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All you studs with the bright headlights - they are annoying

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All you studs with the bright headlights - they are annoying

Old 11-16-14, 10:34 PM
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Bat56
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All you studs with the bright headlights - they are annoying

Whether you are inducing a seizure with the floody blinkie or blinding us with the thrown brightness aimed at our eyes you are annoying and might not know it. Watching oncoming cyclists and pedestrians avert their eyes should not induce pride.

The advent of the $40 Chinese LED 1200 lumen light is enabling the uninformed to blind us all.

And I don't know what to do.

I've considered fighting fire with fire but that sort of defeats many of the benefits I receive from cycling.
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Old 11-16-14, 11:47 PM
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I put a Niterider Lumina 750 flare on my bike but I keep it pointed down to 40' in front of me to NOT dazzle anyone.
I just need them to notice me, not whitespot them.
I angle my Niterider Solas 2 down as well, and for the same reason.
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Old 11-17-14, 12:13 AM
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I hear what you are saying, but on the other hand, the last two nights, I've met three different fat bike ninjas with no lights on the local MUP, which bounces between the road and ski trails. One of them even chewed me out for ruining his "experience."

I run a 400 lumen Cyclolight metro, a cheap blinkie (no idea, but almost nothing in terms of lumens), and 200 lumen headlight on my helmet, all aimed to strike the ground about 13 meters in front of me. This configuration works well for me, but I couldn't imagine running less light given our drivers and the darkness we have up here, especially until the snow flies.

What do you consider to be reasonable?
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Old 11-17-14, 06:16 AM
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What I don't really get is that none of the magic shine style lights have the fernel defuser lens as standard. Using it turns the "cone" into a flat line. I think the basic shape can be improved on for a better pattern; but the simple addition of the lens completely changes the light.

Fot that matter, I keep thinking of crowd sourcing the purchase of a couple dozen, cutting them up until I get a better pattern then finding a factory to crank them out. The optics in the reflector are harder and people are less likely to upgrade those; but fernel lenses are not rocket science.
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Old 11-17-14, 07:09 AM
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I agree with this post. We cyclists need to exhibit more courtesy as lights get brighter and cheaper. Here's a crazy idea: place your finger over the light when you pass a pedestrian. I do this out of habit and always get a smile or thank you from the walker. Be courteous instead of macho.
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Old 11-17-14, 11:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Bat56 View Post
Whether you are inducing a seizure with the floody blinkie or blinding us with the thrown brightness aimed at our eyes you are annoying and might not know it. Watching oncoming cyclists and pedestrians avert their eyes should not induce pride.

The advent of the $40 Chinese LED 1200 lumen light is enabling the uninformed to blind us all.

And I don't know what to do.

I've considered fighting fire with fire but that sort of defeats many of the benefits I receive from cycling.
How other riders aim their lights should not discourage you from getting lights yourself. That would be your first premise.
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Old 11-17-14, 11:37 AM
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This is really more of an issue for cyclists who commute/ride on multi-use paths. I commute regularly with a bright light system and it's essential to my survival riding on roads in rush hour traffic. Regardless of the lumen rating of my bike lights, they are nothing compared to car/truck lights.
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Old 11-17-14, 11:45 AM
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I have the bright lights (4 cree) and try to keep them pointed down somewhat, but I also tried with a much "lower light" style and it scared me to death trying to see that black top road in front of me. Had to slow to a snail's pace to stay between the ditches. I'm certainly not being any more inconsiderate than the drivers of vehicles that have to super bright LED headlights. I want to see and be seen. Can't please everyone.
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Old 11-17-14, 12:12 PM
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Old 11-17-14, 12:45 PM
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It's illegal for cars to drive into oncoming traffic with their lights on bright. Cyclists should think about doing the same.
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Old 11-17-14, 01:00 PM
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Running across people dressed in dark clothes on the MUP and no lights scares the bejeebus out of me. If you are in an area that is well lit then there is less reason for bright lights. On the MUP we frequent there are no lights and it is heavily treed. I could not imagine tooling along with no lights on, yet I have seen it. Crazy. Common courtesy is to lower the light before you blind the other folks on the trail, but if I don't see you until the last second I don't feel too bad if you get a face full of CREE LED.
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Old 11-17-14, 01:51 PM
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Originally Posted by gl98115 View Post
It's illegal for cars to drive into oncoming traffic with their lights on bright. Cyclists should think about doing the same.
Ummm, cyclists, at least in the USA, are to ride with traffic, not against. Cyclists are supposed to follow the rules of the road. BTW, I have a Magic Shine (supposedly 1000 lumens), but I ride with it at low on the road while in the dark(probably meaning 400 lumens on low) and it's plenty bright.
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Old 11-17-14, 04:29 PM
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Originally Posted by gl98115 View Post
It's illegal for cars to drive into oncoming traffic with their lights on bright. Cyclists should think about doing the same.
I worked at a bike shop this past summer and sold a moderately bright light to a customer. I warned him to be careful with how he aimed it, and I had to explain to him this which I thought would be obvious. He probably has a driver's license, but he didn't apply his knowledge to cycling. Weird, but there you go.
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Old 11-17-14, 04:52 PM
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Originally Posted by tarwheel View Post
This is really more of an issue for cyclists who commute/ride on multi-use paths. I commute regularly with a bright light system and it's essential to my survival riding on roads in rush hour traffic. Regardless of the lumen rating of my bike lights, they are nothing compared to car/truck lights.
↑↑↑♫♪ This ♪♫↑↑↑

