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Old 10-17-11, 05:57 PM   #1
K'Tesh
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Rules for buying battery powered headlights/tail lights?

Here's my rules for purchasing a battery powered (AA, AAA, C, 9V, or other) headlight or tail light.
  • Battery powered lights are good as a backup for a rechargeable system, but not as a primary light.
  • Incandescent/Halogen lights (if you can even find them anymore) suck (batteries dry). If you're over 40, you'll remember those flashlights you used as a kid. There's a reason those are not found anymore. (LED's Rock!)
  • Batteries should be able to be purchased at any convenience store. If you have to go to a watch shop, or a specialty store (Radio Shack), the more likely it is that your light will fail you when they are closed.
  • No tool, more complicated than a coin, should ever be needed to change the battery. The more complicated the tool, the less likely you will be carrying it when you need it.
  • The lights must be reasonably water resistant. I live in Oregon, and it's true what they say about our feet (webbed ).
  • Mounts must not be flimsy affairs that will not hold the light steady with the lightest bump.
  • When in doubt, take your light with you, that goes for parking the bike, or going on a ride. (Hint: There is always doubt)
  • High, Low, Flash is really what most people need. SOS? Really, how often do you need to be flagging down a ship or a helicopter?
  • White to front, red to rear. It's not just a good idea, it's the Law!

Anybody got other rules for making their purchases?

(ps, not a rule, but something I aspire to: If it can't melt the car's paint, it's not bright enough)

Last edited by K'Tesh; 10-18-11 at 05:12 PM.
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Old 10-17-11, 06:21 PM   #2
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If you think you have enough lumens, think again. Eventually you will get use to what you got and want more.
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Old 10-17-11, 06:44 PM   #3
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Use the same motto as scuba divers,
"Have a backup for your backup"
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Old 10-18-11, 08:49 AM   #4
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I'll mention this in passing, not that anybody seems to really care, but SOS is still a recognized distress call, and falsely signalling distress is illegal in most places. That said, if you are in distress and signal SOS, good luck on getting a response.

Those are pretty good rules, but the current efficiency and brightness of LEDs are, IMO, making battery powered lights practical for primary use.
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Old 10-18-11, 09:08 AM   #5
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Anybody got other rules for making their purchases?
My new rule says that no light can make up for all the possible needs of any cyclist.

When picking new lights - my rule says there are strengths and weaknesses in any single light setup. Everyone needs to think about lighting in terms of a "system."
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Old 10-18-11, 01:00 PM   #6
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My new rule says that no light can make up for all the possible needs of any cyclist.

When picking new lights - my rule says there are strengths and weaknesses in any single light setup. Everyone needs to think about lighting in terms of a "system."
One of the weaknesses I've seen is where the cyclist has either lights that are too directional. Just because you have a headlight and a tail light doesn't mean that you can/will be seen. Visibility from the side should also be considered. That said, self-adhesive, retro-reflective materials are a good idea (no batteries necessary).
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Old 10-18-11, 01:31 PM   #7
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When you say 'battery powered' I assume you mean rechargable batteries. I had to read down to realize that you meant primary cells.

There's no use for them at all IMO. My backup for a rechargable system is another rechargable system. I have a MagicShine primary headlight with a MagicShine taillight. My backup is a P7 18650 flashlight up front and a pair of SuperFlash clones running low-self-discharge AAA NiMHs.

The ONLY use I can think of for lights running non-rechargables is for an emergency light for people who never expect to be out after dark but want to be prepared; they may have to sit in the corner of a backpack for months between uses.
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Old 10-18-11, 07:39 PM   #8
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As a city rider, I just need to be seen, but I recently bought a 50-led AA-powered light from China for $8 and I just took it out on an unlit area. The thing is pretty darn good at 10 mph. At 20, it wouldn't be enough. I have $2 hipster-cysts on my other bikes. They are just as good as the Knog ones for 1/10 the price. Not like they aren't all made in China anyway. I also got some light and motion sensitive spoke lights for $5 thatare excellent for side view and you can buy the batteries anywhere.
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Old 10-21-11, 11:08 PM   #9
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The ONLY use I can think of for lights running non-rechargables is for an emergency light for people who never expect to be out after dark but want to be prepared; they may have to sit in the corner of a backpack for months between uses.
That's where Eneloops and other low self-discharge batteries come in. Even after a year, they still maintain 85% of the charge according to Sanyo's claims. Although Eneloops would be very expensive to use this way.

On Planet Bike Blaze 2W, that's still an hour of run time on high (assuming 2W draw).
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Old 10-22-11, 01:29 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by colleen c View Post
If you think you have enough lumens, think again. Eventually you will get use to what you got and want more.
+1 - you will over time when you get a super bright light - 700+ lumens get drunk with power and want more.. I started riding at night over 25 years ago and had around 10 lumens and have looked for better - brighter since then. I use about 1500 lumens now but if someone came out with a 2000+ lumen light that runs for 3 hours I will be in line to get one.
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Old 11-01-11, 08:14 AM   #11
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If you think you have enough lumens, think again. Eventually you will get use to what you got and want more.
Eventually, if you wait long enough, the sun will come up and you will have plenty of lumens.
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Old 11-01-11, 10:16 AM   #12
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If your lights run on AA or AAA batteries, always carry some spares.

Develop a regular routine for charging your batteries so you won't forget whether they are charged or not.
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