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  1. #1
    Da Big Kahuna
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    Need a headlight solution

    Most of my riding is in the dark. Generally there is some other lighting around that keeps it from being pitch black, but I do need a light that lets me see better than those little things that are more to be seen rather than to see with.

    I used the Cateye EL300 for awhile. I've actually used at least 5 of them! The mount on the light itself keeps breaking off, bit by bit. I assume this is from the fact that I have my fair share of road surfaces with bad patches you simply can't avoid.

    My last light was the Cateye EL500, but it has exactly the same mount. However, it did last noticeably longer. This could be coincidence or possibly because the design is different and the change in balance may make it better able to handle the bumps. Still, it finally broke completely.

    Both these light gave out enough light to suit me (both use 4 AA batteries). I wouldn't mind more, but that isn't critical. But I don't seem to be able to find something else. It seems lights can be divided as follows (based on what I've found here):

    1. Lights for being seen, but not to see with. Fairly cheap. Last a long time.

    2. Lights which give decent light to see by and last enough to handle a long ride in the dark even on rechargeable batteries (I need AT LEAST 4 hours of good lighting and really would like 5-7 hours. The two cateyes above do all this.

    3. More powerful lights with waterbottle batteries or something similar - usually pretty expensive, brighter than the above options, might be a problem finding a place to attach the batteries on my bike if not in the water bottle cage, and generally only last a short time (2-3 hours). That isn't sufficient.

    All I really need is something like I had, but with a sturdier mount. I wouldn't mind the more powerful lights, but not with their limited run-time and not for the money many of them charge!

    So, what options are their out there? I'd especially like feedback from people who have used either the EL300 or 500 since you would have a better idea of what I already find acceptable for lighting the road.

    Bob

  2. #2
    Da Big Kahuna
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    Let me add something I have considered:

    The EL500 is designed in such a way that you could change batteries without taking it off the bike mount (can't do that with the 300 version).

    So, I was thinking that if I had to, maybe I could try the 500 again, but super glue it or something to the mount in hopes that such would reduce stress on any one point so the mount on the light part would not chip off little by little. Any ideas on that would also be appreciated.

    Bob

  3. #3
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    How much money do you want spend? Cygolite Metro cost $48 and will last up to 5 hours on a single 6.5 watt beam (either flood or spot) and the battery bag straps onto the frame thus freeing up your water bottle cage...but it uses 6 D bats which a lot of people don't like though I do; you can use either throwaways or rechargeables.

    If you like the AA battery concept then Performance sells a compact light called the ViewPont Gen3 digital with 6 light settings that runs up to 5 hours on high with 4 AA's, this light is supposely equal to a 10watt halogen but probably closer to 8; this light cost $140 but now on sale for $100; http://www.performancebike.com/shop/...tegory_ID=4320. They also have the same light except non-digital that can run up to 8 hours on high but with 2 light settings (not sure if the digital is brighter then the non digital, you can call Performance and ask if you need to know) and this one cost only $60 but on sale now for $40. http://www.performancebike.com/shop/...tegory_ID=4320

    Either one of the ViewPoints would be brighter the the Cateye 500.

  4. #4
    Perineal Pressurized dobber's Avatar
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    www.bicyclelights.com

    I got the older Nicad and get 5-6 hrs between chargings (advertised was ~4)
    This is Africa, 1943. War spits out its violence overhead and the sandy graveyard swallows it up. Her name is King Nine, B-25, medium bomber, Twelfth Air Force. On a hot, still morning she took off from Tunisia to bomb the southern tip of Italy. An errant piece of flak tore a hole in a wing tank and, like a wounded bird, this is where she landed, not to return on this day, or any other day.

  5. #5
    Da Big Kahuna
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    Thanks all, for the suggestions.

    > How much money do you want spend? <

    All things being equal, less is better. Also, if really expensive, I have more reason to worry about theft. I'd like to stay under $100, preferrably well under.

    > Cygolite Metro cost $48 and will last up to 5 hours on a single 6.5 watt beam (either flood or spot) and the battery bag straps onto the frame thus freeing up your water bottle cage <

    One problem I have is knowing how to compare the EL300 or 500 to these various wattage ratings. AS for battery on the frame, I have two water bottle cages to allow for long trips - which would start in the dark. The top tube has my frame pump. Makes things tough though I suppose some systems can be made to fit.

    > but it uses 6 D bats which a lot of people don't like <

    That would probably bother me - pretty big and relatively heavy.

    > If you like the AA battery concept then Performance sells a compact light called the ViewPont Gen3 digital with 6 light settings that runs up to 5 hours on high with 4 AA's, this light is supposely equal to a 10watt halogen but probably closer to 8; this light cost $140 but now on sale for $100; <

    Hmmm, that sounds interesting, though a little expensive.

