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Old 06-04-07, 09:20 PM   #1
MAK
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Simple headlight question

Yes, I looked at the lights stickey but quite frankly, I don't have the time or money to get a Ph.D in electrical engineering nor has my father taught me everything he knows about exterior illumination (thank you Clark Griswald).

I am looking for battery powered headlights for recreational street riding and trail riding on dim or entirely unlit roads and easy trails. I don't like the fact that the expensive lights only run for 2-3 hours and that some need 8-9 hours to recharge. I also don't want wires and additional mountings to worry about.

Please give me your opinions on the best and brightest headlights that take batteries. I'm willing to get a T-bar and mount two if necessary. The Planet Bike 5000X and Sport Spot looks good on their website and the Cateye 530 also sounds good. I'll probably also get a small light to mount on my helmet too. What are your thoughts?

The problem I have is that some lights are measured in watts, some in lumens and some in candlepower and there doesn't seem to be a conversion or comparison chart. This makes shopping very difficult.

Thank you.
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Old 06-04-07, 09:27 PM   #2
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I have been happy with my Dinotte 5W. Small, bright. Super fast and easy mounting(and dismounting). Uses rechargable AA's. I already owned AA rechargables so I have 4 sets now with fast chargers. So I can carry 2 sets of AA's in the handy holders and swap out on longer rides.

Their bigger 500L looks nice too. And for the price it comes with 2 battery packs, so you can always have one ready.

-D
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Old 06-04-07, 09:30 PM   #3
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So to summarize, you want a light that runs longer than 3 hours, is bright enough for dark streets AND trails, charges quickly, and takes regular batteries. Quite honestly, good luck finding that light.

Long lasting, bright enough, takes regular batteries -- pick two.

Most HID and high power LED lights charge pretty quickly these days, so if charge time is your only concern, I wouldn't worry about it too much. For trails, I think you need a higher power light than the ones you mentioned. What is your price range?
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Old 06-04-07, 09:32 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by greenstork
What is your price range?
I'm thinking $100-$120.
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Old 06-04-07, 09:33 PM   #5
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Start by mounting an led flashlight on your handle bars. If that is not good enough get something more expensive, the flashlight is always handy.
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Old 06-04-07, 09:40 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greenstork
Long lasting, bright enough, takes regular batteries -- pick two.



This could some day be as well know as the original it was taken from. Excellent.
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Old 06-04-07, 09:51 PM   #7
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A Bike Nashbar light I saw in their latest catalog runs $79.95 for some 15 watts. A cheap price for that power level. For your $$$ range I'd get an additional battery or two and a second charger for the other end of your commute run.

If you can get to $175 go to www.NightSun.com I have used their Team Issue model for 20 years now. Yes, I said years. Replacing bulbs and batteries every few years.
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Old 06-04-07, 10:03 PM   #8
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In your price range, I'd take a look at the L&M Vega, Niterider MiNewt, and the Cygolite Dualcross 200. The latter two are slightly more expensive than your budget, and well worth the extra $30 or so.
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Old 06-04-07, 10:27 PM   #9
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In terms of a relatively inexpensive helmet light, I am fond of my Black Diamond Spot headlight: a single 1 watt Luxeon LED and three 5 mm LED. It is mountaineering-tough, runs on 3 AAA cells and each LED can be set to four different power levels and to strobe. For me, the strap stretches around my helmet, and I mount a PB Superflash blinky on the rear of the strap.

The one watt LED allows me to see in my suburban commuting and the 5 mm LED allow me to be seen. I paid $ 43 for it at REI.
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Old 06-04-07, 10:32 PM   #10
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Check out the Dinotte Ultra 5 or get this Cree XRE Flashlight and make your own mount(think o-ring and some foam).
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Old 06-04-07, 10:33 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MAK
I'm thinking $100-$120.
For that money you can forget getting all of these "quality bike light set backed by a manufacturer", "bright enough", "long burn times", "quick charging".

I think "bright enough" is the most important, it's pointless to pay for the other factors and end up with a light that isn't bright enough, and there are a lot of "not bright enough" lights out their marketted as to-see lights.

In that price range I'd either recommend
1) a L&M solo which would give you the first 2 factors, you would need to live with long charge times and 1.75 hour burn time.
2) mounting a couple of fenix torches to the bars and buy a smart charger. I'm not sure though if the electronics of those torches like vibration too much.

Good luck

Last edited by DucVDuc; 06-04-07 at 10:38 PM.
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Old 06-04-07, 11:37 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MAK
...I am looking for battery powered headlights for recreational street riding and trail riding on dim or entirely unlit roads and easy trails. I don't like the fact that the expensive lights only run for 2-3 hours and that some need 8-9 hours to recharge. I also don't want wires and additional mountings to worry about....
First off--the thing about self-contained lights is that you're immediately imposing a practical limit on how big of batteries the light can use, because it has to be able to hold onto the bars over bumps and not get shaken off. This is why all the cheapie handlebar-mounted lights tend to use multiple AA batteries and not multiple D's. If you want much more than 1W or so, you're stuck with external battery packs.

