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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 09-30-06, 05:47 PM   #1
kuupio
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HID lights for city use?

With daylight savings time nearing an end, my evening commute will soon be carried out in the dark. I'm thinking about upgrading my lights this year, and have been intrigued by the possibility of using an HID system.

After reviewing previous discussions about HID lights, I am uncertain about whether this would be a good idea. On the one hand, I've read that HID lights do a good job of getting other drivers' attention, and can prompt them to leave plenty of room for the mysterious vehicle they see approaching. That part sounds great. On the other hand, I've read an occasional comment to the effect that HID lights may be too bright to use safely on roads. I've seen a few stories about drivers honking or flashing their brights, apparently blinded by the HID light's intensity. That part does not appeal to me.

In short, I like the idea of being highly visible to rush-hour traffic, but do not like the idea of blinding everyone around me. I live in a city, so there are a lot of other people around whose interests I feel I should take into consideration. What do you think: are HID lights too bright to use in city traffic? Is there some way of adjusting their position so as to make them less irritating to others?
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Old 09-30-06, 07:04 PM   #2
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I love my L&M ARC iob the handlebars and a Dinotte on the helmet. Not too bright but I keep it pointed down a little.
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Old 09-30-06, 07:40 PM   #3
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HID lights are about as bright as car headlights. That's the point.

Edit: I agree with the points 2manybikes and DCCommuter made below. City riding is the most useful place for HID's.

Last edited by Daily Commute; 09-30-06 at 08:07 PM.
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Old 09-30-06, 07:41 PM   #4
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They are bright but you don't have to look right at them. You can aim any light down if you need too. These lights are on cars too with the same result. People will flash their lights at you, they want you to put on the low beam you don't have. Don't assume they are blinded, it is a highly visible color too, annoying to some.. People will complain it's human nature. I was taught in driver training to look at the right side of the road if bright lights are coming at me.

When I accidentally aimed mine right in a cops eyes at a crosswalk, I apologized.
He said " It's OK............. that light is safer because it's so bright"

.......which is more important to you?

Car avoids you and accident is prevented, or you see some glass on the road in time to avoid it.

Guy going the other way does not complain or flash his lights.
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Old 09-30-06, 08:00 PM   #5
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The brighter the ambient light, the more light you need to stand out. The background light level in cities is very high. It's that simple.
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Old 09-30-06, 08:45 PM   #6
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Same here. I took my old 100 watt light directly to an officer the first time I went out and asked him what he thought. He said, "As long as it is pointed down and does not shine in oncoming drivers eyes it should be OK." Now, with a 50 watter I get flashed every week or two. I just adjust the beam down a little until they pass. On MUPs I put a hand partly over it when I pass other path users and say, "I try to dim my light when I pass people."
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Old 09-30-06, 11:08 PM   #7
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I hope it's going to work for me, since I ordered a L&M ARC last week.
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Old 10-01-06, 08:58 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by idcruiserman
I hope it's going to work for me, since I ordered a L&M ARC last week.
After you have used it why don't you post your opinion of it?
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Old 10-01-06, 02:19 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2manybikes
After you have used it why don't you post your opinion of it?
Will do.
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Old 10-01-06, 04:01 PM   #10
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I use my Nite Rider Flight in traffic and on the trails. 3 levels of HID lighting plus led's. Also use a headmount for cross country skiing!
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Old 10-02-06, 06:56 AM   #11
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I use my cygolite HID in town. I have it aimed down so that the center of the spot is about 20 ft in front of the bike (figuring speeds of 10-15 mph) and don't have any trouble with cars flashing brights or anything else. I didn't even think about it not using it in town.
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Old 10-02-06, 07:29 AM   #12
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You're worried about inconveniencing someone over your LIFE?
Think long and hard about that one.
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Old 10-02-06, 09:57 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by slvoid
You're worried about inconveniencing someone over your LIFE?
Think long and hard about that one.

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Old 10-02-06, 12:11 PM   #14
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On the path I take home from my fiancee's house at night, there is a guy who has a HID that's usually riding around the same time I am. That thing is STUPID bright, to the point where I have to focus on the right edge of the path to avoid looking at it. They have to be great for visibility but wow.. I dunno.

I'm mixed on the subject. I want one for the "stupid bright" visibility, but at the same time being on the receiving end of it kind of (really) stinks.

