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Old 09-19-07, 12:49 PM   #1
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Smile Best and brightest LED based light for Less than $350

As the days continue to get shorter and shorter, I am faced wth the dilemma of having to buy a good lighting system for the bike. I do rides mostly in the evening that take me into the 9-9:30 PM times, so therefore, I need something to light my ride very well. I ride in poorly lit or very dark roads with poor road quality and lots of debri. I need something very bright that will last at least 3 hours in the HI mode. I also want something proven with good quality built so it will last me a long time. Charging time is not an issue for me as this will likely charge over night anyway.

Please point me to some suggestions and post links to them where I can go read some more about them.

Thanks
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Old 09-19-07, 03:05 PM   #2
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I am drooling (and it's not a pretty sight) over both the DiNotte 600L and the new NiteRider TriNewt.

I think that standard pricing on both of those is right around the $400 mark (maybe a bit over for the DiNotte), but with a bit of close watching for specials, coupons, sales, whatever...I'm betting either one can be had (at a given time) for close to $350.

Take a look at James' comparisons and mini-review here:

TriNewt and 600L, the Beam Shots

From those photos, I actually think I like what I see from the TriNewt better -- seems to be more even lighting (but trying to judge from photos is a tricky thing).

The page linked above will likely be a good read for you.
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Old 09-19-07, 03:07 PM   #3
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The two new "HID competitive" LED lights I'm hearing about is the Nightrider Trinewt (500 lumens
and about $399 but could be discounted, I saw it online somewhere for $368 or so).

Another is the Cygolite TridenX which also is a 3 led light (see the weblink for this at http://www.cygolite.com/_vti_bin/sht...NEW_/index.htm)

They claim "brilliance of the brightest HID light" but in LED form. It looks so new it's
still "coming soon" on the website but Performance is already advertising both in their
latest flyer so I'm not quite sure what they're selling for yet.

Personally I went HID, LEDs are nice but they're not quite "there yet". By this I mean
you can get sufficient brightness if you pay three bills or so but I ended up getting a
720-some lumen HID with 4 hours of runtime for $197.
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Old 09-19-07, 03:31 PM   #4
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[QUOTE=

Personally I went HID, LEDs are nice but they're not quite "there yet". By this I mean
you can get sufficient brightness if you pay three bills or so but I ended up getting a
720-some lumen HID with 4 hours of runtime for $197.[/QUOTE]



So you gotta tell us what you got?
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Old 09-19-07, 03:43 PM   #5
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Exclamation Oh!

Quote:
Originally Posted by DodgeRam View Post
So you gotta tell us what you got?
Oh sorry. Well, I ended getting a Trailtech Eclipse system via Batteryspace.

I've had it since July actually - it was the only way I was going to be able to swing a HID
and I figured I'd take a chance...I may go to a brighter LED system later as those systems
evolve.

I did a video at youtube comparing the HID to my two Cateye EL300 lights,
my old Viewpoint Gen3 (single Luxeon Star 1W) which was kind of fun:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GIn3OWG6YK0

I have some beamshots too:

Here's one without: http://pod.ath.cx/hid/without.JPG
And here's one with: http://pod.ath.cx/hid/with.JPG

I need to do some better shots though, the two links above are stupidly big
and I've since had the foliage in the "pen" cut down (long story short, garden
exploded).

I have some raw photos here:
http://pod.ath.cx/hid/
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Old 09-19-07, 05:29 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by varuscelli View Post
I am drooling (and it's not a pretty sight) over both the DiNotte 600L and the new NiteRider TriNewt.

I think that standard pricing on both of those is right around the $400 mark (maybe a bit over for the DiNotte), but with a bit of close watching for specials, coupons, sales, whatever...I'm betting either one can be had (at a given time) for close to $350.
As a side note on pricing for the NiteRider TriNewt, I notice it's listed on the Performance Bicycle website (www.performancebike.com) but shown as out of stock currently (probably more like "not yet in stock," but still listed). Price shown is $399. But, Performance Bicycle has a 20 percent coupon right now that should take $80 off that price, and I bet they'd allow an order and a delivery once in stock. For anyone with a Performance Bike membership, if you bought the light for $320, you'd get a $32 credit back to your account to spend on other goods. That's a nice deal (especially for Performance Bicycle members), and I'm pretty sure that's pretty close to the way the numbers/costs work out.

