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  1. #1
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    Head & Tail Lights Needed

    Is there a particular brand and model of lights that are generally considered to be superior or even clearly superior?

    I'm looking for the equivalent of a SureFire flashlight, except for bicycle lighting. I don't really want to spend $500 for lights but a couple of hundred is reasonable for good quality lights with good, rechargeable batteries.

    I need a rechargeable battery powered unit.

    Brighter is better.

    I prefer to have a tail light that does not flash.
    Last edited by Mike Mills; 11-16-10 at 05:40 PM.

  2. #2
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    I doubt that you will find a better tail light than the Dinotte. I have friends on trikes and bents who have them and they are visible in the light of day. On high they are brighter than a car's brake lights.
    I don't ride much at night and use a DE Ultrafire with a Cree r-5 emitter.

  3. #3
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    I use a Cygolite Mitycross 300 (~$110), and it is extremely bright with very good coverage due to the dual LED design. The headlight itself is extremely small, and the battery pack is so small that I can just velcro (included) it around my stem. Extremely intuitive one-button function with low battery indication and very good battery life. There is also a 350 version that is brighter by 50 lumens (300 is 300 lumens).

  4. #4
    Dog Chaser BetweenRides's Avatar
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    [Posted on forums.mtbr.com] I recently spent several weeks researching for a light in the $200-$300 range, hope this helps you out. I'm a road rider but do light trail / closed road riding in the fall at night. I was looking for a bar mount, as I don't use a helmet mount on our trails but I have a Fenix L2D for that purpose if needed. Here's my short list:

    JET Light A-51: $200 ($274 with bar mount and Smart Charger), 720 lumens, 345 grams, 3hrs runtime on high, Waterproof connectors.

    Lupine Piko3: $310, 550 lumens, 210 grams, 2.5hrs runtime. Beautiful little unit, unfortunately bar mount not yet available.

    Trail LED 500L: $175, 550 lumens, 5 hrs runtime. Kinda ugly, but solid, good spot/flood combo, extended battery options (for a price).

    Trail LED 4X: $300, 900 lumens, 4 hrs runtime, see above comments.

    Trail LED Darkstar: $420, 1200 lumens, 375 grams, 3 hours runtime. See comments above, but this is probably the best bang for the buck light out there anywhere.

    Dinote 400L: $229, 400 lumens, 340 grams, 5 hrs runtime. Helmet/bar mounts, 2 spare lenses included, outperformed by others in light/$, but a very nice high quality light set.

    Baja Designs Strykr: $300 ($200 with trade-in), 700 lumens, 520 grams, 3 hours runtime. Helmet & bar mounts, 2 lenses included - spot/flood, waterproof, lifetime warranty on head unit, 1 year on battery. Bomb-proof.

    Baja Designs Stryker Pro: $350 ($250 with trade-in), 700 lumens, 470 grams. Other features same as Strykr, but slightly smaller and designed more as a helmet unit.

    Amoeba XP-G: $240, 600+ lumens, 159 grams, 3.5hrs runtime. Nice little DIY unit, incredibly small and light, extra/extended battery options. This would be the ideal helmet unit, but also a solid bar mount.

    Niteflux Enduro 8: $270, 540 lumens, 486 grams, 3 hrs runtime. All Niteflux units are convertible to flashlights, extra batteries are cheap.

    Light & Motion Stella 400: $300, 400 lumens, 313 grams, 2.5hrs runtime. Dual Spot/Flood, beautiful unit, but outperformed by competition in terms of runtime and output for price.

    Last - check out Ayup lights: Beautiful, small and functional, I just couldn't figure out pricing and the options on the website, gave up. I suspect after you figure in exchange rates and shipping, $/lumen is too low, plus warranty - while excellent, has got to be a hassle without a US distributor.

    Ultimately, I went with the Strykr - couldn't pass up the price/value. Very pleased with it so far, but there are some great options out there. MS900 was not on my short list - price is great but quality is extremely suspect and I prefer to buy for the long term.

