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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 10-03-06, 01:31 PM   #1
Bike-a-Boo
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What to look for in a light?

About half of my route is along paved bike paths that are not lit. After sunset/before sunrise, it is pitch black along these parts.

So, I figure I have to buy a proper headlight soon when the days get too short for me to ride in the daylight. I have small LED lights (white for the front and red for the rear) for visibility, but I think I need something that allows me to see where I'm going along these paths.

Is there a minimum wattage (or any other pertinent specs) that I need to look for when I'm shopping?

Thanks in advance, all.
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Old 10-03-06, 01:59 PM   #2
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10W minimum when it's pitch black. Check these out:

Batteryspace bike lights

You'll probably get the most lumens for your dollar here. If you're the handy sort, you could build your own, visit the Geekiness thread at the top of the Commuting forum for lots of good info.
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Old 10-03-06, 02:07 PM   #3
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I use a Light & Motion Solo. I regard it as "just enough" for my pitch-black unlit MUP traversal. Ideally more light would be even better, and allow safer, faster travel.

Look through the light thread above. Anything with less output than a Solo isn't sufficient, IMO.
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Old 10-03-06, 03:29 PM   #4
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I'll be a dissenting opinion here. I find that I need less light in a totally dark area. It's when I have street lights and car headlights to contend with that I find the need for brighter lights since the weaker ones can't cut through the shadows created by street lights and car headlights

With that in mind, I really like the Princeton Tec Eos Bike light for riding on dark MUPs. It's a 1-watt luxeon LED like the Cateye 500/520/530 EL and the Nitehawk Emitter but brighter than either to my eye. On high it will last every bit of the 2 hours rated time they quote. I usually get closer to 4 hours of high useon my rechargable AAA batteries. It's light and comes with a handlebar and a helmet attachment. Costs around $35-40.

However, that light is not going to work very well if you have shadows from street lights and headlights to deal with. I ahve a halogen lamp on order but it's still not here yet.

Also consider whether you a helmet mount or a handlebar mount. I greatly prefer a helmet light because I can aim it and anything that interests me without change my direction of travel. Very useful when something unidentified is move in your periphial vision aand you need decide it's it something you need to be concerned with.

Since you got a recommendation to check them out, my personal experience with Batteryspace chargers and AA batteries is such that I'm hesitant to buy anything else from them. Many here seemed pleased so perhaps I should reconsider.
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Old 10-03-06, 05:34 PM   #5
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I suppose this depends upon the type of MUP you ride, too. Mine is quite a winding road, no way would a LED get me by. Well, if I rode slower than normal... But where's the fun in that?
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Old 10-03-06, 06:49 PM   #6
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Pardon my newbie-ness, but what does MUP stand for?
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Old 10-03-06, 07:23 PM   #7
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MUP = Multi Use Path. IOW, a place where you can ride your bike if you don't mind walkers wandering aimlessly around the path with MP3 players blaring so they can't hear you, and dogs either unleashed or with 20-foot cyclist-garrotting cord leashing them.

I'm a fan of halogen and HID, but if I didn't need them that much, as it sounds like you don't, I'd probably look at the new year's LEDs. I think the new Cateye EL530 is 1500 candlepower; should be enough to see and be seen, though I haven't seen one or heard a firsthand account yet.

Of course, it's in excess of $50. You're starting to get into the low end halogens at that point, though nothing with a good rechargable pack and smart charger, which I'd want personally.
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Old 10-03-06, 08:07 PM   #8
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I ride a dark MUP myself on the AM and soon PM. I know the route so well that I would only need some 10 watts halogen if I were totally alone. As I have to scare deer, skunks, and dim (ly lit ) joggers out of my way I need 20-30 watts minimum. I use 50 watts because half the route is on active roads,
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Old 10-03-06, 08:19 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sharrison
Pardon my newbie-ness, but what does MUP stand for?
Newbie-ness definitely allowed!!

I ride over the road. Some areas are pretty dark, plus I like to ride at night sometimes. I personally go for the LED's. I've got 2 Planet Bike 1 Watt head lights plus a smaller Planet bike 3 LED (.3 watt?) blinkie. This time of year I'm running just the blinkies but as time goes by I'll add one then the other 1 watt LED.

Some people also like helmet mounted lights.
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