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Lux vs lumens - an empirical comparison of two lights

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Lux vs lumens - an empirical comparison of two lights

Old 02-06-20, 07:43 PM
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bhdavis1978
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Lux vs lumens - an empirical comparison of two lights

I bike to work essentially year round, unless there is snow on the ground, black ice, or it is excessively windy. In order to get to work early enough so that I can leave when I want, I have to leave by 5:50, but for a big part of the year the sun doesnít come up until after 7:30, I.e itís dark out. On top of that the start of my ride proceeds through rural roads or along major highways without lights. Consequently I am a little bit obsessed with bike lights and bike tech in general.

I have spent a long time building out my lighting kit. I started with a 1w planet bike blaze, which was grossly inadequate. Then I moved up to a niterider 650 (which still works well and still has good battery life on low power). But unless that light was set on its max, it wasnít really bright enough and when I did that the light ran out before my commute ended. I moved up to a Light and Motion Trooper 1000, which was much better and in combination with the niterider I had enough light and a long enough run time to get to work and back on a single set of charges.

But I am getting tired of always charging batteries. I want to get a dynamo light. The thing is, there is very little information around comparing the relative brightness and utility of battery powered lights (measured in lumens) and dynamo lights (measured in lux). I understand the technical reasons for it. The dynamo lights use mirrors and lenses to focus the light where you need it, instead of blasting it everywhere like most battery lights. But as a consumer that doesnít help me figure out if the dynamo light will meet my needs.

Then I found a battery powered light that uses the same type of mirror set up used in dynamo lights, and the output was conveniently measured in lux. On top of that the run time at the necessary brightness for my ride meant I could probably get two full days of rides out of it. And it was a much less expensive way to see if I am happy with this type of lighting set up.

I have taken some photos on a pitch black road to show how the two lights compare: the trooper 1000 by L&M and the Lezyne Power Pro 115.

The photos from the driveway make the trooper look really impressive cause go get one really bright spot. There is a street light near by which makes it seem even more impressive. In context the Lezyne doesnít seem like itís nearly as bright but the throw is still better. It is clearly different but it wasnít obvious to me which was better.

but on the road in the dark there was no question : the Lezyne was way better. I could see further and more clearly in the distance with it than the trooper.

The Lezyne doesnít seem to have the light throwing capability that some of the dynamo lights claim, I get food light out about 20 m in front of me and the B&M IQ X claims over 40m. But itís also a more expensive light.

anyeay I hope someone finds this helpful.



Trooper 1000 in my drive way

Lezyne in my driveway

Lezyne on the road

Trooper on the road
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Old 02-06-20, 09:34 PM
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Russ Roth
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Like the difference you show, the whole lumen/lux thing is so annoying for comparative purposes. I've read plenty of articles on the difference and still don't really understand it. I would agree that the lezyne doesn't look as bright but the chimney being visible on the house and those two blocks in the second picture being way more visible really illuminate that it creates a better range of visibility. Going to have to check your light out as I'm looking.
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Old 02-06-20, 09:36 PM
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I think the photos just show the importance of bem pattern in choosing a light you will be happy with. I have a bunch of pretty bright lights, but the one I rely on most by far is the Outbound Lighting Road Edition, which has a vertical cutoff like some of the German lights, and a super-wide, spacious beam that lets me see everything in glorious, living color. I would never go back to an older, spotlight type light after using this. It's just a much better light. More expensive, for sure, but some things are more expensive for a very good reason.
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Old 02-06-20, 09:51 PM
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How did you shoot the photos? Unless you used a camera set manually to the same exposure value for each set of comparison shots, the cameraís autoexposure will render the comparisons meaningless.

Also, Iíll be the contrarian and choose the Trooper. The lighting is more even across the road surface, while the Lezyne has a terrible hotspot that will distract and perhaps even blind you a bit. But again, things may look different in-person than in the photos.
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Old 02-06-20, 10:47 PM
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I took the photo with my iPhone. You can set the exposure using an iPhone, which I did by focusing on a point on the ground near me with my small backup light on. It was my perception that the exposure didnít vary greatly between the shots. It was also my perception that the photos and relative brightness and distribution of the light on the ground was pretty well represented in the photos. If anything they made the Trooper light look brighter than it really was in person and the Lezyne light look less impressive.

So you are right, these arenít scientifically valid photos taken under exacting laboratory conditions, and I am not a bike lighting researcher.






Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
How did you shoot the photos? Unless you used a camera set manually to the same exposure value for each set of comparison shots, the cameraís autoexposure will render the comparisons meaningless.

