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Bike light recommendations?

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Bike light recommendations?

Old 09-22-18, 11:51 AM
  #26  
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I have a Lupine Piko 3. It is an old model and I have had it for 7 1/2 years now. I bought the optional mount, to mount it to the bike, instead of using it on the helmet. It is small, and very bright, I usually use it on its lowest setting. I still use the original battery and it is still working as good as the day I bought it. Yes, it was expensive, but it has given me no problems, lights the road very well, and I don't see me buying anything to replace it for many more years. https://www.lupinenorthamerica.com/piko_class.asp
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Old 09-22-18, 02:07 PM
  #27  
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
While I will admit that the light output for the less expensive Cree lights is not 1200 lumens, I would question a result that says that the light only puts out 350 lumens. That's a very dim light and, in my experience, these lights are a lot brighter than that over several brands and models I've used. Perhaps they only tested it in the lowest light mode and either didn't report that or didn't know. The give away that there was something wrong is the run time. On full output, an 18650 battery pack will last about 2 hours. Theirs lasted 4 hours. Something is fishy here.

I have a Cygolite Expilion 850. We Test Lights has tested this light and says that the output is about 800 lumens. I have compared it side-by-side to several of the Chinese Crees and the Cygolite is somewhat dimmer than each one I've used it with, hence my statement that the Chinese Crees put out about 800 lumens.

There are about 10,000 Chinese Crees to choose from. Most of them are worth the money you spend on them and will give excellent service for very little money. They are way better...and usually cheaper...than any "be seen" light and are a pretty good way to find out if you want to ride at night without sinking a lot of money into lighting systems. If you find that you like riding at night, then you can certainly upgrade to more expensive lights. Personally, I tried the "upgrade"...that's why I have the Expilion...and found that the expense didn't provide me with better lighting. It just gave me a flatter wallet.
Don't overestimate those cheap Chinese lights. I bought one in Fall 2016. It was stated as a 3,600 lumens from not one but THREE CREE XM-L T6 LED (so 1,200 each). If you look at my review back then, I connected an amp meter on the light to get the real current draw and the best the light could do is 250 lumen from one LED (0.61A), As you lit up more LED to increase total power, the battery pack couldn't draw more than 1.33A which is equivalent to 540 lumens, a far cry from 3,600!

I gave it away to someone that does MTB because the light floods the area and blinds people but on trails, it really doesn't matter when you're not crossing anyone.
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Old 09-22-18, 02:42 PM
  #28  
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These ones are pretty sweet:

Front (white)


Rear (red)


They are USB re-chargeable and also come in a variety of sizes (front only) and colours. The front one has 3 settings (on, high-beam, flashing) and the rear has two (on, flashing). They're super durable -- I own a couple pairs and love 'em.

There are also plenty of integrated lights like these:
if you want to spend some money on new components.
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Old 09-23-18, 09:56 AM
  #29  
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Originally Posted by SylvainG View Post
Don't overestimate those cheap Chinese lights. I bought one in Fall 2016. It was stated as a 3,600 lumens from not one but THREE CREE XM-L T6 LED (so 1,200 each). If you look at my review back then, I connected an amp meter on the light to get the real current draw and the best the light could do is 250 lumen from one LED (0.61A), As you lit up more LED to increase total power, the battery pack couldn't draw more than 1.33A which is equivalent to 540 lumens, a far cry from 3,600!

I gave it away to someone that does MTB because the light floods the area and blinds people but on trails, it really doesn't matter when you're not crossing anyone.
Don't underestimate them either. That said, I've tried the multiple LED lights as well and have no love for them. I noticed in a side-by-side comparison that a dual LED light had about the same light output as a single one and figured that the LEDs can't really draw enough current from the same sized battery to be effective. However, single lights put out much more light than 250 lumens. I know what a 250 lumen light looks like and what a 600 to 800 lumen light looks like. And, as I said above, I've compared the Chinese lights to lights with a known output and they are as bright...and even a little brighter...than the more expensive light. I will grant you that the lights won't put out 1200 lumens but they put out more than the 200 lumens that the article you linked to above.

