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  1. #1
    Senior Member datlas's Avatar
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    lighting questions

    I am looking into getting a light system for my bike, enough to see on suburban streets (I commute and want to continue even when it's dark, and maybe do some fun night rides too). I plan on night-time rides of 30-60 minutes (maybe occasionally up to 2 hours), probably 3-5 times/week.

    I have perused and searched the forum and have made some general conclusions, but have several questions. I apologize in advance if some of these are basic and/or ignorant.

    It seems the best, cheapest system involves one or two high-powered LED flashlights. Understood. The connectors are intimidating to the uninitiated, however.

    Here are my questions, as of now:

    1. Is it really worth going to dealextreme for low cost high powered flashlights, or can one do as well (or nearly as well) at wal-mart??

    2. Battery confusion AA vs CR123. Some lights accept either one. Others not. Obviously each battery type has its strengths and weaknesses, but what are they? Also, for my purposes does it make sense to use rechargables or disposables?

    3. My road bar mounting sites are already used by a computer and a "be-seen" cateye light. I would like to mount the flashlight(s) on my stem (it's an old fashloned quill stem with about 3 inches showing....anyone have experience with this? Will the lockblock or other "handlebar" mounts work on a stem?

    4. This one is more philosophical....if the technology for high-powered LED flashlights is so good and (relatively) inexpensive, why haven't the bike light manufacturers caught on and modified it for bike-specific lights??

    Thanks in advance for any suggestions!

    Doug

  2. #2
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    Who knows why bike light manufacturers can't get it done? It is just a fact that they cannot. Luckily we have had some forum members that have shown us the "light".

    Go with Fenix and disposable AA's. It is high quality, proven, and will meet the needs you have specified probably better than anything else you can buy.
    What is better than getting your heart rate up and saddle time?

  3. #3
    Wookie Fred chewybrian's Avatar
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    1. Is it really worth going to dealextreme for low cost high powered flashlights, or can one do as well (or nearly as well) at wal-mart??

    Yes, definitely. Check the lumen output. No Wal-Mart lights are truly bright. You can get a much brighter light from Hong Kong for the same scratch. Deal Extreme is cheap w/ free shipping. Only negative is a couple weeks shipping time.

    4. This one is more philosophical....if the technology for high-powered LED flashlights is so good and (relatively) inexpensive, why haven't the bike light manufacturers caught on and modified it for bike-specific lights??

    They are being made. It's just early in the evolution, so they are high priced, for now (think $500 VCR in 1979). Competition will drive down prices eventually. But you can make your own for a decent price right now (or in 2 weeks, to be specific...). good luck

  4. #4
    Got another new bike
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    I got my 200 lumen light from DE, took 9 days and cost $20 worth every penny, way better and bright than walmarts lights.

  5. #5
    Galveston County Texas 10 Wheels's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by joshandlauri View Post
    I got my 200 lumen light from DE, took 9 days and cost $20 worth every penny, way better and bright than walmarts lights.
    Now you can ride safe and seen.
    Which light did you get?
    [SIZE=1][B]What I like about Texas[/B]
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGukLuXzH1E

    Set F1re To The Ra1n ( NY Night Rain Ride)
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  6. #6
    Safety Zealot wyeast's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by datlas View Post

    1. Is it really worth going to dealextreme for low cost high powered flashlights, or can one do as well (or nearly as well) at wal-mart??
    You can do quite well with a $25 Coleman MAX 2AA at Walmart. 100-ish lumens is competitive with anything else out there short of the 180+ lumen high end Cree lights. As good as the best "200 lumen" lights? No. But some people like being able to drop into a B&M and check out the product personally, and be able to bring it back for a refund if it turns out not to be what they wanted.

    2. Battery confusion AA vs CR123. Some lights accept either one. Others not. Obviously each battery type has its strengths and weaknesses, but what are they? Also, for my purposes does it make sense to use rechargables or disposables?
    In a nutshell:

    CR123's strengths are voltage (for the size), shelf life, stable current under load, and power in cold temps. With AA's you can get that with Lithium AA's (except for the voltage bit) or to a lesser degree with low-discharge NiMH's like Eneloops.