But then again, there's not a lot out there in terms of full reviews on the TriNewt. That is, no substantial number of user reviews as far as I know.
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Old 09-20-07, 09:27 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aliensporebomb View Post
The two new "HID competitive" LED lights I'm hearing about is the Nightrider Trinewt (500 lumens
and about $399 but could be discounted, I saw it online somewhere for $368 or so).

Another is the Cygolite TridenX which also is a 3 led light (see the weblink for this at http://www.cygolite.com/_vti_bin/sht...NEW_/index.htm)

They claim "brilliance of the brightest HID light" but in LED form. It looks so new it's
still "coming soon" on the website but Performance is already advertising both in their
latest flyer so I'm not quite sure what they're selling for yet.

Personally I went HID, LEDs are nice but they're not quite "there yet". By this I mean
you can get sufficient brightness if you pay three bills or so but I ended up getting a
720-some lumen HID with 4 hours of runtime for $197.

I agree with you that LEDs are just not there yet...especially for $400 for a kind of middle of the road (light output wise) light. For $400 bucks, I could make a damned good 3 light halogen system that puts out 2100 lumens. It wouldn't have the run time but you can always add batteries for fairly cheap.

My current system has 70 W (nominal) on 4 lamps powered by 6 NiMH RC car batteries. Since I overvolt them, I get around 87 watts putting out around 2600 lumens. I can get between 1.5 and 2 hours (depending on the burn rate) out of my batteries. That's enough to get me home with time to spare.

The more I look at HID and LED, the less I'm impressed.
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Old 09-20-07, 02:00 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
The more I look at HID and LED, the less I'm impressed.
You're right - it's difficult to overcome the value of an overdriven halogen headlamp, esp the mr16 version.

Although I find it hard to not be impressed by the whiteness of HID. But I think the yellow is much easier on my vision.

I don't understand the crazed enthusiasm for LEDs in the forums. Especially the flashlights-for-headlamp. Hilarious. LEDs are great for many applications, but they're cost prohibitive in the bicycling headlamp arena, unless you buy your own emitters and DIY.

Also something that's hardly ever mentioned, LED headlamps tend to produce a narrow, intensely illuminated patch of road somewhere way in front of you, while the periphery is completely dark. Most of these lights need a diffusing lens to be effective bike headlamps, IMO. That dark periphery hides potholes, pavement defects, debris and parked cars in the door range.

These folks need to back up and try wiring a $2 20w mr16 bulb to 15v.
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Old 09-20-07, 02:56 PM   #9
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Having been down the homebrew halogen path myself last winter, yes they have many benefits over led flashlights but do not offer the size and convienience. I am not a fan of the flashlights but a well put together system can work really well, good runtimes and beam pattern.

As to beam pattern...I found the ideal led setup, two pointed straight ahead and one either side and down.
http://www.candlepowerforums.com/vb/...d.php?t=174539
Yes its true the most important part of the light beam is the bit that illuminates the pothole your front wheel is about to fall into, but people want a tiny bright spot 100m up the road...hence we get "OMG look how bright my light is". Ooooh, I cant actually see anything with my super bright flashlight so Ill stick three on the bike, maybe that will help. etc...

