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  1. #1
    Senior Member metz1295's Avatar
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    lighting for $150

    i'm new to the cycling world and am looking for options for headlights, but trying to keep it at $150 or less. any feedback will be appreciated.

  2. #2
    SuperGimp TrojanHorse's Avatar
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    Get 10 of these:

    Amazon.com: 4 Mode 1200 Lumen CREE XML T6 Bulb LED Bicycle bike HeadLight Lamp Flashlight Light Headlamp: Sports & Outdoors

    Good grief, I can't believe they're $15 now. I have the real magicshine that they copied for this and they're very similar in light output. Put two on your bike for serious run time or serious eye-searing brightness. Heck, I just bought two more.

  3. #3
    Zoom zoom zoom zoom bonk znomit's Avatar
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  4. #4
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    Light and Motion makes excellent lights. The Taz series headlights are very bright, compact with a good beam pattern. If you find them on sale you should have enough for a decent tail light also.

  5. #5
    Senior Member metz1295's Avatar
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    that's perfect. thanks.

  6. #6
    tcs
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    Quote Originally Posted by metz1295 View Post
    i'm new to the cycling world and am looking for options for headlights, but trying to keep it at $150 or less. any feedback will be appreciated.
    What kind of cycling are you going to be doing? Short commutes? Off road trailing? All night randonneuring? Fun group rides? City traffic? MUPs? Quiet suburban neighborhood streets?
    "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

  7. #7
    Senior Member metz1295's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tcs View Post
    What kind of cycling are you going to be doing? Short commutes? Off road trailing? All night randonneuring? Fun group rides? City traffic? MUPs? Quiet suburban neighborhood streets?
    Mostly road commuting, about an hour ride from dark through the dawn. Add in the occasional long evening ride when I might get caught in a little dusk to dark. Depending how early I leave, I could see some traffic in the morning commute. I really like the 1200 Lumen CREE mentioned by TrojanHorse above. The price is awesome. The Amazon reviews and Q&A's are great. I also did an independent search and found a couple really good reviews from some magazine sites.

  8. #8
    Senior Member eja_ bottecchia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gsa103 View Post
    Light and Motion makes excellent lights. The Taz series headlights are very bright, compact with a good beam pattern. If you find them on sale you should have enough for a decent tail light also.
    I have the L&M Urban 550 and the Urban 700. Both are great lights and are priced right.

    As a bonus (if this matters to you) the lights are made in the USA by a company that specializes in making great diving lamps.
    My current stable:

    1989 SLX Bottecchia (Campy Athena 11s)
    1999 Cannondale F400 mountain bike
    2012 Bianchi Infinito (Campy Record 11s)
    2012 Colnago C59 in PR99 color scheme (Campy Record 11s)

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by metz1295 View Post
    Mostly road commuting, about an hour ride from dark through the dawn. Add in the occasional long evening ride when I might get caught in a little dusk to dark. Depending how early I leave, I could see some traffic in the morning commute. I really like the 1200 Lumen CREE mentioned by TrojanHorse above. The price is awesome. The Amazon reviews and Q&A's are great. I also did an independent search and found a couple really good reviews from some magazine sites.
    One thing to keep in mind with the cheap 1200 Lumen CREE lights is that they don't actually put out 1200 lumens. Most of the time they measure out at 50-60% of the listed lumens. More reputable manufacturers list the output based on what the light actually puts out.

  10. #10
    Senior Member metz1295's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gsa103 View Post
    One thing to keep in mind with the cheap 1200 Lumen CREE lights is that they don't actually put out 1200 lumens. Most of the time they measure out at 50-60% of the listed lumens. More reputable manufacturers list the output based on what the light actually puts out.
    That is a very good point, GSA. However, at $15, I think it's worth the risk. If the brightness does not suit my needs, I will move up the scale.

  11. #11
    Senior Member no motor?'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by metz1295 View Post
    That is a very good point, GSA. However, at $15, I think it's worth the risk. If the brightness does not suit my needs, I will move up the scale.
    With the low prices, spotty quality control and yearly performance increases we have today there's a lot less risk in buying lights than there used to be. Factor in the benefits of redundancy and performance that comes with using both a helmet and handlebar mounted light and you can afford to experiment with buying both high quality and low price lights without going over your budget.

  12. #12
    Senior Member metz1295's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by no motor? View Post
    With the low prices, spotty quality control and yearly performance increases we have today there's a lot less risk in buying lights than there used to be. Factor in the benefits of redundancy and performance that comes with using both a helmet and handlebar mounted light and you can afford to experiment with buying both high quality and low price lights without going over your budget.
    Worst case, is the $15 CREE becomes a helmet topper or used when climbing in the attic. Maybe give it to my son for Boy Scout camping trips. It won't go to waste, it just may not have a handlebar as it's final resting place.

  13. #13
    Seņior Member ItsJustMe's Avatar
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    I have been riding with the cheap Chinese lights for several years now and I like them. Currently my favorite is to buy one of the cheap, spotty lights (if it's cheap and has a smooth reflector it's probably spotty) and fit it with a wide angle lens from Action LED Lights. on the back I use a MagicShine taillight hooked to the headlight battery with a Y connector ($30 for the whole thing) generally on steady and supplemented with a bright flashing light such as the Cygolite Hotshot, Serfas Shield, etc. In the daytime I generally just run the Magicshine tail on flash.
    Work: the 8 hours that separates bike rides.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by gsa103 View Post
    Light and Motion makes excellent lights. The Taz series headlights are very bright, compact with a good beam pattern. If you find them on sale you should have enough for a decent tail light also.
    If you don't need something as bright as the Taz, L&M Urban 700 is a great light. You can get it in a combo kit with the 180 tail light for a really nice light set.