Also, Iíll be the contrarian and choose the Trooper. The lighting is more even across the road surface, while the Lezyne has a terrible hotspot that will distract and perhaps even blind you a bit. But again, things may look different in-person than in the photos.
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Old 02-06-20, 10:52 PM
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I am glad you found it useful. I recently say the Sigma Aura 80 online and the photos and description made me wonder if itís actually got a better distribution of light.

I bought my light online from a German retailer. I couldnít find any light like this in Vancouver, and even when I tried to have stores order it in for me they just tried to tell me that 100 lux wasnít enough and I should go for 1200 lumens. So much for supporting local bike shops who wonít sell me what I am looking for!

I am quite happy with the Lezyne light. The light it produces on the road is much more useful, I can see much further down the road with it - and I donít have to worry about dazzling any drivers.

Originally Posted by Russ Roth View Post
Like the difference you show, the whole lumen/lux thing is so annoying for comparative purposes. I've read plenty of articles on the difference and still don't really understand it. I would agree that the lezyne doesn't look as bright but the chimney being visible on the house and those two blocks in the second picture being way more visible really illuminate that it creates a better range of visibility. Going to have to check your light out as I'm looking.
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Old 02-06-20, 10:54 PM
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Yeah the vertical cut off is key. The photo doesnít do a great job or illustrating that, unfortunately. The light is pretty evenly distributed across the road as long as I donít have it pointed down on too much of an angle. This light has that StZVO designation too!

Originally Posted by bpcyclist View Post
I think the photos just show the importance of bem pattern in choosing a light you will be happy with. I have a bunch of pretty bright lights, but the one I rely on most by far is the Outbound Lighting Road Edition, which has a vertical cutoff like some of the German lights, and a super-wide, spacious beam that lets me see everything in glorious, living color. I would never go back to an older, spotlight type light after using this. It's just a much better light. More expensive, for sure, but some things are more expensive for a very good reason.
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Old 02-06-20, 11:19 PM
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The Trooper has a better lens, the Lezyne is throwing light everywhere, as evidenced by the illuminated chimney and the light bouncing off of the power lines.
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Old 02-06-20, 11:34 PM
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Originally Posted by bhdavis1978 View Post
[...]I.e it’s dark out. On top of that the start of my ride proceeds through rural roads or along major highways without lights. Consequently I am a little bit obsessed with bike lights and bike tech in general.
[....]
But I am getting tired of always charging batteries. I want to get a dynamo light. The thing is, there is very little information around comparing the relative brightness and utility of battery powered lights (measured in lumens) and dynamo lights (measured in lux). I understand the technical reasons for it. The dynamo lights use mirrors and lenses to focus the light where you need it, instead of blasting it everywhere like most battery lights. But as a consumer that doesn’t help me figure out if the dynamo light will meet my needs.
If you are tired of charging batteries, maybe take a look at the pedalcell system, if you like your current lights. unfortunately those lezynes can't be charged while using. There are other bike harvesting systems for hub dynamos available as well.
Best available dynamo light: B&M IQ-X. With a hub dyno you could operate two of them in series, no issue for the hub dyno to deliver this power. Then you'll have at least 500 lm on the road....

on lux (and lux requirements) and lumens
For all those that wonder: the lux values given for dynamo lights are due to the (german...) road traffic authorization regulations (StVZO), which have very strict rules on bicycle lighting. (i.e. a car headlight is allowed to be three times as bright above the cutoff than a bike light....). For any driving/dipped beam, the beam pattern is defined in spots on a vertical screen 10 (bike) or 25m (car) distance from the light. So for bike lights, the brightest spot is given in lux, and that brightest spot has to be just under the cut-off line. Here are those measurement points (HV: horizontal/Vertical crossing= brightest point, O= above/upper L=lower) (sorry in german, i don't know any english source with that information). So this minimal requirements from the StVZO are pretty low and only a very tiny area (~0.4 m≤) on that screen has to be at least half as bright as the max brightness (in lux), the other points are just minium requirements (above 2 lux, moonlight is ~0,5lux...).

tldr: those single point lux numbers don't help much, unless you compare a bunch of lights at the same spot, with the same camera settings and you ideally compare wall shots of those lights as well. e.g. here (PDF, see page 6 (51); sorry german again...)
The lumens on the other side don't help much either, since the don't tell you where the light goes. A good 500 lm from a B&M Ixon Space (150 lux) is equivalent in beam distance and width to a >1500 lm conical beam...
Examples:
1. Here is a wallshot of a 40 lux StVZO approved light (here on a bikeway), and here is a wallshot of a 150 lux StVZO approved light (and here the same light on a bike path). Both wall shots seem to be taken roughly from the same distance (don't know whether camera settings were identical, but just look at the vast differences in beam width, a information which is not given by lux value or StVZO certification, as this gives you only throw in a tiny area...)
2. 500 lm/150 lux cut-off beam (supernova m99 mini pro 25) vs 1800 lm conical beam (Lupine Blika), both pictures taken with identical camera settings, the third marking is at ~60 m

Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
How did you shoot the photos? Unless you used a camera set manually to the same exposure value for each set of comparison shots, the camera’s autoexposure will render the comparisons meaningless.
True true..

edited, took out DrIsotopes quote, it is discussed anyway in the next post

Last edited by polyphrast; 02-07-20 at 01:22 AM.
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Old 02-06-20, 11:39 PM
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Offer up whatever numbers you feel like, doesn't matter. If that Lezyne is so amazing, why is it lighting up stuff that's 20 feet off the ground?

Unless the Trooper is aimed down too much and the Lezyne up too much. Really needs a side-by-side comparison with both lights at the same angle.
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Old 02-07-20, 12:00 AM
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Originally Posted by DrIsotope View Post
The Trooper has a better lens, the Lezyne is throwing light everywhere, as evidenced by the illuminated chimney and the light bouncing off of the power lines.
That chimney is not lit up by the lezyne, it's just the background light and the camera settings (longer exposure time or higher light sensitivy/iso value). The camera settings are not identical, as the window in the lezyne picture is also much brighter than in the trooper picture.

Originally Posted by DrIsotope View Post
Offer up whatever numbers you feel like, doesn't matter. If that Lezyne is so amazing, why is it lighting up stuff that's 20 feet off the ground? Unless the Trooper is aimed down too much and the Lezyne up too much. Really needs a side-by-side comparison with both lights at the same angle.
You cannot compare those lights "at the samle angle", due to totally different beam patterns, thats comparing apples to pears. What is the same angle? max throw? not blinding others?
That Urban 1000 Trooper is just a spotlight, see a video of a weaker model (youtube.com/watch?v=TqGSHqdGDZ8&t=4m22s), the lezyne is a cut-off light (youtube.com/watch?v=dkACCnke2M4&t=0m34s)

This paragraph refer to the second set of pictures on the road shown in the first post:
The lights are tilted, probably the handle bar was not straight, it was turned to the right side. Probably the bike was tilted to the right side as well. The You can see that the beam is tilted, because the beginning of the bright part of the beam is not a line with 90į angle towards the driving direction.... In that post (2nd picture) a correctly adjusted lezyne 80+ is shown. The 115 Model is StVZO approved as well (check the manufacturers webpage) and therefore glare free if adjusted correctly and the bike is not tilted.
And that Lezyne is not amazing....it's one of the better glarefree lights, but far from beeing amazing. If you want amazing, check the Lupine SL-F.....(but the beam color is a bit too cold...)

Last edited by polyphrast; 02-07-20 at 12:47 AM.
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Old 02-07-20, 12:55 AM
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Originally Posted by DrIsotope View Post
The Trooper has a better lens, the Lezyne is throwing light everywhere, as evidenced by the illuminated chimney and the light bouncing off of the power lines.
No it doesnít. It may not have been adjusted well, but the trooper makes a giant singular hotspot and itís hard to see much beyond it. The Lezyne is not throwing light all over the place.
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Old 02-07-20, 04:31 AM
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Originally Posted by polyphrast View Post
If you are tired of charging batteries, maybe take a look at the pedalcell system, if you like your current lights. unfortunately those lezynes can't be charged while using. There are other bike harvesting systems for hub dynamos available as well.
Best available dynamo light: B&M IQ-X. With a hub dyno you could operate two of them in series, no issue for the hub dyno to deliver this power. Then you'll have at least 500 lm on the road....
That pedalcell system looks interesting, but I donít have a good place to mount the power box. I ride a road bike which has limited handlebar space and it already has a Garmin and a headlight on it, and it seems pretty full. Thatís my only issue with it really. I think I am going to get a wheel with a dynamo built into it for next winter.

Thanks for the rest of your post. Lots or material there to read and digest.
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Old 02-07-20, 07:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
How did you shoot the photos? Unless you used a camera set manually to the same exposure value for each set of comparison shots, the cameraís autoexposure will render the comparisons meaningless.
Originally Posted by bhdavis1978 View Post
I took the photo with my iPhone. You can set the exposure using an iPhone, which I did by focusing on a point on the ground near me with my small backup light on.

