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Old 07-15-17, 10:48 PM   #1
ericmerg1
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am I a special case or are most lights underpowered?

I commute home from work about 10pm every day on unlit backroads 10.8 miles each way, I run a 50 lumen taillight, and a cheap blinker , in addition to this I use a lezyne 1100xl headlight on the blast setting so 1100 lumens. even with all this I feel I could use more headlight power. When I look up commuting lights all I see are maybe 450lm max I seem to have to look towards the mountain bike crowd to find anything bright enough for me. in what conditions is 400 or less lumens good for actually seeing things?
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Old 07-15-17, 10:57 PM   #2
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My light is about 600 lumens max and 400 at medium setting. Even at medium, it overpowers streetlights 20 feet ahead of me. I use min power (about 300 lumens) mostly when in streets lighted by city lights (to be seen) and medium in dark paths. Never had problem seeing stuff ahead of time and I ride at about 20 mph on flat roads.

Does your light overpowers streetlights? If it doesn't, then it's not putting the advertised power I believe...
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Old 07-15-17, 10:58 PM   #3
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It depends on your eyes, the road and your speed. On a good road, you don't need to light the road itself as much as see anything ahead of you to avoid a collision. On dirt or a bad road, then you need to see the surface itself to avoid potholes or other road hazards, but then again you're probably going that fast.

Also, it can be a question of how much of the light is directed where you need it. On a typical arrangement, about half your output is lighting the sky, where I doubt there are any hazards, except maybe an angry owl.

One last note, modern LED headlights produce a very blue light. I find this problematic in the fall, when I can't see fallen leaves by color and have trouble picking my way on leaf strewn roads.

Shop around, see of you can borrow something for a real world test, so you don't waste money, and maybe you'll find something your comfortable with.
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Old 07-15-17, 11:01 PM   #4
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My light is about 600 lumens max and 400 at medium setting. Even at medium, it overpowers streetlights 20 feet ahead of me. I use min power (about 300 lumens) mostly when in streets lighted by city lights (to be seen) and medium in dark paths. Never had problem seeing stuff ahead of time and I ride at about 20 mph on flat roads.

Does your light overpowers streetlights? If it doesn't, then it's not putting the advertised power I believe...
yes my light will easily overpower streetlights. mostly I want to be able to see more because of the likelihood (I see between 6-12 deer a ride and 4-5 bears a week) of wildlife in the road, my commute to work is uphill, which makes my commute home downhill so I average around 25-30mph on the ride home and 16-18 on the commute to work
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Old 07-15-17, 11:09 PM   #5
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yes my light will easily overpower streetlights. mostly I want to be able to see more because of the likelihood (I see between 6-12 deer a ride and 4-5 bears a week) of wildlife in the road, my commute to work is uphill, which makes my commute home downhill so I average around 25-30mph on the ride home and 16-18 on the commute to work
Maybe you should mount one of those deer whistles.

OTOH - train yourself to look for their eyes. It takes very little light for them to reflect back to you as small white dots. After a while you'll be expert at picking them up along the edge of the woods, though IME I wonder if seeing all those eyes and knowing what's out there will make you more comfortable.
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Old 07-15-17, 11:20 PM   #6
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Maybe you should mount one of those deer whistles.

