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Old 11-06-07, 11:58 AM   #1
ellerbro
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Is Your Light Bright Enough?

Is your light bright enough for road riding safely in unlit areas up to around 25mph? If so, which light is it? I bought a Light & Motion Solo Logic a couple years ago and while it's a good light I start wishing for more illumination at around 15mph. It puts out 390 lumens on high. I would consider anything less than that pretty much just a safety light or only for use in lit areas or at low speeds.

Thanks.
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Old 11-06-07, 12:05 PM   #2
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With a Dinnotte 200L on my bars and a Fenix L2D on my helmet, I went over 40mph on a few downhill stretches last night. Felt fine. The long throw of the L2D really helps at speed. However, this was on a loop road in a state park, where I pass about 2 cars on average per 9 mile lap, plus I've ridden it dozens of times and know every turn.
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Old 11-06-07, 01:07 PM   #3
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Your night vision is poor or the color of your Solo's light does not work well for your vision. That light would be fine for most riders at much higher speeds than you are indicating. Have you experimented with the the beam width/tightness?

You may need a vision check or experiment with some lense colors that might give you better night vision. I had clear lenses last year and am using yellow lenses this year. The yellow lenses improve my night vision. YMMV.

I have a Light and Motion Vega which is only 85 lumens. Most people that I have talked to that use it like it very much. I don't think it is enough light. However the Princeton Tec Switchback 3 (300 lumens) and Fenix L2D CE Q5 (180 lumens) that I acquired recently can both be used by me comfortably at higher speeds than you are indicating.
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Old 11-06-07, 01:22 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by dekindy View Post
Your night vision is poor or the color of your Solo's light does not work well for your vision. That light would be fine for most riders at much higher speeds than you are indicating. Have you experimented with the the beam width/tightness?

You may need a vision check or experiment with some lense colors that might give you better night vision. I had clear lenses last year and am using yellow lenses this year. The yellow lenses improve my night vision. YMMV.

I have a Light and Motion Vega which is only 85 lumens. Most people that I have talked to that use it like it very much. I don't think it is enough light. However the Princeton Tec Switchback 3 (300 lumens) and Fenix L2D CE Q5 (180 lumens) that I acquired recently can both be used by me comfortably at higher speeds than you are indicating.
Yellow light tends to increase contrast, which helps you see at night.

I have a dual 3W luxeon headlight, maybe 160 lumens, and it's not bright enough for night rides.
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Old 11-06-07, 01:29 PM   #5
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Would you please both define exactly what you mean by not bright enough for night rides? I am an extremely conservative rider with only average night vision and all the lights you mention would be bright enough for me. Ellerbro referenced road riding so I assume that is what everyone is talking about. I ride the same country roads during the daytime in the summer and nighttime during the winter. I know them well and they are mostly well maintained. Are you guys riding under different conditions?
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Old 11-06-07, 01:31 PM   #6
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Never enough! My first light was Specialized Preview Plus 5W. Then I got a PB Alias 10W. Upgraded it to SC and 15W. This year I just got the Dinotte 200L (20W approx). I'm pretty sure next year I will convince myself that I need a Dinotte 600L, and the 200L on my helmet. Wait, I just did...

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Old 11-06-07, 03:27 PM   #7
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If the light is incapable of illuminating obstacles in the road like cracks, potholes or debris then the light is insufficient for road riding. I should be able to see anything up ahead that would cause damage or whip the wheel out from under me, early enough that I can react.
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Old 11-06-07, 04:07 PM   #8
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Any headlight is bright enough if you move slow enough.

It's when you want to be seen by car drivers and/or want to go faster that you need brighter lights.
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Old 11-06-07, 04:39 PM   #9
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My problem is not lumens, but beam patterns. For off road use a round beam is fine, but on the road i want a downward firing light with a rectangular beam shape and nice spill. Now i use mr16 lights, they are really wastefull on the road, but really light up the forest. Some dynamo lights have really good patterns but lack the power. Time to do some moding.
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Old 11-06-07, 04:54 PM   #10
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To clarify: worst case I'm talking about riding on completely unlit and unfamiliar roads with the possibility of encountering rocks, branches, potholes, small mammals, etcetera. I'm definitely not comfortable over 15mph on roads like these with the L&M Solo Logic.
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Old 11-06-07, 06:11 PM   #11
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Well, on totally unlit roads my helmet mounted 20w 10 deg mr16 works well, but those roads are in the forest so i wont be going so fast. I think i know what you want, i would say get a 35w osram irc mr16 flood AND a spot and you will really see whats ahead and around. Or you could go the led route. Like 7 power leds...
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Old 11-06-07, 11:06 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ellerbro View Post
Is your light bright enough for road riding safely in unlit areas up to around 25mph?
Thanks.
I have a 25W halogen with 720 lumens (Jet Lites Axis system) and on unfamiliar roads/tracks, I feel it's just enough for 18-20mph. For 25mph, I would like another 25W on the helmet or handlebars.
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Old 11-07-07, 02:40 AM   #13
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My goal with my bike lights is to achieve a level of light that will allow me to see everything in my immediate area and quite some distance ahead as well as I can in daylight or as close to it as possible. I realize this is not everyones goal. Sure I can ride around with a measely 100 lumens and pretend it is safe at higher speeds, but realistically you are bound to miss some things on the road or trail. It's nice when your lights are able to show every crack, stick, werewolf, whatever, etc. in plenty of time to react if you have to. curveship, I don't know how comfortable you would be going 40mph in unfamiliar territory with those lights. I've done 40 mph downhill at night with anywhere from 250 lumens which sucked, all the way up close to 2,000 lumens which is absolutely amazing. Around town for the most part I like to run about ~500 lumens to be sure that I am seen and can see. On trails I have been using ~1,300 lumens which seems to be plenty, but sometimes I crank up to 2,000 lumens and have some real fun. No I am not blind and my night vision is as good as anyone I know, but I don't like surprises when I am going at high speeds at night. Anyway for road riding I feel 500 lumens is a nice amount. I could get by ok with 200 lumens, but I wouldn't be too thrilled about it and would consider it the bare minimum.
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Old 11-07-07, 03:49 AM   #14
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Where are you getting 2000 lumens? And like i said if its a round beam much of it is wasted in to the sky.
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Old 11-07-07, 05:24 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeff-o View Post
I should be able to see anything up ahead that would cause damage or whip the wheel out from under me, early enough that I can react.
Just seeing the obstacles/debris/potholes etc is not enough. To decide what to do about it, one needs a beam wide enough to know one's options. For my commuting speeds, a 2.6W / 6V dynamo lamp (powered by a battery pack) has been surprisingly good in that sense, because it gives a nice rectangular beam pattern.

