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  1. #1
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    Questions about light for long distance event

    Hi,

    I will be doing my first event where I need lights for more than a few early morning hours. I'll need lighting all night. Looking for help in the following areas;

    How many lumen do I really want?

    Many of the lights I have seen have 4-6 hours in the High setting. Does anyone know of lights with longer operating time OR do I need to have multiple lights?

    Thanks in advance for any comments or suggestions!

    D.

  2. #2
    Senior Member trailmix's Avatar
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    I am also preparing for my first long night rides and encountered the same question. I plan on using 2 lights: Niterider Lumina 500 USB to be used during the darkest hours and a Niterider Mako 200 for the rest of the time. I also will pack an extra set of AA batteries for the 200 just in case. I am sure there are others on this forum who can give advice that has actually been tested so keep in mind the strategy that I mentioned is purely experimental.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Chris Pringle's Avatar
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    Many randonneurs prefer dynohubs, but the entry expense might be overkill if you don't do overnight brevets too often. A battery-operated light is a good choice. I personally would recommend to look at Lezyne's "performance" line of lights. They have a feature called Infinite Light which allow to switch batteries on the fly. I looked at the Deca Drive, Super Drive and Power Drive XL. I went with the Power Drive. I figured 250-400 lumens (~3 hrs runtime) is adequate illumination for seeing the road and plenty to be seen. Lezyne offers sophisticated german technology (i.e., optics) to illuminate nicely the road ahead of you. The best part about the Power Drive (also the Super Drive) is that it uses 18650 Li-Ion rechargeable batteries that you can easily buy on eBay and replace in 30 seconds. Carry 2-3 additional batteries and you will be fine for the entire night. I use a Nitecore Intellicharger i2 that allows me to charge a wide range of batteries: 18650, AA, AAA, etc. BTW, with Li-Ion technology, always use "protected" batteries.

    I'm not sure about the Deca Drive but it seems to use a proprietary "dual 18650" battery that you can only get directly from Lezyne. Whenever I see proprietary technology for rechargeable batteries, I tend to stay away from it.
    Last edited by Chris Pringle; 02-27-14 at 12:15 PM.

  4. #4
    Uber Goober StephenH's Avatar
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    There's not any one easy answer.
    What I found several years ago was that the lights powered by 2 AA's weren't bright enough, the rechargeable ones didn't last long enough, so for my first 400k, I got a generator hub and light and have been using it ever since. I didn't try any high-dollar rechargeables, so there may be other options, but I couldn't afford to try everything out there, either.

    One problem is that it's hard to judge adequacy of lighting from internet pictures or looking at lights in a store. If you're doing some sort of organized ride, try asking other participants what they're using. If they live close, see if you can meet up at night and see what their lights are looking like.

    What I found with the Edelux and Son 20 setup is that it works great in the wide-open country. If you're riding around town, with lots of headlights and stuff, the light tends to get washed out in all the other light. If you have it adjusted wrong, it's not so hot, and I've seen people riding with their light set to give them a big dot of light 4' in front of their bike and that's it. Anyway, it's a great setup for randonneuring, and may or may not be best for other night applications. I think one of the ladies in our club is using the same light but with batteries. Peter White has a lot of light info on his website.

    You'll also need some sort of headlamp to read cue sheets or fix tires, etc. And those 2-AA lights are small enough to carry along as backups if needed, regardless of what kind of headlight you have.
    "be careful this rando stuff is addictive and dan's the 'pusher'."

  5. #5
    Senior Member trailmix's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by StephenH View Post
    There's not any one easy answer.
    What I found several years ago was that the lights powered by 2 AA's weren't bright enough, the rechargeable ones didn't last long enough, so for my first 400k, I got a generator hub and light and have been using it ever since. I didn't try any high-dollar rechargeables, so there may be other options, but I couldn't afford to try everything out there, either.

    One problem is that it's hard to judge adequacy of lighting from internet pictures or looking at lights in a store. If you're doing some sort of organized ride, try asking other participants what they're using. If they live close, see if you can meet up at night and see what their lights are looking like.