Go for what you think is best. You'll certainly be visible
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Old 10-02-06, 01:05 PM   #15
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I too am struggling with the idea current HID models being inappropriate for road use w/ oncoming traffic, caged or not. Are there any models w/ optics that truly limit the amount of light projected above the road, the way automotive headlights do it? Simply aiming it down isn't enough, I don't think.

I don't think the equation is so simple as my life vs. someone else's inconvenience. It's rather finding solutions that are safe and relatively comfortable for everyone.
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Old 10-02-06, 01:13 PM   #16
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I've recently started using the trailtech 13 watt HID for commuting. I have it pointed far enough ahead to light the road for 2o-25 mph for the morning darkness. No indication that it's an irritation to oncoming traffic. Don't think it would be safe to blind on coming cars. For the daylight I point it up a bit for increased visibility, again no signs that it's an irritation to others.
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Old 10-02-06, 03:58 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JackJ
I too am struggling with the idea current HID models being inappropriate for road use w/ oncoming traffic, caged or not. Are there any models w/ optics that truly limit the amount of light projected above the road, the way automotive headlights do it? Simply aiming it down isn't enough, I don't think.

I don't think the equation is so simple as my life vs. someone else's inconvenience. It's rather finding solutions that are safe and relatively comfortable for everyone.

All the bulbs come from the same source. No other lenses. With the banking of a two wheeled vehicle you don't want the top of the beam chopped off anyway. When you bank the bike with the top of the beam chopped off it disappears. Some motorcycles have this problem. You are supposed to look at the right side of the road with lights coming at you. The rider coming at you can point it down, eventually it gets to the point where it is not blinding and the rider can see, maybe you could try one, or just demo one in the dark somehow? I have one that is more powerful than one car headlight, it's equal to 65 watts halogen, I can turn it down enough, All you need to do is turn it down and walk out in front of your bike and look at it. And adjust it. No big deal. Most of the 13 watt HIDs have a "low" setting too.
If there is not much other traffic on an MUP path one can put his hand over one side.

If the ground is wet or it is raining and a car is coming right at you , all the power you have will be needed to see a pothole or a bottle. If you commute all the time you should be prepared for that.
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Old 10-02-06, 05:09 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kuupio
What do you think: are HID lights too bright to use in city traffic? Is there some way of adjusting their position so as to make them less irritating to others?
There is no such thing as too bright. Whatever lights you have, make sure it illuminates your path rather than other peoples' eyes and you'll be fine.

If you blind people by aiming your lights in their eyes, they won't be able to see you. Aiming an HID light down should prevent blinding others unless you have a screwball beam pattern.

Whenever you mount your lights, it's not a bad idea to lean your bike against something and look at your work from different distances and angles to make sure that you have achieved the effect you need.
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Old 10-02-06, 05:31 PM   #19
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You guys found any good deals on the L&M ARC Li-ion lights? Looking at 600$ here (for non-Ultra version).
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Old 10-02-06, 06:00 PM   #20
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Somebody recently posted a link to a site that did a comparison test of different lights against a wall with distance markings on it. I can't remember which thread it was-- can somebody repost that link?
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Old 10-02-06, 06:05 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by Blue Order
Somebody recently posted a link to a site that did a comparison test of different lights against a wall with distance markings on it. I can't remember which thread it was-- can somebody repost that link?
http://eddys.com/page.cfm?PageID=493 from http://www.mechbgon.com/visibility/active.html
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Old 10-02-06, 06:17 PM   #22
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Thanks!
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Old 10-02-06, 06:22 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blue Order
Somebody recently posted a link to a site that did a comparison test of different lights against a wall with distance markings on it. I can't remember which thread it was-- can somebody repost that link?
The first page of the "light selection guide" thread has 6 or 7 links to different beam comparison photo pages. Eacxh link goes to a different comparison, not one photo.
Links to just about all lights, prices and relative speed with that light. Not to mention a great explanation of the three types of bulbs and bike light systems. And lots more. It's much better than the recent links posted it's all in one place, including those links. All this light stuff everyone is talking about was covered in this thread last year. And more.
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Old 10-02-06, 06:24 PM   #24
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Wow the L&M light sure has an impressive spread. Is the L&M a flood and the NR a spot?
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Old 10-02-06, 06:25 PM   #25
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Thanks 2manybikes!
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