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  1. #1
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    Small LED headlights

    Does anyone have experience with the Nashbar Brilliant 3 Headlight, versus the Cateye EL400? Both are the extremely small, 3-LED / 3-AAA battery headlights. How does one compare to the other, re brightness and durability?

    Secondly, how do these lights compare in brightness to bigger LED lights like the EL500? I have an EL500 and would much prefer to carry something smaller around, and I'd also appreciate the better battery life. Are the smaller LED lights closer in brightness to, e.g., cheap LED taillights, or are they actually somewhat bright?

    Thanks for the advice!

  2. #2
    Neat - w/ ice on the side dalmore's Avatar
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    The princeton tec eos bike is smaller than the el500 and brighter in my opinion. I like my EOS a lot but as I bike more in high traffic and multiple steet light areas - i find it's not strong enough to see what i need to see in the shadows between streetlights. If you decide to get one, the EOS bike and the regular EOS have different cconnecting clips so make sure you get the bike version.

    I get 6-8 hours on a set of rechargable batteries on high - more when conditions allow me to use the flashing mode for the final part of the commute liek the summertime.
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  3. #3
    Seņior Member ItsJustMe's Avatar
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    I've got a Brilliant 5 on order, should be here any day, I'll post pics ASAP.

    The 5 was on sale for about $2 more than the 3 so I didn't see the point in getting the 3. Also I like AA better than AAA; I have a lot more AA rechargables and the mAH capacity is about 3x.

    I'm ordering it only for a backup light and a blinkie. I have an EL400 but it's dead, just stopped working last week for no reason. I could probably hotwire it to get a comparison, I think only the controller chip is smoked.

    In general with LED lighting, I assume that battery life (assuming constant on, not blinking) correlates well with raw brightness. If you have two lights that both take 4 AAs, one is rated at 30 hours and the other 15, the latter is probably twice as bright. LED efficiency is close enough to flat that it's a good guess anyway.

    Beam pattern is very important as well but there's no telling on that without hands-on tests.
    Work: the 8 hours that separates bike rides.

  4. #4
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    I dumped my bike yesterday (actually the wind blew it over), and my EL 510 broke.

    I was happy to see it lying on the ground, shining back at me, but I picked it up and noticed the body (where the mount clips) had broken off. The thing didn't even touch the ground.

    ..so thats one disadvantage of having 4xAAs of weight in there.
    I'll probably try and warantee it, but I'll run a Planet Bike Beamer 3 for now.

  5. #5
    Seņior Member ItsJustMe's Avatar
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    I got my Nashbar Brilliant 5 today. I don't think it's significantly bigger than the EL400. It's really pretty small.
    I think it's bright enough to ride by in a pinch. Being used to HID I wouldn't WANT to, but I think I could safely ride with it. It throws a nice main beam, fairly tight but not overly so, plus a few rings of peripheral light.
    I took some pics but since the HID is my only other light, it's kind of like comparing a match to a campfire. There's so much difference that it makes the LED light look really worse than it actually is.

    I think next time I do a Nashbar order I may pick up a couple more of them, to have around for the kids bikes or to give to friends who are thinking about night riding. At $18 and palm sized, it seems like a very reasonable gadget and a good backup light that's easy to carry around.
    Work: the 8 hours that separates bike rides.

  6. #6
    You need a new bike supcom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by davlor
    Does anyone have experience with the Nashbar Brilliant 3 Headlight, versus the Cateye EL400? Both are the extremely small, 3-LED / 3-AAA battery headlights. How does one compare to the other, re brightness and durability?

    Secondly, how do these lights compare in brightness to bigger LED lights like the EL500? I have an EL500 and would much prefer to carry something smaller around, and I'd also appreciate the better battery life. Are the smaller LED lights closer in brightness to, e.g., cheap LED taillights, or are they actually somewhat bright?

    Thanks for the advice!
    I don't think you will find a 3-AAA battery light can compare to an EL500 with it's 1w LED. That Nashbar light looks to be better for being seen by motorists than to light up the road.

  7. #7
    Seņior Member ItsJustMe's Avatar
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    FWIW, here's the shots of the Nashbar and also some other light comparisons. And I included a size comparison with the EL400. The Nashbar is not any bigger, it's cheaper, and I think it's brighter (though as I said it's dead now so I can't compare it directly).
    Album here
    Work: the 8 hours that separates bike rides.

  8. #8
    -=Barry=- The Human Car's Avatar
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    The Brilliant 3 looks like something I have tried, not bad but the Brilliant 2 head 5 LED is brighter and at least as light. So far I have found this the brightest 5 LED light that I have tried/compared. And I keep it mounted while riding through rough city streets and it has not popped off yet.