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Old 11-07-07, 06:13 AM   #16
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I guess from everyone's comments I have been prudent to do only night group riding on roads that I ride all the time and everyone has a substantial light. There are also few hills of any size in this part of central Indiana. I have only done one solo ride and another ride with just my neighbor. I had my Princeton Tec Switchback 3 helmet and L&M Vega on the bars and he had a Minenewt.X2 Dual. So I felt like we had sufficient light even on a route that I was riding for the second time and first time at night. I have never used as powerful a light as some of you and may feel differently if I saw what I was missing or if I had hit something that caused a flat or wrecked a wheel or injury. So far so good in a full season of night riding.
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Old 11-07-07, 07:48 AM   #17
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I could get by ok with 200 lumens, but I wouldn't be too thrilled about it and would consider it the bare minimum.
I would tend to agree now that i've seen the 200L in person on a rainy day on patchy streetlighted streets - just not enough.
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Old 11-07-07, 07:58 AM   #18
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Quote:
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To clarify: worst case I'm talking about riding on completely unlit and unfamiliar roads with the possibility of encountering rocks, branches, potholes, small mammals, etcetera. I'm definitely not comfortable over 15mph on roads like these with the L&M Solo Logic.
as a relatively experienced night time road rider-commuter, i truly believe that 300 lumens -like you said your light sheds- is output enough to safely speed at 40mph.
My current light setup is approx 250 lum, medium side spill and does the job fine at that speed. Considering that aging makes night vision worse -i'm 43 and already feel like sometimes my car's headbeam is weak - a younger person should be more than happy with your light output.
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Old 11-07-07, 08:23 AM   #19
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My problem is not lumens, but beam patterns. For off road use a round beam is fine, but on the road i want a downward firing light with a rectangular beam shape and nice spill. Now i use mr16 lights, they are really wastefull on the road, but really light up the forest. Some dynamo lights have really good patterns but lack the power. Time to do some moding.
Beam pattern is very important. Light efficiency can be improved over 50% by using an elliptical beam pattern. All motor vehicle headlights incorporate elliptical beam patterns in their design for good reason. I did a DIY 1-watt Luxeon LED star in a matching Fraen elliptical lens and holder to replace the dynamo type headlight that came in the kit.

The light output is much higher and much improved by using the 10 X 20 degree elliptical pattern. Attaching the light at the front wheel axel improves the ability to see obstacles but a policeman stopped me and informed me that state law requires all headlights be a minimum of 2 feet above the pavement so I had to reinstall the light just below my handlebars. I am limited to LED lights that function at or below 500mA as I am using a dynamo system. Even with my small 45 lumen 1-watt LED I can see just fine with it. Granted, more is always better when it comes to light output but I needed an unlimited light runtime so I must live with a 500mA power limit.
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Old 11-07-07, 01:13 PM   #20
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Where are you getting 2000 lumens? And like i said if its a round beam much of it is wasted in to the sky.
I have two NR HID lights on my bars and a Lupine Wilma on my helmet. The two HID lights are connected to one battery with a splitter and with both on I only get a couple of hours so I typically just use one HID and my Wilma helmet light. Using Only one HID and the Wilma I can still get a lot of light and get well over 4 hours runtime so that is the route I usually go on trails.
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Old 11-08-07, 09:32 PM   #21
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I have a 25W halogen with 720 lumens (Jet Lites Axis system) and on unfamiliar roads/tracks, I feel it's just enough for 18-20mph. For 25mph, I would like another 25W on the helmet or handlebars.
I thought halogens get about 10-15 lumens per watt. This is almost 30 lumens per watt. Is the light output of halogens that variable?
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Old 11-08-07, 10:55 PM   #22
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I thought halogens get about 10-15 lumens per watt. This is almost 30 lumens per watt. Is the light output of halogens that variable?
High quality over-volted halogens can get to this level.
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Old 11-08-07, 11:26 PM   #23
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Exclamation !!!!!!!!!!!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by maximushq2 View Post
I have two NR HID lights on my bars and a Lupine Wilma on my helmet. The two HID lights are connected to one battery with a splitter and with both on I only get a couple of hours so I typically just use one HID and my Wilma helmet light. Using Only one HID and the Wilma I can still get a lot of light and get well over 4 hours runtime so that is the route I usually go on trails.
Two HIDs and a Wilma? Are you vaporizing small animals that get near you? Wow!
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Old 11-08-07, 11:30 PM   #24
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As for my own - 13W HID about 725 lumens:

You tell me if it's bright enough:



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Old 11-09-07, 01:44 AM   #25
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Its bright enough. Lol, from the pics it looks like it has some really nice spill, my 10deg mr16 doesn't.
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