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  1. #1
    2-Cyl, 1/2 HP @ 90 RPM slvoid's Avatar
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    Light selection guide.

    [Moderator Note: Since lights are so important in the winter, I'm making this a temporary sticky. Please post your bicycle light comments, suggestions, and questions here. For Home-made bike designs and questions, see Total Geekiness.]



    Since so many people are starting to get lights for the fall and I was bored, I came up with this.

    Edit: Updated 10/2/05 - V4
    I realized since most of you commute, charge time is important, I added a column for that too. In most cases, I tried to list the lights with the charge times that come default with the unit. Faster optional chargers may be offered by the manufacturer. Also, I've included this both as an excel and HTML file. With the excel file, you can at least sort by different things. The HTML file is separated by what I think are the most helpful ways of sorting it.

    Edit: Updated 10/3/05 - V4a
    I added a pivot table to it. If you have office 2001, 2002, or XP, you can use the pivot table, it makes viewing it a bit easier. I also formatted the HTML file for easier viewing.

    Edit: Updated 2/7/06 - V5
    Changed around my ramblings a little, updated chart.

    The numbers are approximate for clean roads, if your roads have a lot of potholes, debris, poor visibility, etc, please take the liberty to knock a few mph off these numbers.

    Edit: 10/20/05, 11/9/05, 11/11/05
    Added these links for some headlight beam comparisons.
    http://eddys.com/site/page.cfm?PageID=493
    http://www.lupine.de/en/lighttest/lighttest.html
    http://www.mtbr.com/spotlight/lightshootout/
    Link courtesy of 2manybikes.
    http://pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/stevea...qhD2DBX0tUQ3MT
    This, I think, is the best one yet:
    http://terrengsykkel.no/img.php?d=gu...er2005&id=1424
    Link courtesy of Ken Wind.
    http://www.gearreview.com/2006_led_lights.php

    =====================================================

    A short primer on different types of lights.

    LED's (~20-30 lumens/watt)

    LED's are pretty much all solid state. It's basically a computer chip that gives off light. They range from tiny blinkers that run on AA or AAA batteries to full 5+ watt lights running on rechargeable batteries.
    The primary use of a blinker is to be seen. Blinkers can operate in constant or flashing modes. The latter mode of operation usually yields the greatest visibility for the cyclist due to the conspicuous nature of the strobe. Another advantage of that mode is the diminutive draw on the batteries. The batteries can usually last days in this mode. Unfortunately, the lights are too weak to be used to see at high speeds in their constant on mode. They are generally good in extremely dark situations when going slowly.
    High powered LED lights usually start at 1 watt and go all the way up to 5 watts per LED module. Some lights have multiple modules. Since there's no filament to heat up or break, LED modules can typically be set to either a rapid flashing pattern to attract attention or be run on a solid on mode without risking damage to the bulb.
    The color of the LED's are usually white but they can vary from having a slight tint of blue/green to being purplish.
    Battery life from most manufacturers range from 2-5 hours for lights running in extremely bright modes to 10+ hours of usable light and 30+ hours of dim light to keep the rider visible.

    Advantages:
    Virtually indestructable and virtually infinite (50000+ hrs) life.
    White light.
    Can be powered down significantly to achieve DAYS of run time.

    Disadvantages:
    Lights are relatively expensive (for now).

    Halogen (~10-30 lumens/watt)

    Halogen bulbs are basically "space heaters that give off light as a byproduct." (ha ha, laugh!)
    They heat up a metal wire to produce a lot of heat and also give off light. Most production lights will either run a MR11 halogen bulb and reflector unit or have a custom reflector and use just a bulb. You can often find a large variety of off the shelf MR11 bulbs to fit your individual needs. The lights can range anywhere from 5 watts to 30+ watts. Some companies have electronic controllers that enable a single light to run a range of wattages from 5 to 15 watts.
    The color of the lights can range from a yellowish glow to a bright yellow/white light.
    Battery life can range from an hour for lights running in extremely bright modes to over 4 hours in lower power settings.

