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  1. #1
    vol
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    Problems with the popular $20 headlight/headlamp

    I bought one of this type of light (claimed to be 1800LM but about the same as my 800LM flashlight, both could be much less ). Not as impressed as I thought I would be. I used it twice. It shut off more than half of the time without warning. I finally found out at least some incidents were caused by the cable from the light to the battery being totally disconnected--the connection between the battery and light was too loose. Is there an easy solution to this? Also, how strong is the rubber ring that is used to mount the light to the handlebar? When the road is bumpy, the light tends to slip downward on the handlebar; may fall some day.

    Although it's reasonably bright, I find it doesn't throw very far. It lights up very close vicinity. My flashlight has a longer beam.

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    I use this Planet Bike headlight. The description doesn't give the lumen output, but it works well for me. It connects to the handlebar firmly, although my 10-mile commute on pavement doesn't jar it much.

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    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vol View Post
    I bought one of this type of light (claimed to be 1800LM but about the same as my 800LM flashlight, both could be much less ). Not as impressed as I thought I would be. I used it twice. It shut off more than half of the time without warning. I finally found out at least some incidents were caused by the cable from the light to the battery being totally disconnected--the connection between the battery and light was too loose. Is there an easy solution to this? Also, how strong is the rubber ring that is used to mount the light to the handlebar? When the road is bumpy, the light tends to slip downward on the handlebar; may fall some day.

    Although it's reasonably bright, I find it doesn't throw very far. It lights up very close vicinity. My flashlight has a longer beam.
    I wonder if you aren't making the connection properly. All of the LED lights that I've owned have connectors that are almost too tight. They are difficult to disconnect. Are you sure that you are pushing the plug into the light far enough? My daughter had the same problem and that was the cause.

    I doubt that the o-ring will "fail" but it does slip. A bit of rubber or Tommy Tape will solve the vibration issue. The Tommy Tape is great for finishing bar wraps, by the way.

    I will agree that the o-ring mount isn't the best mount. I got rid of mine and went to a Marwi mount. This guy tells you how and has the mounts. I have multiple mounts on multiple bikes which makes changing lights from bike to bike simple.
    Stuart Black
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    rugged individualist wphamilton's Avatar
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    I got the same light a couple of weeks ago and I'm pretty pleased with it. I didn't even try with the rubber ring mount, just replaced it with a large plastic zip-tie.

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    Galveston County Texas 10 Wheels's Avatar
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    Got two more and test rode them yesterday.

    The O-Rings work good for me.

    I wrap the mount bar with rubber tape to get the desired diameter.

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    Seņior Member ItsJustMe's Avatar
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    Yeah, I'd guess that you had the connector halfway in. I have one that the connector is so tight that it's very difficult to plug in all the way. I actually wound up putting three slices into the waterproofing ring to make it easy to plug in. It really doesn't matter much if some water gets into the connector unless it's salty water and it doesn't get washed out - that will corrode.

    Hey 10 Wheels - I have that same $6 bike comp! I actually wound up replacing it because a couple of times it just reset and lost my odometer value. It's possible I just pushed the wrong button - it was a little confusing to use.
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    Galveston County Texas 10 Wheels's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ItsJustMe View Post
    Yeah, I'd guess that you had the connector halfway in. I have one that the connector is so tight that it's very difficult to plug in all the way. I actually wound up putting three slices into the waterproofing ring to make it easy to plug in. It really doesn't matter much if some water gets into the connector unless it's salty water and it doesn't get washed out - that will corrode.

    Hey 10 Wheels - I have that same $6 bike comp! I actually wound up replacing it because a couple of times it just reset and lost my odometer value. It's possible I just pushed the wrong button - it was a little confusing to use.
    $5... been using two for 5 years now......Your battery may have been weak or dying.

    http://dx.com/p/sunding-electronic-b...edometer-24075
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  8. #8
    vol
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    Thanks--glad I asked! After reading two of you both saying I may not have plugged the connector further enough, I tried again and, indeed, it snapped really tight, hard to disconnect. (If it's kept connected when not turning on the light, will there be battery power leaking?)