As you said above, they have a very good light output for a $20 light. It's far better than what you'll get for most any other $20 light. It's better than many $60 "be seen" lights. The MEC light suggested above is $24 ($30 US) and has a 90 lumen output. Even the (incredibly low) light output measured by the We Test Light website is much brighter than that for the same money. Yes, 250 lumens is a dim light but it's still better than 90 lumens. 250 lumens is getting into the "seeing" category instead of a "be seen (but not really)" light. The more realistic 600 lumens that these lights put out gets into the "see and be seen" category even in urban areas with lots of other light sources.
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Old 09-23-18, 02:38 PM
  #30  
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
Don't underestimate them either. That said, I've tried the multiple LED lights as well and have no love for them. I noticed in a side-by-side comparison that a dual LED light had about the same light output as a single one and figured that the LEDs can't really draw enough current from the same sized battery to be effective. However, single lights put out much more light than 250 lumens. I know what a 250 lumen light looks like and what a 600 to 800 lumen light looks like. And, as I said above, I've compared the Chinese lights to lights with a known output and they are as bright...and even a little brighter...than the more expensive light. I will grant you that the lights won't put out 1200 lumens but they put out more than the 200 lumens that the article you linked to above.

As you said above, they have a very good light output for a $20 light. It's far better than what you'll get for most any other $20 light. It's better than many $60 "be seen" lights. The MEC light suggested above is $24 ($30 US) and has a 90 lumen output. Even the (incredibly low) light output measured by the We Test Light website is much brighter than that for the same money. Yes, 250 lumens is a dim light but it's still better than 90 lumens. 250 lumens is getting into the "seeing" category instead of a "be seen (but not really)" light. The more realistic 600 lumens that these lights put out gets into the "see and be seen" category even in urban areas with lots of other light sources.
Before buying the 3 LED light, I bought that one (which I still use as an emergency spare since it's small) which was rated (they don't even bother specifying the lumens anymore) 300 lumens. Got 120 lumens from it, I guess it's to be understood that cheap Chinese lights lumens are to be divided by about 3. Yes I did pay three times more for my CatEye Volt800 but I wouldn't replace it by 3 Chinese lights. The beam pattern is good, no external batteries (although it is replaceable), better modes (hyper constant is great to be noticed while night riding in street lit road), light output is as advertised and the bracket is rock solid, unlike the Chinese light that I had to add tie wraps around the body and handlebar to prevent it from tilting down (mentioned in the review).

BTW, you did your conversion the wrong way. $24 CND is $18 US, not $30 US. I wish it was the other way though
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Old 09-23-18, 03:18 PM
  #31  
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This Clever piece allows you to mount your light weight battery headlight at the fork crown,

attached behind the brake

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Old 09-23-18, 07:24 PM
  #32  
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Jan Heine just published this article, which I think is pretty good. I happen to like the beams of Busch & Müller lights for the reasons he states. The hot spot of a symmetrical beam distracts me, and that makes it hard to look far enough ahead.

Myth 14: More Lumens Make a Better Light

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Old 09-24-18, 09:22 AM
  #33  
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
Jan Heine just published this article, which I think is pretty good. I happen to like the beams of Busch & Müller lights for the reasons he states. The hot spot of a symmetrical beam distracts me, and that makes it hard to look far enough ahead.

Myth 14: More Lumens Make a Better Light

And look what the investment in R&D adds to the cost. The Edelux light costs $170 to $240 per lamp without a generator to power it. If you want to use the Son generator, you pay $68 premium () for the connector as well as about a $290 premium for the hub. That's $530 before having the wheel built. I ride a lot in the dark but I couldn't justify shelling out $650 for a light for a bike much less $650 to outfit 4 to 6 bicycles which is the number of different bikes I ride on a regular basis during the winter...and I've been commuting at night for close to 45 years.

