15 December 2010

Brainstorm light mounting with me?

Hey everyone,
I've been pushing a dynamo hub since last summer, with all the best intentions of getting a headlight mounted. Now it's nearly the darkest time of the year and still no dynamo headlight. I'm having a hard time deciding how to get something on there. All these photos should click through to enormous ones if that's at all helpful...

I have a vintage Blackburn front rack, which I love for the consistent aesthetics to my frame and it's match to my rear rack. Also my 1977 frame just doesn't have mounting points for a Nitto rack (or a headlight!).

The rack has stays at two different positions, narrower in front and wider at the middle. I'm not committed to using a particular stay for the mounting point, but I would love to nestle the light as best as possible inside the protection of the rack's platform, just for help preserving the light while parked next to bikes who might be careless, etc. This is a city bike and I'll still be parking it and leaving it for a bit.

I have the headlight my husband took off his Brompton, upside of using it is that it's currently just taking up space, downside is that it's unclear how to mount it on my bike. I'd prefer to mount my eventual headlight to the front rack and not the fork, to keep my fork as blemish-free as possible. I'm open to the idea of buying a different headlight, but I'm wondering if you folks have any ideas for getting this (or any other one) mounted on my somewhat narrow-gauge Blackburn front rack?

This light's mounting bracket can easily be removed, leaving us with a plastic housing with a bolt going through it. I can certainly get a longer bolt and any number of washers.

What I can't do is invert the light, as there are wires on the underside that must rely on the top of the light for some added rain protection.

Here is where I imagine mounting the light, allowing it to be easily seen by other road users, and allowing my rack to continue to be functional. The mounting needs to be secure enough that it stays pointed forward and doesn't slide down the rack's stay.

Edited to Add:

Here are my clamps from Harris, as well as some spacers which had come from the mounting bracket on my second tail light set. If I go the p-clamp route it would be ideal to find one smaller than this one, I'd be wrapping a whole lot of padding to get it to a good clamp on the thin tubing. I went to the hardware store hoping to find something like that and they guy there suggested hose clamps, which I understand can be smaller and certainly very adjustable. He also suggested this pre-drilled metal tape stuff, the idea being that one band of it would go around the stay, and a vertical band would go up and over the rack platform for vertical stability. That sounded like it would rattle, and I could probably do something similar with zip ties (and less rattle). I'm liking the VO bracket suggested below for stability reasons, but I think it would also have a challenge in getting it on to my rack (maybe someone could solder it on?)


Mile High Mark said...

How about attaching a Paul Gino light mount to one of the struts via a small p-clamp?

JPTwins said...

I'm having the same issue. Formerly I was using battery powered lights that clipped onto the handlebar, but i preferred them on the front rack, so I set this up:Just a shellacked wooden dowel bolted onto the rack.

I'm just about to upgrade to a dynohub and the Lumotec IQ Cyo headlight, and would love to mount it downlow like you propose. And like you, my Jandd front rack has no brazeons.

I think the best way would be some sort of clamp around the tube that you show in the last picture. Do they make clamps that small, and would it be secure enough?

Velo Orange also has their VO Rack to Light Bracket that might help keep the light in the right position...

Looking forward to hearing other suggestions...

Anonymous said...

Consider a P-clamp on rack stay to bolt hole on light. You can get these at most hardware stores in different sizes.

You can see what a p-clamp looks like here:

Charlotte said...

I have a collection of P clamps from Harris Cyclery for this purpose, however none of them have been small enough to not slide down the stay. So JPTwins, I don't think they make clamps that small, at least I haven't found one yet.

cycler said...

Charlotte, you need to come over to my house and rummage through my "random hardware" drawer.
If you want to come before the Illuminations ride, let me know :)
Two suggestions. I have a twisted flat bar, that I used with Robert that I fastened to the rack, and then the light was almost perfectly in the center, just above the fender. See "And there was light" on my blog. However, the flat bar was hidden under the basket, and ideally you need 1/4" of clearance between rack and fender, but it doesn't look like you have that.

Second suggestion is to get a piece of rubber tubing to line the P-clamp so that it doesn't slip down.
The Velo Orange thingee looks promising too- sometimes Harris has VO stuff in stock- worth a call.

JPTwins said...

looking at the third poster's link -- some of those mcmaster "Metal Loop Clamps" get down to 7/8" in diameter. And you could pad it with cloth tape or electrical tape. now, how to get just one to try and not 50?

