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Specific helmet light request

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Specific helmet light request

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Old 01-24-07, 08:54 AM
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gsk3
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Specific helmet light request

Hi everyone,
I'm a regular lurker on the commuting forum, but I haven't seen a headlight thread that quite matches what I want to do. Here's the story.

Commute: 3-5 miles in Boston down heavily trafficked roads. Always ride home in the dark. Often ride there in the semi-dark. The light also needs to be my backup light on longer pleasure rides (2 hours is the longest I've done so far).
Current lights:
-Niterider Classic Plus on the bar
-Niterider taillight on the rack (This is the hi-power one that plugs into the NiMH packs, but I'm a bit worried that the bag obscures it at many angles.)
-Niterider 6V/10W on helmet. (Forget the exact model, but it's the one like the Trail Rat except helmet-mount). Non-smart charger.
The dilemma: I'm going to get a PB Superflash for extra rear paranoia (will mount it on the rack bag so it has a higher angle of view). The issue comes with the helmet mount. I like having a helmet mount so that I can flash cars which seem to want to turn in on me from side streets. However, I hate having to hook up the helmet light each day...mounting the light, threading the cable through the helmet hole in the back and then up the one in the top, plugging it in, zipping all my jacket stuff in and then slipping the battery pack into a pocket, only to do the reverse when I get home. Also, charging it is a pain because it's neither quick-charge nor auto-shutoff.
The perfect light: I'd like a small light that mounts to my helmet, uses AA's (ideally, as I already have a great charger and batteries), but is powerful enough to get the attention of cars 20-30 feet away when directed towards the driver's side window. I imagine flashing would be best, although right now I just waggle my head and that seems to work quite well. Price needs to be less than what I could sell the NR for ($80 hopefully, given how new it is), but would ideally be under $50. I've seen lots of spot-beam solutions for helmets, but most are $100+ and have separate battery packs, which I don't want. I've considered buying one of those $35 flashlights that use Luxeon Stars and just mounting that with some serious velcro, but I'd like to see if there's a better solution out there before I do that.
So basically this means:
-AA's (AAA's less good but acceptable) in sets of 2 so that it's convenient to charge. I don't mind the weight.
-Reasonably bright, spot beam
-Fits entirely on helmet
What I've seen so far:
-$40 Princeton Tec EOS (there doesn't seem to be a helmet mount, though, and it runs on AAA's, not AA's).
-$55 Nite Hawk Emitter AL-X (AA's are good, bright, but requires separate battery pack)
-$65 Princeton Tec Yukon (separate pack, bulky)
-$39 PB Super Spot (there are plenty of good cheap lights like this, but they aren't helmet mount. Something similar with a helmet mount would be ideal)
-$20 AA LED Maglite (3W, adjustable beam means can be used as a spot which is what I want, have to mount it myself)
-$30 Streamlight (1W, spot beam, 4AA, weathersealed, well-regulated)


Does my perfect light exist?

Thanks,
Ari

Last edited by gsk3; 01-24-07 at 09:22 AM.
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Old 01-24-07, 09:09 AM
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Have you looked at the Planet Bike Sport Spot. Bar or Helment mount, flood, beam, both or flash settings. Runs on 3 aaa batteries. I have one and I use it on my helmet is bright enough help cars see you, supplement 15w halogen on bars, etc. Worth a look.

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Phobias are for irrational fears. Fear of junk ripping badgers is perfectly rational. Those things are nasty.
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Old 01-24-07, 09:47 AM
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Originally Posted by jsharr
Have you looked at the Planet Bike Sport Spot. Bar or Helment mount, flood, beam, both or flash settings. Runs on 3 aaa batteries. I have one and I use it on my helmet is bright enough help cars see you, supplement 15w halogen on bars, etc. Worth a look.
Hi jsharr,
I saw it, but it seemed a little on the underpowered side. Right now, I shine 10W in their face and they never fail to see me. How bright is that sucker?
Thanks,
Ari
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Old 01-24-07, 10:33 AM
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Petzl Tikka XP. 3 AAAs, very long runtimes. I use a shorter velcro strap I that thread through the helmet vents. 1-watt LED, 3 power settings plus flashing mode, and a diffuser that slides away for spot light duty. If this doesn't get their attention, nothing will.
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Old 01-24-07, 10:34 AM
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There is a bike version of the Eos. See HERE.

I took a look at it some time ago HERE.

I believe that it's what you are looking for.
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Old 01-24-07, 10:53 AM
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Originally Posted by gsk3
Hi jsharr,
I saw it, but it seemed a little on the underpowered side. Right now, I shine 10W in their face and they never fail to see me. How bright is that sucker?
Thanks,
Ari
Hey Ari:

It is basically just a 4 led flashlight. Bright enough to be use as a backup but that is about it. I thought that was your objective. I find that if I run mine in flashing mode, I get tons of attention. Honks, etc. So it is being seen. I did not enjoy that attention, so i run it in the combo spot/flood mode and use it to point at cars entering the road from side streets, parking lots, etc. I would not use it as my main light.

