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Light for commuting at night

Old 05-22-09, 11:37 AM
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roadrunner1659
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Light for commuting at night

Good Afternoon (well it's afternoon here)

I commute to and from work on Saturdays...its about 24 mile round trip. I would like to commute more, but i dont get off work until 9 pm. I need to know what are good commuting lights, whats enough light, and what to stay away from.

I already have a princeton tech led headband which i will wear along with whatever bike mounted light i get...

What are your suggestions?

Thanks
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Old 05-22-09, 11:43 AM
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The electronics forum is a good place to confuse yourself (I mean start).

Personally, I am a fan of Dinotte and the more light the merrier. I run 1200 lumens on high when I need it. Currently running a blinkie. It is light when I start in the morning.
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Old 05-22-09, 11:46 AM
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I have had good luck with a Light and Motion Solo. I use it morning and evenings during late fall/winter/early spring commuting. It is supposed to last 2 hrs. but I haven't fully tested it that long. My longest commute leg is 30 min. but I do use it for several days without recharging. It is rated at 330 lumens.

I use it as a helmet mount because I have very unsecure parking at work and don't won't to remove the battery, etc. from the bike when I get to work. I also have to watch out for deer in the winter and like to be able to scan the side of the path with the light which I couldn't do if it was bike mounted. Been using it for three years with no problems.

I always run a rear blinkie.
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Old 05-22-09, 12:01 PM
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Originally Posted by roadrunner1659 View Post
I need to know what are good commuting lights, whats enough light, and what to stay away from.
That depends on whether you need "see" lights or "be seen" lights. If you are riding in an area with sufficient street lighting to let you see the road, all you need are "be seen" lights, which are relatively inexpensive. If, on the other hand, you are riding in the dark, you need "see" lights.
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Old 05-22-09, 12:26 PM
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Originally Posted by lil brown bat View Post
That depends on whether you need "see" lights or "be seen" lights. If you are riding in an area with sufficient street lighting to let you see the road, all you need are "be seen" lights, which are relatively inexpensive. If, on the other hand, you are riding in the dark, you need "see" lights.
+1

If you just need a "be seen" light, I think the CatEye EL-530 is pretty good. I've used one for a little over a year. It recently quit working, but when I contacted CatEye support they said send it in and they'd replace it. It's pretty bright to look at. It doesn't flash, but at night that's good. People can't (as in, are physically unable to) judge the approach speed of a flashing light.

If you need a "see" light, be sure to find something that specifies how many lumens it puts out. You'll notice the CatEye I recommended above lists its brightness in candlepower, not lumens. Near as I can tell, the conversion between candlepower and lumens is lumens you see, candlepower you don't. I'd say you want at least 120 lumens, but as has been said more is better.
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Old 05-22-09, 12:29 PM
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I should add, sufficient light can be relative. I've got some spots on my commute where there are no street lights and my EL-530 provides sufficient light if there are no cars on the road, but if there are cars coming toward me, their headlights make my eyes adjust and the net effect is I can't see at all, but with a sufficiently bright light on my bike I can overcome this effect.
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Old 05-22-09, 12:43 PM
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Depending on the security situation, and the be-seen vs. need to see issue, there's a whole range of lighting.

For the back, the infamous Planet Bike Superflash. Get 2 and set one in blink and one on steady mode.

For the front I'm only familiar with "need to see" lights:
The L&M Solo that MikeOnBike mentioned is great. It's bright, it's got a wide spot, and it does last for the advertised 2.5 hours. Plus you can helmet mount it, or pull it off the bike if you have to lock up outside all day. And it's under $130.
If you're willing to spend a bit more, I've become a huge fan of generator lights. The new LED lights are really bright and with the generator, you never have to worry about them going out. The IQ Fly or IQ Cyo are not expensive; the cost is really in the wheel itself (but you can get inexpensive generator wheels for under $200, so a total cost would be around $300 (which is less than you can spend on a really strong battery powered light.)
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Old 05-22-09, 01:26 PM
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Go to https://www.dealextreme.com and shop around. Just about anything you find there will be cheaper and better than any commercial bicycle headlight you can find. My helmet light is 230 lumens and cost $18. My handlebar light is 900 lumens and cost $47. Both use the 18650 rechargeable battery, a two pack goes for less than $10. Then you need a charger, also less than $10. If you want a mount, those are less than $3. All of it ships for free.

