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Winter is here: Let's talk serious headlights

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Winter is here: Let's talk serious headlights

Old 11-13-15, 09:44 AM
  #51  
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I've definitely benefited from this discussion so far. I'm upping my light game this season.

Can someone talk me through helmet lights specifically? I wasn't sure if I should start a separate thread.

I can see some advantage to having one. Sometimes my headlight gets washed out by ambient light from approaching cars and it seems like it would be helpful to direct an additional beam up ahead when needed. It also seems like it could be used defensively in some situations.

My only concern is that I don't want to be an annoyance on the road. I'd like to be respectful to the drivers I share the road with. The majority of my hour long commute is on windy country roads with elevation changes. I'm assuming that if a keep a head forward position then it's not a problem?

Is there a a sweet spot for weight, power, and price?

Am I better off to go as powerful as possible and dial it down if need be or just aim it carefully? I've found this strategy to work well for my headlight.

Is there a weight penalty for power? I don't want to carry a brick on the front of my helmet.

Lastly, price... I don't want to drop $150 on a light that will get used for 2 months of shoulder seasons a year. Eventually, cold and snow is going to close out my commuting season.

Last edited by Marc40a; 11-13-15 at 09:50 AM.
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Old 11-13-15, 09:51 AM
  #52  
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
Lots of people say this but I wonder what you (and others) are doing to your lights and batteries? Yes, I've bought a number of new lamps and batteries but that is mostly due to improvements in the lighting technology. I've only had one light fail because of a circuit problem and one fail because I pulled the cord out because of an error on my part. But each generation of LED lighting has been cheaper and better.

I bought a Nitehawk lamp about 15 years ago and paid $60 for it on sale...down from $110. I bought a first generation Magicshine with about 3 times the output for $80. Then I bought a Magicshine clone for $30. The lights above are $10 for a light that isn't a "be seen" light but is a good bright light. Like I said, if it lasts me a year, I'll be happy with it. I suspect that it will last me much longer.
I have not done anything special or different that I can tell. The lights are stored inside with the bike all year. The magicshine I bought from geoman lasted the longest but that light was not cheap at the time. The batteries eventually went shortly after he passed away and I did not want to go through getting new ones since they were rather expensive.

I did some flashlights from amazon for a while, they would just slowly go dimmer and dimmer with each use until they were just like yellow dim lights by the end.

When I got my first LNM it was a Taz 1200 which I actually sold for what I paid for it and got a Urban 550 which fit me better in that it was much smaller and longer battery life. I got a Seca 800 and a Stella 200 which I still use that I got as new old stock on ebay, then a Vis 360 on super cheap closeout. The Vis has been a game changer for me, no more needing to remember my lights since everything is on my helmet.

I think another part of quality lights we sometimes forget is the mounting. LNM has solid mounting with the rubber straps and QR for my Vis 360.

I know I sound like a shill for them but I do not work for them... I wish.
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Old 11-13-15, 01:20 PM
  #53  
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Originally Posted by Marc40a View Post
I've definitely benefited from this discussion so far. I'm upping my light game this season.

Can someone talk me through helmet lights specifically? I wasn't sure if I should start a separate thread.

I can see some advantage to having one. Sometimes my headlight gets washed out by ambient light from approaching cars and it seems like it would be helpful to direct an additional beam up ahead when needed. It also seems like it could be used defensively in some situations.

My only concern is that I don't want to be an annoyance on the road. I'd like to be respectful to the drivers I share the road with. The majority of my hour long commute is on windy country roads with elevation changes. I'm assuming that if a keep a head forward position then it's not a problem?

Is there a a sweet spot for weight, power, and price?

Am I better off to go as powerful as possible and dial it down if need be or just aim it carefully? I've found this strategy to work well for my headlight.

Is there a weight penalty for power? I don't want to carry a brick on the front of my helmet.

