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Old 05-02-02, 03:37 PM   #1
cyberace
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Inexpensive lighting system?

Hey guys... I was just wondering if there is a lighting system out there that works well but won't break the bank. I just spent 400 bucks on a bike, I'd rather not spend >200 or more on just a lighting system! Are there decent ones that work well for <100? Thanks!
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Old 05-03-02, 04:19 AM   #2
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I don't know too much of the subject (I'm a self professed rookie) but it seems Cateye make some cheaper lights. I had one of these but it was totally a waste of money. I do alot of riding in the dead of night so I am probably going to get one by NiteRider, which don't seem very inexpensive atall.
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Old 05-03-02, 05:41 AM   #3
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well, there are a few different options - mostly it depends on how much light you need: just enough light to be seen so you are legal and safe, or tons of light 'like car headlights' to ride on pitch-black country roads or off-road singletrack...

light to see by: ($$$)
1) for big bucks you can get various high-power 8-32W lighting systems from Nightrider or Cateye... big heavy usually rechargeable battery but tons of light - some like the double beam Nightrider are almost as powerful as a motorcycle light - but they only last 2-3 hours on a charge and the battery weighs 4-10lbs... and they cost $100-$350! (i have a Nightrider digital 6 which has i think 5W,8W or 12W selectable output and last 2-3hrs but it's heavy! i only use for off-road singletrack night riding)

light to be safe and legal and be seen ($$)
2) for pretty cheap ($20-50) you can get a small 2-5W front light and 1 or 2 red blinkies for the back - this works pretty well and there are also some that come with rechargeable batteries (i bought a Cateye with a front light with 5 NIMH batteries and a charger and a rear light for like $30-45, not sure exactly) or you buy and use your own rechareable battieries if you use the light frequently (i use mine every day in the winter and most days summer)

3) generator or dynamo lights which are still the standard 'inexpensive' option in Europe but they are considered old-fashioned and low-tech in the US and can be hard to find - they work well but generate much light to see by - the great thing is that they are always on the bike and you never have dead batteries or the day when you thought you would be home before dark and left the light at home, b/c the generator is always there - down side is that they are always there if you do lots of off-road or recreational riding (i have generator lights on my city commuter only)

for your case #1 is out b/c you said cheap... option 2 or 3 will be similar in cost ($15-50) so you just have to decide what you need - always there generator or easily removeable battery lights
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Old 05-03-02, 06:07 AM   #4
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my question has always been: why can't someone make a dynamo that engages the chain? or even better, a replacement deraileur cog that acts as a dynamo?
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Old 05-03-02, 06:11 AM   #5
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Thanks for the replies.... I actually was looking for a night time/deep woods singletrack riding style lighting system... so it looks like I'll start saving my pennies I just wanted to know if there was a cheaper way to see at night on the trail, but I guess the only good options are to spen the little bit more money, so it looks like I'll be going that route. Thanks again
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Old 05-03-02, 06:13 AM   #6
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chain dynamo... yeah good question...

there are hub dynamos that are supposed to be great - especially for touring. but they're not cheap and they're not easily removable for off-road or racing (you need a whole extra hub, wheel, cassette, etc) when you don't want the extra weight

but yeah, a clip-on dynamo for the rear deraileur or front chainring seems like a great idea - no idea if it's been tried or exists somewhere...
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Old 05-03-02, 06:18 AM   #7
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cyberace,

i think your best bet would be to check out Performance. a friend of mine found a deal a year or so ago on a Cateye high-power light on special for about $90... no idea what kind of prices but check on the web yourself at www.performancebicycles.com - they have one as low as $50 and a few for $90...
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Old 05-03-02, 09:40 AM   #8
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Cygolite makes a cheaper hi-powered light that gets good reviews at MTBR.com. The only thing people complain about really is that it doesnt come with a smart charger that protects your battery from overcharging. I think this is probably the best deal out there if you buy from this guy Bill Larson who does all his sales through email. I bought brakes off of him last month and his service was friendly and speedy :thumbup:

