Lighten Up Apr 3, 2015





A few people have requested photos of the lighting setup on my Geekhouse Woodville tourer. My view on lighting is pretty simple: throw a big beam where you illuminate not just your bike but the road around you. The Portland Design Works Aether Demon USB light is mounting via the included seatpost clip, but I removed the ring and just attached the clip straight to the rack mount on my bike. Most all lights come with a seatpost mount. I’ve found this method to not only be more secure than a seat stay mount, but much more successful at lighting the surface of the road, increasing visibility.

This position puts the light low and to the inside of the road, assuming cars are driving on the right of the road. If I were in Australia or UK, the light would be on the reverse. The same goes for my Edelux front lamp, which is under my Wald basket.

  • cuppow

    This is a good important thing to talk about especially with spring coming and lots of new people on bikes coming soon. This can save lives! I like to place lights high up. Seatpost and even helmet. This way – when there is stopped traffic, I know that a low mounted light is not lost in the grand scheme of things.

    • Dobry

      I was just thinking something similar. I like the idea of lighting the street, that makes sense, and I buy the notion that its more secure, but I like a high-up light as well. More lights, more lights!

    • caliente

      Having two lights will help other road users judge distance easier as well. right now I’m using a seatpost light and reflectors on my pedals.
      will likely move my light to my unused rack-mount now, and get a blinky for my helmet. Anyone know a good usb rechargeable helmet blinky that is small and affordable?

      • John Watson


        • caliente

          yea, which one?

          • michaelvsShark

            they make them for different price points.

      • Fear Rothar

        Having two lights on your bike does not necessarily help other road
        users judge their distance from you. In order for a second light to be
        useful in that regard, the other road user has to know how far apart the two lights are.

        As an obscure example to the contrary, experienced trikies (that is, those riding trikes or tricycles) in the U.K. recommend against installing two horizontal lights on the rear of trikes. That is because most other road users see two lights up ahead and assume that they are a car’s width apart and, thus, assume that a trike is much further away than it really is.

  • Dobry

    That rear light mount is pretty genius. How’d you come up with that?

    My only concern is with having a light eye-level for drivers. Maybe two lights, one on helmet or seatpost and one with the Watson Method.

  • ChrisDefiance

    Nice move! This would be so nice on a Straggler with those weird super high rack eyelets.

  • Nathan Langman

    I use the same method but I use the rack mount at the top nearer to the seat post on my bikes.

  • sturtlovinggood

    This is nice, but I just use Volvo® Life Paint™

    • SirBentham

      I assume you’re UK based? i’m curious to try it, but i guess it may be a couple months before it reaches the US.

      • sturtlovinggood

        Oh, sorry, I haven’t tried it. I’m based out of Sarcasmtown, USA

    • John Watson


  • barry mcwilliams

    I commute through LA, which is not nearly as bad as one might think. #LASucksForCommuting. Still, I use two front lights and two rear.

    Front is a PDW Lars Rover on the handlebars & a Serfas Raider mounted on my left front fork. The handlebar light makes me visible to cars (I hope), while the front fork light illuminates the street. The fork mount wasn’t intentional but came about when I got a pair of Thompson KFC bars & found that the light mount had a hard time wrapping around them. They’re super-beefy.

    Rear is a PDW Danger Zone on my seatpost & another on my backpack.

  • zuhair

    Really digging the way you’ve got that rear light set up, I might have to try it. Currently I’m running the cygolite metro 550 up front and the hotshot 2W in the back. I also just added this for colder early morning/night rides:

  • Matthew J

    One problem with the best head lights coming from Germany is that German riders are far less likely to have an over the wheel front rack.

    The Edelux on my porteur is pretty much the same place as your Geekhouse. It works fine. But not as well as the Edelux mounted to the fork crown on my tourer set up for front low riders only with the little mount Son ships with the light.

  • Dobry

    Last time we saw this bike, it had newish RocknRoad tires and now it appears you’ve worn them bald! Wow, you’ve been putting some serious miles down!

    • John Watson

      I had rock and roads for a while, over a year and now I’m trying the Fatboys.

  • cork grips

    +1 for PDW, the fenderbot is the best damn fender mounted rear light around.

  • Tim Guarente

    Lighting the road is interesting, I like that. I use a Planet Bike RB-5 taillight on my rack, and keep a Planet Bike Spok on my helmet. It takes a 2032, blends in nicely with my helmet, and acts like a light on the mast of a ship, poking up above cars. I like the RB-5 for the 5 LEDs and AAA batteries, plus it uses a reflector lens for passive visibility.

  • kermitonwheels

    Clever idea lighting the road at the rear like that. I am planning to add a second light at the back and will try this. I also think there is a lot to be said for something at eye level, especially if you are in a lot of traffic (as I often am).

  • Joseph

    Thanks John! I appreciate your write up. Nice simple hack!

  • Dan Clements

    I struggled with a rear light location for bikepacking finally put it on the back of my helmet. I have had two motorists comment my light is to bright! It is a NR Cherry Bomb 1W, I like the idea of lighting up the road I will add another pointing more down on the fender mount

  • boomforeal

    why angle your light down? is there any evidence or theory suggesting that illuminating the ground increases your visibility to or chances of being noticed by other road users?

  • Seth

    While I think it makes only a tiny difference, I believe the headlight should be based around being more visible on the RIGHT side of the bicycle, while the tail light like yours should be aimed so drivers on the left see it. This is because our biggest danger from the front comes from vehicles pulling out of cross streets on our right, not from people in our own lane to the left…