    Great tips of using rubber or Tommy tape for the handlbar mount. Is the Tommy tape similar to electric tape or has more friction?

  9. #9
    rugged individualist wphamilton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 10 Wheels View Post
    $5... been using two for 5 years now......Your battery may have been weak or dying.

    http://dx.com/p/sunding-electronic-b...edometer-24075
    I like those also. Sometimes one of the buttons gets stuck down, then when you're punching the other to cycle screens or trip reset, and it's as if you're hold both down and therefore resets/initializes it.

    Regarding the discharging while connected, the current drain for the button glow is insubstantial.

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    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vol View Post
    Thanks--glad I asked! After reading two of you both saying I may not have plugged the connector further enough, I tried again and, indeed, it snapped really tight, hard to disconnect. (If it's kept connected when not turning on the light, will there be battery power leaking?)

    Great tips of using rubber or Tommy tape for the handlbar mount. Is the Tommy tape similar to electric tape or has more friction?
    On your first question, keeping the light plugged in will usually result in a little battery draw if the light has an indicator light on it. These are usually very low intensity lights and the power draw isn't significant.

    Tommy tape is a self-fusing silicon tape that has no adhesive. It doesn't stick to the bars but only to itself. And when it sticks to itself, it really fuses. You can't get it to release and have to cut it off. Electrical tape has an adhesive on it that sticks to other stuff and often leaves a residue. Tommy tape will work in wet conditions...you can apply it over water...while electrical tape will not stick to a wet surface and it may not remain stuck if it gets wet.
    Stuart Black
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  11. #11
    vol
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    Thanks cyccommute. Good to know about this nice Tommy tape. I think I could wrap a layer of it on the bar and then wrap electric tape over it to be more economical

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    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ThomasMcA View Post
    I use this Planet Bike headlight. The description doesn't give the lumen output, but it works well for me. It connects to the handlebar firmly, although my 10-mile commute on pavement doesn't jar it much.
    I would use this as a "bee seen" light but the output is a low for seeing where you are going.

    Have a number of these and they have been in use for many years and have not had a problem although they are used as a secondary to my primary lighting.

    The 2w Planet Bike headlight is what I would consider to be minimal for a light to see with and I have been beating one up since they were first released and it has not caused any issues. They throw 180 lumens which is not extreme but it is always a balance between brightness and run time... I can get 6 hours of full power on 2 AA rechargeables while many brighter lights have run times that might not be long enough for longer commutes / rides.

    Carrying a spare set of AA batteries is not onerous either.

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    Seņior Member ItsJustMe's Avatar
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    Yeah, I definitely couldn't ride with that PB Beamer. It's listed as 35 lumens. Each of my three taillights are brighter than that. I don't think I could see 10 feet down the road with that.
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    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ItsJustMe View Post
    Yeah, I definitely couldn't ride with that PB Beamer. It's listed as 35 lumens. Each of my three taillights are brighter than that. I don't think I could see 10 feet down the road with that.
    The 2Watt PB light is rated at 150 lumens, it throws a nice beam because of a better lense so has better lux (a better measure than lumens)... it compares nicely to the generator light on my wife's bike which is a 40 lux B&M headlight.

    In the winter I can run often the light on it's low power mode because of the snow which is a bright reflective surface.

    For riding in the rain a brighter light is better but I don't have to deal with as much of that and do have hub lighting on my summer commuter... the 40 lux B&M is better in the rain as the lense is even better.

