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  1. #1
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    Please save me some time - need a light recommendation

    Hi all,

    I've done some forum searching for my needs, but i seem to just be peeling off more layers. I could easily spend hours on this and i'd much rather save my free time for riding.

    For those with the knowledge who would be kind enough to help me, here's my situation:

    I have a 24 mile commute each way, i leave at 6am so mostly dark this time of year. I'm into the sun going both ways (returning around 5-6pm). I ride a road bike with a messenger back. Currently i've got one of those blinking planet bike thingys on the back which is pretty good, but have never had anything in the front which i think is dangerous. Not so much for my riding, as i know the road very well, but for traffic which might be turning left against me.

    Bottom line is a need a light on my bars up front, and would consider replacing my light on the back. I also need something that comes off easily as i lock my bike in a cage so its semi-secure. Light recommendations and places to purchase would be most welcome.

    I really appreciate your help, as I really don't know much about this subject but want to ride safer.

    thx all.

  2. #2
    Senior Member curbtender's Avatar
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  3. #3
    Seņior Member ItsJustMe's Avatar
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    I bet you don't save a lot of time here - people will recommend 10 different lights at least, and you'll have to research them.

    In daylight if you're in a situation that requires front visibility, I think you need a strobe. I'd go for either an MTE P7 flashlight (about $60 all set with chargers and such) - in strobe mode you should get a couple of hours runtime - don't know if that's enough for a 26 mile commute though.

    For more runtime, there's the MagicShine. Pros: lots of runtime, very bright. Cons: strobe mode is highly irritating - however, IMO you want to be irritating, so it's up to you if this is a pro or a con. Other con: battery is not waterproof, so if you ride in the rain, you'll have to take steps - either wrap in electrical tape and hope for the best (this is what I do) or drop it into a water bottle - this is probably a better solution.

    I'm a bit concerned about your rear light. If you're heading into the sun, IMO the planet bike superflash isn't good enough. For that you really need a Dinotte taillight. I know for a fact that my 140L CAN be seen by drivers approaching me from behind when I'm riding into the sun.
    Work: the 8 hours that separates bike rides.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Ziemas's Avatar
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    What kind of budget do you have? Do you have a preference for runtime?

  5. #5
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    You can save some time if you tell us your budget as ziemas mentioned, otherwise your going to get thousands of lights from $30 up to $1,200!!!

  6. #6
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    I actually don't think you NEED a Dinotte. It's a crazy-high powered, excellent tail light that can be seen prominently even during the day (it's probably the only one that is prominently visible during the day), but if there's enough light to wash out a PBSF or Mars 4.0, you'll do just fine with hi-vis clothing and blinkies. The tail-light only becomes really important when it's dark enough that there's not enough light for hi-vis stuff to work, which is late dusk to night. At night, the PBSF or Mars 4.0 are hellaciously bright without being blinding, even when riding with others. With fresh or well-charged AAAs, there's no way that a driver looking at the road could miss your blinking PBSF - I've seen them at night from the drivers persepective and I'm always extremely impressed with how visible they are. (I now own 2 of them and a Mars!)

    Your cheapest excellent front light option is the Terralux 200 Lightstar ($28 on Amazon last time I checked). 1hr of runtime on 2 x AA rechargeables, at 180lumens. It's super-bright, and bulletproof in design. You'll need a $5 lockblock (velcro) to mount on your bike. This is what I use in urban commuting and it rocks - on/off the bike in seconds, and drop into your pocket.
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  7. #7
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    Actually as far as tail light is concerned, the Mars 4 and the Superflash are both highly visible in the daytime and for far less then the Dinotte. I though prefer the Mars 4 over the Superflash because it is brighter from the rear but it's also visible from the sides though not during the daytime the sides don't show up well.

