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Thread: Headlights?

  1. #1
    Senior Member Dougmt's Avatar
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    headlight poblem solved, I think.

    I just bought some new headlights. Cateye HL550
    Well they're terrible. REALLY terrible. The super cheapy "next" brand we got at wally world for next to nothing perfomed better than these (brighter, wider, light) but alas the durability just wasn't there.
    Can anyone point me to a headlight that povides decent (hey I can see) light?
    Here's the problem... They have to be AA battery operated. I tour and thus need to be able to get batteries at gas stations etc.
    Raiyn pointed me to some HL-EL300's from cateye. I have a led headlight for... well for my head LOL but I wonder how well this would work on a bike.. I need to SEE as well as be SEEN.
    Thanks fo any help.
    Doug
    Last edited by Dougmt; 03-08-03 at 08:29 PM.

  2. #2
    DEADBEEF khuon's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Dougmt

    Here's the problem... They have to be AA battery operated. I tour and thus need to be able to get batteries at gas stations etc.
    Have you considered a generator or dynamo hub?
    1999 K2 OzM 2001 Aegis Aro Svelte OCP Club Member
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  3. #3
    I drink your MILKSHAKE Raiyn's Avatar
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    I use Radio Shack NiMH AA's in mine. The Cateye runs forever on them and when they die I just pop 'em back in the charger. The advantage is obvious: no need to buy new batteries just keep 'em charged.

    Here are the specifics:
    Radio Shack NiMH 23.528 AA rechargables $19.79
    Radio Shack 23.335 Portable Ni-Cd/Ni-MH Charger w/Battery Conditioner $11.59
    Keep us posted.

  4. #4
    Kev
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    I know I got tired of poor performing bike lights, so I ended up buying a LED flashlight and a twofish holder to hold it on my handlebars and it works great.

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    I use a modern high-efficiency dynamo lighting system, with a solid brazed on mount, and find it so much better than any AA headlamp. It is light, powerful, and always available, ideal for touring.
    You dont find modern European lighting systems at the average bike shop, and even most good ones will draw a blank, but check out
    http://www.peterwhitecycles.com/dymotec.asp

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    Check out
    http://www.sjscycles.com/store/vIndex.htm
    and then go down to 'lighting'

    They do world wide mail order and have a good range of lights.

    If you are after lights to 'see' (rather than simply lights 'to be seen' which can be done with a decent LED type) then you either need to look at the rechargable lighting systems or a dynamo system. A battery light simply is not going to be powerful enough, or if it is, it will eat batteries for breakfast.

    Notes: To avoid the confusion what the Americans call a generator is called a dynamo elseware in the English speaking world. Furthermore, if you get a rechargable system, ensure it will run on the American 110 volt system. Most of the rest of the world is 220 volts.

  7. #7
    I drink your MILKSHAKE Raiyn's Avatar
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    Geez! Those dynamo units on that site are expensive! That and the lower-end units (read: more affordable) use 2.4 watt bulbs which would be equivelant to what he's running now. Which one do you use? Also, how's the tire wear issue Michael?

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    If you use the front lamp only, you run a 3watt bulb. This is much more powerful than a 4xAA lamp. Ive used both, and the dynamo 3w/6v system is in a different league.
    Compared to a rechargeable battery lighting system(which is difficult to recharge on tour), dynamos are very reasonable. Compared to a 4xAA system, remember there are no running costs.
    My unit, a Swiss-made Nordlicht dynamo comes with a rubber roller, so tyre wear and grip is no problem. You do need to run tyres with a milled sidewall, such as conti top touring.
    I used to use a 1970s style Union dynamo, fixed with a clamp around the seatstay. That was how dynamo systems go such a crappy reputation, but time and technology has moved on. I cant emphasize how much better any system operates with a solid rather than clamp-on mount.
    I havent used a hub dynamo, but these have a good reputation for efficiency and reliability, but do cost more.

