Lighting It Up


You’ve never seen me review bicycle lights here before, and that’s because I don’t ride at dusk, dawn, or in the dark…..until now.

When we were living in Austin (and in Canada prior to that), I was able to ride pretty much when I wanted to and always had tons of sunlight shining on me. So I never needed any type of lights on my bike to keep me visible and safe.  But here I am on the island of Grenada now and there’s a few reasons why I’m in need of being seen.

Darkness: We’re a whole lot closer to the equator here in Grenada so it gets dark earlier and the sun comes up later all year long.  Yeah, the sunrise and sunset doesn’t really vary during the year and is pretty consistent with a 5:30am rise and 5:45pm set.  With a shorter amount of daylight comes a greater need for bike light.

Commuting: As you may or may not know, I’ve been wanting to become car-lite or car-free for a long time.  Now that we’re in Grenada I’ve made a big step forward in this direction and am able to use my bike for getting around.  More time on the bike equals more need for lights.

Schedule: With my cafe on the go and opening soon, there are days that I need to get going early or am out late on my bike.  This is probably the biggest reason I need lights on my bike.

Roads: Caribbean roads are definitely not the smoothest ones out there, so being able to clearly see where the holes and debris are is absolutley vital.  As I’ll explain in a minute, the light set-up I have on my urban bike provides all the lighting I need and more.

My Lights

Before I left Austin, I was outfitted by a couple great companies who wanted to make sure I stayed lit up while out riding.  A big thank you goes out to Topeak and Gemini for what they provided for me.

Gemini DUO LED Light System

This light seriously has the power to turn nightime into daylight.  This 63g Light Head comes with your choice of a 2-cell or 4-cell battery pack to power up this bad boy and can be mounted on your bike or helmet.  By default the DUO comes programme for three different light adjustment settings, but can be personally altered to provide anywhere from 10 to 100% brightness so you can customize the amount of light it gives off.

There really isn’t much for street lights here in Grenada so when it’s dark…it’s very dark.  The Gemini DUO sure does help me out when I’m riding in situations like this.  The 2-Cell battery pack also provides a nice amount of run time.  At 100% power the light can go for about 1.5 hours and at 10% it can last up to 17 hours.  For a full breakdown of run times, click here.

This light totally rocks, but it doesn’t come cheap.  The retail price starts at $229.99, but I’d say you’re getting a nice amount of lumens per dollar.

Topeak Highlite Combo

When the guys at Topeak asked what I’d like to try out, I told them to send me something for a guy just getting started with commuting in the dark.  They sent me their highlite combo which includes a WhiteLite™ II for the front and a RedLite™ II in the back.

The front light does not require a battery pack and it’s super small and easy to carry around.  I use this one when I’m not needing the blinding light of the DUO. Because the back light is small and can stay on my seat post, it’s always there when I need it.

I use the back RedLite more than either of the front lights because it’s nice to have blinking away behind me no matter what time of day I’m riding in.  It becomes even more valuable the darker it gets outside.

This combo pack retails for around $20.00 so it’s a good basic starting point for getting started with riding in darkish conditions.

Who’s Riding in the Dark?

Okay, so there you have it….this is my story of a guy who is excited about spending more time on his bike and how I’ve prepared for the dark conditions I was previously not exposed to.

How about you?  What experiences or advice do you have to share?  Maybe you’re just in the thinking stages of getting out for some early morning or late night rides…what questions do you have?

We’re always happy to help out any way we can, but you can also get some great information on lights and riding in the dark from Gemini and Topeak as well.

Enjoy Your Ride

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20 Responses to “ Lighting It Up ”

  1. suba suba on June 11, 2020 at 4:03 am

    wow, awesome blog post.Really looking forward to read more. Want more.

  2. devogon on November 29, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    constant dark riding. front Philips LED Bike Light, rear Busch und Müller IX-Red (no flash mode). both keep me visible and able to see pretty much whatever I need. (I ride in the Netherlands.)

  3. Paul Kirby on November 28, 2012 at 8:59 pm

    Even though I live in Austin, I ride mostly at night during the week due to schedule issues. So that I can see and be seen, I run two lights up front and two in back. In front, I use a big Cygolite LED (my “Q-beam”) and a Blackburn Super Flea. Both are rechargable. I was using the Flea in flash mode, but it’s terribly distracting at night so I’ve started using it on low beam for extra light. The Cygolite provides good vision up the road like a projector beam and the Flea provides a wide swath of light in front so I can see well off to the sides. In back, I use a Blackburn Mars 3.0 on my seat post and an Avenir Panorama on my seat stay. I figure if I have two rear lights mounted in different areas and both are flashing, I should be pretty visible.