    Advantages:
    Lots of different bulbs out there, cheap to replace.
    Lights are relatively inexpensive.

    Disadvantages:
    Relatively short battery life on high brightness.
    Filament can break under extreme shock and vibration.

    HID's (~50 lumens/watt)

    HID lamps basically use a tiny bolt of lightning as the light source. There's no filament, only a spark ionizing a tiny gap between two electrodes. These lights all require a ballast control system that usually comes built into the lamp housing itself. The lights are equivalent to 1.5-3x what a MR11 can put out in terms of light. Since there is no filament to wear out, the lamps usually last many times longer than a halogen lamp if left on. However, the process of starting the spark in the HID bulb wears out the electrode each time and as a result, cuts down on the life of the bulb. Most bulbs are rated for 1000 hours & starts.
    Manufacturers usually put their best into these lights and as a result they also get the best battery packs. Run times at full brightness can range anywhere from 3 hours to 12 hours.
    The color ranges from white to white with a bluish or purplish tint.

    Advantages:
    Bright white light.
    No filament to break.
    Relatively long battery life.

    Disadvantages:
    Require a 20-30 second warm up before reaching full brightness.
    Starting and restarting the lamp cuts down on the life of the bulb.
    Require a minute to cool down before turning back on if turned off.
    Thin glass bulb still subject to breakage under extreme shock or vibration.
    Relatively expensive bulbs.
    Relatively expensive lights.

    =====================================================

    Rearwards Visibility:

    Most active rear visibility devices nowadays are the standard battery powered blinkers. They perform adequately in getting the drivers attention from directly behind you but there are also several on the market that give you visibility from the side. These can either be in blinking mode or solid mode. Blinking uses less battery power and also attracts attention better. However, it is more difficult for the driver to pinpoint exactly where you are and where you are going since there isn't anything consistent to reference from. Also, some blinkers blink extremely slowly and a driver may miss you if they are quickly scanning across the road. It's best to run two blinkers, one on solid and one on blink mode.
    One of the better ones is the Cateye TL-LD1000. It has 2 rows consisting of a led on each side and 3 LED's facing rearwards. Each row can be independently set on blink or solid.
    One of the brightest ones out there is the Niterider tail light. It contains up to 19 LED's in a very small package since it's powered externally. You can either plug it into a splitter powered by a niterider headlamp battery or cut the power cord to rig it up to your own battery. My recommendation is 9+ volts for adequate brightness.
    Here's a video of the NR in action courtesy of MechBgon next to the TL-LD1000.
    http://www.omnicast.net/~tmcfadden/TL3.wmv
    http://www.omnicast.net/~tmcfadden/TL4.wmv
    http://www.omnicast.net/~tmcfadden/b...walkaround.wmv
    Attached Files Attached Files
    Last edited by slvoid; 02-07-06 at 09:51 PM.

  2. #2
    Fritz M richardmasoner's Avatar
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    It's a virus! Don't open it!

    No, just kidding. Thanks for making this and putting it up.

  3. #3
    Proshpero jnbacon's Avatar
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    OK, I'm dumb and don't get it. What do the speeds have to do with lights?

  4. #4
    2-Cyl, 1/2 HP @ 90 RPM slvoid's Avatar
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    It's an estimate of how far ahead you can see with each light so you can have a general idea of what kind of light to get for the speeds you plan to ride at.

  5. #5
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    Thanks Slovid, that's actually really usefull. i have nothing further really to say, but my post is so short i'm gonna pad it out a little by adding this little bit of rambling non-sense.
    Say a prayer for all your friends and lovers waiting,
    so sad and patient by your side.

    Say a prayer for all your dreams in need of saving;
    it only takes a day to turn the tide.

    -Grey Revell, Save a Prayercard for the Devilman

  6. #6
    flux capacitor Orikal's Avatar
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    Very cool.

    Now if we could have side by side field testing data, we'd be golden.

    Delusion: A false belief strongly held in spite of invalidating evidence.