    There are numerous inexpensive tail lights out there for under $40. One of the best I have seen:

    http://www.ridepdw.com/goods/lights

    Good luck.
    Last edited by BetweenRides; 11-17-10 at 06:49 AM. Reason: Tail Lights

  5. #5
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    BetweenRides, that was such a great post and a great answer to my inquiry. I am still trying to evaluate all the options you presented. I have been for about two days now.

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    Let me raise an issue or question.

    It seems to me, the lights presented above are meant to help you see, not to be seen. They are designs tailored for off road riding at night. They are really high powered lights intended to illuminate the surface so you can see it. That differs from a light which is intended to make it so people can see you.

    The difference between the two can be not-so-subtle.

    Is it possible that the ultra-bright flashing tail lights will go too far beyons merely being seen by drivers to the point of irritating them as they sit behind the wheel of their 4,000 lb mobile bludgeoning device? Do urban riders need all that power, or is there a better compromise for the urban commuter?

  7. #7
    Old. Slow. Happy. MileHighMark's Avatar
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    On-road or off-road? If the former, is it urban riding or country riding?

    There are a lot of good lights on the market. Some cost more than others, but in many cases, you get what you pay for.

    My MTB is equipped with Amoeba lights (one on the handlebar, one on the helmet). I spent approx $400 on them, but I can ride my normal trails at night with complete confidence. On my commuter I run a Lumotec IQ Cyo generator-powered headlamp and a Dinotte 140L tail light. I also have two back-up tail lights in case the Dinotte's batteries run low. The generator is a hub unit, so I had a wheel built to power the front light. Cost was approx $500 for the commuter's lighting.

    Note that it's entirely possible to spend less, but I know first-hand that "buying right" the first time saves money in the long run.
    GRAVELBIKE.COM - ride everything

  8. #8
    Senior Member Lalato's Avatar
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    I would say that on the tail light, the brighter the better for an urban commuter. As cars approach from behind, you want them to not only notice you, but you want them to notice you from as far back as possible so that they have plenty of time to give you a wider berth as they pass.

    For headlights, it really depends on what you ride and what the streets are like. If there are streetlights where you ride, then the need for a super bright head light is lessened... and you probably just need something that helps you be noticed when cars are turning into your path. However, as with the tail light... the brighter the better. If it means the difference between getting T-Boned by a car and making it safely through the intersection, I think it's worthwhile to go with the brightest option in your price range.

    For me specifically, I ride a folding bike with 16" wheels. Being able to see what's on the road ahead is very important. A pothole on 700c wheel feels a lot different than a pothole on 349 while.

  9. #9
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    Again, if you're looking for a good urban commuting light, the Cygolite Mitycross 300 fits the bill perfectly.

  10. #10
    Senior Member mechBgon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Mills View Post
    Is it possible that the ultra-bright flashing tail lights will go too far beyons merely being seen by drivers to the point of irritating them as they sit behind the wheel of their 4,000 lb mobile bludgeoning device? Do urban riders need all that power, or is there a better compromise for the urban commuter?
    I have had nothing but positive feedback from motorists on my high-output taillights (Nova BULL, DiNotte). They think they're great. I even had a sherrif's deputy get ahead of me and flag me down so he could find out what kind of light it was, and where to get one. I asked if he thought maybe it was TOO bright? and he said no, it's visible, but not excessive. I think motorists would be more likely to get annoyed if you're a last-second discovery, than that you're super-visible.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by MileHighMark View Post
    On-road or off-road? If the former, is it urban riding or country riding?

    There are a lot of good lights on the market. Some cost more than others, but in many cases, you get what you pay for.
    I only ride on paved, city streets. Overall, the road condition is quite good. There are street lights all along my routes but some are pretty weak and trees often cause large dark areas (shadows). I need a front and a rear light.

    I want the lights so I will "be seen" not "to see".

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by itsthewoo View Post
    Again, if you're looking for a good urban commuting light, the Cygolite Mitycross 300 fits the bill perfectly.
    Yes, thank you for that, itsthewoo. I went to a shop at lunch today and was looking at the Cygolite Mitycross 300. They look well made and it was very compact. It has a very nice handlebar mount. So, I like it.

    I like the two lite lamp head, too. Its shape reminds me of WALL-E.
    Last edited by Mike Mills; 11-18-10 at 05:31 PM.

