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Anyone ride great distances at night.?

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Anyone ride great distances at night.?

Old 10-30-03, 07:05 AM
  #1  
cyclezealot
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Anyone ride great distances at night.?

What is the distance of your average night ride? What most lighting systems last about 2 hours..? Many ride much over 10 miles at night... what is the purpose of those rides. Mostly city riding where it is somewhat lite.?
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Old 10-30-03, 08:35 AM
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A lot of my rides to and from work are at night in the dark, I ride on mostly unlit roads. I use a niterider classic system with the tail light, I run the light on low beam all the time, it lights my way very well. I also have a Marwi lighting system I use as a back up. The amount of light it throws is fine but it takes way too long to recharge the battery so I only use it as a back up system. My ride is 18.5 miles each way and I have never ended up with the light going out while on my way. This time of year the light is on the entire ride into work and going back home. It takes me 1 hour and 5 or 10 minutes to get to work and just about an hour to get home. Te Marwi system also makes the whole trip without going dead.
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Old 10-30-03, 08:38 AM
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Good thread,

I ride about 7.5 miles each way to work and back - and now it is dark on the evening ride. This takes me about 23 to 30 mins and has lit and unlit sections. One still needs good lights though. I use a cateye rechargeable halogen headlamp and 2 LED units as rear lights, one with constant output fixed to the bike and a flashing light attached to my backpack.

The difficulty, as you say, is the (specified) limit of 2 hours runtime on the headlamp. This only gives a limited number of runs even on a short journey. To get the longest service life of a NiCad battery it is best to ensure that the cells are run through a full charge-discharge cycle, and this means avoiding "topping up" the batteries before they are correctly discharged. This means there is a danger of the light failing unless one pays a lot of attention to the battery situation. I find this a problem (and plan to buy a spare light soon...).

The convenience of rechargeable batteries, however, is wonderful and the newer NiMH types seem to offer much higher energy capacity when compared to equivalent type NiCad cells. It is also said that they are less fussy about charge/discharge management, but I dont have much info to hand. There is some useful info about rechargeables here:
https://www.repairfaq.org/ELE/F_NiCd_Battery.html

The other option for long journeys is to use a dynamo setup - then your lights have power for as long as you can pedal. I have not used a dynamo myself, but have seen some good systems on other bikes.

Cheers,

Ed
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Old 10-30-03, 09:13 AM
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Originally Posted by cyclezealot
What is the distance of your average night ride? What most lighting systems last about 2 hours..? Many ride much over 10 miles at night... what is the purpose of those rides. Mostly city riding where it is somewhat lite.?
I usually do 15-20 miles at a time at night. Not for commuting but for the ride. I ride trails with no ambient lighting at all and use a NR Digital Evolution. For the most part I can run with it on the medium setting and get over 2 hours with it easy, and have done at least 1.75 hours on high, but when the trail gets narrow it's nice to have a brighter beam. I usually have a Cateye EL300 (I think is the model with 5 LEDs) that I run in conjunction with the NR, I find it's perfect to light up the area closer to my tire giving me enough reaction time to avoid them, while the NR is shining further away for speed. I usually run a solid and a blinking light on the rear but sometimes only one. I have to say I am very fortunate in that the drivers where I ride the street to get to the trail are very courteous and respectful of me, perhaps because I am so well lit. I am guessing I could probably get 3 or so hours on the low setting, but there just isn't enough light with no ambient lighting. I have yet to be stuck in the dark and always have the Cateye for emergencies. Gonna go with HID as soon as I save up a few more $$ to me the price is worth it for 4 hours of riding!!

