Several years ago I found myself wanting to ride trails on my mountain bike at night. I’d seen videos of it and my friends had talked about it a few times. I also wanted to ride my bike to work, which would require a good light for the colder seasons.
At the time, halogen bike lights were mainstream but still very expensive. Just a replacement bulb was $20 even though you could get similar bulbs down at the local lighting shop for $10 each. And buying a bike light just didn’t seem as fun as BUILDING one. Besides, I needed something to use my new Pop-Rivet tool on. So I got to work.
It’s constructed out of drain pipes, MR-11 halogen bulbs, speaker wire, batteries from a dead Power Wheels and raw aluminum materials. The tubes that house the bulbs are those little pipes you find under the sink, connecting the sink to the U-shaped trap. They just happen to have the perfect diameter end and threaded nut. They’re held together with a couple cross members and everything is Pop-Riveted. I filled the back ends of the tubes with silicone sealant. This holds the bi-pin sockets in place, seals the end and provides a nice glow for visibility. The switches are your basic toggles and just sort of hover in the middle – not very weatherproof, but I don’t mix night with rain very often anyway. The battery is a sealed lead-acid type, which is really heavy but CHEAP. Maybe I’ll upgrade to NiMH one of these days. Or not. It’s got two bulbs: “High” and “Low” beams, depending on what bulbs I use, which vary in power between 10 and 35 watts and in beam pattern from very narrow spot to flood. Each bulb is on its own switch so I can choose between the two or run both for DAY LIGHT up front. I usually use a 10w spot and a 20w flood for the greatest range of power consumption and brightness options. But sometimes I run a 20w narrow flood and 35w flood when I’m hammering single track.
It took me a couple weekends to finish and cost about $10 each for 4 different bulbs, $15 in materials and I already had the batteries for a total of $55.
I finished at about 11PM on a Saturday night. So I immediately had to test-run it. If you look closely at the pictures, you’ll see the spider web I rode through in the middle of the night. I stopped and cleaned it off, but didn’t notice the HUGE SPIDER HANGING FROM MY HANDLEBARS until I got back to the parking lot. Severe heebs set in upon discovery of my new (short-lived) passenger, which accelerated my ride home by some degree.