Insight into Illumination

bikeyRolling into another season of commuting, I wanted to pamper my commuter rig. I gave my bike the gift of dynamo lights. It’s one of those upgrades I’ve wanted to do for quite some time but always found an excuse. Mostly it was cost. I have a vast array of USB lights and a few others which take batteries. I had more than a few occasions  last year when I neglected to recharge my lights at work and ended up with only the blinky light on my helmet to find my way back home at night. Something is better than nothing, however, I was doubting my ability to remember to charge my lights before leaving work this year so at the end of the summer one of my favorite bike shops posted a picture on Instagram of a Kona bike with these awesome fenders and dynamo lights and I felt compelled to get it done. Sadly, the bike mechanic said the fenders wouldn’t work for my bike, but the lights were a go!

Naturally the next part is the immense regret and heavy burden I bear for not having the wherewithal to install the lights a long time ago. What was I thinking? This is the best thing I’ve ever done on behalf of biking and commuting! What are you waiting for? If you don’t have dynamo lights and you are on the fence about getting them—get off the fence and get it done! Talk with your mechanic about what it will look like and how it will be mounted and then choose your lighting system. I wanted the safest, brightest light I could get without taking out a second mortgage.

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I did spend some time getting quotes from three shops, but service and willingness won out. I was going to be out of town for a week and I opted to leave my bike at the shop for a few days. The hubs and rims needed to be rebuilt and I needed new rims anyway, so it all worked out. Be prepared for spending $400 to $600. It might be less, but I didn’t realize how much I needed to rims. While it was there I had the break pads done and a few other little tweaks. My final bill was $560.

After. The first thing you’ll notice if how liberated you feel. Pure unfettered biking with little regard for time. I can go to Happy Hour and still get home without worrying about the whether my LEDs have enough to get me home or if I will get plunged into darkness and need to catch a bus. Those days are over! I feel like I’m in control, not the lights.

My first encounter with integrated bike lighting was in 2009 when I rented a bike in Potsdam.

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My bike rental in Potsdam, Germany in 2009 had a lighting system that was bulking but effective.

 

The other great thing is that these lights can be taken off this bike, in the event that I ever replace the Kona, and installed on another bike. Personally, I can’t imagine buying a bike without having a dynamo system installed. I commute 50-70 miles a week and there are days when I’m at a meeting which goes a little too late compromising my ability to get home safely. Dynamo lights on my bike mean I can think about loftier issues and not worry if I’m going to make in home before it’s pitch dark.

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What do you do for lights on your bike? Do you have a dynamo or similar system?

Be safe out there.
Happy riding,

Bike Goddess

Mad About Mass Transit

I love mass transit. I’m a transit junkie. Figuring out bus and train schedules is like planning a trip to a far away destination but the ticket is infinitely cheaper. I don’t know why I love it, I just do. You become the travel agent. In the mornings I commute by bus and bike and in the afternoon I ride my bike all the way home. It’s what I do and it works for me. Last year I got lazy and didn’t take the bus much opting for my husband’s offer to drive me to work. Then the bus schedules changed this fall. It has been the best change too. At first I was upset since I wasn’t sure how it would work. Now, I love it. My bus goes farther east which means I only have to ride 2 miles in the morning and I’m at school at 6:40 a.m., instead of 6. That extra time has been put to the pillow since I don’t have to get up as early. The bus comes a bit later so I don’t have to wait outside until 5:50. Liberating!

The other amazing upgrade this year is my bus. Not that I had much to do with that change, but what a difference it makes to ride a shiny new eco-friendly bus.  The first day I was on the new rig I was wearing a dress and it felt like a special occasion. What a difference. Quite a boost to morale to be riding is such a posh carriage.

With few other bikes on the bus I feel like I have it all to myself. There are a few other bikers who ride but they get on after me. There was only one day I had to school the guy who was on before me about how to put his bike on the rack closest to the window so others could get their bikes on swiftly. He has since learned his lesson. There was a day last week a young guy got on and he was asking me about my bike. His friend gave him a fixie and he wanted to know where to buy tubes and how to get his new acquisition into shape. I gave him a few tips about patching the tire and taking it to a bike shop to have a mechanic give it a more thorough check up.

Since the bus goes a little further in the morning and I don’t have to ride as far, I tend to wear my work clothes and pack whatever bike related knickers I plan to wear home. That was working great for the month of September, so we’ll see what the rains of October bring. I pack my rain pants and it would be easy enough to change if the weather required it.

There was another upgrade I made this year, but I’ll save that for my next post.

Be safe and seen out there!

Happy riding!

Right after the bus drops me off.