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  1. #1
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    Night Commuting: Finding Great Lights

    For night commuting, most people would say this: don't just go for good lights, go for great lights

    So what is the cheapest great quality lights that will last a long time? Should it use battery, or should it use other energy sources?

    What country has the cheapest great quality light sources? Thailand?
    Yes, I am aware that the buying an airline ticket just to get cheap lights is not worth it. I am going to this country for vacation anyways during summer. It would be nice if I can buy cheap lights there also.

  2. #2
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    I have a Cygolite MityCross 300 (i.e. 300 lumens) that I got for about $100. It's practically bulletproof and plenty bright. It seems that the standard MityCross model is now up to 800 lumens, if that motors your boat. A slightly cheaper option is to get a bright flashlight and use a mount to put that on your bike.

    Edit: You may also get some better answers about this in the electronics section of the forum.

  3. #3
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Drop the cheap requirement, Hub dynamo powering a LED front and rear light wired up to it..

    then you no longer worry about battery amp hour life.. , & remembering to recharge a battery..

    I like the German quality. China-Taiwan is OK too..
    Last edited by fietsbob; 06-11-13 at 08:50 PM.

  4. #4
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    Thanks for the helpful advice guys. I guess spending at least $100 is a requirement. I will try out the electronics sub-forum.
    Last edited by Aznman; 06-01-13 at 05:37 PM.

  5. #5
    Certified Bike Brat Burton's Avatar
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    Depends what you consider 'great lights'. I'm personally of the opinion that most bicycle lights are just toys anyway. Yeah - that sounds a little harsh so lets look at some practical realities.

    This week is the BikeFest here in Montreal and last night was the Tour de Nuit - a 25km ride that involved thousands of cyclists from different countries and provinces. Start time was 8:15PM and things kinda wound down approaching midnight.

    So this was an organized event taking place over a period of several hours in the evening and the course itself included several unlit sections that ran through a couple parks. The last half of the course most people had to drive in the dark because ...... their batteries were dead! An hour and a half just isn't enough runtime.

    To put things very much in perspective - I left the shop myself at 7:00PM to drive across the city and after finishing the course - still had to drive home. Got there around 1:00AM. So thats a total of 6 hours of runtime - something I haven't found a commercial bicycle light that'll give me. Which is pretty much why I pieced together a system myself.

    So don't sell yourself short on runtime. As a battery ages - runtimes just get shorter.

  6. #6
    I fear angry birds Santaria's Avatar
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    I run a triple combination of lights, respectively.

    My main set-up is a NiteRider MiNewt Pro 750. I can get anywhere from 1-3 hours of actual runtime out of it, depending on if I'm using the lowest setting (500) or run into a stretch of road where I feel I need to go with the 750. There is about a 10 minute section I can think of off the top of my head that has no active streetlights and traffic is moving along at 45 MPH.
    I have a backup (which is actually my wife's main light) - a NiteRider 650 I bought her. I've gotten decent run times out of it, and it's plenty bright enough for actual riding, not just "being seen." My 11-year-old son has used it for many of our early morning 30-40 milers.

    I just recently ordered a Knog Blinder 200L as a permanent back-up to run on longer trips. I'm starting to find myself wanting to try an all-nighter, and will need the three lights for my Vaya. I run two Knog tail lights right now (the second was ordered with my Blinder). I have the older 44 lumen taillight and can say it's very visible; I purchased the 66 lumen to move my 44 to helmet or pannier duty.

    All in all, I feel like the cost of running quality lights is worth the investment because I live in a non-bike friendly community and want to be seen and see, not just pretend.
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  7. #7
    Senior Member corwin1968's Avatar
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    Word is, this guy is THE light guru. Give him a call.

    http://www.peterwhitecycles.com
    Currently riding a 1983 Takara Highlander converted to a single-speed.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by corwin1968 View Post
    Word is, this guy is THE light guru. Give him a call.

    http://www.peterwhitecycles.com
    Peter White is a good read and source, particularly for dynamo lights, but if you want to get serious about battery lighting, Burton, above, is an essential contact.
    Chaad--'95 DeKerf Team SL, '02 Lemond Buenos Aires, '05 Novara Buzz, '73 Schwinn Collegiate, '06 Mountain Cycle Rumble, '09 Dahon Mariner D7, '12 Mercier Nano, '12 Breezer Venturi

  9. #9
    Senior Member scoatw's Avatar
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    I think you'll find what you're looking for in the "best lights under $50" thread in the Electronics, Lighting and Gadgets forum. I first discovered Peter Whites' website a few years ago. He has good info on lights that no one has heard of. But I wouldn't call him the "light guru". He deals in hard to get European brands that are pricey. You learn a lot reading his website. That's where I first heard about Sport Hill clothing. But I got it cheaper elsewhere. Same with the lights and snow tires he pushes. How much runtime do you need ? That should be the important factor IMO. If you need it for a few hours then I'd suggest a battery operated flashlight. If you need it for four or six hours then spend the big bucks and buy whatever. Just don't forget to remove it if you go into the store or something like that.