  7. #7
    2-Cyl, 1/2 HP @ 90 RPM slvoid's Avatar
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    Well I have the cateye el 500 and light and motion dual and I've compared the dual against a 13 watt HID.
    So from there, they're just my experiences that I've tried to put onto the table.
    Anyway, in case someone's wondering, here's how I got the speeds for use in the inner city.

    =ROUND(IF(LIGHTTYPE="Halogen",(-0.0002*WATTAGE^4 + 0.0143*WATTAGE^3 - 0.4048*WATTAGE^2 + 5.5274*WATTAGE - 9.2313)-2,IF(LIGHTTYPE="HID",(-0.0002*WATTAGE^4 + 0.0143*WATTAGE^3 - 0.4048*WATTAGE^2 + 5.5274*WATTAGE - 9.2313)*1.75,(-0.0002*((WATTAGE+4)*1.1)^4+0.0143*((WATTAGE+4)*1.1)^3-0.4048*((WATTAGE+4)*1.1)^2+5.5274*((WATTAGE+4)*1.1)-9.2313))),1)

    Then I take that and stick it into the formula below to get max speed usable on a clean road outside the city.
    =ROUND((0.0000001*CITYSPEED^5 + 0.000004*CITYSPEED^4 - 0.0009*CITYSPEED^3 + 0.0224*CITYSPEED^2 + 0.0854*CITYSPEED + 0.8849)+CITYSPEED,1)

    And the average is =ROUND(CITYSPEED/1.5+ROADSPEED-CITYSPEED,1)

    Then during my break at work, I just compiled a list of lights, bulb type, battery life, and wattage.

    The 4th and 5th order functions are based on polynomial curve fits of what I felt best worked for me both in the city and outside the city on a dark relatively clean road at certain speeds.
    Last edited by slvoid; 09-30-05 at 01:36 PM.

  8. #8
    Life is good RonH's Avatar
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    Nice comparison. Thanks.

    Now will it tell me if my 2001 NiteRider batteries will make it through one more season?
    My bikes --> 2001 Litespeed Tuscany---2011 Felt Z4

    Life is like a 10-speed bicycle. Most of us have gears we never use. ~ Charles Schultz

  9. #9
    2-Cyl, 1/2 HP @ 90 RPM slvoid's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RonH
    Nice comparison. Thanks.

    Now will it tell me if my 2001 NiteRider batteries will make it through one more season?
    Well if you've been using it daily for half the year... it's like 4 years old x 180 cycles is like 720 cycles already... I'm guessing it'll still work, just not as long.

  10. #10
    Dog is my co-pilot 2manybikes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by slvoid
    Since so many people are starting to get lights for the fall and I was bored, I came up with this.

    I can't open it, what should I try and open it with?

    edit post: never mind, it's Excel, I don't have that.
    Last edited by 2manybikes; 09-30-05 at 01:55 PM.

  11. #11
    34x25 FTW! oboeguy's Avatar
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    The numbers for the Performance Dual seem b0rked. Speed at 30W is less than at 10W or 20W? What gives? (I ask because that's my light set and the only one I looked at )
    Quote Originally Posted by Blue Order
    Quote Originally Posted by sknhgy
    I do not want to be associated with the kind of riders that come through my neck of the woods on weekends, dressed in superhero costumes
    Do they wear capes?
    ---

    http://www.cycopaths.net/

  12. #12
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    Thanks for putting that together!

    But it looks like there's a bug in the table:

    Performance Viewpoint Dual
    10 4 15.2 (24.5) 15.9 (25.6 ) 20.5 (33)
    20 2 18.5 (29.8) 19.8 (31.9 ) 25.1 (40.4)
    30 1 13.9 (22.4) 14.4 (23.2 ) 18.7 (30.1)

  13. #13
    File Not Found Pampusik's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by slvoid
    =ROUND(IF(LIGHTTYPE="Halogen",(-0.0002*WATTAGE^4 + 0.0143*WATTAGE^3 - 0.4048*WATTAGE^2 + 5.5274*WATTAGE - 9.2313)-2,IF(LIGHTTYPE="HID",(-0.0002*WATTAGE^4 + 0.0143*WATTAGE^3 - 0.4048*WATTAGE^2 + 5.5274*WATTAGE - 9.2313)*1.75,(-0.0002*((WATTAGE+4)*1.1)^4+0.0143*((WATTAGE+4)*1.1)^3-0.4048*((WATTAGE+4)*1.1)^2+5.5274*((WATTAGE+4)*1.1)-9.2313))),1)
    That is the best use of Excel ever! Thanks!

