Author Topic: Bike Headlight recommendations  (Read 623 times)

jim-ratliff

  • 6+ Year Member
  • 1000 Posts
  • ******
  • Posts: 2739
Bike Headlight recommendations
« on: September 12, 2012, 01:57:45 pm »
As the days get shorter, I'm finding again that my after work rides are ending after dark. Rather than giving up and only riding on weekends, I'm exploring lights. 
What do you like and recommend for use on a road bike primarily riding on a rail-to-trail and not on city streets?
How many watts or lumens do I need in order to still ride at 18-20 mph (and with 60+ eyeballs)?
What about for a mtb riding on trails in the trees, lots of turns and some minor elevation changes, but really not challenging terrain?
What's your opinion of helmet lights as opposed to handle-bar mounted lights?
Any tricks for oncoming bikes and the glare from their headlights (and what can I do to minimize the glare I create).  I've been surprised at the traffic volume on the W&OD rail-trail even after it's too dark to see very well.


"If you're gonna play the game boy, ya gotta learn to play it right."


bushwacka

  • Instructor
  • 400 Posts
  • **
  • Posts: 471
Re: Bike Headlight recommendations
« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2012, 03:29:34 pm »
first not an opinion but a fact.

A light on your head will be shining exactly where you are looking, a light on you handlebars will be shining exactly where your bike is pointing.

think about that

all right so with Helmet mounted head lights which is IMO the only sane choice for MTBing at night if your going to run one light I think 300 lumen -500 lumens is what you should be aiming for a the very least. I person run 1000 on my head and 600 on my bars and could use more for MTBing with that said I am generally running some of the brightest lights on any ride I do at night.

I have HID, all the newer stuff is LED which is much cheaper to replace the diodes if they go bad VS a 100 dollar HID bulb. the LED also run cooler, last longer for the same amount of battery power, and for a couple hour ride can run a much smaller battery  than the older HIDS.

I have been running Niteriders for years with out issue. If aint broke do not fix it right? When I update my lights I am for sure going to go with Niteriders.

For something cheap(90 bucks) but still very useable check out the Minewt 350 USB. the system is compact enough that you could easily mount it on your helmet including the battery. at that price 2 of them one for your head and one for your bars could be the way to go.

the next step up are cordless and they have 500 and 600 watt cordless lights that a self contained unit.

The next step after that is the 750 watt Minewt pro. 230 grams with that much wattage is pretty much unheard of. It cost 200 bucks.

after that they have the 1500 and 3000 standing for the output.

If you tell me your budget I would tell you what I would personly buy at that budget and do not forget the rear red blinky for riding on roads at night.


jim-ratliff

  • 6+ Year Member
  • 1000 Posts
  • ******
  • Posts: 2739
Re: Bike Headlight recommendations
« Reply #2 on: September 12, 2012, 04:08:40 pm »
NiteRider is the brand that I was looking at, I had arrived at 300 as the minimum.
Questions were rechargeable battery versus replaceable batteries.
I am considering two lights with a mount on each bike and then just a helmet mount. That would give me the flexibility to run two on the mountain bike or share one with Lynn if we decide to go night riding with Glen's ride.
However, I definitely don't need as much power as you have.  People will think I'm an airplane coming in for a landing.
Budget is the $100-$150 range.

Questions.
MiniNewt 350 is a single LED. Do multiple LED's give wider field of vision?
MiniNewt 600 has built in battery and is only $10 more. Probably worth the $10 even if I run it at half power?
CygoLite 650 - dual LED's.
Can't figure out the difference between the MiniNewt cordless and the Lumina line, but what do you think of the NiteRider Lumina 650 (650, 400, 250).


CatEye EL-320 provides 6000 candlepower for 60 hours with 2 AA batteries for  What's the comparison between candlepower and lumens. This has to be less bright than the others?


Thanks for any insight on any of the above. Knowing that you recommend NiteRider is good info just by itself.
« Last Edit: September 20, 2012, 06:12:26 pm by jim-ratliff »
"If you're gonna play the game boy, ya gotta learn to play it right."

epic

  • Instructor
  • <100 Posts
  • **
  • Posts: 85
Re: Bike Headlight recommendations
« Reply #3 on: September 12, 2012, 06:48:59 pm »
You will be amazed at how good that 350 is.