We all ride in different cities, circumstances, roads, paths, etc.etc. and to think there's a one-rule-fits-all as far as front lights is silly. Silly, I tell you, Silly.
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Old 11-17-14, 06:00 PM
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Originally Posted by tarwheel View Post
This is really more of an issue for cyclists who commute/ride on multi-use paths. I commute regularly with a bright light system and it's essential to my survival riding on roads in rush hour traffic. Regardless of the lumen rating of my bike lights, they are nothing compared to car/truck lights.
You are correct as far as total light output but that is not the problem. The issue is that all of these super bright import lights have a directly visible emitter even if the viewer is not in the main light cone. They use a low cost basic cone reflector and not a modern shaped reflector that hides teh emitter from direct viewing. That direct viewing of the emitter is what blinds people. Auto headlights with shaped beams have a lot more total light output but are not nearly as blinding to people. When looking at an auto headlight, even if you happen to be in the shaped beam area you still cannot see the emitter so you are not nearly so blinded; this is true even though the total light is multiple times brighter.

Aiming a regular flashlight down does not really overcome the problem because the emitter is still directly visible even out of the main light cone. This tiny super intense point of light blinds pedestrians, motorists and other cyclists. I had this happen to me recently when a road biker with his conventional beam totally blinded me so that I was unable to really see anything other than his headlight. I could not see the road and could not see oncoming traffic. I had to slow to about 5 MPH until the other bike passed. This is a total hazard and is unsafe for everyone especially if this is a light of several hundred lumens or greater. If you do not believe me just park your car and bike side by side with the lights on and see what an oncoming motorist has to deal with. The car lights are much less blinding even though they have more total light output.

I used to have a light like this and at first thought it was cool when i could make an oncoming motorist stop because they could not see. I finally wised up and realized how hazard this is and decided blinding other motorists is not in my best interest. Save the Magic Shines for trail riding and spring for a real bike light like an Edelux II or the new Philips light if you want battery power. If you need more light use two of them which is what I now do.

Blinding motorists is not the right message to send if we want to "share the road." It is really a two-way street if you can pardon my pun.
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Old 11-17-14, 06:03 PM
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Originally Posted by tarwheel View Post
This is really more of an issue for cyclists who commute/ride on multi-use paths. I commute regularly with a bright light system and it's essential to my survival riding on roads in rush hour traffic. Regardless of the lumen rating of my bike lights, they are nothing compared to car/truck lights.
You are correct as far as total light output but that is not the problem. The issue is that all of these super bright import lights have a directly visible emitter even if the viewer is not in the main light cone. They use a low cost basic cone reflector and not a modern shaped reflector that hides the emitter from direct viewing. That direct viewing of the emitter is what blinds people. Auto headlights with shaped beams have a lot more total light output but are not nearly as blinding to people. When looking at an auto headlight, even if you happen to be in the shaped beam area you still cannot see the emitter so you are not nearly so blinded; this is true even though the total light is multiple times brighter.

