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  1. #1
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    Hybrid Headlamps for Supplemental Lighting

    One of the authors of the RUSA Handbook mentioned a few times the usefulness of a hybrid headlamp for supplemental lighting and mentioned the Petzl Duo. I can certainly see the advantage of a hybrid (a superbright LED, halogen, or xenon bright light that shoots 100 meters, combined with a regular LED lamp for closeup light for seeing cue sheet or bike computer). I checked at our local outfitter store, and models include the Petzl Myo 3, Petzl Myo XP, Black Diamond Icon, and the Princeton Tec Apex, just to name a few. There are several more, each with different characteristics of brightness, battery life, weight, on/off switch, etc.

    Since commuting and touring would use the lights in a different way, my question is for any long distance cyclist who has actually used a hybrid headlamp in your randonneuring. How do you evaluate the various characteristics of hybrid headlamps for long distance purposes? (e.g., Are a couple of extra ounces of weight worth the extra battery power? Do you use the high beam 1 hour per night, or 4 hours per night? Is the extra light of a halogen high beam worth the disadvantages of a halogen bulb, etc.) Any help from the veterans would be appreciated. Thanks.

  2. #2
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    I will say straight off I haven't used a hybrid system. BUT, Machka and I invested in dynohub-driven B&M Fly LED lights, only to have hers disappear when Machak was stolen at Easter. I had a spare E6 halogen light to whack on the GT MTB I built up as an emergency for her to use on a 300 randonnee two weeks later.

    I used to love my E6 lights set up in tandem. Now, I wouldn't touch a halogen with a barge pole. The light is significantly more yellow and just doesn't compare to the Fly in terms of spread, colour and plain pleasure to use (it's a senso, too, so it turns on and off automatically).

    The issues with all lighting relate mostly to optics, not power. That's why the Germans are so good at producing lights, the Japanese and Americans less so because they think power is the answer.

    Personally, I think you need to look at how fast you are likely to ride, and how attentively you ride at night (ie, looking for possible problems at the roadside as well as ahead). In my experience with the E6, and less so with the Ovalplus lights I have had as well as some cheaper late-generation LEDS, it that they have too narrow a beam for fast cornering. The Fly seems to meet every need I can think of at the moment, including sufficient spread for moderately fast cornering on twisty roads (like the one we rode last night).

    Others' experiences may be somewhat different, however.
    Dream. Dare. Do.

  3. #3
    Reeks of aged cotton duck Hydrated's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
    I used to love my E6 lights set up in tandem. Now, I wouldn't touch a halogen with a barge pole. The light is significantly more yellow and just doesn't compare to the Fly in terms of spread, colour and plain pleasure to use (it's a senso, too, so it turns on and off automatically).

    The issues with all lighting relate mostly to optics, not power. That's why the Germans are so good at producing lights, the Japanese and Americans less so because they think power is the answer.

    Personally, I think you need to look at how fast you are likely to ride, and how attentively you ride at night (ie, looking for possible problems at the roadside as well as ahead). In my experience with the E6, and less so with the Ovalplus lights I have had as well as some cheaper late-generation LEDS, it that they have too narrow a beam for fast cornering. The Fly seems to meet every need I can think of at the moment, including sufficient spread for moderately fast cornering on twisty roads (like the one we rode last night).
    Being an engineer and an inveterate tinkerer, I have been watching the bicycle lighting market develop over the years, and Rowan has touched on several issues here that merit discussion. And Rowan's views are those of a veteran rider... they were very accurate 4 or 5 years ago when it comes to the technology. But I have watched amazing developments in low power LED electronics totally change the landscape of lighting in general, and bicycle lighting along with it.

    As to the "optics vs. power" quandary:
    Cyclists used to have only one real choice for low power (read dyno driven) lighting... halogen. And halogen isn't great at the power levels and voltages that a bicycle dynamo produces. So we dynamo users were left pedaling in semi-darkness. In order to maximize the sparse light of early dynamo bulbs, the Germans used highly focused optics to put the light exactly where the rider needs it... on the road ahead. Their optics wasted not a photon on spill, but that often meant that you couldn't spot hazards to the sides where your light didn't spill. Works well for predictable city streets and urban areas.

    Now enter the American mountain bike craze. These folks needed spill for their technical trail riding at night. So if you need lots of light dispersed in a wide beam, what do you need? POWER. Sheer output. Dynamo hubs can't produce the kind of power these guys wanted, so the market for battery powered lights went wild. And manufacturers produced some doozies... there are light systems out there that will vaporize any small mammals that wander into your path!

    So sometimes optics are the answer... sometimes power... each valid depending on your needs.

    But new LED technology is changing all of that. The new LED stuff available today produces gobs of light with meager inputs that can be supplied by a bicycle dynamo. That means that those highly focused optics aren't so necessary any more because you now have dyno generated light available to waste on spill and diffusion. My LED dyno lights of today are brighter and more efficient than the sealed beam auto headlights of the 1960's.

    So basically, today's powerful LED technology is slowly rendering those expensive German optics irrelevant when it comes to laying light on the road or trail. It seems that even the German manufacturers have realized this. They have transitioned to using high power LEDs and the main reason that they give for concentrating on optics is to adhere to European lighting regulations that govern beam cutoff and spill. No longer is it necessary to save every single photon for efficient use.

    So now we can have power AND optics all in one package... and it's changing the way that we ride.
    "We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm." George Orwell

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