So you are right, these arenít scientifically valid photos taken under exacting laboratory conditions, and I am not a bike lighting researcher.
You were setting the focus point, not the exposure. The iPhone adjusts the shutter speed to create a "correct" exposure for the lighting conditions, and hence your comparison shots won't accurately depict the differences between the lights -- which is why some posters' perceptions don't match yours.

No one is asking for "scientifically valid photos;" but, in this case, your in-person perceptions have more validity than the photos.

By the way: maybe you have already thought of this (or are doing it), but - since you have at least two lights - have you thought about getting a helmet mount for one of them? Then you could have one light on the handlebar, and one (which can follow your sightline, around corners and such) on your head.
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Old 02-07-20, 07:20 AM
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EDITED SEVERAL HOURS LATER TO CORRECT LINK.

You said you want to get a dyno light.

This website has a number of different light beam photos, if you right click on the photo and select open in another tab, you can get large enough images to see them clearly. You have to copy and paste the link into browser, for some reason I do not understand this web site does not make it clickable.
https://swhs.home.xs4all.nl/fiets/tests/verlichting/koplampen/index_en.html

Unfortunately it appear that the author of that website stopped updating it with newer lights a few years ago.

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Old 02-07-20, 10:36 AM
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Lumen is a measure of how much total light gets sprayed out. Lux is a measure of how much light makes it to a specific target.

That makes lux a superior rating system for bicycle lights because it indicates how well the beam is managed. Less light is wasted, going where you don't need it.

Makers of bicycle lights who use lumens do so because they don't have to care as much about the beam and can boast bigger numbers.

This ends the sermon.
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Old 02-07-20, 11:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
You said you want to get a dyno light. I recalled writing up a bit on another posting a few months ago on light beams, found it, pasted that same text that I previously posted here:

This website has a number of different light beam photos, if you right click on them and select open in another tab, you can get large enough images to see them.
https://swhs.home.xs4all.nl/fiets/te.../index_en.html

Unfortunately it appear that the author of that website stopped updating it with newer lights a few years ago.

From the link above, the beam from my AXA Luxx 70 Plus is at:
https://swhs.home.xs4all.nl/fiets/te...x70plus-2s.jpg

Luxos U is at:
https://swhs.home.xs4all.nl/fiets/te...tandard-2s.jpg
Links are broken. Removing everything after the .nl seems to work, but you may need an edit.

For the OP: I have an IQ-X & An IQ-2 as well as some Expelion 800's & 850's

Beam shape means a lot. On one hand, I like the broad spread of the 70lux IQ-2 for hazards approaching from the side. On the other hand I like the 100lux IQ-X for the focused laser like forward visibility and even spread off to the yonder. I'm not sure the LED is different between the 2, just the lense shape

With either, I tend to run the Expelion 800-850 in ~500 lumen in "low" mode for just general purpose near field supplemental light saturation. The different mounting location seems to mitigate shadows & help with depth perception

All the lights were designed for different purposes.

The Lux vs Lumen thing has been talked to death. It's more of a question of what your goals are & what product suits that goal. IMO the dynamo lights, among the brightest on the market are about equivalent to the Expellion 850 battery lights, as far as function, but it depends on what metric you prioritizing. Total throw, focused throw, near, far, wide, narrow. It the search for the highest lux/lumen number on the product packaging it's easy to forget that too bright & too narrow kills your night vision, narrows your pupils & runs counter to what you probably want. Awareness.

What ever you decide, I feel the options afforded by a hub dynamo are worth the expense.
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My lights are obscenely bright because drivers are dim.

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Old 02-07-20, 12:04 PM
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Originally Posted by bhdavis1978 View Post
That pedalcell system looks interesting, but I don’t have a good place to mount the power box. I ride a road bike which has limited handlebar space and it already has a Garmin and a headlight on it, and it seems pretty full. That’s my only issue with it really. I think I am going to get a wheel with a dynamo built into it for next winter.
In case you don't want to buy a new wheel, take a look at the velogical rim dynamos. They have the same efficiency as good hub dynos, they work when wet and they work at light snow conditions. I don't own one, but there are reports in german forums, and nobody had complains. Maybe the only downside is a litte sound, but not bad. Here is an english blog post of the generator version with a suitable bike harvester; and here a test review in english