I guess I misunderstood what you wanted. If you want a bright, blinding light, this is not it.

Jeff
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Originally Posted by colorider View Post
Phobias are for irrational fears. Fear of junk ripping badgers is perfectly rational. Those things are nasty.
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Old 01-24-07, 11:59 AM
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Just one other comment: Yes, you do want to get their attention, but I really don't think you want to blind them. Not sure how motorists aren't seeing you with your NiteRider setup. Sometimes you can't do much about moronic driving behavior...
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Old 01-24-07, 12:10 PM
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I have used the EOS bike light. It's a good light. I found I needed more light in situations with lots of ambient light. The EOS will not cut deep shadows from street lights for example. Otherwise. It's light, surprisingly bright, gets decent battery life, simple to use. On the downside, the older models have a clip that tends to break off when you drop it. Princeton Tec replaced both of mine that suffered this malady. It can also be difficult to change the batteries without a screw driver. The thumbscrew gerneally works but on occassion I need a screw driver or a dime to get it started.
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Old 01-24-07, 01:02 PM
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My advice is to head over to REI and check out their non-bike specific LED headlights. They've got some AA powered ones which should be easy to attach to a helmet.

I agree that having a directable light can be usefull when dealing with drivers, particularly in a tight, congested city like boston.

The niterider taillight is really good- you should try to figure out some kind of mounting where it isn't obscured by the tailbag- perhaps sew a mount onto the back of the bag?
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Old 01-24-07, 01:14 PM
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I should have clarified a bit: people see me just fine with 10W up top in their eyes; I don't want any more, I just feel like it's overkill and I hate setting it up for a ~10 minute commute, and it's a dumb charger. So something self-contained that takes standard batteries that I already have a great charger for, but still lets me put a decent beam of light in their window to get their attention is the ideal. This makes spot patterns better than diffuse ones, and puts my light requirements at least at a 1W LED, I think.

It does look like the EOS is cool (although the 3 battery thing is annoying given that my charger only does groups of 2). The flashing mode is particularly nice for battery life and attention-gettingness.

I'm still on the fence about the 3-cell thing though. I have this charger:
http://www.mahaenergy.com/store/Item...&cur=specs#mid
which is great, but only charges in multiples of 2. :-(

Ari
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Old 01-24-07, 01:24 PM
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Originally Posted by fatbat
The niterider taillight is really good- you should try to figure out some kind of mounting where it isn't obscured by the tailbag- perhaps sew a mount onto the back of the bag?
There's a mount on the bag, but the NR taillight doesn't have a good mount for that kind of situation. Plus since it's wired, it means when I take the bag off I have to detach it, although that doesn't happen much since I got a luggage lock for my bag.... Not a bad idea. I'll look into it.

Ari
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Old 01-24-07, 01:54 PM
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I'm in the same situation. I have a L&M Arc HID on my bars. Swank setup and running HID, I have never had a car NOT see me. What I want is a helmet-mounted light with the following:
-stays on the helmet all the time, light AND battery
-has a low setting to see HRM/computer/gear combo and some extra visibility
-can get me home as a backup (no wuss multi-LED deal)
-has a light color similar to HID
-uses AA batteries in multiples of 2
-suitable for use with NiMH rechargeables (some are not, apparently)

There are 2 options that I have identified:
1. Dinotte Ultra 3W or 5W - cashey, but sweet
2. Princeton Tec Apex, modded for helmet use - it's dellivered with a headstrap, but I think it can be done

The Dinotte is outta your budget too, so maybe you can be the beta tester for the Apex! I think all you need is a couple of basic velcro straps to lash down the light head and battery pack to the helmet vents. It has a 3W Luxeon with 2 output levels and 4 little LEDs with flashing, low, and high modes. I think this is the dope setup and it's designed for NiMH rechargeables to boot! Unfortunately, I emailed PT and they informed me that no, there is no bike-specific version of this light planned (like the EOS). The Apex is around $70.
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Old 01-24-07, 02:03 PM
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Originally Posted by doppiodan
The Dinotte is outta your budget too, so maybe you can be the beta tester for the Apex!
Good to know someone else has the same problem. The Apex doesn't flash on the main LED, though. Plus it seems like it's not going to be amazingly easy to helmet mount. The Dinotte is scary expensive.
Bungeeing a 3W mini Mag-lite is starting to sound awfully appealing right now :-P.

Ari
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Old 01-24-07, 02:36 PM
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I currently use a petzl myo xp on my helmet. Requires a little duct tape and plastic ties to hold it and the battery compartment onto helmet. The diffuser lens is a major benefit in spreading the light out in ~45 degrees. My 3 AA nimhs last a long time on flash.

I used a pt eos before the petzl. IMO it is vastly inferior due to a. weaker led and b. very narrow beam typical of led lights.

