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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.

View Poll Results: What is Your Headlight Setup?
LED 113 52.56%
HID 19 8.84%
Halogen 38 17.67%
Combo / Other 37 17.21%
None 8 3.72%
Voters: 215. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 08-20-07, 07:25 AM   #1
acroy
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Lighting Poll

With the days shortening and lots of lighting threads popping up, i thought a headlight poll was in order.
Please share your:
1) current setup
2) conditions (i.e. city, coutry roads, duration of commute, etc)
3) experiences/impression with it

And whatever else you think worthwhile

For the record, I have a 2AA Fenix Cree light at the moment, combo of semi-lit suburb streets and country roads, about 50 minute r/t commute, and plan to go back to Halogen as it seems more eye-friendly.

Cheers
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Old 08-20-07, 07:37 AM   #2
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1)Current set up is a bottle dynamo with a 2.4w headlight (incandescent bulb?) from Target for $11.xx a few years ago. I also have a cateye EL 300 (310?) headlight, the one with 5 LED's. Hopefully by end of the day today I'll have my new Lumotec headlight to hook up to the dynamo...it'll have a 3 watt bulb in it.

Amazingly, the dynamo light puts out enough light to actually commute by. The cateye is only incase of bulb failure or I get too slow on one of the hills on my commute.
2) Conditions...moderately busy back roads, going by 2 schools on the way in to the office. Rolling hills with average gradient of 4-6%. One hill is about 1/2 mile in length.
3) Pretty satisfied with the dynamo set up so far...almost as good as my old cygolite 6+10w halogen system. But I don't to worry about keeping the battery charged now. I really thought the dynamo light would be really dim, and it is in absolute light output, but the light is closer to the road and focused correctly such that it is really useable light.
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Old 08-20-07, 08:11 AM   #3
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My main headlight is a halogen (NR Evolution).
Backup and/or supplemental lighting is provided by a 4-LED Blackburn Quadrant.

My NR burned out after 3 months. They're sending me a new bulb for free, though. They say those results aren't typical. This has been used only on pavement, no rough singletrack or even huge pot-holes.

I'm happy with both, but going faster than 12 MPH, my LED doesn't even come close to cutting it. A Dinotte LED would probably be more than sufficient, though.
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Old 08-20-07, 08:14 AM   #4
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13W HID. So bright it'll make you squint!
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Old 08-20-07, 08:15 AM   #5
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well, you left of dynamo powered lights, so i'm out of the poll.

dual E6 lights with schmidt dynohub. a cateye led as a 'be seen' light for stopping in traffic.
conditions - sadly i don't commuter anymore (well, i walk from my bedroom to my office)
but for errands and getting about town, they work great.
and for randonneuring events and century rides when i get back after dark, they are perfect.
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Old 08-20-07, 08:16 AM   #6
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I voted for halogen in your poll because my main light for night riding is a Cygolite. However, I'm currently using a cheapo LED light that I got for free at the Bike to Work Day event last spring. I'm using the LED mainly for visibility in traffic on my morning commute, not to actually see the pavement. Once the days start getting short enough that I actually need a light to see by, I'll start using my Cygolite again. It throws out quite a lot of light, particularly when you use both beams.
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Old 08-20-07, 08:22 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by acroy View Post
With the days shortening and lots of lighting threads popping up, i thought a headlight poll was in order.
Please share your:
1) current setup
2) conditions (i.e. city, coutry roads, duration of commute, etc)
3) experiences/impression with it

And whatever else you think worthwhile

For the record, I have a 2AA Fenix Cree light at the moment, combo of semi-lit suburb streets and country roads, about 50 minute r/t commute, and plan to go back to Halogen as it seems more eye-friendly.

