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  1. #1
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    Interesting effect from new light

    I just put a 500 lumen LED flashlight on the front of my commuter and it seems automobiles behave a bit different at night compared to when I only had my Planet Bike Blaze which I actually found pretty useless for illuminating the road.

    Perhaps my light is demanding attention and stands out more compared to the the PB Blaze which may have been pretty easy to miss even at night or easily ignored because it is small and narrow light output. I'm now using the Blaze in strobe at night with the flashlight set to high. With a 18650 battery, it'll only go about 2 hours, but that's enough for 3-5 days of commuting and errands.

    I don't really like that the hot spot lights up pretty high when aimed in a useful manner, there really isn't much I can do about that. At about 100 ft, the hotspot can be about 6 ft tall.

  2. #2
    Don from Austin Texas
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    Quote Originally Posted by jsdavis View Post
    I just put a 500 lumen LED flashlight on the front of my commuter and it seems automobiles behave a bit different at night compared to when I only had my Planet Bike Blaze which I actually found pretty useless for illuminating the road.

    Perhaps my light is demanding attention and stands out more compared to the the PB Blaze which may have been pretty easy to miss even at night or easily ignored because it is small and narrow light output. I'm now using the Blaze in strobe at night with the flashlight set to high. With a 18650 battery, it'll only go about 2 hours, but that's enough for 3-5 days of commuting and errands.

    I don't really like that the hot spot lights up pretty high when aimed in a useful manner, there really isn't much I can do about that. At about 100 ft, the hotspot can be about 6 ft tall.
    To go one step further put something like a NiteRider MiniNewt 600 on your helmet. If you pull up to an intersection and get a bad feeling about another car -- perhaps they are to your right and you think they are going to make a right on red and cut you off -- just look at the car. Of course you have to do so by moving your head appropriately.

    Don in Austin

  3. #3
    Senior Member dynodonn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jsdavis View Post
    I just put a 500 lumen LED flashlight on the front of my commuter and it seems automobiles behave a bit different at night compared to when I only had my Planet Bike Blaze which I actually found pretty useless for illuminating the road.
    The main problem I've found with the PB Blaze is that it has a too narrow of a light beam due to it's focused lens. This narrow light beam enhances the visibility in the area in front of the bike, but at the cost of being visible to other road users when the light is viewed at greater angles.

    Left hooks and motorists crossing an intersection from my left where more numerous with my dual PB Blaze configuration versus my current wider angle 1000 lumen setup.
    Last edited by dynodonn; 11-26-11 at 10:48 AM.

  4. #4
    Senior Member dougmc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jsdavis View Post
    I just put a 500 lumen LED flashlight on the front of my commuter and it seems automobiles behave a bit different at night compared to when I only had my Planet Bike Blaze which I actually found pretty useless for illuminating the road.
    ...
    With a 18650 battery, it'll only go about 2 hours, but that's enough for 3-5 days of commuting and errands.
    The "rated 900 actual about 400 lumen" P7 lights will last about an hour on a single 18650 battery on high, so if yours lasts two hours the odds are good that it's really about 200 lumens.

    Either way though ... having a good light makes a large amount of difference. Not only can you actually see things in the road, but cars rarely miss you. (And occasionally other cyclists think you're a car coming up behind them, which is always fun.)

    As for the beam pattern, I've got a few various lights, and have one that allows me to adjust the beam pattern and has a lens over the lens in addition to the reflector. I like to have it aim far down the road, and then use another light that has no lens (just a reflector) that has a rather ugly beam pattern to illuminate the road closer to my bike. And then I keep both on medium so they'll last four fours or so.

    And wide beam patterns aren't always a bad thing -- they may not illuminate exactly where you want to see, but they do help others see you. As already mentioned, a light with a tight beam pattern is hard to see if you're not in the beam.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Digital_Cowboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dougmc View Post
    The "rated 900 actual about 400 lumen" P7 lights will last about an hour on a single 18650 battery on high, so if yours lasts two hours the odds are good that it's really about 200 lumens.

    Either way though ... having a good light makes a large amount of difference. Not only can you actually see things in the road, but cars rarely miss you. (And occasionally other cyclists think you're a car coming up behind them, which is always fun.)