    What I found with the Edelux and Son 20 setup is that it works great in the wide-open country. If you're riding around town, with lots of headlights and stuff, the light tends to get washed out in all the other light. If you have it adjusted wrong, it's not so hot, and I've seen people riding with their light set to give them a big dot of light 4' in front of their bike and that's it. Anyway, it's a great setup for randonneuring, and may or may not be best for other night applications. I think one of the ladies in our club is using the same light but with batteries. Peter White has a lot of light info on his website.

    You'll also need some sort of headlamp to read cue sheets or fix tires, etc. And those 2-AA lights are small enough to carry along as backups if needed, regardless of what kind of headlight you have.
    Would you happen to have a picture of your light setup? I am curious as to how this system mounts.

  6. #6
    littlecircles bmike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trailmix View Post
    Would you happen to have a picture of your light setup? I am curious as to how this system mounts.
    not stephenH - but here's mine:

    on a rack:


    mark's rack on the IF by mbeganyi, on Flickr

    on the fork:

    IF gets the call by mbeganyi, on Flickr

    and they make other mounts, depending on the light.

    i carry a petzl e+ clipped to my helmet or cue sheet for navigation.
    for awhile i was riding with a fenix flashlight on my helmet for street signs, etc.
    i also have a fenix headlamp i have been using for trail / dirt road riding.

    for rough stuff (on my fargo and pugsely) i use a dinotte AA setup, rechargeable at home, buy batteries on the road or events:

    Dinotte AA on a Terracycle mount by mbeganyi, on Flickr

  7. #7
    Senior Member trailmix's Avatar
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    That is a clean looking setup. Thanks for sharing, but now I want one.

  8. #8
    littlecircles bmike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trailmix View Post
    That is a clean looking setup. Thanks for sharing, but now I want one.
    if you don't run a front bag or rack you can get a fork crown mount.
    have a look here:
    http://www.peterwhitecycles.com/schmidt-headlights.asp

    he has written the book on dynamo lighting in the US...
    i've had my hub since 2006. had it replaced once under some freak warranty issue.
    i've had that particular light since 2009 or 10 or so.
    i want a disc dyno for my fargo, and a trail light (without the cutoffs for road riding....)

  9. #9
    Senior Member trailmix's Avatar
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    Cool, I am definitely going to read up on these hubs as it seems like a good option.

    BTW I like your photo by the rock. My sister lives in Milton and there is some nice scenery.

  10. #10
    littlecircles bmike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trailmix View Post
    Cool, I am definitely going to read up on these hubs as it seems like a good option.

    BTW I like your photo by the rock. My sister lives in Milton and there is some nice scenery.
    Cool. Thanks.
    Here is one from our fall classic brevet. Mt Mansfield in the background.


    IMG_1903 by mbeganyi, on Flickr

  11. #11
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    getting a dynohub is the best thing I've ever bought for my cycling. I can just decide to keep riding even though I'll be out many hours after dark. Any bike I have that doesn't have a dynohub is less than fully equipped. My fatbike is the only one like that right now, and I want to change that asap

  12. #12
    Uber Goober StephenH's Avatar
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    I use a skewer mount on both bikes. This is the tandem, which uses a larger hub, but skewer mount is the same on both. The main disadvantage to this is that if you take the wheel off for traveling, you have to re-adjust the light when you use it next (has to be dark to do that!). Readjusting just involves loosening the skewer and rotating slightly, no bigger, but can involve a quick stop or two. If you don't remove the front wheel for travel, then no problems.DSCN3384_996.JPG
    Last edited by StephenH; 02-27-14 at 10:31 PM.
    "be careful this rando stuff is addictive and dan's the 'pusher'."