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Old 02-07-20, 12:31 PM
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Originally Posted by base2 View Post
Links are broken. Removing everything after the .nl seems to work, but you may need an edit.
....
Edited. Thank you. This time I checked after I finished.
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Old 02-10-20, 04:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
[....] https://swhs.home.xs4all.nl/fiets/te.../index_en.html
Unfortunately it appear that the author of that website stopped updating it with newer lights a few years ago.
The author is still active, he just doesn't like most modern bicycle lights due to the beam color. His favorite in light color (and also in the homogenetiy of the beam) is still the 8 years old Philips SafeRide in the warm white version. (there are some recent youtube videos from him: youtube.com/channel/UC8glnbTXbm7YfVqdX3VjQsg/videos)

regarding lux and lumen, i found a useful example for advertising a light:
A light from shutter precision - which is soon (according to an email) available - where the light distribution with respect the StVZO measurement points (on a vertical screen) is shown. See manufacturers page (scroll a bit down; distance between points L5 and R5 are 2,8 m (=16į; at 10 m from the light), and between HV and A3: ~90cm (=5į, at 10 m). Unfortunately no lux values for brightest point given (only lumens). With a given lux value, that presentation with the StVZO defined points (or with any other defined measurement points, e.g. from automotive standards) would be the only useful way to advertise a light.
However, from knowing the Ixon Space/IQ-XE (and its light distribution, max lux and lumen value), i estimate that SP light has max. 80-120 lux on the highest low beam level.

Last edited by polyphrast; 02-10-20 at 06:02 AM.
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Old 02-10-20, 07:25 AM
  #21  
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I was unaware that SP was coming out with a new light. Looked at your reference, the dynohub version is the only one that I would be interested in and that does not appear to offer anything over and above what I already get from my B&M lights. But, it is useful to know what is out there.
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Old 02-10-20, 07:38 AM
  #22  
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
[..]the dynohub version is the only one that I would be interested in and that does not appear to offer anything over and above what I already get from my B&M lights.[..]
i agree, that dynohub version is nothing special. I find that concept of the e-bike and battery powered versions interesting, because they offer switchable "wide beam" function in combination with the high beam. That gives you quite a versatile light. At the moment SP is acquiring the StVZO approval for those lights (according to their email).
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Old 02-10-20, 08:00 AM
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Originally Posted by polyphrast View Post
i agree, that dynohub version is nothing special. I find that concept of the e-bike and battery powered versions interesting, because they offer switchable "wide beam" function in combination with the high beam. That gives you quite a versatile light. At the moment SP is acquiring the StVZO approval for those lights (according to their email).
Both my B&M Luxos U and AXA Luxx 70 Plus (both are dyno powered lights) have extra LEDs that light up at slower speeds to give you more lighting close up and a bit wider. That is automatic based on speed. Not sure how the lights measure speed, maybe based on alternating current frequency or maybe on hub output? Some have complained on-line that the AXA close in LEDs going on and off suddenly are bothersome, but I got used to that right away. The Luxos U it is more gradual instead of a quick on and off.

I can't imagine anyone needing over 2000 lumens for their electric bike, but I have seen plenty of bikers that thought they were safer when their lighting was blinding everyone else, at least the electric bike version would have a switchable high beam.
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Old 02-10-20, 08:23 AM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
Both my B&M Luxos U and AXA Luxx 70 Plus (both are dyno powered lights) have extra LEDs that light up at slower speeds to give you more lighting close up and a bit wider. That is automatic based on speed. Not sure how the lights measure speed, maybe based on alternating current frequency or maybe on hub output?[...]
I can't imagine anyone needing over 2000 lumens for their electric bike, but I have seen plenty of bikers that thought they were safer when their lighting was blinding everyone else, at least the electric bike version would have a switchable high beam.
That function of switching the extra LEDs is most probably controlled by the AC Voltage of the hub, as the current is more or less constant in hub dynos.

That SP CP/EP4 light has 510 lm (probably all chip lumen values, real output would be 10-20% less) in the main dipped beam, that is not extraordinary much. But it offers 480-1020 additional lumens for the "wide beam" function (while still remaining glarefree), and that might be very useful. The high beam has "only" 700 lm. Nobody needs 2000 lm.... but having them makes driving at night very comfortable.
Here is an example (unfortunately typical for my daily commute) of a situation where you can't have enough (glarefree!) light:
When you travel a bike path, which is situated "on the wrong side" of a extra-urban road (i.e. officially allowed to cycle there in both directions), and this bike path surface is on top 0,5m lower than the road surface, oncoming cars will blind you, even if they use dipped beams. With any dynamo light, even the best, you are lost in such situations.
I own a Outbound Focal Road and a Lupine SL-AF (a bit of light nerdiness...) and both in combination are very nice (and i use them with approx. 1100-1200 lm glarefree low beam; this is perfect for such situations (it would work with 500 lm as well (if it's dry))

Last edited by polyphrast; 03-22-20 at 02:00 PM. Reason: Spelling/wording
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