I also use a pt quad mounted to front of bike. Built just like the eos, but uses 3 AAAs. Nice light for the money. I like it better than the more expensive eos. The light spreads out in a broad angle.
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Old 01-24-07, 02:47 PM
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Originally Posted by flipped4bikes
Petzl Tikka XP. 3 AAAs, very long runtimes. I use a shorter velcro strap I that thread through the helmet vents. 1-watt LED, 3 power settings plus flashing mode, and a diffuser that slides away for spot light duty. If this doesn't get their attention, nothing will.
I've got this one too, and use it for all my non-biking lighting needs: camping, working around the house, using the BBQ at night... it's fantastic. It's truly excellent doing all that, as would be great as a "be seen" light, but wouldn't project enough bright light far enough to work as a bike light.

It's quite bright, and would be hard to miss when it's flashing. Plus, it adjusts up-and-down and stays put, which would make it nice for on the helmet.

My dos centavos...
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Old 01-24-07, 02:55 PM
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Originally Posted by DScott
It's truly excellent doing all that, as would be great as a "be seen" light, but wouldn't project enough bright light far enough to work as a bike light. It's quite bright, and would be hard to miss when it's flashing. Plus, it adjusts up-and-down and stays put, which would make it nice for on the helmet.
The Petzl looks nice, but again the same 3-battery issue. I just don't have any way to charge them except in sets of 2, and I'd rather not spend $70 on the charger that can....

Ari
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Old 01-24-07, 03:06 PM
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Originally Posted by gsk3
The Petzl looks nice, but again the same 3-battery issue. I just don't have any way to charge them except in sets of 2, and I'd rather not spend $70 on the charger that can....

Ari
I'm thinking that most new NIMH chargers are more like $10-15, and can charge 4. Just rotate out the batteries with the 4th one. It's a good way to extend their life.

Princetons' are nice, but the Petzl's electronics and build are better. Yeah, I'm a fanboy.
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Old 01-24-07, 04:02 PM
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I went to an outdoor pursuits shop (Walking and Rock Climbing) and just got a basic Head lamp that would fit my helmet. It has 2 forms of light- 3 leds that can be 1-2 or 3 for various intensity and a halogen spot. Pleasant surprise to find that the Halogen will give a good spot for 50yards, and the 3 level leds are good enough to see the Bar controls or repair the bike by. Can't tell you the name or the model, but look at the Camping/ walking shops and see if there is anything that is suitable. Take the helmet along to see if it will fit though.

This is always on the night rides with me and is powerful enough on spot to see the trails by as backup lamp.
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Old 01-24-07, 04:24 PM
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Originally Posted by gsk3
The Petzl looks nice, but again the same 3-battery issue. I just don't have any way to charge them except in sets of 2, and I'd rather not spend $70 on the charger that can....

Ari
I think selecting lights based on your charger constraint is a very limiting, bad way to choose lights.

Bike lights are nothing but compromise, in one way or another. The charger/battery type is the easiest thing to solve. They're relatively inexpensive. For example:

http://www.batteryspace.com/index.as...ROD&ProdID=243

Good luck with lights.
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Old 01-24-07, 04:25 PM
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I used to ride with a HID on the helmet (had one on the bars too which is still there) but since I got tired of riding with a Camelback I'm doing without it. I picked up a Cateye EL410 which works very well for situations where a helmet light helps me to be seen. It has solid and flashing modes and a twistable base that works great for getting it set up right on a helmet. The switch is great, it's real easy to reach up and go to on-blinking, steady and off.
Errr... This takes three AAAs so your battery constrants won't work with it.


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Old 01-24-07, 04:53 PM
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I use the Princetontec EOS headlamp and just wrap the headstrap around my helmet. Nothing simpler.
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Old 01-24-07, 05:01 PM
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Originally Posted by seeker333
I think selecting lights based on your charger constraint is a very limiting, bad way to choose lights.
I'm taking a lot of heat here for the charger decision, but by the time we're talking new set of good batteries ($10), plus high-quality charger (at least $30), plus the light ($30+), I may as well just keep what I have since it's two-or-more times brighter and about the same price. Good chargers for AA(A) batteries are expensive, and if I'm going to have a bad charger I may as well stick with what I've got.

That said, I'm a lot more enlightened ( ;-) ) than I was this morning. I'll have to give this some serious thought.

Ari
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Old 01-24-07, 05:07 PM
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Dinotte 3w ultra can be had in the 140 range on sale.(I paid 139 on sale at nashbar last fall , but right now its $149) It is expensive, but I have mine permanently attached to my helmet, with the battery pack on the back of the helmet. Its all self contained and works exactly like the light you described as perfect. The only issue is the $60.

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Old 01-24-07, 05:30 PM
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http://www.danolite.com/
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Old 01-24-07, 05:33 PM
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The Dinotte's too expensive. That danolite, however, looks pretty cool. If it were $80 without the battery/charger included I'd buy it right now. Still looks pricey compared to a $30 Maglite though....
Tempting, tempting...

Thanks,
Ari
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