  8. #8
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    During bright sunlight (typical for SoCal), the PBSF is pretty much useless. Even with fresh batts. During cloudy days or dusk, it is better, but I both own and have ridden with guys who run them during the day, and I've been burned several times now suggesting "hey - you should get fresh batts for your PBSF - it's really dim!" to which they reply "I changed them this morning!"

    They're hellaciously awesome at night, though!
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  9. #9
    Seņior Member ItsJustMe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by agarose2000 View Post
    I actually don't think you NEED a Dinotte. It's a crazy-high powered, excellent tail light that can be seen prominently even during the day (it's probably the only one that is prominently visible during the day), but if there's enough light to wash out a PBSF or Mars 4.0, you'll do just fine with hi-vis clothing and blinkies.
    True most of the time, but the OP is riding into the sun. I have had two reports by coworkers that, while riding with an ANSI reflective yellow/green vest, reflectors and a Dinotte 140L, they saw ONLY the Dinotte, and they said it was none too bright; a normal blinkie like a superflash probably would not have cut it.
    Work: the 8 hours that separates bike rides.

  10. #10
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    I am highly skeptical of the claim that you need a Dinotte to ride safely at high noon with full Southern California sun. I'm pretty sure most cyclists would consider running a daytime Dinotte as serious overkill.
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  11. #11
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    I never use my lights in the daytime unless it's raining, foggy, or I'am about to enter a tunnel.

  12. #12
    Zoom zoom zoom zoom bonk znomit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ItsJustMe View Post
    True most of the time, but the OP is riding into the sun. I have had two reports by coworkers that, while riding with an ANSI reflective yellow/green vest, reflectors and a Dinotte 140L, they saw ONLY the Dinotte, and they said it was none too bright; a normal blinkie like a superflash probably would not have cut it.
    Yeah this is about the only situation where the dinotte is really needed. I generally avoid riding into the sun but I'd get the dinotte if I had to do it regularly (actually, I'd probably DIY something just as bright )

  13. #13
    Seņior Member ItsJustMe's Avatar
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    Lights in the daytime shouldn't bother anyone. At worst nobody can see them and they're useless, but if the rider wants to run them, he's not bothering anyone.
    Work: the 8 hours that separates bike rides.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ItsJustMe View Post
    True most of the time, but the OP is riding into the sun. I have had two reports by coworkers that, while riding with an ANSI reflective yellow/green vest, reflectors and a Dinotte 140L, they saw ONLY the Dinotte, and they said it was none too bright; a normal blinkie like a superflash probably would not have cut it.
    You know this just seems weird, I'm calling this BS. I've been driving for 40 years and NEVER had the sun so intense in my eyes that I couldn't see nothing but a little red light. And if that had occurred then what the hell would I or anyone else be doing continuing to drive in those conditions? And if conditions like that did happen everyday there would be an ungodly number of accidents since no one could see anything and thus be crashing every which way trying to get their bearings. Trust me if conditions were as extreme as you say they were your not going to see any red light short of a search light beamed into your eyes with a red lens on it, not alone some tiny little dinotte.

  15. #15
    Seņior Member ItsJustMe's Avatar
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    People drive in all sorts of conditions they shouldn't be driving in. And people drive with scratched up windows. I've been in many old beat up cars where you really can't see anything when you're driving into the sun, and people just keep it between the lines and look for big stuff in front of them like cars. The only reason they don't hit bikes is that there just aren't any bikes around here.
    Work: the 8 hours that separates bike rides.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Cyril's Avatar
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    I'm pleased with my Cygolite TridenX li-ion

    lotta brightness options and flash patterns.

    really easy to pop on and off the bike.

    Cyril

  17. #17
    Senior Member Cyril's Avatar
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    I'm pleased with my Cygolite TridenX li-ion

    lotta brightness options and flash patterns.

    really easy to pop on and off the bike.

