Lights etiquette, what’s the consensus?

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  • Lights etiquette, what’s the consensus?
  • georgesdad
    Member

    Just been out on my twice weekly night ride, its relatively new to me, I’ve been doing night riding since the beginning of December. Bought a Magicshine 1200LM light, then bought another 2000LM light. 1200 on my head, 2000 on the bars. Works a treat. I ride a mix of cycle path, techy singletrack and some unlit roads between trails. Tonight I was forced to a stop at the side of the road by a quite aggressive large man in a Defender, who claimed he couldn’t see me because my lights were ‘too fcking bright’. This is on an unlit country lane. Taken aback, I replied “But you must have seen me, you forced me off the road.” We continued to discuss the pros and cons of my lights, until I pointed out that I’d rather dazzle someone and they slow down as a result, than them wonder if that was a cyslist they just ran over. Not sure if he’d been in the local, but he got more and more aggressive about it until I just said to him I appreciated his opinions, but he’d ruined my Strava segment and I’d got to get home for Love Island.

    Should I run one light at low brightness or should I stick to being as visible as possible? I always point my head down specifically to avoid dazzling oncoming drivers as much as possible. I’m annoyed, he put me in a bad mood.

    supernova
    Member

    If he forced me off the road with a Land Rover in the dark I be doing more than discussing my illuminations with him. He’s a ****.

    Premier Icon ta11pau1
    Subscriber

    There’s being visible, and there’s dazzling other road users. Did you have the bar light on 2000lm? If so, given that it won’t have any cut off at all, I’d say he was correct in saying couldn’t see anything but a small sun, and therefore couldn’t couldn’t see what to avoid/the road.

    Maybe test out your bar light by standing 20m in front of it to see how bad it is, it’s sometimes hard to get an idea of just how bright these lights are sometimes.

    parkesie
    Member

    He’s a bell for forcing you off the road. To try and minimise dazzling drivers run lights on low 300-500 when cars are approaching like you turn off main beams on a car. Also angle them more downwards for road sections.

    Premier Icon dudeofdoom
    Subscriber

    ahh The joys of light threads 🙂

    Premier Icon tonyg2003
    Subscriber

    We usually turn down our off road lights to minimum on road sections since they can be very bright for other road users. A couple of years ago we forgot to do this on a short road section and got asked very politely by a local police patrol to turn them down.

    Premier Icon scaredypants
    Subscriber

    This happens to me fairly often from an oncoming cyclist on my commutes and I have to stop because I can’t see the road ahead at all.
    Your lights aren’t necessarily too bright but off-road beams are totally unfocussed and you are likely “blinding” all oncoming drivers and riders.
    OK, he was cross but you’re being inconsiderate and actually endangering yourself (narrow road; oncoming massive car with driver unable to look straight at you) and possibly others on the road behind you by affecting the vision of oncoming drivers.
    Don’t turn down the power, turn down the light unit physically. Dip your lights – a long way further than you think you need to.

    Premier Icon thisisnotaspoon
    Subscriber

    Car main beams are about 900-1200 lumens IIRC.

    You pretty much rode at him with more lumens than a car with its main beams on. Think how bloody anoying that is (and how much it blinds you in the car when someone does it accidentally).

    Premier Icon dudeofdoom
    Subscriber

    TBH even with cut off you get complaints.

    No lights complaints.
    Too many lights complaints.
    Too flashy complaints.

    Angle the handlebar one down an switch off the head one on the road, they’re really for technical trail stuff a bit annoying for other road users as they end up pointing in people’s faces.

    airvent
    Member

    Point it down – 2000lm is far too bright to be pointing directly at someones eyes. I’ve had this a few times recently and it’s TRUE that once it gets really bright, your eyes cant handle the contrast and you lose the ability to see anything other than the light itself.

