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Old 08-24-10, 07:17 PM   #1
custermustache
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Best bang for the buck headlight?

I am looking for the best (brightest) light for the best value. I ride a roadbike approximate 30 miles round trip to the office 3-4x a week. Most of my route is bikepath or bike lane (awesome) but I do have some parts where I am on pretty bust streets. I generally leave @ 6:30 am and come home at 5:30 or so, and it takes me an hour. As the days get shorter I can see the need for a "real" light, and would like to start shopping.
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Old 08-24-10, 07:38 PM   #2
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For the Money, the Magicshine is pretty tough to beat. Even if it only puts out 2/3 of it's stated output, that's still 600 lumens!
I found riding with a Fenix PD30 strapped to my handle bars was enough for an early morning, and late evening commute @ 230 lumens, so the Magicshine is a huge increase.
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Old 08-24-10, 07:46 PM   #3
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When I'm ready to buy, I'm going to look into www.dealextreme.com. They have connections to Chinese or Hong Kong factories and seem to source from factory over production. They ship directly from Hong Kong and their supply lines are not as reliable as what we're accustomed to but if you're willing to wait from 1-4 weeks, they often offer unbeatable prices.

I'm not a flash light enthusiast, so I can't offer great advice on any particular model, but they have quite a selection. http://www.dealextreme.com/products.dx/category.999

I would look into the Cree, Fenix, UltraFire, SSC, etc brands at around the $20 price range. These are some I have considered:
http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.36357
http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.39765
http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.39359
http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.16501

What makes some of these lights a bargain is that the bodies aren't necessarily designed to handle the heat generated by the LED for long periods of time and may require some modification to improve the heatsinking of the bulb for extended use.
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Old 08-24-10, 07:47 PM   #4
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Most bang for the buck is probably the Magicshine GMG. A bit over 500 actual Lumens measured even though they claim 900. Other makers have exaggerated their Lumens outputs too. Still not bad for $89.99.

http://www.geomangear.com/index.php?...roducts_id=180

He also offers a claimed 1400 Lumens light for $129.99
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Old 08-24-10, 08:30 PM   #5
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I would say MagicShine as well. I just ordered one from Geomangear and expect to get it this Friday. They also have a nice rear flasher as well.

I have no connections at all to either company, but from a ton of people talking on the mtbr forums, Geomangear is hard to beat for customer service. Rave reviews. Additionally, dealextreme can take forever to get to you. I don't have experience from either company yet (other than the actual order), but that's how I made my decision on where to buy.

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Old 08-24-10, 09:08 PM   #6
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I got my MagicShine from Geomangear two weeks ago. it is INSANELY BRIGHT and I can't believe it was only 2x the price of the lousy LED light I got from my LBS a year ago.

the only downside is that the battery pack is rather large/heavy. for awhile I tried wrapping it around the top tube, but it kept getting in the way. then I realized that GMG shipped an extension cord with it, so I just hang it from the back of my seat and wrap the cable around the top tube. works great!
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Old 08-24-10, 09:11 PM   #7
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Gotta shout out for the magicshine and their tailight too. I've had people I work with tell me that the tailight is almost too bright. I say thats the idea.
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Old 08-24-10, 10:38 PM   #8
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If there are any flashlight enthusiasts around, can any shed light on the brightness difference between the magicshine and tactical flashlights that use the same emitter (P7-C-SXO)?
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Old 08-24-10, 11:03 PM   #9
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I can say, from my experience, the two biggest advantages a Magic Shine has over a tactical flashlight will be:
1) Runtime. Most tactical flashlights only run for an hour on their highest setting. The Magicshine goes about three.
2) Diameter of the lens and reflector. All the pocket sized lights I own provide a very bright, but focused beam. The Magic Shine covers a lot more area, which I prefer greatly while riding the bicycle in the dark.
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Old 08-25-10, 02:45 AM   #10
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I've had the Magicshine for a little over 5 months now. I run it during both the morning and evening commutes 5 days a week, regardless of whether or not it is dark. If it is day light out, I run it in high speed flash mode to avoid left/right crosses by making damned sure that drivers know I'm there. My commute is 9 miles each way. I charge it every night.