Let's be realistic here. sqwertl wants to try riding at night. Is it wise to invest $1300 (or even $100) in equipment for an activity that he (she) doesn't even know if they want to do yet? Or it is better to invest $20 to $40 to try it out with lights that are at least good enough to see with?
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Old 09-24-18, 09:44 AM
  #34  
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Originally Posted by SylvainG View Post
Before buying the 3 LED light, I bought that one (which I still use as an emergency spare since it's small) which was rated (they don't even bother specifying the lumens anymore) 300 lumens. Got 120 lumens from it, I guess it's to be understood that cheap Chinese lights lumens are to be divided by about 3. Yes I did pay three times more for my CatEye Volt800 but I wouldn't replace it by 3 Chinese lights. The beam pattern is good, no external batteries (although it is replaceable), better modes (hyper constant is great to be noticed while night riding in street lit road), light output is as advertised and the bracket is rock solid, unlike the Chinese light that I had to add tie wraps around the body and handlebar to prevent it from tilting down (mentioned in the review).
So what LED is the Cateye using that allows it to put out 800 lumens for 2 hours on a 3.2Ahr battery? I really am asking out of curiosity.

However, looking at the We Test Lights website, it looks to me like they kind of fudge the light output. The Chinese Cree you linked to gives has a consistent light (if too low) light output over the 4 h run time while the Cateye has a spike of 800 lumens that only lasts a few minutes and then seems to dim with time over the 2 hours of run time to a very dim 92 lumens. It's not fair to say that the light has an output of 800 lumens if that output is only a spike at the beginning.

And, from the standpoint of a commuter, this is kind of a dangerous trend. I tell people that want to ride at night that it is a little known fact that it gets dark when the sun goes down. It's a bit facetious but my point is that on the ride home, it gets darker. With these smaller units, the constant dimming of the light means that you are going to get less light just as you need more light. On the morning part of the commute, it doesn't really matter because it's getting lighter all the time but at night, you simply don't want your lights to fail.

Looking around at similar lights, this seems to be how these lights work. They are bright initially but quickly fade.

I do want to thank you for the link to the website. Although I think the test on the Bright Eyes is wrong, it is still a useful site.

Originally Posted by SylvainG View Post
BTW, you did your conversion the wrong way. $24 CND is $18 US, not $30 US. I wish it was the other way though
Yes. You are correct. My error.
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Old 09-24-18, 07:24 PM
  #35  
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The wetestlights site looks a little fishy. I can't explain it.

I certainly am not saying that someone starting out should spend that much money. There were good points raised by the article about how much light you need and how it is spread. Compass Cycles is in a small niche market where people spend a lot. I've never bought anything from them or from Rivendell.
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Old 09-25-18, 07:13 AM
  #36  
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
The wetestlights site looks a little fishy. I can't explain it.
I don't think there is anything fishy about the We Test Lights site. There appears to be some pretty good information there. I think they made an error in their measurement of the Bright Eyes which they should correct but people make measurement errors all the time. That's usually why you do multiple tests under the same conditions.