Aiming a regular flashlight down does not completely overcome the problem because the emitter is still directly visible even out of the main light cone. This tiny super intense point of light blinds pedestrians, motorists and other cyclists. I had this happen to me recently when a road biker with his conventional beam totally blinded me so that I was unable to really see anything other than his headlight. I could not see the road and could not see oncoming traffic. I had to slow to about 5 MPH until the other bike passed. This is a total hazard and is unsafe for everyone especially if this is a light of several hundred lumens or greater. If you do not believe me just park your car and bike side by side with the lights on and see what an oncoming motorist has to deal with. The car lights are much less blinding even though they have more total light output.

I used to have a light like this and at first thought it was cool when i could make an oncoming motorist stop because they could not see. I finally wised up and realized how hazard this is and decided blinding other motorists is not in my best interest. Save the Magic Shines for trail riding and spring for a real bike light like an Edelux II or the new Philips light if you want battery power. If you need more light use two of them which is what I now do.

Blinding motorists is not the right message to send if we want to "share the road." It is really a two-way street if you can pardon my pun.
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Old 11-17-14, 06:38 PM
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Does anyone make aftermarket reflectors for these lights? I have searched a bit with no luck. If they hid the emitter it would make such a difference.

I have also cut a few translucent pieces of plastic to use as diffusers. It helps but still bright.

I use it for city riding so I don't need it too bright but I want to be seen through car lights
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Old 11-17-14, 06:39 PM
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Originally Posted by tractorlegs View Post
We all ride in different cities, circumstances, roads, paths, etc.etc. and to think there's a one-rule-fits-all as far as front lights is silly.
I'm reminded of this as I ride around in the evening this fall. I have pretty good lighting. I can run a single front light on low if I need to see and be seen on a long, uniformly dark road. But when I'm in and out of mixed lighting -- street lights or none, car headlights, building lights, moonlight or shadows shadows shadows -- I need the lights on brighter. My eyes do not adjust quickly enough to the darker sections to see there reliably. I'll run the Ixon IQ Premium on high and the Lezyne Mega Drive on low and see well in most lighting conditions at night.

If your lighting conditions are more uniform maybe you can use a lower light level for longer periods because your eyes adjust to the lower ambient light.
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Old 11-17-14, 11:09 PM
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Originally Posted by tarwheel View Post
Regardless of the lumen rating of my bike lights, they are nothing compared to car/truck lights.
If our cities provided us with more safe and dedicated bicycle infrastructure I would use less lumens, but Im not going to sacrifice my safety by not having bright lights. The only place where I direct my lights towards the side is when Im crossing the Manhattan Bridge which has a dedicated bicycle lane, for the rest of my ride I use a L&M Urban 550 on my helmet blinking and an expillion 700 in low on the frame.
If riders can handle a car headlight, they can handle my setup. The solution to this is advocacy!
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Old 11-18-14, 07:58 AM
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Originally Posted by dwmckee View Post
You are correct as far as total light output but that is not the problem. The issue is that all of these super bright import lights have a directly visible emitter even if the viewer is not in the main light cone. They use a low cost basic cone reflector and not a modern shaped reflector that hides teh emitter from direct viewing. That direct viewing of the emitter is what blinds people. Auto headlights with shaped beams have a lot more total light output but are not nearly as blinding to people. When looking at an auto headlight, even if you happen to be in the shaped beam area you still cannot see the emitter so you are not nearly so blinded; this is true even though the total light is multiple times brighter.
Let's start with the "superbright" part. The current batch of LEDs aren't all that bright compared to pervious bicycle lights. They claim far greater lumen output than they actually produce. The claims of 1500 or 1800 or 3000 lumens are greatly inflated. A Cree XM-L T6 emitter will put out a maximum of 700 lumens at optimal voltage which is never acheived in battery lights. Their output is closer to 600 lumens. That's comparable output to halogen lights with a MR11 reflector. HID lamps put out 900 to 1000 lumens. A MR-16 halogen could be goaded to put out 1500 lumens. The current LED lamps are actually a step down in terms of output.