To me the biggest drawback of riding in the dark, is that I have to slow down and be careful not to "over-ride" the lighting. Beyond that I much prefer riding at night when no one else is around to get in the way, don't get to see a lot of scenery, but especially this time of year, I still manage to get in my rides. Strangest experience yet was a fog that was just about "light" height, I could see over it but not down through it to the trail. Very disconcerting!!
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Old 10-30-03, 10:06 AM
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I have to be at work so early that it is always dark when I go in. The ride is 14 miles one way. Now I have to use lights in the evenings as well. I sometimes ride rec rides at night just for fun.
I use a Light & Motion Solo Logic that has 6, 10, and 13W out put selections. Most of the time I run the light at the lowest setting, while riding along at around 15mph or so. Mind you I do ride on roads that I am use to riding on in the daylight, so I have an idea of where the hazzards are before hand. I have never ran short on lamp time, 4+ hours at 6W gives me plenty of time. I have riden 20+ mile rec. rides with no problem.
NiCad battries don't have near the problems with "memory" that they use to have. The number one killer of NiCad and NiMh battries is OVER charging! There are a number of very good chargers on the market that use some sort of delta peak, or heat detection to prevent these battries from being over charged. I fly RC model airplanes that use these type of battery packs for power, and almost everone uses quick chargers to charge the packs. NiMh packs have more storage capacity per weight than NiCads, but the NiCads can usually take a little more abuse. BTW, I use a fast charger designed for models to charge my light pack. You just have to figure out the charge rate and the delta peak for the pack you are using. If anyone wants more info on batterys, just go to some of the RC model sites and search, or to the battery manufacturs web pages, they list the rates and peaks for the different cells. I have built lots of RC packs out of Radio Shack NiCads and NiMh cells from Wal-Mart.

I LOVE to ride at night. I feel that I am noticed from further away at night than in the day time. I use the L&M light on the front with a Cat Eye bright led flasher on the back. I wear a reflective vest and ankle straps, and have reflective tape on my bike. Nothing like going out in the country on a cool crisp night, looking up at the stars and thinking, {there arn't that many from my back porch in town, hehe}! I have seen all manner of wild life at night also. Did you know it is almost as easy to run over an Opossum on a bicycle, as it is in a car? That's another story though.
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Old 10-30-03, 12:21 PM
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In the UK there is a cycling organisation, Audax UK, which organises fast but non-competative road events. These are for experienced racing and fast touring riders, not newbies. They regularly ride long distances at night, and include 12 , 24hr , and all-night rides .
Audax riders are always seeking the holy grail of bike lighting. Schmidt Dynohubs are popular, usually with an auxilary battery lamp.
Ive used a high quality bottle dynamo (Swiss-made Nordlicht), and would recomend them with a solid braze-on mounting. Clamp-on mounts are useless.
For most of my night riding (45mins every night), I use a 3watt dynamo lamp powered by a lead-acid battery which I wired up myself. I bought a constant voltage recharger which switches to trickle mode. You can mix the lamp, battery type, and power to extend the burn-time
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Old 10-30-03, 03:14 PM
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My commute home is about 5 miles (9 km) and takes about a half hour. I use a Union dynamo with Lumotek headlight. It is in mostly urban conditions with some dark areas. There is a longer route of about 6-7 miles, mostly over a fairly darl trail, that I use when dropping off or picking up one of our cars from the shop.

Paul
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Old 10-30-03, 08:12 PM
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My commute is only 3 km long, unless I have to visit a shop, in which case it might be anything from 5 to 20 km.

However, I also do long rides at night, either for shopping and other utilities (adding km afterwards), or simply for the fun of it when the weather is nice. A typical night ride is anything from 20 to 40 km depending on inspiration, need to relax...
Other longer rides includes going to or from the inlaws (80 km at night) or coming back from Cap-Saint-Jacques at the end of a Fall day (40 km).

Lighting is from a Lumotec headlight powered by a SON dynohub (Shimano dynohub on the other bike), with battery taillights.

Regards,
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Old 10-30-03, 08:18 PM
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I normally don't ride in the dark but...

next year I plan on riding in brevets and randonees, both of which require riding in the dark in all kinds of weather. To get ready for this I will try some night riding this winter. First I need to buy a lighting system and proper clothing.
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Old 10-30-03, 09:09 PM
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Myself and a friend ride regular night rides at 7pm twice a week. I've also ridden up mountains in pre-dawn darkness just to see a different perspective of the sunrise - and I'm still thinking about the midnight century in about five weeks time. Why do I do it? I love riding at night!
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Old 10-31-03, 11:14 AM
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Originally Posted by MichaelW
I use a 3watt dynamo lamp powered by a lead-acid battery which I wired up myself. I bought a constant voltage recharger which switches to trickle mode. You can mix the lamp, battery type, and power to extend the burn-time
MichaelW,
You have made reference to this setup before. I can't remember if I ever asked this, but do you have the dynamo powering the charger which is constantly recharging the battery? Are all the pieces running on 12V?
Thanks,
Raymond
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Old 11-01-03, 03:49 AM
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I'm doing 23-25 miles a night on my commutes home. I run a Nightpro. the guys at the LBS recommended them for a hard corp biker like myself. Suppose to get six hours out of a charge, but I haven't tried it yet. I do get 1:45:32. It's a nice piece of equipment that I can change from one bike to another. It is a totally encased unit, so you take it off and plug it in, just got to remember to take it with me when I leave for work.