The only caveat is that you cannot be in a hurry to get them. It will take at least three weeks to receive your order.
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Old 05-22-09, 02:03 PM
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thanks for the reply's...

I need see lights...i will obviously have a rear flasher and im also going to wear my princeton tech led light around my head for light where i look...

what i need are lights to see the road...i know the route very well as i have ridden it many times and i want to say that 90% of the road surface is good with a few spotty areas, light from other sources will be limited (unless full moon and no clouds)...so again, im looking for light to see.
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Old 05-22-09, 02:16 PM
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Originally Posted by roadrunner1659 View Post
thanks for the reply's...

I need see lights...i will obviously have a rear flasher and im also going to wear my princeton tech led light around my head for light where i look...

what i need are lights to see the road...i know the route very well as i have ridden it many times and i want to say that 90% of the road surface is good with a few spotty areas, light from other sources will be limited (unless full moon and no clouds)...so again, im looking for light to see.
best bang for the buck is a flashlight they call a P7 from deal extreme, the place mentioned earlier. You would need to charge or replace the battery daily probably is the only drawback.
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Old 05-22-09, 02:45 PM
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Originally Posted by daredevil View Post
best bang for the buck is a flashlight they call a P7 from deal extreme, the place mentioned earlier. You would need to charge or replace the battery daily probably is the only drawback.
Battery life isn't the greatest either...I'd recommend carrying a spare charged battery and having a second charger at work.
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Old 05-22-09, 03:47 PM
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CygoLite MityCross 350: LINK. There are certainly cheaper options, but for its size and weight it's brighter than anything else I've seen. Battery life is decent too: ~3 hours on high.

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Old 05-22-09, 03:57 PM
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Originally Posted by dlester View Post
Go to https://www.dealextreme.com and shop around. Just about anything you find there will be cheaper and better than any commercial bicycle headlight you can find. My helmet light is 230 lumens and cost $18. My handlebar light is 900 lumens and cost $47. Both use the 18650 rechargeable battery, a two pack goes for less than $10. Then you need a charger, also less than $10. If you want a mount, those are less than $3. All of it ships for free.

The only caveat is that you cannot be in a hurry to get them. It will take at least three weeks to receive your order.
I bought one of the Dealtime 900 lumen flashlights, perhaps even the one you have (I don't know the model # offhand). It has several settings; i.e., bright, dim, bright blink, dim blink, fast blink, slow blink, etc. It has great light, but I find that when I go over certain bumps, the flashlight changes settings on its own (usually from bright to one of the fast blink settings), which is annoying in the extreme. In the autumn, when I will need a bright light again, I'm going to look at some bright lights that were built specifically for bicycles.
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Old 05-22-09, 04:15 PM
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Originally Posted by mds0725 View Post
I bought one of the Dealtime 900 lumen flashlights, perhaps even the one you have (I don't know the model # offhand). It has several settings; i.e., bright, dim, bright blink, dim blink, fast blink, slow blink, etc. It has great light, but I find that when I go over certain bumps, the flashlight changes settings on its own (usually from bright to one of the fast blink settings), which is annoying in the extreme. In the autumn, when I will need a bright light again, I'm going to look at some bright lights that were built specifically for bicycles.
I had my helmet light do that one time and it was simply because I didn't have the cap screwed on as tightly as I should have.

You don't have the specific one I have as it only has hi-lo-off. The one I have on my helmet has all the other modes hi-med-lo-flash-sos.

To each their own. I was slow to believe the DealExtreme comments as well. It sets off your 'too good to be true' flags. Some will feel safer and more confident buying mainstream products. There isn't anything wrong with those. They look nice and function fine, they just cost a lot more.
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Old 05-22-09, 04:41 PM
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It all depends on how much you want to spend, give us an area of money your willing to spend and you can get better ideas of lights available.