    • Darryl is Loving the Bike on November 28, 2012 at 9:08 pm

      Great set up, Paul and thanks for sharing it. My needs here in Grenada are much different then what is necessary with bigger traffic volume like Austin has. Over here, it’s more about being able to see the big holes in the road. Even with lights, I try to stay off the main roads at night because they are pretty scary for a cyclists even in the daylight….hahahahaha.

  4. Noni Boloni on November 28, 2012 at 8:29 pm

    Check out the Thunderbolt by Serfas. USB chargeable and lifetime warranty.. Super bright and easily removed when leaving or switching between bikes!!

  5. ladyfleur on November 28, 2012 at 6:46 pm

    My current current setup for “see” vs “be-seen” lights are a NiteRider MiNewt USB, Cateye Orbit spoke lights and a wide Cateye rear light. If I have a bag on my rack I usually throw another rear light there for good measure. The wheel lights are critical for that often overlooked side view where the front and rear lights don’t show much. More details including video are here:

    I’m also a big fan of not blinking lights once it’s fully dark. Thoughts on that here:

    P.S. If you get fog much, the helmet light won’t work well. I’d consider a light that you can mount lower, like the handlebars or fork.

    • Darryl is Loving the Bike on November 28, 2012 at 7:16 pm

      Thanks for your input on this one and for providing the link to your article on blinking lights. Good stuff.

  6. cptjohnc on November 28, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    I ride in darkness pretty regularly, at least from Autumn through spring. I’m currently testing a Fenix BT20, which has some nice features, and I have another light similar to a Magic shine (claimed 1000 lumens, real brightness uncertain, but seems close to the 750 lumen claim of the BT20.) I also ride with three rear blinkies – a steady red on the back of my rack, a blinking red on my helmet and a blinking red on my pannier or tailbag. Before the Fenix arrived, I used some 100-200 lumen flashlights. All lights have steady and blinking modes.

    For city riding, where there are plenty of streetlights, I rarely need the serious ‘to see’ lights, but rather more ‘to be seen’. When I’m out on the MUP or unlighted suburban streets, however, lights are for seeing!

  7. BikeView.CA on November 28, 2012 at 10:50 am

    I live in Ottawa, ON and ride all year. Lights are very important and even during daylight hours I always have a rear flashing light on just for added visibility. A good front light should be able to support both modes of (a) just being seen while in traffic meaning a good bright flashing mode, and (b) once I hit the paths or dark streets a mode which actually lets me see things like people, dogs, potholes, etc. A lot of lights can provide (a) but not (b). Only around 25 more days until they start getting longer again 😉

    • Darryl is Loving the Bike on November 28, 2012 at 11:28 am

      I hear you…..the Gemini light definitely helps light things up. The Topeak I have is good for just helping to be seen. Here’s to longer days.

  8. Ron Ng on November 28, 2012 at 10:16 am

    By the time I get out of the office, it is dark, so lights are essential for me too. I have blinkers on my wheels, blinkers on my seatpost, blinkers on my saddle bag, light on my handlebar, and light on my helmet. You can never have enough lights.

    My lights are all rechargeable, so I never carry individual batteries. As long as I have USB, I can charge it …. and let’s face it, who doesn’t have a device that runs on USB?

    • Darryl is Loving the Bike on November 28, 2012 at 10:27 am

      You’ve got that right, Ron…..there’s no such thing as too many lights.

  9. Mark Beaconsfield on November 28, 2012 at 9:28 am

    As someone who works late at night. Lights are essential. I have 2 lights on both the front and rear of my bike and adjust the brightness depending on the conditions. I always carry extra batteries, just in case. Add the BikeWrappers into the mix and I can ensure that I can see and be seen when riding in the dark.

    • Darryl is Loving the Bike on November 28, 2012 at 10:28 am

      Hi Mark, thanks for reminding me. I have the BikeWrappers on my commuter bike as well so that’s one more way that I can be seen.

  10. Stephen Starling on November 28, 2012 at 8:02 am

    I ride with 2 front lights (and one rear). This covers unexpected battery death. Also I have the weaker of my lights set to flash so the cars will notice me, and the brighter of my lights set full on, so I can see my way.

    • Darryl is Loving the Bike on November 28, 2012 at 10:28 am

      That’s a good idea, Stephen. Having one that flashes and one that lights the way is a great idea. Thanks.

  11. Sam on November 28, 2012 at 7:42 am

    This is my first year commuting through the winter so I am also experiencing darker conditions then I am used to. I invested in a lot of new equipment to keep me going and one of the best things I bought was a bright light like the one you are using from gemini. Mine is a different brand but works about the same.

    • Darryl is Loving the Bike on November 28, 2012 at 10:29 am

      Let us know how you make out with your first winter of commuting.


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