On my 10 mile commutes last year I was using a night stick, and then switched to cateye LEDs, which for in city lighted streets were effective. I used them to be seen not see.

Will have to see how the Nightpro holds up this winter with the energy sapping cold.
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Old 11-01-03, 07:30 AM
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I ride 10 miles on mostly lit roads (all but the last 1.5 miles). Depending on my mood, I sometimes take a long loop (almost entirely on unlit roads) for a little more exercise and stress relief.
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Old 11-01-03, 12:26 PM
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most of my night riding is local.

Originally Posted by naisme
I'm doing 23-25 miles a night on my commutes home. I run a Nightpro. the guys at the LBS recommended them for a hard corp biker like myself. Suppose to get six hours out of a charge, but I haven't tried it yet. I do get 1:45:32. It's a nice piece of equipment that I can change from one bike to another. It is a totally encased unit, so you take it off and plug it in, just got to remember to take it with me when I leave for work.

On my 10 mile commutes last year I was using a night stick, and then switched to cateye LEDs, which for in city lighted streets were effective. I used them to be seen not see.

Will have to see how the Nightpro holds up this winter with the energy sapping cold.
I have yet to gain experience in riding anything other than in city errands. Should I want to ride home from work, I would not get home until about 9 pm... A 26 mile commute. Things I don't like about night riding- being blinded by cars.Or not seeing objects in the road...Overiding your light!
About 12 miles would be city riding and 14 sort of rural.. I have a vest that illuminates with a built in reflector light. About 6 miles of the road home is very busy with narrow bike lanes... I am interested in trying this out,but sort of road shy...I have a Niterider digital lite system with two batteries could last 4.5 hours... you enjoy your night rides and traffic does not scare the hell out of you? Anxious to give this a try, I think....Would be convenient when we have car problems...
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Old 11-02-03, 10:08 AM
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Your concerns are very legitimate. Over-riding the light can be a problem, so the better the light and the longer the throw the faster you can go. I know for a fact my speed reduces at night.

Blinded by cars/and I would add other cyclists when on a trail, can be almost eliminated by a simple tilting down of your head, the visor on your helmet, assuming of course you wear a helmet and it has a visor, will prevent the blindng light effect, this combined with a commensurate reduction in speed, since you will be limiting your forward sight line works very effectively.

I avoid objects on the road/trail, with a second light aimed a lot closer and in front of the tire to illuminate specifically the road surface to make objects more visible. My Cateye LED light is perfect for this task and has had the same batteries in it since July.

As for traffic, I know it's only my experience, but my experience is that drivers around here give me far more room at night when I am well illuminated than during the day when they think they can judge my speed and distance better. I can honestly say I have FAR more problems with the nocturnal wild life than I do with drivers. I was riding with a Night Rider Digital Evolution which was great, had decent run time, and has been very reliable. Yesterday I picked up the new HID Flame-thrower HID and can't wait to get out tonite and give it a try. It goes from 4 hours at brightest to 6 hours at lowest setting with 80 hours on LEDs although I don't know how effective the LEDs will be, which is going to greatly increase my night riding times!

I would add a disclamier, that riding at night is not as safe as riding in daylight, with the excpetion of PERHAPS on hike/bike trails with less people at night. Use caution, and hone your skills, and before you know it, you will be enjoying the experience of night rides, the way only people who ride at night can understand.
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Old 11-02-03, 10:35 PM
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I do a lot of riding at night as I finnish work a lot at 2400hrs & 0400hrs in the morn. I usualy do a 40-50k loop home otherwise I dont get much of a chance for a ride when I work that shift, once I'm home its hard to get motivated to go out again . That aside night riding is very pleasant , little or no traffic , nice & cool in the summer , though Fri. & Sat . nights can be a hassle, with all the F--witts on the road ( I still ride ,I refuse to be intimidated or cut my ride short due to idiots ) Most of my loops have street lighting of varing degrees exept for one stretch of road about 2ks long , I only have a 5 LED green flashing light on the head end & 2, 5 LED red flashing lights on the tail ,but I seem to manage OK ,at least I can be seen
Solo night riding is a good time to take your brain out of gear & cruise on auto
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Old 11-02-03, 11:17 PM
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Thats about 30 US miles

