Instructables

Helmet mounted bicycle light on the quick and cheap!

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Picture of Helmet mounted bicycle light on the quick and cheap!
This is a quick and easy one.

A front bike light for your helmet, it goes where you go and shines where you look! No more multiple handlebar mounts on different bikes, broken handlebar mounts, cumbersome external batteries, etc.

After breaking several cheap plastic mounts I'd had enough of bike mounted lights. Enough I say! Why can't mfg's make fiber reinforced mounts!

Having used headlamps extensively for camping and hiking I decided it was time for a helmet mounted light that I could point where I wanted, especially in driver's eyes to alert them of my presence.

Let's begin...
 
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Step 1: Acquire LED flashlight

Picture of Acquire LED flashlight
Update 11/05/2012. I now use LED flashlights that are rechargeable and much brighter that what I originally mentioned in this instructable (a 3 AAA LED light from Sams Club). Amazon is a great source for these types of lights and batteries. There are plenty of resources for LED flashlights of all sizes, prices and brightnesses. Google is your friend. Most of these lights use a Lithium Ion battery that is commonly called an 18650 battery. LED technology has also come a long way, Cree and SSC have LED's that are capable of upwards of 900 lumen. If you want to go smaller and lighter there's also a battery called a 123 size. They're half as long as the 18650 batteries and allow for smaller lights that are still amazingly bright.

Step 2: Materials list

Picture of Materials list
1) Helmet
2) Some sort of thick plastic bendable packaging material (~1mm thickness)
3) Snip pliers or wire cutters (for cutting zip ties)
4) Lighter (bic preferred)
5) Sharpie (never leave home without it!)
6) Four zip ties (may need more or less depending on size)
7) Four rubber o-rings sized for the flashlight barrel (again, may need more or less)
8) Led flashlight
9 ) Scissors (not pictured)

Step 3: Protecting styrofoam ribs in the helmet

Zip ties are an amazing invention.

However, zip ties putting pressure on the Styrofoam underside of the helmet when tightened was a problem. It caused deformation of the Styrofoam even without being fully tightened.

See photo for detail.
tonyscott6 months ago

Good job, thanks for sharing.

mysss9 months ago
Haha, now I'm curious. It's amazing what you can learn about something when you're forced to work with it hundreds of times a day. I now know how to troubleshoot QC issues with locking lug nuts and can deal with clamshells like a champ. -_- THOSE skills should come in handy....
ANYWAY, any other zip tie safety tips? That sounds like an interesting instructable too. o_O
daelans5 years ago
not to be mean or anything but i just like to take the simple way out. i just ware a headlamp under may helmet with the light pokin out on my forehead. sorry to rain on your ... er ... bikearade ... parade on bikes ... ?
mysss daelans9 months ago
...
That...
is a brilliant idea. I never thought to try that! I wonder if my headlamp is bright enough to do any good as a bike light....
It WOULD interfere with my winter hat, though, I think.
dchall85 years ago
First of all...DUDE! This is a great idea and a great Instructable!! Secondly, I'm not sure about the safety of this thing. Although the flashlight is less than a half pound, it still throws off your head balance just a little. Sure you will develop the neck muscles to compensate so I'm less concerned about that than this...The real problem is you've added a big metal thing to the outside of the helmet. If you happen to need the helmet to protect your brains, I'm thinking the flashlight will survive intact while the helmet will break open instantly right where the light is mounted. If only the flashlight was made from soft plastic I would be still more excited about the idea. Maybe you could disassemble the flashlight and mount, say, the bulb in front, batteries on the side, and switch somewhere convenient. Just an idea. I still like the idea of mounting the light to the handlebars. Check out any of the many Instructables on that topic and see if you can come up with something that won't break under rough conditions. And lastly, I really like that little Sam's Club flashlight. I have five and counting. All of my friends are getting a Sam's Club LED flashlight for Christmas. They are extremely bright, sturdy, and use cheap batteries. They are easily the best lights on the market anywhere near $14. The gearhead flashlight-a-holics don't like them because there's no electronics to control the bulb, but that always raises the price by $50 to $100. What's interesting is that for a $200 light with the same performance, they love them, but this one they don't.
daelans dchall85 years ago
mag lites own. i have a... 3d cell blue and 2 cell AA blue and they have both worked, surprisingly, well. the only lights i have seen firsthand to beat them are my friends. but they dont count causehe makes them himself. theyre like those lights on helicoptors in the movies that go a mile in fog (im not joking whatsoever) only his are in a convenient (not really) falshlight. me and most of my troop (boy scouts) have magltes and have had for multiple years and they survive the rigors of camping and do not die oftem even under avuse. (i threw up on my friends one time) the only downside is they are like 80% machined aluminum or something and the large ones are a bit heavy. i am totally gonna do this. but not soon cause i dont think itll hold a 3dcell maglite ountain biking, which i am next weekend. i am mountain biking, not a 3d cell maglite. lol
Kasm279 daelans3 years ago
I second that Maglites are awesome. I lost one in my yard at the beginning of winter and found it when the snow melted the next year. It probably sat there three or four months. When I found it I twisted the head and it turned right on. Also, the aluminum isn't what makes the larger ones heavy, its the batteries. Aluminum is a little heavier than plastic though...
mysss Kasm2799 months ago
Wow! I had no idea they'd be that waterproof. But I guess if they have a couple O-rings in there.... And +1 on the batteries.
mysss daelans9 months ago
You need to look into modern LED lights. Or maybe you're talking about the LED maglites, which I have no experience with...maybe they don't burn out and run out of batteries as often as the old incandescent ones. Or...I guess they definitely don't, but I've had enough mini maglites to know they're not nearly as good as a modern "tactical" LED flashlight.
There are a bunch of plastic bodied diving lights on the market, you can get them from China for $15 on Alibaba. Coast and Dorcy make them too,
goodgnus (author)  dchall85 years ago
First off, I appreciate you reminding me of the possible safety concerns and thank you for the compliments on my first Instructable.

