hallowe'en really only works well when it's dark. if any of you have seen the movie e.t., you will surely agree that watching kids dressed as ghosts roaming the streets when it's still light is hardly the scary experience promised on tv and in books. allegedly, all hallow's eve was the time of year when a door opened between the spirit world and our own reality, letting in all manner of ghouls, ghosts and beasties to wander the streets round your neighbourhood with carrier bags. as if that weren't horror enough, when those spirits enter your cosily lit sitting room, they line up in front of the fireplace (or central heating) and threaten us all with jokes that your own father used to tell you when you were a kid.
and they weren't funny then.
mrs washingmachinepost rather enterprisingly, i thought, ordered in brighly lit fingers to give to the kids in her care to use on the night of 31 october. these fingers simply clipped over one of their forefingers and lit up in green, blue or red. scary or what?
i, on the other hand, rarely venture out after the hours of darkness, partly because i have nowhere specific to go that would require a nocturnal journey, and partly because there are more than just a few boy racers determined to emulate lewis hamilton around the local byeways. i'm determined not to become the mascot on the grille of a vauxhall corsa. but there's always the exception to the rule and on occasion, autumnal evening travel is unavoidable, meaning it becomes necessary and legal to hang some lights on my bicycle.
rear lights are seemingly the simplest of devices, for their role in the world is purely to announce our presence on the road. they have no need of blinding any following motorists and according to studied research, they are far more visible in flashing mode than in static. germany's led lenser offers a vast range of illumination of all shapes and sizes and for several different purposes.
their b2r mini light not only offers several different flashing modes, but also the obligatory static option, all accessed by pressing the red lens. the battery is rechargeable via a hidden usb port, the cover of which is curved to attach to a seatpost by means of the detachable rubber strap supplied. it will not have escaped your attention that the majority of seatposts tend to sit at an angle, a factor catered for by the shaping of the rear of the light. make sure you pay attention, for i naively fitted it upsude down and rode briefly with the light pointing downwards. and i call myself a professional.
the b5r front light is an altogether different set of lumens. with the ability to accept three aaa batteries or a slimline solid state rechargeable battery (supplied), it is of more substantial constitution than its rearward facing partner, though still attached to the handlebar by means of a stretchy rubber strap. its sophistication allows for the upward and downward angle of the light to be easily adjustable, while an external bezel alters the light's focus, a facility that can be implemented while riding. switching the light on and off is by means of a top-mounted button; each subsequent press alters the flash or static mode, the latter offering more than one level of brightness up to 180 lumens.
there's also a semi-transparent lit section on the top advising the rider which mode has been selected. unfortunately, in daylight, albeit of low visibility or simply a wet, grey day, this light panel is difficult to see, really only coming into its own after dark. however, i'd be inclined to stick a bit of tape over this as i found it a tad irritating when riding in the dark and especially when it was raining. holding the activation button for three seconds extinguishes the white front light and activates a small red led, allowing the b5r to act as an emergency rear light should such be required. even this has several flashing modes.
but in most cases, when considering front lights for cycle use in rural areas, there is a fundamental problem that mostly remains unaddressed. if i might draw your attention, for example, to the five kilometres that constitute uiskentuie strand. cycling that road after the hours of darkness is fraught with danger, predominantly due to the lack of white lines along its centre and the fact that sheep and cattle often wander unhindered hither and thither.
the lack of white lines poses something of a problem for the itinerant cyclist, for in darkness it becomes very difficult to figure out just where you are on the road. the majority of bicycle lights are constrained in their ability to alter direction; the led lenser, however, is fitted on a curved bracket, allowing it to be pointed left, right, or centre, all of which can be accomplished while riding. combine this with the up and down motion as well as beam focus and this is surely the world's most versatile front light?
it's certainly the finest example of versatility i've come across.
according to led lenser's website, the light offers a maximum of 20 hours run time, though it neglects to mention whether this is in static or flashing mode. i kept the lights permanently switched on (flash mode) for two three hour rides with no visible diminution of brightness.
though the front light would hardly replace those on the wing roots of a boeing 747, it is bright enough for commuting use, even along uiskentuie strand. i should point out, however, that if used for the latter purpose, debbie's café is likely to be closed.
the pairing of the b5r and b2r is a well thought-out combination; light and relatively compact while easily removable from the bike when necessary, requiring no permanently mounted brackets. cost wise, the b5r currently retails at £42.46 direct from the led lenser online store, while the 30 lumen rear b2r is also on offer at £16.99 each.
sunday 1 november 2015..........................................................................................................................................................................................................