IMHO you need two. I want twice as much power on my bars as I have on my head. So if I have 350 on my head, 700 on the bars is good. The reason for this is that with head mount only you get no shadows and everything looks totally flat. A tombstone rock will look like it is lying flat on the ground.

ToddW

  • 4-6 Year Member
  • 200 Posts
  • ****
  • Posts: 320
Re: Bike Headlight recommendations
« Reply #4 on: September 12, 2012, 07:50:41 pm »
Jim,

Before you ride 18-20 mph in dusk / night conditions in a rail-to-trail environment, take a couple of slow rides and see how many deer you spook.  On our converted rail path, there are several spots where I have to slow to around 10 mph towards dusk to avoid colliding with startled deer.

Todd

jim-ratliff

  • 6+ Year Member
  • 1000 Posts
  • ******
  • Posts: 2739
Re: Bike Headlight recommendations
« Reply #5 on: September 12, 2012, 10:00:59 pm »
My fear with deer is them running into me, not me running into them.
They'll be off to the side of the trail -- and when startled who knows what  direction they'll run.


What I was looking for in that light was an idea how far down the trail the light projects.
Epic's comment about a single lightsource not providing depth perception was also pretty interesting.
« Last Edit: September 13, 2012, 07:05:54 am by jim-ratliff »
"If you're gonna play the game boy, ya gotta learn to play it right."

jim-ratliff

  • 6+ Year Member
  • 1000 Posts
  • ******
  • Posts: 2739
Re: Bike Headlight recommendations
« Reply #6 on: September 13, 2012, 07:49:33 pm »
Epic and Bush. Thanks for the advice and 350 lumen recommendation.
I bought a NiteRider Lumina 650. That gives me more hours in the 350 lumen range and/or brighter options if some situation comes up where I want it.  Also came with handle bar and helmet mounts for $125.
"If you're gonna play the game boy, ya gotta learn to play it right."

epic

  • Instructor
  • <100 Posts
  • **
  • Posts: 85
Re: Bike Headlight recommendations
« Reply #7 on: September 14, 2012, 05:07:34 am »
You will be amazed at how bright that is. I bought an HID light for over $400 a few years back that has less lumens. At the time, I thought it was the ultimate in brightness. Sure beats, the NiCad/Halogen lamps I rode with 20 years ago.

jim-ratliff

  • 6+ Year Member
  • 1000 Posts
  • ******
  • Posts: 2739
Re: Bike Headlight recommendations
« Reply #8 on: September 14, 2012, 07:55:31 am »



Just from turning it on in the back yard -- yes, I am amazed. On the 650 setting, it was brighter than the floodlights on the back of the house. Not sure about projection distance yet, but clearly your advice that 300 lumens was probably all that I needed was right on target. The three settings are 650/400/200 and the low setting will probably be the choice most of the time.
Also appears to have a nice full light pattern.
« Last Edit: September 14, 2012, 12:32:15 pm by jim-ratliff »
"If you're gonna play the game boy, ya gotta learn to play it right."

Svend

  • 4-6 Year Member
  • 1000 Posts
  • ****
  • Posts: 1107
Re: Bike Headlight recommendations
« Reply #9 on: September 16, 2012, 07:19:47 am »
They tell me this phenomena of progressively earlier darkness happens every year at around this time.  Remarkable....

Thanks everyone for a great thread.  I was pondering a light purchase just three days ago, when I hit the trails at 19:00 hrs.  By the time I was on my last loop of singletrack at 20:00, which happened to be in a very dense stand of evergreens, it was almost pitch black in there.  It occurred to me "I need a light!". 

Some great recommendations -- this will keep me going on my after-supper rides well into autumn, until the snows come.

« Last Edit: September 16, 2012, 05:19:16 pm by Svend »

jim-ratliff

  • 6+ Year Member
  • 1000 Posts
  • ******
  • Posts: 2739
Re: Bike Headlight recommendations
« Reply #10 on: September 16, 2012, 10:07:40 am »
Hmmm.  I would have thought that up in the Great North Woods dusk probably happens around 3 or 4 in the afternoon??

I have now accepted that 1 headlight is fine for my roadbike but that two are reallly  nice for off-road if the trail  is even a bit twisty.  As Bush said, it is very nice to always be able to see where your head is pointing, but as Epic said there are some constraints to just using a head light.  Example. I was riding with the light on my head and encountered a section of erosion eating into the side of the trail.  It wasn't "visible" until I was right on top of it.  Time for a test, so I moved the light to the handlebars and went back and approached that section again.  The shadow from the erosion was visible an easy 25 feet (8 meters?) up the trail before I got to it.