  13. #13
    Dog Chaser BetweenRides's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Mills View Post
    I only ride on paved, city streets. Overall, the road condition is quite good. There are street lights all along my routes but some are pretty weak and trees often cause large dark areas (shadows). I need a front and a rear light.

    I want the lights so I will "be seen" not "to see".
    The Mitycross 300 (or 350) sounds like a good option for you then. It has 3 different light levels so you can alter as conditions change, plus 300-350 lumens is still pretty good light to see by if needed. I would suggest you carry a backup light as well. Many riders opt for an inexpensive flashlight that runs on AA rechargeables. Many of these lights are bright enough to ride with no problem, they can be used anywhere and can be easily removed and carried in a pocket. Here's a couple of sources:

    4Sevens
    Surefire

    If you are doing city riding, a good Planet Bike SuperFlash will do just fine, $20-$30 and available at many bike shops. I prefer to ride with two, one under the seat, the other lower down on the seat stay. Too many people out there distracted by cell phones, texting, etc. to take a chance on net being seen.

  14. #14
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    The lights on the market today are so radically different than my previous lighting system I did not know where to start. So, thanks to you all for all the great help in this thread.

    I went to my local bike shop (REI, actually) and looked around. Here's what I did.

    I went inexpensive on the tail light (under $25). I bought a PrincetonTec SWERVE LED tail light. It is awesomely powerful compared to the older lights I had, so I thought I'd start cheap and go up as I felt it was warranted (that Dinotte tail light looks pretty good to me).

    I bought a Cygolite Mitycross 320 head light. I bought this very expensive light ($200) because it has decent reviews, has a good beam pattern (see one of the links above) and it was very compact (I don't need four to eight hours of run time). I also liked the QD Handlebar mount. I can take it home, charge it up and test it out. If it sucks, or is too good, I can take it back for a full refund. If it's nice, I keep it. Either way, I'm covered.

    Plus, it looks like WALL-E.
    Last edited by Mike Mills; 11-19-10 at 09:52 PM.

  15. #15
    Dog Chaser BetweenRides's Avatar
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    Good choice. Enjoy your rides! I find I am enjoying night riding more each year. The challenge for us here in Chicagoland is now the cold vs the light. It got down to 28F on Thursday's ride. I was fine until my riding buddy got a flat. Fortunately it was a slow leak so we got by giving it some air, but in the time we stopped, we both got cold and never could warm up again. Changing a flat in cold and dark is a *****.

  16. #16
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    I used to always ride at night along the bike path on the beach in the dark. My favorite rides were at night in the fog. There is a peaceful silence which surrounds you. Even the sounds of your bike are muffled. The air is moist and cool.

    Here in So Cal, the best time for outdoor sports is the winter because the weather finally cools off, the smog is gone, the crowds are gone,...

  17. #17
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    I thought I'd come back and give an update on my lights. I know two months isn't very long but it is long enough to be out of the "honeymoon phase" after buying a new product.

    I still love the lights, both of them.

    I've been watching other night time riders and my headlight is definitely better than most others I see. The headlight is bright enough that I can still see its beam pattern even as I am passed by a car. It is brighter than a car's headlilghts. I can't see my own tail light but I know it is bright - the cars give me a wider berth than they ever did when riding without lights.

    Here's something I never thought about before but consider this.

    It was late and dark. I was riding home and got a flat tire. Guess what? The headlight pops off the quick detatch bracket and becomes a hand-held flashlight which I used to help find the hole and patch the tire.

    Who'dathunkit?
    Last edited by Mike Mills; 01-20-11 at 01:53 PM.

  18. #18
    Senior Member canyoneagle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Mills View Post
    Let me raise an issue or question.

    It seems to me, the lights presented above are meant to help you see, not to be seen. They are designs tailored for off road riding at night. They are really high powered lights intended to illuminate the surface so you can see it. That differs from a light which is intended to make it so people can see you.

    The difference between the two can be not-so-subtle.