Secondly--when you say "trail riding" do you mean off-road? Cheapies can put out enough light for street and MUP use, but not enough for effective singletrack use (in my opinion). I don't own a MTB, but if I did, I would go spend $200-$300 for some good, bright lights.

Thirdly--on my road bikes, I like to run two 1W leds on the bars. The last couple bikes have dual Cateye EL-500's. Most of the time I only need one, conserving batteries. Also one thing I like is the redundancy, if one light fails the other will still work.
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Old 06-05-07, 08:00 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug5150
First off--the thing about self-contained lights is that you're immediately imposing a practical limit on how big of batteries the light can use, because it has to be able to hold onto the bars over bumps and not get shaken off. This is why all the cheapie handlebar-mounted lights tend to use multiple AA batteries and not multiple D's. If you want much more than 1W or so, you're stuck with external battery packs.
Take a look at the planet bike alias HID. It is self contained. There is plenty of info. and beam photos here in the forums. That's one of his original choices.
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Old 06-05-07, 09:26 AM   #14
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http://fenix-store.com/product_info....roducts_id=195

and

Rechargeable AA batteries


and the following to mount it to handlebars:


http://www.bikemannetwork.com/biking/p/LK2000 (search around, you can probably find one twofish lock block cheaper, rather then buying set of three. Thats a nice picture of it though).

That gets you a light that will push 135 lumens for over two hours, if you need more time, swap the batteries with spares. AA NIMH rechargeable batteries are fairly low cost
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Old 06-05-07, 10:25 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by geo8rge
Start by mounting an led flashlight on your handle bars. If that is not good enough get something more expensive, the flashlight is always handy.
+1
I use a Mag-Lite 3-watt LED 2 AA battery currently on sale at Wal-Mart for $19. It's a surprisingly bright light for the money and has an adjustable beam pattern you can make wide for navigating off road or narrow for paved road use. I used an EMT conduit hanger purchased in the electrical supply isle in a local building supply store and an old plastic handlebar blinkie clamp. I glued rubber strips from an old inner tube to the inner surfaces of the clamp. I also used a thumbscrew in the clamp so the flashlight may be easily removed without tools.
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Old 06-05-07, 11:19 AM   #16
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The OP has left an out here- he's never said he was going to ride fast. You can use just about ANY light if you're willing to adjust your speed accordingly.

I'm a Dinotte fan, and think the 5W AA version on sale for $169 is a good idea. Light, brigth, easy to mount/use, and easy to keep enough batteries charged up for any expected run-time.

FWIW, I have no experience with other bike-specific lights except for the Cateye 500L I very much regret buying. I used it for about 10 rides in the dark, hated it, and got the Dinotte.
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Old 06-05-07, 05:29 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greenstork
So to summarize, you want a light that runs longer than 3 hours, is bright enough for dark streets AND trails, charges quickly, and takes regular batteries. Quite honestly, good luck finding that light.
Several people have already said it.

Dinotte 5W AA

200L output. So pretty bright. I use mine on country roads with no lights. And downhills in the 30+MPH range.

3 hours on low, 100minutes on high (I can till little difference between low and high). But then again he didn't say anything about running longer than 3 hours on one battery...

AA rechargables. Cheap to purchase with a fast charger. I have 4 AA battery holders for the dinotte. And I already owned several sets of AA batteries for other applications. So I could theoretically get 12 hours on low 6.5 hours on high, swapping out batteries as I go (easy to do in the dark) and then have all the batteries recharged in 1.5 hours.

Is it the brightest light made? No
Is it the longest running per battery? No

But for the price it is probably the most versatile light I own.

[edit]

and add the 4 lithium AA's I keep in my saddlebag for the oh S**T emergency.

-D
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Old 06-05-07, 05:53 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by 2manybikes
Take a look at the planet bike alias HID. It is self contained. There is plenty of info. and beam photos here in the forums. That's one of his original choices.
Firstly it takes a 14.4V Li-Ion battery pack, and not standard sized batteries.

Secondly, it's $400. That's more than a lot of people spend on their entire bikes.
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Old 06-05-07, 07:17 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug5150
Firstly it takes a 14.4V Li-Ion battery pack, and not standard sized batteries.

Secondly, it's $400. That's more than a lot of people spend on their entire bikes.
~
I know. I guess you mean self contained inside his price range. I didn't follow that.
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Old 06-06-07, 07:10 AM   #20
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derath, I have a DiNotte 5W also, and I like it. But if I had known about the Fenix flashlights beforehand, I would've had to strongly consider getting one (or two) of them instead. They are comparable in lumen output, the only major diff would be runtime compared to the DiNotte models, but easy availability and low price of AA NIMH rechargeables would make it easy to swap out batteries on the run. The DiNotte 5W might have a better flood pattern as well, but hard to say if that would make a big difference without comparing them. The Fenix flashlights would be simple to remove, and could be used for other purposes as well. In low mode, they would be great for a long lasting flashlight in a power outage, for instance. They have SOS and strobe modes, that would be good for an attention getting blinking light during the day.

