Yes, the beam on a Cygolite Hotshot is quite narrow. But it's as wide as the road at about 50 to 75 feet back. ( And closer than that, it's very bright from any direction, no beam needed.) At a few hundred feet, it's way wider than the road. So cars will see that bright blink even if the road is curvy. That focused beam makes it very visible on cloudy days, too.
Originally Posted by ItsJustMe
And there's some diverted light at wide angles, even up to 90 degrees, that's bright enough for close range cars on side roads to see.
I have mine aimed slightly downward, and if I look back, I can see the pool of red light on the road behind me. That's bright!
Here's the Hotshot laid on it's side, exactly horizontal, at an inch above the paper. The brightest light shows as yellow, but it's actually red.
The bright side light aimed at the camera is visible, and the other side lighting that hits the paper is pretty bright, in a checkerboard pattern. You can see the central cone of bright light is already hitting the paper just 6 or 8 inches from the light, so it has a decent spread.
This side lighting is just diverted light, via prisms, from the main beam. There's only one LED.
WARNING: if you push the On button in the store, when the light is still in it's box, don't aim it at your face...:twitchy:
I bought 2 of these a few months ago and they are great. BikePakmart - Super Bright 1-Watt Headlight, 1/2 Watt Taillight, Safety Light Set, Quick-Release, Weather Resistant the tail light is identical to the planet bike super flash and parts are interchangeable. It also includes a nice headlight that has about a 100 lumen output that is usable for limited night riding or as a day-time strobe. Both use a a a batteries. I bought the sets for 13 bucks but they went up to 29 recently. Maybe they were mispriced, but even at current price you get à super flash with a free headlight included. The tail light is fantastic and the headlight is great for daytime flashing or as a limited use night riding light.
I'm going to make this thread a sticky, as I'm sure it has the potential to be just as popular and helpful as the "best headlight under $50" thread.
The problem with all disposable battery lights that I have ever seen is that they gradually grow dim in relation to the battery voltage. When using rechargeable batteries they are never quite as bright since Nimh or Nicd batteries are 1.2v per cell as opposed to 1.5v for alkaline. Li-ion rechargeable lights maintain the same brightness for the entire run of the battery. The only down side is they give you no warning when the battery is getting low. They just shut off. But I just keep a charger where I park the bike and plug it in every night or 2. I'm running this Dosun tail light (just came out this year) and really like it's 270 degree spread.
When you say 1.5v alkaline and 1.2v NiMH ... you're comparing apples and oranges.
Originally Posted by darkrider2
The reality is that alkaline batteries start at 1.5v and go down from there, and NiMH batteries start from 1.4v and go down from there. I don't know why they rate the voltages differently for primary vs. rechargeable cells, but they do. Your alkaline cell only hits 1.5 volts when brand new, but when a NiMH cell hits 1.2 volts ... it's around 75% of the way to dead.
In any event, for most lights, the difference in brightness between alkaline and rechargeables is negligible. Of course, the advantage is that when the light starts to get dim ... you recharge the rechargeable and throw away the alkaline, so it's more practical to keep the rechargeables near full charge and therefore near full brightness -- just charge them every ride or every few rides rather than replacing them when they get dim like you do with alkalines.
As for your Li-ion lights, Li-ion cells have a discharge curve just like alkaline and NiMH cells do -- they generally (there are some different chemistries out there) start at 4.2 volts, but their "nominal" voltage (i.e. the voltage that the package says) is 3.6 volts. The only reasons you don't notice the difference in brightness are that 1) many of them have regulators that make sure the LED gets a constant voltage, and 2) Li-ion cells are ruined by discharging below 3.0 volts/cell or so, so they usually have a cutoff circuit that just shuts it off completely rather than letting it get dimmer and dimmer like a NiMH or alkaline cell will.
Many of the single cell 18650 (li-ion) flashlights have no regulator, and you can clearly see them getting dimmer as the battery discharges ... and then they shut off completely when the cutoff circuit is activated. But most dual cell (starting at 8.4 volts and then going down from there) lights have a regulator so you don't notice any changes until it shuts off (with no warning as you said, unless it has a seperate warning light.)
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You are idiots.
Gotta mention my favorite: NiteRider Solas. Will do what the L&M Vis 180 does, only better IMHO!
Originally Posted by ItsJustMe
Don't skimp on a tail light. At the very least, PDW Dangerzone is the most bang for the buck. Good angle visibility. Don't get caught up in getting the brightest tail light there is for the least amount of money. A lot of the beams are narrowly focused, so if a vehicle is not directly behind you, visibility isn't all it's cracked up to be. Maybe it's my imagination, but it seems vehicles approach bicycles in quite a few directions. Might as well get the most surround visibility possible.