Can anyone reccomend me a really good bike light? Just looking at the bike lights available on REI's online store I wouldn't want to spend over $200. I can't afford one right now but it's always nice to dream/save money.
What are you trying to do with your lights?
- do you need to light the road/trail?
- do you just need to make sure you are seen, but have enough ambient light to see by?
For me riding in the city - my main concern is being seen so I go for multiple inexpensive LEDs front and back.
I find that I can get enough light to see by for short stretches of dark bike paths by putting my front white LEDs into constant on mode vs. the flashing mode I use on the road. Not useful for long sections where you want to ride at a decent clip though.
If I am doing a night ride in a rural area my main concern is actually lighting the road and I use two cateye halogen lights that take 4AAs each - HL 500 II.
You can definitely get brighter lights both using batteries or a hub generator, but I find the lights I am using are inexpensive, easy to install remove and transfer to another bike and decent battery life.
If you can tell us more about your lighting needs we can target our advice a bit better.
Last edited by vik; 05-21-06 at 11:06 PM.
For what purpose do you need these lights?
1. Touring/camping/being seen
If your intent is to tour and camp, probably LED white lights are best because of their long life and low temperatures (safe to take these into a tent). In addition, these lights provide enough light that car drivers can see you.
2. Commuting and seeing the road
Now I can wear my geek hat!
For commuting, typically bright light is needed. Here is a forum thread that is 47 pages long on building your own bike lights (many home built systems are displayed here -- interesting to view what others have done):
Building these lights are easy to do. Really.
Just two days ago I built my second set of lights for my commuting bike. The light consisted of
1. $3 rubber flashlight from Big Lots
2. $3.50 20 watt halogen MR16 spot light from Lowes ($10 for package of 3 of these)
3. $7 electrical wire from Ag-supply
4. $6 yellow LED light from Ag-supply (mounted under down tube so cars can see me from side)
5. $6 red LED light from Ag-supply (mounted on rear rack, very bright)
6. $15 12 volt, 7ah sealed lead acid (SLA) battery (heavy, about 7 pounds, but you can get more expensive light-weight batteries if needed. I don't mind heavy stuff on my commuter. The 7ah battery will give me about 2+ hours of run time). Radio shack
7. $2 switch from Lowes
8. $5 wire connectors of various kinds from Lowes
9. $15 low level charger for battery --Radio shack
10. $7 camera case used to mount SLA battery on front rack of bike, from Big Lots
Total price: $69.5 + tax and time (although as a geek project, spending time on this is the fun part).
I was testing this system tonight when I caught my wife driving home and she stopped to tell me I should angle my headlight down since it blinded her. A 20w halogen is very bright, especially a spot light (I should have used a semi-spot with some flood for better side lighting).
With previous cheap lights I have used (Cateye LED lights), oncoming headlights from cars would washout my light and I was unable to see where I was going -- literally, I could not see the side of the road. However, with this homemade light, oncoming headlights do not wash out my light and I can see road shoulders. In fact, before I angled the light down more to heed my wife's advice, I could see trees over 200 yards away
If you decide to build your own, keep in mind halogen lights run very hot. A 20 w halogen reaches 100c (about 212 degrees F). It runs fine in the flashlight body I used, but I drilled holes in bottom and sides to allow air to circulate.
If you are not interested in building your own, you can find some halogen lighting systems for under $100, but these generally don't have side or tail lights with them. For example:
I can assure you, though, that for less than $100, you can build a lighting system that will put out as much light (or more) as $400-$600 light systems. The difference will be weight (mine weights about 9 pounds total due to the SLA battery), sleek mounting system (I used cable ties and old peddle clip laces), and name prestige.
With my previous home built lighting system, I had two 20w halogens, one was spot and the other flood. When both were on (40w total), my bike lights were similar to motorcycle headlights, and were close to the brightness of car lights. One could easily ride fast on trails with these lights because the area was so well lit.
check out Lumicycle light I've got a set and they're excellent. www.lumicycle.com/
Check out my solution to build a cheap bike light. It is similar to the previous post. Included are other suggestions for other lights and reflectors. http://www.krabach.info/bike_light/bike_light.htm
i think it was just an impulse of me to want a bike light. looking at them now and what i use now (nothing) makes me realize that bike lights are basically pointless. i'll just stick to a crappy reflecter.
I use a Cygolight dual beam. 1.5 hours on both beams, 3 hours on one, with the battery that fits the bottle holder. I use mine for early morning exercise rides only, but also take it on tours in case I get caught out. It works real well, but 1.5 hours is really the limit. I wish I had two batteries.
That is my only experience. Am considering having a dyno hub built up on a 700 wheel for my touring bike. If I get the coveted LHT in the next few months will definitely get a Shimano dynohub for the front.
If you want something to be seen get an inexpensive white LED blinky for the front and a red one for the back. For 20 or 30 dollars you will make yourself MUCH more visible to cars, other cyclists, and peds.
Originally Posted by bronskcloosper
Just wish I had the guts to try it out
I even have a 2C MagLite sitting on my desk
Originally Posted by mkrabach
As a tourist you have to beware of battery dependance. You cant really carry a high capacity waterbottle battery. Can you recharge batteries en route?
Dynamo/generators are a good solution. Hub generators are better for regular use such as commuting or those organises, non-competative endurance events that drag into the night (Randonee/Audax/Brevet etc).
For less regular use, sidewall or bottle dynamos are cheaper and have zero drag when not in use. You need a solid mounting system, not the cheesy clamp that is the cause of all their problems. I have a mounting tab brazed onto my frame but the cantilever stud mountings are also good.
Modern dynamo lamp units make very effective use of 3 watts and are a good base for DIY lighting with batteries as well as generators.
Reflectors are not a substitute for lighting because they obviously only work when the person you wish to warn is up-light from you, an obvious danger being cars in side streets just waiting to t-bone you, whose lights shine in the road ahead of you.
I was in MEC recently, and the "knowlegeable" guy there was telling me I would get a ticket for using the white led lights, because they didn't cast enough light. Anyway, the next day or so, I saw a cop on a bike with one of those fancy light systems with waterbottle batteries. I ask her whether my cateye with the 3 leds is going to get me ticketed, she looks at me like I'm nuts. Then I ask her how she likes the bottle battery system. She responds by pointing to the cateye led on the handlebar and says "mostly we just use these". Soudns good to me.
I probably should clear up a possible misconception about the lights on my site. http://www.krabach.info/bike_light/bike_light.htm These lights are used by me around my hometown. I dont carry the big battery on touring trips. But, if I were to tour now I would carry the 2 AA maglights converted to the 1.2 and 2.4 watt LED lights as seen on my site. That would be enough if forced to ride late into the evening. I have read interesting things about the LightSpin generator. http://www.wallbike.com/lights/lightspin/lightspin.html but it is expensive. I might consider it if they replace the halogen bulb with a modern LED such as one of the newer 5 watt Luxeon leds.
Bike for Health & Enjoy
I have bought a CAT EYE light!!! Model: HL-EL500. It's waterproof and longlife light. And I've spent 35 $!