This thread is specifically dedicated to discussion about bicycles and bicycle accessories and supplies. Mainly bike lights, tires, fenders, racks and panniers.
Ebike stuff is also encouraged, especially experiences with ebike conversion kits or components.
This thread exists because we as practicing mustashians and stoic frugalists ride bicycles for transportation. Therefore accessories, and particularly lights, are important for safety and rapid transportation. The fundamental blog posting on this topic can be found here:http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/05/07/what-do-you-mean-you-dont-have-a-bike/
I encourage all to come and post their experiences and questions regarding bikes and bike stuff. I'll start just by listing a few items with a quick blurb. Ask me questions if you want me to elaborate, talk about your own stuff if you have input. LBS:
An acronym used in this thread is "LBS", or Local Bike Shop. It's important to get bike parts at a good price but it's equally (and maybe more) important to support your LBS. The idea isn't to pay stupid prices just to keep a bike shop going but any reasonable bike shop should carry a variety of goods at MSRP or lower and they normally will throw you a deal on accessories when you make a large purchase such as a bicycle or major bike parts like wheels.
All my bicycles have come from three LBS's I have developed trust in over time. One of those shops is Cycle-Logic in Raleigh, NC, which I have patronized for 30 years now. They are a great example of a shop that gives great prices, excellent quality products and service unmatched for the cost. http://cycle-logic.biz/
I have no financial interest in this company, I am only a customer. I list their website not as an advertisement, but as an example for you to use to measure your own LBS against. There are a large number of potential intangible benefits from a good bike shop and you should see some of those intangible benefits in your own relationship with your LBS.Tires
I prefer Schwalbe, Vittora and Kenda, and roughly that order for price. My ebike has Schwalbe tires on it and it netted me a significant improvement in efficiency. Amazon is my place of choice to buy bike tires, but I happened to get a great price on the Schwalbes ($35/each) from my Local Bike Shop (LBS). Lights
I spent BIG for the Schmidt Edulux II and matching B&M Toplight taillight:http://www.peterwhitecycles.com/schmidt-headlights.asphttp://www.peterwhitecycles.com/taillights.asp#rackmounted
The Schmidt Edulux II is insanely expensive. It cost me about $230 shipped. I find it to be worth every penny, and I'm not joking. Disclosure:
I bought the light for a Schwinn World Adventure I got at a fire sale price. The bike came with a front dynamo hub but the lights were missing so that's why I got such a high quality bike very cheap. I didn't have to spend for the dynamo hub, so I could justify a little more money for the lighting itself.
The Toplight tail light actually implements a BRAKE LIGHT FUNCTION where when the bike decelerates, the light senses this and brightens just like an automobile brake light. It's an immensely useful and sophisticated function. Dynamo powered LED lights have come a LONG way.
The bike I just bought the wife unit comes with the same front dynamo powering a slightly less expensive B&M headlight and taillight. The quality of European lighting is excellent and the LED's are very efficient and very bright. The bright, efficient LED's mean hub dynamos work better and put less drag on the bike that the rider has to overcome. Light Output:
The US convention is to measure light output in LUMENS, which is a measure of total light intensity measured at the lamp itself. Lumens are an OK way to measure lights - you should ALWAYS buy the highest Lumen output light you can afford: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lumen_(unit
But Lumens don't tell the entire story. There is a slightly more comprehensive measure of light output, the Lux:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lux
Europe takes bicycle transportation so seriously that they require manufacturers to measure, certify and list the Lux output of their bicycle lighting products. The Schmidt headlight I rave about puts out 90 Lux and may be the most efficient, functional and usable bike headlight I own. Bike Store Battery Lights:
Despite my love for dynamo lights, most of my lights are battery powered, usually AA powered. (I avoid AAA powered lights since you just go through AAA cells too quickly.) Besides the Schmidt dynamo light, all my other lights are "cheap": under $30 for the headlight and sometimes both the headlight and a taillight.
"Cheap" bike store lights have improved greatly in recent times. You can find 200 lumen AA battery powered headlights now for less than $30. Those same lights were $79 and up as recently as a year ago. Magicshine Clones:
There's a very expensive bike headlight called "Magicshine" that is legendary for putting out a buttload of light. It also costs a buttload of money - $100 and on up, depending on what model and accessories you get with it.
The reason I mention the Magicshine lights is that there have been a lot of low-cost clones of the Magicshine lights that are now available on Amazon or eBay. I prefer to buy from Amazon and here's one light I've recently purchased:http://www.amazon.com/1200LM-XML-T6-Headlamp-Headlight-Bicycle/dp/B00GFLQMAK/
This light will run on USB 5v and has a USB connector. These low-cost lights promise remarkable lighting for a fraction of the cost of the Schmit and B&M. The design and efficiency is lesser (IMHO) than the German-engineered dynamo lights. I have seen where some people complain that the lights fail, and in that case you're likely out of luck unless it just never worked out of the box.
These clone lights may not last as long as the German lighting, but I'm going to give 'em a try, see how they work out. I'll report back to this thread what I find out.UPDATE: I've been using the cheap Amazon USB-powered light and I love it. It doesn't have a "perfect" beam shape, but it's bright as hell and runs damn near forever on a 10000mAh lithium backup battery pack. This has become my new fave el-cheapo bicycle light!
Beware: This light is easy to steal
- it attaches to the bike with a little rubber donut and would be trivial to steal very quickly. I expect to use this light for commuting to work, where I don't have the problem of theft.Rechargeable Lights:
I've only recently tried out a rechargeable taillight with a built-in Lithium battery and results are promising. You have to remove the taillight (it has a quick-release) and plug it in to recharge it, but the light is bright as hell and looks to be a good, low-cost way to put very bright lights on a bicycle or ebike:http://www.amazon.com/BicycleStore%C2%AE-brightness-Rechargeable-Waterproof-Mountain/dp/B00S9GG1GE/
Out of the package, I like the quality and brightness of this light but the jury is still out - I've not used it yet and I need to see how it performs in real-world usage.
Rechargeable lights tend to be my least favorite option because they can be expensive and their quick-release nature makes them very easy to be stolen. I expect to have to remove the light from the bicycle if I go someplace I can't stay with the bike or see it from a few feet away. Same deal with this taillight - I plan to use it to commute to work, where I don't have to worry about theft.UPDATE: I've been using the rechargeable taillight and it kick ass. Just need to remember to keep it charged up!Lights I Will Not Buy:
I've had terrible, terrible luck with lights purchased at Walmart. I find them weak, dim, inefficient and cheap. As cheap as I am, I have tried, tried, tried to buy bike lights from Walmart and they are just not acceptable at all for use in any kind of adverse situation.
On the other end of the spectrum, I try to avoid buying the very expensive, very "gadgety" lights from boutique bike stores. Their prices and design seem to me to be somewhat ridiculous, you don't get a lot of value for the $$, in my humble opinion.
My sweet spot, so far, has been what I can find on sale at places like Performance Bike, Bike Nashbar or Amazon. Going with the expensive German headlight and taillight was a huge departure for me, but it seems to have paid off well. I like and recommend headlights and taillights from B&M and Schmidt, but try to find them at a good price if you can. Fenders:
I prefer SKS but those are expensive and little harder to find than the more-common Planet Bike fenders. I don't think the Planet Bike stuff is as-well-made as SKS but it works OK.
I have Planet Bike fenders on two of my bikes and I don't plan to get rid of them, so they are "good enough". My ebike has the SKS fenders and they are great. I am an absolute HO for the silver SKS mylar fenders on a heavy touring bike.
Note: In time I'll update this initial posting with links for each of these items.