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  1. #1
    Senior Member Tall Cool One's Avatar
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    headlight for road bike recommendations

    My old cheapo headlight for my road bike passed away after a hemorrhage of the battery.

    I'm looking to replace. My budget is 50 bucks or less. I'm using it mainly to be seen, but would love to be able to see with it as well while riding through small town streets some lit, some not. What headlight would you recommend?

    I only use it to finish up summer evening rides. Absolute longest I would be using it at one time would be an hour and that's if I have a major problem.
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  2. #2
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    There are a lot of battery LED headlights at that $50 price.. be seen something like the
    1/2w planet bike superflash ,

    theres a 1w and a 2w with the shorter run time as the current load increases,
    but you can see by those where there are No Streetlights.
    Cat Eye makes quality stuff , too ..

    some other "I got an X brand and its great" will follow ,

    Just sayin', PB and Nightrider ( US made so pricier) do customer service, good.

    Got a computer Job.? then the USB at work can charge the return trip juice.. those are not using Flashlight batteries..
    Last edited by fietsbob; 01-27-14 at 02:25 PM.

  3. #3
    Super Moderator no1mad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    There are a lot of battery LED headlights at that $50 price.. be seen something like the
    1/2w planet bike superflash ,

    theres a 1w and a 2w with the shorter run time as the current load increases,
    but you can see by those where there are No Streetlights.
    Cat Eye makes quality stuff , too ..

    some other "I got an X brand and its great" will follow ,

    Just sayin', PB and Nightrider ( US made so pricier) do customer service, good.

    Got a computer Job.? then the USB at work can charge the return trip juice.. those are not using Flashlight batteries..
    I know a lot of people like the USB charging, but it is nice to have actual batteries that can be swapped out. My furnace died the other day and turned out it needed new cells in the thermostat. Of course, I didn't have the required size in the junk drawer, but I did in one of my lights. Crisis averted

    Back on topic- $50 will get you any number of LED lights from Amazon, ebay, and other online sources. If you don't mind lights with remote packs, you could probably get a complete light (head, battery pack, charger) for around $30.
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  4. #4
    tcs
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tall Cool One View Post
    My old cheapo headlight for my road bike passed away after a hemorrhage of the battery.

    I'm looking to replace. My budget is 50 bucks or less. I'm using it mainly to be seen, but would love to be able to see with it as well while riding through small town streets some lit, some not. What headlight would you recommend?
    Read the posts from the last year or so in the "Best $50 headlights" thread stickied at the top of this forum.
    "When man first set woman on two wheels with a pair of pedals, did he know, I wonder, that he had rent the veil of the harem in twain? A woman on a bicycle has all the world before her where to choose; she can go where she will, no man hindering." The Typewriter Girl, 1899.

    "Every so often a bird gets up and flies some place it's drawn to. I don't suppose it could tell you why, but it does it anyway." Ian Hibell, 1934-2008

  5. #5
    Senior Member floridamtb's Avatar
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    Just bought an Origin8 Pro Pulsion 200 lumen light this morning, know nothing about it yet. I liked that it's a small form factor and bright. Anyone else know anything about this light or ever use one?
    Kevin S

  6. #6
    Senior Member Cyclosaurus's Avatar
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    This is outside of your budget at $80, but you might find it worth the extra bux: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    It's a terrific light for seeing and being seen. It has built in charging via USB of the included rechargeable AAs. It's the best of both worlds because you can both carry spares and recharge easily. The beam is very good and functions more like a car headlight, and less likely to blind drivers than other lights.

  7. #7
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    AA's are NiMH at best. NiMH batteries don't carry as much energy as LiIon batteries. But I'm not saying it's a bad light. I have the dynamo version of that light and think it is excellent.

    NiteRider lights are expensive but fantastic. They use LiIon batteries.
    You don't read my signature anyway, do you?

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  8. #8
    Senior Member 01 CAt Man Do's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tall Cool One View Post
    My old cheapo headlight for my road bike passed away after a hemorrhage of the battery.

    I'm looking to replace. My budget is 50 bucks or less. I'm using it mainly to be seen, but would love to be able to see with it as well while riding through small town streets some lit, some not. What headlight would you recommend?