    Is it possible that the ultra-bright flashing tail lights will go too far beyons merely being seen by drivers to the point of irritating them as they sit behind the wheel of their 4,000 lb mobile bludgeoning device? Do urban riders need all that power, or is there a better compromise for the urban commuter?
    Excellent point.
    This is why I run my "illumination" light (the one that helps me see things) steady, and I run a separate blinking "be seen" light that is bright enough that there is no doubt that I should be seen (PB Blaze 2W) without pissing anyone off (hopefully).

    I used to run my main headlight in blinking mode during daylight, and I'd even go so far as to aim it a little higher than normal. I discontinued this practice after experiencing a cyclist doing this very thing. Whew. too much.
    I'm now on dynamo power with steady lights augmented by blinkies front and back.
    Last edited by canyoneagle; 01-20-11 at 01:27 PM.
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  19. #19
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    For Urban use I really like the Busch and Muller Ixon IQ, with a Planet Bike SuperFlash rear (or a pair of them actually) The Ixon IQ has enough brightness for speedy riding, and a properly focused beam to make the most of its light without blinding other road users. It's AA batteries mean in a pinch you can stop nearly anywhere and get more (though a 20hr runtime on low (plenty bright for most usage, means you'll probably never need to)
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  20. #20
    Certified Bike Brat Burton's Avatar
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    Great list! I'll be looking some of these up myself!

    Quote Originally Posted by BetweenRides View Post
    [Posted on forums.mtbr.com] I recently spent several weeks researching for a light in the $200-$300 range, hope this helps you out. I'm a road rider but do light trail / closed road riding in the fall at night. I was looking for a bar mount, as I don't use a helmet mount on our trails but I have a Fenix L2D for that purpose if needed. Here's my short list:

    JET Light A-51: $200 ($274 with bar mount and Smart Charger), 720 lumens, 345 grams, 3hrs runtime on high, Waterproof connectors.

    Lupine Piko3: $310, 550 lumens, 210 grams, 2.5hrs runtime. Beautiful little unit, unfortunately bar mount not yet available.

    Trail LED 500L: $175, 550 lumens, 5 hrs runtime. Kinda ugly, but solid, good spot/flood combo, extended battery options (for a price).

    Trail LED 4X: $300, 900 lumens, 4 hrs runtime, see above comments.

    Trail LED Darkstar: $420, 1200 lumens, 375 grams, 3 hours runtime. See comments above, but this is probably the best bang for the buck light out there anywhere.

    Dinote 400L: $229, 400 lumens, 340 grams, 5 hrs runtime. Helmet/bar mounts, 2 spare lenses included, outperformed by others in light/$, but a very nice high quality light set.

    Baja Designs Strykr: $300 ($200 with trade-in), 700 lumens, 520 grams, 3 hours runtime. Helmet & bar mounts, 2 lenses included - spot/flood, waterproof, lifetime warranty on head unit, 1 year on battery. Bomb-proof.

    Baja Designs Stryker Pro: $350 ($250 with trade-in), 700 lumens, 470 grams. Other features same as Strykr, but slightly smaller and designed more as a helmet unit.

    Amoeba XP-G: $240, 600+ lumens, 159 grams, 3.5hrs runtime. Nice little DIY unit, incredibly small and light, extra/extended battery options. This would be the ideal helmet unit, but also a solid bar mount.

    Niteflux Enduro 8: $270, 540 lumens, 486 grams, 3 hrs runtime. All Niteflux units are convertible to flashlights, extra batteries are cheap.

    Light & Motion Stella 400: $300, 400 lumens, 313 grams, 2.5hrs runtime. Dual Spot/Flood, beautiful unit, but outperformed by competition in terms of runtime and output for price.

    Last - check out Ayup lights: Beautiful, small and functional, I just couldn't figure out pricing and the options on the website, gave up. I suspect after you figure in exchange rates and shipping, $/lumen is too low, plus warranty - while excellent, has got to be a hassle without a US distributor.

    Ultimately, I went with the Strykr - couldn't pass up the price/value. Very pleased with it so far, but there are some great options out there. MS900 was not on my short list - price is great but quality is extremely suspect and I prefer to buy for the long term.