Cheers
1) LED Planet bike blinkies
2) I only ride at night in the city...pretty well lighted, so it's all I really need.
3) Serves my purposes fine. The only important feature to me was that the rear light had a belt clip so it would strap on to my trunk/pannier.
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Old 08-20-07, 08:46 AM   #8
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1. Front = 5LED cheapie light. Rear, PB Superflash (plan on getting a second one soon)
2. Commute = 30 minutes one way. City streets with streetlights. I am after being seen rather than seeing the road.
3. The aiming of the five bulbs leaves much to be desired. They are all over the place. One of them shines exactly where I will soon be traveling, but the other four shine into space. If I could only focus all five, but then again that's not the intent with this light.
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Old 08-20-07, 09:08 AM   #9
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1. Light & Motion - Arc HID (Helmet mount), Planet Bike Super Flash, Cheapo LED blinkies Front & Back as backups.
2. 58km round trip on well lit city streets & unlit MUP
3. The Arc is a extremly bright headlight. I try to remember to turn my head to avoid blinding oncoming cyclist on the MUP.

Last edited by Tequila Joe; 08-20-07 at 12:14 PM.
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Old 08-20-07, 09:44 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by bmike View Post
well, you left of dynamo powered lights, so i'm out of the poll.
nah, stick it "other"
that's 2 using dynamo... they seem to be getting popular and I would've included them if i had thought of it.
cheers
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Old 08-20-07, 09:55 AM   #11
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I use a homebrew dual 3W Luxeon setup in the front, and a massive home made 120LED lightbar in the rear. My commute is 15-20 minutes in one direction, in all weather conditions. The rear light is bright enough to land a plane, but the fronts are a little lacking. I'm sure that cars can see me coming from a huge distance, but they don't illuminate the road as much as I'd like. I hope to replace the front lights with either brighter LEDs or a 13W HID by winter.
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Old 08-20-07, 10:05 AM   #12
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My ride is 11 miles more or less, with essentially none of it under lighting (thankfully; as an amateur astronomer I despise outdoor lighting). It's almost all rural, 4 of the 11 miles on gravel which can get rough and therefore requires good lighting lest you drop into a hole or hit a bad stretch of washboard.

13w HID from Batteryspace. Before that I had a 20W halogen. I'd go back to the halogen again without worry. The HID is nice but with the bulb+fixture at $120 versus $10 for Halogen, I could live with halogen.

I use a Nashbar Brilliant II (5 LED, 2 AA cells) with rechargable AAs as backup/be seen lights. I only run the HID when it's too dark to see by.

In the back, I have a Planet Bike superflash; I run it in flash mode in the daytime if it's raining/foggy/etc. In the dark I run it constant on and turn on the amber All Electronics xenon strobe.
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Old 08-20-07, 10:22 AM   #13
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I voted combo/other. I have two setups:

- a Basta 6V/3W halogen powered by a DIY battery (6 x rechargeable NiMH AAs). Basta is a basic light designed for dynamo/dynohub use. It doesn't have a standlight for example, but as I run it off a battery, that does not matter. The beam is quite good, easily enough to see by. This setup is in my summer hybrid.
- a Lumotec Oval Plus 6V/3W halogen with the built-in standlight, powered by a B&M bottle dynamo. This is my winter beater.

I carry a small LED frontlight (enough to be seen by) in case of bulb failures and such. For rear I have a 5 led Vistalite and a small Basta Rugby as backup. I change mountings from one bike to another as needed.

Conditions: I commute 31 km round trip, mostly on reasonably lit MUPs. Maybe 3 kms of it is on streets (again enough ambient light to ride by). The lights help to see road surface details in time to react. There are very few spots where I would need them to actually see where I'm going. Also, as I live up North, I have very little use for lights from late April to early September or so.

If I rode more on streets, I'm sure I'd be happy to get a HID and a more substantial rear light too. As it is, I'm happy with the current setup. Upgrade from bottle dynamo to a dynohub is likely in the future, but I'm in no hurry with that.

