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Video: PB SuperFlash vs. CatEye LD1000

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Video: PB SuperFlash vs. CatEye LD1000

Old 02-03-07, 02:11 AM
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Video: PB SuperFlash vs. CatEye LD1000

I planned to append this video clip to one of the half-dozen or so existing threads comparing the CatEye TL-LD1000 to the Planet Bike SuperFlash, but what the heck, let's start yet another one! Thanks, by the way, to this forum for introducing me to the Super Flash, which is remarkably inexpensive for the amount of light it puts out.

Couple of points, first.

Yes, I've corresponded with CatEye, and the LD-1000 replacement is upon us. The TL-LD1100 is available in Europe currently, and will be in the US soon. Depending on who you speak to at CatEye, it is in fact the brighter replacement for the TLD-1000 (one at CatEye told me it is simply the European version of the LD1000, no added brightness, but I believe he was incorrect). Maybe I'll get a chance to add one to this video once it is available here.

The LD-1000 flashing mode is puzzling. Two switches, two seperate circuits, five LEDs per circuit. On my unit, if I set both the upper and lower switches to flash, the two halves drift in and out of phase every 45 seconds (half phase). When I initially turn the unit on, and both are flashing together, then 45 seconds later the are opposed -- one half coming on as the other half is powering off. Another 45 seconds, and they are back in phase. Problem is, from anything more than a few feet back (what an approaching motorist would see), the effect when the LEDs are out of phase is a steady burning, half-bright tail light. I feel it is better to leave this unit in steady buring mode, or else half steady / half flashing (pulsing).

I included a CatEye LD-500 in this test to show the effect of reflectors (the LD500 is equipped with a CPSC-approved reflector, sandwiching 3 LEDs). As you'll see in the video, headlights of an approaching vehicle make the modest TL-LD500 nearly as conspicuous as the other two units.

Lastly, much of the detail was lost in the video, the various format conversions, and the follow-on compression performed by YouTube. While shooting this video, both the SuperFlash and the LD1000 were plainly visible and bright red from 1/3 mile (the SuperFlash the "redder" and more attention grabbing of the two). However, even though somewhat muted, the side-by-side demonstration stands as a valid comparison of these two popular lights.

My conclusion? (1) The SuperFlash is clearly the better attention getter, thanks to its bright LED and 2-beat & skip pattern. The LD1000's inability to sync certainly hinders its flashing performance. (2) Steady mode results go to Planet Bike. SuperFlash has a brighter hot spot. The LD1000 puts nearly as much brightness down stream, and has better angular coverage. I'm guessing the upcoming LD1100 will win at this task. (3) The importance / functionality of a reflector should not be dismissed. In retrospect, I should have included my 8" reflective triangle in this comparison.

Here's the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fl5y72POyiU

Last edited by Speedub.Nate; 02-03-07 at 03:14 AM.
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Old 02-03-07, 02:34 AM
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Nice test! Thanks! (Good choice of music too!)
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Old 02-03-07, 03:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Speedub.Nate
I feel it is better to leave this unit in steady buring mode, or else half steady / half flashing (pulsing).
This is what I do when riding at night. On overcast or rainy days I run both banks on rapid flash.

Originally Posted by Speedub.Nate
I included a CatEye LD-500 in this test to show the effect of reflectors (the LD500 is equipped with a CPSC-approved reflector, sandwiching 3 LEDs).
This is why I run a TL-LD500 as backup to the TL-LD1000.

I sincerely hope Cateye is not going to replace the TL-LD1000. Adding the TL-LD1100 to their line and not dropping the 1000 would be good.

Nevermind, comparing the TL-LD1000 and TL-LD1100 on Cateye's website, the only real difference is the 1100 has one less mode. As long as it's got a steady on and a rapid flash, that's all I need.

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Old 02-03-07, 03:39 AM
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Originally Posted by CommuterRun
I sincerely hope Cateye is not going to replace the TL-LD1000. Adding the TL-LD1100 to their line and not dropping the 1000 would be good.
Why? They are the exact same housing, only the LD1100 has brighter LEDs.
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Old 02-03-07, 07:23 AM
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I had no idea my LD1000 looked so dim from behind. To be honest, all three didn't amaze me but I'm ordering the SuperFlash.