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    Quote Originally Posted by metz1295 View Post
    Worst case, is the $15 CREE becomes a helmet topper or used when climbing in the attic. Maybe give it to my son for Boy Scout camping trips. It won't go to waste, it just may not have a handlebar as it's final resting place.
    I got one of these $15 CREE magicshine clones from Amazon when there were closer to $18. I already had a light I was happy with, but had to see what it is about. One day I will do a review of it vs my more expensive integrated battery lights, but for now I can only offer an initial impression.

    I don't use the CREE MS clone on my bike, I still use my other light. The MS clone is plenty bright, but not near 1200 lumens, maybe more like 800, but that is fine, my main light is 700 lumen and just fine for me most the time. The main things I didn't like were:
    1) External battery meant one more thing to mount, extra wire, etc. And the included battery pouch is pretty cheap.
    2) External charger vs USB means I need a charger anywhere I want to charge it. (work, home, on vacation, etc). USB is just so simple for me
    3) Optics are not great - simple beam pattern vs a company like L&M which has done R&D on beam pattern and focuses more light on the road instead of in commuting peoples eyes.

    Many people rave about he wide angle lens you can buy for it. I got one but haven't tried it yet. I plan to try it and probably use this light on my round town beater bike.

    I have used the light a few times as a headlamp while going in my crawl space...worked great for that I guess.

    Overall at that price you can't go wrong I guess, but if your priority is quality over price you may be happier with one of the really great lights on the market as your everyday light.

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  17. #17
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  18. #18
    Senior Member metz1295's Avatar
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    thanks everyone for the advice. i have a lot to figure out. the pics were a great help.

  19. #19
    I heart moonsaddle cyclebee's Avatar
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    I saw some pretty cool lighting systems at performance bike

  20. #20
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    I put dynamo hub, headlight and tail light on my bike for about $160. See my article here.
    Please email me rather than sending me a private message. My address is noglider@pobox.com

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

  21. #21
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    I have a MagicShine with the new Cree LM2 emitters. It spews out a lot of light. I can melt ice off trees and scare turkeys off roost in the middle of the night. The lowest setting is more than sufficient for me. I don't hate it BUT I am considering the Fenix BT20 or BTR20 for $90 and $140 respectively. The Fenix lights have some focussing that directs the light to the road (unlike Magic SHine and the clones), they put out 800 honest, verified lumens, and most importantly are the battery options. Two 18650 batteries. The BT20 can also take 4 123 lithiums. So, it is easy to carry backups. Decent runtimes. I am sure I will buy one of these two models just for fun. As a self contained battery and light unit, Peter White's website has some german lights that also have good lenses and he was blowing last year's model out at under 100 bucks.

  22. #22
    Senior Member metz1295's Avatar
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    [QUOTE= I don't hate it BUT I am considering the Fenix BT20 or BTR20 for $90 and $140 respectively. [/QUOTE]

    I like the looks of the BTR20. My LBS has recommended Light and Motion, which I've shortlisted one of the TAZ models from them.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by metz1295 View Post
    I like the looks of the BTR20. My LBS has recommended Light and Motion, which I've shortlisted one of the TAZ models from them.
    A Fenix BT20 should be arriving anyday. 750 honest lumens on turbo mode. User replaceable batteries. Ant the light remembers the last setting it was on, not many do. Pretty sure I'll be happy with it.

  24. #24
    Senior Member metz1295's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zanedog View Post
    A Fenix BT20 should be arriving anyday. 750 honest lumens on turbo mode. User replaceable batteries. Ant the light remembers the last setting it was on, not many do. Pretty sure I'll be happy with it.
    Thanks for the review.

  25. #25
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    I just received a BT20 with four 3400mAH Panasonic 18650 batteries (two sets) and intelligent charger purchased separately.

    Appears to be relatively waterproof and well constructed.

    Four power settings: Turbo (750 lumens), High, Medium, and Low. The Medium (300 lumens, probably about 30 Lux) is more than sufficient for my night riding needs. Medium power is claimed to run 6.5 hours on standard cells and probably another hour or so on the jacked up Panasonic batteries. The button is so much easier to operate compared to the Magic shine, which is diffciult to activate with winter gloves on. The light pattern is also more useful. I like the very, very broad pattern directly in front of the rider which is very useful when turning at night and also for me to see deer on the edges of our roads. The rest of the beam is somewhat reflected further down the road, probably not as good as the German lights but my initial impression is the light is more effectively utilized than my other one. Unlike the Magic shine, there is a bit of a more useful shroud. Getting out of the saddle with the Magic shine puts lite into your eyes and that reduces your night vision for another minute or two. Not likely with this one. Cheaper than the Magicshine, too.

    Headlamp, batteries, and plastic case weigh 286g. Pouch is probably 50g but I don't intend to use it. A spare set of batteries is 92g. I am going to mount the headlamp on my left fork blade and compare to the Magic shine on the handlebars. Not tonight, the bike does not have fenders yet and don't feel like cleaning it for a light test.

    Looks decent. Time will tell. $88 for the Fenix, $16 charger and $35 for four batteries. Under $140 shipped.

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