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    I use the cygolite metro, It is very bright.
    http://www.amazon.com/Metro-300-USB-.../dp/B008RM08X2

    I also use a small led front and 2 led rear lights, I run a minimum of 4 lights and actually use the led set even during the day.
    I wait for online sales and buy the led cheap but my main headlight is the metro.


  11. #11
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    The more I use my bike with the most recent light setup, the more I like it. I usually add two battery-powered flashing tail lights, but if I forget them, I still feel safe.

    Here is my post about my current setup
    You don't read my signature anyway, do you?

    Tom Reingold, noglider@pobox.com
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  12. #12
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    Thank you all for the great suggestions. It is nice to know that there are many great options out there.
    Quote Originally Posted by scoatw View Post
    I think you'll find what you're looking for in the "best lights under $50" thread in the Electronics, Lighting and Gadgets forum.
    Thanks for the heads up!!! I can't believe I missed that while visiting the sub-forum.
    Last edited by Aznman; 06-02-13 at 07:38 PM.

  13. #13
    Senior Member no motor?'s Avatar
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    Whatever you end up, remember that having a spare light and batteries is a good thing.

  14. #14
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    I lucked out and found a N.O.S. dynamo hub front wheel in my size on that auctino place. It has a Shimano something or other hub that powers my B+M Lumotec something or other light. The hub and wheel ended up being about $45 shipped (but then I lucked out, remember) and the light I bought brand new at a local shop for around $40 or so.

    Eventually, I will get a taillight that runs off the same set-up. Right now I have two flashing rear blinkers. I like having redundant tail-lights just in case something fails.

    The light given off by the B+M light far outstrips any of the small-battery lights I have seen.

  15. #15
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    This is easy. You need a really great taillight and you need a really great headlight that is easy to take off the bike. The answer to that is the Light and Motion Taz1200 for the bars (a totally self contained light including battery and a true 1200 lumens) and you need a Dinotte 300R for the tail light. The Dinotte 300R is an awesome self contained light that will keep you safe. Both of these charge from USB so you can hook them to your computer at work and top them off.

    Then I would have a small but lightweight helmet light to shine at drivers on cross streets. For that I recommend the Lupine Piko. It's very light and it's 900 lumens.

    That's a *great* light set up that is easy on/easy off your bike.

    Taz1200: http://www.lightandmotion.com/bike/taz1200p.html
    Dinotte 300R: http://store.dinottelighting.com/300...tery-p111.aspx
    Lupine Piko: http://gretnabikes.com/Piko_3_SmartCore_2pt7.asp

    This set up will give you 2200 lumens out the front when you are riding looking forward, that's just about the same as a car with low beams (1300 lumens x two lights) and a dazzling tail light that will seriously protect you from behind.

    J.

  16. #16
    Senior Member bikemig's Avatar
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    Whatever happened to generator lights that ran off your wheel? There used to be some pretty decent ones. I'm sure they're not as good or as tricked out as the new battery operated lights or the dynamo hubs but they threw out a decent amount of light and could be used in conjunction with battery lights so that you would have a backup.

  17. #17
    apocryphal sobriquet J.C. Koto's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnJ80 View Post
    This is easy. You need a really great taillight and you need a really great headlight that is easy to take off the bike. The answer to that is the Light and Motion Taz1200 for the bars (a totally self contained light including battery and a true 1200 lumens) and you need a Dinotte 300R for the tail light. The Dinotte 300R is an awesome self contained light that will keep you safe. Both of these charge from USB so you can hook them to your computer at work and top them off.

    Then I would have a small but lightweight helmet light to shine at drivers on cross streets. For that I recommend the Lupine Piko. It's very light and it's 900 lumens.

    That's a *great* light set up that is easy on/easy off your bike.

    Taz1200: http://www.lightandmotion.com/bike/taz1200p.html
    Dinotte 300R: http://store.dinottelighting.com/300...tery-p111.aspx
    Lupine Piko: http://gretnabikes.com/Piko_3_SmartCore_2pt7.asp

    This set up will give you 2200 lumens out the front when you are riding looking forward, that's just about the same as a car with low beams (1300 lumens x two lights) and a dazzling tail light that will seriously protect you from behind.