    Premier Icon tillydog
    Subscriber

    When I first got decent LED lights for off road, I put them all on the bike, along with the set I’d been borrowing, put them all on full and went for a ride around the block for shits and giggles. I was amazed that cars stopped and pulled over when I came towards them, but didn’t really know why. A few hundred yards from home, I leaned the bike against a fence and walked out in front of it to see the effect. Holy shit! you couldn’t see a thing! – It could have been a combine harvester coming towards you, because *all* you could see was this huge glare from the lights.

    Ever since I’ve turned them down on the road (I would anyway), but more importantly, pointed them downwards – it is surprising how far down you need to point things with a ‘flood’ type beam like the SolarStorm X2 to avoid dazzling oncoming traffic / pedestrians. You really have to look at your own lights for yourself and consider whether what you’ve got showing is reasonable.

    LR man may not have been a dick…

    mattyfez
    Member

    Just twist the bar light to angle down when there’s traffic, it’s still visible, it’s not rocket science.

    2k on the bars and another 1.2k on the head seems slightly rediculous if they are true figures…

    unless you’re in the middle of nowhere. That’ll dazzle anyone and cause night blindness whilst thier eyes recover and could quite easily cause more problems than it solves.

    Premier Icon kayak23
    Subscriber

    I just said to him I appreciated his opinions, but he’d ruined my Strava segment and I’d got to get home for Love Island.

    😂

    Hi vis clothing or good old reflectors is far more effective than lights on road…you see the cyclists clothing or decent reflectors long before you see their lights. I’ve got one of those really reflective jackets I wear at night and it illuminates the road when an oncoming driver is going by its so reflective. I try not to dazzle other road users, it’s just not polite (I don’t appreciate it as a driver or even another cyclist or pedestrian) and I struggle to see the logic in the notion that the best thing to do with the car bearing down on you is to blind the driver. The assumption that they will slow down is not very well thought through.

    But as a cyclist as Dudeofdoom suggests you can’t do right full stop…someone will take offence to the fact your on a bike. It’s only a matter of time.

    Premier Icon IdleJon
    Subscriber

    Tonight I was forced to a stop at the side of the road by a quite aggressive large man in a Defender, who claimed he couldn’t see me because my lights were ‘too fcking bright’. This is on an unlit country lane.

    Ever walked along an unlit road and had a car drive towards you? You will be dazzled and lose all of your night vision for several minutes even if the car bothers to dip it’s lights. (Most do.) It’s the nature of having a bright light pointing at you out of complete darkness. (Keep one eye closed and you’ll recover your night vision much quicker.)

    The driver was simply complaining about that. Could you see anything other than his car headlights? I doubt it. Did you complain he’d blinded you? Probably not because people are used to being blinded by cars on roads.

    If he’d done the same to me I’d have taken a pic of him and his reg and asked him how much he’d had to drink and whether the police should be involved. He forced you off the road, after all.

    georgesdad
    Member

    Cheers for the opinions, I know they’re hellishly bright. Far cry from the halogen ones I used when I was a kid. I’ll knock them all down to minimum brightness in future for the road sections, lest I incur more wrath from vocal yokels. Im not one for confrontations. Shit ride tonight really, had a massive crash, destroyed my POC helmet, then ran straight into a bunch of blokes in the woods with a pack of nasty dogs.

    wzzzz
    Member

    Bad form.

    It’s dangerous because if you blind people like this, they can only see what you are lighting up.

    This means they drive towards you more – they can’t see where the road goes / whats immediately ahead of them so they drive where they can see – at you.

    Also after you pass their eyes will take some time to re-adjust, meaning they are driving blind for a couple of seconds.

    I always turn head mounted light off and the bar light down on the road.

    Its worst when commuter have 5000 lumen flashing lights, drivers can’t see anything then.

    stgeorge
    Member

    , then ran straight into a bunch of blokes in the woods with a pack of nasty dogs.

