The Beauty & Intensity of Night Riding

Discussion in 'Trials' started by motobene, Jul 8, 2017.

  1. motobene

    motobene Motoing for 46 years

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    I was a big proponent of night riding in the '80s, but then all we had was pitiful tungsten bulbs!

    Today we have all this LED tech and we lay off in the summer heat. Why?!

    IMG_20170707_232535749.jpg

    So I've done months of prototyping to come up with a bike-powered LED product through RYP.

    I've learned a lot!

    For one, riding at night is an intense experience! Everything is weirder and harder, but when riding during the day means you become a greasy spot on some shimmering rock, riding at night starts to look very attractive.

    I attended a night get-together at Grand Lake, OK, an OMG big-sky experience dominated by these 4-wheel daylight creatures for which the A arms cost as much as the top trials bike (shaking my head sadly). Anyway, here we are, doing the unthinkable at night, but it is ever so cool!

    There is a universe of riding experiences waiting to be picked up by the adventuresome. It doesn't take much. Just the willingness to get off one's ass and have an adventure.

    IMG_20170601_134435289.jpg

    Have I piqued your interest?
    #1
  2. Huzband

    Huzband Team Dirt

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    I did some off road night riding in the early seventies when I was much less smart. Not trials though. I have a hard time with depth perception at night which is why I wear glasses after dark. And no amount of led's would change that. The brighter the light, the harder the shadows. This wouldn't end well for me.

    But knock yerself out. :D
    #2
  3. motomofo

    motomofo Been here awhile

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    The depth perception issues (and shadows) are alleviated tremendously when you run a headlight AND a helmet light, vs one or the other.
    #3
  4. Norman Foley

    Norman Foley Devotee of the Husqvarna

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    Although it is limited compared to what a headlight/helmet light has to offer... we ride at night at the Tryals Shop... 10 sections most man made and some natural, lit up with strings of LED bulbs. And just when we thought all the combinations of how to ride them were exhausted.... Marc and Eduardo showed us new ways to ride them!
    [​IMG]
    #4
  5. Takataka

    Takataka Been here awhile

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    I have thought about fitting a light similar to Motobene. I realised though that the wiring on the bike puts out AC power. Apparently an LED will flicker especially at low revs.

    I assume you have fitted a rectifier to solve this?

    I have found some rectifiers that look like they might work but am scared of blowing up my electrics so am reluctant to experiment. This for instance http://www.trademe.co.nz/motors/motorbikes/parts-for-sale/electrics/auction-1363641130.htm

    So who can tell me if it is as simple as fitting a rectifier such as that and a switch in the circuit which was originally used for the Gasgas pro headlight?
    #5
  6. 2whlrcr

    2whlrcr gooligan

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    I like to do other things at night.
    #6
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  7. 10K

    10K Trail Runner

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    Lights on or off?
    #7
  8. SportSawyer

    SportSawyer 4RT Herder

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    Bingo. I did a lot of night riding on mountain bikes 20-years ago. And having helmet and handlebar mounted lights makes a huge difference. Also, with the helmet light, you can look in a different direction than where your handlebar is pointed for switchbacks or other features.
    #8
  9. motobene

    motobene Motoing for 46 years

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    In developing this product I have learned a lot.

    You can have too much light, for example, which closes your pupils too much when you are looking at your own light patch, then you can't see well in shadows and to the side.

    It is better to have diffuse rather than beam light for the primary light to reduce harsher light-dark contrast.

    Use the cave divers mentality of redundancy and backup. Cave divers die when their lights fail. While we may not die, it is scary to kill a bike with a bike-powered light on a steep downhill and suddenly be in the ink and still moving! Best to have either a helmet light and bike-powered light running, and also carry a headlamp spare.

    Bikes produce a slightly cleaned up, single-phase AC. They typically have diodes and not rectifiers. I don't know if the FI bikes like Ossa, Montesa, and Vertigo have 3-phase alternators and full-wave rectification.

    Carbureted trials bikes have single-phase alternators and diodes. My volt meter dies not register the voltage when set to DC, so it is pretty 'dirty.' But you can run LEDs on the bike's lighting circuit. Yes, there is some flicker at idle, but it's not objectionable.

    Another limitation of bike-powered lights is lighting coil capacity. Total capacity for Hidria stator on the Sherco is about 110W, but a good bit of that is I suspect the ignition coil(s). So when I experimented with more powerful lighting I used a battery.

    My battery-powered prototype (with bike-powered small lamp as a backup) turned out to be too heavy and actually too bright.

    I could run a powerful light many hours on a charged Makita 18V battery, though without airflow the light was up to 120 degrees in 40 minutes! Low voltage LEDs are not cool running, which is why they are heavily finned and sometimes quite chunky when the wattage is higher.

    I had limited materials to choose from and 3 hours to throw together an iris nuking Master Blaster battery-powered, on-bike assembly. It was 5-1/2 pounds of reliable and powerful, but it made the steering and thus the whole bike feel heavy.

    In the following photo I'm am about to go off a step. You see the intense light bubble Master Blaster provides.


    IMG_20170707_232458109.jpg

    Powering by a high capacity battery is better done with a battery not on the bike, but rather in the bottom of a backpack to run, for example, a long lasting helmet or backup light.

    My simple bike-powered setup shown above snaps on and hooks up inside 15 seconds and is now proven.