  13. #13
    Lover of Old Chrome Moly Myosmith's Avatar
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    There are lots of options for bike specific lights, but I've been using a compact flashlight on a Fenix AF02 handlebar flashlight holder. My flashlight is rated at 140 lumens on high and 25 lumens on low and runs on three AAA batteries. I don't have the figures that came with the light in front of me but I think my run time is about 4-5 hours on high and a few times that on low using NiMH rechargables. If you are riding paved roadways 140 lumens will get you by at cruising speeds of 15 mph or so, but I wouldn't go bombing down any hills at 40 mph or you'll overrun your light. At 25 lumens it provides adequate to-be-seen light for dusk and dawn when the ambient light is adequate to ride by. For off road or very rural unpaved double track, minimum maintenance roads, you'll probably want more light unless you are willing to keep your speed down.

    While far from the brightest light available, this setup does have a couple of advantages:

    - fairly inexpensive at about $35 for light and mount
    - runs on readily available batteries available at any convenience store or gas station or you can easily carry 2 or 3 sets of spare rechargables in a pocket which should get you through most nights easily
    - a recharger is not much bigger than a multitool if you are going on a multi-day event and will have access to electricity at rest stops or camp sites
    - the mount is easily removable if you end up walking or need the light for other purposes like roadside nature calls. For roadside repairs the mount can be clamped to other parts of the frame and aimed if needed.
    - the batteries are in a small carrier that can be removed from the flashlight without removing it from the clamp. Changing batteries is easy, even by feel, and takes less than a minute.

    I've looked at other flashlights but once you get in the 200 lumen and above you have to choose between a short runtime or significantly larger size to accommodate more or larger batteries.

    Bike specific lights have come down in price and up in lumens in recent years, so if you plan to do a lot of this type of riding, that might be the better option. A dyno would be the ultimate. You can always toss a compact flashlight in a pocket or pannier as a backup. Don't forget extra batteries for your blinkie and remember that the sequenced strobe mode uses a lot less juice than the continuous or bright flashing mode but isn't as bright.

    Safe travels and please post a ride report.
    Last edited by Myosmith; 03-02-14 at 06:02 PM.
    Lead, follow or get out of the way

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    I have been in the market for new lights. There are a lot of requirements to be met:

    1. Reading cue sheet
    2. Reading cyclocomputer, HRM and other gizmos
    3. Cars seeing you from behind and side
    4. Seeing the road ahead
    5. Being able to read signs and road arrows if available on the ride

    1. Can be met with a small light Petzyl type light mounted on your helmet (not my favorite, like to keep the head weight as low as possible). I have not decided what to do.
    2. See #1 . Or, a very small LED flashlight can be mounted adjacent to your cuesheet holder. I laminate the cuesheets and tiewrap the lite to the stem. (my preference)
    3. Reflectors on you and your bike plus a good taillight such as the PlanetBike Superflash. Don't put the 3M tape directly onto the frame unless you want to keep it there........apply it over blue painter's tape, which can be peeled off after the events. You need to have reflectors 360 degrees around you like a Sam Browne reflector belt plus ankle reflector straps.
    4. Redundancy on the bike is essential especially if you want to ride at any sort of speed. Imagine losing your light at speed in the dark? Two sets of batteries and two sets of lights. I am experimenting with the MagicShine MJ880. The high setting is stupid bright. One the low setting it should run about 20 hours and this level of brightness is fine for slow riding, to be tested. On the medium setting, it should run 8-9 hours and this is fine for even trail riding for me. Being able to put the light on high for a descent is a nice feature, I think these lights on full power are brighter than my car lights. I also purchased a spare 13.2AH battery that has 8 Panasonic 18650 batteries in it that will be more than enough energy. Charging will be done outside in a 50 Cal ammo can. Few battery powered lights can be reasonably mounted low because most of us can't reach the button to change brightness with any ease. A few models are available with remote switches. ISSiMO Designs - NOB is a good way to mount on the fork. There are also fork crown solutions but my Cantis get in the way. Light lower is better than higher in general.
    5. Headlamp on the bike is fine for arrows but not useful for poor road signs. If the cuesheet has lots of turns in the evening, a headlamp makes sense but I am not fond of them.

    Anyway, I am going thru this now so I wanted to share my approach.

    My first set of lights were from the 70's using tractor bulbs and handmade Ni-Cads and then NightRiders in the 90's when I stopped riding. The new stuff is so lightweight and bright in comparision. There are some really good battery lights from Germany.