    I only use it to finish up summer evening rides. Absolute longest I would be using it at one time would be an hour and that's if I have a major problem.
    This is easy. Buy one of the Solarstorm X2 lamps or clones. On the bars makes a very good road light. I do suggest however that you find a place that sells just the lamp head and than buy a battery from a reliable vendor. The batteries that are usually sold with these lamps are sometimes not the best of quality. On the other hand most of these cheap 4-cell batteries should still provide over 1.5 hr. with the lamp on high. The SSX2 lamp head with a good after market battery should cost about $45-$50.

    Now if you want to spend less and can get by with just 900 lumen buy one of these..( you will still need a battery though ) A good quality 7.4 volt 4-cell battery ( with battery bag ) will cost about $25-$35....or buy one of these ( buy four cells for this and you are ready to go )

  9. #9
    Seņior Member ItsJustMe's Avatar
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    The Philips light is very good. I returned mine immediately but that's because the NiMH cells don't do well in extreme cold - at -19C I only had about 20 minutes on high.

    If you don't ride in conditions that cold, or if your commute is shorter, it's a fine light.

    I'm honestly just about as happy with a $30 eBay light with a wide angle lens added to it, but the separate battery and wires are more fussing than many people want to do.
    Work: the 8 hours that separates bike rides.

  10. #10
    Senior Member 01 CAt Man Do's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ItsJustMe View Post
    The Philips light is very good. I returned mine immediately but that's because the NiMH cells don't do well in extreme cold - at -19C I only had about 20 minutes on high.

    If you don't ride in conditions that cold, or if your commute is shorter, it's a fine light.

    I'm honestly just about as happy with a $30 eBay light with a wide angle lens added to it, but the separate battery and wires are more fussing than many people want to do.
    No light system really works well in super cold conditions unless you find a way to isolate or warm the battery. This really isn't possible with a self contained lamp. Currently I'm kicking myself in the butt because I wanted to buy myself a bigger frame-type bag to help isolate my bar light battery but I lost the link I had to the one I wanted ( *sigh* ). Looks like I have to surf through all my saved "bike" links, a very tedious process. Sheesh, the penalty for not being organized.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by 01 CAt Man Do View Post
    No light system really works well in super cold conditions unless you find a way to isolate or warm the battery.

    Dynamo system works very well in the cold, no battery chemical system to worry about.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by tcs View Post
    Read the posts from the last year or so in the "Best $50 headlights" thread stickied at the top of this forum.
    I think the Keygos XML-U2 is still available that I found on this thread. It is $39 or less and it is plenty bright for your stated use. It comes with 2 18650 rechargeable Li-ion batteries, a charger, a headmount and a bar mount. You really can't go wrong for the price even if it doesn't quite meet the spec.

  13. #13
    tcs
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrbubbles View Post
    Dynamo system works very well in the cold, no battery chemical system to worry about.
    Hmmm - headlamp, $50 budget, dynamo system. Let's see...

    Dynamo hub, spokes to rebuild front wheel, modern LED headlamp...whoa, way over budget. Reelight SL550 Front...nope, shipping will put you over budget. Maybe a B&M IQ Fly ($30 + ~$12 shipping from Peter White) and an old sidewall bottle generator from the LBS's junk drawer? Or one of these? Perhaps an old West German Union 100

    union 100.jpg

    fitted with a modern replacement LED bulb?

    Well, all of these would broadcast photons after a fashion, but I'm not really feeling warm and snuggly about the <$50 dynamo systems I've come up with. What hardware were you envisioning, mrbubbles?
    Last edited by tcs; 01-31-14 at 09:37 AM.
    "When man first set woman on two wheels with a pair of pedals, did he know, I wonder, that he had rent the veil of the harem in twain? A woman on a bicycle has all the world before her where to choose; she can go where she will, no man hindering." The Typewriter Girl, 1899.