  14. #14
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2manybikes
    I can't open it, what should I try and open it with?

    edit post: never mind, it's Excel, I don't have that.
    I've converted it to an htm file so you can read it, 2manybikes. I hope that you don't mind, slvoid. If you do, I'll remove the attachment.

  15. #15
    2-Cyl, 1/2 HP @ 90 RPM slvoid's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by oboeguy
    The numbers for the Performance Dual seem b0rked. Speed at 30W is less than at 10W or 20W? What gives? (I ask because that's my light set and the only one I looked at )
    Oops... turns out my equation broke down above like 27 watts.. Fixed! Your performance light set is safe now.

  16. #16
    34x25 FTW! oboeguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mach42
    I've converted it to an htm file so you can read it, 2manybikes. I hope that you don't mind, slvoid. If you do, I'll remove the attachment.
    He's probably released it as Open Source so it's OK.
    Quote Originally Posted by Blue Order
    Quote Originally Posted by sknhgy
    I do not want to be associated with the kind of riders that come through my neck of the woods on weekends, dressed in superhero costumes
    Do they wear capes?
    ---

    http://www.cycopaths.net/

  17. #17
    Seņior Member ItsJustMe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2manybikes
    I can't open it, what should I try and open it with?

    edit post: never mind, it's Excel, I don't have that.
    OpenOffice opens it just fine. I heartily recommend OpenOffice (www.openoffice.org) over that thing Microsoft makes. It's free and it can open all MS Office files.

  18. #18
    Dog is my co-pilot 2manybikes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mach42
    I've converted it to an htm file so you can read it, 2manybikes. I hope that you don't mind, slvoid. If you do, I'll remove the attachment.

    Thanks. It works great.


    Quote Originally Posted by ItsJustMe
    OpenOffice opens it just fine. I heartily recommend OpenOffice (www.openoffice.org) over that thing Microsoft makes. It's free and it can open all MS Office files.
    Thanks. I'll check it out.


    Quote Originally Posted by slvoid
    Since so many people are starting to get lights for the fall and I was bored, I came up with this
    Good job, dude.

    But you left me out. I feel so alone ! Can I play too?


    Lupine Edison 10

    Bulb 10/16 W Metal Halide (Xenon), 18° Performance 10/16 W (performance equals 20/65 W Halogen)

    Battery Li-Ionen recheargeable bottle battery 12,8 Ah

    Burn Time
    16 watt (950 lumen, eqv 65 watt) = 6 hours
    10 watt (500 lumen, eqv 20 watt) = 9 hours
    charge time: 6 hours
    Last edited by 2manybikes; 09-30-05 at 06:46 PM.

  19. #19
    Rides again HiYoSilver's Avatar
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    Get the new openoffice 2, it's so much better.

    Slvoid,

    Some hints for next time you work on this:
    1. put brand name on same line as each model, have to duplicate many
    2. add a MSRP column as so many are price sensitive
    3. put speeds in mph and kph in separate columns.

    After those changes you can sort to get your needed info.

    Some cool sorts:
    Find brightest for time
    1. sort 1, col f, road speed, decreasing
    2. sort 2, col c, run time decreasing

    Find best for highest speeds
    1. sort col f, max speed, decreasing
    2. sort col e, city speed, decreasing

    Find best for long rides
    1. sort col c, run time, decreasing
    2. sort col d, avg speed, decreasing
    Hi 'o Silver away

  20. #20
    Dog is my co-pilot 2manybikes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HiYoSilver
    Get the new openoffice 2, it's so much better.

