Wednesday, January 29, 2020

A Good Set of Be-Seen Lights

I divide bicycle lights into two classifications: Seeing Lights and Be-Seen Lights. A seeing light is a light you use to see where you are going. A be-seen light is one whose purpose is to increase the odds of someone seeing you.

For seeing on my urban commute I'm pretty happy with my Wildken Smart Headlight. It has a great beam pattern and the amount of light it puts out is based on how much ambient light there is. It auto-dims when there is an oncoming light, and auto brightens when I ride through dim underpasses.

On kind of dank, rainy days, however, the Wildken needs help. The "smart" light rightly figures that I have plenty of light to see by, but I want to help the drivers behind rain-smeared windows see me. For that I use a couple of Ascher USB rechargeable lights. I got these little guys as an impulse purchase, something I added to another order to reach a free-shipping threshold.

I've been pleasantly surprised by them. They cast a broad, diffuse, bright light. Lousy in terms of helping me see the road ahead, but perfect for drawing attention to my bike. They are not blinding to oncoming traffic and they last a good while on a charge. And while they are inexpensive, they don't feel or seem "cheap". They come in a nice little box with extra rubber mounting straps and so far they've held up fine to a damp Oregon winter.

Friday, January 24, 2020

Let's Blame The Cat For This Bad Joke

You can find more bad jokes from this cat here.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Bike Theft Can Happen To Anyone

As a recent story in the New York Post illustrates, bike theft can happen to anyone. In this case, the victim was a member of the Portland, Oregon Police Department's Bike Patrol Unit. He was "in a rush" and "secured" his bike with his handcuffs. Obviously, this was not good enough.

I've had bikes stolen. My sons have had their bikes stolen. So far, my wife has not had her bike stolen and I haven't had any of my bikes stolen recently. But, given enough time and opportunity, even the best locked bike can be stolen. With any lock and locking strategy, you are buying time to slow down or discourage a determined thief.

This is probably a good time to revisit this classic short film where Hal Grades Your Bike Locking.

Be safe out there.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

The War on Air Continues

The great Sheldon Brown wrote these words on the subject of airless tires:

Of all the inventions that came out of the bicycle industry, probably none is as important and useful as Dr. Dunlop's pneumatic tire.

Airless tires have been obsolete for over a century, but crackpot "inventors" keep trying to bring them back. They are heavy, slow and give a harsh ride. They are also likely to cause wheel damage, due to their poor cushioning ability. A pneumatic tire uses all of the air in the whole tube as a shock absorber, while foam-type "airless" tires/tubes only use the air in the immediate area of impact. They also corner poorly.

Pneumatic tires require pumping up from time to time, and can go flat, but their advantages overwhelm these difficulties.

Airless-tire schemes have also been used by con artists to gull unsuspecting investors. My advice is to avoid this long-obsolete system. They might make sense is if you commute a short distance to catch a train, and a flat tire would mean missing the train and being very late to work. 

The folks at Bridgestone Tire are the latest folks to take a shot in the war on air and we'll get to see their airless tires on a couple of hundred bikes ridden by the Olympic staff at the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Games. You can read all about it here:

Time will tell if Bridgestone is on to something but I'll bet that ten years from now Sheldon's words will still ring true and our bicycles won't be shod with airless tires.

Kent Peterson
Eugene, OR USA