Scott Loveless said...

A P-clamp combined with the VO bracket is probably your best solution. However, outside of bicycling, no one really calls them p-clamps. Check the electrical aisle at your local hardware store for "cushion clamps" or "cable clamps". These are likely to be galvanized steel

They're also commonly used in marine applications. There should be several places in the Boston area that sell boat parts. These clamps will probably be stainless steel.


somervillain said...

I would agree with everyone else's recommendation of a small P-clamp wrapped around one of the rack stays. You can "pad" the stay by wrapping a strip of inner tube around it, then the P-clamp. I've done that and it works like a charm.

Then a small stainless steel bracket between the P-clamp and the headlight (or direct mount of the light to the P-clamp, depending on the shape of the lamp housing). I have a ton of small stainless brackets... in case you want to come over and rummage... you're welcome to.

cycler said...

I think I have some Pclamps that are a tiny bit smaller, but seeing your photo reminds me that the metal part of the Pclamp is very malleable. You could easily re-bend it such that it has a much smaller diameter. You might have to then drill a new hole though for the bolt in a position to keep it clamped down.

I would not think the pre-drilled metal tape stuff would be a good option- it rusts quickly and is kind of brittle.
There are also nylon wire clips made for securing electrical wires in place- similar to a Pclamp but with a smaller diameter. Unfortunately they're not made to be tightened down to hold weight.

A radiator clamp will clamp down to a small diameter, but doesn't provide a good surface to bolt the light to (I've tried something similar without luck).

Mark said...

One possibility is to combine the VO Rack to Light Bracket with a Dynamo light bracket. Mount the "dynamo" bracket on your fork, and the use the rack-to-light bracket to go between the light and the "dynamo" bracket. You may not need the rack-to-light bracket between the two, depending on the geometry of your light.

Those dynamo brackets are very handy, as they give a very secure mounting point on forks, seat stays, chain stays, and sometimes stems or handlebars.

Jackson said...

Can you attach it to the stem using the bar clamp bolt? I installed a longer clamp bolt so extra threads were available for light bracket, washers and a nut. It's nice to have the light where you can reach it!

cycler said...

Ok, I'm feeling a tad obsessed about this, but this is why you asked us right?
It looks like the stays are similar in diameter to a fender stay. If that's correct, you could use a draw bolt from a fender mounting to attach one of the VO rack thingees.
I might secure it with a smidge of silicone caulk to keep it from rotating. You might be able to find different diameter draw bolts at a good hardware store like Tags.

cycler said...

Ooooh oooh ooh- THIS is what you need
One of these to go around your stay, to hold the rack mount, and you're set

Charlotte said...

Cycler - I think you're on to something! I might even have some spares of those. They might not be a perfect fit but with any malleability to that metal we'd be all set with the VO bracket. Brilliant!!! This is the question I wanted to ask you if we could have managed to get together in November, so yes, all your ideas are *exactly* why I asked.

Jackson, the reason why I wanted it under the rack, and in addition to my handlebar-mounted battery headlight, is because sometimes I carry very bulky loads on my rack and it helps to have a light that isn't obscured by cargo. Otherwise you're right, that would be a very good mounting point.

dr2chase said...

Ditto to the R-clips, I think I should get some.

One possibility, not sure you are up for this much DIY, is to make your own, from some angle stock, LED puck, and (for the front) a lens. It's minimal enough that I think it scores ok on appearance (the dark red around the lens, is nail polish, to keep the weather off).

That's what I did for my low beams -- what you see in that picture above, but with a smaller P-clamp mounted low on my fork blades, a lens, and a small piece of mirror epoxied on the top to keep the light down and out of my eyes.

Another choice, probably scores low on the style-o-meter, is what I've currently done for the headlight on that bike. The mirror/hat does double duty for holding a piece of paper or map. I'm still working on the best way to package the electronics; the current plan fits in a bottle cage, but that bike has no bottle cage, and it looks ugly lashed to the front rack (which should be used for other things, anyhow).

Velouria said...

This is my set-up, also described here. We used a VO bracket, and my rack and headlight are of course different from yours, but still might be of use.

Charlotte said...

DrChase - it took me a minute to orient to your photos, because they're so very much outside the general theme of what one generally sees, but totally awesome! I feel sure there is someone around here who could fabricate what I need at some price, the question is who and how much. :) I don't think I'm up to the task.

