To See Or Be Seen?

My wife tells the story of shopping for the headlight I wanted for Christmas (she couldn’t miss — I left some pretty obvious clues).  She went to the big LBS and told one of the sales guys that she wanted a headlight for me.

“Well, let me ask this,” he said. “Does he want to see or be seen?”

“Oh, I don’t know!” she answered.  It was a concept she wasn’t aware of, and we had never discussed.

She called from the car, and asked me.

“I want to be seen,” I replied.

“Oh, that’s good,” she said, “because the ones to be seen are $40-$50, and the ones to see are over $100.” She wanted to avoid the big-ticket item, because we had agreed to go easy on presents this Christmas.

Some impressive light sets can be had for cyclists who really want to light up the night.  Committed nighttime riders often mount two headlights.  The powerful ones can be run by a dyno hub, so just riding the bike will supply power to the light.  Or they’ll have a battery pack that fastens to the bike frame.

But I don’t ride long distances out in the country after dark.  My need for lights is because I get caught in dusk before I can get home from a late afternoon ride.  I want cars to see me on lighted city streets and less well-lighted residential streets.

When the salesman realized what I needed, he recommended a Planet Bike Blaze.  She got me the 1-watt model; a 2-watt model is also available.  While she was at it, she added a bright Serfas light that attaches to the bike’s seat stay.  It has more flash patterns than the cheap taillight I have now, and its steady beam is more prominent, too.

It was our turn to entertain guests for Christmas this year.  They’ve all headed home now.  I’m looking forward to trying out the new lights during the upcoming week.

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18 thoughts on “To See Or Be Seen?

  1. I have the same light and its 2 watt brother, along with a Planet Bike Super Blinky for the rear. I keep thinking of building a front wheel with a Shimano dynamo hub. My commute is 10 miles of unlit, country roads, very hilly in parts.

    I want to see as well as be seen! I bought tires with reflective stripes for my commuter bike. I look like a lost fireman or paramedic with all the reflect piping and stripes I have on my clothes. But when it is dark out here, it is really dark! I want my neighbors to be able to see me as far out as possible. I have no desire to be the hood ornament for a 3/4 ton pickup!

  2. I like to see and be seen. Most of my night riding is done on the city bike which has the Shimano generator hub. To that I added several blinkies including a very bright PB set.

  3. When we do our 5AM wake-up rides, we need to see more than be seen. I am a big fan of NiteRider products for that reason. Besides, we ride in groups of at least 4-10 folks. It is very difficult not to see 10 folks with full blown front/rear lights. We look like a christmas tree :-D

  4. I use a NiteRider with a Cateye backup on my commuter. I also carry a spare flashlight for repairs….I’ve rigged a battery operated 5″ x 7″ blinkie I bought from Lowes for the rear rack. Then I put a PB Superflash on my messenger bag if I’m carrying that. I knew I was on the right track when my sweet husband declared….”you’re gonna hack off a driver with all those lights!” I’ve had drivers pull up next to me at o’dark early and tell me they could see me from a mile away….SUCCESS!

  5. Barbara,
    I am really curious about your 5″ x 7″ blinkie. Do you have any details? Also, which NiteRider are you using?

    • I use a NiteRider Minewt(I think that’s what it’s called) Got it off Nashbar during one of their 20% off days after riding with a fellow commie who had one. I could see him coming from well over a 1/2 mile away. It can be charged via USB or the conventional way. I use it about 70-80 minutes during the morning commute, re-charge after about 3 or 4 rides and have never had it fail. I’m charging up the camera battery now so I can take pics of the rear light set up to share.

      • Barbara,
        Thanks for the series of photos! Both lights are pretty incredible! I found a MiNewt at Nashbar last night for 26% off. Where did you find your led’s at Lowe’s? I looked online but am guessing I will have to go and dig around the store itself.

      • Lowes has a section of lights for trailers and such….it’s in that section. It’s a hazard light, they come in yellow or red and are supposed to attach to a trailer magnetically. I took the magnets off to mount it onto the bike. I was afraid the magnets wouldn’t be strong enough to hold it.
        I tried to disarm the flash on the camera, it probably interfered with the brightness factor. The rear blinkie is due for fresh batteries so it’s not as bright as it usually is.

      • Barbara,
        My MiNewt came in today. I charged it up and waited until this evening to see how it looked beside the Planet Bike Blaze 2 watt light I already have. What a difference! I am truly impressed. Thanks so much for your appraisal (and your husband’s) of this light. It certainly boosts my confidence in my commuting in the dark of night or morning!

  6. I have 2 superbright flashers in rear (1 on helmet/1 on bike), Then a cat eye 5 LED on bike and a 1 LED cat eye strobe on top of my helmet. A smaller 6 LED flasher on my handlebar bag, for up front lights. Wish I had the big bucks for the some of the superbright on helmet lights!!

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