There are 2 models that might suit your needs. There is the Cygolite Night Rover Nicad Xtra which I think has 8 watt single and 16 watt dual beam selections and can run for a long long time 2-6 hrs depending on whether you use single or dual beam.
$65.00 for that one

Then there is the super bright Cygolite Night Explorer Ni-Cad which has 10 and 25 watt settings but has a shorter burn time of 1-3 hrs
$75.00 for the explorer
WLarson297@aol.com or wlarson@inetarena.com

seems pretty cheap to me, anyone else used these lights?
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Old 05-03-02, 09:59 AM   #9
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Hi There
Lighting, a commuting neccessity, I commute to work most of the year, most of the year it is dark or near dark going one way or the other. I've tried many lighting systems, My experiance has been that you get what you pay for. The system serves two functions, 1. to light your way so that you can avoid road treasures and avoid flat tires. 2. Light you up, so that you can be seen by the moving steel boxes. In my opinion, the concern should be to stay alive, and what price can you put on that. Currently I use a night rider classic plus headlight and a night rider matching tail light that is powered from the same battery, I also use a battery powered cateye blinky light on the rear as a backup, because you cannot see when your tail light isn't working. I have been using this system for the past 2 years and find it to be the best and most dependable by far. I have had motorist thank me for being so visible to them from the rear.
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Old 05-03-02, 01:09 PM   #10
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mrfix, just FYI, I'm going to be using this system for trail riding only, not commuting or any roads where there will be cars... or any other civilization for that matter I think I'll probably just save my money, and see what I can do for something around $130'ish.. I think that will suit my needs, for now anyway!
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Old 05-03-02, 01:27 PM   #11
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You should be able to get a decent system for about $130USD. For that much, you're looking at a single bulb and either a frame soft pack battery or a water-bottle type.

I would try to get the least expensive Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) ((I Think that's the chemical name)). These batteries last longer and don't have the Memory problems you encounter with Lead-Acid type.

I suggest getting about an 8 Watt bulb and a battery with at least a 2.5 hour burn time.

With this said, I purchased a pair of Speicialized Lead-Acid single light units for my wife and I, about 4 years ago and the batteries are still in fine working order! The lights themselves is another story. Both on/off switches wore out and I had to take them apart and by-pass the faulty switch! I was buying a bunch of stuff at the time (including a new frame) so the owner of the shop sold them to me for $80 each. The bulbs are 4 watt and cast enough light for the off-road trails we rode.

This was right at the time that lighting systems were first becoming popular and the new models are way superior in quality and performance!

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Old 05-03-02, 01:30 PM   #12
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Thanks for the advice! There's just so many... when I see a sytems that puts out 45w (expensive), and some that have just 4w (cheaper), I'm wondering if I'll end up riding blind and how soon before I smack a tree!
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Old 05-03-02, 01:42 PM   #13
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You really don't need 45w bulbs, unless you've got some deep seeded fear of the dark! Those things are called "Stadium Light" for a reason. They will light up the neighborhood!

MORE THAN YOU NEED! (If on a budget!)

Like I said, mine are 4 w and they work pretty well. I'd prefer to have just a little more light, so that's why I suggested the 8.

BTW, I prefer a helmet mount when mt. biking and I use the handlebar mount on my road bike. WHY? When mt. biking I need the light where I'm looking, not where my bike is going. You'll know what I mean if you ride a tight twisty singletrack at night. On the road, it's usually straight ahead all the time!

Sooooo, what I'm saying is, "Make sure you get a helmet mount!"

You may eventually decide you want more light, and get a split system (helmet AND handlebar). That's fine for a dual light system, but if you only have a single, you're going to want the helmet mount.

What brands are you looking at?

There is what appears to be a decent system on sale here for $99.00 Might be just what you need. http://www.planetbike.com/frontlights.html#

Here's another one: http://www.turbocatusa.com/config.html

And of course there's Nite Rider, probably the best know system and usually the mostly recommended has a system for about $99.00 http://www.niterider.com/products/bike_tr02.html
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Old 05-03-02, 03:11 PM   #14
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I've got the cygolite night explorer. It works well enough for trail riding at night, but I back it up with a petzl headlamp just to give me the extra comfort.