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    Quote Originally Posted by vol View Post
    I bought one of this type of light (claimed to be 1800LM but about the same as my 800LM flashlight, both could be much less ). Not as impressed as I thought I would be.
    800lm is about typical for those lights at full brightness. If you look up most reviews where they measure they usually come up in that range. 800lm is still very bright for a $20 light. Beam pattern is an issue with all bike lights, especially the cheaper ones. A flashlight tends to have too much of a center hot-spot, while these tend to throw light everywhere. Ideally, you want the goldilocks beam of not too much spread, but still enough to illuminate peripheral areas.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ThomasMcA View Post
    I use this Planet Bike headlight. The description doesn't give the lumen output, but it works well for me. It connects to the handlebar firmly, although my 10-mile commute on pavement doesn't jar it much.
    Wow, somebody out there still sells that absolute pos, and somebody actually recommends it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sixty Fiver View Post
    The 2Watt PB light is rated at 150 lumens.
    There's so much better options than buying that 2 watt PB light, Planet Bike hasn't made any decent front light since they stopped making the HID lights due to LED takover.


    The OP made a good choice, just connect the plug tighter and you got a killer light for $20. Nothing comes close to that value.

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    I guess my route has more street lights than I thought, cuz that PB light worked fine for my needs. Maybe I'll look for a better light sometime soon!

  18. #18
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrbubbles View Post
    Wow, somebody out there still sells that absolute pos, and somebody actually recommends it.

    There's so much better options than buying that 2 watt PB light, Planet Bike hasn't made any decent front light since they stopped making the HID lights due to LED takover.

    The OP made a good choice, just connect the plug tighter and you got a killer light for $20. Nothing comes close to that value.
    I have no love for flashlights with bad optics or people with more lights than you need for a vehicle that isn't going to top 30 mph... 1800 lumens is about twice as bright as the very best dyno lighting system and would guarantee that the optics on a $20.00 light are crap.

    Those lower output blinkies are still good for being seen... they do not provide adequate light to see by.

    My experience with the 2W is that it is a good minimum and they can be bought here for much less than they are in the US which makes a difference... I have been talking with the folks at PB about improving and developing new lights that will be better and more competitive with the bargain lights on the market.

  19. #19
    vol
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    This evening I used it again and it remained on all the time. I also changed to the smaller rubber ring for the mount, and the light didn't slip even on bumpy road. Thanks again.

    Quote Originally Posted by gsa103 View Post
    800lm is about typical for those lights at full brightness. If you look up most reviews where they measure they usually come up in that range. 800lm is still very bright for a $20 light. Beam pattern is an issue with all bike lights, especially the cheaper ones. A flashlight tends to have too much of a center hot-spot, while these tend to throw light everywhere. Ideally, you want the goldilocks beam of not too much spread, but still enough to illuminate peripheral areas.
    I totally agree with you. I need the light to have a distinctive long beam so that drivers coming from the side can be alerted in advance (they'll see the light before they see me). Another function of long beam is to scare away pedestrians . FYI the flashlight I have is this one (I like that it can run on 3xAAs).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sixty Fiver View Post
    I have no love for flashlights with bad optics or people with more lights than you need for a vehicle that isn't going to top 30 mph... 1800 lumens is about twice as bright as the very best dyno lighting system and would guarantee that the optics on a $20.00 light are crap.
    When a beam pattern isn't suited for your use, it's not crap. Those $20 light put out as much light (700-800 lumens, not 1800 lumens) as the first gen Lupine Seoul P7 led lights, and I've seen people used 2000 lumen Lupines on commutes, not ideal but people can do it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sixty Fiver View Post
    Those lower output blinkies are still good for being seen... they do not provide adequate light to see by.
    Lower output blinkies need to be in flashing mode to be seen. In steady mode, they are absolutely useless and get completely washed out by ambient lighting, that pb beamer 5 isn't even bright enough to light up street signs unless it's aimed perfectly at the street sign. (I had that pos as far back as 2005 (still have the MEC catalogue where they advertised this stuff along with Nitehawk (defunct a long time ago), absolute garage compared to what's available today).

