Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Helmet-Mounted Biking Light On The Cheap

Tuesday, November 21st, 2006

When I learned that a lot of mountain bikers like to ride at night, I thought they were insane. When I found out how much some lighting systems cost, I knew they were insane. Take, for instance, this HID light system, on sale for $400. Not all of them are that expensive, and that’s one badass lighting system at 12 watts, rechargeable battery, etc. However, many mountain bikers shell out $200 or more per light for their lighting systems, and many have two lights, one for their helmet, and one for their handlebars.

I could never justify spending that kind of money on a light. Hell, my whole bike cost about $500. Dave and I had used some cheapo flashlights he bought from K-Mart (a 3-pack for $10 or so), which we duct taped to our helmets, but those really didn’t cut it. Riding was possible, but extremely difficult. I knew there had to be a better way.

I already had a mini maglite, but I didn’t think it was bright enough. I bought a 3-watt LED mini maglite for a little over $20. I planned to duct tape it to my helmet, but Sarah came up with a brilliant idea. She bought some Velcro cable ties at Staples and used them to attach the light to my helmet, using the ventilation holes.

Helmet Light (top)
Zip ties attaching the mini maglite to my helmet.

It takes a little bit of messing around with it to get the angle right; in my case, I angle the light up as much as possible so I don’t have to hold my head too high when I’m riding. But, the Velcro zip ties hold very well, cost little, and don’t leave sticky residue on my helmet like duct tape would.

10.14.06 012
Front view of “headlight.”

I’ve been using my older, non-LED maglite on my handlebars, also attached with Velcro zip ties. It’s a little trickier getting that one aimed how I want it; I end up using the mounting bracket for my GPS, which I had to angle down a bit, but now it’s pretty good. Ultimately, I want to replace the handlebar flashlight with a brighter LED one — then I’ll be set!

I haven’t tried this setup on the road; the main concern on the road tends to be making sure that cars can see you; for that, I’d recommend lights that blink, a white one in the front and a red one in the back. Something like this might work to supplement the safety lights and improve your vision.

2 Responses to “Helmet-Mounted Biking Light On The Cheap”

  1. Van Says:

    that’s like a shark with frickin laser beams

  2. Ear to the Breeze » Blog Archive » Fantastic nighttime trail ride; interesting road ride Says:

    […] on lighting: I used an LED mini Maglite mounted on my helmet with velcro zip ties as usual (see my past post on how to do this), and my CygoLite Hi-Flux 100 light mounted on my handlebars. Dave used two flashlights attached to […]

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