Cygolite makes very good ecomomy lights; I have the cheapest one they ever made called the Metro (no longer made) that I bought for $45 and it put out 12 watts which was more then enough for me even on the darkest of roads going 20mph. I bought this 9 years ago and it still works today and it gets used on the average of 4 months out of the year.

I prefer dual beam lights because if one bulb was to burn out the other will still work. For the price I like this Cygolite: https://www.amazon.com/Cygo-Night-Rov...030575&sr=1-36 It offers 16 watts total and the ability to run as long as 5 hours on low and cost $112. It is a halogen bulb system like mine and not LED, but so far after 9 years I've only had to replace 1 bulb and their cheap. Some folk here will complain about the lack of a smart charger, this is no big deal, you simply buy a cheap lamp timer plug the charger into it and set the timer using some minor math skills you figure how long you used it vs how long you would have to charge if it were dead; thus 12 hours to charge a dead battery which means 5 hours of use, you used it for 2 1/2 hours you charge for 6 hours. NiMhs are very forgiving so even if your math is off by an hour or two no big deal; but always charge them after every use no matter how little it was used.

If you don't have a rear blinky Cateye makes an all around great taillight called LD610 that cost about $20 and is very bright, plus its very bright from the side IF you mount it vertically NOT horizontally. See: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss_sg...ight&x=12&y=23

If money allows you need to (at least when you can) buy a front flasher like the BLT Clic for only about $15. A headlight alone due to the very small size of a bicycle headlight, motorist don't notice it as fast no matter how bright it is as they do with a large car headlight. Thus the ideal behind a flasher is to attract their attention then they will see the headlight.

Later as you get more money, having more rear lights, like 2 cateyes one on each stay and bar end lights, helmet head lamp, reflective leg bands, and reflective tape on the helmet etc just increases your odds of being seen. You want the Christmas tree effect especially if your going to be dealing with traffic.
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Old 05-22-09, 04:54 PM
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Good job on having a backup roadrunner1659 (2 head lights and 2 rear lights). Although you can usually tell when the batteries are dying, you never know exactly when it's going to happen and you sure don't want it happening at the start of a long commute on city roads at night. And "more lights" is probably a better option than just "more batteries".

Since you're commuting after 9 pm on Saturday nights, "being seen" aspect of lighting is probably a big issue for you. For the money, I don't think you can get any better than the Planet Bike Superflash for a rear blinky. I use the 5 LED CatEye up front in flashing mode and have been happy with it, but I use several types of lights to actually light the road.

Last edited by subclavius; 05-22-09 at 05:08 PM.
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Old 05-22-09, 04:58 PM
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Originally Posted by dlester View Post
I had my helmet light do that one time and it was simply because I didn't have the cap screwed on as tightly as I should have.

You don't have the specific one I have as it only has hi-lo-off. The one I have on my helmet has all the other modes hi-med-lo-flash-sos.

To each their own. I was slow to believe the DealExtreme comments as well. It sets off your 'too good to be true' flags. Some will feel safer and more confident buying mainstream products. There isn't anything wrong with those. They look nice and function fine, they just cost a lot more.
I had to put some effort into getting my dealextreme light to work reliably over bumps: sanding off the aluminum oxide corrosion between the 3 screw-together joints of the cap, extenders, and the light capsule to improve the intermittent electrical connection. Now it works fine, and for $19 and the small form factor it was worth the hassle.
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Old 05-22-09, 04:59 PM
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I find, with halogen bulbs, 1 watt/MPH is a good see light.
Want to go 15 MPH? Get about 15 watts of halogen lighting.
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Old 05-22-09, 06:27 PM
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https://www.bikeforums.net/electronics-lighting-gadgets/435347-best-headlights-under-50-thread.html Read these posts and find out what others use for under $50. I went the flashlight route and they give me all of the light I need.
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Old 05-22-09, 06:37 PM
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I commute at night (on the way into work). On the front I run a Fenix O-light which has 200 lumens on high. I also run a Deal Extreme P7 (MTE I believe), which has 900 lumens on high. Both connected using the Two Fish Lock Bloc (I think thats the spelling).