    AA's, however, are ubiquitous and you can replace them at just about any corner market in a pinch. Otherwise, using rechargables makes it economical and almost as good as lithiums.
    3. My road bar mounting sites are already used by a computer and a "be-seen" cateye light. I would like to mount the flashlight(s) on my stem (it's an old fashloned quill stem with about 3 inches showing....anyone have experience with this? Will the lockblock or other "handlebar" mounts work on a stem?
    Lockblocks will be oriented wrong (perpendicular) for a stem-mount, however Twofish has a similar product that would work. Bikeblocks? I can't remember what they call it.

    Another alternative would be to use an extender bar that mounts onto the stem, so you have more space. Something like this [url=http://www.performancebike.com/shop/profile.cfm?SKU=22874]Spacebar[/url at Performance.

    4. This one is more philosophical....if the technology for high-powered LED flashlights is so good and (relatively) inexpensive, why haven't the bike light manufacturers caught on and modified it for bike-specific lights??
    R&D time, plus being conservative and playing "wait and see" just in case a better emitter comes along. For example, when the K2's came out, they were great, but Seouls and Crees came right on their heels with more efficiency. On the flipside, Rebels looked promising, but couldn't live up to their promise because of production issues.

  7. #7
    Senior Member datlas's Avatar
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    Thanks for the suggestions. I bit the bullet and ordered an Ultrafire 230 lumen flashlight and a universal mount from dealextreme....I plan to start out with one flashlight on the stem, but might add a second one down the road.

  8. #8
    uke
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    it's easy if you let it. uke's Avatar
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    I ordered a P7. Should get 700 usable lumens in a couple of weeks. Looking forward to being able to see on my night rides after class. Riding in the dark sucks.

    JesseDuncan:I just love how "cars will be forced to cross the double yellow lines on dangerous limited visibility roads".

    I don't want to have a head on but oh god, I HAVE to fling myself into oncoming traffic to pass, theres no alternative!!!

  9. #9
    Wookie Fred chewybrian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by uke View Post
    I ordered a P7. Should get 700 usable lumens in a couple of weeks. Looking forward to being able to see on my night rides after class. Riding in the dark sucks.
    I am wondering how you plan to power this emitter. I would like to use them to build, but they say 3.6 volts only. Doesn't that require multiple parallel battery packs to get a decent run time?

    I'd like to build with 2 of these, for high/low beam, but I can't see charging 6 or 8 battery packs every night. Show me a better answer, please. thanks.

  10. #10
    uke
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    it's easy if you let it. uke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chewybrian View Post
    I am wondering how you plan to power this emitter. I would like to use them to build, but they say 3.6 volts only. Doesn't that require multiple parallel battery packs to get a decent run time?

    I'd like to build with 2 of these, for high/low beam, but I can't see charging 6 or 8 battery packs every night. Show me a better answer, please. thanks.
    They only use one battery :^). It's called an 18650, and each is about the size of an AA. This is a nice recommended pair. This is a good charger. Each battery will allow for about one hour on the high mode, and multiple hours on the lower/medium/strobe modes. You could buy multiple batteries, charge them up, and switch out as often as you need to. I'm only going to use one light for starters, so two batteries is overkill for me, but it'll be niece to have a backup.

    JesseDuncan:I just love how "cars will be forced to cross the double yellow lines on dangerous limited visibility roads".

    I don't want to have a head on but oh god, I HAVE to fling myself into oncoming traffic to pass, theres no alternative!!!

  11. #11
    Wookie Fred chewybrian's Avatar
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    Thanks for answering. It sounds like you are buying a complete flashlight. I was wanting to buy the emitter and build one. They seem to have the most lumens per amps of input. It's also nice to get so much light out of one small emitter. Downside is they are not flexible in the power they accept(3.6v). The Q5's I have used will take up to 18 volts. This allows much longer run time, as you can pack batteries in a big series, and only have to charge one pack. One hour is not enough for me.

  12. #12
    The Fenix Shillboy varuscelli's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by datlas View Post
    3. My road bar mounting sites are already used by a computer and a "be-seen" cateye light. I would like to mount the flashlight(s) on my stem (it's an old fashloned quill stem with about 3 inches showing....anyone have experience with this? Will the lockblock or other "handlebar" mounts work on a stem?
    Quote Originally Posted by wyeast View Post
    Lockblocks will be oriented wrong (perpendicular) for a stem-mount, however Twofish has a similar product that would work. Bikeblocks? I can't remember what they call it.
    The other products are bikeblocks (parallel configuration) and cycloblocks (bigger, heavier duty version of lockblocks).

