DIY Rack Mounted Light Bracket & EOS Bike Light

Entirely engrossed in my work – jigsaw, file, and belt-sander in hand – I couldn’t help but recall many a remarkable full-dark, late-night bike rides in the days before I started flying airplanes; solo nighttime rides that regularly took me 30 or 40 miles from home with only the focused beam of a Nite Rider Pro 6 lamp to guide me.

I recall these rides with the kind of blissful zeal usually reserved for wonderful early childhood events.  What a powerful feeling, wheeling along as I often did on dark backcountry roads, not a streetlight for miles, contemplating my utter dependence on a little light while teasing the night air by extinguishing the lamp during steep climbs and on long straight-aways.  My thoughts were never far from the “what if” scenario of running the battery empty, but its funny what we’re capable of when faced with limits.  I hope I never forget the perfect sound of meshing gears, my quiet breathing and the wind through my helmet while the moon shown above, playing dark shadows across my path.

These fond memories were triggered as I completed my project – the construction of a homemade light bracket designed around Princeton Tec’s amazing little EOS Bike Light.  Self-contained headlights for bikes – in other words, the type that utilize on-board batteries instead of remotely located power packs – are great for the around-town cyclist but have one big limitation (a deficiency shared by the remotely powered lights too), namely, the mounting brackets.  All I’ve come across are designed to clamp to a handlebar or the like.  What to do for light if you’re a touring cyclist who relies upon a handlebar bag and front panniers?  Where does one wrap a headlight in this case?  I do realize that someone thought of this and that there are several “fixes” available but all, in my opinion, have serious drawbacks.

Conventional options like the so-called “cockpit extenders” – the long, T-shaped obtrusive brackets that you can use to mount all kinds of things above or maybe even below your handlebar bag – are far from elegant, get in the way of opening and closing your handlebar bag plus make the handlebars top-heavy.  And for those of us that utilize a shelf-type front rack, the option of mounting anything under your handlebar bag is lost the minute you bungy something to the platform.  I suppose head-strap mounted lamps can work, but who wants to wear one of those for any longer than they have to?  And I haven’t heard anything good about the headlight attachments that some manufacturers of handlebar bags sew onto the bottom of their bags.

As I contemplated these deficiencies, I wondered how I might take advantage of the solitary hourglass-shaped boss that Surly saw fit to design into the front rail of their front rack.  It’s the only threaded-something that is not in any way obstructed by the handlebar bag, the front pannier or anything I may position on the top shelf of the rack (I’m planning our pots and pans for that spot).  A while ago, I gladly forked over a couple of dollars for a six foot tall piece of 12 inch wide heavy-gauge sheet stainless steel bent into a 90 degree angle, compliments of our local construction reuse center.  To date, I’d used a section of it for a flying-related project, but now I saw another use for it.

Lying in bed one night, I designed in my head a bracket that I could fabricate to mount the EOS bike light onto – a system that would place the light and its prodigious lumens forward of any obstruction that would otherwise silhouette its beam while keeping it clear from all bags and cables, etc.  Here’s the finished product.

 

Its quite neat what one can throw together with the aid of a jigsaw & a metal cutting blade, some 200 grit sandpaper & #000 steel wool, a belt sander, an electric hand drill and a couple of jobber bits.  The only store-bought materials I used were two new French-made Velox expanding bar-end plugs, and an old set of used handlebars.  Keeping in mind that I didn’t need to purchase any tools, total project cost was less than US$10.  My time is free and my collection of metal working tools limited, so if that’s your situation, plan a good chunk of the day to roll one of these out.  Someone with a machine shop, however, could whip out something comparable in a couple of short hours.

As I wiped the remaining metal dust from my hands, I couldn’t help but feel a huge sense of relief knowing that now I’m covered should we ever find ourselves far off the beaten path, needing to (or perhaps even wanting to) cover a few extra miles in the inky darkness, accompanied by millions of overhead stars and a warm breeze at our backs.  I’ve got a design in mind for Sheila’s bike too, so expect the arrival of Part 2 of this post in the near future.

By the way, the regulated LED 70-lumen Princeton Tec EOS bike light runs for ~120 hours, is made in New Jersey, USA, and comes with a helmet strap, a head strap, and a lifetime warranty.  Hard to beat!

6 comments to DIY Rack Mounted Light Bracket & EOS Bike Light

  • […] is growing fast.  Kai and Sheila cover topics as varied as water storage on a bicycle tour to DIY rack mounted lights.  The articles are more than just a glossy overview of what’s on the market.  They take great […]

  • Lis

    Fantastic! I’m very jealous, I don’t own any of the tools necessary, but I am after exactly the same piece. Somehow none of the available commercial solutions work for me. Shall keep looking! Thanks for your thorough description!

    • Kai

      Thanks for the comment Lis! A practical word though – the light bracket didn’t work so well in practice and so was actually mailed home. The moment (or “lever” or “arm”) that the long bracket created when the relatively heavy light was slung off of it produced way too much vibration in the light beam. Were it fastened to something more than a single boss this issue could be eliminated, but as you say also point out, the vast majority of front racks out there just are not designed with a battery powered headlight in mind. Weird since so many people tour with front panniers and a handlebar bag. The only place left for a light is typically on the front rack. So, Sheila’s gone back to a wine cork and a couple of stainless pipe clamps to increase the diameter of one of the tubes on the front rack for use as a makeshift bar for mounting her EOS headlight. For me, I am benefiting from a homemade adapter lathed out of a piece of Delrin, kindly produced just for this purpose by one of our generous donors.

      Good luck in your search! 🙂

  • Lis

    Wine cork? How did she fit it on the front rack, hollowed it out some and cut it lengthwise? It sounds like that would solve my problems, plus I could fit any light I want!
    I have a handlebar bag I love to use, so handlebar mount is not an option. I have front panniers, so mounts that go on the fork are also not an option. I’m left trying to fit something to the front of my rack. And yes, I don’t understand how this isn’t a wider issue – lots of people tour with a handlebar bag and front panniers!

    • Kai

      You’ve got it! You’ll need to add some additional material to build up the diameter – like a skinny section of tube and some electrical tape or the equivalent – to allow use of the stock bracket utilized by handlebar-mounted headlights. Its not a perfect solution but it gets the job done. Touch some thread lock to the threads of the screws too to prevent them from loosening over time. Maybe someone somewhere will mass produce a better solution. We’re waiting! 🙂

  • Joe

    What about just brazing a piece of handlebar onto the front edge of the rack for the light to mount directly on? Looks like you could even replace that lower crossbar (the one where the braze-on is) with some 7/8″ or 1″ OD tubing and have a pretty much ideal spot for the light.

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