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Bright Lights - Advice Pls
#1
Hi

Newbie to the site here so hope am posting in the correct place.

I have only fairly recently (since about July) starting cycling to work in the UK as almost all of the journey is along a towpath. However obviously at this time of year it is not ideal when it is dark. The lights that I have are not really sufficient for lighting up a dark towpath but I have seen some cyclists that appear to have very bright front lights (much brighter than what I have).

I would therefore appreciate any advice on suitable lights to safely cycle along a towpath in the dark. I have seen lights advertised as "high powered" which cost up to £200, but ideally I didn't want to spend anything like that much. On Ebay there are some sold as "super bright" for as little as £10 so I am confused.

Cheers

Simon
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#2
You might consider supplementing whatever bike mounted light you have with a helmet mounted one. The advantage not so much being brightness as being able to point the light where you need it. From my time in the UK I recall laws about lights being a little more specific than in the US, so you might want to make sure there are no issues there, but here helmet mounted lights are popping up almost nightly on the darker roads of my commute.

If the helmet mounted doesn't work, consider getting a second bike mounted light that you can angle at the ground a little more. I have a fairly weak light employed that way and even it helps noticeably over trying to make just one light work for both tasks.
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#3
I find that helmet mounted lights have the tendency to blind oncoming traffic, therefor I wouldnot recommend them for normal on road use. However, when riding in the forest following narrow tracks it helps a great deal when the light follows where you look.

I own several different bike lights, very cheap ones that were advertised as "bright" but are crappy except during the first 20minutes after replacing the batteries, standard lights that came with the bike (that are always very dim, throw them out!), a nice battery powered light (Kalmit by Sigma http://www.sigmasport.com), that is quite bright and also a hub generator powered LED-light (Lumotec IQ fly by Busch und Müller http://www.bumm.de). I even built up a new front wheel for my road bike with a narrow rim and a hub generator after my main battery light went out and I found out that the batteries in the back up unit were also dead. Twice. Within two weeks. I use this setup almost every day when riding to work in winter.

If you go mountain biking (serious off road use, I don't mean wide smooth paths in the forest), a hub generator will probably break too soon, I don't think there are any that are rated for off road (ab-)use, but try and check the manufacturers' sites (Shimano, Schmidt Maschinenbau, SRAM). In that case, a decent battery powered bike light is what you want. For any other use (and yes, I like to ride my road bike fast) a hub generator is more reliable. I payed about 60€ for hub generator and rim and another 60€ for the light (BUMM Lumotec IQ fly). I ride a lot in darkness so it is money well spent.
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#4
Thanks for your advice guys. Feel I know a little more now.

Cheers
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#5
Good point Joe.

It's true that helmet mounted lights pose an increased tendency to get shined in the face of an oncoming rider or driver, and I initially concluded they were problematic anywhere but off-road, but I've been developing a dissenting theory lately. I've passed several oncoming riders with them on a dark canal path (I assume the same as a towpath) and while they are mildly annoying they don't rise to the level of impairing my ability to continue past. Extrapolating that to sparse traffic on poorly lit roads I think the effect on drivers may be even less as their eyes are already adjusted to the path cut by their brighter headlights. Additionally, my theory is that you might be more likely to get seen by moving the light slightly in their direction than with a fixed headlight, so it might be a net gain. I emphasize that it's just a theory... the thoughts that rattle around my head during my night commute.

I'm not outright advocating their use on roads, just posing the consideration for dark roads/sparse traffic. On a dark canal path, even with occasional passers-by, I would use one if I had it, but I would try to restrain the tendency to look right at oncoming riders and pedestrians.
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#6
Well, one of my coworkers has a helmet mounted light for riding on narrow paths in the woods, he describes pedestrians' reaction to be "like deer staring in the headlights"... And on a straight road the only advantage they have is lost. You already light up the direction in which you bike. I have to admit that I have two narrow turns on my route to work and I would benefit from a helmet mounted light there...

I'd say that moving the light into the direction of the oncoming traffic will not help to be seen, unless you almost blind them. This is due to the fact that bike lights should have a quite narrow directional characteristic. What you should see as oncoming traffic is not the light directed by the light source but rather that diffused by the optics (lenses,, covers etc.) of the bike light and also of particles (dust, "fog") in the air. On the other hand, a moving light source is more likely to be seen, so from a psychological rather than physical perspective you are probably right.
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#7
Again good points Joe.