    But...the lockblock would be in the proper orientation for a quill stem mounting, if I'm thinking correctly. It would only be flipped sideways from the orientation on a handlebar, therefore should keep the flashlight pointing in the correct direction. The problem with quill stem mounting would be if the stem is perfectly straight up and down or at a bit of an angle. If at an angle, the light will point at an angle (I'm pretty sure I have that right).

    There are other options for a quill stem that might work. One of these things might do the trick:


    With these types of mounts, you could attached a lockblock to it to hold the flashlight. These are (I think) Syntace computer mounts (Snytace nobs). Also see Issimo NOB XC Computer Mount.





    The following thing (whatever it is) would also work on a quill stem. It's kind of like a Syntace computer mount:




    Sorry, some of these things I have photos of but no pointer to an internet source...but they could be found with a bit of research.

    And spacebars (under various names like spacebar, swing grip, space grip, ) would work, too for added handlebar real estate.












    Here's one of my bikes with two Viewpoint spacebars, one flashlight on each spacebar. (Just ignore the angry dog and stupid human deterrent attached via bikeblock to the stem.)




    Here's a configuration with two flashlights on one spacebar:

    Last edited by varuscelli; 08-19-08 at 09:37 AM.

  13. #13
    Senior Member datlas's Avatar
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    Varuscelli,

    Thanks so much for the info....and I appreciate your link in your sig....strong work!

    For now I am going to use ONE light (ultrafire) which I will attempt to mount along the TOP of my quill stem using the universal mount from dealextreme....if I need 2 lights (which I might) then I may have to try some of your suggestions.

  14. #14
    The Fenix Shillboy varuscelli's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by datlas View Post
    Varuscelli,

    Thanks so much for the info....and I appreciate your link in your sig....strong work!

    For now I am going to use ONE light (ultrafire) which I will attempt to mount along the TOP of my quill stem using the universal mount from dealextreme....if I need 2 lights (which I might) then I may have to try some of your suggestions.
    You're welcome...!

    Ahh, and I understand now about using the forward pointing TOP of the quill stem for the mount (which is probably what wyeast was meaning and I misinterpreted). I had assumed you wanted to mount something on the vertical part of the stem. On the top, either the DealExtreme universal mount or the TwoFish bikeblock would work...as long as the top part of the quill stem is parallel to the ground and not at a slight angle. If at any angle, you might need to shim the mount a bit (I think).

  15. #15
    Senior Member datlas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by varuscelli View Post
    You're welcome...!

    Ahh, and I understand now about using the forward pointing TOP of the quill stem for the mount (which is probably what wyeast was meaning and I misinterpreted). I had assumed you wanted to mount something on the vertical part of the stem. On the top, either the DealExtreme universal mount or the TwoFish bikeblock would work...as long as the top part of the quill stem is parallel to the ground and not at a slight angle. If at any angle, you might need to shim the mount a bit (I think).

    Yes, for the initial set-up I plan to use one light across the top of the stem, it is nearly parallel so I hope I dont need too much shim action (maybe a tiny bit)....from reading the forums I very well might wish to move on to a 2-light setup (like yours) in which case I would consider mounting the lights to the vertical part of the stem. Luckly my stem is 10 cm long and uses about 8 cm of the rise, so there should be enough room for a mount either way!

  16. #16
    The Fenix Shillboy varuscelli's Avatar
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    This dual lockblock, dual flashlight setup could also be attached to a quill stem, if the stem was fairly close to vertical (although it would probably require some shimming and might not be easily adjustable). It calls for interweaving two lockblocks (easily done!). This shows it on the handlebar, but it could just as easily be placed on a vertical quill stem. But once again, adjusting the beam direction could be a problem if attached to the stem.

    I've been thinking of experimenting with this setup with four flashlights (two on each side of the stem) -- just to see what it would be like with four handlebar lights and one helmet light.



    Last edited by varuscelli; 08-19-08 at 10:39 AM.

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