    "Every so often a bird gets up and flies some place it's drawn to. I don't suppose it could tell you why, but it does it anyway." Ian Hibell, 1934-2008

  14. #14
    Senior Member dougmc's Avatar
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    It's hard to beat this deal on a Magicshine clone -- $16.49 for a light that will probably put out around 800 lumens (they tend to overrate things, but it's still a lot of light) and while it's not the best quality light -- it's not bad.

    With your budget ... buy two (give one to a friend or just use both), $2.02 more of some filler item for free shipping, and two of the $5 Planet Bike Super Flash clones from Deal Extreme and you're set with $5 left on your budget.

  15. #15
    Seņior Member ItsJustMe's Avatar
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    If you have a dynamo, you won't worry about money, because they make everything alright no matter what your situation.
    Work: the 8 hours that separates bike rides.

  16. #16
    Senior Member rekmeyata's Avatar
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    The Chinese clone lights are far overrated, if they say 1200 lumens expect around 100! And their reliability is poor, so you could be spending that $35 or so every year.

    For $50 or less all you're mostly going to get is a to be seen light and not a light to see by. If I were you I would get a quality light that will last a long time, one that once you can afford a better light you can mount the old one to your helmet. Since that sticky came out on this forum new lights has entered the market which for the money is decent light, on sale on Amazon is the Cygolite Metro 420, this puts out 420 lumens on high which means you can easily see the road with it, it only cost about $10 more than your budget but it is a high quality light with side lighting, and a self contained battery instead of a battery pack like the cheap chinese generics, and it will run on high for about 2 hours and longer on other modes. If that price is still pushing you too much then also on Amazon is the Cygolite Metro 300 for just under $45 with the same features as the 420 but slightly longer run times.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by rekmeyata View Post
    The Chinese clone lights are far overrated, if they say 1200 lumens expect around 100! And their reliability is poor, so you could be spending that $35 or so every year. For $50 or less all you're mostly going to get is a to be seen light and not a light to see by.
    Just not so.

    You can easily get a lot of light to see by with a $10 flashlight, $3 mount, with a few more dollars if you need the battery and/or charger. Or get about the same thing in a cycling-specific package for $17 to $35. The LED is the same LED used elsewhere. Agreed, the battery or other elements from some sellers have higher failure rates than the more costly brand names.

    Spend a little, get a lot of light, and expect that you'll need to replace it sooner. Spend more, get a lot of light, and expect that it will last longer than you may want to keep using it because the latest and greatest products will outperform them and cost less.

    Both are perfectly valid choices.

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    My Keygos light from China is a decent quality all metal light that will last a long time. It puts out way more than 100 lumens, more like 500, and is plenty bright to see down the road. It is self-contained, so there are no wires to break, no battery packs. It charges in the unit itself, although you can buy extra batteries and a decent multi-battery charger as it uses a standard sized 18650 battery.

    I recently put a dynamo light on my usual night bike so I won't be using this one on a bike much, but it is still our around-the-house flashlight. Oh, it also comes with a head strap so you can use it hands-free. This is very convenient for all sorts of stuff, like grilling, pulling things from the garden, working close up on things, whatever. My kids think I'm a total dork when I use it this way. That makes it even more cool.

  19. #19
    Senior Member rekmeyata's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Athens80 View Post
    Just not so.

    You can easily get a lot of light to see by with a $10 flashlight, $3 mount, with a few more dollars if you need the battery and/or charger. Or get about the same thing in a cycling-specific package for $17 to $35. The LED is the same LED used elsewhere. Agreed, the battery or other elements from some sellers have higher failure rates than the more costly brand names.

    Spend a little, get a lot of light, and expect that you'll need to replace it sooner. Spend more, get a lot of light, and expect that it will last longer than you may want to keep using it because the latest and greatest products will outperform them and cost less.