Originally Posted by noglider View Post
I certainly am not saying that someone starting out should spend that much money. There were good points raised by the article about how much light you need and how it is spread. Compass Cycles is in a small niche market where people spend a lot. I've never bought anything from them or from Rivendell.
While points raised by Bicycle Quarterly may be good in theory, there is the real world to consider. Frankly, I consider the whole "bicycle lights blind people" argument is a bit of a tempest in a teapot...and somewhat wrong headed. If our lights are so focused that they never bother anyone, motorists won't see them. I want the motorist to be "dazzled" (to a small extent) because that will draw their attention away from the nondriving tasks they are doing and get them back on task...i.e. driving a multi-thousand pound, highly powerful and very complicated machine.
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Old 09-25-18, 07:45 AM
  #37  
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
While points raised by Bicycle Quarterly may be good in theory, there is the real world to consider. Frankly, I consider the whole "bicycle lights blind people" argument is a bit of a tempest in a teapot...and somewhat wrong headed. If our lights are so focused that they never bother anyone, motorists won't see them. I want the motorist to be "dazzled" (to a small extent) because that will draw their attention away from the nondriving tasks they are doing and get them back on task...i.e. driving a multi-thousand pound, highly powerful and very complicated machine.
Yes I agree, but it's tricky to find the sweet spot. In these discussions, I've come to realize that we all react to lights differently. I have been dazzled by my own headlights, heading away from me. I'm probably more sensitive than others. But I count, too. This is why I don't want a light that is very bright. When it's very bright, I can't see things that are outside the beam or in the weak part of the beam. I am indeed stunned and dazzled by other people's headlights to the extent that I have to stop quickly. I don't know what to propose in response to that, but certainly not that people should be more considerate. Clearly they are not, nor do I expect them to become more considerate. If you don't see the problem, that does not mean it doesn't exist. It does for me and others I know. A friend of mine is a pedestrian in NYC and rarely rides a bike any more. He is also disturbed by the bright bike headlights.
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Old 09-25-18, 07:51 AM
  #38  
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If a long battery life is your aim why not get a Shimano hub dynamo built into your front wheel and get a Busch-Müller IQ-X light. It's among the most powerful one you can get that runs off dynamo, no battery fuss. Also works as a parking light for around 10 minutes or more (uses internal capacitor I guess). I really love mine since I don't like messing with batteries (bad for the nature too!).
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Old 09-25-18, 08:28 AM
  #39  
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
Frankly, I consider the whole "bicycle lights blind people" argument is a bit of a tempest in a teapot
True, car headlights blind me all the time, usually jacked up brodozers
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Old 09-25-18, 08:54 AM
  #40  
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
While points raised by Bicycle Quarterly may be good in theory, there is the real world to consider. Frankly, I consider the whole "bicycle lights blind people" argument is a bit of a tempest in a teapot...and somewhat wrong headed. If our lights are so focused that they never bother anyone, motorists won't see them. I want the motorist to be "dazzled" (to a small extent) because that will draw their attention away from the nondriving tasks they are doing and get them back on task...i.e. driving a multi-thousand pound, highly powerful and very complicated machine.
This.

The brightest bike light on the market is a match in a barn fire compared to a standard car's high beams.
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Old 09-25-18, 09:25 AM
  #41  
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
The wetestlights site looks a little fishy. I can't explain it.

I certainly am not saying that someone starting out should spend that much money. There were good points raised by the article about how much light you need and how it is spread. Compass Cycles is in a small niche market where people spend a lot. I've never bought anything from them or from Rivendell.
compass and rivendell inspire me. Like you I don't buy much from them but they both understand the kind of riding I do. This sort of info and outlook is why I started building wheels and commuting to work. They just have a respect for the bike as real transportation. Sometimes a person needs a little nudge and both sites generally nudge me in the right direction. Of course I use 50.00 dyno hubs and 20.00 30lux lights but I never would have gotten there without the ideas these folks put in my head. Just like I never would have hung around this site so long without the knowledgeable posts of noglider.
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Old 09-25-18, 09:35 AM
  #42  
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Same here, @52telecaster. My knowledge has been deepened and broadened here. Cycling has become more efficient and fun as a result of the things I learn here, including dynamo lighting. High priced stuff is the leading edge, and I follow along behind with lesser stuff. I enjoy researching and shopping, so I've bought B&M lights from the French web site xxcycle.com where prices are low and selection is huge. I find bargains on dynamo hubs, sometimes used. It's true that a cutting edge dynamo system is expensive, but I don't need cutting edge, and my outlay has not been much. The first complete system I built for myself, with headlight, taillight and dynamo, cost me $130.