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Old 08-20-07, 10:22 AM   #14
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1) current setup
Dionette 200L

2) conditions (i.e. city, coutry roads, duration of commute, etc)
city roads with durations of 30-50 min RT.
Been up to 35 mph with the light.

3) experiences/impression with it
-The light is bright.
-Lightweight and compact.
-Such a simple mount, yet it's great since I can move it from bike to bike with ease without having to buy multiple mounts.
-Not having to pack a big brick charger, because of a proprietary battery for the light, when taking my bike on a road trip.
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Old 08-20-07, 10:27 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beingtxstate View Post
1) LED Planet bike blinkies
2) I only ride at night in the city...pretty well lighted, so it's all I really need.
3) Serves my purposes fine. The only important feature to me was that the rear light had a belt clip so it would strap on to my trunk/pannier.
Basically the same answer here. PB 1 Super Spot (1 W LED) on the front and the infamous SuperFlash on the back.

When I do go touring, I'll probably get a more powerful light for the front. Once I had to ride on a completely unlit country road at night, and 1 W LED just does not cut it... Thank god that road was very well paved.
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Old 08-20-07, 10:28 AM   #16
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1 - Planet Bike Alias 10w halogen (main) and Cateye LD530 (backup) in the front, Cateye LD1000 (seatpost) and Planet Bike Superflash (left seatstay) in the back.

2 - Moderate to decently lit city roads in the morning at 4:00AM, light traffic, 25+7 minutes (2 parts with a train ride in the middle), dry weather only for me.

3 - I like it so far. I almost picked up a second Alias since they are (or were) on sale but having 2 battery packs strapped to the frame is kinda excessive... I may still try it out though. The tail lights are great, the LD1000 is set to 1 bank of steady blinking and the Superflash is set to steady on. I think i'll be picking up another Superflash to put on the other seatstay to have as backup since they're pretty inexpensive.
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Old 08-20-07, 10:34 AM   #17
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well, you left of dynamo powered lights, so i'm out of the poll.
Me too, but for the record ... hub dynamo laced to 16" rim running a home-made 12 V 6W (I think) headlight and LED taillight from PepBoys.
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Old 08-20-07, 10:52 AM   #18
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Current setup:

Front:
CygoLite DualCross 200
Cateye EL200 (flashing)
Old-school Cateye halogen velcro'd to the top of my helmet (low-cost directional lighting)
ViewPoint Hot Spot (1 LED) on my helmet (flashing)

Rear:
Three 3-LED lights
- 1 on seatpost (solid)
- 1 on messenger bag (flashing)
- 1 creatively mounted to the back of my helmet (flashing)

Lastly, a generous amount of reflective tape on my fenders.
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Old 08-20-07, 11:01 AM   #19
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13w HID from Batteryspace. Before that I had a 20W halogen. I'd go back to the halogen again without worry. The HID is nice but with the bulb+fixture at $120 versus $10 for Halogen, I could live with halogen.
I used to have a 20W halogen, been considering the Batterspace HID. Has it been worth it? How has the bulb held out? How's the quality? Thanks for any input
Cheers
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Old 08-20-07, 11:11 AM   #20
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I have two bikes I ride for commuting, mostly the roadbike right now - which is equipped with the Planet Bike 5000x (4xAAs). My MTB has a Schwinn halogen (2xCs).

My commute is all urban, inner-city stuff - spots of dark, but my lights generally wash-out with street lighting and cars. Conditions can be anywhere from stupid hot to stupid cold, including insane but usually brief rainstorms and snow/hail storms of the crappy variety. My current commute switches between either a "visit" or "non-visit" day. A non-visit day sees me ride only 8mi. RT to/from work, a 'visit' day is 19/20mi. RT.