On the rear I have a PB Super Flash Stealth (on flash) and a Mars 3.0 (on steady). The PB is attached on my seat bag and the Mars is attached on the rack support.

Extra batteries for the front lights are usually a good idea until you figure out the run time and then you can charge or keep batteries accordingly.

If I were to get more lights (which I am currently shopping for), I want to take a look at the Niterider Cherry Bomb, otherwise I would get another PB for the rear. On the front I would probably go Deal Extreme again and get the same MTE P7 and maybe purchase one of their mounts for it.

The electronics forum is a good place to start like another poster mentioned, though you might have to sift through some technical jargon.
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Old 05-22-09, 06:57 PM
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I have 2 Dinotte 400L light for 800 lumens of light. It's a traditional flashlight kind of beam. It cost about $500, plus I usually also have a Dinotte 200L light on my helmet ($100 plus batteries). It works alright.

I have a Lumotec Cyo front light on my winter bike. It's a shaped beam that puts an even spread of light on the road - it puts out more light at the top, but since the top is farther out on the road the road is evenly lit closer to me and farther away from me. The light cost $120 or so, my bike came with a generator hub which would cost about $200 with a wheel. I usually ride with the same helmet light on my helmet - $100 plus batteries and charger.

Despite costing about half as much and being rated at half as many lumens, I prefer the Cyo and helmet light combination over the Dinotte light setup. My only complaint about the Cyo is that I'd like somewhat more light to the sides, but the helmet light does that job. The Cyo does a better job of lighting up the road. My best attempt at an explanation is that the Dinotte's irregular light distribution causes my eyes to adjust to more light and I can't see off into the dark as well, whereas my Cyo's even distribution doesn't.

If you don't have or don't want a dynamo hub, I know Lumotec (aka Busch and Mueller) also sells battery powered versions of their light with similar or identical optics (shaped beam).

If you're cheaper, the Ixon IQ is around $100:
https://www.bumm.de/index-e.html

They also have a more expensive version called the Ixom IQ speed for $250:
https://www.bumm.de/index-e.html

I know Peter White sells them through his website:
https://www.peterwhitecycles.com/b&m.asp

If I was buying more lights, personally I'd try those.
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Old 05-22-09, 06:59 PM
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I use a PB superflash out back on blink. The batteries last pretty much forever in blink mode. In front I have a dual halogen nightsun. 10 watts one side, 35 on the other. When riding in the dark I use both. Holy crap is it bright! I use a boat anchor SLA battery I mount on my rack. It is about 7 pounds. It will power the nightsun easily for 3 or 4 round trips which is about 6 hours run time. It might go quite a bit longer, but, deep cycling an SLA battery is a good way to kill it.

It is now sufficiently light enough to take this battery off which ought to make my hillclimbs a lot quicker.

So, if you don't mind the extra pounds, go with a big arse SLA battery and a halogen light.
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Old 05-22-09, 07:47 PM
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Since everyone is chiming in on what they use I will too:

Fenix Q5 on the helmet with a P7 on the handlebar.

In back Dinotte on flash on the seatpost and a Superflash on steady on the helmet.

It's a very nice set up, economical too except for the $100 Dinotte tail light.
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Old 05-22-09, 08:45 PM
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wow thanks for the info on your setups as well as your suggestions...

price range... i guess i'll spend around 100$...from the front light...
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Old 05-22-09, 10:04 PM
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My helmet light, which I still use in the day time in flash mode. It is very bright. I can see the reflection off street signs, across the intersection, in the middle of a bright and sunny day:

https://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.15335

The handlebar mounted light, for when it is dark:

https://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.12623

The mount I wanted to get, but it was perpetually out of stock:

https://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.13004

The mount I ended up getting, which works just fine:

https://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.15642

You need the rechargeable batteries. They come in packs of two. If you get two lights you probably will want four batteries:

https://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.5776

And a charger:

https://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.1251

There are lots of good items there for really cheap prices. It won't look as fancy, but these lights will put out just as much, and often quite a bit more light than considerably more expensive options. For less than $100 you have a great helmet and mounted light, complete with batteries and a charger.
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