Lastly, price... I don't want to drop $150 on a light that will get used for 2 months of shoulder seasons a year. Eventually, cold and snow is going to close out my commuting season.
A good helmet light will do wonders for making you more visible and making it easy to see into corners and up hills on your commute. It also allows you to focus the light where you need it and point it out of the way when you don't. I use a C8 light and a Viz 360 on my helmet. The C8 is usually on medium, and the Viz 360 isn't used all the time. The C8 does weight more than most bike lights but after wearing a full face helmet when I was a biker the weight doesn't bother me.
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Old 11-13-15, 01:30 PM
  #54  
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This is what I use, and it gives me plenty of light for dark paths/streets. It has 4 settings; low, med, bright, and strobe.

SecurityIng 2400 Lumens 4 x XM-L T6 LED Bicycle Light + 4000mAh Battery Pack

$45.00 on Amazon and it comes with the helmet mount.

I also got the replacement battery for extra long rides

Replacement 8.4V 6600mAh Rechargeable Battery Pack for Headlamp


Another $14.00

Last edited by spoiledrotten; 11-13-15 at 01:35 PM.
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Old 11-13-15, 01:54 PM
  #55  
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Originally Posted by Mr Pink57 View Post
I have not done anything special or different that I can tell. The lights are stored inside with the bike all year. The magicshine I bought from geoman lasted the longest but that light was not cheap at the time. The batteries eventually went shortly after he passed away and I did not want to go through getting new ones since they were rather expensive.
All Li-ion batteries degrade over time. There's nothing you can really do to stop them. Other rechargeable batteries degrade over time as well but Li-ion are more delicate than other battery chemistries. Li-ion batteries used to be expensive but, just like LED lights, that is no longer the case. The $10 lights linked to above include a battery which kind of shows how cheap the light systems have become. I purchased the lights mainly because I could use batteries.


Originally Posted by Mr Pink57 View Post
I think another part of quality lights we sometimes forget is the mounting. LNM has solid mounting with the rubber straps and QR for my Vis 360.
I agree that mounts are lacking in most lights. The Magicshine clones use an o-ring but I don't see the Light And Motion mounts as being that much better. One of the best mounts I've ever used was the Niterider clamp on mount. I've since found Mawri mounts which are far better than even the Niterider clamp. And while the Niterider clamp goes for around $30, I can get the Mawri mounts for $14. I've even converted a Cygolite Expilion to the Mawri mount and improved the connection.
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Old 11-13-15, 02:02 PM
  #56  
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Originally Posted by Marc40a View Post
I've definitely benefited from this discussion so far. I'm upping my light game this season.

Can someone talk me through helmet lights specifically? I wasn't sure if I should start a separate thread.

I can see some advantage to having one. Sometimes my headlight gets washed out by ambient light from approaching cars and it seems like it would be helpful to direct an additional beam up ahead when needed. It also seems like it could be used defensively in some situations.

My only concern is that I don't want to be an annoyance on the road. I'd like to be respectful to the drivers I share the road with. The majority of my hour long commute is on windy country roads with elevation changes. I'm assuming that if a keep a head forward position then it's not a problem?

Is there a a sweet spot for weight, power, and price?

Am I better off to go as powerful as possible and dial it down if need be or just aim it carefully? I've found this strategy to work well for my headlight.

Is there a weight penalty for power? I don't want to carry a brick on the front of my helmet.

Lastly, price... I don't want to drop $150 on a light that will get used for 2 months of shoulder seasons a year. Eventually, cold and snow is going to close out my commuting season.
The $10 Magicshine clone above comes with a helmet mount so you don't have to spend a lot of money to get a helmet light. The beam shape and light output are very good for a helmet light. The lighthead is doesn't weigh much either. The light has a very long lead so you could mount it on the helmet and put the battery in your pocket to take the weight off the helmet. I put my battery pack in my Camelbak.

The mount, as I noted above, for these lights aren't the best. I would suggest going to here to see how it is done. You can get the parts here.