  9. #9
    I drink your MILKSHAKE Raiyn's Avatar
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    Glad it works for you. I still like my EL300.

    dougmt the cateye I have doesn't have the "hot spot" that a halogen does so it doesn't "look" brighter however the LED light gives me better visability IMHO due to the blue-white light - it's much easier to figure out what objects in my path are. Try it. The extended battery life alone was a selling point for me as I couldn't get halfway on a typical relaxed night ride with out switching batteries. I used to have a Specialized Astro 2.4 & my girlfriend still uses hers. (She ended up following me in last night as her batteries crapped out on a SHORT ride)

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    You won't get much light out of those AA battery units-I know that from experience. The Cat Eye unit that I still use for my ATB is a 4 D-cell battery pack, and even theat will only give me a couple of hours of good light.

    What worked for me is the Shimano Nexus Dynohub I bought 2 years ago for my touring bike. I use a 3w lumotec light-not the greatest amount of light, but it always works. For serious night riding, I sometimes also attach the D-cell Cat Eye for extra light.
    Je vais à vélo, donc je suis!

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  12. #12
    Senior Member Dougmt's Avatar
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    Well this is all Koffee Brown's fault. He posted a coupon for nashbar in "hot deals"
    I went with Nahsbar's Photon Sport Twin Lighting System and the cateye EL300. (And a new zefal hp/x to replace the NEW zefal hp/x I bought that was too small grrrr)
    My theory is that the Mrs. will use the long life LED light and I will use the brighter Photon lite. The photon sport twin has a NiMH battery AND a safe/trickle charger. When I go on tour/overnight trips I will take the LED light as I won't be riding much at night and she can use the photon sport .
    This is my sales pitch so that I don't get in trouble for spending even more bling bling
    Doug

  13. #13
    I drink your MILKSHAKE Raiyn's Avatar
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    Sounds good to me

  14. #14
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    I too was looking for a light that used batteries I could find at any store and not be tied to a wall. I tried the Cateye EL300 and the darn thing could run for 30+hours at full brightness on 4 AA's and was the brightest of these type of self contained battery lights I ever used, BUT I then saw a Cygo Metro. This thing uses 6 D batteries and has a dual beam, the first beam is a 6.2 watt flood and the other is a 6.3 watt spot aimed 5 degrees higher the the flood; the cost was $45.

    When I turned it on the flood only it drowned out the el300 bluish light dramatically! With both lights on-well it's no contest. I commute in the city, so I use only the flood which is more than enough light for me. I did take the light for a test drive on a pitch black bike path to see if if worked there and again no problems, I could not out ride the light.

    The instructions said that on the flood only you should get about 5 hours of use and on both beams about 2 hours. I bought a 12 pack of cheap Walmart brand called EverActive alkaline D's for $7. Or you could buy rechargeable D's or you can upgrade the unit to a chargeable battery pack (and be able to use both systems to suit your needs at the time) but then there's that tied to a wall thing again, which may or may not be a problem.
    Last edited by froze; 03-09-03 at 12:57 AM.

  15. #15
    BikeForums Founder Joe Gardner's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Dougmt
    Well this is all Koffee Brown's fault. He posted a coupon for nashbar in "hot deals"
    [offtopic] He... hehe [/offtopic]

  16. #16
    I drink your MILKSHAKE Raiyn's Avatar
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    [offtopic]Dang ...beat me to it[/offtopic]

  17. #17
    Pat
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    Well it depends on what you want a light for.

    Headlights have different purposes.

    The 2 purposes I think of are "visibility" or can the dern motorists see me?

    And the other is illumination. That is can I see a pothole or a possum in the dark with this headlight?

    I think an LED is a minimal way to go for some visibility. But a 3 or 5 watt halogen bulb is much better and will give a little illumination also.

    Oddly enough, on really dark roads, you don't need much light for motorists to see you. Now if you were riding say on the strip in Las Vegas well you would get lost in the dazzle unless you were shooting off flares and fireworks.

    I have found that most lights now seem to have overly wide dispersions so even a 10 watt or 15 watt has a wide angle beam that does not illuminate the road for much distance. That means that I can "outrun" the head light on a really dark road at about 17 mph.

  18. #18
    Super Biker Mtn Mike's Avatar
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    For me, the Cat Eye EL200 LED works great for slow riding, and short commutes. But when I really want to see where I'm going, I use my Cygolite 25W daul beam rechargable unit. Most of the time I use it for night time off-road trail riding; it's really overkill for the streets. But between the 2 systems I have my bases covered.

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