    Note: I have not seen the EL500 in action yet
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  9. #9
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    I was at my local Wal-mart looking in the Flashlight section and discovered Mag-Lite has a new 2-AA 3-watt Flashlight. My immediate reaction was it looked like an excellent light for my road bike. I purchased one and confirmed it was! This light is brighter than the .8 amp Halogen bicycle lights with 4-AA batteries. It's so bright I have had oncoming vehicles flash their high beams at me! Run time is 3.5 hours on 2-AA batteries. Rechargeable batteries will not work in it. The electronics in the light are set only for alkaline batteries. Battery replacement is very easy, unscrew the cap, tip up the front of the bike, old batteries slid out, push two new batteries in and screw the cap back on, takes less than a minute. Beam pattern is adjustable from the head and it's the way to turn it on as with all Mag-Lite flashlights. Rotating it so it just comes on provides a nice wide pattern for maneuvering around obstacles. Twisting the head a little more provides an intensely bright, tight, long distance beam just right for the road or MUP. The only disadvantage is the fact that there is no light emitted to the side like bike specific lights. You must use a blinkie up front as well as this flashlight to make sure cross traffic can see you. Mounting is pretty easy. I used one defunct blinkie light clamp and a 1/2" EMT conduit clamp from the hardware store. I drilled out the plastic clamp so I could use a 1/4" screw and nut through the plastic clamp and the EMT clamp. Star washers prevent the steel clamp and plastic clamp from inadvertent side movements. I am including a photo of my light and it's instillation on my road bike.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  10. #10
    Seņior Member ItsJustMe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by n4zou
    2-AA 3-watt Flashlight.
    This light is brighter than the .8 amp Halogen bicycle lights with 4-AA batteries.
    Great news. There's hope for LEDs yet. I like my HID but I know one day it will die, and it'd be sweet if I could replace it with something this small and cheap. I could live with a little less light than the HID.
    Quote Originally Posted by n4zou
    Rechargeable batteries will not work in it.
    Ah, there's the rub. I don't do non-rechargable, period (except in rare instances for extreme shelf life, etc)
    Quote Originally Posted by n4zou
    I am including a photo of my light and it's instillation on my road bike.
    Good DIY job there. I'll keep those conduit clamps in mind in the future.
    Work: the 8 hours that separates bike rides.

  11. #11
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    ItsJustMe, Thanks for the photos and info. I've ordered the brilliant II, and when it comes in i'll be able to answer the next logical question -- how does its light output compare to the EL500? Expect photos next week.

  12. #12
    Seņior Member ItsJustMe's Avatar
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    I'll look forwards to the comparison, though I'm sure the EL500 will wipe it out. BTW though it's not on their website yet, Nashbar's printed catalog does have the Cateye EL530 listed; at 1500 candlepower it's rated as 50% brighter than the EL500. The Nashbar light is rated at 400 candlepower.
    If it was to be my only light, I'd probably go with something like the EL500, but since this is a combo of backup for my HID and a blinker, the Brilliant 2 seemed a good choice.
    Work: the 8 hours that separates bike rides.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by davlor
    Does anyone have experience with the Nashbar Brilliant 3 Headlight, versus the Cateye EL400? Both are the extremely small, 3-LED / 3-AAA battery headlights. How does one compare to the other, re brightness and durability?

    Secondly, how do these lights compare in brightness to bigger LED lights like the EL500? I have an EL500 and would much prefer to carry something smaller around, and I'd also appreciate the better battery life. Are the smaller LED lights closer in brightness to, e.g., cheap LED taillights, or are they actually somewhat bright?

    Thanks for the advice!
    They are good as marker lights, lousy as a headlight.

  14. #14
    Seņior Member ItsJustMe's Avatar
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    OK, I got my EL400 fixed. The Nashbar is VASTLY brighter. Not too surprising since right off the bat it's 5 LEDs instead of 3.
    Here's a side-by-side of the two. Note that I reduced the exposure until I thought the picture reflected my perceived difference between the two lights. Therefore this is ONLY useful as a comparison between these two lights; don't compare directly to other images in my album.
    Work: the 8 hours that separates bike rides.

  15. #15
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    Those MagLED 2AA lights are pretty good, especially for the price. The thing is only $23 dollars plus tax. Hopefully this kind of pricing for 3 watt LEDs will start trickling down to bike lights.

    After doing an impromptu comparison session with a L&M Vega, the Vega is much brighter. It seems like 2 AA batteries just doesn't have the power to push the 3W leds to their full capacities. Candlepower forums confirmed this by saying that it peaks at around 1.5 watts with fresh batteries, averages 1 watt for much of it's runtime, and goes down to around .8 watts near the end of the battery life, which is around 3.5-4 hours.

    The light output of the MagLED is about the same as the L&M Vega on it's lowest setting. The Vega on full power completely washes out the MagLED 2AA beam. The Vega has a longer throw and a wider, more usable hotspot on it.

    The 3AA MagLED is supposed to be a lot brighter than the 2AA, but have you seen that thing? It's huge! It's almost as long as a 2C Maglight. I wish that they'd release a truly new design where the batteries are inserted in a triangle of three. The light would be wider but it won't be a ridiculous length.

    Still, for ~$24 and a bit of ingenuity for the clamp, you're getting a nice amount of light.
    Last edited by Mach42; 09-23-06 at 01:03 PM.

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