Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Montréal (Québec)
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I currently use a small light, the Planet Bike Beamer 5, to supplement the lighting output of the Schmidt E-6. It sounds strange, since the E-6 is much more powerful than the Beamer 5, but the latter has three uses:
– it has a small spot in the centre and 5 "satellite spots", so the two bottom spots go squarely in potholes;
– it works even if I'm stopped at a street corner;
– when riding in a brightly lit business district, the flashing mode is interesting, especially for pedestrians.
Because the Lumotec and E-6 are large headlights, I think they are more easily seen by other vehicles than the typical MR-11 headlight.There is a bit of theory behind my assertion, because I'm aware that target size is more important than target brightness to make it detected. But it's also based on my experience in traffic as I had much more close calls when I used a 10 W or 15 W MR-11 headlight then when I switched to a Lumotec (the E-6 came a few years later and I don't have the MR-11 headlight anymore to compare). The only deficient aspect of my lighting is, I think, visibility from around 45° off axis, front left and front right quadrants.
Would a head-mounted headlight help? It might, especially in the latter situations, but it adds weight to the helmet and I tend to move my head a lot when riding, so such a light would, at best, be distracting. However, I have used a head-mounted headlight a few times off road to supplement the E-6. It's not the ideal setup for off road riding (see below), but it's OK since it might happen once or twice a year.
One or two dynamo-powered headlights? It depends jhow fast you ride. With a DLumotec primary, I'm told the E-6 secondary provides good lighting at 12-14 km/h. But with a Lumotec or E-6 primary, the E-6 secondary starts to provide useful lighting at 15-18 km/h (i.e. both headlights better than one) and both reach full power at around 22 km/h. I don't find the secondary that useful in the city; it's a bit more useful in suburban territory and quite useful on dark roads, especially if going downhill.
One last word: I used the Lumotec Oval Plus previously (before the E-6 was available). It's also a very good light, but the standlight function is almost useless. Right now, I have an old commuter bike with a round Lumotec, I have an E-6 on the tandem and the single touring bike, and my daugther's bike has the Lumotec Oval that I had for 4 years on my tourer. No experience with the DLumotec (the LED-based one) though; I read that it's slightly less focused than the standard Lumotec (but still great); it's most important advantage is that you can leave it on all the time.
The Lumotec is probably as good/efficient for city use – if you have street illumination, that is, and it includes a white reflector. It also spills a bit more light sideways, so it might be better than the E-6 on slightly winding multi-use trails. But the E-6 is superb if you ride on unlit roads in a new moon... even on wet asphalt. And in the city, the E-6 is good enough to clearly see cracks and potholes even when wet.
Finally, none of these lights work well on singletrack. Even if you were to ride at more than 12 km/h to bring the light at full power, you are very likely to light a perfectly bright path directly in front of you... and have no light when your trail turns right or left. In a nutshell, the Lumotec and E-6 headlights are so effective on the road precisely because they don't shed light left and right or to the birds.