A while back I wanted to take my folding bike out. It was a short trip- just a mile- and one that I knew would probably include a car-involved change of venue. It was perfect for the folding bike- but unfortunately, I was headed out at night. I try to practice what I preach, so I decided to take the Old Dutch. But not before I got online and ordered a headlight for the Dahon, because this aggression would not stand, man.
Big Brother and I had been talking about this purchase for a while, so I knew instantly that I should check out "that headlight reviewed on Kent's Bike Blog." Between Kent's review and the reviews he linked to on Amazon, I was sold.
My only comparison as far as headlight experiences go is with the bottle dynamo-generator light on the ODT. It is not incredibly bright and it adds some resistance, but you know, it's a headlight, and aesthetically, it's really nice looking. The parts of Philadelphia that I ride through are generally well lit, so my headlight concerns are more oriented towards making myself visible to cars. So that said- that my needs and expectations were pretty low- you can understand that I was totally blown away when my new headlight arrived.
I ordered it through Niagara Cycle Works on Amazon and it arrived a week before it was scheduled to. Installation was quick and easy. The light slides off and on an interchangeable bracket so that you can use the light on a number of bikes and take the light off when you go inside places. It has three settings- High, Low, and Superflash. Since my goal has been visibility and not necessarily lighting the way, I have used the Superflash setting the most.
This may be a better statement about the merits of effective headlights in general rather than this specific product, but the results were instantaneous. While on a main street that I frequent often, I noticed that cars at stop signs stopped and stayed stopped because they saw me- no false starts or lurching forward. Parked cars coming into traffic tend to stay stopped for longer as well. People getting in and out of their cars have waited for longer, which I think decreases my chances of getting doored. I feel more confident in situations were the bike lane leads to overlap with the right turn lane and making left turns. I like being able to see the light bouncing off the back of cars and stop signs two blocks away as I ride.
My night riding experience feels exponentially safer, and as a result- at least until I get another bracket to attach the light to the ODT*- the Dahon has become my go-to night bike. Testing the light during the day time, just for the sake of this blog post, produced similar results and got me thinking that riding with a headlight during the day might not be such a bad idea. With the addition of this light, I can't seem to stay off the Dahon, The ODT is resentful but understanding.
All in all, this is probably a lot more light that I need- but I like the overkill quality. I like going from being questionably visible to absolutely visible (this is especially true now). If you're on the market for a headlight, I really recommend this one. But more than that- and rhetorically (not actually), this is my "I challenge you to pray about the Book of Mormon" moment- if you haven't reevaluated your lighting setup lately, I'd like you to join me in exploring the joys of greater visibility.
*Ordered! I wrote this post like 10 days ago. Oops. As it turns out, the bottle dynamo is on the fritz- wires maybe? That poor bike has been totally battered on my stairs. Somehow lost one of my rack-to-skirt guard clips grocery getting last week.