Bike Stuff I Like – Light and Motion LED Bike Lights

When I started grad school, I was a bike rider. Then winter came. Back in the Carter Administration the only reasonably priced, lightweight bike lights were “be seen” lights. They had a tiny incandescent bulb backed with a bit of reflective metal. You could see about three feet in front of you. They were good for walking home in the dark. They were powered (using the term loosely) by AA batteries than seemed to drain with each pedal stroke.

Bike lights were so useless that I became a runner. Seriously.

Many years later halogen lights came on the market. Dang were these awesome. They were much brighter. They were powered by a battery pack, originally the size and shape of a water bottle. If memory serves, these lights faded slowly as the power ran out. I used a NiteRider halogen light for many years, going through a couple of batteries in the process. They were a vast improvement. The batteries had an annoying habit of dying if you didn’t keep them charged.

Halogen lights have been supplanted by LED lights. These are smaller, charge faster, and are lighter weight. After my last halogen light died, I bought bought a Light and Motion Stella LED light. It had a small head lamp that I put on my helmet. The battery was the size of a deck of cards and was attached via a small cable. I loved the light but finding a place for the deck of cards was sometimes a problem. When I wasn’t wearing a vest or jacket, I’d stick it down the back of my pants. Eww.

The cord eventually broke and Light and Motion discontinued the Stella so I bought the closest substitute. This was similar in design except the cable now detached from the battery instead of from the light. And the battery was now an odd lumpy shape.

The cable on that light began to fray (it still works though after about eight years) so I bought an Urban 500, a different design. The light is in a tube that contains the battery. It can mount it on handlebars or helmet. Like the Stella, this baby puts out some serious light so you need to be mindful of blinding on-coming traffic on trails. Newer models are even more powerful. The all-in-one design means you can use them in camp at night or when the power goes out at home. Your family will love it when you burn their retinas out in the living room.

One advantage to this design is that you can take it off your helmet and mount it on the handlebars. I prefer helmet mounting because the light goes where my head and eyes are pointed. When the light is on your handlebars you can miss things like critters lurking near the trail. That said, these lights tend to have a narrow beam. I realized after riding until midnight in North Dakota in 2018 that I had absolutely no idea what I was riding past.

Here’s what this design looks like. This Rando model is very similar to the Urban 500. Specs on various Light and Motion lights vary. Some are brighter, charge faster, and such.

Recently, I bought the Vis 360 Pro which is a different design, intended for mounting on a helmet. The headlamp looks like the one on the Stella. It comes with a rear light (which contains the battery). The light works fine but I prefer the simplicity of the all-in-one tubular design.

The Vis 360 is intended to be left on your helmet. The Urban/Rando style lights can be removed quickly for safe keeping.

The only downside to LED lights that I have used is the fact that they go dark without much warning, instead of fading out like the halogen lights did. In any case, to my way of thinking, bike lights are the biggest improvement in cycling equipment in the last three decades. Most of my nighttime riding is to and from DC on unlit trails. Any of these Light and Motion lights is up to the task.

I have no idea what other manufacturers lights are like these days. If you shop around and wait for sales, you can get a high-quality headlight for under $100.

It’s Clinchmas!

  • Tonight, if the Mets lose and the Nats win, the Nationals win their division and qualify for the playoffs. YAY! This has been a foregone conclusion for a couple of weeks but longtime Red Sox sufferers like me know that nothing in baseball is to be taken for granted. You could look it up. Of google “Bucky Fucking Dent” or “Bill Buckner and Mookie Wilson.”
  • Baseball quiz: who scored the winning run on the Buckner/Wilson play? Answer: Ray Knight, the Nats announcer.
  • Summer is officially over. In the last week, I’ve seen two bicyclists fall on the Mount Vernon Trail. That’s why I prefer the word “autumn” to “fall”
  • Felkerino once told me it is bad luck to refer to terrain as “flat” during a bike ride. It’s a four-letter f-word. Use “level” instead.
  • I am nearly recovered from riding the Backroads Century on Sunday. It had a lot of hills. My body was not happy this week. First, my back gave me a spasm on Tuesday morning. It lasted only a second and I managed to avoid turning into Quasimodo for a week. My legs have been dead for a few days. This morning they sprang to life. I hit 18 mph on the MVT. Must have been a tailwind.
  • The last two days I woke up at 5 am. I waited for daybreak (around 7) yesterday before heading to work. Today I left in the dark, with lights on my helmet and wearing a reflective vest. I am experimenting with strapping my battery to my helmet. I wouldn’t want to do this for hours at a time but it seems to be better than having a battery shoved down the back of my shorts. Note to Light and Motion, make me a Stella lamp with a shorter cord please.
  • It wasn’t until I was practically at work that I thought of going to Friday Coffee Club. I would have had to backtrack four miles. Not gonna happen.
  • One thing that never ceases to amuse me is how I know dozens of bike commuters but rarely see anybody I know. The person I see the most often, Chris M., is somebody I seem pathologically unable to recognize. Weird. Every once in a while somebody says hello as they go by. I typically respond “Blerfg.” I’m either half asleep or in a trance.
  • I signed up for another autumn ride: the Great Pumpkin Ride. I’ll probably be doing it with Ultrarunnergirl.
  • A friend of a friend runs several web-enabled freelance businesses. I can’t quite sort them all out but she is obviously a fan of yoga/mindfulness. When she lapses into yoga lingo on her business videos she says, “Sorry, went a little ‘woo woo’ there.” I have been looking for a word to describe this jargon and now I have it. People who are into yoga and mindfulness will henceforth be the Woowoos on this blog.
  • It’s suppposed to be a perfect weekend. All I want to do is let my body recover. So my plan is:
    • Mow the lawn
    • Swab the deck
    • Do a very gentle and short bit of cycling
    • Read my book about genetics. It is cleverly entitled The Gene.
    • Watch the Nationals clinch on TV!