Saturday, November 3, 2012

You Say Excess, I Say Success

The daily driver that takes me from The Cycle World Headquarters to my top-secret day job has been under attack by an accessory thief lately. So far, I've lost a very old Planet Bike headlight and mounting bracket (not a huge loss, other than the four Eneloop rechargeables contained within) and had multiple attempts made on my Planet Bike Superflash taillights (thwarted by well-placed zip-ties).

In the ever-escalating war, I stumbled into perhaps the most overbuilt flashlight-mount-cum-bike-headlight ever conceived. The first key component is an LED-based flashlight like the one I first mentioned in my old headlight shootout. You don't necessarily need the same flashlight, but the key is to find one using that case design ("form factor", I think it's called). For example, here's one on Amazon (and as usual, if you go buy it, I get a cut -- at least in theory, since no one's ever bought anything off one of my links yet):

The key is that the main body of the light needs to be very close to 1 1/8" in diameter. Next up, you need a stem for a 1 1/8" threadless steerer with a handlebar clamp compatible with your current bars. Oh, and those current bars need enough clamping space on them for another stem. See where I'm going here? Clamp the flashlight into the stem as if it's a steerer tube, clamp the stem to your bars alongside your current stem, and you get this: 

One insanely stable, difficult to remove headlight mount. I happened to have a very stubby, upjutting stem lying about, but any old angle or extension will do. I also would have preferred running the stem hanging down from the bars, but I had some cable interference issues there.

The obvious comparison is the Twofish Flashlight Mount (hey, look, another Amazon link). I've used this, and found it unsatisfactory -- no matter how hard I cinched the Velcro, there was too much jiggling for my taste. Obviously, the stem is 100% jiggle-free. A stem is more expensive, so I probably wouldn't buy one just to do this, but since I already have a pile of them, it was a no-cost experiment for me.

In my old headlight shootout post linked above, you can see that I did basically the same thing using two hose clamps turned 90 degrees to each other plus some rubber shims. That was a decidedly cheaper (and equally stable) approach, but I'd run out of hose clamps and didn't want to make a dash to the hardware store. The stem looks nicer, too -- more elegant, less hacked. 

Of course, the day after I hooked this up, the headlight-thieving jerk unscrewed the lens from my flashlight and took it -- not sure what he hoped to do with it other than annoy me, but if that was the goal, mission accomplished. I've since resorted to easily-removable lights that I can take with me during the day, but I thought that this hack deserved to live on in Web-based infamy.


Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear that people are messing with your bike. I don't have to deal with that, so I'm not sure what to suggest. By chance, my default mode is to have homemade bike lights that only a mother (or engineer) could love, so I'm probably safe. (insert smiley face here)

Cycle Jerk said...

Very industrious. Good on ya!