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Thread: Bike light recommendations

  1. #11
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    Rant post - no useful suggestions on brands & models.

    In a fairly dense urban area like DC metro it's not enough to have powerful or even entertaining point source lights of any sort. After 14 years of bike commuting I'm convinced that no bike light is suitable competition for a busy downtown intersection of 30-40 cars and trucks, traffic lights and assorted store windows. There are two completely different needs to be met in looking for bike lights. One is a light that allows you to see the road ( or lack thereof, gotta love pothole season) where you are looking ( as opposed to where the bike is pointed ) and the other is lighting that allow drivers to see you.

    I ride with a strobe front light on my handle bar, a fixed light on my helmet, a dual row red rear light with different flash rates on the two rows plus a cheap Chinese strobe flashlight pointing down at my legs and bike frame to illuminate the frame and my moving legs. These plus the reflective sidewalls of my tires and my reflective yellow road worker vest are barely enough to make me visible to the alert drivers. Not nearly enough of course for the cell phone distracted drivers - entirely useless for the drunk drivers. I don't think any one light on my bike cost more than $40 and given some of the places I lock up thats a good thing but it's the ensemble that makes for a safe ride in the dark.
    Last edited by Riley Casey; 03-02-2014 at 12:37 PM. Reason: Doohhh a zombie thread. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V3FnpaWQJO0

  2. #12
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    There's a couple of ways you could go about this depending on how much you want to invest, imho. if you're just looking for a good lumens/dollar ratio you can't beat this:

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    Though, i'd highly recommend getting the wide-angle lens:

    http://www.amazon.com/Angle-MagicShi..._bxgy_sg_img_y

    And don't count on the batteries lasting for more than a season's worth of charging cycles. the batteries are, however, fairly inexpensive to replace.

    If you're looking for something more robust, both the cygolite expilion 800 and the niterider lumina 650/700 offer good output, good beam patterns, good mounting systems, and decent product support. Lezyne's higher output lights also offer some pretty good output plus a great beam pattern.

    If you're looking for something that'll last for several years with no problems, look at exposure's systems (diablo + blaze = fawsome), or dinoitte (understated BLING!). Check competitive cyclist's website for deals on the exposure systems - they've got good deals from time to time.

  3. #13
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    Peter White has a pretty comprehensive section on his web site devoted to lighting.

    http://www.peterwhitecycles.com/lightingsystems.htm

  4. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve O View Post
    Peter White has a pretty comprehensive section on his web site devoted to lighting.

    http://www.peterwhitecycles.com/lightingsystems.htm
    He's a bit fussy to deal with, but if you're looking for euro-style dynamo solutions he can't be beat. I picked up a BM 350 lumen LED lamp for my wife to replace a crappy incandescent dynamo powered lamp from peter white and it's awesome. QBP does carry supernova and also stocks shimano's 1.5w and 3w dynamo hubs, so any shop using QBP as a distributor can get a hold of a lot of what peter white carries. as a side note, I'd love it if some american distribution lighting manufacturers started making some high-cutoff lensed headlamps. the difference between just throwing huge lumens and throwing a focused pattern at the trail is significant, especially from an on-coming rider's perspective.

  5. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harry Meatmotor View Post
    as a side note, I'd love it if some american distribution lighting manufacturers started making some high-cutoff lensed headlamps. the difference between just throwing huge lumens and throwing a focused pattern at the trail is significant, especially from an on-coming rider's perspective.
    And a flashlight is pretty much the opposite of a well focused beam...

  6. #16
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    I will heartily recommend the Supernova Airstream light. Not sure what lumen output is, but plenty bright for commuting in the dark, good battery life, seems to weather well so far, and nicely shaped beam to keep light out of people's eyes. Last year's model was heavily discounted at PW earlier, too lazy to check again from my phone.