    There are numerous inexpensive tail lights out there for under $40. One of the best I have seen:

    http://www.ridepdw.com/goods/lights

    Good luck.
    What was surprising to me, however, is that the lights I've been looking at myself didn't make the list!

    Personally I've been most seriously looking at a Solstice Solo by XVision ($129USD and 900 lumans) and building my own battery pack. Rechargeable AAs should give a 4 hour run time and I already have a smart charger and lots of batteries.
    That particular unit is currently being marketed for off-road use for motorcyclists and 4x machines and yacht lighting and is both solid and waterproof. A helmet and bar mount are available as options.

    I'm really looking for something not just for a bike, but that I can use hiking, or back-country skiing or as a helmet mounted work light. The current unit I'm using is a 15 year old halogen helmet mounted light originally marketed for exploring caves. Technology is making everything cheaper - that unit was originally $100CDN but its been trouble free for this long and if whatever I replace it with gives me that kind of service I'll be a happy camper!

    That Trail LED Darkstar looks really interesting but according to that link - is at least 4 weeks backordered! Patience may be a big factor here!

    Thanks for the post!

  21. #21
    Cyclologist Plutonix's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Burton View Post
    I've been most seriously looking at a Solstice Solo by XVision ($129USD and 900 lumans) and building my own battery pack. Rechargeable AAs should give a 4 hour run time and I already have a smart charger and lots of batteries.
    The Solstice site is rather sparse with tech details. How did you come up with 4 hrs?
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  22. #22
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    When I started this thread I was after a commercial-off-the-shelf solution and was not interested in DIY. I needed a light for my city commuter bike. It needed it to be reliable, compact and immediately available. As you can see from the list, there are many options available.

  23. #23
    2 Old 2 B New B spudston's Avatar
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    I'm happy with my Cygolite Pace 310 which is pretty much the same as the Mitycross. I also have a Magicshine MJ-808 which is brighter but I'm currently not using due to the battery recall. I much prefer the Cygolite mounting system, battery pack and wiring, beam pattern and UL listed charger. For taillights I use a rack mounted Planet Bike Blinky 5 on steady and a Viewpoint Flashpoint on flash. Also many reflective surfaces including ankle bands and vest.

  24. #24
    Certified Bike Brat Burton's Avatar
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    Some details are available on the XVision site

    Quote Originally Posted by Plutonix View Post
    The Solstice site is rather sparse with tech details. How did you come up with 4 hrs?
    Hi!

    If you access the XVision site directly, and look up battery packs (they market their own), http://www.visionxusa.com/Battery/c38/index.html

    The key info there is the amp-hours vs runtime on their packs vs the solstice solo.

    The 2.2 AMP-HOUR XPC-B22 listed there is quoted as *capable of powering a single Solstice Solo pod for over 3.5 hours*

    The Amp-hours for the other battery packs are listed, even if the run times aren't. Just do the math and it'll give you the info you want.

    Thats based on their own lithium battery pack rated at 12V. So if Amp-hours is the key and you were to build your own with a higher amp-hour rating - the burn time would be proportional. Keeping it simple- battery holders are available for 8 cell (12V app) AA or C and D cells for less than $10 and rechargeable AA cells are currently available with a 2,500 to 2,800 mAh capacity. Thats 2.5 to 2.8 Amp-hrs and the capacity (and burn time and weight) go up as you move to C cells or D cells. Wiring and dropping that package into a waterproof container (Lock&lock plastic food container of suitable size with a hole drilled for a cable and rubber grommet) would give me what I personally want with a minimum of work and investment. I already have lots of AA cells and smart chargers.

    Someone else might prefer to just buy the item ready to from directly from XVision.

    Hope that was the kind of info that you were looking for.
    Last edited by Burton; 01-26-11 at 01:56 PM. Reason: spelling (sigh)

  25. #25
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Have a Double Schmidt E6 headlight set, that I never got around to installing,
    I am planning to get a E delux LED light, then I will have 2 primary and the 1
    secondary light , surplus..
    the double lights are popular with faster Brevet riders,
    to keep from out running their headlights on those downhills at night.

    Its been a dark wet winter ,and bright lights are good when the weather is bad..

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