This may be well known to avid camera people, because I assume that it's a phenomenon of the light source being at the same viewing angle as the eyes, exactly as with most cameras.  Not that I didn't implicitly believe Epic, but I was still surprised to encounter it.

PS: A plug for NiteRider. The handlebar mount allows me to swivel the light, so I use that to get the light glare out of people's eyes when I'm meeting hikers or other bikers on the trail.  This may not be the intent of the swivel adjustment, but it works.
« Last Edit: September 16, 2012, 10:13:50 am by jim-ratliff »
"If you're gonna play the game boy, ya gotta learn to play it right."

Svend

  • 4-6 Year Member
  • 1000 Posts
  • ****
  • Posts: 1107
Re: Bike Headlight recommendations
« Reply #11 on: September 16, 2012, 05:18:51 pm »
Hmmm.  I would have thought that up in the Great North Woods dusk probably happens around 3 or 4 in the afternoon??

Oh, that's not for at least six weeks.  We're just coming off of 20 hours of daylight.   8)

Thanks for the recommendation on the Niterider.  Saves me a lot of reading reviews and all that.  I think I will only get two lights -- one for my bike and one for my wife's; both handlebar mounts.  We'll use them only for our regular rail trail ride, so no need for helmet mount or a second lamp.  We'll save the singletrack riding for the daylight hours of the weekends.  Looking forward to this, as it basically adds hours every week to our riding time. 


jim-ratliff

  • 6+ Year Member
  • 1000 Posts
  • ******
  • Posts: 2739
Re: Bike Headlight recommendations
« Reply #12 on: September 17, 2012, 09:22:50 am »
Looking forward to this, as it basically adds hours every week to our riding time.
That was my initial motivation, especially since it means I don't have to rush out to the trail right after work; but I'm becoming quite enamored of night riding. Not quite sure of the attraction, but the isolation and the feeling of riding in a cocoon of light seems to allow the time and the miles to really zoom by.
I even rescued a couple of "damsels in distress" Friday night. A woman, her son in a stroller, and her mother were lost and walking around trying to find the right parking lot using their cell phones as lights. Once they described to me where they had parked, we used my bike lights and I walked them the 1/4 mile to the correct parking lot.
« Last Edit: September 18, 2012, 03:30:23 pm by jim-ratliff »
"If you're gonna play the game boy, ya gotta learn to play it right."

Liam

  • Ski Shop/Ski Patrol
  • 200 Posts
  • **
  • Posts: 399
Re: Bike Headlight recommendations
« Reply #13 on: September 17, 2012, 12:11:31 pm »
I remember lights from 12 years ago...all Halogens, and with only a TurboCat Head lamp you could squeeze a 2.5 hour ride in following a dull yellow glow about 10 feet in front of you.

Today's lights and power systems are so much lighter and brighter (and cheaper) than what we used to ride it is absolutely stunning.  Always good to run two lights in case one gets broken or the battery craps out on you.   Nite Rider is great, but so are all the other brands (I'm using exposure lights, I like them a lot).   A lot of guys I ride wit use those super cheap ones (I can't remember the brand name, but they're everywhere)..they had a recall about a year ago, but still, they seem to work really well for less than half the cost of a nite riders. light n motion, etc.

LED's have really upped the whole bike light game.

Svend

  • 4-6 Year Member
  • 1000 Posts
  • ****
  • Posts: 1107
Re: Bike Headlight recommendations
« Reply #14 on: September 17, 2012, 05:27:19 pm »
Thanks for the recommendation on the Exposure lights.  I'll see what I can find in our local shops.  A larger chain (similar to REI) carries Cygo-Lite (reasonably priced) as well as Light and Motion (expensive). 

Jim -- good on ya for helping out.  They must have wondered what was coming at them out of the gloom, all brightly lit.  I'm not sure how common night riding is down there, but up here I don't recall ever seeing anyone at advanced stages of dusk out riding in the woods with lights, and certainly never on the adjacent rail trail in the dark.  There are 24 hour races here, so it is done, but I just haven't encountered anyone in my occasional dusk rides.  When we start doing night rides, we will almost certainly be the only ones out. 

« Last Edit: September 17, 2012, 05:30:55 pm by Svend »