The trinewt seems to get good reviews, I have the Minewtx2 which is great just on its own.
For 350...the best light you can get will be one that you can upgrade the LEDs in next year because they will be 50% brighter!
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Old 09-20-07, 03:09 PM   #10
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The trinewt seems to get good reviews, I have the Minewtx2 which is great just on its own.
For 350...the best light you can get will be one that you can upgrade the LEDs in next year because they will be 50% brighter!
That's the issue I have with LED...and, to a lesser extent, with HID...I don't want to use my own money to be a test pilot for someone's development team.
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Old 09-20-07, 03:40 PM   #11
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Yes but you have to get on board sometime!
I have an old nighthawk LED which was pretty cool when I got it but rather feeble looking now!
I never got the "this is enough light" feeling from it, whereas with the nightrider minewt I think its there (its my helmet light).
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Old 09-20-07, 03:57 PM   #12
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Yes but you have to get on board sometime!
I have an old nighthawk LED which was pretty cool when I got it but rather feeble looking now!
I never got the "this is enough light" feeling from it, whereas with the nightrider minewt I think its there (its my helmet light).
Nay! I'll probably stick with halogen and NiMH batteries. If NiCd had the capacity I'd use them At 500 lumens for the Trinewt, I'd need 5 of them to get the light power I now have. I'd be sleeping in the dog house just for asking...and I don't have a dog!

I have the NiteHawk too, and I've very careful after finding out how dark they are to the side last year...almost tragically
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Old 09-20-07, 03:58 PM   #13
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That's the issue I have with LED...and, to a lesser extent, with HID...I don't want to use my own money to be a test pilot for someone's development team.
Hmmm....

But aren't we all in that same boat nearly all the time with all technology? Technological development and improvement doesn't stop, so no matter what you use now there will always be something better on the horizon. If you lived fully by the philosophy above, you'd never actually buy or use anything because you'd be constantly concerned about something better just around the corner. And you'd never use the "something better" once it arrived because it, too, is being closely followed by some improved version.

I see that in computers and cameras all the time (and those are just single examples of many other areas to which the same concept applies) -- "I don't want to buy now because something newer, better, and less expensive will be available next season." Problem with that is that it's a never-ending cycle and if you get too caught up in it you never get to enjoy a bit of what's new and what's available.

But that's just one way of looking at it...
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Old 09-20-07, 04:37 PM   #14
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Nah halogens are pretty well developed so the only thing changing is the battery tech. This is the only thing that moved me away from them, the need to cart around a big battery.
Next years halogens aren't going to run twice as bright.

87 watts? Im impressed. Beamshots please!!
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Old 09-20-07, 05:37 PM   #15
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Nah halogens are pretty well developed so the only thing changing is the battery tech. This is the only thing that moved me away from them, the need to cart around a big battery.
Next years halogens aren't going to run twice as bright.
Just to clarify a bit, I wasn't meaning so much halogen technology as lighting technology in general. I have admittedly not been following the developments in bike lighting technology that have been going on in recent years (never really had much of a need to), but from what I've seen lately there seem to be significant strides being made.

Even with the small Fenix lights I'm using, the power for their size (and the fact that the power source is housed inside the unit) is, to me, pretty amazing. I've never seen any kind of readily available flashlight this small with such nice light. The fact that I can also have them easily perform several duties (including providing light for my bike) is something that's I find very desirable.

Personally, I know that I'll eventually make some kind of significant step up in bike lighting (whether this year or next), but for now I think the Fenix lights will provide a great bridge to that upgrade. And when I do make whatever upgrade I finally choose, the Fenix lights won't have been money put into a bike-specific light I will no longer use. They'll have plenty of other uses -- and among those uses, very likely one kept in a frame pack for emergencies and backup headlight use.

And I do understand that we all have our own perspective on it and there are many different levels of needs, as well as many levels of ability in the DIY area --and I certainly applaud those with the time and skills to go that route. Sadly, that's not one of my areas of expertise...sounds like fun for those who are good at it.
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Old 09-20-07, 07:19 PM   #16
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Nah halogens are pretty well developed so the only thing changing is the battery tech. This is the only thing that moved me away from them, the need to cart around a big battery.
Next years halogens aren't going to run twice as bright.

87 watts? Im impressed. Beamshots please!!
I'm a firm believer in not being on the cutting edge...when it's my money There are some things that I adopt pretty quickly (Bike related: threadless headsets, external bear cranks, STI shifters, front suspension are a few examples) but I look at them pretty carefully and am very picky about what I choose. Some things bike related (discs, boutique wheels, carbon fiber) I'm slow to warm to because the improvements aren't nearly great enough for the cost (disc brakes) or I'm not sure about the longevity of the product.