Originally Posted by greywolf
I do a lot of riding at night as I finnish work a lot at 2400hrs & 0400hrs in the morn. I usualy do a 40-50k loop home otherwise I dont get much of a chance for a ride when I work that shift, once I'm home its hard to get motivated to go out again . That aside night riding is very pleasant , little or no traffic , nice & cool in the summer , though Fri. & Sat . nights can be a hassle, with all the F--witts on the road ( I still ride ,I refuse to be intimidated or cut my ride short due to idiots ) Most of my loops have street lighting of varing degrees exept for one stretch of road about 2ks long , I only have a 5 LED green flashing light on the head end & 2, 5 LED red flashing lights on the tail ,but I seem to manage OK ,at least I can be seen
Solo night riding is a good time to take your brain out of gear & cruise on auto

I am impressed. Not much traffic, heah. Streets Must be pretty well lite, not to invest in a stronger light. A concern I have is not seeing whats in the road. With reflectorized vests, lights, blinking lights, hope we can be seen fairly well.
What I admire. 30 miles at 4am..wow...Well, guess many leave for day shift about that hour.
If we had car problems, one possible way to help out could be to ride home from work(25 miles or so) from about 6:30 pm for about two hours. Good time to ride.? Guess most of day traffic would have cleared. Now I usually ride into work at 2:30 pm and home at 6:45 am...12.5 hour shifts.
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Old 11-02-03, 11:42 PM
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Here in Ft Lauderdale, FL, more specifically Weston FL which is about 10 miles from the beach... Our Motorola bike league does a "night ride" during the day-lite-savings part of the year... From now for the next three months.

We use it specifically as a training tool... Because night vision reduces your response time we impose a speed limit of 20mph. To make it more work (and safer) we impose no drafting. We ride for about 24 miles (about 38k) on Mondays and Fridays. It is nice because it is cooler, there is less traffic and it is different than riding in the mornings. Also it is nice to just get out there and spin than be in a racing mode. We can talk and such as we do a rotation just to break the monotony (and allow the guys behind from having to stare at the blinking red light the entire night).

After the ride we all go to the local bar/pub and watch Monday Night football (the US kind)...

We start at 6:30PM which in South Florida is pitch dark these days.

We "REQUIRE" anyone in the group to use a 10W halogen front light and at least a 7-LED tail light. I use 30W halogen on the front and a battery 7-led light and a night-rider 18led 3W tail light.

I'm waiting for the HIDs to fall below $200 and then I'll probably switch to one of those for the front.

I also have a mountain bike that I use for commuting, though usually short, under 10 miles, which has basically the same setup. That bike I ride every night (except Monday and Wednesday)...

Here is a link to pics of my mountain bike (check the car horn!)

https://cyclemobility.org/CMFiles/nightriding.html
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Old 11-11-03, 04:38 PM
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this is my first post here.

i bike at nite, 3 miles thru the city. Commuter biker. i have a basket on my bike front.

on the left side of my basket, i attached a flashlite with a rotating head. up, down, straight. i put it on with 2 oil filter clamps.

my lites usually last about 2 weeks.

thank you very much. hope to see more of you all.

sophie tucker
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Old 11-12-03, 10:14 PM
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I often take 20-25 mile rides at night, just for fun. I head out of town and onto unlit, lonely farm roads. It's peaceful, but sometimes a bit gloomy. Still, I like the feeling of skulking around, as if I'm getting a glimpse of some secret world.

As I must have written on seventy-five different posts, I've got an L&M HID light. I wouldn't go out on these rides anymore with anything less. It's possible, even in the darkest of night, to *see* everything on the road ahead. I have no more worries about outriding my light.

The battery doesn't last as long as it did when I bought the thing, but it seems like it will easily go more than 2 hours on full power. (When new the battery did 3 hours on full power.) Plenty of time to get a good ride in. I don't care to ride a lot longer than that at night anyway, I find.

The things that concern me now come from the side of the road. I keep my eyes open for deer, these days. They're pretty active at night this time of year. I've seen tons of them, and have had to grab the brake a couple of times when I've heard them come rushing onto the road. I missed a line of three of them by maybe 15 feet just the other night.