    You also need to figure out water proofing. I do not trust any of them.

  15. #15
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    As many have said, dynamo wheel with something like a Cyo Premium or Edeluxe headlight and a B&M dynamo taillight is the way to go, but expensive.

    But something pretty-inexpensive that will work well is to get two $50 OLight S-10 flashlights, one for your helmet and one for your handlebars or somewhere on your fork. See http://www.batteryjunction.com/oligh...2-neutral.html. To mount it get a Twofish lockblock or cycleblock: http://www.batteryjunction.com/twofish-cycloblocks.html. For a taillight, there are many decent options. Cateye has always been extremely reliable for me, e.g. http://www.amazon.com/Cateye-TL-LD60.../dp/B000R6Q9V6

    With the S-10, you can get 8 hours of 85 lumens from one 16550 battery. That's bright enough for any conditions you will encounter on an overnight ride on roads. Maybe if you are riding mountain bike on trails you need more light than that.

    Even if you eventually upgrade to a dynamo system, the battery-powered taillight and the S-10's will still be useful as backups.

    Nick

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    I would like to understand why a bike without a Dynohub is less than fully equipped. Equipped for what?

    Advantages over battery systems

    1. Power available when rolling for as long as you can pedal or coast
    2. You can charge other devices while riding

    Disadvantages compared to battery systems

    1. Power/lights ONLY available when riding and above a threshold speed that varies unlike battery powered lights that are there with the flip of switch
    2. Drag (6 to 12W loss at modest speeds)
    3. Lack of ease transferring from one bike to the next
    4. Lower output (light)
    5. Weight
    6. Weak aesthetics
    7. More complex and ill-defined maintenance requirements of dyno hubs and are they servicable in the field?

    RTW loaded touring? No doubt I'd have one.

    I wouldn't put a Dynohub on a rando bike or a timed event but that is just me.

  17. #17
    Senior Member rumrunn6's Avatar
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    extra batteries?
    cycling is like baseball ~ it doesn't take much to make it interesting

  18. #18
    littlecircles bmike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Weatherby View Post
    I would like to understand why a bike without a Dynohub is less than fully equipped. Equipped for what?

    Advantages over battery systems

    1. Power available when rolling for as long as you can pedal or coast
    2. You can charge other devices while riding

    Disadvantages compared to battery systems

    1. Power/lights ONLY available when riding and above a threshold speed that varies unlike battery powered lights that are there with the flip of switch
    2. Drag (6 to 12W loss at modest speeds)
    3. Lack of ease transferring from one bike to the next
    4. Lower output (light)
    5. Weight
    6. Weak aesthetics
    7. More complex and ill-defined maintenance requirements of dyno hubs and are they servicable in the field?

    RTW loaded touring? No doubt I'd have one.

    I wouldn't put a Dynohub on a rando bike or a timed event but that is just me.
    No need to carry batteries, worry about charging / chargers / etc.
    Generate your own light, all day / all night. No charging, no throwing away chemicals into the landfill.

    Aesthetics? The new hubs and lights are quite sharp, vs. flashlights or bits of plastic stuck on your bars / bike.
    But thats subjective, I realize.

    The threshold speed is like 2-3mph, my old SON and eDeluxe come on at walk pace. And once up and running there is a stand light.
    I wear a small light on the helmet - so if I'm walking, that goes on (MTB / bikepacking). If I need to fix something - I have a light to use.

    Lower output, sure, well, maybe, for technical trail riding. The new LED lights are impressive. And even the newest are being used for MTB events.
    Look at some of the beams here: http://www.peterwhitecycles.com/headlights.asp

    Weight? Sure, maybe, in the hub. But carrying batteries also adds weight. Maybe not for a 300k or 400k, but certainly when one gets into multi day events...
    And you can keep your GPS and phone tapped off with a dyno system.
    I ran a GoPro off a Shimno dyno and the ewerk USB plug continuous during testing - never dented the batteries except when I stopped and left the camera running - and topped them off while riding during the day.