One note on the Mawri mount. To get the proper amount of elevation on the helmet mount, I had to cut one of Hoffman's Magicshine adapter at an angle on the back and then shorten the screw a bit. Otherwise, you have to mount the light very high on the helmet.
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Old 11-13-15, 02:24 PM
  #57  
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
All Li-ion batteries degrade over time. There's nothing you can really do to stop them. Other rechargeable batteries degrade over time as well but Li-ion are more delicate than other battery chemistries. Li-ion batteries used to be expensive but, just like LED lights, that is no longer the case. The $10 lights linked to above include a battery which kind of shows how cheap the light systems have become. I purchased the lights mainly because I could use batteries.




I agree that mounts are lacking in most lights. The Magicshine clones use an o-ring but I don't see the Light And Motion mounts as being that much better. One of the best mounts I've ever used was the Niterider clamp on mount. I've since found Mawri mounts which are far better than even the Niterider clamp. And while the Niterider clamp goes for around $30, I can get the Mawri mounts for $14. I've even converted a Cygolite Expilion to the Mawri mount and improved the connection.
Are you referring to the Mawri mount like this one, with the plastic cam lock? I find the Cygolite headlight mount far superior to cam lever/lock mount, which tend to work themselves open. I've also been highly pleased with the Cygolite Hotshot mounts, best I've used out of anything I've tried. FAR superior to the mounting options for L&M tail lights.

https://www.el34world.com/Misc/bike/i...ount_small.jpg
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Old 11-13-15, 02:45 PM
  #58  
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Originally Posted by PatrickGSR94 View Post
Are you referring to the Mawri mount like this one, with the plastic cam lock? I find the Cygolite headlight mount far superior to cam lever/lock mount, which tend to work themselves open. I've also been highly pleased with the Cygolite Hotshot mounts, best I've used out of anything I've tried. FAR superior to the mounting options for L&M tail lights.
That's the one. I've never had one work open and I've had one (2 actually) on just every bike I own for around 10 years. I don't take them off even in the summer time because I'm lazy I actually find them a little hard to remove once clamped in place.

The Cygolite mount is okay but I don't have any other mounts for it. I like being able to remove the light and move it from bike to bike on a whim without having to unscrew the clamp and the Cygo just didn't lend itself to that ability so I used the Mawri clamps that I have to adapt it.
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Old 11-13-15, 02:49 PM
  #59  
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
That's the one. I've never had one work open and I've had one (2 actually) on just every bike I own for around 10 years. I don't take them off even in the summer time because I'm lazy I actually find them a little hard to remove once clamped in place.

The Cygolite mount is okay but I don't have any other mounts for it. I like being able to remove the light and move it from bike to bike on a whim without having to unscrew the clamp and the Cygo just didn't lend itself to that ability so I used the Mawri clamps that I have to adapt it.
huh? I bought a second Cygolite mount for my other bike. $12 each on Amazon all day long. I like how the thumb screw locks it into place instead of moving the cam lever. So I just switch my lights between bikes and never worry about having to re-aim it.
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Old 11-13-15, 03:48 PM
  #60  
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Originally Posted by PatrickGSR94 View Post
huh? I bought a second Cygolite mount for my other bike. $12 each on Amazon all day long. I like how the thumb screw locks it into place instead of moving the cam lever. So I just switch my lights between bikes and never worry about having to re-aim it.
Yes, I found them since I bought the light but I have the other mounts already and rather than get a bunch of Cygolite mounts, I adapted it to the Mawri. I only have one Cygolite that I don't use much more than during the late spring and early fall. I have several of the Magicshines that I've adapted to the Mawri light mount. As far as I know, you can't adapt the Magicshine o-ring style mount to the Cygolite mount but you can adapt them to the Mawri quite easily and the mount is much better than the o-ring style mount.
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Old 11-15-15, 05:12 PM
  #61  
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Not that its the OPs 100$ budget, I've been getting extremely excited by Lupine lighting systems. They seem very professional, bright, lightweight and sexy. But all those descriptors equals $$$$.
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Old 11-16-15, 07:26 AM
  #62  
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I think a helmet line is mandatory, because it will always light up the road wherever you're looking. the only drawback is that you lose texture which can be a problem mountain biking but not so much with commuting.