Thanks
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Old 02-03-07, 07:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve
I had no idea my LD1000 looked so dim from behind. To be honest, all three didn't amaze me but I'm ordering the SuperFlash.
Yer Welcome!

Steve, the video pretty well mutes the true brilliance of all three of these lights. However, the relative difference still is pretty obvious.

Curious... I know a red lens "steals" much of the energy of a white light shown through it, but what effect does a red lens have on a red LED? I'm guessing the LD-1000 was fitted with a red lens for aesthetic reasons.

By the way, if anyone missed it, check out the reflection of the SuperFlash on the roadway as I pull in close at the end of each test run.

Originally Posted by Ziemas
Good choice of music too!
Caught the reunited B52s this past summer and, despite their increased age and dwindling numbers, they've still got "it". Fun band to listen to, in moderation of course.
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Old 02-03-07, 08:19 AM
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Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve
I had no idea my LD1000 looked so dim from behind.
In actual use, I don't think it does. That video appears much darker than what would be seen in real life. That being said, I have no doubt that the Super Flash is brighter than the TL-LD1000 and much brighter than the TL-LD500.

Running mine the way I do, I've had coworkers tell me that they easily saw my lights from over a mile away. This was without them knowing that I was going to be on that particular stretch of road at that particular time, so they weren't expecting to see me.

I have also had cars in front of me, approaching in the on-coming lane, pull off the road and stop until I got close enough they could determine what they were seeing.
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Old 02-03-07, 10:07 AM
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Good job on the video, thanks!
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Old 02-03-07, 10:57 AM
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Great job on the Video. Thanks for taking the time to do such a good job.

To me, it looks like the Planet Bike light is more visible. Even if the Video was a little dark, or even if it was a little light, it gives us what we really need. It shows a comparison between the lights in the same conditions. That helps one decide what light to use.

You can't do any better than that.
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Old 02-03-07, 11:07 AM
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Great video - thanks for taking the time to do it.
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Old 02-03-07, 01:17 PM
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I'm glad I got the superflash.

Thx for the video.
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Old 02-03-07, 02:08 PM
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I'd like to see a xenon strobe thrown into the mix
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Old 02-03-07, 05:54 PM
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You've done your BF friends a great service with that video. Thanks.
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Old 02-03-07, 06:24 PM
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One important question. How old were the batteries in the TL-LD 1000 ? And the Superflash?

If they were used for a while they are not as bright as they could be. One really needs to buy the same type of battery at the same time to get as close as you can to a fair comparison. Even that is not perfect, but it's all you can do.

Even if the batteries were different brands or a different kind from the same brand It can make a big difference.

I have found a noticable change in brigthtness between eveready alkalines, eveready titanium alkalines, and eveready lithiums.
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Old 02-03-07, 07:23 PM
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Originally Posted by 2manybikes
One important question. How old were the batteries in the TL-LD 1000 ? And the Superflash?
In the interest of fairness, I installed brand new Duracell alkalines in all three lights (from the same batch, even). Sorry, no lithium... perhaps down the road I'll buy some.
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Old 02-03-07, 07:32 PM
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I thought the test was interesting but the amount of light from the flashers coming at us was not represented correctly by any means, the photos were way too dark. I have encountered bicylist with various and even dimmer tail lights then the ones you showed and in real life appeared way brighter then what you showed.

So before anyone gets too excited about theirs looking dark from behind why not lean your bike against something (or have someone hold it) get into your own car and drive toward it starting about 1/2 mile behind and you will see what I mean; in fact I bet from a mile away your lights will probably look brighter then the pictures did at 1/3rd of a mile. I did that with my own taillights, a old Xenon Vistalight and a newer Cateye LD600; both of those were way brighter then your pictures depicted, but the Cateye was brighter then the Vistalight, so I now use the Vistalight with amber lens installed on the front.
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Old 02-03-07, 07:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Speedub.Nate
In the interest of fairness, I installed brand new Duracell alkalines in all three lights (from the same batch, even). Sorry, no lithium... perhaps down the road I'll buy some.
Good job !
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Old 02-03-07, 07:52 PM
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Nice video. One aspect to consider is that the three lights were a bit far apart. In the close-range views, it means that both the TL-LD1000 and Superflash were quite a bit off axis. Both lights were penalized because of it, but the TL-LD1000 was even more so. The weakest one, the LD500 was right on axis, so it should have been even weaker. This shows, by the way, why taillights need to be bolted to the bike, not attached to a backpack.

