Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The Discipline to Ride Slowly

I rode to work today. Very heroic, no? I'm trying to figure out the temperature/speed range that is cool enough to avoid having to take a shower at work. I rode at a pretty leisurely pace to work. It takes some discipline to not, er, shred the road, or something. I wore a new t-shirt I got on clearance at Marshall Fields that has kind of a waffle weave to keep the shirt from plastering against you, and changed in the lobby bathroom. I changed pants, shirt, and socks and mopped myself off with a damp paper towel and put on some deodorant, then padded up to the office. I keep a pair of dress shoes and a belt in a drawer there for when I ride.

Going home I ran some errands. First the bank, then to Target, which has a bike rack right by the front door, to pick up some film, then to Batteries Plus. I had them do me a 5-sub-C cell battery pack for my Vistalite Nightstick. I bought this unit in September 2000 and it came with a Nicad battery pack. I have been very pleased with the light in part due to its simplicity. There's the light head, which has a simple and effective clamp for the handlebars (or fork, I've done both), a 6v battery in an aluminum tube that nestles in a clamp under the downtube water bottle cage, and a coiled cable to hook them up. The Nicad batteries, as they are wont to do, eventually lost their ability to hold a charge for any useful amount of time. I had Batteries Plus make me up a 5-sub-C set with the Nightstick connector using Nimh batteries rated at 3000 mAH.

Five watts is pretty bright, but more would ok. With the 3000 mAH battery pack, currently trickle-charging away out in the garage, the 5W light will run twice as long. Or, I could try 10W. The Bicycle Lighting Systems site recommends that the light not draw more than 70% of the battery's capacity. With 70% of 2000 mAH being 1400 mA, a 10W bulb on a 6V circuit would draw 10W/6V = 1.67 amps, exceeding that recommendation. However, with 3000 mA, 70% of which is 2100 mA (2.1 amps), the 10W bulb becomes possible. I think it's a standard MR11 bulb, so if I can find one I'm going to give this a try. It isn't exactly a HID light to blind oncoming motorists, but would be a nice upgrade. The 5 sub-Cs shrunk-wrapped and wired cost me $37, by the way. I'll let you know how this goes.

1 comment:

Doug Simpkinson said...

Hi! I'm a cyclist who also uses the VistaLite Nightstick lighting system, and some of my batteries are starting to go bad as well. I see the replacement battery packs available on the web, but I wanted to ask you: Did you actually replace the batteries in the aluminum battery tube, or just use a new battery pack and throw away the tube?

I'm hoping to open up my tubes and replace the batteries, so I was looking to see if anyone had done this before and had tips on how to do it non-destructively.

If you feel you have time to talk to me about it, I can be reached by email at douglips "at" gmail "dot" com.