    If you had better lights you would have seen them 🙂

    Premier Icon benp1
    Subscriber

    Point source lights are more blinding to our eyes that wide panel style lights, our eyes can’t cope with it. So small bright floods lights are very blinding or distracting

    shermer75
    Member

    It depends what your safety strategy is. If it revolves around denying the oncoming traffic the ability to see anything, then crack on

    Premier Icon somafunk
    Subscriber

    LED Lights/reflector housings designed for off road use should not be used on the road unless pointed down so not to dazzle oncoming road users, modern led lights are stupidly powerful and the reflector design is not optimised to control the throw of light, if you get hit by an oncoming car then it’s your fault for being a dick

    <span style=”font-size: 0.8rem;”>Tonight I was forced to a stop at the side of the road by a quite aggressive large man in a Defender, who claimed he couldn’t see me because my lights were ‘too fcking bright’. This is on an unlit country lane. Taken aback, I replied “But you must have seen me, you forced me off the road.” We continued to discuss the pros and cons of my lights, until I pointed out that I’d rather dazzle someone and they slow down as a result, than them wonder if that was a cyslist they just ran over. Not sure if he’d been in the local, but he got more and more aggressive about it until I just said to him I appreciated his opinions, but he’d ruined my Strava segment and I’d got to get home for Love Island.</span>

    Ahh i see, “but he’d ruined my Strava segment and I’d got to get home for Love Island.“, in that case i call troll and dick.

    £5 finders fee please

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    I was out last night and three MTBers rode the other way on a country lane, with their lights on some high setting. I could not see anything at all except their lights. You really don’t want to prevent the drivers of cars from seeing anything.

    An oncoming driver might see you, but they probably won’t be able to see the side of the road, any obstructions or any pedestrians or animals that happen to appear.

    I angle my beams down as much as I can for road usage, but I still need to be able to see the road myself. I go with about 200lm of light in a focused beam pattern (Halfords 500lm light on 3rd setting) and I hope that it’s not overly dazzling despite being pointed down the road. I don’t tend to get aggro or oncoming cars stopping.

    LED Lights/reflector housings designed for off road use

    They tend not to say if they are designed for road or off-road use. They are usually just conical beam patterns.

    Premier Icon Poopscoop
    Subscriber

    My bright off road lights are used off road, have normal flashing ones for road.

    If on an unlit country lane I use the bar off road light on low and partially cover it with my hand if a vehicle is on coming till it passes.

    That’s what I do anyway.

    To be clear though, the driver was patently a dick looking for an argument.

    Premier Icon garage-dweller
    Subscriber

    light on low and partially cover it with my hand if a vehicle is on coming till it passes.

    ^ this for me too.
    When driving around bikes the best bike lights are not the mentally bright ones they’re the ones that put out just enough in the right way.

    stumpy01
    Member

    This is why I bought a Ravemen pr1600 light for the road – it has a dipped beam option.

    ransos
    Member

    TBH even with cut off you get complaints.

    I use a B&M for road riding, which has a proper shaped beam. I’ve literally never had any complaints from other road users.

    Premier Icon convert
    Subscriber

    Yeah – you messed up.

    Blinding someone in charge of a big old machine headed towards you who then can’t then see where the road is or anything other than some big ass lights. Not cool from a self preservation perspective regardless of pissing off fellow road users.

    Head torches are neither needed or have any place on a road. There is a reason why there is legislation for the maximum headlight height on a motor vehicle.Just turn it off when you get to the road. And your bar mounted light should be carefully adjusted for angle. You also don’t need to use the full beam on road if you have that much power. On an unlit road 400lmn total is plenty until its a quick downhill when a little more is nice to have if available. If on a mtb with bigger tyres to take the potholes and surface blemishes and slower speed from the drag and reduced aero I don’t even think you need the extra on the downs. The hand over the lens as passing a car advice above is good too.

    Recently got an Exposure Strada with a remote – very good. I dip the light when around car and go to ‘full beam’ on tricky quick downhill bits. But with the beam pattern I think the chance of dazzling a car is much reduced even on full power.

    Premier Icon jamesoz
    Subscriber

    As others, many lumin head torches are a dick move on the road or even when milling about mid ride. They cause complete loss of vision and could end up getting yourself or somebody else flattened.