BTW, the video is a bit too dark; that still make a fair comparison between all lights. When you compare a video vs what the human eye sees, bear in mind that the human eye has a far wider dynamic range (i.e. night accomodation) and that it's naturally attracted to things that move.

As for me, I'm doing my comparisons with fresh batteries.


I have a few TL-LD1000 and Superflash, and in hindsight, I would say that the only reason I got the TL-LD1000 is because I bought them before the Superflash was available. When the two are side in steady mode, the TL-LD1000 has the advantage of being larger and slightly brighter.¹ I also think that the flashing mode of the TL-LD1000 is less bothering at night, especially if you use one bank steady or have one flashing and one in "chase". The TL-LD1000 has also the advantage of side lights. Not utterly important, but a nice feature anyway.

On the other hand, the Superflash has a really great flashing mode for lousy conditions (fog, rain, rising sun...) and has a slightly wider angle than the TL-LD1000. And in Canada, it's 2.5 times cheaper than the TL-LD1000. And if real estate is at a premium, you can attach two or three Superflashes side by side behind a rear rack, whereas you can attach only one TL-LD1000.


As for Speedhub.Nate who was wondering whether the red housing was dimming the light, the answer is likely to be NO. With incandescent light, the bulb produces all colours, so everything but red is filtered out. On the other hand, the LEDs produce a red light, so the red plastic has nothing – or almost nothing – to filter. Now it is possible that the LEDs used by Cateye would be light red or orangish so that indeed some light would be filtered, but I doubt it.


---------------
¹. Note. I might be wrong, but I think that using 2 AAA batteries in the Superflash is doing them a disservice. When in steady mode, I think the LED is pulling juice too fast and that's why the light is a wee bit dimmer when in steady mode than when it's flashing.
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Old 02-03-07, 08:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Michel Gagnon


As for Speedhub.Nate who was wondering whether the red housing was dimming the light, the answer is likely to be NO. With incandescent light, the bulb produces all colours, so everything but red is filtered out. On the other hand, the LEDs produce a red light, so the red plastic has nothing – or almost nothing – to filter. Now it is possible that the LEDs used by Cateye would be light red or orangish so that indeed some light would be filtered, but I doubt it.
Having the dark red plastic lens over the LED does reduce the brightness of the light.
As they improve products, different light manufacturers are either switching to a lighter red plastic or even clear when it is over the LED's.

The Superflash is one example, the red part of the lens is much more transparent than the older light that used that body and lens style before, they also switched to a white rear half instead of black to reflect a little more light. Nightrider went to clear from red. It appears in photos that the new cateye
1100 coming out has gone to a more transparent red plastic too.
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Old 02-04-07, 01:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Michel Gagnon
As for Speedhub.Nate who was wondering whether the red housing was dimming the light, the answer is likely to be NO. With incandescent light, the bulb produces all colours, so everything but red is filtered out. On the other hand, the LEDs produce a red light, so the red plastic has nothing – or almost nothing – to filter. Now it is possible that the LEDs used by Cateye would be light red or orangish so that indeed some light would be filtered, but I doubt it.
That's along the lines of what I was getting at with that question: Does the output wavelength of the LED have to match the color of the lens for it to effectively pass through with no loss of brightness?

The spread of the lights is less than 5' off center (all three lights mounted inside the poles of a 10' section of fence). Yes, this favored the LD-500, but shows both the LD-1000 and the SuperFlash within the normal cone of vision of a passing driver, and favors neither.