Velouria, you're lucky to have that nice connection point in your rack. That would make this task so much easier! That's actually why I was pondering whether some sort of braze on could be added to an aluminum rack. I should think that would be the tidiest solution.

dr2chase said...


It's easier than you'd think -- the tools are a bench vise, a hacksaw, a drill, a dremel, a soldering iron, and a clamp (clothespins, for the taillight) to hold things together while the epoxy sets.

I very much think that everyone should have good bright lights (and also low beams), but the cost of most good lights is far too high. The one DIY barrier-to-entry that I don't know how to eliminate, is how to use a soldering iron.

The hard part, for me, is making it look nice enough.

Velouria said...

Charlotte - No, that's the thing; my rack does not have connection points for the light. I used a VO bracket.

Charlotte said...

Velouria, Maybe I'm just not getting it - does your rack not have a joint where the stay joins the platform allowing you to connect the VO bracket to the rack itself? It looks to me from these photos like you didn't have to mess with any clamps.

somervillain said...

Velouria, I think Charlotte's right. The reason you were able to mount a VO light bracket is because that rack uses a draw-bolt to connect the rack to the stay. The bracket made fortuitous use of that connection point.

Charlotte-- I do think the R-clips a nice idea, but I fear they are too small for the diameter of your rack stays. You can get the right size R-clips in plastic, but I don't know if they'll hold up as well as metal ones. I used the plastic ones to attach a rear taillight to a rack that did not have light attachment points, and I feel comfortable using them there:


Notice that I used a section of inner tube here. I did not use it to increase the diameter of the rack tubing; I used it to prevent rotation of the clips.

However, I think I would want to use a metal R-clip for a front headlight. The only trick, it seems, is to find one in the right size.

Charlotte said...

Hey everyone, in the interest of completeness I have some ideas to add here that I got in email from my step-dad, who's pretty good at these things. He agrees with the various clamp ideas, both fitted and with filler, and also offers the following:

SLIDE STOP - You can also get a metal crimp (very narrow, won't see) that could be put on the bottom of the existing oversized clamp that you have to keep it from slipping down the rack when you hit bumps.

IMPROVISE - If the clamp isn't too thick, you could stretch it open a bit on one side, place it around the rack tubing, clamp the "outside" with a vice grip. Then with a pliers, you pull the other side forward. Once you do that on the "stretched side" (while the outside side is held firm with the vice grip, you mark a new bolt hole spot in alignment with bolt hole the clamped side. At the same time, you also mark the stretched side exactly even with the clamped side. Lastly you cut the long side off (metal plier) and drill the new hole in the stretched side where you made the mark to align with the existing bolt hole.

WELD - Lastly, I think a Mig spot weld would also do the trick. A Mig welder can weld mild steel, wear plate, high tensile steel, aluminum, stainless steel, and even a variety of exotic and specialized steels and metals. You could mark the spot for your existing clamp, take the rack to a welding shop and have them do the spot weld for the clamp.. Or just have them weld a new mounting shank on with a hole for the mounting bracket. That could be a 1 inch long piece of metal with a hole in one end (or whatever you need for clearance to mount the light).

A Parisian Cyclist said...

Fond of your fenders!

JPTwins said...

Ok, I know this is already two months old, but could you give us an update on what you ended up doing here? I recall seeing some solution in person after the xmas lights tour, but i can't recall if it was permanent. i also can't recall what it was.

I was able to find a nice assortment of p-clamps over at velo-orange, but can't say i feel confident that they won't cause the light to wobble on bumps.

either way, i need a solution too! :)

Charlotte said...

I apologize, we've only gotten to the temporary solution, which is a small hose clamp around the fork and the light bracket.
It's funny you should post today because at breakfast my husband was describing a light mount he saw the other day, which he thinks will work.
Hopefully we'll have something more elegant soon!

JPTwins said...

Ha! what a coincidence. and as it turns out, I went down to my basement to try out some options I found after i wrote you.

My rack (the jandd front extreme) has a few holes in the flat surface, and I ended up using the Velo orange bracket and bending it to a 90 degree L. with some washers, I was able to mount it on there. Until I can devise a better bent L bracket that fits, this actually works.

i tried to take a picture, but alas, it was too tiny and dark. But at least I think it'll work.

good luck!