    Group night rides can be horrible if other riders don’t put their hands over their high power head torches or dim them when stopped for any reason.

    Off road lights are exactly that. If you must use them as said above aim them down.

    Premier Icon BadlyWiredDog
    Subscriber

    StVZO, German spec lights. Have a cut-off like a car’s dipped beam. Put light on the road where it’s needed. Don’t blind oncoming traffic. Don’t require you to ride one-handed in the dark to avoid dazzling other road users. Don’t require you to point your light down at your front wheel to the point where you can barely see where you’re going. Or both at the same time.

    I have a Supernova Airstream StVZO light on the bars for mixed road / off-road rides. Off road lights go off on road sections. I bought it primarily for road riding, but it’s small enough that it works on the mtb also.

    They tend not to say if they are designed for road or off-road use. They are usually just conical beam patterns.

    That’s what the StVZO designation is for. There are a few lights out there with road-tailored beams, notably the Exposure Strada – works acceptably if you angle it slightly down and to the left – but most don’t have a cut-off, which is ideally what you need. Exposure, allegedly, has a mega-light combining a dip beam and a huge off-road flood in one, but it’s unclear if they really exist:

    https://exposurelights.com/products/bike/stvzo-lights

    Premier Icon andybrad
    Subscriber

    yup turn it down or point it down.

    it does seem thats its mainly mtbers that are unaware of how much a hazard they are when there back on the road. while you have a right to be there you still have to be curtious to others.

    Premier Icon BadlyWiredDog
    Subscriber

    Should I run one light at low brightness or should I stick to being as visible as possible?

    Reflective works really well for on-road visibility, particularly where there’s no street lighting and doesn’t blind anyone. You can buy self-adhesive sheets of reflective material and stick them to bits of your night-riding bike / kit / helmet. There’s even black-coloured stuff that’s still reflective if you don’t like the silvery effect.

    Premier Icon DezB
    Subscriber

    unaware of how much a hazard they are

    Quite ironic that 3 tons of steel is being used to force him off the road.

    Madness. He shouldn’t have forced you off the road but his ire is understandable. To keep it short and sweet you are endangering lives by dazzling.

    I’ll knock them all down to minimum brightness in future for the road sections

    Still not really the point. The point is to angle them right down in front of your wheel and turn any helmet-mounted light right off. MTB lights (wherever mounted) aren’t designed for on-road use at all, and even lower lumen settings still have exactly the same unfocused beam with glaring spot. Unless angled extremely down it, gets right in the eyeball of oncoming road users whatever setting you use. Prop your bike up against a lamppost and. Walk away then view your beam from down the street in the opposite direction. Get your head at roughly car driver height and see if you can get a dazzle in your retina. Angle the light down until you can’t get dazzled. Make a mental note of this adjusted angle by seeing how far the centre spot is from your front wheel. Done. Not ideal, but safer by far.

    It’s tempting to feel ‘entitled’ as a vulnerable road-user in a fairly ‘cycling-unfriendly’ country, with so may entitled and careless drivers out there. But the best defence here isn’t to ‘attack’ back or become a flashing blinding beacon. Quite the opposite.

    I’m still looking for a clever front light as I do similar riding to you, mixed urban, city, dark lanes and off-road. Am looking at Ravemen PR series as they have a cutoff lens for roads and paths and another/combined for offroad. With a handy bar-mount remote switch to change beams

    Also reflective gear. I use those wraparound things on ankles.

    Rear lights – bigger (in size) is better, preferably with some side-visibility and inbuilt reflectors.

    Premier Icon BadlyWiredDog
    Subscriber

    Quite ironic that 3 tons of steel is being used to force him off the road.

    They’re both wrong. It’s not a polarised either / or situation, where one road user is absolutely correct and the other is guilty as charged. Big picture: it doesn’t really matter whether the driver is being a dick, you have no control over that, but you can choose whether to dazzle oncoming traffic or not.

