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  1. #1
    Senior Member spectastic's Avatar
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    need a simple, reliable light

    Sorry if the topic has been repeated before, but in my experience with headlights, they always crap out on me. I never ventured beyond the $20 light from walmart, or the cheap ebay stuff, primarily because they're easily replaceable, and use simple NiMh batteries. However, I've had these lights go out on me or change modes over bumpy roads while running full batteries, which tells me the circuitry in them are terrible. So I'd like to get one of those good ones with a Lithium battery, and a simple 2 modes (constant beam and flashing). I just need to be seen on the streets, and I don't need something powerful that'll light up the whole path, considering I don't like to go out at night anyway.

    Suggestions?




    Actually, I would like to stick with regular AAA and AA batteries. They're way easier to replace, and I don't want to be stuck with an integrated battery on the cygolite after 4 months, when it's lost half its capacity. Also, I have a smart charger that does a depletion cycle, and prevents overcharging. That's a better option than to have a Lithium battery sitting in a usb port overnight, with no overcharge protection.

    (I've overthinking this I know... I just have small pet peeves)
    Last edited by spectastic; 02-09-14 at 11:07 PM.
    5/20

  2. #2
    Member SGocka's Avatar
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    I use this one 5 days a week commuting. It has been through snow, rain, single digit temps and plenty of bumps. It has served me very well. My ride home at night is between 8:00 and 10:00 depending on the day. Hasn't failed me yet and is plenty bright. They do have higher lumen models now though. I believe the 500 is actually a couple bucks cheaper.

    http://www.amazon.com/Metro-420-USB-...words=cygolite

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    First step is deciding how much power you need, the beam angle and what battery you prefer.

    Here's some beamshots to help

    http://www.taschenlampen-forum.de/be...enbildern.html
    http://www.taschenlampen-forum.de/be...oss-licht.html

    I use a headlamp myself, Spark SX5 $50, because I can point where I want the light to go in an instant and it can use several battery types so if I run out of juice out in the road, I can switch batteries with whatever other device I have on me. Being able to direct light like that came in handy yesterday when a motorists failed to see me as he was attempting to cross the road and I shined the light directly at his face so he could notice me.

  4. #4
    Formerly Known as Newbie Juha's Avatar
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    OP, have you looked into dynamo lights? They're not ideal for every cyclist, but they're simple and reliable.

    I currently have a couple of bikes with dynohubs, and one bike I need battery lights for. My older dynohub system has easily outlasted every cheap battery light I've bought during the last decade or so. It's now running on its second bike. The light has been upgraded from halogen to LED several years ago, not because the halogen failed, but because I wanted more light.

    I'm considering a dynohub for that last bike as well.
    To err is human. To moo is bovine.

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  5. #5
    Hello zebede's Avatar
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    For a commuting light I think the perceived need to stick with AA or AAA is not really necessary and increases the initial cost and operating cost.

    18650 based lights are cheaper to buy and operate and out put much more light. Think of 18650 as a AA on Steroids.

    The downside is to get a decent price you have to buy off the internet.

    I currently operate two flashlights (single cell) and have 2 sets of batteries and cycle thru them.
    My low end, typical 18650 cell cost me $2-4 and last 2+ years.

    They get daily use.

    Sorry I can't get the model numbers right now, but there is alot of good 18650 flash light recommendations on this Forum.

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  7. #7
    tcs
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    Robust, to-be-seen, AA or AAA, steady&flashing: 2xAAA, sturdy, large area, 180deg illumination, bonus reflector.

    Now that we have that out of the way, consider instead a to-see, 4xAA, shaped beam headlamp, like a B&M Ixon IQ or Cateye EL540.
    "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

  8. #8
    slow and steady
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    For a AA light, this will get it done:
    http://www.amazon.com/Planet-Bike-Bl...planet+bike+2w

    I have this light; however, these days I only use it on my road bike if I think I'll be out late. As mentioned above, I have a cygolight 800 that is now my main light. Might be a little more than you want to spend, but they have lower lumen lights that will work very well for road riding. I went with this one:http://www.amazon.com/Cygolite-Expil...words=cygolite

    It has been great.

