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Bike Lighting - the cyclist's survival kit.

    With the onset of the dark winter nights one can almost hear an audible groan from most people as the clocks go back in the UK . Introduced during World War 1, the easing of the clock fingers was intended to provide lighter mornings during the winter and thereby save energy for the war effort. This most unpopular device continues to cause frustration in the South, whilst those north of the Scottish border continue to argue for its continuation.

    For the commuting cyclist both dark evenings and dark mornings present a challenge in equal measure. Fortunately these days the range of cycle lighting products on the market has never been better. Many an older cyclist will ruefully recall those twin celled front light horrors that had a habit of failing at the most inconvenient times. And as for the rear lights, they were often not much wider than a 2p piece and of not much greater value as a means of displaying our presence on the road after dark. Yes, motorists are supposed to be able to stop within the range of their visibility limits, but we all know that many are literally 'driving blind' on the assumption that the road around the next bend is clear.

    Paul Taylor lives near Caernarfon, and as far as lighting is concerned believes in leaving nothing to chance. He's currently working on a NiMH battery to replace the CATSEYE lead acid one. The pack should cost less than 15, be half the weight and twice the power and is made up from Cheap AA batteries and components from Radioshack - it will sit inside the standard plastic battery case of the unit.

    The Catseye twin headlight system costs 50 and uses 2 x 10w halogen bulbs - you can pump it up to 20w. This is is a cheap system compared to the competition of 100 +:  this system with NiMH battery would cost you about 150 - 200!

For his rides Paul also uses a Garmin GPS unit (Vista) and a Tracklogs system that costs 50 for a 1:50 000 scale computerised map for the whole of Wales (OS). He can plan his trips on a computer, including distance and inclines graph, Naismith's algorithm for predicted journey times, and send the route and information to a GPS which clips to his handlebars and is no bigger or heavier than mobile phone.

    He has also quite a few adaptations on his bike, including low rolling coefficient touring tyres which seem puncture proof and make commuting very quick and clean.

    At the moment Paul is busy working on a project not connected with cycling:  in the next few weeks he hopes to be able to tell us more about his ideas. For the rest of us it's a case of making sure we are as visible as possible during the dark months ahead. With a recent survey showing that 35 % of the adult population have impaired sight, you can't leave anything to chance.

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