I have some stuff for a homebrew option that I've been sitting on for the best part of the year. Now it's getting closer to crunch time, I'll have to start building them. I have a 20W and a 35W MR16 with metal track lighting type things, I need a battery system and then just figure out how I mount the lights to the bike. I have already chosen the battery system I want, which is likely going to be this.
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Old 08-20-07, 11:57 AM   #21
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In the summer time I either have no lights or Knog Frogs on flash mode. As it gets darker in the morning I'll be using my L&M Arc on my helmet with assorted Frogs flashing away.
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Old 08-20-07, 12:03 PM   #22
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I used to have a 20W halogen, been considering the Batterspace HID. Has it been worth it? How has the bulb held out? How's the quality? Thanks for any input
Cheers
I'm starting on my 3rd season with the batteryspace HID. It's been good. Watch the input voltage; when I bought it they sold the 14.4v NiMH as being "perfect for the HID". It ain't. A freshly charged 14.4v NiMH puts out nearly 17 volts. The HID says don't feed it more than 14.8v. It takes about an hour of runtime for the 14.4v's output to drop to 14.8v. I fried my ballast in 3 hours. Luckily trailtech replaced it free.

My advice would be to use a 12v NiMH, or better yet LiIon. I'd use LiIon these days; it's cheaper than it used to be and a lot lighter.

Halogen is good too, I ran it for a year and still would use it as a backup if I blew an HID bulb or something. But it's way too easy to get used to the light an HID puts out. I have several LEDs as backup, but even with all of them on and riding slow, I still feel like I'm trying to read by candlelight compared to when I'm cruisin' with the HID.
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Old 08-20-07, 12:05 PM   #23
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My main commuter has a rack with the classic milk crate on it for stops at the grocery store on the way home. (For some reason, I love the supreme dorkiness of the classic milk crate.)

My headlight is a 20-watt halogen MR16 spotlight from the hardware store, in a housing of PVC pipe from Home Depot. The housing has a toggle switch on the back side that runs the entire lighting system. The battery currently is a 5 amp-hour sealed lead acid battery in a wooden box fastened to the water bottle mount points on the down tube. A wire runs from the battery to the headlight housing.

Coming out of the headlight housing is another wire that runs to the classic milk crate. On the back of the classic milk crate are three LED-based red automotive clearance lights. The switch on the headlight housing controls the power to these tail-lights as well as to the headlight.

The 20-watt halogen headlight makes riding at night actually entertaining. I made this home-made setup because I thought it would be fun, and also because we were a bit short of money at the time. The total cost (including battery and charger) probably was around $60.

My backup bike that will become the winter beater has a similar headlight but the bulb is an MR16-format bulb with 32 LED's from superbrightleds.com. It runs for eight hours on a 1.4 amp-hour sealed lead-acid battery in a frame bag where the top tube and seat tube meet. The tail light is just a battery-powered blinkie. This light setup was designed to be light in weight because I am hoping to ride to work in at least one snowstorm this season to earn my winter commuting patch (yet to be designed). I thought a lighter bike would be easier to control when plowing through snow.

My urban errand bike, and old Schwinn Suburban with a broken derailer that I am hoping no one would want to steal, has a generator setup from that era (1970's?-1980's?).
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Old 08-20-07, 12:05 PM   #24
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Generator hub and B&M head and tail lights.
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Old 08-20-07, 12:08 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by acroy View Post
With the days shortening and lots of lighting threads popping up, i thought a headlight poll was in order.
Please share your:
1) current setup
2) conditions (i.e. city, coutry roads, duration of commute, etc)
3) experiences/impression with it

Cheers
I use a Cateye HL-EL320 and a Planet Bike SuperFlash blinky. I ride in the suburbs, no real dark spots. I run the Cateye in blinking mode unless I need the light. It seems to catch the signs and make them glow several blocks away. So far, so good. The blinkie seems to be bright. My main gripe with it is that it is so hard to press the button through the plastic casing. Not good. As a backup, I have a freebie blinkie from the AAA attached to my backpack.

I've still got my older Cateye 500 series. I'm going to keep it as a flashlight.
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