  9. #9
    Senior Member spectastic's Avatar
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    I happen to care a lot about battery life, and those high lumen lights would eat the battery up quickly. That's why I usually opt for the flash mode, to both conserve battery life and to be seen.
    5/20

  10. #10
    slow and steady
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    Agreed, high lumen lights eat batteries faster than low lumen lights...however, one doesn't have to use the light on max power, and on lowest setting (walk mode)the 800 will last 38 hours. It is nice having the light when needed, for example riding dirt roads and trails or bad weather, and for how I use this light, I have been getting a week between charges. It really is a great time to be riding bikes, as we have some technology that makes life easier than it was 20 years ago.

  11. #11
    Super Moderator no1mad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spectastic View Post
    Sorry if the topic has been repeated before, but in my experience with headlights, they always crap out on me. I never ventured beyond the $20 light from walmart, or the cheap ebay stuff, primarily because they're easily replaceable, and use simple NiMh batteries. However, I've had these lights go out on me or change modes over bumpy roads while running full batteries, which tells me the circuitry in them are terrible. So I'd like to get one of those good ones with a Lithium battery, and a simple 2 modes (constant beam and flashing). I just need to be seen on the streets, and I don't need something powerful that'll light up the whole path, considering I don't like to go out at night anyway.

    Suggestions?




    Actually, I would like to stick with regular AAA and AA batteries. They're way easier to replace, and I don't want to be stuck with an integrated battery on the cygolite after 4 months, when it's lost half its capacity. Also, I have a smart charger that does a depletion cycle, and prevents overcharging. That's a better option than to have a Lithium battery sitting in a usb port overnight, with no overcharge protection.

    (I've overthinking this I know... I just have small pet peeves)
    May not be the circuitry. Have you tried spreading the spring a tiny little bit to improve contact? Or maybe the cell(s) are just a tad too small for the tube and the rattling is causing issues- try making a sleeve out of some paper.
    Quote Originally Posted by Cyril View Post
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  12. #12
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    http://www.keygos.com/product_info.php?products_id=1156

    This light still seems like the best deal. It includes everything, a charger, 2 batteries, a head mount and a bike mount. It is bright, made out of metal, and reliable for me so far. I use it around the house more than on my bike at this point. I thought the headlamp was silly until I started using it and found I could use both hands and still point the light.

    How many lumens does it produce? I don't know, but 1200 is an exaggeration. Is it still very bright? Yes. The last thread on Chinese lights got into this argument, but to dismiss them all as junk is just ridiculous.

    As for dynamos, they are expensive. I put together a dynamo package and it was over $300 when all was said and done using a moderately priced dynamo hub 3N72. If it ever stops snowing here I'll actually get to try it out.

  13. #13
    Senior Member LordMarv's Avatar
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    Actually, I would like to stick with regular AAA and AA batteries. They're way easier to replace, and I don't want to be stuck with an integrated battery on the cygolite after 4 months, when it's lost half its capacity. Also, I have a smart charger that does a depletion cycle, and prevents overcharging. That's a better option than to have a Lithium battery sitting in a usb port overnight, with no overcharge protection.
    Actually, I was in the same boat...I have the Lacrosse smart charger and plenty of AA rechargeables on hand, Eneloops, Powerex and Tenergy batteries. And I like using them. I didn't want to buy another charger and batteries to use 18650 battery lights. And I have used the Cygolite metro 420 usb rechargeable light....it is an excellent light, bright with good spread and good flash mode...but I wondered about how long the Cygolite would continue to charge fully, a year, two years? I use my headlights both day and night when I ride, and I wanted something that would last more than a couple of seasons. USB rechargeable lights are great, but you still have to take them off the bike and remember to charge them. And I know that several usb li-ion lights have replaceable batteries too, to be fair.