    Cyril

  18. #18
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    Hi guys,

    Thanks for all your posts, i appreciate the wisdom. Sorry it took me so long to respond, but i've been away from the pc all day (lots of riding too!). Just to clarify my needs/wants a little bit as requested:

    - i don't plan on running this during the day.
    - the mention of a one hour runtime is out of the question for me. My commute is 1 hour+ each way, and I work 10 hours a day and have a young family. I dont want to be recharging batteries all the time, it's tough enough just to get my act together to get out the door at 6am. Battery longevity is a priority.
    - I can pay what i need to, don't have a fixed budget - but i don't like wasting money.
    - i've got no issues with my pbsf, its pretty bright when i need it (when it's dark out), the batteries seem to last forever, its super easy to pull off the bike, and it's light.

    To sum it up:

    I dont have to replace my rear, but i need a front. Not so much to see since i know where i'm going, but to make sure others see me. I dont want to mess around with recharging too often, and i want to be able to take it off the bike easily.

    thx again people.

  19. #19
    Canadian eh?
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    http://www.mec.ca/Products/product_d...=1270354147616

    Cygo-Lite TridenX LED Li-Ion Xtra.

    Is this overkill?

  20. #20
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    Get the Magicshine from Geomangear. $85 and it'll do all that you ask for. 3hrs of runtime at high settings, which is at least 500 lumens.
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  21. #21
    Seņior Member ItsJustMe's Avatar
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    If you don't like wasting money, then don't buy anything too cheap. Any number of people here, including myself, will tell you that when you buy crappy lights, you wind up buying a lot of crappy lights.

    That said, the Magicshine really is pretty good. Those of us who started buying lights more than a year or two ago, when LEDs finally came into their own, faced the choice of getting a dim, junky light or spending $200+ on lights. Even many namebrand lights are now < $150 for their starter lights (200 lumens or so).

    The Magicshine really is a breakthrough product, BUT keep in mind that it's not high design. It has a few problems:

    1) the battery is not waterproof
    2) the wires and connectors are a little fragile compared to other (much more expensive) lights.

    If you can fix or live with these, it's a great light. I have one myself. Fixes:

    1) Either you don't care (don't ride in the rain) or wrap tightly in electrical tape, put in a ziplock, or put it in a water bottle.
    2) Be careful to not pull on the wires when disconnecting, and to not twist too much. Personally I sanded down the male waterproofing collar to make insertion of the plug a little easier so I wouldn't be so likely to pull on the wire. As it ships, it's so hard to pull apart that it's very difficult to not pull on the wire.
    Work: the 8 hours that separates bike rides.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by cia dog View Post
    You know this just seems weird, I'm calling this BS. I've been driving for 40 years and NEVER had the sun so intense in my eyes that I couldn't see nothing but a little red light. And if that had occurred then what the hell would I or anyone else be doing continuing to drive in those conditions? And if conditions like that did happen everyday there would be an ungodly number of accidents since no one could see anything and thus be crashing every which way trying to get their bearings. Trust me if conditions were as extreme as you say they were your not going to see any red light short of a search light beamed into your eyes with a red lens on it, not alone some tiny little dinotte.
    I'm gonna call bs on your bs. When I read what he wrote, I read it that he meant his coworkers only *noticed* the dinotte, not the vest or the other stuff. I don't think it was meant to say the entire bike was invisible.

    You need a blinky at night to be seen (some sort of light at least) or you risk careful people legitimately not seeing you as it's dark and without a light you're sometimes actually 100% invisible. But when you have a blinky, you stand out. If it's on blink mode, you stand out as a cyclist.

    During the day, you don't *need* a light because...it's not dark, right? You can be seen. But you don't stand out like you do at night with a blinky light. It's easier for a driver to miss you at a quick glance, you can inadvertently blend into the scenery.

    If you want the kind of visibility during the day that you have at night, or during harder-to-see times during the day like if you're biking into the sun, a blinking Dinotte tail light is the only light I know of that will give that same visibility during the day that you get having a blinky at night. The smaller tail lights like superflash get drown out by the daylight during the day.