    If Ryan Young likes it I hope to make it available soon, bike specific and also as a generic application kit.
    #9
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  10. motobene

    motobene Motoing for 46 years

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    We did that in Michigan in the '90s. The new LED tech reduces the appeal for fixed lighting hardware, which limits one to riding in one place. Granted, riding under lights is fun!
    #10
  11. motobene

    motobene Motoing for 46 years

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    Shown in the link is a typical 3-phase regulator-rectifier. You can find single-phase regulator-rectifiers, and one would work, but you'd have to find a place for it somewhere.

    A full-wave rectifier will eat up some of the available power to run the fan and light. The output from a diode is dirtier, but there is a small price to pay for cleaner power.
    #11
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  12. motobene

    motobene Motoing for 46 years

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    Update from more testing.

    The light shown above produced the right kind of light but not enough light. I earlier found you can have too strong a light in the beam, and later that too little light starves the brain of information. Balance, for example, is more than from the inner ear and includes sight as well as sound.

    I found a light that gives more light and the right kind of light for sections and loop riding.

    Hoping to build the first lot inside of a month.

    Having trouble finding the light connector Beta uses. It apparently isn't a common connector. Does anyone know the specs or description?
    #12
  13. motobene

    motobene Motoing for 46 years

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    I have built a production-version light and will soon be making my first batch. It works VERY well for night riding sections and the loop trail and fun trail riding. I ended up with a stronger light than the earlier prototypes.
    #13
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  14. jonnyc21

    jonnyc21 Trials Ninja

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    What bikes have you had a chance to test any of your versions with?

    I went back over the thread and it didn't look like you indicated other bikes so guessing only your Sherco... (maybe a Gas Gas?)

    I am wondering because I suspect both my Montesa's are 3-phase alternators and full-wave rectification... (Manual - Wiring diagram [last 2 pages]: http://overlandtrail.biz/Manual Montesa 4RT 05.pdf)
    #14
  15. motobene

    motobene Motoing for 46 years

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    The Sherco-Scorpa light is the core product, a direct fit to Sherco and Scorpa bikes with two headlight connectors. Plug and play, very fast swap no fasteners or tools.

    It didn't make sense for me to chase every manufacturer's connectors, so for all other bikes an optional Universal Wiring Kit with very good instructions will be available. After installation, popping off your labelled plate and popping on the light will be inside of a minute, tops.

    Have I tested with every bike? No. But the current requirements are low and all the bikes, modern and vintage, have decent lighting coils under their flywheels.

    All the modern bikes have minimally a single-phase alternators (lighting coil) and a voltage regulator and diode. In non-FI bikes these are two separate components.

    My '89 Fantic, for example, still has its voltage regulator and diode. Air cooled with no radiator fan so not need for them, but I never removed them. Those components are common and easily purchased.

    I'm not sure yet about the lighting coil capacity of the small bikes like 80s, but it doesn't take a lot to run modern LEDs when spec'd correctly.
    #15
  16. motobene

    motobene Motoing for 46 years

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    jonnyc21 thanks for the 4RT manual.

    FI bikes have additional electric-load burdens, so the have the 3-phase alternator and unitized regulator-rectifier (cast aluminum finned thing with 4 or more wires going in).

    The FI bikes will have deeper electrical capacity and even smoother current. My lights work with the rough, 'dirty' current produced by single-phase alternators and diodes. You get a little flicker right at idle. On the FI bikes there will probably be no flicker at all.
    #16
  17. jonnyc21

    jonnyc21 Trials Ninja

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    Thanks bene
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  18. motomofo

    motomofo Been here awhile

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    What will the price point be on this setup?
    #18
  19. motobene

    motobene Motoing for 46 years

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    I have identified my cost plus, but RYP hasn't gotten that specific. It should be very affordable, as in cheaper than light options for fast off-road bikes.

    There is unfamiliarity and huh? regarding night riding. The mental pump needs priming, and given some smart goods and reasonable prices adoption should be robust.
    #19
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  20. motobene

    motobene Motoing for 46 years

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    So finally I stopped the rest of my world to push for production release of Motobene's LED bike-powered light kit SHE-SQ27, a direct fit to 2010 to present Sherco 125 through 300, and 2015 to present Scorpa 125 to 300:

    IMG_20180630_092949.jpg

    This light kit is also the basis for universal application via universal wiring harness kit UNI-SQ27, for full size trials bikes in general, like the trusty green Fantic:

    IMG_20180630_093354.jpg

    By the way, it takes under half a minute to swap between a number plate and the light, no tools required.

    It will take an uncomfortable number of units to break even, but this has been fun.

    As with all products I've developed, it's been more work than anticipated! I used to ask engineers working for me for a schedule. Then I'd say, "OK, now double it!" I took too long because of other commitments, and maybe insufficient drive with too much contemplation:mully

    Between machining and other fabrication processes it takes too long to produce light kits. But I won't compromise on build quality. Jigs and other productivity aids are helping.

    There are a surprising number of parts that go into this relatively simple product! Below is my assembly table with only the smaller parts shown:

    IMG_20180701_095637.jpg

    The pump is finally primed with the initial production run off tomorrow to RYP. They may vacuum most or all of this first run for themselves, as they have an annual night trial end of July:

    IMG_20180628_221939.jpg

    A second run will satisfy local requests and reward lights for those who helped with testing.

    If the usual misunderstandings about trials night riding prevail (we're OK with driving our cars and trucks at night because we can see), and the cheap-bastard or no-two-nickles-to-rub-together factors combine, demand fir thus product may be paltry.

    We.shall.see.

    If higher-than-expected demand occurs, it will knock me on my butt. But I'll figure out how to ramp things up.

    Please be patient.
    #20