Light Years Ahead

Tis the time of year to get lit up before you go home from work.

It’s that time of year again, when the short days force most of us to ride to and from work in the dark.  Wisconsin state law requires bicycles to have a white light on the front and a red light or red reflector on the back.  There is a blinding array of lighting systems out there.  How do you choose between systems with different kinds of batteries, varying lumens vs. watts, helmet mount vs. handlebar mount vs. seat post mount?… well you get the picture.

Where the Vis 360 gets its name.

Over the years, I have tried many different systems, but my current favorite set-up for commuting comes from LIGHT & MOTION.  I use both their Vis 180 and Vis 360. The VIS 180 is a seatpost mounting taillight that gets its name because it can be seen from 180 degrees, not just from the rear like most rear blinkie lights. The light comes with mounting hardware so you can put it on your seat post, frame or a seat bag.  This light has two special features that I really like.  First, it has a tool-free mount, locking mount clip for your frame or bag so it is really easy to get on and off.  Secondly, it has a convenient cell phone micro USB charging system.  No more running out to the drug store to get batteries on the way home because your light was going dead on your morning commute, just plug it into your lap top and it charges while you are at work. .

In addition to lighting up the road, the Vis 360 emits light in all directions so you can see and be seen.

My “head” light is the VIS 360, perhaps the ultimate commuter light.  No prizes if you guess where it got its name. Joking aside, I don’t know of any other light that is visible from 360 degrees, so  you are seen by all, in all directions.  This light mounts on top of your helmet, and works as both a front and a rear tail light.  This light has the same two key features of its smaller VIS 180, the tool-less mount and the a convenient cell phone micro USB charging system.  Light & Motion’s suggested retail for the systems are $99 for the VIS 180 and $169 for the VIS 360.

I cannot begin to tell you how much I appreciate the safety and good lighting I get from the Light & Motion 180/360 combo.  I call these two lights the “defusers” because when I use my VIS 180 or VIS 360 on my day commutes, as well as night commutes, they really seem to defuse road rage.  I just don’t seem to have motorists yelling at me when I use these lights.  I don’t miss hearing those familiar calls to “get on the side walk” or “get off the road.”

Perhaps it is because I have the 360 on my helmet, so it shines at motorists when I look toward them. Maybe it is just because motorists are hypnotized by all my blinking lights.  I don’t know the reason, but I’m curious; do you find that you seem to get more respect from people driving motor vehicles when you are all lit up?

3 thoughts on “Light Years Ahead

  1. Personally, I have not noticed a difference beyond just basic lighting having any effect on drivers behavior. Sometimes I will add a second PB red flasher during really bad weather like snow storms or fog to the back, but just use a single USB high power light on my bars up front. For town riding I really don’t like the head lamps, mainly because they do shine into the eyes of drivers and other bicyclists like myself. Not sure blinding people actually adds to your safety. IMHO

  2. Thanks for the constructive comment on making sure not to BLIND people with any head light. Yes blinding road users, with any light is never a good idea. That is another reason why I really like the VIS 360. The head light on the VIS 360 is super adjustable, and will allow any user to point the light stream down onto the road and not on passing vehicles. I have another helmet mounted head light, from a different manufacturer, that does not adjust enough. So I only use this helmet mounted light when off-roading on my MTB.

  3. I personally don’t see any reason to be considerate of blinding drivers with a bicycle headlight. I believe the average car headlight puts out something like 2,000 – 3,500 lumens, which obviously far surpasses even the most high-end bike lights, let alone the average commuter’s light. Even with my new 350 lumen headlight I’m still lucky to be seen by cars.

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