I use halogen simply because the cost/output is still the lowest of all the lights out there. That and the fact that all the bugs have been worked out. That's what you get for well developed technologies.

I'll see if I can take picture this weekend.
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Old 09-20-07, 07:59 PM   #17
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I use halogen simply because the cost/output is still the lowest of all the lights out there. That and the fact that all the bugs have been worked out. That's what you get for well developed technologies.
Fair enough, and a well-reasoned reply...
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Old 09-20-07, 10:03 PM   #18
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Quote:
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Nah halogens are pretty well developed so the only thing changing is the battery tech. This is the only thing that moved me away from them, the need to cart around a big battery.
Next years halogens aren't going to run twice as bright.

87 watts? Im impressed. Beamshots please!!
You asked. Of my four headlamps, two are equivalent to Niterider Trail Rat but I've replaced the 6V MR11 with 20W 12V MR11 powered at 14.4V. That gives them a 24.8W output. The other lamp is a very old Niterider Classic dual beam headlamp with a 20W and a 12W beam. Total output with both beams on is about 40W. Total output from all 4 lamps: 89.4W. Based on around 29 lumens per watt, the total lumen output is a little over 2600 lumen.

The pictures were taken with a camera mounted on a tripod at my eye level so the view is what I see from the saddle. The yard is 25' wide which is roughly the same width as a two lane street. Although there is some reflection back from the houses on both sides, this is close to the view I see when riding.

First, dark



Edit: I improved the pictures. My emergency backup 3W 3V Maglite.



12W Classic



20W Classic



12W/20W Classic



12W/20W Classic and 20 W handlebar lamps



All in.



Sorry about the focus. I didn't realize it bad until the last picture.

My system isn't light (6 batteries at around a pound a piece) and the run time isn't what you'd get with LED or HID but, I could build the whole thing today for around $400 if I used Trail Rats and Classics and ditched the batteries. If I could find the Niterider Sport NR50, the cost would go down to $200 for lamps and $60 for the batteries.
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Old 09-20-07, 10:17 PM   #19
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Whoa! Impressive...

With all that light, you could throw a nice sized party out there. For a couple of hours, in any case...

Quote:
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I have the NiteHawk too, and I've very careful after finding out how dark they are to the side last year...almost tragically
Would it be out of line to ask what almost happened?
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Old 09-21-07, 03:23 AM   #20
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There is a lot of backwards retro grouching, anti-LED'ing going on here. What halogen makes up in value it loses in run time and weight and space. For some people this is perfectly fine and for others it is not.

LEDs are advancing rapidly now, cree just released a new 160 lumen white LED - it only gets better. Halogen just gets more outdated everyday. And what's this nonsense about being somenes beta tester for LED systems?

You can do DIY and spec your own system just like you do with halogen. New stuff comes out all the time and the latest and greatest can be incorporated and used way before any commerical system can be put on the market utilizing it.
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Old 09-21-07, 03:41 AM   #21
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I use a Lupine Wilma LED light. Before this light I didn't think LED lights were good enough. This light is great, I believe it throws out 850 lumens. The new Betty by Lupine does much better I think I remember it was 1400 lumens. Prior to using the Wilma I had a 24w halogen headlight, the wilma is just as bright but the light covers the whole lane of the road not just a bright spot in the center. I charge the battery once a week rather than each night. The system as a whole is well thought out and extremely well made. The headlight, the light mounting system, the connector, the battery and the charger are all great. I got the system from Gretna Bikes which is the US distributor for Lupine.

In fifteen years of night commuting, I've gone through several cheap and a couple of moderately high priced lighting systems only to have them fail for one reason or another. I'm convinced that if they had made this Lupine light fifteen years ago and I bought one, I'd still be using it.
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Old 09-21-07, 07:50 AM   #22
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There is a lot of backwards retro grouching, anti-LED'ing going on here. What halogen makes up in value it loses in run time and weight and space. For some people this is perfectly fine and for others it is not.