I Use a light on the handlebars to give me texture and a light on the helmet to make sure my path is always lit wherever I'm looking. It also has the advantage that I can look at people and things and help warn them that I'm coming. The disadvantage is that you never want to look directly at a car or fellow bike rider when the light is on your helmet or you will blind them them.

the high powered lights can be a good investment, because if you don't use them on full power they will last much much longer because they have better batteries.

you just have to decide if you want an all-in-one unit on your helmet, or one with a remote battery pack in which case you need to carry a backpack or something to store the battery.
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Old 11-16-15, 06:32 PM
  #63  
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My serious headlight is pushing two years using the Terralux lightstar 300 from Amazon for $29. Works great in sub freezing temperatures and pouring rain. No issues at all. Mount it with a two fish lock block. Comparable to a Fenix or Romisen at half the price. And its made in the USA.
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Old 11-17-15, 10:23 AM
  #64  
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Originally Posted by chas58 View Post
I think a helmet line is mandatory, because it will always light up the road wherever you're looking. the only drawback is that you lose texture which can be a problem mountain biking but not so much with commuting.
I assume you mean "light" not "line". I personally do not agree, I ride without a helmet light. I live by a bike path and rarely see other people with a helmet light.

I tried a helmet light, and decided not to use it for commuting. Can it be useful? Yes. But it also means that you're flashing people in the face if you want to look behind you in any conditions where there's a car beside you (wider roads and intersections). If you just want to look to the left or right a little you can not move your head, but if you want to look 90 or 180 degrees behind you you're hitting someone in the face with the light. Plus it's annoying to carry and recharge 2 lights. (If I'm on a route where not having a route would be a disaster like mtn biking I carry 2 lights, but it's still easier as I don't have the recharge the backup light if I don't use it).

Opinions vary, but that's my opinion.
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Old 11-17-15, 10:52 AM
  #65  
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Originally Posted by PaulRivers View Post
I assume you mean "light" not "line". I personally do not agree, I ride without a helmet light. I live by a bike path and rarely see other people with a helmet light.

I tried a helmet light, and decided not to use it for commuting. Can it be useful? Yes. But it also means that you're flashing people in the face if you want to look behind you in any conditions where there's a car beside you (wider roads and intersections). If you just want to look to the left or right a little you can not move your head, but if you want to look 90 or 180 degrees behind you you're hitting someone in the face with the light. Plus it's annoying to carry and recharge 2 lights. (If I'm on a route where not having a route would be a disaster like mtn biking I carry 2 lights, but it's still easier as I don't have the recharge the backup light if I don't use it).

Opinions vary, but that's my opinion.
I have 20 to 25 years of experience with helmet lights and I've never found that I'm flashing my light in someone's eyes when I'm looking to the side. The angle is all wrong except for the very tallest of SUVs.

First, my helmet light is aimed at an angle that makes it useful for illumination which means about 20 to 25 feet in front of me. Any further out and the light just isn't useful for lighting up the road. If a car is next to me on my left (for those of you who drive on the goofy side of the road, swap right for left) and I look to my left, my light is going over the top of the vehicle and not into the driver's face. I might flash a little light into a passenger's face but let's be realistic and realize that most cars you encounter while commuting aren't going to have a passenger. Even with a passenger, I would have to look down to light up the car.

If the car is across road, my light still isn't going to be in on-coming traffic's sight line because I'm looking down if I want to look back behind me. The beam is hitting the ground at a very steep angle. Remember, I can see where the beam is going.

As for looking right, well in the US, that's the none traffic side and there isn't much pedestrian traffic along the routes that I typically ride. Additionally, the whole point of the helmet light is the ability to move the light were I want it to go. If I do encounter pedestrian traffic, my light warns me long before I get to them and I can move out into the lane or I can turn the light away from the pedestrian.

Because a helmet light is movable, I also find it useful for the few times I ride on MUP (which I try to keep to as little as possible). I can shut off my other lights and avert my helmet light when I see someone coming at me.