    Maintenance? Complexity? What?
    You don't do anything to them. Just plug them in.

    I've had far more trouble with various battery lights and systems than I ever had with my SON and dual halogens. Once I moved to an LED I never had to worry about bulbs again... and I run a small light on the fork or rack. If you use a skewer option the light goes with the wheel - so moving from bike to bike is easy, assuming same wheel size, etc.

    Here's someone who is using them for timed events (tour divide, round the world record holder (think he carried batteries on that one) etc, etc.):
    http://normallyaspiratedhuman.com/?p=1337




    But yes, YMMMV. I really want another setup for my Fargo. Hate worrying about power on bikepacking / adventure trips. Want light whenever I need it, and want to be able to keep the GPS running.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by bmike View Post
    No need to carry batteries, worry about charging / chargers / etc.
    Generate your own light, all day / all night. No charging, no throwing away chemicals into the landfill.

    Aesthetics? The new hubs and lights are quite sharp, vs. flashlights or bits of plastic stuck on your bars / bike.
    But thats subjective, I realize.

    The threshold speed is like 2-3mph, my old SON and eDeluxe come on at walk pace. And once up and running there is a stand light.
    I wear a small light on the helmet - so if I'm walking, that goes on (MTB / bikepacking). If I need to fix something - I have a light to use.

    Lower output, sure, well, maybe, for technical trail riding. The new LED lights are impressive. And even the newest are being used for MTB events.
    Look at some of the beams here: http://www.peterwhitecycles.com/headlights.asp

    Weight? Sure, maybe, in the hub. But carrying batteries also adds weight. Maybe not for a 300k or 400k, but certainly when one gets into multi day events...
    And you can keep your GPS and phone tapped off with a dyno system.
    I ran a GoPro off a Shimno dyno and the ewerk USB plug continuous during testing - never dented the batteries except when I stopped and left the camera running - and topped them off while riding during the day.

    Maintenance? Complexity? What?
    You don't do anything to them. Just plug them in.

    I've had far more trouble with various battery lights and systems than I ever had with my SON and dual halogens. Once I moved to an LED I never had to worry about bulbs again... and I run a small light on the fork or rack. If you use a skewer option the light goes with the wheel - so moving from bike to bike is easy, assuming same wheel size, etc.

    Here's someone who is using them for timed events (tour divide, round the world record holder (think he carried batteries on that one) etc, etc.):
    http://normallyaspiratedhuman.com/?p=1337




    But yes, YMMMV. I really want another setup for my Fargo. Hate worrying about power on bikepacking / adventure trips. Want light whenever I need it, and want to be able to keep the GPS running.
    The best pattern on Peter's review resulting in this quote:

    It's also very good for dark country roads at speeds up to about 20mph
    Some of the patterns on his review were marginal but many were very good but they do not have the same output as a battery system.

    Any bike not safe to ride in excess of 20 mph is not fully equipped.

    Regarding maintenance of dynohubs and your just plug them in statement......how are bearings replaced on the Shimano dynohub? What is the anticipated service interval? Can they be replaced in the field by the average cyclist?

    6-12 watts of additional drag is nothing to sneeze at. This would represent 2-4 hours time for a 90 hour finisher in a Grand Randonnee.

    Maybe I will become a convert but I remain unconvinced that a bike without a dynohug is not properly or fully fitted.

  20. #20
    littlecircles bmike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Weatherby View Post

    Maybe I will become a convert but I remain unconvinced that a bike without a dynohug is not properly or fully fitted.
    I've never said that.
    2-4 hours time?
    How do we get that #?

    Anyway, lots of folks ride with battery lights.
    Go for it.

    I can't wait to save some $$ for my MTB / Bikepacking bike to have a dyno setup.
    Been there and done that with batteries, changing, charging, and calculating time left, etc.
    Not for me.

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    The reflector design on the Schmidt Edelux II looks phenomenal and it is only $200 or so. Too bad the LEDs can't take the voltage from batteries according the Schmidt. I have a hard time understanding why 8.4 volts would damage the electronics. Might be worth trying to run the Schmidt Edelux II off batteries, it looks to have a luscious pattern and significant throw.

