by Susie Ochs, PCI #1183
Lake Saint Louis (MO) Police Department
As bike patrol officers, we are limited in the amount and type of equipment we can carry both on our persons and on our bikes. There are items we have access to in patrol cars that we just can’t take with us. Similarly, there are items that we can carry on our belts during vehicular patrol operations that are not practical to carry on our belts while riding. We are limited by space in our rack bags and by maneuverability on our belts. As a result, our quest for smaller equipment and more practical carry methods is never-ending. Although “smaller” means we can carry these items more easily, it also means we may not always have the best possible options for the job at hand.
For officers who work the night shift, one of the more important pieces of equipment is the flashlight. Patrol officers traveling in a vehicle have immediate access to a large rechargeable flashlight mounted in their vehicle. They may also carry a small flashlight on their belt as backup. With the advent of stronger, more powerful small flashlights, bike patrol officers typically wear their flashlights on their belts or equipment vests and rely on bike-mounted headlamps for the rest. If you are a public safety cyclist who prefers a larger flashlight in your arsenal, but never thought it was an option while on bike, here is a product for you: the Holster Light.
The Holster Light is an aluminum flashlight holster that installs to the front fork of your bike, giving you the capability of carrying a full-size flashlight while on bike patrol. It is a product made for public safety cyclists by a working bike patrol officer. Because the Holster Light is mounted to your front fork, it gives you quick access to the flashlight while riding, stopping or upon dismounting your bike.
I must admit, when I agreed to do a product review on the Holster Light, I was a bit skeptical. It seemed a little awkward to install something on a front fork that would potentially cause an imbalance and make the bike heavier. I asked myself, “Why would I need to carry a full-size flashlight when I have access to quality flashlights that are small enough to be worn on the belt? Would the Holster Light be able to endure all of the impact a front fork is built to absorb?”
Prior to receiving my Holster Light, I was given the option of having it laser engraved or leaving the product plain black. I opted to have it engraved with my department letters, which I thought was a nice touch. My Holster Light arrived just in time for me to give it a test ride while helping instruct an IPMBA Police Cyclist course for the St. Louis County and Municipal Police Academy. I figured, “what better testing ground than the rigors of a Police Cyclist course?” I would be doing a lot of slow speed maneuvering and vehicular cycling, which would test my weight differential theory; stair climbs and descents to see if the flashlight stayed secure; dismounts that would put its durability to the test; and a lot of miles on varied terrain to make sure the mounting system stayed secure.
I took it with me to the class still in the package and was able to install it very quickly and easily to the Rock Shox Tora RS front fork on my 2009 Trek Police Bike. It came with two clamps for mounting and two rubber pieces to line the clamps as to not damage the fork.
Although the website indicates the Holster Light will accommodate “the Streamlight SL series or Pelican 8060 LED flashlight”, the instruction card that accompanied it stated it would accommodate varying sizes and brands of flashlights. I used an older model Mag-Lite and it seemed to work just fine. The retention system on the Holster Light consists of an internal rubber o-ring.
The o-ring was pre-lubricated, but it also comes with an extra packet if needed. The amount of lubrication on the o-ring allows you to adjust retention for the various types and sizes of flashlights. According to the website, Holster Light will replace lost o-rings at no charge.
The Police Cyclist course, along with routine patrol this fall, proved to be a suitable testing ground. The Holster Light endured the rigors of everyday patrol (and then some). The added weight of the holster and flashlight were not a factor during curb and stair ascents. The imbalance of weight on the front fork was hardly noticeable and did not seem to affect slow speed maneuvering or vehicular cycling. The
Holster Light has stayed mounted snugly to the fork through rolling dismounts, riding various terrain types, and overcoming obstacles. The flashlight stayed secure in the holster even while descending several long flights of stairs. The only downfall I noticed was that the flashlight rattled in the holster while traveling over various surface obstacles, such as cracks in the roadway and rough terrain. This could be a factor in stealth operations, especially at night.
Bottom line is this: my skepticism has been laid to rest by a product that is well built and exceeded my expectations. And as winter is upon us and we have less and less daytime, I must admit that I am pretty attached to a full-size flashlight…
For more information or to purchase a Holster Light, please visit www.holsterlight.com.
Susie Ochs was certified as an IPMBA Police Cyclist in 1999 and an IPMBA Instructor in 2010. She oversees her department’s bike patrol unit. As the D.A.R.E./Community Resource Officer, she is always looking for ways to encourage young people to ride bikes and teach them safe cycling habits. Her favorite cycling pasttime is mountain biking and her hidden cycling talent is riding the unicycle. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(c) 2013 IPMBA. This review appeared in the Winter 2013 issue of IPMBA News.