    Both are perfectly valid choices.
    Actually I was talking about lights made specifically for cycling and not flashlights. Heck if you want talk flashlights you could mount one of these to a bike too and have a really bright light: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...SIN=B001U04MCG Just strap that bad boy on and off you go. Seriously, sure you could find a flashlight, but even for $10 I haven't found one that is as bright as any of my bike lights, they might be a bit brighter in a very small pencil stick area but not even close over a a wide coverage area that is good to have on the street (this is why cars don't use small but bright spot lighting, they use a broad beam), I think you would need to up the ante a bit more.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rekmeyata View Post
    Actually I was talking about lights made specifically for cycling and not flashlights. Heck if you want talk flashlights you could mount one of these to a bike too and have a really bright light: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...SIN=B001U04MCG Just strap that bad boy on and off you go. Seriously, sure you could find a flashlight, but even for $10 I haven't found one that is as bright as any of my bike lights, they might be a bit brighter in a very small pencil stick area but not even close over a a wide coverage area that is good to have on the street (this is why cars don't use small but bright spot lighting, they use a broad beam), I think you would need to up the ante a bit more.
    Flashlights come with a variety of lenses. Some are narrow beam, some are wide beam, and you can get shaped beams too. My flashlight is as bright as my Lezyne Super Drive. The Lezyne has a slightly shaped beam, but nowhere near as shaped as my B&M Cyo premium, which points all light to the road.

  21. #21
    Senior Member rekmeyata's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zacster View Post
    Flashlights come with a variety of lenses. Some are narrow beam, some are wide beam, and you can get shaped beams too. My flashlight is as bright as my Lezyne Super Drive. The Lezyne has a slightly shaped beam, but nowhere near as shaped as my B&M Cyo premium, which points all light to the road.
    That's the beauty of lights like your B&M and my Phillips Saferide, all the light is used to light up the road instead of tree tops, which means less energy is used to throw the same amount of light on the ground as does others.

    For the OP, If you look a this comparison and look at the amount of light brightness that is actually on the ground and on the lower half of the fence you'll see that the Philips Saferide is as bright as lights costing twice as much... the fact is though that light only puts out 220 or 230 actual lumens compared to with over a 1000 the others have to put out! I'm sure it's the same thing with the B&M because they both use a shaped beam. See: http://reviews.mtbr.com/2012-bike-li...pattern-photos The Philips can now be bought for $80 in black on Amazon.

    Here are some more comparisons, just find the brightest light you can for the $50 range you want: http://reviews.mtbr.com/2013-bike-li...rd-beam-photos
    http://www.performancebike.com/bikes...ghtBuyersGuide
    http://www.modernbike.com/guide.asp?...singleshotplus
    http://www.ivanhoecycles.com.au/ligh...t/cat_259.html

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    Quote Originally Posted by rekmeyata View Post
    The Chinese clone lights are far overrated, if they say 1200 lumens expect around 100! And their reliability is poor, so you could be spending that $35 or so every year. For $50 or less all you're mostly going to get is a to be seen light and not a light to see by.
    Quote Originally Posted by Athens80 View Post
    Just not so.

    You can easily get a lot of light to see by with a $10 flashlight, $3 mount, with a few more dollars if you need the battery and/or charger. Or get about the same thing in a cycling-specific package for $17 to $35. The LED is the same LED used elsewhere. Agreed, the battery or other elements from some sellers have higher failure rates than the more costly brand names.

    Spend a little, get a lot of light, and expect that you'll need to replace it sooner. Spend more, get a lot of light, and expect that it will last longer than you may want to keep using it because the latest and greatest products will outperform them and cost less.

    Both are perfectly valid choices.
    The point is, whether you spend $17 on a cycling headlight set with a Cree LED, or $10 on a bare flashlight with a Cree LED, you're getting a light to see by, not just to be seen. You don't have to "up the ante" to get a bright light. It's just wrong to say that the inexpensive bike lights only put out 100 lumens. Buy a $17 light, buy a $50 light, buy a $200 light; they each have their purpose. But all the lights people are recommending here are not just "to be seen" lights and they put out more than 100 lumens.