The problem with putting the lights much closer was that the sources were blending together from my starting point 1/3 mile back, making it difficult to differentiate between the three. There was much more overlapping glare from these lights out in the field than was captured in the video.

My stopping point was approximately ~20 feet from the lights, and captured through the 5x zoom lens of my camera, so there is a bit of an optical illusion there as to how close I was. But let's face facts, if a driver is that close and hasn't seen us on our bike yet, we're probably toast! I'm definitely more concerned with quarter mile visibility than I am with 20' visibility. However, it would have been easy to stack the lights and shoot an angular offset comparison, had I thought of it at the time!
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Old 02-04-07, 08:59 AM
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Originally Posted by 2manybikes
Even if the batteries were different brands or a different kind from the same brand It can make a big difference.

I have found a noticable change in brigthtness between eveready alkalines, eveready titanium alkalines, and eveready lithiums.
That's one thing I never considered, not only is your light collection huge, your battery collection and stock inventory would be insane!


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Old 02-04-07, 10:50 AM
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I've been running with an LD1000 for about a year. I just got a superflash (it came out after I bought the cateye), and after seeing them side by side, and I only have room for one on my bike, I took off the LD1000 and put on the superflash.
I'm still planning on putting the LD1000 back on once I find a suitable bracket. I think it's important to have a solid light when riding in complete darkness; but the superflash flashes fast enough that it's sorta almost a solid light.
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Old 02-04-07, 12:09 PM
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Originally Posted by ViperZ
That's one thing I never considered, not only is your light collection huge, your battery collection and stock inventory would be insane!


Buy Duracell and Eveready stock right now!

I have a lot more taillights than headlights. Maybe I should go nuclear?
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Old 02-04-07, 01:45 PM
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Very interesting.

I'm about to buy a tail light and am actually leaning toward the LD1000 simply because it takes AAs. I've been using rechargeable AAs (NiMH) and love them and want to be able to use the same batts in all my lights. Feedback is that the SuperFlash is better, but from what I've heard, the CatEye is still very good.
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Old 02-04-07, 03:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Speedub.Nate
That's along the lines of what I was getting at with that question: Does the output wavelength of the LED have to match the color of the lens for it to effectively pass through with no loss of brightness?
Yes indeed.

The spread of the lights is less than 5' off center (all three lights mounted inside the poles of a 10' section of fence). Yes, this favored the LD-500, but shows both the LD-1000 and the SuperFlash within the normal cone of vision of a passing driver, and favors neither.
True. Both were equally off centre. But since the Superflash has a wider beam than the TL-LD1000, I think that the TL-LD1000 would have been much brighter on axis, whereas the Superflash would have been just a bit brighter on axis. But I have to highlight that I didn't make any actual measurements of that, so it's just suggestive analysis from observations I made with my naked eyes. When both are attached to the same seat post, it's easy to notice that one has a narrower range than the other.

The problem with putting the lights much closer was that the sources were blending together from my starting point 1/3 mile back...
I know, and one point to highlight is that the best taillight depends on the time of the day, but also on the conditions in which one rides. From far away, it's important to have a bright taillight that will be noticed; it's also important to have a light source which is large enough to register into one's eyes, but angle is not important. From up close, it's less important to have a bright light, but it's important to be seen by cars which are 20-30 ft behind me.

I experience first hand the different styles of nighttime cycling. I sometimes go to visit friends out of town and cycle at night on unlit roads (low traffic ones, usually), and I often ride around the city on warm summer nights. Both of these mean I need good taillights that are seen from far away. I also commute in suburban Montréal, either on wide arterials with a too-wide shoulder and lots of stray lights or on narrower 1950-style arterials with slightly slower traffic and no stray lights. And I also commute and shop through downtown Montréal where the actual hazard doesn't come from cars (they are moving at 25-35 km/h) but from pedestrians and cyclists. In the latter situation, the main problem with taillights is that they have to be visible through all the urban jungle.


Batteries

I haven't changed batteries in a long time, but I haven't experienced much difference between fresh ones. Differences quickly appear after 5-10 hours, however.

Last edited by Michel Gagnon; 02-04-07 at 03:20 PM.
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