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Old 10-27-05, 05:54 PM   #1
branman
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What is the best/brightest bike light for a reasonable price?

I am starting to ride at night and from the other threads that I have been reading it seems to me that a light is very very very important when riding at night. I got a cateye light with one LED in it and it seems to be really bright... but not bright enough for me. I gave that one to my sister. I want something super bright but not break the bank buying one. What are the suggestions you guys have?

Thanks,
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Old 10-27-05, 06:42 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by branman
I am starting to ride at night and from the other threads that I have been reading it seems to me that a light is very very very important when riding at night. I got a cateye light with one LED in it and it seems to be really bright... but not bright enough for me. I gave that one to my sister. I want something super bright but not break the bank buying one. What are the suggestions you guys have?

Thanks,
Branman
If LED lights are not bright enough and HID are too expensive, that pretty much leaves halogen lights. You can decide between 6 through 20 watt and between lead acid (heavy/cheap) and NiMh (light/not cheap). NiteRider. NiteHawk, Cygolite, and others. Take your pick, but it comes down to trading off light wattage (brightness) and run time.

Basically, get the brightest light that has the required run time for your needs. If you're commuting to work and back, consider a spare charger so you can top off your battery at work. Treat manufacture's run time specs with a grain of salt. I would reduce their estimates by about 25% for safety margin and to provide a little cushion in case you have to stop to fix a flat or go out of your way for some reason.
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Old 10-27-05, 07:15 PM   #3
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get the flare 5 from performance.
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Old 10-27-05, 07:27 PM   #4
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The "light selection guide" thread has a nice chart that gives you an idea of what you need to spend for the run time and how fast you want to ride. Later on down the thread I posted some photos of what you get for a beam from some different lights, I just added some more tonight.

Pick out something you like and ask for some opinions.
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Old 10-27-05, 08:39 PM   #5
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LED's are bright but I just wanted something brighter. The flare 5 light that was mentioned earlier looks light something I would purchase. I want a light where if I am coming down the road they definitely can see me. Thanks for all the input. I can't seem to find the "light thread" that was also mentioned in the previous post.

Thanks,
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Old 10-27-05, 08:45 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by branman
I am starting to ride at night and from the other threads that I have been reading it seems to me that a light is very very very important when riding at night. I got a cateye light with one LED in it and it seems to be really bright... but not bright enough for me. I gave that one to my sister. I want something super bright but not break the bank buying one. What are the suggestions you guys have?

Thanks,
Branman
How handy are you? When looking for the best brightness per $$ ratio you can't beat a homebrew hallogen setup. There's heaps of good info around on building something around the commonly available MR16 globe. They are a self contained hallogen globe and good quality reflector unit. Dead easy to power with an SLA battery, and can be safely overpowered by a couple of volts and their lumens/watt ratio actually improves! (greater efficiency).

My homebrew light system is a single 20Watt narrow beam (yes, you can even choose from a number of different beam angles ) powered with a 7.2Ah SLA. the whole thing came in at under AU$50 (about US$35) knocked it up in about 3 hours, and have put over 5,000 commuting miles on it since I built it about 6 month ago and it has performed with 100% reliability.
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Old 10-27-05, 09:04 PM   #7
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Get several LED lights. Mounted on the handlebars for distance and to be seen, and low down on the fork for visibility of the road immediately in front of you. They are reasonable weight, good battery life and each light should run out of battery power at different times, so you shouldnt be left with 0 light.
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Old 10-27-05, 09:44 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by branman
LED's are bright but I just wanted something brighter. The flare 5 light that was mentioned earlier looks light something I would purchase. I want a light where if I am coming down the road they definitely can see me. Thanks for all the input. I can't seem to find the "light thread" that was also mentioned in the previous post.

Thanks,
Branman
This will take you to that thread.. Light selection guide.

The chart is a link on some of the posts. My beam photos are near the end of thread at the moment.
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Old 10-27-05, 11:01 PM   #9
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I'm thinking of the hommade versions more and more, but would like to throw a LED on at least part to keep a longer battery time... anyone have a line on high quaility LED's or know which store bought ones can be over amp'ed???
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Old 10-28-05, 08:49 AM   #10
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If you want to go DIY, I built a 20W halogen with a sealed lead-acid cell for about $25 last year. I already had a charger, that would have cost me another $20 or so. Plenty of ideas over in the "total geekiness" thread.

For this year I went to a 14.4v NiMH battery from BatterySpace.com. Halogens really kick if you overvolt them! The battery alone is $60 though. Tons of runtime.

Also HID is getting cheap. TrailTech HID's are just over $100 for the DIY light. Though much more than the $15 or so for a halogen, HIDs are incredible. Mine is dead and at the manufacturer after only 3 days use; until they get back to me on whether I just got unlucky or what, I'm withholding recommending them, but it's something to think about.
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Old 10-28-05, 09:16 AM   #11
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go to the commuter forum, there is an awesome light comparison there. links to tons of lights, etc.
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Old 11-01-05, 07:05 PM   #12
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branman, which Cateye did you have? I switched to the HL-EL500 last year, shortly after they came on the market. This light puts out 1000 candlepower, and it definitely gets noticed. (Sidenote: Cateye claims a runtime of 30 hours, but I'm not sure on that. I change batteries when the cell voltages fall below 1.3 volts. Batteries DO last quite a while though, so I'm satisfied.)

The Performance Flare 5 looks like a decent light as well, and I think it's on sale right now.