It's doing well so far. For the $85 I paid, I cannot complain one bit. I don't know of any other proper bike light this bright for less than $400. Those LED flash lights aren't proper bike lights. This is by far the most bang for the buck in bike lights that I've seen.

I haven't decided what to do with my Light & Motion ARC. The battery died and a new battery alone is $200.

The Magicshine is bright enough that you can ride at a decent speed, even in what is otherwise total darkness. That is a must for me.

Last edited by billdsd; 08-25-10 at 02:48 AM.
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Old 08-25-10, 03:29 AM   #11
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Don't buy the Magicshine from DealExtreme, buy it from Geoman. Dealextreme doesn't run quality checks on the lights. Many people have complained about their transactions with them. I've bought a lot from DealExtreme, don't get me wrong, but I've heard returns and exchanges are a PITA.

Geoman quality checks them and sells them for a slightly higher price, but they are more local and have better customer service.

As far as the battery pack goes, I put it inside a water bottle and threw it in the second cage.





I've had it for almost a year and I use it 3-4 days a week. I haven't had a single problem yet and I plan to buy another if/when this one dies.
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Old 08-25-10, 05:23 AM   #12
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I run a pair of MagicShine lights. On streets I keep on on the lower setting and one on the strobe mode. When I'm in the more rural and unlit parts of my ride, I have one on the high setting and one on strobe. I'm both visible and I can see. It's like having the sun in front of me and for the money, it can't be beat.
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Old 08-25-10, 05:45 AM   #13
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I was gonna say flashlight, but for a 30 mile run, Magicshine. You'll need the runtime. I run with a Magicshine with a P7 flashlight as backup. Both are good, the flashlight is a little less hassle due to being fully waterproof and self contained, but the runtime isn't good enough for you.
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Old 08-25-10, 05:48 AM   #14
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Quote:
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Those LED flash lights aren't proper bike lights.
Maybe not, but they're the same exact driver and the same light pattern as the MagicShine, and most other "proper bike lights." I'm not sure what in your mind makes something a "proper bike light" unless it's just that it was designed as a bike light, rather than how it performs.

I can't tell if I've got the MagicShine or the flashlight turned on when I'm riding unless I look at the bar to see which one is on.

If a flashlight meets your runtime requirements, they're every bit as good a bike light as anything you could buy up to about 3 years ago, and they cost less than "proper bike lights" that put out 1/5 as much light.
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Old 08-25-10, 07:17 AM   #15
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I use a Magicshine and Fenix LD20 flashlight. During summer with longer days, I've been using the Fenix solely, but will start using the MS again soon now that the mornings are getting darker. The MS is so bright that I run it on the second-highest setting and it lasts a whole week of commuting on one charge. It's biggest downside is the crappy battery case that has no apparent logic in its design. I put my battery in an old digital camera case and strap it to my front rack. Earlier versions (like mine) had a battery cable that was WAY too long, but now they include both a long and a short cable.

That said, I am tempted to buy something like a L&M Stella 200 because it's design is simpler, easier to charge, better battery. If the price ever drops below $200, I might just buy one.
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Old 08-25-10, 07:24 AM   #16
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http://amoebalight.blogspot.com/
$220, excellent product & customer service.


Both battery & head unit are velcroed on my helmet since it's so small & light.
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Old 08-25-10, 07:39 AM   #17
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If you want to go a little higher end, spend maybe in the range of $200, I'd think about the Dinotte 400L - waterproof, 400 lumens (real output, probably not much less than the MagicShine), $220, great customer service.
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Old 08-25-10, 07:39 AM   #18
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I'm currently using some cheap foglight housings ($25) and some 4W 360 lumen LED bulbs from dealextreme.com ($10 each) and a small 3Ah lead battery (about $15), gives me roughly 4 hours of time total. It's heavy, though... but fairly cheap.
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Old 08-25-10, 07:41 AM   #19
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I have to second the Deal Extreme lights. I have this exact setup for about $60.