LEDs are advancing rapidly now, cree just released a new 160 lumen white LED - it only gets better. Halogen just gets more outdated everyday. And what's this nonsense about being somenes beta tester for LED systems?

You can do DIY and spec your own system just like you do with halogen. New stuff comes out all the time and the latest and greatest can be incorporated and used way before any commerical system can be put on the market utilizing it.
The problem with high power leds is that they generate a lot of heat. This heat leads to reduced performance, as the led heats up it out puts less light. You will need a heat sink larger than a mr16 reflector (with out a fan) to keep one high power led cool.

Apparently a white led's emission spectrum is not idle for distinguishing browns. And then there is always the argument that over volted halogens are more efficient than leds.

Either way, HID is the way to go.
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Old 09-21-07, 08:15 AM   #23
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There is a lot of backwards retro grouching, anti-LED'ing going on here. What halogen makes up in value it loses in run time and weight and space. For some people this is perfectly fine and for others it is not.

LEDs are advancing rapidly now, cree just released a new 160 lumen white LED - it only gets better. Halogen just gets more outdated everyday. And what's this nonsense about being somenes beta tester for LED systems?

You can do DIY and spec your own system just like you do with halogen. New stuff comes out all the time and the latest and greatest can be incorporated and used way before any commerical system can be put on the market utilizing it.
I have nothing against LED and I'm sure the technology is going to be pushed further but as has been said earlier, it's just not "there" yet. As a comparison, the Cree 160 lumen LED has slightly less light than a 12V 10W MR11 (around 190 lumen, pulling 0.8W) with a 3.3 Ah NiMH battery (or even an Li-ion of the same capacity, if you want to save weight), the light would have around a 4 hour run time. On a cost/lumen basis, halogen is far from 'outdated'. Maybe not for 24 hr events but for commuting short ride use, they are still hard to beat.
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Old 09-21-07, 09:08 AM   #24
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I have nothing against LED and I'm sure the technology is going to be pushed further but as has been said earlier, it's just not "there" yet. As a comparison, the Cree 160 lumen LED has slightly less light than a 12V 10W MR11 (around 190 lumen, pulling 0.8W) with a 3.3 Ah NiMH battery (or even an Li-ion of the same capacity, if you want to save weight), the light would have around a 4 hour run time. On a cost/lumen basis, halogen is far from 'outdated'. Maybe not for 24 hr events but for commuting short ride use, they are still hard to beat.
A cree LED with that output would still be smaller and lighter, and have more runtime with less power. A 200lm cree light will draw 3.5W, and would get over 3.5 hours of life from 4 AA NiMH batteries. To get the same light from a halogen, you need would need a battery pack of 14 AA NiMH batteries to get the same light. And I have found the color of halogen to be an issue. On a road with lighter colored asphalt, the yellow beam from halogen can make the pavement look an awful lot like sand.
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Old 09-21-07, 09:21 AM   #25
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Whoa! Impressive...

With all that light, you could throw a nice sized party out there. For a couple of hours, in any case...



Would it be out of line to ask what almost happened?
I had two people pull out in front of me at two different intersections when as I approached. The distance to the cars was about the width of the intersection. I thought the first one was just stupidity and then started thinking something else was going on when the second one pulled out. I don't use the NiteHawks that often (usually for early fall and late spring when I don't need but about 20 minutes of light) but the more I thought about it, it had happened the year before while I was riding through the middle of Downtown Denver at about 4 am on my way to an event.

I got off my bike, propped it against a pole and, with the two lights on, walked across the street and paced off about an intersections width. From that angle, the lights are black! You can't see them until you get to a very shallow angle or almost dead on. You can see from the saddle that the beam is pretty narrow with very little side spillage but, being used to lights with a lot of width (look at the pictures), I didn't realize how dark they are from the side. Perhaps it's a design flaw with the optics but I have noticed other LEDs are very directional...especially when compared to the MR11s I normally use.

I still use them (they are compact and still okay lights) but I ride very defensively when I have them mounted. I never assume that the person at an intersection can see me. I probably should mount one on my helmet and might yet if I can find the mount for it.
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