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Old 12-04-09, 04:30 PM   #1
djkenny
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Seeing St Signs, will Helmet Light help?

I am constantly having to pull over to the side or turn my front wheel to shine my light on the street signs to read them while squinting.

I have *good* eyes, it is just hard to read at night. I always wondered why residential and other street signs are so after thought in the visibility??

Anyway, does anyone have a suggestion?

I assumed a higher up light on my helmet that was bright and direct enough could be pointed as I turned my head and then I could read those signs. ?

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Old 12-04-09, 04:44 PM   #2
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Absolutely. You don't even need a crazy powered or expensive one.

My recommendation (which I think is pretty much unbeatable for price/performance) is to go with a LED flashlight:

Terralux 2 x AA ($28)
Romisen 2 x AA ($25-$30)
Fenix 2 x AA ($50)

Google them - they put out 200 lumens, which is bright enough to see with, even at 18mph, yet not bright enough to blind. I verified this again last night by shining the light on a pitch black road toward myself as I walked toward it - it definitely is not blinding unless you beam it directly into someone's eyes.

Mount it on your helmet with a rubber band (loop both ends through) or cut a length of inner tube and make holes on each end to slip the light through while looping the tube through the helmet vents. These methods are super-stable, and cost nothing.

After using the above, I have had no desire to upgrade whatsoever. I came across 3 riders using older-gen halogen fancy helmet-mounts that they said cost $300+ at the time, and my light was brighter and whiter than all 3 of theirs - and I have never had a problem with the mount stability despite its low-tech nature. Skip the bike-specific lights - they cost way too much (usually $80+ for 1/2-1/3rd the light output.)

This solution is AWESOME for street signs, or getting the attention of encroaching cars who you suspect don't see you and may pull into your path.

Nuff said.
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Old 12-04-09, 04:54 PM   #3
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Yeah, helmet lights are especially effective if the street signs are retro-reflective, because the light is coming from a source so close to your eyes that the reflection is very strong. This is also useful for spotting deer, since their eyes are reflective; and for seeing parked cars through foggy or wet glasses/goggles, since they have reflectors on the rear.
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Old 12-04-09, 05:37 PM   #4
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It takes getting used to a light on the helmet. The beam tends to draw your eyes there, but definitely a plus for seeing signs, around bends, to the side etc.

I favor 18650 based lights. The DX Trustfire TR801 is great ($16) as is the Romisen RC-M4 (~$23) from Shining Beam.

Last edited by Plutonix; 12-04-09 at 09:50 PM.
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Old 12-04-09, 09:42 PM   #5
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I'll second, (or is that fourth) a helmet light. Look at the Princeton Tec EOS-Bike. LED lights just seem to make the reflectivity of road signs jump out. They are also useful if you get a flat or need to look at something off the bike. While the EOS is not the brightest light out there, it is good enough to get you home should your main bar-mounted light fail, it will just be slow going. It comes with both a helmet mount and a bar mount and is ready to bike out of the box with no modifications.

http://www.princetontec.com/?q=node/110

Bright guy has good prices and service.

http://www.brightguy.com/
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Old 12-05-09, 08:33 AM   #6
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Yes.
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Old 12-05-09, 11:32 AM   #7
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I use a Princeton Tec Quad held on my helmet with a few zip-ties. It's good for lighting signs (on the high or medium setting) reading maps or changing flats (on low setting) or staying noticed when night segments take you through well-lit towns (on blink mode).
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Old 12-05-09, 01:27 PM   #8
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I use a Planet Bike Sport Spot on my helmet for just this. It's not so bright as to blind other road users, but fills in wherever I look nicely and road signs absolutely POP out at you.
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Old 12-05-09, 09:36 PM   #9
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I've had a Planet Bike Spok (gave it away with a helmet) and a Serfas Guppy, and both of them light up street signs well enough.

You'd be surprised by how much the signs' reflectivity helps out. Sometimes, I can see them better than I could while driving because of the car headlights' cutoff pattern.
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Old 12-05-09, 09:46 PM   #10
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thanks so much!

Quote:
Originally Posted by barturtle View Post
I use a Planet Bike Sport Spot on my helmet for just this. It's not so bright as to blind other road users, but fills in wherever I look nicely and road signs absolutely POP out at you.
This one seems like the best combination of affordability and usability for the price. Not a surprise for Planet Bike

How does it compare, however?