    The main issue I have with battery systems is the hideous reflector design on most of them, they just spew light everywhere. I have never had problems with battery systems not working.....knock on wood but I also carry backups. Batteries need replaced and set aside to recharge. I would not throw 4-8 of those $13 Panasonic rechargable lithiums into the landfill. 8 (2S4P config) of these Panasonic batteries provide 13.2 AH of current and weigh about 300 grams. That is 15-40 hours of light depending upon the setting.

  22. #22
    Randomhead
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    Magicshine has a new light with a cut-off reflector design. There is also Trelock and I'm sure there are others

    I was the one who said one of my bikes without a dyno light is not fully equipped. That's true for me, I am not suggesting it is true for everyone. Others have more discipline and battery lights work just fine for them. I am pretty conservative when it comes to lighting and I don't feel comfortable with something like a Magicshine because I figure it would fail on me. And once I start spending hundreds on a battery light, I wonder why I'm not just putting a dyno on there. My fatbike and mountain bikes are getting dynos when someone starts making a hub that costs the amount I feel comfortable spending. Not sure when that will happen, but hopefully before next winter

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by bmike View Post
    I've never said that.
    2-4 hours time?
    How do we get that #?

    Anyway, lots of folks ride with battery lights.
    Go for it.

    I can't wait to save some $$ for my MTB / Bikepacking bike to have a dyno setup.
    Been there and done that with batteries, changing, charging, and calculating time left, etc.
    Not for me.
    6-12 watts and 2-4 hours off a rider averaging 11-12mph is a straight forward calculation. There are detailed calculators on line to assist. Now, the range of lost time depends heavily upon the generator design. Frictional losses and aero losses can be approximate linearly up to about 15 mph. The impact of the drag could be worse than 4 hours but unlikely lower than 2 hours for the average finisher in Randonnees. For a faster rider (say above 17 MPH), aerodynamics plays a larger role and the negative effect of the dynohub on finish times would be less.

    I do ride with batteries.

    Just trying to understand the belief that generators are an upgrade or are inherently better than battery powered systems when in fact they have one key benefit that trumps battery systems for really long, untimed multiple day riding such as RTW. For short events, battery powered systems are far superior due to no drag, better light output, lighter, and ease with which they can be switched over to another bike.

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    Quote Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
    Magicshine has a new light with a cut-off reflector design. There is also Trelock and I'm sure there are others

    I was the one who said one of my bikes without a dyno light is not fully equipped. That's true for me, I am not suggesting it is true for everyone. Others have more discipline and battery lights work just fine for them. I am pretty conservative when it comes to lighting and I don't feel comfortable with something like a Magicshine because I figure it would fail on me. And once I start spending hundreds on a battery light, I wonder why I'm not just putting a dyno on there. My fatbike and mountain bikes are getting dynos when someone starts making a hub that costs the amount I feel comfortable spending. Not sure when that will happen, but hopefully before next winter
    I would agree that Dynohubs are less expensive over time. Same could be said for driving Mercedes Benz vehicles. The price is not the cost.

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    Quote Originally Posted by delbwhite View Post
    Hi,

    I will be doing my first event where I need lights for more than a few early morning hours. I'll need lighting all night. Looking for help in the following areas;

    How many lumen do I really want?

    Many of the lights I have seen have 4-6 hours in the High setting. Does anyone know of lights with longer operating time OR do I need to have multiple lights?

    Thanks in advance for any comments or suggestions!

    D.
    Lumens are a poor way to measure and the Chinese lie about their light output.

    Lumens is a broad measure of output and it does not tell you where the light goes. What is really important is how the light is concentrated and where. The way the Germans measure and report using Lux seems more in line with real world light tests.

    FWIW......500-700 Lumens with a good reflector design is more than sufficient for my use. This probably compares somewhat to a similarly designed headlamp rated at 50-70 lux.
    Last edited by Weatherby; 03-03-14 at 03:56 PM.

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