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Old 06-22-06, 08:25 PM   #1
evictionsurplus
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headlights

Hey Kids!
A quick and simple question. What is the best headlight for under or around $20. I assume something LED. Please help me keep from dying on cheap budget, no HIDs here.
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Old 06-22-06, 08:34 PM   #2
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Planet Bike makes a 1 W LED in that price range. It is very bright for a non-HID light.
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Old 06-22-06, 09:07 PM   #3
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I prefer the small halogens to the small LEDs. The halogens cast a wider light pattern, which is a plus and a minus. The LEDs are a lot more visible from far away, so if visibility is what you're concerned with, go LED. However I wanted a general-purpose backup light so I wanted it to also help me see where I'm going. The LED lights are NOT very good for that in my experience.
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Old 06-22-06, 09:39 PM   #4
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Another idea for lights at a low cost, is to hit up a local bike shop for a used Union generator light system. example of a brand-new one. They might have one kicking around underfoot and be happy to sell it to you for $15. If you get one, remember not to touch the glass of the halogen bulb with your fingers. If you do touch the glass, clean it with rubbing alcohol to get skin oils off of it.

Tire-driven generator lights aren't good with tires that don't have a smooth tread design, so keep that in mind if you're giving it serious consideration. Also (duh) they don't provide light when you're not moving, and if the taillight bulb burns out, the headlight bulb will blow soon from getting the full 3W forced through it. So it's not without its drawbacks. You could also pick up a 3W headlight bulb and not use the taillight at all, and then use a red LED blinkie in the rear for a taillight that runs non-stop.

Anyway, having cruised many miles of highways behind a 2.4W Union headlight (or two), they're not fantasticly bright, but you can power them with peanut-butter sandwiches and the old-school headlamp is fairly big, giving a larger visual target for people to see.

If you wanted to adapt a rechargable spotlight like this one, that could give you lots of light for cheap, but it would be sort of klunky: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...nce&n=15684181
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Old 06-23-06, 08:41 AM   #5
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I'm a fan of the Cateye EL 300. A reasonable "be seen" light. It is marginal for dimly lit streets at medium slow speeds, but has really excellent battery life.

On sale at Nashbar, http://www.nashbar.com/profile.cfm?c...eid=&pagename=
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Old 06-23-06, 09:05 AM   #6
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It's a bit outside your stated price range but I've been very pleased the the princton tec EOS bike lights I have. The work great except with deep shadows from streetlights above trees. Battery life is outstanding - Ive been replacing my rechargable batteries at about 30 hours and never had a burnout. That's far above the 10 hours that I expected.

I use two, one on the bike and one on the helmet. WARNING: You can not save money by getting the regular princeton tec eos headlamp and use it with the extra bike momunt provided in the bike light kit. The headlamp version has a different bracket and will not fit the bike bracket.

If you the budget is rigid, the HL-500II worked reasonablly well for me before and I would expect that the EL 300 would work even better.
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Old 06-23-06, 09:09 AM   #7
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If you go the "klunky" route, check out Harbor freight: I used their spotlight one Winter on a mountain bike commuter. They are very heavy & hard to mount. The quality was not great back then but they replaced the first 2 that failed (wouldn't hold a charge) & the #3 light lasted 2 1/2 years of heavy use. I notice they now have some 12 volt led trailer hitch lights available & I may try them again for a home made headlight/tail light setup. Don
http://da.harborfreight.com/cpisearc...word=spotlight
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Old 06-23-06, 09:21 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ollo_ollo
If you go the "klunky" route, check out Harbor freight: I used their spotlight one Winter on a mountain bike commuter. They are very heavy & hard to mount. The quality was not great back then but they replaced the first 2 that failed (wouldn't hold a charge) & the #3 light lasted 2 1/2 years of heavy use. I notice they now have some 12 volt led trailer hitch lights available & I may try them again for a home made headlight/tail light setup. Don
http://da.harborfreight.com/cpisearc...word=spotlight
I don't know about their lights, much of my light stuff comes from auto parts stores. But the rest of the store is a hardware fantasy at good prices.

To answer the OP, get a PAR 36 rubber tractor headlight mount (bulb is included) and two pipe clamps at an auto parts store. $10/$15 total for 15 to 30 watts. Next fall I will spring for a 100 watt shielded filament spotlight bulb and dominate the roads.
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Old 06-23-06, 09:50 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ollo_ollo
If you go the "klunky" route, check out Harbor freight: I used their spotlight one Winter on a mountain bike commuter. They are very heavy & hard to mount. The quality was not great back then but they replaced the first 2 that failed (wouldn't hold a charge) & the #3 light lasted 2 1/2 years of heavy use. I notice they now have some 12 volt led trailer hitch lights available & I may try them again for a home made headlight/tail light setup. Don
http://da.harborfreight.com/cpisearc...word=spotlight
If you're into experimenting, superbrightLEDs.com has both 6-volt and 12-volt LED automotive bulbs, like many cars use in taillights. Amber ones would make nice side-marker lights, but they have white too.
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Old 06-23-06, 10:57 AM   #10
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NashBar.com has a 5 watt Night Hawk light on sale for 19.99 right now. It's a 6 volt system that uses 4 D size batteries.
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Old 06-23-06, 11:54 AM   #11
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I used a light fixture from Lowes that use a MR-11 12 volt 10-watt halogen bulb. This is the same bulb used in those $100 plus bike light systems! Look around in the track lighting section. This is a small weighted base spot light with built in 12-volt supply for the MR-11 bulb for $14.99. Remove the base and retain the bracket and light fixture. Use an EMT clamshell type EMT conduit clamp for mounting the bracket and the fixture to your handlebar. The MR-11 bulbs are sealed with an integrated lens so it's weather proof. A 12 volt 4 to 5 amp-hour sealed lead acid battery will run the light for several hours and you have plenty of light.
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Old 06-23-06, 12:25 PM   #12
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There is a generator light you can buy at most targets/sears essentials for like $10-12. That, or get a halogen and use some NiMH rechargable batteries with it.

LEDs have horrible light spread. To me, those are "to be seen" lights only.
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Old 06-23-06, 05:16 PM   #13
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I have the generator system from target on my mom's old 1950s Schwinn cruiser. The spread is actually fairly impressive. I just have questions about running it on my 700x28 rear tire. I like a lot of the home-brew ideas and may try one of those.
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