I found the Trust Fire as low as $14.56 with free shipping. How easy is it to mount on a helmet? It seems to simply be a flash light with a little rope? Romisen RC-M4 seems the same type of light with similar pricing. I would like being able to very easily remove the light and add it to the helmet without too much Jolly Joe funkiness.

The EOS Bike looks like a more fancy option with good functions and a helmet mount. Kind of pricey at $36.95 and the shipping is over $7 more.
Worth it???
How would it compare to the Planet Bike option?

Seeing a green street sign on P Towns streets can be challenging....add the dark nights during this time a year and it is downright annoying at times.

Thanks for the help.
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Old 12-05-09, 10:47 PM   #11
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Quote:
The EOS Bike looks like a more fancy option with good functions and a helmet mount. Kind of pricey at $36.95 and the shipping is over $7 more.
Worth it???
How would it compare to the Planet Bike option?
Actually, I can answer that one... I've had a number of helmet mounted lights and the Sport Spot was one of them, and as you know I have the EOS. My biggest gripe about the sport spot was that it was not adjustable. It's angle is fixed and it pointed too far "up" for me. I like for my helmet light to pivot up and down as needed. The UP position is good enough for seeing your road signs, but if you need to look at something lower it wont do. My best example of this is fixing a flat one night, I could not get the sport spot to point down low enough to see what I was doing. I ended up unbuckling my helmet and tipping it downwards to get the light aimed where I wanted.

The EOS outshines the sport spot hands down and has three different brightness levels if you wish to tone it down. I have the older version, not the next generation which is supposed to be better. I think if you look around Amazon or eBay, you might can find better pricing. I've been using my EOS for about four years and I have no complaints.

If the price tag of the EOS is still stinging, then any old headlight can be adapted to a helmet. I should know, I've done it several times. The headband can be removed and replaced with double sided Velcro. The double sided velcro I am referring to is available at most hardware stores and is called "one-wraps". It is sold in rolls of about 6 to 10 feet in many different widths. Just cut off what you need, run it through the lamp, then thread it through the helmet vents. Some folks also use plastic zip ties instead of velcro which works fine too.
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Old 12-06-09, 04:11 PM   #12
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I currently use a Fenix 2 AA light up there -- it does a great job lighting up street signs, no problem.

Good thing about the Fenix is it doesn't weigh much at all.

As for a mount, I just use two zip-ties. To aim the light, if needed, I put a piece of foam in the right spot and -- bam! -- light where I need it.
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Old 12-06-09, 04:49 PM   #13
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I usually attach my Fenix to my helmet with thick rubber bands.

I just bought a single-AAA light that puts out ~60 lumens and is so small and light that it clips to my helmet's visor. It looks like this:



These come in two versions. One is HIGH-only, the other goes medium-low-high (of which only HIGH is likely to be useful for reading street signs in a city environment from any distance). They go 40-60 minutes on a rechargeable NiMH AAA cell, allowing some fudge factor for low temperatures, so that may or may not be useful runtime to you. At any rate, they're $19 and $21 respectively: http://www.batteryjunction.com/itp-all.html If you want to turn it on just to look at street signs, get the 1-mode. I actually bought it to have a lower-powered light to read my computer with, so medium and low modes are good for that role in the city and the pitch-dark countryside, respectively... for deer-spotting and other long-range vision, I'd be using my Olight M20 or at least my Fenix.
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Old 12-25-09, 06:27 PM   #14
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My wife bought a Petz Tikka Plusl headlamp for walking he dog at night. I think this will do the trick when needed.

Anyone mount one of these on a helmet? Have pics and description of how to strap it on the helmet effectively?
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Old 12-25-09, 10:37 PM   #15
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From direct experience - the $28 Terralux flashlight I mention above will outshine by a HUGE margin the Tikka, Spot, and likely the Princeton tec EOS. Seriously, it's not even in the same league - those pure headlamps are jokes compared to a hi-output 2 x AA LED flashlight. Before you drop the change on a headlight or dedicated bike light like the Spot, you really should seriously consider Terralux or Fenix.

The Terralux is at least 5, if not 8x brighter than the Terralux. The Tikka is so dim on max power that I can't even run with it. It works great for walkers, cavers, or slow runner, but for faster runners and any cyclist, it's not even close to marginal for seeing.
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