Next let's address being able to see the emitter. Since the lamp is made to shoot a beam of light out into the world, you kind of have to see the emitter. If you "hide" it, it doesn't output light. I think you mean that the emitter on a car is "hidden" from having upward light spillage but even that isn't perfect in automobiles. SAE regulations in the US allow for upward spillage to illuminate overhead signs. And "modern shaped reflectors" are hardly standard on every vehicle currently on the road. Cars newer than about 2004 have shaped beams but there are millions of vehicles still on the road from before 2004. The average age of the US fleet is 11 years with 15% of the fleet older than 12 years. That's a lot of vehicles with unshaped unmodern lights. Commuting bicyclists make up only 2% of the population so our "blinding" lights are a rounding error compared to the number of unshaped beams for automobiles out there.

Originally Posted by dwmckee View Post
Aiming a regular flashlight down does not really overcome the problem because the emitter is still directly visible even out of the main light cone. This tiny super intense point of light blinds pedestrians, motorists and other cyclists. I had this happen to me recently when a road biker with his conventional beam totally blinded me so that I was unable to really see anything other than his headlight. I could not see the road and could not see oncoming traffic. I had to slow to about 5 MPH until the other bike passed. This is a total hazard and is unsafe for everyone especially if this is a light of several hundred lumens or greater. If you do not believe me just park your car and bike side by side with the lights on and see what an oncoming motorist has to deal with. The car lights are much less blinding even though they have more total light output.
The nice thing about lights is that you can see where they go... even the "supposed" poor beam shape of LED lights. The issue that you had wasn't with the light but the way it was used and, is a small part, the way you reacted to the light. People don't pay attention to where their lights are aimed and aim them too high. This can occur with any bicycle light since we don't have standards for aiming beams.

However, you have some responsibility as well. Having learned how to drive in the bad old days before shaped beams, I was taught...and quickly learned...not to look at the lights coming at me. If you are riding on a bike path, this is a little harder due to the width of the trail but not impossible.

I'm assuming that your encounter above was on a bike path, however. If it were on the road and you both were riding lawfully, i.e. riding with traffic, his lights couldn't have "blinded" you. The separation is too great and the beams on bicycle lights is either too narrow to shine all the way across the road or too wide to have caused you any discomfort. If your encounter was on a bike path, even your shaped beams are going to be a problem for anyone else using the path. Personally, I avoid bike paths at night partly for this reason.

Originally Posted by dwmckee View Post
I used to have a light like this and at first thought it was cool when i could make an oncoming motorist stop because they could not see. I finally wised up and realized how hazard this is and decided blinding other motorists is not in my best interest. Save the Magic Shines for trail riding and spring for a real bike light like an Edelux II or the new Philips light if you want battery power. If you need more light use two of them which is what I now do.
If you thought it was "cool" to make an oncoming motorist stop because they couldn't see, the problem wasn't the lights but the way in which you were using them. I could take your Edelux or Phillips and aim it so that it would stop motorists as well. But that wouldn't be the fault of the lights. The Magicshines and clones work just as well as any other light if they are aimed properly. I aim my lights so that I get the best possible use out of them. That means that I aim them to hit the ground in front of me to illuminate my path. If I'm shooting light into the eyes of motorists, I wasting my light and battery.

Originally Posted by dwmckee View Post
Blinding motorists is not the right message to send if we want to "share the road." It is really a two-way street if you can pardon my pun.
I agree but I don't "blind" motorists so I don't worry about it.
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Old 11-18-14, 09:57 AM
  #21  
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car headlights are really bright, even on the dim setting. I am not sure I have actually seen a bike headlight that really has the same effect. I would like it if people used more appropriate light levels on paths though
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Old 11-18-14, 09:25 PM
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cycocommute -

You are missing the point. We can have our cake and eat it too if we ride with properly adjusted and shaped bicycle headlights that do a great job illuminating the road AND do not put so much direct into everyone else's eyes to affect their ability to navigate as well. They are more expensive, but for riders that do a fair amount of riding after dark it is a good investment for all. The Europeans seem to be so far ahead of the US in this part of biking.