You, like so many others, seem to feel that bicycle riders...especially those using battery lights... are total jerks when it comes to other road users. I've not observed that at all. Sure, someone new to helmet light use may have a bit of a learning curve when it comes to aiming their lights but most people catch on quickly. I see lots and lots of riders using helmet lights and none of them are actively or even passively shining the light from their helmet light into others eyes all the time. I may use it to signal a inattentive driver occasionally but those times are rare and I don't just stare at the person until I've passed them nor have I observed others doing that.
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Old 11-17-15, 03:16 PM
  #66  
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You've inferred a lot from PaulRivers that I don't think he said.
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Old 11-18-15, 12:37 PM
  #67  
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Originally Posted by PaulRivers View Post
I assume you mean "light" not "line". I personally do not agree, I ride without a helmet light. I live by a bike path and rarely see other people with a helmet light.

I tried a helmet light, and decided not to use it for commuting. Can it be useful? Yes. But it also means that you're flashing people in the face if you want to look behind you in any conditions where there's a car beside you (wider roads and intersections). If you just want to look to the left or right a little you can not move your head, but if you want to look 90 or 180 degrees behind you you're hitting someone in the face with the light. Plus it's annoying to carry and recharge 2 lights. (If I'm on a route where not having a route would be a disaster like mtn biking I carry 2 lights, but it's still easier as I don't have the recharge the backup light if I don't use it).

Opinions vary, but that's my opinion.
I assume you mean not having a "light" instead of not having a "route"?
;-)

Good point. Since you ride on a trail or something that is mostly straight, a bar mount is great for commuting. My route is a little different, and I need to be able to see around dark turns at speed.

For those that have a more dynamic route and have complained about tunnel vision, a helmet mount solves those problems.

Its all good. Lots of variety here...
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Old 11-18-15, 12:47 PM
  #68  
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Originally Posted by DBordello View Post
I think I am leaning towards the headlight + battery pack options. The price seems to be hard to beat compared to integrated solutions.

I am leaning towards a pair of these:Amazon.com : CREE XML XM-L T6 LED Bike Bicycle Light HeadLight HeadLamp 1200LM Red : Cycling Electronics Accessories : Sports & Outdoors
Any other recommendations?
More updates on the Amazon off brand light.

The model bought was these:
https://www.amazon.com/Bright-Eyes-Re...YZBZPSCDAN1WQV

unfortunately these had a tight spotlight like beam that is really not suitable for biking, and even worse as these are destined for a handle bar mount.

So, got the diffuser. Oddlyl the diffuser makes the spot into a wide thin line. Not a nicely dispersed pattern like a niterider or cygolite. So now there is marginally more coverage side to side, but still a very narrow vertical cut off. Sux.

If that wasn't bad enough, about 5 minutes after installing the diffuser, the light quit working. Switched battery packs, but its the light. The power button illuminates, but that is all. What a POS.

I'm so over using no name Amazon or DealExtreme bike lights. Nothing but frustration:
- power buttons that keep popping off (real valuable in the dark)
- short battery life
- quit working for no reason at all.
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Old 11-19-15, 12:19 PM
  #69  
no motor?
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Originally Posted by chas58 View Post
More updates on the Amazon off brand light.

The model bought was these:
https://www.amazon.com/Bright-Eyes-Re...YZBZPSCDAN1WQV

unfortunately these had a tight spotlight like beam that is really not suitable for biking, and even worse as these are destined for a handle bar mount.

So, got the diffuser. Oddlyl the diffuser makes the spot into a wide thin line. Not a nicely dispersed pattern like a niterider or cygolite. So now there is marginally more coverage side to side, but still a very narrow vertical cut off. Sux.

If that wasn't bad enough, about 5 minutes after installing the diffuser, the light quit working. Switched battery packs, but its the light. The power button illuminates, but that is all. What a POS.

I'm so over using no name Amazon or DealExtreme bike lights. Nothing but frustration:
- power buttons that keep popping off (real valuable in the dark)
- short battery life
- quit working for no reason at all.
That's why I think buying a good light and a cheap light makes sense when you're starting out. Redundancy is good, especially when you're using something that may not be dependable like that. If you liked the idea of that light but want something that's made better, Action LED sells a genuine Magicshine for $70.
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