OTOH - train yourself to look for their eyes. It takes very little light for them to reflect back to you as small white dots. After a while you'll be expert at picking them up along the edge of the woods, though IME I wonder if seeing all those eyes and knowing what's out there will make you more comfortable.
as a long time hunter, the idea of things in the woods don't bother me at all, totally fine walking across fields and into the woods with a pen light no problem, it's the not seeing them before they run across the road and into me at 30mph I worry about. I can see eyes sometimes, but others they get washed away with the 900000 other things on roadside that glow like cans, street signs of various kinds (what are those little green pyramid signs for on small posts? ) and reflectors on driveways
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Old 07-15-17, 11:23 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by ericmerg1 View Post
yes my light will easily overpower streetlights. mostly I want to be able to see more because of the likelihood (I see between 6-12 deer a ride and 4-5 bears a week) of wildlife in the road, my commute to work is uphill, which makes my commute home downhill so I average around 25-30mph on the ride home and 16-18 on the commute to work
30 mph? You don't need a bike light you need a car light! At least, a wide enough angle light that will easily lights up the surrounding and not just in front of you.
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Old 07-15-17, 11:25 PM   #8
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30 mph? You don't need a bike light you need a car light! At least, a wide enough angle light that will easily lights up the surrounding and not just in front of you.
I think my headlight is fine, but I think i'd benefit from something on helmet that's more spotlight type beam for scanning the wood lines in front of me
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Old 07-15-17, 11:27 PM   #9
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as a long time hunter, the idea of things in the woods don't bother me at all, totally fine walking across fields and into the woods with a pen light no problem, it's the not seeing them before they run across the road and into me at 30mph I worry about. I can see eyes sometimes, but others they get washed away with the 900000 other things on roadside that glow like cans, street signs of various kinds (what are those little green pyramid signs for on small posts? ) and reflectors on driveways
It's very simple, and I speak from experience.

It's not the stationary eyes, or all the other stationary reflections that you need to worry about. It's the moving ones, and all that other stuff doesn't move. Trust me, when a deer starts across, you'll know it.

Meanwhile, its possible that your light is too bright, and all that reflective clutter is blinding you a bit. Try changing the aim, or lowering the brightness and see if the real stuff shows out better as your eyes adjust.

Just so you know, I used to do overnight centuries when 50 lumens would have been considered a staggeringly powerful bike headlight. I've even done some by moonlight, and found it easier than using a light.
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Old 07-15-17, 11:27 PM   #10
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That Lezyne should put out plenty of light, assuming it's working right. If you're still struggling to see you might have your eyes checked, including for cataracts (happens younger than we'd expect for some folks). Some prescription and ordinary OTC meds can affect our vision temporarily or permanently, but check with a specialist.

I usually run my Light & Motion Urban 500 on medium for longer runtime per charge. That's around 250 lumens, usually plenty for most situations. An exception is urban areas with lots of contrast between bright lights and deep shadows, so I'll use maximum output there. And in deer-heavy critter country on rural nighttime rides I'll crank it up to maximum. 500 lumens seems plenty for me. A couple of folks have said at a glance it appears to be as bright as a motorcycle light, although without the frontal area and lens design that focuses the beam like vehicle headlights.

And on the MUP or similar places with few lights where my eyes are adapted to the dark I'll run it on low (125 lumens), particularly to avoid blinding oncoming cyclists, joggers and pedestrians. The L&Ms cast a broad beam and can blind oncoming cyclists and pedestrians so I aim it downward around other folks.

Only thing I'd do differently is get the Urban 700 or brighter. Longer runtime on medium and still get 500 lumens or better. With the 500 I often need to recharge during breaks on longer nighttime rides, and the L&M can't be recharged and run simultaneously, unlike most of my USB rechargeable stuff.

I also have a Serfas SL-255 that runs on AA batteries. It runs 255 lumens on high, proportionately less on lower settings. It's fine for my suburban neighborhood and the MUP. It has a narrow beam and built in hood which minimizes blinding oncoming cyclists and pedestrians. Not quite as bright as I'd like for contrasty urban nighttime rides.

The Serfas E-Lumes also offer dual-LED lights, but they're probably no brighter than your Lezyne 1100.
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Old 07-15-17, 11:31 PM   #11
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I'll give a lighter setting a shot for a few days and see how I get along, I know when I pass "speed limit" signs those are overwhelmingly blinding from my light.
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Old 07-16-17, 07:25 AM   #12
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There used to be a spreadsheet linked from here with info on illumination patches useful for specific speeds (so as to avoid over-riding your headlights). It was interesting to ponder. Maybe some time w/ google could turn it or something similar up. It is possible that blasting thousands of lumens out of your light doesn't actually go down the road at all it could just be an incandescent, so to speak, sphere of blindingness right around you.
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Old 07-16-17, 07:49 AM   #13
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I agree that the color "temperature" and beam pattern make a huge difference (as well as differences in personal vision). You may want to run two lights: a slightly wider beam, aimed down for close-in road conditions, and a narrower, long-throw beam for distance. Don't forget you can mount lights on your helmet which will illuminate in whatever direction you look.

