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Are large batteries for 5-6 hour headlight run times overkill?

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Are large batteries for 5-6 hour headlight run times overkill?

Old 11-13-05, 09:05 AM
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Are large batteries for 5-6 hour headlight run times overkill?

Many who buy halogen or HID are faced with the decision of light systems that come with various battery and run time differences. Are 5-6 hours overkill? It might be the rare person who commutes more than two hours each way and then who wants enough juice for a nighttime fun ride. If a person considers that they may one day ride 5-6 hours consecutively in total darkness, it probably won’t be that often. Then, the person is hauling a way larger battery than is necessary for most of the time. What does anyone else think about this?
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Old 11-13-05, 09:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Savas
What does anyone else think about this?
I think I just changed from a complicated HID setup with 4 hour runtime to a simple self-contained L&M Vega with 2 hour runtime. My bike/train/bike commute is short, and the 4 hour runtime on my Niterider HID system would easily do the entire week's commuting on one charge with plenty left over.

Although the Vega is only 2 hour runtime on full brightness, it is so easy to charge when I get home that it won't be an issue, and I unloaded a noticeable amount of weight off my bike in making the change.

If I have a need for long runtime and bug-zapping light intensity, I can always install the Niterider system... but for commuting, I don't need it.
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Old 11-13-05, 09:25 AM
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I Think most lighting systems are designed for both off and on road users as making a lighting system that can be marketed to both groups is less costly that designing manufacturing and marketing two lighting systems.
Since off road users tend to want lighting for longer periods of time the batteries tend to provide longer run times (and are bigger) than most commuters would need.
I purchased a Lupine Passiabu lighting system from Gretna bikes and they installed a 24w bulb in it. Now I have a lighting system that provides copious amounts of light with a very small lithium battery (the best of both worlds), I have a commute that takes 44 minutes each way and the battery lasts for 1 1/2 hours, so I can get to work with enough juice to spare to run the light most of the way home (I could switch to 9w if I want to extend the run time) or to see to change a flat tube (knock on wood) if I flat on the way in.
After having a Niterider system I am extremely happy to now own a Lupine system as it is far superiour in all aspects.
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Old 11-13-05, 09:26 AM
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Unless you are a weight weenie concerned about every gram you will probably not notice the extra weight of a larger battery. I am a big guy at 210-215, and my primary commuter is based on an early 80s Schwinn Voyageur touring frame. I keep two small panniers, one with my gear and the other for extras I might need to carry, plus a seat bag with tools and spares. I am currently carrying a 5 AH SLA, but I am thinking about going to a 12 AH or more to run even higher wattage lamps if I want to. I could care less about the few extra pounds. I figure it never hurts to have extra capacity if the few extra pounds doesn't bother you.
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Old 11-13-05, 09:47 AM
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Originally Posted by RainmanP
I could care less about the few extra pounds. I figure it never hurts to have extra capacity if the few extra pounds doesn't bother you.
That's my feeling (except that I COULDN'T care less ). I stopped by a LBS last fall to ask the owner/mechanic to look at something. He's a 100% Cannondale shop (ex-Cannondale exec) and I had a Giant. He tsk'd and said "Shoulda bought a bike from me, our hybrids weigh at least 5 pounds less." I told him I really didn't care about weight much. I mean, at the time I had a SLA battery on the rack, a big cheap Nashbar pannier loaded with crud, and I was wearing cheap sneakers and toe clips; how he mistook me for a weight weenie I don't know. "Besides," I said, "I've lost 20 pounds since I started commuting."
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Old 11-13-05, 10:13 AM
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I have the old battery from my halogen lamp that fits into the new l&m HID that I have.
So essentially I have 2 batteries that each get 3-3.5 hrs each.
If I'm on a short ride, I stick with the frame mounted one. Otherwise, on a long weekend ride from say 4:30pm-10pm (DST), I need 5+ hrs of battery life, I haul along the bottle battery too.

Most of the lights with 5+ hrs of battery life use lithium ion batteries.
A 6+ hr lithium battery is pretty much close to the weight of a 3.5hr nimh battery. Nothing lost or gained there.
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Old 11-13-05, 11:44 AM
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I don't feel the weight when I'm riding the bike. On my commute which involves riding on a train, I have to carry my bike up two flights of stairs every day. I can definitely feel the extra weight then.
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Old 11-13-05, 01:14 PM
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If the weather is nice, I would rather ride a bike with better (more nimble) handling than one with sluggish handling. Its just more fun.
If the weather is bad, I'd actually prefer a sluggish (and more stable) ride.
Both my road bikes are set up with identical rider position and gearing, one is light and one is heavy. If its windy or going to rain, I take the heavier bike as it has fenders and slightly fatter tires. Under less than perfect weather conditions is feels safer.
On nice days I take the lighter bike, its a lot more fun to ride and takes much less effort.
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Old 11-13-05, 04:41 PM
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Originally Posted by ItsJustMe
That's my feeling (except that I COULDN'T care less ). I stopped by a LBS last fall to ask the owner/mechanic to look at something. He's a 100% Cannondale shop (ex-Cannondale exec) and I had a Giant. He tsk'd and said "Shoulda bought a bike from me, our hybrids weigh at least 5 pounds less." I told him I really didn't care about weight much. I mean, at the time I had a SLA battery on the rack, a big cheap Nashbar pannier loaded with crud, and I was wearing cheap sneakers and toe clips; how he mistook me for a weight weenie I don't know. "Besides," I said, "I've lost 20 pounds since I started commuting."
You could have told him the extra letters in the Cannondale paint job would be too many grams.