    So, already having the batteries and charger, I narrowed it down to either the Philips Saferide, or the Dinotte XML-1 headlight. I am impressed by the Saferide, and still would like to pick one up to try, but I understand Philips is discontinuing manufacturing them. The Saferides seem to have a pronounced shortened run time at near freezing or below temps, but that is understandable. But I chose the Dinotte headlight, and am very happy with it. Pricey at $119, but rock solid build, solid metal housing, waterproof head, simple and stable o-ring mounting which stays put...I rarely have to adjust the angle once set. This is a 200 Lumen light with a nice spread, no hotspot in the beam, nice balance between throw and flood. In dark stretches I am able to see the entire road just fine, and I didn't need a 600 lumen light anyway. Comes with two AA battery holders, you can have a spare already charged and in your bag if needed. Uses 4 AA rechargeables in a holder, and spare holders are available at Radio Shack if you need more of them. Run time is 2+ hrs on high, longer on medium. Has 3 nice strobe modes, well thought out, none of the psycho seizure inducing strobe flash you might see in some flashlights or other aa lights. The battery packs are quite compact, and it comes with a well made pouch. This is well designed, tough light, and I am very pleased with it. So pleased, in fact, that I ordered the matching tail light (140R), which is amazingly bright. And Dinotte does have much pricier li-ion lights. But I like using the rechargeable AA's, and this light uses them to full advantage. Eneloop batteries claim 1800 recharge cycles...that would be close to 5 years of service if recharged daily. And so, even if the battery holder breaks and you have to replace it,...another holder is available at Radio Shack for a couple of bucks, just zip across town, no need to wait for a replacement which may take a week in the mail or may be unavailable. And the light head is heavy duty and well built. Granted, this is not a Mountain Bike light, it is for commuting and around town. I'm very happy with it. Here's a couple links:

    Headlight http://store.dinottelighting.com/xml...ight-p182.aspx

    Tail light http://store.dinottelighting.com/dinotte-aa-powered-taillight-140r-aa-o-ring-mount-p5.aspx

    (I would also like to add that Dinotte customer service is well-known and well-respected, and the company has been around for many years now.)
    Last edited by LordMarv; 02-12-14 at 05:11 AM.

  14. #14
    tcs
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    I happen to care a lot about battery life, and those high lumen lights would eat the battery up quickly.
    IMO, riding an all-night brevet, this can be an issue. Otherwise, hey, they're electrons - put 'em to work keeping you safe.

    This light still seems like the best deal.
    Or this one. Or this one. But these don't seem to match the OP's paradigms.

    As for dynamos, they are expensive. I put together a dynamo package and it was over $300...
    The current fad and fashion in dynamos is pricey. This one was $15 delivered, throws a useful beam and never, ever needs a battery:

    golden cat.JPG


    (Yes! I'm aware there are tradeoffs and compromises for the $285 difference in cost!)
    Last edited by tcs; 02-12-14 at 07:30 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

  15. #15
    tcs
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    Quote Originally Posted by spectastic View Post
    That's why I usually opt for the flash mode, to both conserve battery life and to be seen.
    If you can do without steady, Lightman. Run time measured in hours with quality Eneloop AAs.
    "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

  16. #16
    Senior Member spectastic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by no1mad View Post
    May not be the circuitry. Have you tried spreading the spring a tiny little bit to improve contact? Or maybe the cell(s) are just a tad too small for the tube and the rattling is causing issues- try making a sleeve out of some paper.
    I have two identical lights, with the same design. If I swap the end caps between them while using the same bulb and battery, the light output is completely different. One is normal, because it's been inside and never been used. The other one, which has been out in the weather, barely projects any light, and flickers erratically. Both springs are of the same length.
    5/20

  17. #17
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Hub dynamo front wheel makes the electricity as the wheel rotates..
    hence Reliable ..

    Planet Bike makes a handlebar QR version of their Battery light ,
    with a cord with an in-wire 2nd Plug.. https://ecom1.planetbike.com/3048.html

    so you can have it on the handlebars or in your Pocket.

    other lights mount on the bike and stay there... then you can wire up a taillight too ..
    Last edited by fietsbob; 02-12-14 at 01:11 PM.