Light: http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.16092

Battery: http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.5790

Charger: http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.6105

Mount: http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.8274

I can swap the light between bikes as I have a mount on each of my two bikes. The light has 5 settings, the fifth is insanely bright but lasts for about an hour, other bikers and motorists complain at this setting. The next highest setting is about right and lasts for about 3 hours. I always carry a spare battery with me but have never needed it. Batteries charge pretty quickly. I also supplement with a Planet Bike Blaze on my helmet which I sometimes run on flash mode as a "to be seen" light. As an aside I have used the light for other things like spotting leaks in my attic, peering behind furnaces, under beds, etc. It is an extremely useful light in that regard and blows away my Mag Lite.

Last edited by JeffC; 11-02-10 at 07:02 AM.
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Old 08-25-10, 07:49 AM   #20
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I have to second the Deal Extreme lights. I have this exact setup for about $60.

Light: http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.16092

Battery: http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.5790

Charger: http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.6105

Mount: http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.8274

I can swap the light between bikes as I have a mount on each of my two bikes. The light has 5 settings, the fifth is insanely bright but lasts for about an hour, other bikers and motorists complain at this setting. The next highest setting is about right and lasts for about 3 hours. I always care a spare batter with me but have never needed it. Batteries charge pretty quickly. I also supplement with a Planet Bike Blaze on my helmet which I sometimes run on flash mode as a "to be seen" light. As an aside I have used the light for other things like spotting leaks in my attic, peering behind furnaces, under beds, etc. It is an extremely useful light in that regard and blows away my Mag Lite.
I have exact same set-up. The advantage is you don't have the separate battery pack that you get with many other lights, including the Magicshine.
The big disadvantage is that the two I have bought, lasted about 4-6 months after they started failing (something with the contact where the light was still on but much dimmer than before). I heard others have similar issues.
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Old 08-25-10, 07:52 AM   #21
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I hadn't considered a tactical flashlight - I have one, and I'll have to try it first.

I gotta say, that DealEXtreme setup looks like the hot ticket.
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Old 08-25-10, 08:32 AM   #22
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Only issue with tactical headlight can be runtime. That being said, my Terralux 220 serves me well on the unlit MUP when the days get shorter. It runs on 2 AA batteries, and my rechargeables give me a little more than an hour of run time. If you kept four batteries charged all the time, it should be enough to get you through two dark commutes of an hour or so in length. I got the flashlight for under $30 incl. shipping from an eBay store. I mount it on a TwoFish LockBlock. I use a flashing PB front blinkie in addition for a little extra "be seen" protection.

If my flashlight dies, I may look into a MagicShine or a MiNewt, but for now I'm happy with my flashlight.
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Old 08-25-10, 09:12 AM   #23
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I went the 'Deal Extreme' route about 2 years ago and spent about $70 total. It's certainly a good deal for the price, but I don't think it's as good as a Dinotte setup or even better then going with a name brand like Fenix.

The issue I had is that if you bike over really rough roads, occasionally the light will turn off or 'change modes'. It does not happen often, but it has happened to me at bad moments just when a car was approaching. Luckily no incident took place, but it sort of opened my eyes to the fact that the Chinese lights, while a great deal, do have their drawbacks.
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Old 08-25-10, 10:22 AM   #24
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I bought a Magicshine last year, and you do get a pretty bright light for not a lot of money. But I have to say, you do get what you pay for, and not much more. The construction is less than robust; this year I will have to replace the battery. But I will probably do it because decent bike lights are pretty expensive.
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Old 08-25-10, 01:09 PM   #25
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Also consider that if you are serious about riding at night, it is good to have a second, backup light both front and rear in case your primary light fails. A helmet light (e.g. Fenix LD20 Premium, the Terralux mentioned above, some of the Shining Beam lights, etc.) is a very nice backup, helpful in nighttime on the road repairs, you can see ahead into corners, and lets you "awaken" distracted/inattentive motorists. While you can find somewhat cheaper flashlights on Deal Extreme, the ones mentioned have a reputation for better quality & durability. For the rear, you could do worse than two Planet Bike Superflashes or Radbot 1000's. (or one of each for more variety in flashing patterns).

You will probably want to use rechargeable NiMH or LiIon batteries depending on what light setup you go with. Thomas Distributing or BatterySpace are two good sources for the batteries, the LaCrosse or MAHA chargers are popular and sometimes come bundled with batteries.
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