    J.
    I hope you're considerate about not literally blinding people with that much light. 2200 lumens coming out of the optics of an automobile's headlights is one thing, but coming out of two tiny points of what are essentially flashlight optics is dangerous.

  18. #18
    Certified Bike Brat Burton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by J.C. Koto View Post
    I hope you're considerate about not literally blinding people with that much light. 2200 lumens coming out of the optics of an automobile's headlights is one thing, but coming out of two tiny points of what are essentially flashlight optics is dangerous.
    From my own personal point of view - it gets worse than that. Not only are there no cut-offs on the beams, the run times vs the charge times are not something I want to live with.

    A Piko3 is speced at 3 hrs charge tine vs only 1.5 hrs of run time at max. A Taz 1200 is speced at a minimum of 4 and possibly a 14 hr charge time (computer USB connection) and only a runtime of 1.5 hrs on high.

    I'm running more lumens, have beam cutoffs, and can live with a 1.5 hr charge time vs a 9 hr run time.

  19. #19
    Senior Member Double0757's Avatar
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    After 33 years of using the bike for commuting, on and off, many cheap lights, best that technology could buy at the time and many upgrades, I settle on the following.


    My commuter is my SUV, groceries, Dr. appointments, going to movies, occasional touring, and some light hardware store visits. I decided to have dynamo lights with battery lights for backup and safety (blinking lights are seen better). But if your goal is to commute only, you can go with bright LED battery only lights. However, I would have backups though, two for the back and two for the front. At least one of the primary would be 300-400 lumen for lighted street commute or 600-700 lumens for dark streets commute, just my opinion. The rear ones I would get the biggest and brightest money can buy (2watts LED or better). One I would run blinky, the other "on" all the time. Rechargeable would be my first choice and always carry an extra battery for front and back if not rechargeable.


    For me having dynamo lights (Luxos U) give a peace of mind that if the batteries fails, you can still be seen and would be able to see the road (safely), even on the darkest of nights. I run the battery front (cygolite 700) on low blinky and battery last much longer (4-5 hours), but have the option of turning it on on higher for a very very bright front (night rain), or in case the Luxos fail, I would have adequate lighting on the front and back to get home safely.


    For the rears I run two cygolite hotshots (two watts each) on different stages of blinking and the dynamo rear (1 1/2 watts, three 1/2 watts lights) on steady all the time (only option on dynamo rear). The blinky would catch the drivers attention and the steady would allow him to better judge the rate of closure.


    I have been looking for my son college commuter bike (on a budget) and the least I would spend is about $80.00 to feel safe for him. Cree T-6 (not sure on the name) front light, with a different mount, and a cygolite or something similar in brightness on the back.


    There is no cheap lighting system in my opinion. You could find good value for your needs, but brightness with efficiency come at a price. No more $15-$25 bike lights, like I use to buy. Hope this help Double O

  20. #20
    Senior Member FlatSix911's Avatar
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    Spend as much on your lights as you do on your helmet ... either could save you life
    You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
    You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
    You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
    You cannot lift the wage earner up by pulling the wage payer down.
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  21. #21
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    I picked up a Serfast TL1500. "True Light", verified 1500 lumens by a recent MTBR test. Got it for $219 w free shipping from Pricepoint. I have one 1watt and a 2 watt blinkies on the back. I spent three times as much on my lights as my helmet. My sidewalls are reflective too...

  22. #22
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikemig View Post
    Whatever happened to generator lights that ran off your wheel? There used to be some pretty decent ones. I'm sure they're not as good or as tricked out as the new battery operated lights or the dynamo hubs but they threw out a decent amount of light and could be used in conjunction with battery lights so that you would have a backup.
    Why do you ask this question? A few of us have mentioned that we're doing this. Dynamos (aka generators) are better than ever, and so are the dynamo-powered lights.

    I guess you won't read this post, either, so I shouldn't bother.

    Another point to make is that besides the great lights you should buy and use, you should supplement with whatever attention-grabbing devices you can think of.

    I wear a reflective trouser band on my left ankle, even when I wear shorts. Then I clip one of my battery-powered tail lights to it. From behind, it looks like it's just bobbing up and down.

    I also have a reflective safety triangle attached to the back of my bike. It is a mesh in the middle, so it lets light and air through it. My dynamo-powered taillight shines through it.

    And a light that sits in the spokes of a wheel is another great attention-grabber. I use a SpokeLit in my rear wheel. I find it too distracting to have it in my front wheel. It comes in various colors.
    You don't read my signature anyway, do you?

