Lighting the Way with Busch + Müller and Peter White Cycles

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhining and Complaining – We all know how hard it is to see some people on bicycles from the rear at night or in gloomy weather unless they have adequate lighting. In fact, if one were to choose between a front light over a proper rear taillight, safety would suggest the latter.

Why then do not all non-racing/fast road/mountain bicycles have built-in lighting?

In the USA, most bicycles – regardless of style or brand – require searching out both a tail and headlight or switching these from other bicycles. These lights depend on a variety of mounting techniques, not all of which are good or are not good in certain applications. In the case of headlights, each mounting or re-mounting then requires adjustment to ensure that it is aimed for best effect in terms of both visibility to oncoming traffic and in lighting the roadway.

Since dynamos are typically also not found on bicycles sold in the USA (at least since the UK dropped its line of upright bicycles with “Dynohubs”), we are all stuck in large part with replacing or recharging all those batteries on a regular basis. Even with a retrofitted/add-on generator, the difficulty or impossibility of having internal wiring and an integrated off/on switch means that the install will also be less that aesthetically pleasing.

The Issue – If one wants to fit her bicycle with lights that (1) are always there and (2) won’t disappear while having that croissant and coffee, the only recourse seems to be to modify an existing, off-the-shelf light(s). Here is a Planet Bike light fitted with a semi-theft proof bolt to mount on a Tubus Logo Evo rear rack.

One Solution – After a little Googling around for a more professional option for the Tubus Logo Evo rack, up pops Peter White Cycles. This small New Hampshire firm specializes in dynamo lighting but also offers battery powered lights for those who do not want to have a wheel rebuilt with a dynamo hub. “Bicycle Quarterly” has featured Peter White Cycles but with an emphasis on their hub generators.

Success – Sure enough, Peter White offers two Busch + Müller bolt-on, battery-powered rear lights with 50 mm spacing to exactly fit the Tubus Logo Evo’s pre-drilled holes – the Toplight Line. B&M Tail LIght for Tubus 10-30-17 (4)These lights conform to Federal Republic of Germany (Bundesrepublik Deutschland) bicycle regulations. Founded in 1925, Busch + Müller is in Meinerzhagen (population of 20,000 and about 71 km west-northwest of Cologne).

 

This light comes in two formats as follows:

  • Toplight Line Permanent – spreads light from two LEDs across the width of the taillight and uses a single AA battery. It has a simple “On/Off” switch ($ 40.00).
  • Toplight Line Senso – which is the same as the “Permanent” but with a three position “On/Off/Senso” switch. “Senso” activates light and motion sensors. When the bike is moving and it is dark, the light is automatically switched “On.” When you stop, the light stays on for a few minutes. As long as you do not move again, it switches off and stays “off” ($ 46.00).

Features – For the extra $6+ shipping, let us see what the Senso offers.Frist, Peter White Cycles makes buying a pleasure. They do not accept internet orders – it is all by telephone with a knowledgeable and pleasant human. (One can use email and checks, but why not enjoy the human interaction?)

The B+M light comes with (almost – see below) everything you need: the light, a single AA battery, mounting nuts and lock washers, a locking machine screw for the battery compartment, and a T-2 wrench* for this screw. Oh – and there are instructions of sorts. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The key difference with the Senso (over the “Permanent”) is the special mode that (1) comes on when the light detects motion, (2) stays on if he light detects darkness, or (3) goes “off” after 4 minutes if there is (a) no motion or (b) no darkness. Presumably, one could leave this light in the Senso mode all the time, thereby ensuring that the light will always be on when the bicycle is moving and it is dark. (ED: Not tested yet.)

The Battery Lock – The instruction state that the aforementioned machine screw can be used for “Theft protected locking of the battery compartment.” Since it’s difficult to imagine thieves prowling about stealing batteries from bicycle lights, the better use for this feature is to install the screw (with the provided T-20 wrench) to keep the battery compartment securely closed. Since this compartment is on the bottom of the light and if one were not to secure properly the clip-in compartment cover, it is feasible that the cover would be lost – followed soon enough by the battery. The minor downside is the need to carry a T-20 wrench – which is also needed for the Tubus Logo Evo mounting screws so it is already in the tool kit.

Installation – Since the Toplight Line is made to fit the 50 mm spread of the predrilled holes in the Tubus Logo Evo rack, installation is simple. A little “Threadlocker,” and it is on. HOWEVER and surprisingly, the provided M-5 standard hex nuts are unsightly. A trip to the land of the orange aprons was required to get proper cap nuts ($0.72) – see photo for comparison.

Does It Blink? – Nope. In Germany, the road traffic regulations, Straßenverkehrszulassungsordnung (StVZO), dictate bicycle requirements. Every bicycle on public ways, for both children and grownups, is supposed to follow these rules. Most bicycles have required accessories already in place including proper lights. (You can buy a bicycle without everything, and some people ride bikes that do not conform, but in the event of an accident, the rider is likely at least partly responsible.)

Lighting requirements are a white headlight and a red rear light ready for use at any time. A single switch must control both the headlight and rear light. The lights must be able to be powered by a dynamo backup, though they can use batteries in addition (as a stand light for example). At the most, one may add a single additional battery powered rear light. More battery-powered lamps are not permitted, including blinking ones or ones on the helmet or body.

If you are committed to a rear blinky but want the carefree luxury of a B&M Toplight Line, stick a back-up blinker on there somewhere (but do not ride in Germany).


*Torx, developed in 1967 by Camcar Textron, is the trademark for a screw head with a 6-point star-shaped pattern. Popular generic name for the drive is “star,” as in “star screwdriver” or “star bits.” The official International Organization for Standardization (ISO) name is “10664,” “hexalobular internal.”

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