Cats, too, roam around the farms. I've snuck up on more than few who were hanging out on the side of the road. Maybe they don't listen so carefully for road noise at night? I've had to swerve or make some noise to avoid hitting a couple of them.

Geese sometimes fly over in huge numbers at night, but they're not a road hazard, obviously.

Hey, uciflow, I have some RC plane questions for you. Check your pm.
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Old 12-01-03, 10:18 PM
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Originally Posted by cyclezealot
What is the distance of your average night ride? What most lighting systems last about 2 hours..? Many ride much over 10 miles at night... what is the purpose of those rides. Mostly city riding where it is somewhat lite.?
I have generator systems. One bike has the Dynotec 12v system (bottle generator) and the other has a Shimano hub generator. I generally use the one with the Shimano hub generator when I am training and the Dynotec equiped bike when touring.

To me the generator systems are the way to go. Their beam is large and the brightness is not as high as the NiteRider systems but, for me, adequate. I never have to mess with batteries, I can ride as long as I like and the best thing is makes me feel more self sufficient. I keep trying to talk my son into buulding be a charger system that I can use to charge my cell phone while toruing.
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Old 12-01-03, 11:28 PM
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I have just started commuting 9 miles to work. I work overnights, so I do this at almost midnight. I bought a Nite Rider classic system. Seemed to work really well, and I think it will last 2 trips. My problem is that it is damn cold!
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Old 12-02-03, 06:57 AM
  #23  
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cold? Santa Barbara cold?

Originally Posted by Veganese
I have just started commuting 9 miles to work. I work overnights, so I do this at almost midnight. I bought a Nite Rider classic system. Seemed to work really well, and I think it will last 2 trips. My problem is that it is damn cold!
Cold?!? Really? You gotta be kidding me, right? (although, I remember when I lived in So. Cali, we were all in down jackets when the temps dropped below 60 F...)

I usually ride with just a T-Shirt, Jersey, and wool jersey with Illuminite tights when it's around 32 (er...zero C), and put a jacket and/or dump the wool jersey when it's a wee bit warmer.

I've got more problems dumping excess heat then keeping warm. Mind you, my feet get coldish when I'm only wearing my Eddy Merckx cleats, but...

As far as riding at night goes, I end up riding at night the 18 or so km to home each night (a bit more than 11 miles) and I've got four vista lights behind me, a NiteRider on the bike, and a Lupine on my helmet. I usually have a positioning light (blink) on the front, as well as the aforementioned Illuminate tights, and ankle bands. Top with a Burley rain jacket (just love it) and I've been recognized by my *lights* from people that I have no idea who they were...zipped by at around 40 kmh on the way home..."Hi Tom"...just waved.

My MTB adds a Schmidt hub dynamo for extra security

Ride carefully out there.

Tom

P.S. my current ride...
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Old 12-02-03, 07:51 AM
  #24  
Gonzo Bob
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Most of my night riding is under two hours. Most of it is suburban riding but sometimes I'll head out into the country on a long ride that starts in daylight but will have the last couple of hours after dark.

This year was my first experience with long night rides. I rode a brevet series, did an all-night ride with some friends, and then rode Paris-Brest. For the long night rides, I went with the 5-LED Cateye as my main light which I supplemented with a Cateye 2.4W halogen for descents and corners. Not a very bright setup, but it was sufficient for riding away from city lights.
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Old 12-04-03, 01:33 AM
  #25  
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I could not afford one of those HID units with their pricing at over $200 seemed too much, in fact anything over $100 seems too much-but I'm a roadie-if I was riding off road at night then that would be a different story. Anyway with a budget of only $50 for a light, I upgraded from a Zefal hf635 (due to flicking on and off) to the Cateye EL300, and though it was brighter than the Zefal I was not impressed and did not like the small spot beam it projected. So I swapped it for a Cygo Metro dual beam light for just under $50 including tax. This light will run for at least 5 hours on low which is 6.2 watts or combine both for 13 watts with a run time of about 2 hours. But I find the low beam to be plenty around town and only use both beams when I on the pitchdark bikepath. The Metro uses 6 D Alkline bats that I pick up at WalMart (their house brand) in a 12 pack for only $8. The alkies also seemed to had a brighter beam compared with the next Cygo that used a rechargeable system.

I just mentioned this in case someone out there is on a tight budget like me!!
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