    Slvoid,

    Some hints for next time you work on this:
    1. put brand name on same line as each model, have to duplicate many
    2. add a MSRP column as so many are price sensitive
    3. put speeds in mph and kph in separate columns.

    After those changes you can sort to get your needed info.

    Some cool sorts:
    Find brightest for time
    1. sort 1, col f, road speed, decreasing
    2. sort 2, col c, run time decreasing

    Find best for highest speeds
    1. sort col f, max speed, decreasing
    2. sort col e, city speed, decreasing

    Find best for long rides
    1. sort col c, run time, decreasing
    2. sort col d, avg speed, decreasing
    This is really getting good. It can answer so many questions. It should be a sticky, or at least saved for easy posting. I'm almost thinking there should be a Night Riding section in the forums.

  21. #21
    File Not Found Pampusik's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ItsJustMe
    OpenOffice opens it just fine. I heartily recommend OpenOffice (www.openoffice.org) over that thing Microsoft makes. It's free and it can open all MS Office files.
    Gnumeric (http://www.gnome.org/projects/gnumeric/) does a fantastic job with it as well.

  22. #22
    Rides again HiYoSilver's Avatar
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    Apples and oranges. Gnumeric is only spreadsheet. OpenOffice is a suite similar to MsOffice and imports/exports well all MsOffice file types.

    Biggest changes with 2 are
    1. oasis file format, i.e. open file sharing format for greater compatibility. On track to be the html standard for applications. First suite to meet this new standards. More coming next year.
    2. spreadsheets are now full length and Excel sheets are now on one sheet instead of split over two sheets.

    The OO ver 2 right now is beta, but expect full general release soon.

    If you want more details, see the information about the parent Software -- StarOffice 8.
    http://www.sun.com/software/star/sta...e/features.jsp

    It's only $69 and comes with 60 days of free support.

    The ability to export to PDF from the menu is really cool. Here's a SO vs MsOffice quick comparison. 52 million users. Notice how Microsoft is now scrambling to improve MsOffice because of this competition? Did you see how Mass is replacing MsOffice with OpenOffice?
    http://www.sun.com/software/star/sta...itive_view.jsp

    Other things that would be good to add to sheet comparison is:
    1. type of battery used: LA, Ion, Nimh, etc
    2. weight
    3. mount: bar, head, both
    Hi 'o Silver away

  23. #23
    Banned.
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    Although it is a nice idea, i doubt that it is very reliable. For instance you claim that a person could safely travel at nearly 23 mph with a Cygo lite Night Rover 12 watt. I have two of the 16 watt systems. I wouldn't even think about traveling 23 mph in the dark with just one. That would be very dangerous as it doesn't light near well enough.

    I am currently running both systems at the same time which gives me 32 watts and I am not even sure if i would want to do 23 mph with that. I know that your guide is just a rough guestimate but I don't want people to rely to heavily on it.

  24. #24
    2-Cyl, 1/2 HP @ 90 RPM slvoid's Avatar
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    Well it also depends on how the light's designed.
    Most MR11 bulbs are glass, a lot of light leaks out the side and back. And they're flood bulbs.
    Light and motion is, so far, the only manufacturer that designs their own custom aluminium reflectors.
    I've been going on night rides with a bikeforums member and on a pitch black road, my 16 watt beam with flood reflector lights up the road enough to give about 3-4 seconds of warning for stuff at around 22-24mph. Like I said, they're just my own personal experiences, of course with glare, poorly designed reflectors (or worse yet, generic reflectors that come with most MR11 bulbs), that's bound to change.

    It would be nice if people posted their experiences about how fast they can go with what type of light so we can fine tune this thing.

  25. #25
    Rides again HiYoSilver's Avatar
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    Does this light comparison
    http://www.mtbr.com/spotlight/lightshootout/

    which shows the real light given by xyz light help with a sanity check?
    Hi 'o Silver away

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