    Tom Reingold, noglider@pobox.com
    Residences: West Village, New York City and High Falls, NY
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  23. #23
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by J.C. Koto View Post
    I hope you're considerate about not literally blinding people with that much light. 2200 lumens coming out of the optics of an automobile's headlights is one thing, but coming out of two tiny points of what are essentially flashlight optics is dangerous.
    Your concerns are based on what evidence? Consider where we cyclist spend most of our time while riding at night. It is not in the middle of the road but on the far edge or even the shoulder. The light travels a straight path so where does it end up? Not in the eyes of on-coming traffic. There is some divergence of the beam but that divergence is dependent on the reflector angle. Even that isn't a problem because a light with a tight beam isn't going to diverge much so blinding on-coming traffic is less although the beam is brighter where it hits the ground. A wider angle light is going to spread the light out more so that the number of lumens per square meter (the lux) is going to be less.

    Finally, most cyclists want their light to be useful so they aren't going to aim it that far down the road. Just about everyone I see riding has their lights aimed 2 to 3 car lengths in front of the bike at most...that roughly 20 to 30 feet...while cars have their lights aimed much further ahead. If you aim your bicycle lights to infinity or even to around 100 feet, they are useless.

    Quote Originally Posted by Aznman View Post
    For night commuting, most people would say this: don't just go for good lights, go for great lights

    So what is the cheapest great quality lights that will last a long time? Should it use battery, or should it use other energy sources?

    What country has the cheapest great quality light sources? Thailand?
    Yes, I am aware that the buying an airline ticket just to get cheap lights is not worth it. I am going to this country for vacation anyways during summer. It would be nice if I can buy cheap lights there also.
    For your budget ($100), you aren't going to be able to go with a dynamo. You'll have to have a wheel built, get the lights and associated hardware which usually drives the price north of $200. For $100, your best bet is to go with a battery system and some extra batteries. These lights aren't "toys". They are serious lights for a very good price. I suggest getting at least 2...one for the bike and one for your head. Three of them would be better. You can also get spare batteries in a number of locations. Three of them and 3 spare batteries would only be slightly more than your $100 budget.

    I have 3 of them that have been in service for a year now and they are outstanding lights with an outstanding value.
    Stuart Black
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  24. #24
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    cyccommute, how long does that light run on a full charge? Thanks.
    You don't read my signature anyway, do you?

    Tom Reingold, noglider@pobox.com
    Residences: West Village, New York City and High Falls, NY
    Blogs: The Experienced Cyclist; noglider's ride blog

  25. #25
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    Yeah, I would chime in with the other posters that I also use a dynamo front light for commuting, and it's great.

    I have some battery lights, and there's a lot of annoying things that happen with them -

    1. Eventually the battery dies and needs replacement. On my Dinotte lights it's a $70 battery every 3-4 years - and I was only using the lights on a daily/weekly basis. For some self-contained lights, once the battery dies it's basically time to buy a new light because the battery replacement cost is equal to the cost of a new light. This doesn't happen with a dynamo light, I've never heard of a dynamo wearing out.

    2. I've ended up out with a battery that I thought I had charged but was dead. Or that was reaching the end of it's life and so had short runtime. I managed to get home, but suddenly I didn't have light. This just doesn't happen with a dynamo.

    3. It's not nearly as big of a deal on city streets, but I bike on a MUP (bike path) and dynamo lights have a "shaped" beam, like a car headlight, that if installed and aimed properly doesn't blind pedestrians and other bikers heading towards you like pretty much every battery powered bike light does.

    They recently came out with the Busch and Mueller Luxos IQ2, which looks really great. It's $160 here in the states, but it's from Europe so it might be cheaper over there.

    I mean really - it *totally* depends on where you bike. Some of my routes are well lit, and I could do a cheap front blinking light that just made me visible to cars and such. Lighting is super, super weird - I could get away with a fairly cheap light if I was in an area where it was -
    1. Super dark
    2. Or, very well lit

    The worst is actually areas where it's lit intermittently, bright streetlights and headlights that only light up about half of what you need to see is the most difficult. I have many battery powered lights (from before I found my dynamo light, and for mountain biking) and the *only* way I can put out enough light without a shape beam to **really** be able to see well under all conditions is with both my Light and Motion Seca 900 on high, and also my Seca 1400 on medium - which is not only really expensive, but blinds anyone coming towards me (even in a car sometimes).

    But for commuting, my dynamo light has definitely been the best. It's reliable, it's always on the bike, it never runs out of battery and never has any "oh crap I thought I charged this" battery issues, and while it's cost (including a front wheel with dynamo hub) was around $300, which makes it more expensive than many battery lights but less expensive than others, over the long term I haven't had battery replacement costs with it so it kind of evens out.

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