Nice things about LED lights: No bulbs to change, lower current draw than lamps. Won't put you in the poor house on battery consumption.


The HL-EL500 is a suitable light for my type of riding: Road riding, suburban areas, some street lighting. If your area is more rural (darker, less street lighting) or you're doing off-road riding, you'll want something stronger. There's lots of good advice in these forums on lighting.
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Old 11-01-05, 10:24 PM   #13
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I think this page is helpful:

http://eddys.com/site/page.cfm?PageID=493

I have the EL-500a and use it for urban riding. It's interesting though because I also have this flashlight, and it illuminates better than the EL-500, even though it is smaller and uses just one battery:

http://www.flashlightreviews.com/reviews/nuwai_q-3.htm

This says to me that the electronics on inexpensive bike lights could easily be improved at little cost.
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Old 11-02-05, 11:40 AM   #14
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Cool test on the website, thanks.

Massachusetts law requires that bicycle headlights must emit a plain white beam, visible from a distance of at least 500 hundred feet. (generator systems are OK as well) I'd say all the lights presently on the market meet this requirement.

Given the headlights on the market today, and the prices at which you can buy one, I can think of no defense for not using one.

Q: Isn't the performance flare 5 also sold by Nashbar, under another name?
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Old 11-02-05, 01:13 PM   #15
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Old 11-02-05, 01:35 PM   #16
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Old 11-08-05, 02:21 PM   #17
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one good light for biking and puts out a bright beam is the Lumotec when used with a bicycle generator - its the way to go
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Old 11-08-05, 05:53 PM   #18
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I think about a generator now and then. Now that my commuting rig has around 20 lbs of crap I take with me everyday, what's a generator to add? Not much that I will notice.
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Old 11-08-05, 06:59 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trackhub
The HL-EL500 is a suitable light for my type of riding: Road riding, suburban areas, some street lighting. If your area is more rural (darker, less street lighting) or you're doing off-road riding, you'll want something stronger. There's lots of good advice in these forums on lighting.
I have both an EL500 and an EL300 mounted side-by-side on a swing grip. Works well enough for me, even on the pitch-black parkway I ride as part of my commute, but I will probably get or rig up a halogen or HID pretty soon because you never can have enough light (especially during the rut), replacing the EL300 and keeping the EL500, which I can still keep in my handlebar bag for rec rides and such in case I get caught out after dark unexpectedly.
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Old 11-08-05, 07:21 PM   #20
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I've got a Cygolite Nite Explorer. I use it in combo with a helmet mount HID but it works really well by itself on the 15W beam alone for most situations.

Here's a good price on one. I got mine for over a hundred bucks.

http://aebike.com/site/page.cfm?Affi...=30&SKU=LT7804
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Old 11-08-05, 08:52 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by chipcom
I have both an EL500 and an EL300 mounted side-by-side on a swing grip. Works well enough for me, even on the pitch-black parkway I ride as part of my commute, but I will probably get or rig up a halogen or HID pretty soon because you never can have enough light (especially during the rut), replacing the EL300 and keeping the EL500, which I can still keep in my handlebar bag for rec rides and such in case I get caught out after dark unexpectedly.
I wish there was a place we could test different lights. I was thinking of getting an EL-500. I have an EL-300, and a Gen3 from Performance. Palnet bike has a new light out with Xenon bulbs, and it's rated for 3,000/5,000 candleposer. I'm wondering if it reaches out further than any of the other AA battery powered lights.
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Old 11-08-05, 09:50 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dchiefransom
I wish there was a place we could test different lights. I was thinking of getting an EL-500. I have an EL-300, and a Gen3 from Performance. Palnet bike has a new light out with Xenon bulbs, and it's rated for 3,000/5,000 candleposer. I'm wondering if it reaches out further than any of the other AA battery powered lights.
I've been considering the Cygolite Hi-Flux and the L&M Vega. The Cygolight claims to put out as much light as a 15w halogen, but white, and a 6 hour run-time.
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Old 11-09-05, 07:28 AM   #23
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Also HID is getting cheap. TrailTech HID's are just over $100 for the DIY light. Though much more than the $15 or so for a halogen, HIDs are incredible. Mine is dead and at the manufacturer after only 3 days use; until they get back to me on whether I just got unlucky or what, I'm withholding recommending them, but it's something to think about.
Follow-up; I killed the HID by running it on a 14.4v NiMH. That battery puts out 15.8V when fully charged (1.2 volts per cell is only a nominal rating). I still like the light but I would suggest running it on a 12v or 13.2v pack, do NOT run it on a 14.4v pack.
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Old 11-09-05, 09:00 AM   #24
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one of the best generator at a reasonable price that I use for commuting is called a Nexus hub dynamo HB-NX30 and is made by Shimano, I was using it for over one year now on my recumbent with a wheelbase 20" dia rim with out any problems as yet . It powers a Lumotec with a Halogen lamp rated at 3 milliamps and I use a rear vista light on the back. I purchased it at the Peter White cycles Web site last year at a price of $59.00 I don't think this hub is sold in America or anyother web site other than Peter White or Sheldon Brown. but I highly recommend this great generator . the head lamp really lights up the street ahead so you can see at least 40 feet ahead
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Old 11-09-05, 09:18 AM   #25
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I would recommend the Cateye HL-EL300 - nice and bright with a long battery life (7 or 8 hours) and not too expensive-you need to buy rechargeable batteries for it of course. Fine for normal street use.
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