Got mine special ordered from REI so returns are covered, satisfaction gauranteed.
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Old 05-04-02, 10:35 AM   #15
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a2psyklnut,
awesome, thanks for the links! So an 8w should do just fine huh? glad to hear that! Those lights look good, thanks again! I'll probably end up going with the NiteRider setup when the time comes.. since people seem to favor that one.

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Old 05-04-02, 04:47 PM   #16
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You can make your own lighting system
For US cyclists, this seems to mean manufacturing your own headlamp unit, but this is not neccessary.
Take a dynamo style headlamp unit, an old waterbottle, a rechargeable battery (lead-acid, or a more modern system depending on your budget) and a suitable recharing unit. Wire them up using crimp connectors.
You can match the power of the bulb to the battery to give a suitable burn time. Recharding units from electronics stores are usually better then the budget versions in bike kits. Get one which switches from bulk charge to float, automatically.

Dynamo headlamps are computer designed to optimise the light pattern for cycling. They have a more effective pattern than sealed beam lamp units, so you dont need such a high power. I use 3 watts for riding off road, but if you want to ride faster, then 5-8 watts should be enough.

See
http://www.peterwhitecycles.com/lightingsystems.htm
for the full range of bike lighting options.
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Old 05-05-02, 02:07 PM   #17
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Awesome, thanks!
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Old 05-06-02, 07:01 PM   #18
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The new Niterider Trailrat looks like a good system for under $100.

I would suggest taking a look on Ebay. I've recently seen a couple of the Trailrat's go for under $70. The system that I use is a Vistalite with a Nicad battery and two 5 Watt lamps. There's a guy selling these on Ebay. One of his auctions just ended with the winner getting it for $27 and $7 shipping. That's a great deal.
The only problem may be the battery might not be as good as new. These systems are surplus so they've been sitting a little while, sitting around's not so good for nicads.

Anyway I say get on Ebay and search for niterider and vistalite.
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Old 05-26-02, 04:30 PM   #19
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I was tooling around on ebay and I typed in Petzl. I noticed there were some low bids for Petzl headlamps if anyone is interested. I have a Tikka and use it for evening/dusk riding or coming home after dark.
They probably aren't a good substitute for more powerful lighting systems, being that they are low light LED, but I like mine. Its light weight and doesn't suck batteries.

I guess a good spot for this is in the DEALS section, but oh well.

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Old 05-26-02, 11:56 PM   #20
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Hey, I just bought a light. Well first I bought a VistaLite 10W, then I tried out the NR TrailRat 2(10W). What a difference! I don't know if something was wrong with the Vista I bought or what but the TrailRat seemed much brighter and cleaner. I just exchanged the Vista for the NR today so I'm not sure how the battery differs. I ended up paying a little more but already seems worth it. I ride to work and I work overnight and I mostly use park trails (Humber River) so this will be enough for sure. Anyways my money's on the TrailRat 2 (figuratively and literaly).
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Old 06-07-02, 02:24 PM   #21
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I just (ok it was a month ago) got a BLT "Firefly" Helmet mount, 10 W w/sealed Lead acid, Im happy with the choice!

It's 10 watts shines quite well, especially when helmet mounted
Has a sealed lead acid battery which are proven technology, they last and last, 350 charge cycles, several years, I know I can get a replacement for $30.00 from an electronic supply warehouse,

I'm so proud of the deal I got on it, it was $80.00 Canadian, so 45 - 50 USD? not bad for a two year old model!



Hey, now Im gloating...
I had better go ride and remind myself Im not so hot!!

Keep the rubber side down!
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Old 06-07-02, 02:49 PM   #22
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Hey good deal, I wish I payed 80 bucks. Oh well what's done is done, time to do some more.
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Old 06-07-02, 03:52 PM   #23
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TotalKos, how much was the NT TrailRat2(Cdn), and where did you get it? Thanks.
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Old 06-07-02, 06:55 PM   #24
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Good prices on lights can be found at http://www.mec.ca
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