$130 is too much to spend if you're deciding whether you like riding at night. There have been good suggestions here with lower price points. I am almost embarrassed to admit that my new $10 light works well upon initial testing. But buying from China directly and waiting four weeks for delivery has its downsides, too.
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Old 09-25-18, 10:59 AM
  #43  
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
While points raised by Bicycle Quarterly may be good in theory, there is the real world to consider. Frankly, I consider the whole "bicycle lights blind people" argument is a bit of a tempest in a teapot...and somewhat wrong headed. If our lights are so focused that they never bother anyone, motorists won't see them. I want the motorist to be "dazzled" (to a small extent) because that will draw their attention away from the nondriving tasks they are doing and get them back on task...i.e. driving a multi-thousand pound, highly powerful and very complicated machine.
I agree. When I started commuting I'd already gone through at least 1 be seen light and started adding more lights with more output. It wasn't until I added "the" light then (the 185 lumen Fenix L2D) that people started both seeing me as well as reacting to me. I'd rode a motorcycle for many years before that was too well aware of drivers seeing you but continuing to turn in front of you etc unless you did something like flashing your lights or blowing the horn to get them to react. Brighter lights make it easier for drivers to react to my presence instead of staring at me and wondering where I came from.
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Old 09-25-18, 01:54 PM
  #44  
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By the way, I learned from that SMIDSY motorcycle video the trick of wiggling my light to get people's attention. I believe it works. Or really, I wiggle my path. This works in daylight, too. It might be because of my weird trajectory, and it might be because I occupy more of a person's field of vision. I'm not sure, but it seems to work.
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Old 09-25-18, 02:09 PM
  #45  
jr59
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I use a Klarus flashlight and a two fish holder. It’s plenty bright enough for me, and I can swap it between bikes and my home, shed or basement without much effort.
for a tail light, I use a DiNotte light quad. Simply the brightest tail light I could find.

both have been with me for years and have been problem free.
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Old 09-30-18, 09:19 AM
  #46  
SylvainG
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
So what LED is the Cateye using that allows it to put out 800 lumens for 2 hours on a 3.2Ahr battery? I really am asking out of curiosity.

However, looking at the We Test Lights website, it looks to me like they kind of fudge the light output. The Chinese Cree you linked to gives has a consistent light (if too low) light output over the 4 h run time while the Cateye has a spike of 800 lumens that only lasts a few minutes and then seems to dim with time over the 2 hours of run time to a very dim 92 lumens. It's not fair to say that the light has an output of 800 lumens if that output is only a spike at the beginning.

And, from the standpoint of a commuter, this is kind of a dangerous trend. I tell people that want to ride at night that it is a little known fact that it gets dark when the sun goes down. It's a bit facetious but my point is that on the ride home, it gets darker. With these smaller units, the constant dimming of the light means that you are going to get less light just as you need more light. On the morning part of the commute, it doesn't really matter because it's getting lighter all the time but at night, you simply don't want your lights to fail.

Looking around at similar lights, this seems to be how these lights work. They are bright initially but quickly fade.

I do want to thank you for the link to the website. Although I think the test on the Bright Eyes is wrong, it is still a useful site.

Yes. You are correct. My error.
A CREE T6 will produce 800 lumens given enough power (at 3A and 3.35V, a T6 will do about 1,000 lumens but that's 10W of heat to dissipate!), which the Volt800 can do and like you said, because of how Lithium battery works, it can't give 2 straight hours at 800 lumens out of that battery. Voltage will drop as soon as the light draining power and at full brightness, that's a lot of power being drained from that single 3.6V battery Lithium battery. On the Chinese light I had, it had four 18650 battery (two in parallel/series combo). CREE LED nominal voltage is 3.2 volt so the battery pack has to regulate voltage from 7.2V to 3.2V. Dropping 4V and sinking 2A from that regulator (8W), would create lots of heat (more than the LED itself!), hence why I guess they can't produce the rated lumens, their circuitry can't handle it.

Like I mention elsewhere, I hardly ride in full brightness, but it's there when I need it. I'm mostly in HyperConstant mode and will switch (by a quick double press of the button) to high mode when conditions requires it (like when a car coming toward me with his hi-beam or riding fast in a completely unlit path) so even after my 1 hour ride, light output is still strong and constant. If however this would become a issue, I could swap the battery with a fresh one. This, in my opinion, is more practical than carry 3 cheap Chinese lights on my (already crowded) handlebar with their corresponding battery pack hooked on my top tube, but that's just me, each his own.
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Old 09-30-18, 02:20 PM
  #47  
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I ride in a similar situation with plenty of streetlights but plenty of construction. I just use a SunLite Burn300 for a headlight, an Atomic Hot Dog for a taillight, and generic LED blinkies front and back for extra visibility (1 in the front, 2 in the back). More than enough of a headlight to navigate with or without streetlights, and comically visible with all the blinking. All USB chargable with the same micro-USB cable and sub+$100 for the setup. I ride multiple bikes and it's all easily transferrable.
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Old 09-30-18, 02:35 PM
  #48  
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Originally Posted by Jahnboy9000 View Post
I ride in a similar situation with plenty of streetlights but plenty of construction. I just use a SunLite Burn300 for a headlight, an Atomic Hot Dog for a taillight, and generic LED blinkies front and back for extra visibility (1 in the front, 2 in the back). More than enough of a headlight to navigate with or without streetlights, and comically visible with all the blinking. All USB chargable with the same micro-USB cable and sub+$100 for the setup. I ride multiple bikes and it's all easily transferrable.
Want to add some more comically visibility? Add this I got called a human Christmas garland by an ninja rider when I pointed out that he needed lights on his bike at night.