  7. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harry Meatmotor View Post
    There's a couple of ways you could go about this depending on how much you want to invest, imho. if you're just looking for a good lumens/dollar ratio you can't beat this:

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    Though, i'd highly recommend getting the wide-angle lens:

    http://www.amazon.com/Angle-MagicShi..._bxgy_sg_img_y
    I'll second that. I've got pretty much the exact same setup on my bike, including the wide angle lens, just a different flavor of the Magic Shine knock-off light (mine was branded as Masione). It's not quite as good as the dynamo lighting system I used to have (and plan to have again), but it's cheap and it's bright and has a nice wide beam pattern with the special lens.

    Quote Originally Posted by Harry Meatmotor View Post
    And don't count on the batteries lasting for more than a season's worth of charging cycles. the batteries are, however, fairly inexpensive to replace.
    Knock on wood, mine are still going strong despite lots of dark hour commuting use over the standard time/winter season. If I don't have dynamo lights installed by the next dark season, I will probably pick up an extra battery pack just in case, though.

  8. #18
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    I bought one of the magicshine knockoffs to supplement my aging dinotte. It works fine. For the price its fantastic. I didn't get the wide beam (my 800L has the wide beam covered) so its definitely a spot light. The battery has a bit of a "built in a garage" vibe but has worked perfectly all winter. I'll probably get another one with a wide lens to replace the Dinotte next year, since replacement batteries are absurdly priced for it and mine are nearly dead.

  9. #19
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    For the headlight, I use a CygoLite Trion 600, which I bought for $100 on eBay. It is bright enough so that I never use anything more than the "low" setting, even on unlit trails. At that setting, the rechargeable battery supposedly lasts for 12 hours. I've never fully tested that out, but it means that it's never run out even on my longest after-dark trips. The only problem I've had with it is that the handlebar clamp seems to be a bit too big for my handlebar, which caused the light to slip until it was pointing straight down instead of forward. I solved that one by folding up a couple of rubber jar grippers (a package of 3 is $1 at Dollar Tree) and putting them between the clamp and the handlebar.

    I've got three tail lights. I have a CygoLite Hotshot SL 2-Watt LED Tail Light (rechargeable), which is affixed to the back of the rear rack and kept on high and steady light. The manufacturer says that should last 4.5 hours on high, but I'm pretty sure I've gone quite a bit more than that. I have a bicycle seat light (not sure of the brand, but it looks like it's a Serfas TL-STN Seat Stay Taillight) that I use on the front of the rack (which is somewhat elevated, so the light can point backward and be seen). I put that on a rolling strobe setting. It uses CR 2032 batteries, which supposedly last up to 100 hours on that mode. And I have a NiteRider Cherry Bomb (which uses 2 AAA batteries that last about 40 hours), which I attach to the neck of an ANSI-II rated reflective vest and put on the flashing setting.

    For the drunks and cell phone users, I've got a set of Rimfire bicycle lights on each of my wheels. (See video below.) I leave them on the constant on setting. Between the colors and the patterns they make as the wheels go around, even the most distracted drivers see and notice them.



    And of course, all of this is in addition to my reflectors--the ANSI-II rated reflective vest, a reflective "yield" triangle hanging down from the back of the rack, reflective strips on my panniers, and reflective sides on my pedals. I bike a lot after dark (was #1 in all of BAFS in the "after sunset" category), and I'm totally obsessive about making sure I'm visible.
    Last edited by cvcalhoun; 03-27-2014 at 02:53 PM.

  10. #20
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    I'll second the recommendation for the cygolite expilions. Like most inexpensive lights, they output a round beam pattern. I find that the lowest setting works pretty well in clear weather, so I usually keep it there. I put one mount on the helmet and one on the handlebars. When there are oncoming riders/pedestrians, I can turn my head off the trail or push the light more toward the ground as needed so as not to blind them.

    The charging and battery swap capabilities are some of the best out there.

    I've replaced a couple lost/stolen ones over the years and buy whatever current model appears to be at the right place on the lumen/price curve.

    B

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