And an extremely bright point of light can ruin your night vision even if you are not staring right at it. If you doubt, try looking at something in the sky about 30 - 40 degrees away from the sun and see if the sun does not affect your ability to see.

In a modern shaped reflector headlight I said you cannot DIRECTLY see the emitter, not that you cannot see a spread reflection of it. The tiny point of a high-power emitter, when DIRECTLY visible is extremely bright and can temporarily affect vision of anyone seeing it, even if they are not directly in the main focused cone of vision. This is the point of all of the money spent on modern shaped reflector technology. More light focused where you want it and not wasted in the sky or blinding others. If you have doubts, you need go no further than the warning labels on some of these high powered lights and the fact that they are used as defensive weapons to disable opponents. There are no such warnings on any shaped beam lights or headlights.

"The Magicshines and clones work just as well as any other light if they are aimed properly."
This is an absolutely untrue statement and I hope readers are not deceived by it. It may work as well for the rider, but not for anyone looking into it. Try my suggestion on a dark street with a modern car with headlights on and a bike next to it with a MagicShine pointed 40 feet down the road. Then head down that road and turn around and look at the difference.

There is a very good reason for all of the modern beam technology out there. It is better for all. Save the MagicShines for off-road and rural riding where their shortcomings are not nearly so detrimental to others.
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Old 11-18-14, 09:36 PM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by joeyduck View Post
Does anyone make aftermarket reflectors for these lights? I have searched a bit with no luck. If they hid the emitter it would make such a difference.

I have also cut a few translucent pieces of plastic to use as diffusers. It helps but still bright.

I use it for city riding so I don't need it too bright but I want to be seen through car lights
I do not think you will find an aftermarket reflector that will retrofit well onto one of these lights because the whole thing apparently must be designed together with very close tolerances in a single unit. Some folks have put diffusers on conventional lights or taped foil across the top to make a cutoff, but the results seem to be pretty limited in effectiveness. The lower to moderate power lights are not so bad, it is the really high powered lights that are the problem.
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Old 11-19-14, 08:22 AM
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Originally Posted by dwmckee View Post
cycocommute -

You are missing the point. We can have our cake and eat it too if we ride with properly adjusted and shaped bicycle headlights that do a great job illuminating the road AND do not put so much direct into everyone else's eyes to affect their ability to navigate as well. They are more expensive, but for riders that do a fair amount of riding after dark it is a good investment for all. The Europeans seem to be so far ahead of the US in this part of biking.
I got your point but I don't agree with it. First, there is a difference between "roads" and "paths". On a standard 2 lane roadway with a shoulder (or even without), a bicycle is far enough away from a motorist traveling in the opposite direction that spill over that might "blind" a motorist is next to impossible...even with the widest of flood lights. If the cyclist is riding with a narrower beam, spill over is greatly reduced. The light from a narrow beam is more intense but it is more narrowly focused. Drivers have much more intense lights passing much closer to them and they seem to be able to drive down the road without losing their eyes. They also seem to have been able to do this for decades even without shaped beams. You don't even have to go that far back in time to find unshaped beams.

On a path, things are different but similar to how it used to be on roadways. You are passing closer but not really that much closer than two cars on a two lane highway. Don't stare into the light of the persons coming at you and you won't have problems. That said, I don't ride bike paths at night other than for connecting roadways...a few blocks max.

The Germans'...really not the "Europeans"...lights aren't perfect. Their standards are designed for bicycles traveling at 18 kph or 11 mph. You don't really need much light for that kind of speed.

Originally Posted by dwmckee View Post
And an extremely bright point of light can ruin your night vision even if you are not staring right at it. If you doubt, try looking at something in the sky about 30 - 40 degrees away from the sun and see if the sun does not affect your ability to see.
"Night vision" isn't what you seem to think it is. If you have a light on your bike or your car, you don't have night vision. The rod cells in your eyes are saturated and take several minutes of near total darkness to relax. Any light exposure...even a small amount...resets the process. If you are using lights and you are exposed to a momentary bright light, you might be "dazzled" by it but you won't be dumped into "night blindness" because you are already there.