When I bought my nite-rider mynewt (?) 500 a few years ago, I had found an online comparison guide that showed the relative coverage patterns of different lights in a side-by-side test. The nite-rider was wider than the others, with a bit of a spot in the middle, which was what I had previously with a hot-rodded Malibu yard-lamp. But I ride in the city with a lot of street lights and ambient lighting.
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Old 07-16-17, 09:12 AM   #14
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Use two 700 Niterider Minewts. One on the bars and one on the helmet. Need the extra power to overcome oncoming bike and car headlights. I am very courteous, aiming my lights down and to the side to avoid blinding others. However, especially with cars, a quick direct blast will get their attention if they don't appear to notice me.
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Old 07-16-17, 11:37 AM   #15
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I agree that the color "temperature" and beam pattern make a huge difference (as well as differences in personal vision). You may want to run two lights: a slightly wider beam, aimed down for close-in road conditions, and a narrower, long-throw beam for distance. Don't forget you can mount lights on your helmet which will illuminate in whatever direction you look.
This is what I prefer. You can oversaturate your night vision with too much light in one spot, and spreading the lumens around will work better. I find the wide angle light mounted on the handlebars helps me spot skunks before we get too close and the longer narrower beam from my helmet light works great for turns and warning cars.
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Old 07-16-17, 10:35 PM   #16
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I think my headlight is fine, but I think i'd benefit from something on helmet that's more spotlight type beam for scanning the wood lines in front of me
You're right.

Get a light with the most throw and helmet mount it.

Currently, if you check candlepower forums, the LED with greatest throw is the CREE XP-L HI V3 LED.

I bought the EagleTac DX30LC2 CREE XP-L HI V3 LED Flashlight for $75 on Amazon here, after owning dozen other LED lights, and it's amazing how far it lights up where I'm looking. Don't get the model with the wrong LED (xm-l U2).

I have fast, dark downhill on my commute, and have hit animals in the past, and this light on the helmet gives me confidence at 30mph.
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Old 07-17-17, 03:14 PM   #17
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well, 30mph is a bit extreme.

I have a 550 lumen and a 800 lumen. usually the 850 lumen on its lowest setting is enough. But, in the unlit dark, 800 lumens works well at 25-30mph.

If I only "need" one light, I put it on my helmet.
If I need two lights, one on the bike, one on the helmet = 1400 lumens. That is plenty.

I looked at several lights and chose:Cygolite Expilion 850 because of the beam pattern.
https://cygolite.com/product/expilion-850-usb/

Like many have mentioned here - too much light can make it hard to see outside of the lights beam pattern. Most beams are fairly narrow. This one had a nice beam pattern. I hated it at first because I "wanted" a long throw, but after riding with it, I realized that the wider soft pattern was much, much more usable.
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Old 07-17-17, 03:49 PM   #18
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I guess I'm at the other end of the spectrum. I use a dynamo powered LED headlight which, compared with today's battery powered lights, is very weak. It's good enough for me. I think power can become addictive as it can with car and motorcycle motors. The more you have, the more you want.
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Old 07-17-17, 03:53 PM   #19
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A lumen is a horrible way to measure light output.

Lux makes a lot more sense as it clarifies lumens/m2.

Furthermore, in some countries regulations state how much lux is required so far in front of the front wheel which makes even more sense.