My commute in by bike can easily be 2 hours. Riding home against the wind has taken just over 3 hours before. I have no guarantee that if I leave a charger plugged in somewhere at work that it will still be there when I get back to the office and get ready to start home. I'm in an urban area, and it's partially lit, so the mention of the L&M Vega was interesting to me. I'm also considering trying the Planet Bike Xenon light. I could get the one with the rechargeable pack, and the spare "AA" battery carrier.

Last edited by Dchiefransom; 11-13-05 at 04:58 PM.
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Old 11-13-05, 06:54 PM
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I have about 1 hour of battery in my lights between charges, but my commute is 20 minutes each way, barring a flat tire, so I have no problems. If my commute were any longer, I'd switch from rechargable AAs to a larger battery pack I put together and probably have 5x that.
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Old 11-13-05, 07:12 PM
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Considering that run times are often stated optimistically by the manufacturer, a bit of extra is probably a good thing. Also, many battery technologies deliver less total energy in cold temperatures than they do when warm, so you may need to account for a lower run time when it's below freezing outside.
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Old 11-13-05, 07:31 PM
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I like to have several times more runtime than I actually need, because on any given night, I may forget to put my battery on the charger when I get home. The anticipation of pizza can drive all other thoughts clean out of my head, for example.

Plus what the others have already mentioned. Basically, unless the battery can be completely self-contained into the headlight like with the Vega, then I don't really care if the external battery pack is a little bigger or smaller, heavier or lighter. I might care somewhat about whether it has to occupy a bottle cage, if I'm on such a long-haul ride that a Camelbak plus a single bottle isn't enough.
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Old 11-14-05, 05:39 PM
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Allright, you men talked me into it. I just ordered an upgrade to a larger battery in exchange for a new light system I just got Saturday!
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Old 11-14-05, 05:44 PM
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Hehehe... what'd you get?
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Old 11-15-05, 05:50 AM
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I got the Light & Motion ARC HID with Li-ion battery. The Ultra model is what I will be exchanging for. The smaller battery is nice and neat looking handful of battery and at 10-12 ounces, not too bad. The Ultra is seven inches and weighs slightly more than a pound! That seven is comprised of the original battery dimensions with smaller parts sticking out of it fore and aft, in line with the top tube. So it's not as bulky as the dimensions suggest. Hey, I can always get a trailer to carry it in, dragging it behind me.
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Old 11-15-05, 07:50 AM
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The Ultra battery is in the same housing as the original nimh battery.
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Old 11-15-05, 08:11 AM
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There must be a point of diminishing returns somewhere with the battery/light setups. I have a 6V halogen system with a 5AHr battery. Running a 3W light I should get about 10 hours. Of course, 3W isn't very bright. I ride with my light on in the day as well as at night. Weather has quite a bit to do with battery runtimes, too. Don't get me wrong, I like my setup.

However, I would like MORE runtime than that! From there, I was thinking of dropping 1/2 a paycheck on the hub generator and wheel combo.

I love riding at night. On long tours, in the summer, night riding is cooler and very peaceful.

As for commuting, I can see a larger battery and super bright setup would be great. Just my .03.
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Old 11-15-05, 05:24 PM
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What sucks is, L&M is out of Li-Ion Ultra batteries. Shipments to start in early December.
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Old 11-15-05, 06:26 PM
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Did you already google " L&M Li-Ion battery" ? There are a lot of places that sell L&m lights.
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Old 11-15-05, 08:17 PM
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"There must be a point of diminishing returns somewhere with the battery/light setups"
I think I'm there with my homemade setup composed of a 55watt halogen plus amber strobes front & rear, all driven by a 12 volt lead/acid motorcycle battery. When new last year, it gave a 2 hour run time. I only need 40 minutes or less for the round trip in Winter.
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Old 11-15-05, 09:08 PM
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Originally Posted by 2manybikes
Did you already google " L&M Li-Ion battery" ? There are a lot of places that sell L&m lights.
That's a great idea. But all good things come to those who wait. LBS will be giving a 20% off list price discount, extending the deal from when I returned a light gotten during a special one day sale in late October. I can hang in there a few weeks, but I can't help thinking I'm losing some fine night rides. I'll just have to stick around well-trodden area armed with a few blinkies.
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Old 11-15-05, 10:50 PM
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Posted battery times are usually very optimistic, especially in the cold. There is also something very nice about having a long-duration headlight, where you don't need to count the minutes until you get home. You have a few options:

1. Get a large battery. But then, unless really large, your battery will still limit you at some point.

2. Get a good generator. Because of superb optics, a 3 W Lumotec headlight – driven by a hub- or bottle-generator – provides as much light on the road as a 10 W MR-11 bulb. Use it for most of your riding, and use your battery system for the times you want more light.

3. Same idea, but with the tiny AA LED-based headlight.
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Old 11-16-05, 12:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Savas
That's a great idea. But all good things come to those who wait. LBS will be giving a 20% off list price discount, extending the deal from when I returned a light gotten during a special one day sale in late October. I can hang in there a few weeks, but I can't help thinking I'm losing some fine night rides. I'll just have to stick around well-trodden area armed with a few blinkies.
If you're interested this place will price match. Just click on "price match" .
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Old 11-16-05, 05:45 PM
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What place? And don't they require something printed to prove it? The deal offered to me is a verbal one by the store.
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Old 11-16-05, 05:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Savas
What place? And don't they require something printed to prove it? The deal offered to me is a verbal one by the store.
DOH!! Maybe I should post the link instead of having you guess ???

This is BeyondBikes.com they have an on line form to fill out and then I imagine they do some research to see if it is valid.Click on "Price match"

http://www.beyondbikes.com/BB/ItemDe...LIG%2DIONbatte

OK I'm thinking of another URL that is really handy....can you guess what it is?
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