Old fork-mounted bike lights revived

rogerzilla

Legendary Member
Remember these? Ever Ready and Pifco, mainly; you hung them from the bracket on the RH fork blade of most touring and "sports" bikes made from the 50s to the 80s. The lights are very visible for town riding, especially if you fit an LED (Nicelite pre-focus type) instead of the original weedy krypton bulb, but the killer is the availability of batteries for the older, more vintage-looking lights. These take a large 3V zinc-carbon twin cell unit that hasn't been made for years and had a terrible energy to weight ratio. Occasionally a lamp comes up with an original D cell adaptor - Pifco knew battery availability was an issue even while still making the lights! - included for £££.

Anyway, I see some people are now making inexpensive 3D printed adaptors to allow two D cells or AAs to be used instead. There are some on fleaBay, possibly elsewhere. I'm going to clean up an old steel Ever Ready lamp and use it on the Holdsworth.
 

classic33

Legendary Member
This type of convertor?
497990
 

YukonBoy

The Monch
Location
Inside my skull
I wonder how good they'd be with a modern LED in the centre of that huge reflector?
 

SkipdiverJohn

Veteran
Location
London
I remember using these in 1970s, the metal ones and the fugly plastic ones. The big rear plastic EverReady ones as well. Sometimes the old ways are the best but not when it comes to bicycle lighting.
You won't catch me saying this very often in respect of cycling, but my modern £12.99 set of Lidl USB rechargeable LED lights are ten times better than the old Never Ready & Pifco lights. I remember having an old metal one as a youngster which had a twist knob on the top to turn it on that made a creaking noise as the spring inside it compressed.
Some of the old metal ones do look the part on vintage steel bikes, but they were never much good to see where you were going with. I generally only ride hack bikes at night for pub use, so I'm not bothered about having period-correct accessories. My "good" bikes are normally only ridden in daylight hours.
 
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I remember back when I was 13 and delivered newspapers of a morning... the posties had the Post Office issue version of those Ever Readies; they were red instead of grey.

I had the regular grey ones. They were as good as anything else on the market, but they were rubbish, even when new. Both front and rear versions had contacts which separated when you opened them to change the batteries (which you had to do often), and then often didn't come together again when you closed them up so that the lights didn't work. Or the contacts got bent so that the lights would flicker with every bump in the road. And then eventually the brass contact strips would break off altogether. (Guess how I know all this).

The lens of the front light had all sorts of bars and miniature prisms moulded into it to try to focus the light where it might do some good. I think it just scattered most of what there was all over the place. In a very dark place and with a fresh set of batteries, you might be able to make out a pattern of light and dark stripes on the road in front of you - which would naturally be jiggling all over the place with the vibration of the bike, the forks, and the light flapping about on the fork mount. The rear light had a large lens, and, not needing to actually illuminate anything, wasn't too bad - for the time.

Because the batteries were expensive, didn't last long, and my round paid £3.75 a week (when I started), the trick was to use them as little as possible, while still not being caught by PC Marlowe, who liked to spend the ends of his night shifts lurking around the centre of town to catch unwary paper boys and girls riding along deserted pavements, through completely unoccupied pedestrian precincts, or with their lights thriftily turned off. If he caught you, he'd confiscate your bike for a few days.

Ah, the good old days...
 

midlife

Guru
I remember back when I was 13 and delivered newspapers of a morning... the posties had the Post Office issue version of those Ever Readies; they were red instead of grey.

I had the regular grey ones. They were as good as anything else on the market, but they were rubbish, even when new. Both front and rear versions had contacts which separated when you opened them to change the batteries (which you had to do often), and then often didn't come together again when you closed them up so that the lights didn't work. Or the contacts got bent so that the lights would flicker with every bump in the road. And then eventually the brass contact strips would break off altogether. (Guess how I know all this).

The lens of the front light had all sorts of bars and miniature prisms moulded into it to try to focus the light where it might do some good. I think it just scattered most of what there was all over the place. In a very dark place and with a fresh set of batteries, you might be able to make out a pattern of light and dark stripes on the road in front of you - which would naturally be jiggling all over the place with the vibration of the bike, the forks, and the light flapping about on the fork mount. The rear light had a large lens, and, not needing to actually illuminate anything, wasn't too bad - for the time.

Because the batteries were expensive, didn't last long, and my round paid £3.75 a week (when I started), the trick was to use them as little as possible, while still not being caught by PC Marlowe, who liked to spend the ends of his night shifts lurking around the centre of town to catch unwary paper boys and girls riding along deserted pavements, through completely unoccupied pedestrian precincts, or with their lights thriftily turned off. If he caught you, he'd confiscate your bike for a few days.

Ah, the good old days...
Yep, the design meant they vibrated off the fork bracket!! Those in the know used a toe strap to keep them in place. I still remember the sound of the knurled knob on top of the pifco lights lol.
 
OP
rogerzilla

rogerzilla

Legendary Member
I wonder how good they'd be with a modern LED in the centre of that huge reflector?
I can answer that. Here's a grey plastic NightRider with a 1W Nicelite LED.

First pic is head on with a B&M Ixon IQ Premium (80 lux), both aimed horizontally. The NightRider is more visible because of its size and rounder beam pattern.

The other pics show the actual projected beam at about 1 metre. The Ixon is way more powerful. On the Ixon's low power setting (just about ok on unlit lanes) things are closer but it has the better STVZO beam pattern.

Bear in mind that the Ixon is one of the brightest replaceable-battery headlights on the market and is running off 4 AAs (6V). The NightRider is running off two AAs in D-cell adaptors (3V). It's not a very fair fight!
 

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