It's not about random light produced (lumen) ... it's about lux in a precise area as stated by the aforementioned poster.
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Old 07-17-17, 10:48 PM   #20
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I have a1100 lumen Lezyne (megadrive) I use to ride through trails and woods on my commute. I feel it is sufficiently bright. even at medium setting, though it is better at the max, but short lived.
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Old 07-17-17, 11:20 PM   #21
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A lumen is a horrible way to measure light output.
You're probably right, and inches, feet, pounds and ounces are horrible ways to measure things like distance and weight which is why even Americans cannot use Imperial Measurement units in Science, Medicine and Technology. But, in the gritty urban enclaves that most of us mouth breathing Bike Forum commuter types hang in... lux? You may as well insist we use the Celsius scale to see whether we need arm warmers or not. I haven't any idea what a meter looks like, but I know what a yard (3') looks like. The meter might be a better way to measure units of distance... ... I trust I've made my point. My favorite headlight, the MagicShine 808 does NOT give its power in lumens to its users. It gives its rating in lumens. What am I supposed to do about that? Luckily I've been using MagicShines for so many years now I don't really care about how many, or many not, lumens they produce. They produce enough for my needs when I use two: one on my helmet and one on the bars. In town I will often just use one on my helmet and call it good. Less to fuss with.

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Old 07-18-17, 02:40 AM   #22
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My favorite headlight, the MagicShine 808 does NOT give its power in lumens to its users. It gives its rating in lumens. What am I supposed to do about that? Luckily I've been using MagicShines for so many years now I don't really care about how many, or many not, lumens they produce. They produce enough for my needs when I use two: one on my helmet and one on the bars. In town I will often just use one on my helmet and call it good. Less to fuss with.

.
1. Any manufacturer marketing in lumens doesn't care where the light goes, thus enraging other road users. It doesn't matter if it's lux or lumens/acre2 or furlong2. It seems that you missed the key concept.

2. Why make this a US/EU or class-based comment. It seems that you demonstrated a chip on your shoulder while missing the critical component of the post?

3. Is this a new form of humour that I'm unaware of? Sorry mate but I find your entire post offensive.

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Old 07-18-17, 05:49 AM   #23
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Also, the Figure near the bottom of this described why lux is a more useful measurement, in the case of headlamps, for cycling. In essence, it's the light amount hitting where you want it, rather than the light emitted from the headlamp, which is bulb is used, might not even account for losses due to the fixture holding the bulb. In the end, it doesn't mean that much, but I think we can all agree that lux makes more sense than lumens.

scroll to bottom plz

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Old 07-18-17, 07:50 AM   #24
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hey man, to try and say somethign i haven't read in this thread as of yet, maybe output is a critical component irrespective of how it is measured but what about perspective?

could it be that mounting your headlight lower down towards the quick release or on a fork blade might help?

i know from backpacking that even walking, let alone riding, in the rain with a headlamp is pretty disorienting and the remedy is to lower the light to somewhere near your waist if possible.

i currently use a Cygolite metro 1100 lumen light mounted on my handlebar - its plenty bright for me at the medium setting often washing out streetlights also. but my friend who i ride with uses a light and Motion 800 mounted to or near his quick released and it looks pretty cool how it casts shadows or makes potholes obvious from a distance.

give that a shot.
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Old 07-18-17, 08:06 AM   #25
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I've done a lot of night riding, riding all through the night on three occasions, and many rides that began before dawn and/or ended after dark. And I find my current headlight, which is a B&M Lumotec Cyo Premium, rated 80 LUX, perfectly adequate. I'm not sure how 80 LUX compares to 1100 lumens, but I suspect it's a lot less.

To be sure, my 80 LUX is a lot more useful on dark roads than on unevenly lit suburban streets.

I have to admit, before I got the Cyo Premium I used a less powerful light, and I found that to be perfectly adequate as well; so I definitely understand the idea that more is better. But there comes a point where more is not really better any more; this depends on how much your eyes adjust to the brightness.

The really excellent feature of the Cyo Premium is that it has a sharp cutoff at the top of the beam. I try to set the cutoff at pretty much horizontal, so no light goes upward from the light. This has the drawback of not illuminating street signs very well; once they get close enough to read, they are in the dark. So I've taken to carrying a flashlight as well, if I'm going to need to read street signs.
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