The Fenix L2D would put him well within his budget too (its listed for 56.50 at http://fenix-store.com/product_info....roducts_id=195 ), even after buying a twofish lockblock and bunch of AA NiMH 2700+ mAh rechargeables and charger (you can get the AA NiMH rechargeables just about anywhere, Walgreens Drugs even sells them). Hell he could buy two of the Fenix flashlights, and it would put him just a little over his 120.00 budget, after buying the batteries and handlebar mounts. They seem to be durable flashlights as well, unlikely to get damaged riding a bike, LEDs are more durable then any bulb on the market.

Here is a review of the Fenix L2D flashlight: http://www.flashlightreviews.com/rev...1dce-l2dce.htm
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Old 06-06-07, 07:37 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MAK
Yes, I looked at the lights stickey

I am looking for battery powered headlights for recreational street riding and trail riding on dim or entirely unlit roads and easy trails. I don't like the fact that the expensive lights only run for 2-3 hours and that some need 8-9 hours to recharge.
If you got an 8 pack of AA 2700mAh (important to get the 2700mAh for longest runtime), and a charger that can handle 4 batteries, you'd always have 4 batteries on hand, and could have the other 4 charging at home, so you wouldn't be inconvenienced waiting for batteries to charge. That's if you decided the Fenix flashlight might be suitable for your needs. You might have to make a sacrifice in your criteria list in order to stay within your budget.

Here is an example of what one can expect to pay for AA 2700mAh NiMH batteries and chargers:
http://www.mwave.com/mwave/skusearch...iteria=AA51520


EDIT: It's worth noting, that the mwave site above also has a charger that they claim can charge 4 NiMH in as little as 15 minutes (YMMV):

Quote:
Charges 4 NiMH cells of any type in as little as 15 minutes

http://www.mwave.com/mwave/Skusearch...iteria=AA42920

Last edited by pedalMonger; 06-06-07 at 07:44 AM.
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Old 06-06-07, 07:51 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pedalMonger
derath, I have a DiNotte 5W also, and I like it. But if I had known about the Fenix flashlights beforehand, I would've had to strongly consider getting one (or two) of them instead. They are comparable in lumen output, the only major diff would be runtime compared to the DiNotte models, but easy availability and low price of AA NIMH rechargeables would make it easy to swap out batteries on the run. The DiNotte 5W might have a better flood pattern as well, but hard to say if that would make a big difference without comparing them. The Fenix flashlights would be simple to remove, and could be used for other purposes as well. In low mode, they would be great for a long lasting flashlight in a power outage, for instance. They have SOS and strobe modes, that would be good for an attention getting blinking light during the day.

The Fenix L2D would put him well within his budget too (its listed for 56.50 at http://fenix-store.com/product_info....roducts_id=195 ), even after buying a twofish lockblock and bunch of AA NiMH 2700+ mAh rechargeables and charger (you can get the AA NiMH rechargeables just about anywhere, Walgreens Drugs even sells them). Hell he could buy two of the Fenix flashlights, and it would put him just a little over his 120.00 budget, after buying the batteries and handlebar mounts. They seem to be durable flashlights as well, unlikely to get damaged riding a bike, LEDs are more durable then any bulb on the market.

Here is a review of the Fenix L2D flashlight: http://www.flashlightreviews.com/rev...1dce-l2dce.htm
Man those look SWEET. I am still happy with the Dinotte. But I am gonna have to get me one of those flashlights. Just to have one.

[edit]

Are you sure about the output though? According to the Fenix website the max output on high is 135 lumens. At least as of now the latest Dinotte 5W are supposedly 200lumen.

Still gonna get one though. I like flashlights. (and pocket knives and cool pens. It's a disease).

-D

Last edited by derath; 06-06-07 at 07:59 AM.
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Old 06-06-07, 08:26 AM   #23
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ya, you can get the upgrade and get 200L. I got mine just before they started offering the upgrade, so mine is still the old 120 lumen range. I might be eligible for a free upgrade, not sure, will have to email DiNotte sometime and ask. They area offering the upgrades until the end of July. Still, its a pretty decent light even at 120L, I wouldn't need more light unless I was going really fast downhill or something.

I am thinking of getting a Fenix too I got some other stuff I need to get first though, I need a new saddle for my bike, and I want to get some biking shoes that are good for wearing all weather, since it has been raining a lot, soggy sneakers suck
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Old 06-11-07, 07:44 AM   #24
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How are you guys mounting your fenix lights? Just using o-rings and foam as someone earlier suggested? I'm hoping to make a nice neat mount that has a quick release. I was thinking of gutting one of those cheap Ebay LED lights and threading the body through the shell. Any other ideas for a quick release solution?
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Old 06-11-07, 02:00 PM   #25
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bugmenot, twofish lockblocks are a common method: http://www.twofish.biz/bike.html

I have never used one. I am wondering if they are quick release, or at least "fairly quick" (minimal effort). Being able to get expensive stuff like lights off the bike and into a bag fairly easily is important to me (as well as being able to get stuff back on the bike easily).
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