    > They also have the same light except non-digital that can run up to 8 hours on high but with 2 light settings <

    I probably don't need 6 settings so this may serve well, but I'll check on brightness issues.

    But as long as they are brighter than what I've used, they would be fine - as long as the mounts don't break!

  6. #6
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    Cygolite also makes a model called the Explorer NiCad that has twin beams with a total output of 25 watts but will last only up to 3 hours on 10watt wide beam or 1.5hrs on both. They also have the Rover NiMh Xtra that has a total of 16watts and can run up to 6 hours on the 6 watt flood or 2 hrs on both beams. Both of these lights use a water bottle style battery and both run about $100.

    Neither of those Cateye will even come close to the light output of just one of the beams the Cygolite has...I know this because I tested these lights at a LBS at night outside. The halogen with just one beam on completely overwhelmed any Cateye on the market; you couldn't even tell the LED lights were on when you switched on the halogens that's how ridiculous the LED's are. You could buy (I had a friend that did this) 3 LED lights and mount one to each blade of the fork and one to the handlebar, but by the time you did this you would have paid more then you would for a $100 Cygolite and still not have the light output!

  7. #7
    Da Big Kahuna
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    Well, I decided to try the Gen3 light. Hope it holds up well!

    Thanks.

    Bob

  8. #8
    Da Big Kahuna
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    Okay, I got to try the Gen3 light for the first time today so here is my report.

    First, I got the digital version. Not sure about the difference between it and the analog one - other than having more modes - but I think the digital circuitry is what lets it stay at full brightness as long as there is enough power to do so. Once there isn't enough, it drops all the way down to 3% or 10% (I think 3% on steady and 10% on flashing). However, if you were running at 100% power when that happens, you could then cycle to 75% or 50%, whatever, and it will maintain that level until unable to do so - then drop to 3% or 10%.

    If they are still on sale, pay attention to the options. I noticed that you can get it from $99, including the adapter (plus shipping). But, strangely enough, you can get all that PLUS a pretty nice tailight (3 settings) for exactly the same price! That's what I got even though I already have two tail lights (I use one on the back of the storage pouch on the bike and one on my helmet). The reason I do this is because seeing other riders, a rider with two lights was always much more noticeable AND, if one of them goes dim during a ride, the other is probably fine still.

    The lights came with batteries - the Gen3 came with what seem to be pretty nice rechargeables (2000 mA).

    I compared brightness with the Cateye 500 and the Cateye 400 (the little one I got as an emergency replacement when the mount on the 500 broke).

    It is, of course, far brighter than the 400 (it only useds 3 AAA batteries). But inside, I wasn't so sure about the 500. I think the reason was that the 500 gives a broader beam so it makes the area look brighter. But when I took the Gen3 out on the road today, I felt it was a bit brighter. Both use 4 AA batteries. The somewhat more restricted beam is no problem - it is plenty wide enough to light your way and I could aim it a bit higher to get better distance since it is brighter. Nevertheless, I wouldn't say the difference is major and the Gen3 does cost a lot more, even on sale. But, assuming the mount lasts, it will be cheaper overall since the cateye mounts on the light keeps breaking.

    I'm not real thrilled about the power switch. The light has 6 power modes (steady) and 5 other ones for flashing. But there are two pretty noteworthy problems.

    1. To switch between steady and flashing modes, you have to hold the button down for awhile (5 seconds?). Then you have to cycle to the flashing mode you want. You repeat the process to switch back. When you switch to flashing, it seems to always go to the 10% setting so if you want more light, you have to cycle to what you want. If you switch from flashing to steady, it just turns off and you have to cycle to what you want.

    2. The other problem has a lot of impact, especially if switching from flashing to steady and needing a lot of light. First, since it first turns off, you better do this before you are in a really dark area. Second, if you need full power, you have to press it AT LEAST 6 times to get there. I say "at least" because sometimes it seems that pressing it has no effect while other times it reacts fine. Perhaps there is a specific way to press it to get consistent results, but I haven't had time to do more than very preliminary testing without finding success.

    Personally, I think they should have at least two buttons. One could be used to switch between steady and flash and when you switch, it should revert to whatever brightness it last had, in my opinion.

    According to the instructions, alkaline and rechargeables last the same amount of time in steady mode at 100% and 75% (5 hrs and 6.5 hrs). At levels from 50% and lower, alkalines are listed as being longer. Of course, rechargeables keep increasing their capacity so that will have an effect.

    Anyway, I'm happy with the light so far. Just hope I have no problems with mounts breaking!

  9. #9
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    Can the Cateye 500 be rigged with perhaps zip ties to be used as a helmet light or strapped to a fork blade or to the bar for additional lighting?

