Monday, February 6, 2012

Reflecting on Reflecting: Bag Attachment Reflector Sandwich

Installation time: SAE reflectors on a bicycle

I bought some SAE reflectors a while ago at an auto parts store, and finally felt motivated to put at least some of them to use by Steve's post. I had fun working on this, and it works for me, but I'm not a safety engineer or authority in visibility, reflectivity, or conspicuity, please decide for yourself what works for you. Briefly, my thinking was, the SAE reflectors work better than the toy reflectors required for bicycles, so use an SAE reflector instead, in the position of prime visibility. I will also endeavor to keep a CPSC approved bicycle reflector in place just in case an authority figure inquires, but this one will do the heavy rear reflecting lifting. We are probably past due for revision of the bicycle reflector standards to bring them up to par with SAE standards, but this muddle had been in place for a long time, so we deal as reflectively as we can.

I wanted to attach this to my trunk bag, since on most commutes it is still occupying the prime reflector position, with the prime flasher position occupied by my previously installed rack mounted light. I reflected on various approaches to attaching a reflector to the bag, including some involving a jigsaw, another using a scrap of leather from an old belt, and settled on the simpler/easier/lazier approach using the second supplied reflector in the package as a backing for the first. They both have adhesive backs as well as holes for screws, so this puppy is going to be attached pretty firmly to this bag. The reflector sandwich approach may offend some, but from my point of view, since the total cost of screws and reflectors was about $1.99, it was a quick and very effective solution. Also, I'm riding around with a spare reflector, just in case.

Used sewing awl to poke initial hole, then the ever-useful Swiss army awl to open it up a bit.

Screw and nut sized for reference

Reflector sandwich in place, adhesive and screws both used

See And Be Seen

I bought some amber reflectors on the same visit, and still working on the application for those. Possibly on the sides of the Carradice bag.   


  1. Despite being brighter, amber reflectors don't seem to be "seen" earlier by overtaking traffic in the CPSC test. CPSC isn't as good as SAE because CPSC tries to do too much and so doesn't do it well. The actual reflectance is the same as far as I can tell between the two standards - the difference is in the "three panels" for the CPSC.

    1. You differ from Forester here, who wrote: "As a result of absorbing more of the illuminating light, red reflectors are only about one-third as bright as amber reflectors." Which would mean (if true) two reflectors of the same design, one amber, one red, the amber would be superior. Add in the three panel "feature" and a flat SAE amber reflector should be much superior to a 3 panel red reflector.

  2. Very nicely done, I have also been dissatisfied with mounting options for lights/reflectors. I might have to rig up something like this myself.

    1. Thanks Apertome. Of such dissatisfaction is born reflector and illumination hacks of great brightness! See And Be Seen, brothers and sisters of the road!


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