    Quote Originally Posted by Sixty Fiver View Post
    My experience with the 2W is that it is a good minimum and they can be bought here for much less than they are in the US which makes a difference... I have been talking with the folks at PB about improving and developing new lights that will be better and more competitive with the bargain lights on the market.
    You have the PB 2w and the B&M, do you have any 1000 lumen lights to compare your lights to? This whole "beam pattern" and cutoff nonsense is not as dire as some people claim to be. As for Planet Bike, they should stick to non-bike-light accessories, no one talks about them in the bike light enthusiast scene anymore. MTBR has a light shootout section and a very active light forum section, nobody talks about Planet Bike lights there. http://forums.mtbr.com/lights-night-riding/

    The only people who buy the pb 2w now are those who don't know any better, MEC's own brand of silicone rebadged oem lights are more convenient and useful for the occasional night rider. Serious commuters/racer wannabes have gone the chinese clone route or cygolites.

  21. #21
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sixty Fiver View Post
    I have no love for flashlights with bad optics or people with more lights than you need for a vehicle that isn't going to top 30 mph... 1800 lumens is about twice as bright as the very best dyno lighting system and would guarantee that the optics on a $20.00 light are crap.
    How do you know that the vehicle isn't going to top 30mph? I regularly can top 30 mph within the first quarter mile of my office and can sustain in excess of 30 mph for the first couple of miles. With a little bit of trying, I can top 40mph on a nasty little hill about 3 miles from work. I'm sure that other people can experience the similar speeds in lots of different locations around the world. Sure, my average speed for my commute may be closer to the 15mph range but I'd rather have the lights for the 40mph part and even the light I currently run are near the limit for that speed.
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  22. #22
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrbubbles View Post
    When a beam pattern isn't suited for your use, it's not crap. Those $20 light put out as much light (700-800 lumens, not 1800 lumens) as the first gen Lupine Seoul P7 led lights, and I've seen people used 2000 lumen Lupines on commutes, not ideal but people can do it.

    Lower output blinkies need to be in flashing mode to be seen. In steady mode, they are absolutely useless and get completely washed out by ambient lighting, that pb beamer 5 isn't even bright enough to light up street signs unless it's aimed perfectly at the street sign. (I had that pos as far back as 2005 (still have the MEC catalogue where they advertised this stuff along with Nitehawk (defunct a long time ago), absolute garage compared to what's available today).

    You have the PB 2w and the B&M, do you have any 1000 lumen lights to compare your lights to? This whole "beam pattern" and cutoff nonsense is not as dire as some people claim to be. As for Planet Bike, they should stick to non-bike-light accessories, no one talks about them in the bike light enthusiast scene anymore. MTBR has a light shootout section and a very active light forum section, nobody talks about Planet Bike lights there. http://forums.mtbr.com/lights-night-riding/


    The only people who buy the pb 2w now are those who don't know any better, MEC's own brand of silicone rebadged oem lights are more convenient and useful for the occasional night rider. Serious commuters/racer wannabes have gone the chinese clone route or cygolites.
    I get to play with a lot of stuff and only suggest the 2W PB lights as a bare minimum... technology is moving forward very quickly and there are some incredibly good lights and some really bad copies.

    I am looking at things from a commuter perspective... if you hit the trails you need different lighting and mtbr is a good place to read those reviews but trail lighting is not the same as road / urban lighting.

    The new Blaze 2W Micro is a $30.00 light here and for a lot or urban commuters this is enough light for very little money... it is 140 lumens.

    MEC offers a 480 lumen light for $49.00

    Move up from there and you have the base Cygo at 2x the price and it is rated at 500 lumens.

    The euro standard for lights is 3watts / 40 lux and has regulations for the beam pattern... if all those lumens are poorly directed they are rather useless.

    I have been able to ride test the new B&M lights that run up to 80 lux which is close to 800 lumens... I can't see how any commuter could ever want a better light.

    Have also off roaded on the older Nitehawk (250 lumen) and various HID systems... great on the trail but painful on the road if you are riding into them.