PS. I turn it on when it's dark and I'm on my busiest road on my commute.
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Old 10-02-18, 09:24 AM
  #49  
cyccommute 
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Originally Posted by SylvainG View Post
A CREE T6 will produce 800 lumens given enough power (at 3A and 3.35V, a T6 will do about 1,000 lumens but that's 10W of heat to dissipate!), which the Volt800 can do and like you said, because of how Lithium battery works, it can't give 2 straight hours at 800 lumens out of that battery. Voltage will drop as soon as the light draining power and at full brightness, that's a lot of power being drained from that single 3.6V battery Lithium battery. On the Chinese light I had, it had four 18650 battery (two in parallel/series combo). CREE LED nominal voltage is 3.2 volt so the battery pack has to regulate voltage from 7.2V to 3.2V. Dropping 4V and sinking 2A from that regulator (8W), would create lots of heat (more than the LED itself!), hence why I guess they can't produce the rated lumens, their circuitry can't handle it.
I still think you are underestimating the Chinese lights and their abilities. I've compared a light that is supposed to put out 800 to 850 lumens to the Chinese Crees that I have and the light output is similar. The known light is actually a bit dimmer. And, given the number of times that people have flamed me for having lights that "spray light into the trees" and "blind people because they burn out our retinas", I know these Chinese lights are putting out more than 200 lumens. A Petzl Tikka puts out 200 lumens and my lights are much brighter than that.

That said, there are many of the USB lights out there that are putting out 1100 lumens which, according to the We Test Lights website is a measured output. However, looking at the charts all of the USB lights seem to have the same problem which is just as dishonest as the claimed 1200 lumens output of the Chinese lights. It's not the "true" output since it is only a spike and then quickly it drops off.


Originally Posted by SylvainG View Post
Like I mention elsewhere, I hardly ride in full brightness, but it's there when I need it. I'm mostly in HyperConstant mode and will switch (by a quick double press of the button) to high mode when conditions requires it (like when a car coming toward me with his hi-beam or riding fast in a completely unlit path) so even after my 1 hour ride, light output is still strong and constant. If however this would become a issue, I could swap the battery with a fresh one. This, in my opinion, is more practical than carry 3 cheap Chinese lights on my (already crowded) handlebar with their corresponding battery pack hooked on my top tube, but that's just me, each his own.
I, on the other hand, always run at full brightness. I see little to no use for any other mode...especially flash mode. The only time I power down is for a very short section of bikepath that I have to ride to connect to another street. I refuse to ride bike paths at night...it's mostly illegal here anyway...because I don't want to blind pedestrians who are walking without lighting. That means that I have to compete with car lights so dimming lights isn't an option. As I've also said, the lights I have put out much more than 200 lumens on full power. Yes, they put out about 200 lumens at low power but they are a lot brighter than that at full power. I have 3 of them...two on bars and one on helmet...but they are throwing out a lot of light. In my experience their performance...not output but the consistent output to battery drain...is more like the NiteRider Pro than like the charts given for the USB lights.
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Old 10-02-18, 10:27 AM
  #50  
noglider 
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@cyccommute, you should be glad to know that, with @DWMkee's help, I now have a cheap Chinese light I like. It's $9, and it has a shaped beam. The seller claims it complies with German law. I don't care if it complies. The beam shape is good enough for me. It's a bit brighter than my dynamo light, which isn't hard to achieve, so it's bright enough for me. It's still new, but in my initial test, it lasted two hours on high output.
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