Lighting for Audax: How to Choose, Install and Use Lamps and Lights

In these ten years of evolution, the Audax in RS accompanied a remarkable transformation when it comes to night lighting. In the beginning, were rare those lights really good, and the few that had most halogen lamps called attention soon. Most of the bikes even had lights, and it was not uncommon for cyclists making cycling at night totally in the dark, or with lights that would be considered obviously inadequate by today’s standards.

However, already in the early years of the audax, the situation began to change, due to the emergence of the LEDs, which increased much battery life, and that quickly became obsolete filament lamps. With the gradual increase of the power of the LEDs, have been popping up increasingly powerful models of lamps and lanterns for use in chassis in town, on trails or even during the day, until that happened to an opposite situation: the problem of the longer chassis lighting the esca ssez and unavailability, and spent in some cases to be excess and misuse.

With an environment conducive to start in cycling, including concern about the safety of the tours, sometimes less experienced bikers end up making use of lighting material, the choice of equipment is not suitable for your sport, be by adjusting this equipment incorrectly, causing problems for you and for other users of the road, including their own colleagues, often without even realizing it.

Thus, society Audax bike prepared this text as a way to bring the issue to the debate. The views expressed represent the opinion of the author, based on technical and scientific readings on the topic, and the personal experience of more than fifteen years with Lighthouse models (good and bad) that have emerged over time. The intention is not, and nor could it be, provide “recipes”, much less recommend the template X or Y. The intention is that every cyclist be able to meet some universal principles, and could then assess whether a model Lighthouse is a good buy, or if the headlamp that he already has is well installed, and mainly what are the luminous characteristics expected of an equi equipment suitable for AUDAX.

Evening events of recent years, both from within the peloton as the motorcade, has been possible to observe how great the technological evolution of equipment over the years, with headlights, lights and vests with very great quality. However, it is also evident the GLARING difference between people who are well equipped, and with the right equipment installed and adjusted, and those with inferior equipment, and/or poorly installed, and/or poorly regulated.

Among the problems caused by bad lighting, are the following:

  • The rider becomes less visible to other cyclists and the drivers, and can even be “outside” of the visual assessment of a group, which is particularly severe in intersection of highways if this cyclist is the first or the last of the Group;
  • Decrease the visual comfort of the rider, either by insufficient or excessive lighting lighting (auto-ofuscamento);
  • Reduction in Bicyclist Safety, you may not see obstacles, or don’t view these obstacles in a timely fashion, or be forced to limit your speed on descents, increasing physical and psychological wear and tear, and in extreme moments he could end up “released in the void”, when the cyclist comes with speed, but from 1 hour to another there is no visibility to see the runway.
  • Interference in the ability to walk or not to walk in a group (platoon). Sometimes, in critical stretches of the road, the rider may end up being forced to ride in a group slower or faster than I would be needing “parasitize” the light of other, or may suffer by constant and unpredictable alternation between your light and the light of the other during the relays and overtaking.

The Headlamp Shall Be Chosen According to the Environment: City, Track or Road.

To ride a Audax, made a big difference having a headlamp designed for the environment in which events develop, IE:

  • On paved road and flagged (not on a dirt road, not on soundtrack)
  • Without public lighting (i.e. in different environment of most nocturnal pedal groups);
  • For many, many hours (IE, requiring adequate durability of the battery).

The biggest difference concerns the headlight light pattern, which can be checked when designing your light against a white wall:

Above, Lighthouse suitable for off-road: symmetric light in all directions, with enough light up, helping to show branches and not lose the lighting when passing over speed bumps or downloaded along the way. This type of light is not suitable for AUDAX (explanations in the text).

Above, suitable for the road: “hack” I need on top, avoiding overshadow who is ahead or in the opposite direction, maximum lighting point just below the Court of light and form “spread” across, and uniform gradient from top to bottom, providing homogeneous lighting for both near and far. This beacon is not suitable for off-roading.

Special Features of the Paved Road

The human being, in your biological evolution, was not privileged by nature in terms of two capacities: moving at high speed, and get around in the dark. We are predominantly terrestrial animals (ex-arborícolas), diurnal, bipedal, and we ended up making travel night natural over 100 km/h this is due to two inventions – wheels and headlights – complemented by a third – the road.

The road is the main component of which decided to call “Rodoviarizado Environment”, an artificial environment, rigidly planned and regulated to ensure safely those two unnatural forms of locomotion: at high speed, and night.
For that, the road environment – including especially the road itself-has the following features:

  • Is a standardizedenvironment, i.e. There are conventions, “contracts”, which allow to act more in the know than what you see. For example, it is expected that there will not be a closed curve, or a step, or a wall, or a barbed wire fence, all of a sudden, in the middle of the road, or if there is, it is expected that there is a proper signage, both in terms of size and prominence, as in terms of anticipation of the obstacle culo. This is the prerequisite for the cruise speeds, even at night, without mental overload of drivers;
  • Is a distortedenvironment in your perception of time and distance, presenting a perspective “flattened” toward the horizon, which makes things far away seem so distant, that things seem so fast, fast and very large things seem so big, how much further can be found along the road, especially on long straights. This becomes even more critical when we consider the large relative speeds with which vehicles cross each other all the time, or the low speeds relative between groups of nearby vehicles if the move in the same direction at high speed.
  • Is a codedenvironment, that is, some things – like the ground itself. – do not need to be seen in your entirety, as are represented by code. The best example of these codes are the lines of the road: continuous line, white line, switched line, cat’s eyes and their colors, they all specify the road so complete that you can often lead only if based on them:
In the image above, practically the only visual information are the lines demarcating the road, and the encoding is so effective that it seems perfectly possible to keep on the road, more specifically in the right-hand lane as if you can see on the image, even at speeds relatively high.
  • Is asharedenvironment, and more specifically, shared among vehicles. The interactions that occur between people occur, in fact, between their vehicles. There is no time or opportunity for verbal communication, and in most cases not for communication. The language of the road is the telegraphic language of light, flasher, turn signals, brake light, Horn. The standardization of the communication is also an assumption of the order and of the viability of road transport, and follow these standards, as well as especially the expectation that other users of the road have about these standardization, is something that the Randoneiros should be worry about making in all aspects, especially with regard to lighting.