If you don't believe me, try going out into a dark area (no extra lights) and allow your rod cells to relax. It will take about 15 minutes. You can probably walk across a field without moonlight. Under a full moon, you could probably even ride a bike across a field. Now, turn on a flashlight. Don't shine it in your eyes but just turn it on and use it normally. Then turn it off. You won't be able to walk across the field at all. That's night blindness.

As for the sun, that's an entirely different set of cells. The rods are already saturated. And 30 to 40 degrees is pretty far away from the sun. If the sun is at xenith, that's nearly half way to the horizon.

Originally Posted by dwmckee View Post
In a modern shaped reflector headlight I said you cannot DIRECTLY see the emitter, not that you cannot see a spread reflection of it. The tiny point of a high-power emitter, when DIRECTLY visible is extremely bright and can temporarily affect vision of anyone seeing it, even if they are not directly in the main focused cone of vision. This is the point of all of the money spent on modern shaped reflector technology. More light focused where you want it and not wasted in the sky or blinding others. If you have doubts, you need go no further than the warning labels on some of these high powered lights and the fact that they are used as defensive weapons to disable opponents. There are no such warnings on any shaped beam lights or headlights.
If you are standing in front of a light with a shaped reflector, you can see the emitter. If the beam is aimed properly, you might not be able to see the emitter if you are around 6' tall and only a few feet away but you can't see the emitter from my unshaped lights in the same situation.

My light isn't "wasted in the sky". Even a wide angle beam like the Magicshine doesn't spray that much light into the sky. You can see where your light is going from the saddle.

Originally Posted by dwmckee View Post
"The Magicshines and clones work just as well as any other light if they are aimed properly."
This is an absolutely untrue statement and I hope readers are not deceived by it. It may work as well for the rider, but not for anyone looking into it. Try my suggestion on a dark street with a modern car with headlights on and a bike next to it with a MagicShine pointed 40 feet down the road. Then head down that road and turn around and look at the difference.


I have done this. My car lights upward spillage is about the same as my bike lights. In my alleyway, my bicycle lights illuminate to the same height on the fences and garages as my car lights do. The car is a 2004 with American shaped beams which allow for more spillage than European lights do.


Originally Posted by dwmckee View Post
There is a very good reason for all of the modern beam technology out there. It is better for all. Save the MagicShines for off-road and rural riding where their shortcomings are not nearly so detrimental to others.
"All" is overstating a bit. There are a few shaped beams out there and they are all a premium product. The number of unshaped beams far out number shaped ones and, in my experience, aren't a problem. I have a couple of bike paths that I use as connectors (a couple of blocks long) and occassionally meet other riders. As long as you don't stare into the light, they aren't a problem.

There is also an economic aspect to lighting. The shaped beams like the Edelux and Phillips are prohibitively expensive if you want more than one light. Having had recently tested a new light that didn't perform well...the output was way lower than advertised...I can tell you that less is not more. I was using the light as a helmet light and it wasn't as bright as the lights on my bars. I couldn't see snow and ice that my normal helmet light could illuminate as quickly and, as a result, had to be much more vigilant about watching for ice patches in the bike lane (not "path").

It wasn't just the possibility of hitting a patch of ice unexpectedly that was the problem. Because I couldn't see as far down the road, I couldn't move out into the travel lane as soon so I had to be extra careful when moving around ice patches. Being able to throw light further down the road makes for a safer ride in my opinion. And, yes, I could run studded tires but when the roads are 99% clear of ice, running studs just isn't worthwhile.

But if my lights cost me $200 per unit, I wouldn't be able to buy multiples. When they cost $30 to $60 per unit, I have no problem buying several at a time. Many people with more limited means may not even be able to afford the $200 per unit so they either ride without lights or use substandard "be seen" lights that are less than useless. Given these choices, a little inconvenience to others is rather insignificant
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Old 11-19-14, 01:53 PM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by Bikey Mikey View Post
Ummm, cyclists, at least in the USA, are to ride with traffic, not against.
Ummm. This is a strawman argument, Bikey Mikey. It has nothing to do with my comment.
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