  10. #10
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    I have the non-digital version of the Gen3, & like the light it puts out, but didn't like the mount. Couldn't get the quick release to work on my bars, so I just rigged it up. It does last a long time on my rechargeables though, & coupled with a helmet light works, it works. I wanted the HL-EL 500, so I have one on back order & putting the Gen3 on my wife's bike, as she likes to ride at night with me. Hope I don't experience the same thing with the mount on the 500 as you have.
    The heart has its reasons; that reason doesn’t know -- Pascal

  11. #11
    Da Big Kahuna
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    Quote Originally Posted by froze
    Can the Cateye 500 be rigged with perhaps zip ties to be used as a helmet light or strapped to a fork blade or to the bar for additional lighting?
    I don't see how, though this does bring up something I've been thinking about - some sort of catch-all mount system. Well, one may not serve every situation, but maybe one could cover a lot.

    I'm thinking of something that would, at the very least, handle things of a typical flashlight design, that is, a round cylinder.

    If you have a padded, curved surface area which would mount to the handlebars, then you could lay a fair variety of cylinder type lights on it. Then you could have some method of securing the light to it firmly enough so it can't bounce off. Maybe some really strong velcro strips. Maybe those strip things that you have to cut off to release (but if the batteries could be removed just by unscrewing the end of the light, you wouldn't need to remove the strips to change them.

    I can think of somewhat more complicated variations, such as side supports that can be slid in or out to provide more security.

    I sometimes wonder if some of the better flashlights may work as well some bike lights.

    Meanwhile, since I have it and it just attaches by a little strap, I have stuck my Cateye 400 onto the bike too for my next trip. I'll probably just leave it on flashing, since it isn't very bright anyway. But it will attract attention while the Gen3 provides the real light for me.

  12. #12
    Toyota Racing Dev. PWRDbyTRD's Avatar
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    cygolite HID, NiMH, <300 bucks....4 hours of solid run time at 12 W HID. GREAT light!
    Linkage...My 2004 Kona Hoss Dee-Lux My Mindless Banter
    Disclaimer: I'm 425lb...I put unnormal loads on my bike. This should help you in answering any of my questions.

  13. #13
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    Actually TheRCF, your right, using velcro straps would be a better idea then my braindead zip tie response.

  14. #14
    Da Big Kahuna
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyclwestks
    I have the non-digital version of the Gen3, & like the light it puts out, but didn't like the mount. Couldn't get the quick release to work on my bars, so I just rigged it up. It does last a long time on my rechargeables though, & coupled with a helmet light works, it works. I wanted the HL-EL 500, so I have one on back order & putting the Gen3 on my wife's bike, as she likes to ride at night with me. Hope I don't experience the same thing with the mount on the 500 as you have.
    Well, if you take the light off the mount sometimes, look at the bottom of the light and see if you have a chip broken off it where it slides on. If you ever get that, I think I can pretty much guarantee you will soon have a second chip, then a third, then a fourth, leaving only the center on each side intact - and finally that will break.

    So, if it does start to break, you might either see if you can figure out some other way of holding it on the bike or do what I've considered doing if I the company to replace mine - super glue the sucker to the mount. I'm thinking that if you use that or some other strong adhesive in the groove where the parts slide together AND to the top surface so it might contact the other part of the light/mount, that might provide enough support to stop the braking. On the 500, you could still change the battery because it just unscrews from the front. You can't do it with the 300.

    Good luck and let me know how it works out. I don't recall how long it was before mine first started to go - certainly some weeks and I ride about 140 miles a week.

  15. #15
    Da Big Kahuna
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    Quote Originally Posted by froze
    Actually TheRCF, your right, using velcro straps would be a better idea then my braindead zip tie response.
    As long as it was strong velcro - and it would probably be good to have some way to get leverage when strapping it in to minimize any chance of "looseness". Maybe bring the strap around into a a lot on the other end, and then reversing the direction to actually lock it down (probably not very clear on that description). But all that takes space for maneuvering..

  16. #16
    Senior Member CPcyclist's Avatar
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    CygoLite my vote. How much night riding do you do that you need more the 4hrs. The HID light are made to see and be seen. I have had more respect from cars on the road at night with this light then any other. And Cygo has great CS.

  17. #17
    Da Big Kahuna
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    Well, normally four hours would be plenty - my typical long ride takes something over 3 hours. When I finish breakfast and ride home, it's light.

    But there will be times I'll be riding even further, such as riding around the whole island (just over 100 miles if I follow the main roads). I'll still be leaving real early - probably before 2:00 AM for such a ride. Sunrise can be as late as about 7:20 so four hours would not be enough. And that's a LOT of money for these powerful lighting systems!

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