  23. #23
    Senior Member rekmeyata's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Athens80 View Post
    The point is, whether you spend $17 on a cycling headlight set with a Cree LED, or $10 on a bare flashlight with a Cree LED, you're getting a light to see by, not just to be seen. You don't have to "up the ante" to get a bright light. It's just wrong to say that the inexpensive bike lights only put out 100 lumens. Buy a $17 light, buy a $50 light, buy a $200 light; they each have their purpose. But all the lights people are recommending here are not just "to be seen" lights and they put out more than 100 lumens.
    Not true. Please see this: http://reviews.mtbr.com/2012-bike-li...ttern-photos/2 now scan down to the last two rows at the bottom and the look at the first square in each of the 2 rows, the first is a pic of a 400 lumen MagicShine, the second one is a pic of the 400 lumen (on the box it says 270), note how bright the MagicShine is, it's not 400 lumens probably closer to 150 unshaped light that can barely light up the test scene, you can't see with that light well enough to be moving at the speed a bike travels, for a flashlight standing around and holding it it's fine, but not moving at the speed of a bike. Look at the nearby 100 lumen headlights, the Niterider Mako 1, Light & Motion Vis380, both are too dim to see with adequately moving at the average cyclist speed of 15 mph on a bike. I have a "100 lumen" flashlight and there is no way I would ride with that light because I would override the light.

    But the OP needs to decide for himself what is comfortable for his needs to ride with, not what you or I say, he may agree with you or he may not, it's his idea of what is safe for him.

  24. #24
    Senior Member 01 CAt Man Do's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rekmeyata View Post
    Not true. Please see this: http://reviews.mtbr.com/2012-bike-li...ttern-photos/2 now scan down to the last two rows at the bottom and the look at the first square in each of the 2 rows, the first is a pic of a 400 lumen MagicShine, the second one is a pic of the 400 lumen (on the box it says 270), note how bright the MagicShine is, it's not 400 lumens probably closer to 150 unshaped light that can barely light up the test scene, you can't see with that light well enough to be moving at the speed a bike travels, for a flashlight standing around and holding it it's fine, but not moving at the speed of a bike. Look at the nearby 100 lumen headlights, the Niterider Mako 1, Light & Motion Vis380, both are too dim to see with adequately moving at the average cyclist speed of 15 mph on a bike. I have a "100 lumen" flashlight and there is no way I would ride with that light because I would override the light.

    But the OP needs to decide for himself what is comfortable for his needs to ride with, not what you or I say, he may agree with you or he may not, it's his idea of what is safe for him.
    If you hang out on MTBreview.com ( As I have for years ) you know that once in a great while they mess up with the photos. The MJ 858 you refer to was never a very popular light and has no meaningful reference to any lamp that anyone here is referring to. That said, "Why would anyone search to find the worst example of a Chinese light you can find and then categorically dismiss ALL Chinese made lights as outputting 100 lumen"? If that wasn't so sadly idiotic I would fall out of my chair laughing.

    For the last 5 years or so I have been a collector of Chinese made bike lamps and torches. Everyone of the lamps/torches I own gives the output that was expected ( depending on what emitter was used ). Getting back to my original post, the Solarstorm X2 ( with dual XM-L U2 emitters ) will get you in the range of 1000-1200 lumen. A typical cheap single emitter XM-L (U2) MS clone lamp should output about 700-800 lumen ( depending on the output of the driver ). Used on a bike any Chinese lamp using an XM-L based emitter should deliver more than enough light to see while riding down the road. As long as the buyer understands the limitations of LED emitters he should get what he pays for as long as the lamp works.

    ( *edit; If you really want to know how bright a MJ 858 is and if it is really only 100 lumens I suggest you contact Jim at ActionLED. I believe he still sells these ( albeit probably not very many ). If he says it's only 100 lumen tell him to send me an PM over on MTB'er ).
    Last edited by 01 CAt Man Do; 02-02-14 at 01:29 AM.

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    Yes, a Cree XML-U2 will put out up to 1040 lm, at about 100 lm / W. A single 18650 battery will put out 3.7v and 2.4 amps in an hour, which is about how long they last in most configurations. That's about 9w. So let's not be generous and say you get about 40% efficiency, that would be 360 lumens. At 50% you get 450. etc... If you are only getting 100 lumens from one of those, you are choking off the power to the lamp. Below is straight from the Cree website.

    Maximum drive current (A) 3
    Maximum power (W) 10
    Light output Up to 1040 lm @ 10 W

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