Cam MTB - the Cambridge Mountain Bikers' Forum

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DISCLAIMER. MOUNTAIN BIKING CAN BE DANGEROUS. YOU JOIN US AT YOUR OWN RISK.

SAFETY BRIEFING.

  • Wear a helmet. Despite recent advances in medical science, brains still cannot be mended nor replaced.
  • Wear gloves or mitts. Hands often hit the ground first. Cuts and grazes invite infection and a hospital visit.
  • Wear eye protection, it only takes a twig or thorn to lose an eye. Crud catchers are a good idea in mucky weather.
  • When downhilling, for your own protection, allow plenty of space behind the rider in front.
  • Bring a bare minimum emergency tool kit and a spare inner tube.
  • Breakdowns are a bore. Plan not to have any by ensuring your bike is in perfect working order.
  • Punctures are also tedious. You can minimise them by fitting latex tubes, slime tubes or running tubeless tyres.

Photo: Why not indeed - Elvis needs more cyclists! (courtesy of Bony Tony)

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The Cam MTB Lights FAQ

New riders often either want (or need) advice on what sort of lighting system is advisable for a Cam MTB night ride. To avoid repetition, here's a FAQ that compiles our usual answers:

Q. What lights do I need to ride with CamMTB?

A. Popular lights with the regulars/old lags are Lumicycle or Light & Motion HIDs, Ayup twin LED sets, Exposure LEDs or the Cateye Double/Tripleshots. Double combos of a handlebar and helmet mount are good, but not essential.

Q. Christ those are expensive! How little can I spend and still expect to have fun rather than bouncing off every unseen rut, root and branch?

A. I'm afraid that if you don't spend at least around the £150 mark you will not get lights that cut it when riding on pitch black singletrack at speed. The vast majority of our rides are in darkness and as it's mainly off road the lights must be reliable and designed for that sort of use. This is mainly for your safety and that of your fellow riders.

Yes this sort of light is overkill for riding on the road and there are road sections on virtually all of our rides, but the whole point is that we go offroad, in the woods, and on sections where the surface is hard to see and you need a very good light to reveal the potholes, divots, gaping holes, branches, logs and dog-eggs.

Q. Jeez... that's still a lot of money to spend. What if you're too fast/slow/unfriendly* and it turns out I don't like riding with you anyway?

A. Several of the regulars are total bike light geeks and have spare systems. Ask in advance and it's quite likely that someone will be willing to lend you a set for a ride or two so you can see if night riding is your cup of tea.

*Delete as applicable. And we're not unfriendly, honest.

Q: But it's summer, you bunch of elitists! It doesn't get dark!
A: Sunset on June 21st is 9.25 pm. We might get to the pub by then (we might not though) but sure as dog sh*t in the Orwell clunch pit, we'll be leaving for home after dark and unless the pub is the Blue Ball in Granchester, there will be offroad bits to contend with.

Q. Anything else?

A. Yes - don't forget a back light too. And if it's one of the eye-searingly bright ones, it's courteous to put it on continuous or wandering, rather than flashing so you don't blind the rider behind you.

Re: The Cam MTB Lights FAQ FAQ

Q. Really, can't I get away with a commuter light?

A. No.

Re: The Cam MTB Helmet FAQ

Q. Should I wear a helmet?

A. Well, we've had two crashes this summer where the crashee rode away with a fractured lid rather than skull. Do we need to say more?

Re: The Cam MTB Lights FAQ

Q. No, come on - you can't be serious ... really? Can't I get away with a commuter light? They're tons cheaper!

A. No, No, No. They are completely useless once you're offroad - you'll need a decent set of off road headlights.

The good news is, that if you're looking to buy some lights, there's an excellent series of reviews on mtbr.com - see the links below for more than enough into to help you part with some hard earned cash

2010 Mtbr Lights Shootout (latest update) http://reviews.mtbr.com/blog/2010-mtbr-lights-shootout/
This is a quick summary of the latest lights to be released (and tested).

LED Bike Lights Shootout 3 http://reviews.mtbr.com/blog/lights-shootout-introduction/
LED Mountain Bike lights are great value (not to be confused with much cheaper LED commuting lights that are NOT bright enough for mountain biking - most new MTB lights are LED these days, as they're compact, super bright, and give long battery life.

Mtbr Bike Lights Shootout Main Page http://reviews.mtbr.com/blog/category/lights-shootout/
This page links to all the past reviews on Mtbr.com for headlights.

Re: The Cam MTB Lights FAQ

Q. What about those cheap but powerful lights, like Magicshine and iaMOutdoor, that I see online? Are they any good?
A. Several members of the group have used these with varying stories of success. The consensus is that the quoted output - usually 1200 lumens - is probably a generous overstatement, that the quality is not always up to scratch so they are not as resilient as more expensive brands and that they are not very feature rich. For example, they don't have a very focussed beam, no/little battery life warning and the choice of settings is very limited.

All that said, they are very bright and good enough to ride off-road at night, you just might want a spare battery. They are very good as a first light and they do seem to be driving down the price of some of the high-spec competition. When one of the group had a problem with their battery, the supplier, Magicshine, were helpful so aftersales assistance is available.

Don't be under any illusions that they're better than the 'quality' brands though - these tend to be much more resilient, feature rich, leading edge, etc. But the cheap brands are changing the market.