To be clear regarding cars, I wasn't thinking of shining the light through their windshields :-) Just thinking of them noticing a moving light source as you suggested. And I was thinking of cars coming from side streets and intersections, not straight on. You're probably right though--accidentally shining it in their eyes may be unavoidable at least some of the time.
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#8
As always I learn by others great questions, just wanted to add that using the Vintage style 6volt generator to power a headlamp puts quite a drag on the bicycle. I use one on my MTB and when engaged it puts a strain on the process. For some this is not too much trouble just have to work harder when going up a hill. There are no batteries to change, it is not as bright as some of the LED types mentioned above, and involves a bit more physical effort.
Good maintenance to your Bike, can make it like the wheels are, true and smooth!
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#9
Yeah, the conventional generators suck big time. They are not efficient and tend to slip in wet weather, also they do not last as long as a hub generator. That being said, there are also huge differences in the efficiency of hub generators, too. As often you get what you pay for... mine is a cheap one by Shimano 'cause I'm on a budget.
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#10
Thank you very much. Your thread is useful for me.

(11-17-2009, 08:45 PM)d18set Wrote:  Hi

Newbie to the site here so hope am posting in the correct place.

I have only fairly recently (since about July) starting cycling to work in the UK as almost all of the journey is along a towpath. However obviously at this time of year it is not ideal when it is dark. The lights that I have are not really sufficient for lighting up a dark towpath but I have seen some cyclists that appear to have very bright front led watches (much brighter than what I have).

I would therefore appreciate any advice on suitable lights to safely cycle along a towpath in the dark. I have seen lights advertised as "high powered" which cost up to £200, but ideally I didn't want to spend anything like that much. On Ebay there are some sold as "super bright" for as little as £10 so I am confused.

Cheers

Simon
Reply
#11
I recently purchased a Bell Radiant set for my SR.
http://www.amazon.com/Bell-Radian-Bike-Light-Black/dp/B003NTL7IO/

It is inexpensive. The headlight throws a very bright beam. I have it mounted vertically. The places I ride are fairly well light, thus I am more concerned about people seeing me, rather than throwing enough light to see.

That said, if I rode in places where there was not enough lighting, I would probably get two of these: mount one of the headlights vertically and one horizontally.

I always run my lights in the blinking mode, to attract attention.
Nigel
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#12
UPDATE: at a suggestion of a co-worker I looked for CREE, and purchased:
http://www.amazon.com/Lumen-Bicycle-HeadLight-Flashlight-Headlamp/dp/B006QQX3C4/

The reason I went for something really bright was idiots on the unlighted trail walking or riding with no lights or reflectors. Nearly ran over a few.
Nigel
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#13
I need to see where I'm going & I also need a reliable quick release as I often stop & lock up 3 times a day.
My favorite set up is a TerraLux flashlight that I cobbled together with an old bike light, (using just the mount). It is super strong & has very heavy duty lugs rather than the fragile little things you see on ebay. I've tried some of them & they drive me nuts.
The flashlights are TerraLux 220 & 300, I prefer the older 220, and both use 2 AA batts.
Rechargeables mean I never get stuck with no light. I don't know what else I would use, my light is brighter & better than anything I've seen under $60 with AA batts, 2 or 4.
A rechargeable AA batt means less light as they have 20% less voltage (1.2 versus 1.5 volt), but I am happy with it. I'd get a light like nfmissos' if it had a better mount (no O-ring).
I'd love to find a nice inexpensive bike light with a a quick release, like my Cateye rear light, that I can move to all of my bikes. 1 light fits all kind of thing.
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#14
Been thinking along the same lines myself, been looking for a better front light, maybe 2 and it's a complete mindfield when looking,

Does anyone have a Cree LED front light bought from ebay?

I've seen them and some are very cheap, almost too cheap and the sensible part of my brain screams that it's too good to be true, do you risk it and get a bargain or buy it and find it's a cheap chinese light that goes straight in the bin.

My brother has a Lezyne LED light on his bike, it's only a little thing, looks like one of those small Maglites but the light output from it is amazing, so is the price, £60 I think he paid, far too rich for my pockets.
Cannondale, handmade in USA............................................Refined in Surrey, England
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#15
The CREE I purchased on Amazon is now $24 !! See link in my post above. The Li-ion battery pack failed due to vibration in a month (~400 miles) of riding on paved surfaces only (admittedly some are rather bumpy. I am now powering the light with 4X NiMH 2150mAH AA cells; it really needs 5 of those cells, I just need to find time to wire up a single battery holder to the 4 battery holder I am using. The light works great.

Search for: 1200 Lumen CREE XML T6 Bulb LED

And/or share a link to a particular ebay auction to show us what you are looking at
Nigel
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