To be honest I had intended to include safety concerns but after reviewing mass marketed helmet light systems, including this one (NiteRider MiNewt Mini-USB) which is is mounted through the air vents and is exactly the same weight (6.1 ounces), I decided it was not pertinent to the Instructable.

As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If this light helps me avoid an incident through increased visibility I will take the tradeoff of it possibly becoming a safety concern in the event of a wreck.
Not my quote, but something to think about.

"The first and most important rule for mounting a light on your helmet is that it must break away readily when you crash or catch an overhanging obstacle. If it does not, you risk having your neck jerked when it snags on the pavement or tree. Besides jerking your neck, that can add to the g's of the shock to your brain when you hit pavement. "
I have ridden with flashlights ziptied to a walmart helmet before, and one snagged on a branch. It broke the zipties, and nothing happened to me. It works.
Nice! I get the feeling that zip ties vary in quality, though.... I wonder if anyone has similar experience with ranger bands (inner tube rubber bands of some sort).
new steps for those who want to mountain bike at night.
#1: google Magicshine lights.
#2: drop the $80 bucks
#3: ride SAFELY and enjoy
--i spent hours and hours trying to cheapskate and instructable my way out of buying a real light suitable for night time fast mountain biking. just drop the 80 bucks on something that is darn near as bright as car headlights, firmly mounts to helmets or bars and is not very heavy at all.
These are $2.50 on various china-direct sites, and can work on some helmets.
v2 led flashlight mount 1.jpgv2 led flashlight mount 1.jpg
I've done this, too. If you don't want to use zip-ties, you can make big "o-rings"/rubber bands from dead road bike tubes, buy large o-rings at a pool supply or automotive parts store, or make a velcro and elastic sleeve for it (that's on instructables too, looks pretty good!)
Yes, VELCRO
nocode542 years ago
I have used a similar method of attaching my flashlight to my helmet for years. I use heavy rubber band though. It holds steady and is fairly easy to remove. I like the adjustability of a rubber band too. As far as problems with a helmet mounted light; I have had none.
looker19953 years ago
I did pretty much the same thing, but with a couple differences. First, I used lights from Home Depot. The bodies are plastic (lightweight). They use 3 AAA batteries, like yours, and have 5 LEDs. I mounted 2 of them on my helmet, with spacers in between. The spacer at the front is wider, so the lights angle outward slightly, covering a wider area. That's the primary reason for having 2 lights. The other is that if one goes out, I still have plenty of light to get me out of the woods, without having to stop and change batteries. I carry spares regardless, but I ride with a couple other guys, and I don't want to stop the group if my batteries die. Great instructable, very helpful to those on a limited budget!
jackjones15 years ago
Firstly I think that a really good idea, so I had a look around to see if there was something like that out there and you can actually buy a proper helmet with a built in front light and 3 red led lights at the back of the helmet at htpp://www.unijem.co.uk So just thought I would share this info as I am buying mine from there.
DebH575 years ago
Hi Goodgnus! Great idea, saves lives, saves money and is easy to make. Thanks for sharing.