  18. #18
    Seņior Member ItsJustMe's Avatar
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    "Reliable" and "usable" and for that matter "bright enough" are not things that I associate with AA batteries. I'm sure there are exceptions, but when I want reliable, I pull out a $12 flashlight that uses 18650 cells. It's super bright, hasn't failed me once in 3 years, has a runtime that I'd never get with AA cells, and it actually still works when the temps get cold, unlike AA alkaline or NiMH.
    Work: the 8 hours that separates bike rides.

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    Cold AA Rechargeables

    A Google search of the web shows mixed commentary on Eneloop performance at temperatures at or below freezing. Some report similar performance at -22ēC and at +22ēC. On the other hand, others report significantly decreased performance around freezing, such as fewer photographs in camera usage.

    In my own experience with AA and AAA powered headlights or blinkies I haven't noticed a problem using Eneloops. But I don't spend a lot of time riding outside in freezing weather, either in frequency or duration. The batteries are also stored indoors, so even when it's freezing out they're starting warm. I understand they also generate a bit of heat when they're in use. Both those factors may delay any performance problems in my use.

    Perhaps AA and AAA rechargeables are a better fit in southern winters than in northern winters.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by spectastic View Post
    I don't want to be stuck with an integrated battery... after 4 months, when it's lost half its capacity. Also, I have a smart charger that does a depletion cycle, and prevents overcharging. That's a better option than to have a Lithium battery sitting in a usb port overnight, with no overcharge protection.
    I don't think you can even buy a USB rechargeable Li battery powered light from a reputable brand manufacturer that doesn't have overcharge protection. Go to Alibaba, however, and you're on your own.

    In my my experience with USB rechargeables over the years, I've not seen any reduction in run times, and certainly not in such a short period as 4 months. I've got Knog and Cygolite lights that seem to run just as fine today as they did 3 years ago, but admittedly, I don't run them to exhaustion, typically. Nonetheless, I think your fears of reduced battery life are unrealistic.
    Chaad--'95 DeKerf Team SL, '02 Lemond Buenos Aires, '05 Novara Buzz, '73 Schwinn Collegiate, '06 Mountain Cycle Rumble, '09 Dahon Mariner D7, '12 Mercier Nano, '12 Breezer Venturi

  21. #21
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    See my post on dynamo lights: http://thedimbicycle.blogspot.com/20...ts-part-2.html

    I like these lights so much better than battery lights.

    cygolite and niterider make fantastic battery lights.

    I regret going through so many cheap lights! It proved too expensive for me. Quality pays off, because a light should work well and be reliable and durable.
    You don't read my signature anyway, do you?

    Tom Reingold, noglider@pobox.com
    Residences: West Village, New York City and High Falls, NY
    Blogs: The Experienced Cyclist; noglider's ride blog

  22. #22
    Senior Member LordMarv's Avatar
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    Nog: I just read your blog, enjoyed it and appreciate the info on dyno lights. I haven't checked with either of our two bike shops (small town here) to see if they could respoke a dyno hub to my bike wheel. If not, is this a really difficult thing to do on your own? Require alot of specialized tools? I could sure teach myself off of videos or websites, but am wondering if this is a real fussy, difficult job? Idea of a dyno hub fascinates me.

  23. #23
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    the distributors that supply the LBS have built wheels with, typically, Shimano's Dyno Hubs .

    you might be able to have them order a wheel and save time and money that way .

  24. #24
    Senior Member LordMarv's Avatar
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    Thank you Fiets, I'll check on that option.

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    Building a wheel requires a spoke wrench. Everything else is optional/nice to have. I used a cracked fork as a stand for my front build, a zip tie as a feeler gauge, a long wood clamp with a stick clamped to the center as the dishing tool, and my daughter's good musical ear and piano for tension.

    Oh, and a screwdriver to screw the nipples in from the top.

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