Thursday, May 13, 2010


In this post I'm talking about the front and rear lights and flashlights I'm using on the tour.


In terms of high-powered lighting (to be able to see, not just be seen in dark conditions), I currently have a Topeak Moonshine Commuter 6-10W light.

Additionally, I have a 1/2 watt front light (9 led torch with strobe function) with rubberized adjustable bar mount. The 1/2 watt runs on 3 AAA batteries for many hours.

I also have a tiny dynamo (wind-up) headlamp (can be easily detached as a flashlight / front bike light) with 3 leds which can be a used as a bike light when bright isn't needed, when my AAAs are flat, as well as a torch most of the time while setting up camp, cooking, night time reading.

While the Topeak Moonshine Commuter is OK for commuting where you can easily charge the thing between night time rides, I'm not thrilled with it for touring because:
  • it has a short run time between AC charges (2 hrs when at 10W, 4 hrs at 6W)
  • it can only be charged with AC and needs to be plugged in for 3 hours to charge
  • it is heavy and not easily used as a flashlight due to the blockiness of the battery pack being awkward in the hands (and heavy)
  • it does not have a strobe / flashing mode
  • An extra battery pack would be expensive, and add a lot more weight.
  • The battery packs are being phased out so it would be hard to get a replacement when its reach the end of life.

I've had a look at other bright-light alternatives including:
But they're all so expensive!

I've decided to settle for a 7W led flashlight to replace the Topeak Moonshine, to see how it goes. 

  • Only costs $30
  • Lighter
  • 90 minute runtime between battery changes, but it does allow battery changes! Easy to carry spare batteries, still lighter than Moonshine light.
  • Not as bright as the Moonshine on highest setting (7W compared to 10W) but 7W is still pretty good.
  • Allows strobing/flashing mode
  • Takes a range of batteries - CR123A x 2 and 18650 x 1
  • I can piggy back off existing AC and solar battery recharging that the Steripen uses (Steripen also uses CR123 batteries) therefore one less damn charger to carry.
  • Easily used as the dual purpose flashlight / bike light
  • Can be fixed onto handlebars / handlebar bag / front rack / forks / front panniers using Silicone Bar Mount Bands ($8 from Abbotsford Cycles), using rubberized adjustable bar mount similar to 1/2 watt light has) or by other means.
Note that the silicon bar mount bands are good for other things like a GPS, mobile phone, iPhones.... 

Tail lights

I have two planet bike super flash rear lights. They run on 2 AAA batteries each for ages. These are one of the best rear lights for long distance visibility (people seeing you in dark or foggy conditions).

Please feel free to add your comments on my lighting set-up, or what you use or recommend, as I'd love to hear them.

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