The Function of the Headlight to Audax

The headlight to the road’s mission is to create a reasonably homogeneous illumination of the terrain ahead, mainly including four regions of the visual field that have different functions:

  1. Scan Area: is the region of asphalt that will pass under the bike between two to three seconds, approximately. The higher the speed of the bicycle, further this region is. This region must be lit with intensity and uniformity sufficient to perception of the texture and the relief of the objects, so that the rider can plan your trajectory and react appropriately to the obstacles;

Region: is the region immediately to the front and to the side of the bicycle, which for the most part is only parsed unconsciously by the peripheral vision. Is responsible for the Visual stimuli that evaluate the direction and speed of the displacement of the cyclist. The periphery of the retina is where the image of the objects move with greater speed, and that speed is important to the brain build a consistent and reliable model of the environment, avoiding the “tunnel effect” of lights that illuminate only a focus on the region.

  1. Distant Region: is the region where the road is already starting to get dark because the light doesn’t seem to reach, and because the light comes almost parallel with the floor. It is important that there is some light being sent to that region (even if apparently be a light “lost”), as it allows showing vertical objects such as fallen objects, vehicles on the road, signs, animals, rocks, trees and people.
  2. The Upper: everything is above the horizon. Due to the glare of approaching vehicles, it is important that the headlights for audax don’t send too much light for that region. In addition, since the most relevant objects above the horizon are reflective plates, only a small amount of light from the Lighthouse is sufficient for reading, and send a lot of light to this region would be a waste of battery power.

How to Position the Lights

The positioning is important so that the lights have your maximum efficiency and economy, without bothering other people.

The headlight must be adjusted so that the top of your light cone be virtually horizontal. The final adjustment should be done during the event, if possible on a stretch of flat road, straight, dark, seeking more uniform light distribution possible, as in the example below:

A front light aiming too low creates a “black hole” in the road ahead, diminishing the perception of the environment and making the pedal cyclist in a bubble of light “disconnected from” external reality “of the road:

The lighthouse above is set too low, and I don’t see anything that is more than five metres away. In addition, the region of maximum brightness, when is very close to the cyclist, causes contraction of the pupil, and decreased retinal sensitivity, further reducing the ability to see the remainder of the road.

A back light pointing down becomes less visible to vehicles coming from behind, losing the “raison d ‘ être”:

A back light pointing up is a sabotage not only with the rider behind, but with himself, it is much less visible by vehicles that come back, since most of the light will be released:

What Beacon Should I Buy?

We have no right to induce anyone to buy the brand or the model X or Y, but we have the duty to indicate certain types of headlamp are better suited, as well as others that are inappropriate. Here are the guidelines we deem more convenient, considering in particular the NOCTURNAL events (300 km):

  • Your lights should last an entire evening (12 hours, including batteries). From the 300 km event, all events occur along a night almost, and the lighthouse should work with full power between sunset and the next morning.
  • The light of a good beacon must be visible against the wall during the day, and should hurt in the eye (kids, don’t do this at home). Any lighthouse that is not just so terrible for audax, independent of the shape of the light beam, for being too weak. On the other hand, nothing the Lighthouse “shine as if it were day,” if he didn’t have a light pattern compatible with use on the road. In this case, “(light) power is nothing without control (proper focus)”.
  • High mileage in bicycle create a hostile environment for the equipment: Sun, rain, trepidation, bumps, no … A good beacon of audax should be able to handle this type of thing for many and many events. The stand fittings and fixings must be compatible with this kind of situation. Avoid lights that look like delicate or sensitive, if possible.
  • FLASHLIGHT IS NOT LIGHTHOUSE! Lately there has been a proliferation of lanterns being used as a lighthouse. While this is suitable for daytime audax (200 km), and night tours (for signaling), these lanterns are not suitable for roads without streetlights, because overshadow other people and even the rider himself, creating a region near very enlightened and a dimly lit, distant region and high energy consumption, rarely during a whole night. If using a flashlight, avoid the maximum luminosity mode when the intermediary is enough for visibility.
  • DON’T USE BEACON FLASHING NIGHT!!!! Human vision can only work with low luminosity after a period of adjustment of the retina, which takes a few minutes, in addition to pupil dilation that allows more light in. Any flashing front light night directly interferes with the adaptations of night vision, and therefore should not be used in this way. The criterion is the following: If you notice that the landscape is flashing, use the light in continuous mode. During the day, when it is not possible to see the light from the lighthouse, can be done using flashing, as a way to highlight and identify as a bicycle.
  • Rechargeable headlights must be accompanied by charger or battery backup during the event. The more powerful the charger, the better (because less time will be needed to recharge the lighthouse at any outlet).

We hope to have contributed to a better understanding of the issues involved in night lighting to audax. If you have any questions or suggestions, leave a comment!