With the days steadily shortening I decided that it was about time I got some new lights for my bike. Over the last few years I have been attaching more and more lights to my bike, mostly of the flashing LED variety, come to think of it most are made by Cateye. Among others I have a HL-EL410, a HL-EL220, a couple of old halogens which the model number has rubbed of (but they look a bit like the HL-EL220), a TL-LD270, TL-LD600 and a TL-LD120. How do Cateye come up with such exciting names? However I have noticed that despite having all these lights showing back and front (oh and a hi-viz jacket), drivers seem to have some difficulty in spotting that I am on the road at all. Ok so there are some that drivers think I shouldn’t be there at all, but these are really just a few sad individuals with below average IQs.

So I started to think that maybe these lights just aren’t bright enough. After all, until recently, most of my cycling (in the dark) has been in urban environments which are street lit. Some parts of my commuting used to take me along an unlit cycle path and I had noticed that, even when I switched all my front flashing lights to steady beam, there was only just enough light to ride by if I wasn’t going too fast. Looking around I also noticed that other well-lit cyclists didn’t always stand out in heavy traffic when there were a lot of other brighter lights about. I finally came to the conclusion that the lights I had, while perfectly adequate for use in light traffic and on minor roads, simply aren’t bright enough for heavy duty commuting in rush hour traffic.

Having recently (well not that recently) moved to a longer semi rural commute, I decided that this was a good excuse to get a decent set of lights. I have started with the rear light, as there is one obvious choice if you want to have a seriously bright rear light; the DiNotte 140L. Ok, the 400L is brighter still, but I don’t have that much money to spend [edit a year later I had changed my mind]. And if I did I am not sure I would want to leave it permanently mounted on my bike just in case some light fingered type decided to “borrow” it. There are two basic battery choices with these lights, the AA Pro Series, which uses ordinary AA rechargeable batteries (or even disposables in emergencies) or the Li Endurance Series, which uses proprietary Lithium-ion rechargeable batteries. After a wee bit of umming and aahhing I decided to buy the AA version as it was the cheaper option and replacement batteries are easier to come by.

First impressions: well I have had it for a few weeks now, but haven’t used it in the dark yet. In day light it certainly is bright. I did have a few problems with the light not lasting very long and then not wanting to turn off. At first I thought the light unit was faulty, but after a browse around the DiNotte web site I realised that it was a battery problem (or more likely that I need a better charger, as my rechargeable batteries don’t seem to last very long). With freshly charged batteries (especially if I have used the charger at work) the light is very effective, even in daylight drivers give me noticeably more room. I particularly noticed this the other morning. On my commute, the batteries died about 2/3 of the way there and I could tell when it happened, as the drivers started to pass far closer to me. So with winter coming, I am making sure I have two sets of fully charged batteries with me, as having a light this bright really does make it safer on the roads. Now all I have to do is to decide which lights to buy for the front. In the meantime, Shine on you crazy DiNotte ruby!!

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