, one is most visible when I’m down in the drops, the other is higher, where it can be seen when I’m in a more vertical position.
In addition to the active lighting, I’m a big fan of reflector tape. I have strips of it on my cranks, frame and rims. In addition, my Shimano sandals have a large reflective dot on the back that is highly visible.
The manufacturer has some reflective material on my helmet, but I’ve added some tape to it, also.I find that motorists give me more room and respect at night because I don’t blend in with the visual noise present during the day.
I run with my NiteRider Pro 12E taillight blinking night and day. It’s the only LED taillight I’ve found that is visible in bright daylight.
The Pro-12E headlight has a strobing feature that’s designed (they say) to attract attention. You can set up so that the headlight is off and the taillight is blinking until you press the control button to start the flashing.
I run with the headlight off until I come to an intersection or a door zone where I want to become more visible. It’s also useful when you are on a two-lane road and someone coming at you makes a wide pass. I hit the light to let the driver know that the oncoming lane is occupied.
I’ve had a couple of cops do U-turns to talk with me. Instead of the expected hassle, they’ve complimented the long-distance visibility of my bike.
I’m a big proponent of lights, but it might be because Missouri drilled “Lights On For Safety” into me when I got my license back in the 60s.
When my Trek Navigator was getting ready to turn over 5,000 miles and before I bought a used Trek 1220 to replace it, I took a picture of all the accessories mounted on the handlebars.
From left to right:
Heart Rate monitor
Cateye Enduro Cyclometer.
Police scanner (I work at a newspaper and like to keep up with what’s happening).
NiteRider Pro-12E headlight.
Cateye Astrale cylometer with cadence. (No, the two halves of the bike don’t go at different speeds. I just wanted to be able to monitor my RPMs, so I bought the Astrale after the Enduro and never bothered to remove the old one.)
Control head for the NiteRider
AirZound II air horn, powered by a refillable air bottle.
I quickly learned that my heart rate and cadence was a better measurement of how I was doing than my speed. If I keep my heart rate in the 158 to 162 range and my cadence at about 82, I can go all day. My highest heart rate climbing a hill on a hot day was 194. It’s not uncommon for me to hit the mid-180s, but I can’t sustain that long.
The AirZound is great for chasing away charging dogs and dealing with clueless motorists. I saw one car starting to make a left turn in front of me and laid on the horn. The way the front of his car dipped down showed that he thought he was about to get nailed by an 18-wheeler. It’s also nice to be able to respond to the honks of jerks who think that you don’t belong on the road.
Wait until you see all the stuff that’s on my Trek 1220.
The NiteRider Pro 12E eats up a water bottle cage. I don’t miss it because I have two cages and use a 100-oz Camelbak for my primary hydration. If I’m going for a long ride in the boonies, I’ll carry a frozen spare bottle in my panniers.
I’m a long, slow rider, so I’m not too focused on the weight of the battery. (The spare tire around my waist is much heavier than my battery light.) In my circumstances, I don’t think the battery makes much difference on my average 2.5 to 4 hour rides. The 12E’s run time at the lower power settings, 9- and 12-watts, is plenty long for those rides.
As they say, YMMV.
Why would you need any kind of light in the daytime?
Drivers in Florida are mostly tourists who care more about the scenery than what’s going on on the road, Q-tips who can barely see above the dashboard or local folks who are angry and late because of the above (common bumper sticker: “When I retire, I’m going to go up North and drive slow”).
Anything I can do to make myself more visible is an asset. I think it also sends a subtle message that I belong on this road. Kind of like the way a dog marks his territory.
Besides, I figure my estate’s lawyer can use it to help nail the driver who runs over me.