    As for the beam pattern, I've got a few various lights, and have one that allows me to adjust the beam pattern and has a lens over the lens in addition to the reflector. I like to have it aim far down the road, and then use another light that has no lens (just a reflector) that has a rather ugly beam pattern to illuminate the road closer to my bike. And then I keep both on medium so they'll last four fours or so.

    And wide beam patterns aren't always a bad thing -- they may not illuminate exactly where you want to see, but they do help others see you. As already mentioned, a light with a tight beam pattern is hard to see if you're not in the beam.
    Not too long ago while I was out riding I had a gal delay crossing the road in front of me because she thought that I was two bikes and not one bike. Which might have something to do with the fact that I have a Light and Motion Stella 150L mounted to my helmet, and three (now four) Cateye Uno headlights mounted to the bike itself.

    And as I said in another thread last Monday I had two different motorists thank and compliment me on my Stella. As I was still a ways from the intersection but they waited until I'd passed before they pulled out.
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  6. #6
    LET'S ROLL 1nterceptor's Avatar
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    Problems mentioned with tight beam patterns,
    this is why I prefer to mount my P7 flashlight
    on my helmet. Even though I feel that it has a
    wide throw, I like to "help" motorists see me
    better by tilting my head in their general direction.
    Say cars coming up at an intersection or cars in
    the next lane on multi lane roads common here in
    New York City.

  7. #7
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    The light is rated for about 500 lumens at the LED. My tailcap measurements indicate 1.45A with a battery right off the charger. The LED is XML.

  8. #8
    24-Speed Machine Chris516's Avatar
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    I decided after the two PB Blinky 3Hs' have died, being replaced once, that I am not going to put any lights on my helmet. I do wear a PB SuperFlash on my back, along with the rear tail light on my bike.

    Once on my way back from a doctors' appointment, I came across a cyclist that had a vehicle headlight fashioned to his bike, with a battery pack. While I would love to be illuminated that well, it messes with the aerodynamics.

  9. #9
    Senior Member dynodonn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris516 View Post
    I do wear a PB SuperFlash on my back.......
    Better than nothing at all, but be aware that SuperFlashes have a focused lens and must be solidly mounted and properly aimed to achieve their maximum effectiveness, worn loosely will greatly diminish their level of brightness in being seen by rear approaching motorists. I've gone to using SOLAS reflective material on my outerwear(can be seen at far greater angles than a PB SuperFlash) in adjacent to powerful, solidly mounted rear lighting.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by jsdavis View Post
    I don't really like that the hot spot lights up pretty high when aimed in a useful manner, there really isn't much I can do about that. At about 100 ft, the hotspot can be about 6 ft tall.
    This is probably why you're getting a reaction from the cars. For good or bad, you're blinding them.
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by steve0257 View Post
    This is probably why you're getting a reaction from the cars. For good or bad, you're blinding them.
    I seriously doubt that I am blinding anyone. A car single headlamp can output over 300 Lumens. That's easily 6000 Lumens on the road. I'm not even talking high beams. My dinky flashlight is maybe 7% of that whether or not the hotspot is aimed upwards or not.
    Last edited by jsdavis; 11-26-11 at 04:58 PM.

  12. #12
    Senior Member dougmc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jsdavis View Post
    I seriously doubt that I am blinding anyone. A car single headlamp can output over 300 Lumens.
    Single car headlamps put out from 1000 to 3000 lumens. But more importantly, they put a *lot* of effort into not blinding people, by adding shields and designing the reflectors and such so that the vast majority of the light is aimed at the road and almost none goes up to into oncoming driver's eyes. High beam shift the light pattern upwards, and so do blind people.

    Flashlights generally go for a "round" beam pattern, and that's about all the effort they put into it. Some of the better bike lights do put some effort into designing proper reflectors, but then they also have to be properly mounted. But with a flashlight, you simply have to make sure that the entire beam is aimed pretty low to make sure you don't blind people.

    Your "dinky" light can easily be more blinding than two 3000 lumen car lights -- it's all about where the light goes. I'm not saying that you are blinding people -- I'd need to see things myself -- but it's certainly a possibility.

    If your light is using 1.45 amps and has a single 18650 battery, that battery will be dead in about 1.5 hours (unless the current drops considerably, of course.)

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