    I'm not saying the dinotte is a "you *need* to have it to be safe" like I would say that you *need* to have a rear light to be safe biking at night. It's not the same thing. But if you want to be as visible as possible during the day, it's the way to go. If I was biking into the sun on a road myself, I would definitely do it.

    Lol, I suppose this is just the schizophrenic nature of the forum....last week someone was vehemently insisting that it was super dangerous to ride with anything less than a Dinotte 400L on *blinking* mode *at night*. I told them I thought that was ridiculous. This week someone is insisting that a superflash blinky is plenty of light *during the day*...no wonder people are confused!

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    To the original question, the Cygolite seems to me to be the absolutely most portable light you could get. Cygolite also sells brighter (and more expensive) lights that are also self contained, but I don't feel like speculating about how much light you may or may not need. 200 lumens is decent, I wouldn't go with anything less if I wanted to light up the road.

    The Magicshine is as "ItsJustMe" described, but I believe it's 2 pieces (battery + light), so it's twice as much stuff to put on and off the bike.

    Planet Bike also makes self contained AA lights that have blink modes that are less expensive, but they're only "to be seen by" lights, and probably not bright enough to be noticed when the sun is up at all.

    One thing I discovered that keeps my battery charging time down is that I leave my batteries physically attached to my bike, but keep my bike by an outlet with a charger that just plugs into the battery to charge it. I make a habit of plugging in the batteries after every ride where I used them at all, so they're always fully charged and it takes very, very little extra time from me - just unplugging and replugging the battery, don't even have to take it off the bike. Like 15 seconds.

    I'm a little confused by your post - you're currently riding into work in the dark, but you don't currently own a light? I mean...is your entire 24 mile commute well lit?

  23. #23
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    I'm a little confused by your post - you're currently riding into work in the dark, but you don't currently own a light? I mean...is your entire 24 mile commute well lit?[/QUOTE]

    Firstly, thanks to all for their input, it was very helpful to me. I bought a milion 200 at mec for $129. This light seems to be the middle ground for all my criteria, plus i was able to buy it local so no waiting for a package from the UK. I tried it out tonight as the last half of my ride was after sunset. I think its plenty bright enough to be seen, especially with the strobe which was lighting up road signs a couple of hundred yards down the road.

    Regarding PR's last question, yes, my whole ride is well lit. There are street lights every 50 yards or so until i hit the MUP in the city (Toronto) which is safe in the early morning plus the sun is coming up by the time i get there. My primary reason for purchasing the front light was to be seen, particularly with traffic that is taking a right into my lane from side streets, or cars taking a left across my path. Also will help with pedestrians. And yes, i should have got a front light years ago.

    Thanks again to everyone.
    Last edited by canaxer; 04-05-10 at 07:54 PM.

  24. #24
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    The Magicshine is piece of crap that falls apart fast. Please don't get that light.

    Personally I like lights with dual beams that can run either one or the other or both, that way in case on light burns out the other will continue. Problem with this dual light stuff is that LED's last about 100,000 hours so they claim...BUT, I tour and I've actually known people who's LED's did in fact crap out after far shorter run times, closer to the neighborhood of 10,000 hours. I've seen fairly new cars and semi's with those LED rear lights and find one or two and even more of the led's fried. You can get the Cygolite Rover II for way less then the other Cygolite the other poster mentioned and it will be plenty bright and last way longer then you need it for, plus it's very rugged and will last a long time.

    With the money you save from not getting the Cygolite TridenX, you can buy a front flasher to attract attention to you and/or a brighter tail light like the Mars 4.

  25. #25
    You gonna eat that? Doohickie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by curbtender View Post
    Curbtender ftw. I don't have the same exact light, but I have a Cygolite and I love it. The one he linked to looks even better than mine (which I would also recommend, but I like the compact, all-in-one packaging of the one curbtender recommended).
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    Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."

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