    Premier Icon thisisnotaspoon
    Subscriber

    I use a B&M for road riding, which has a proper shaped beam. I’ve literally never had any complaints from other road users.

    +1 (aka STVZO lights)

    It’s hard to describe how good they are even compared to the Exposure Strada and Raveman which are both just downward pointing elliptical beams IIRC. They still put the brightest point way up the road, almost perpendicular to the ground, then the reflector is designed to put an even illumination between that point and your front wheel, i.e. it doesn’t start off bright close up and fade to nothing.

    This diagram kinda shows it, but most off road beams are much wider than that, the second one is better, think how far down you need to point your light so that none of the cone is poiting above the level of the road, it’s pretty much pointing down at your front wheel, which is bad for you as that light that was previously blinding other road users is now glarignback at you and interfering with your ability to see down the road!

    null

    null

    This shows it pretty well.
    null

    This kinda explains what it looks like on the road

    Note that the brightest point is at the top (which spreads out as it gets further away giving a more even beam), and then it cuts off sharply so almost no light is directed upto other peoples eyes.

    The STVZO beam sends almost none of the light at the oncoming cyclist, the “dipped” off road light (top diagram) is still pretty blinding on the other hand, and the bottom diagram is what you faced angry landrover man with.

    null

    Premier Icon Drac
    Subscriber

    I use to partially place my hand over the lights if vehicles or pedestrians were approaching to prevent being dazzled, some even thanked me.

    If he forced me off the road with a Land Rover in the dark I be doing more than discussing my illuminations with him. He’s a ****.

    Ooooh! Get you.

    Premier Icon thisisnotaspoon
    Subscriber

    There’s one guy in our club who doesn’t listen and turns up with an Exposure diablo, joystick and the big version of the redeye (and a fly6 and something else)

    You can’t ride behind him as the redeye is too bright, you can’t ride in front of him as your just riding into shadows, and oncoming traffic stops even on A-roads.

    My STVZO light is about 300 lumens, but it’s easily on a par with ~1200 lumen lights, it just cuts off 3/4 of the beam that was being wasted in the hedges and sky.

    Premier Icon BadlyWiredDog
    Subscriber

    I’m still looking for a clever front light as I do similar riding to you, mixed urban, city, dark lanes and off-road. Am looking at Ravemen PR series as they have a cutoff lens for roads and paths and another/combined for offroad. With a handy bar-mount remote switch to change beams

    As per my previous post, the best solution I’ve found is to use a separate STVZO light for the road sections. Sometimes combined with an Exposure light with remote switch for ‘main beam’ use which you can turn off for oncoming traffic. It would be better if it were all combined into a single unit, but I haven’t found one I can afford. For pure road rides I use a Strada, but the STVZO-spec light is still better when there’s a lot of traffic about.

    There’s one guy in our club who doesn’t listen

    Then he’s a ****

    You can’t ride behind him as the redeye is too bright, you can’t ride in front of him as your just riding into shadows, and oncoming traffic stops even on A-roads.

    he’s basically the drunken twuncle whose car keys you have to hide otherwise he’s out happily endangering lives because ‘me, me, me’. You have my sympathy, but I’d choose not to ride with someone like that

    Premier Icon joebristol
    Subscriber

    Both in the wrong – if you were running those lights on full then they would be outrageously bright. However someone in a vehicle should 110% not be forcing a cyclist off the road either. Modern society has far too much aggression in it at the moment.

    I tend to commute with a couple of lights on the front of my bike, and recently added a head torch. I point both bar lights downwards and run one with a pulse setting (dim constant light with a brighter flash through it) and the other on solid but at its lowest setting. Max lumens is 400 for the solid one so I think it’s probably about 100 lumens on its lowest setting. The head torch is something like 50 lumens and designed more for road use.

    That said – I think my reflective jacket is more effective for identifying me as a human on a bike than whichever lights I use – plus I have a hi vis yellow backpack with reflective strips on it too.

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