Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Home alone
Bikes: Trek 4300 X 2. Trek 1000, Trek 6000
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I have the Cygolite night rover extra. It has a 10 Watt spotlight and a 6 watt flood. This makes a total of 16 watts when both are on. With 16 watts I have very good illumination in the city where i am aided by street lights.
In the country in total blackness, the illumination is acceptable to ride safely at 15 mph or so, but at higher speeds on roads with potholes etc., the light isn't as good. In those riding conditions you need a light that will really light things up so you don't end up in a pile somewhere.
I am able to get along with mine out in the country on gravel roads on my early morning rides. I usually leave an hour or so before sun up from town, so this really only leaves me with 30 minutes or so of using the light. The sun then comes up and helps me out.
I can safely tell you that the more watts you can get, the better. In your price range you will be just looking at Halogen lamps, so look for the lights with the most wattage. Only a couple watts makes a HUGE difference!
The link to the 2 0watt lights that the other poster gave you looks like a good set of lights. They basically look like the lights made by a guy that has a product called Laser Edge. View them at bicyclelights.com.
Look for a water bottle type battery as they seem to have the most on time. Don't worry about looking for a "smart" charger.
You can buy a cheap appliance (christmas tree) timer to turn the charger off at a prescribed time.
I don't recommend the cygolite for you even though i do like mine, however the switches on this light are horrible. Many 10 cent flashlights have the same design for switching off and on. That means they eventually won't work. I have had to take mine apart a couple times to screw with bending the tabs, etc. to get them to make contact. A thumbswitch is a very nice idea and much better quality!