  23. #23
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
    How do you know that the vehicle isn't going to top 30mph? I regularly can top 30 mph within the first quarter mile of my office and can sustain in excess of 30 mph for the first couple of miles. With a little bit of trying, I can top 40mph on a nasty little hill about 3 miles from work. I'm sure that other people can experience the similar speeds in lots of different locations around the world. Sure, my average speed for my commute may be closer to the 15mph range but I'd rather have the lights for the 40mph part and even the light I currently run are near the limit for that speed.
    If you ride that fast, good on you.

    Most folks ride in that 15 mph range and the light discussions here can be like who has the biggest package or who needs to compensate ?

    I rode the Hellway in Portland on a Zoobomb after taking the fast and twisty way down... lights were 40 lux and we topped 45 mph.

    The lighting was more than adequate.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sixty Fiver View Post
    I get to play with a lot of stuff and only suggest the 2W PB lights as a bare minimum... technology is moving forward very quickly and there are some incredibly good lights and some really bad copies.

    I am looking at things from a commuter perspective... if you hit the trails you need different lighting and mtbr is a good place to read those reviews but trail lighting is not the same as road / urban lighting.

    The new Blaze 2W Micro is a $30.00 light here and for a lot or urban commuters this is enough light for very little money... it is 140 lumens.

    MEC offers a 480 lumen light for $49.00

    Move up from there and you have the base Cygo at 2x the price and it is rated at 500 lumens.

    The euro standard for lights is 3watts / 40 lux and has regulations for the beam pattern... if all those lumens are poorly directed they are rather useless.
    MEC's lighting products are overpriced for what you get. As for trail lighting vs road/urban lighting, a lot of stuff sold in lbs are dual use, they are not tailored for one or the other specifically. Plenty of people use 1000 lumen trail lights for road/urban use and plenty of people use single unit cygolites/light motion for trail as well. There's no stopping somebody using a $300 light motion or a 1000 lumen $50 chinese clone for urban commutes.

    Most cyclisst have one or two set of bike lights, and guess what, they'll switch their most powerful battery light to the mountain, to the road bike, and to the commuter when they want to, they usually don't go out and get dedicated lights for each bike.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sixty Fiver View Post
    I have been able to ride test the new B&M lights that run up to 80 lux which is close to 800 lumens... I can't see how any commuter could ever want a better light.
    Lux is not directly convertible to lumens. They are different measurements. I have the new B&M "80 lux" light you've tested that came out this year. It is not close to 800 lumens at all, it just has a shaped beam with a cutoff, my diy dynamo light kills it.

    You may not be able to see how any commuter could ever want a better light, but some users can. This isn't Western Yurope where drivers treat cyclists with respect and paid attention to on the road.
    Last edited by mrbubbles; 12-05-13 at 12:25 AM.

  25. #25
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrbubbles View Post
    MEC's lighting products are overpriced for what you get. As for trail lighting vs road/urban lighting, a lot of stuff sold in lbs are dual use, they are not tailored for one or the other specifically. Plenty of people use 1000 lumen trail lights for road/urban use and plenty of people use single unit cygolites/light motion for trail as well. There's no stopping somebody using a $300 light motion or a 1000 lumen $50 chinese clone for urban commutes.

    Most cyclisst have one or two set of bike lights, and guess what, they'll switch their most powerful battery light to the mountain, to the road bike, and to the commuter when they want to, they usually don't go out and get dedicated lights for each bike.

    Lux is not directly convertible to lumens. They are different measurements. I have the new B&M "80 lux" light you've tested that came out this year. It is not close to 800 lumens at all, it just has a shaped beam with a cutoff, my diy dynamo light kills it.

    You may not be able to see how any commuter could ever want a better light, but some users can. This isn't Western Yurope where drivers treat cyclists with respect and paid attention to on the road.
    I can understand how some riders might want brighter and better lights, it is about horses for courses... but sometimes it gets a little ridiculous as to how much light people think they need.

    Who was the poster who wanted an 1800 lumen light for his helmet so he could flash and stop motorists in their tracks ?

    The headlights in my car have to meet certain specifications and if they are aimed improperly they can pose a hazard and get me a ticket... if cyclists want to get some respect part of that might come from being sensible about their lighting choices.

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