open topic, for anything cycling related.
Looking for bike lights.
We are wanting to buy some lights for our bikes, as we are getting up earlier (shock horror) to beat the sun and the heat. In the Australian Mountain Bike Magazine they had a great article about bike lights. As I don't really know what I need from a light they all sounded good. The dearer the lights tested became, the better they sounded - as to be expected. But how much is enough to pay? What have you bought? What are your needs, and do the lights you've purchased fit your requirements or expectations? Do you use the lights attached to your helmets as well? And what about rear lights?
300 lumens will give you visible light on the road under street lights (actually improving your vision of the surface). Less than that and all you have is a marker that motorists will frequently ignore. 600 does a much better job, but you have to take more care in either finding a defocused lens, a cut off lens or aiming it away from other peoples eyes - particularly on cycle infrastructure where we pass very close to each other. Note that since changing from 600 to 300 I've had 2 close cut offs at night by motorists - as in right turn motorist, emergency brake type scenarios, so i think the defocused 600 was actually better at discouraging that, probably because its impossible to tell me apart from a motor scooter over that.
leyzene overdrive is a good example of the more recent 300 lumen type designs that are very cheap, light, small and self contained with long run times and seems reliable - its already been wet many times. I bought one as a get home measure when my niteflux gave up. its only real problem is that the mount is elastic rubber, and whilst thick enough to never snap, its not great at holding its aim and rides up in the dry and down in the wet (so I have to fiddle with its pinch to try balance it). I might try some different rubber spacer things or some tape underneath if it, and if that works out, I'll probably buy another 1 and run 2.
I've always used superflash rear lights. The mount design of the superflash is excellent, the plastic never breaks and they can be unclipped from the screw on mount if the bike is being parked in a high-component theft location. On a bike with a rear guard they'll last forever (its only water directly aimed at the case that kills them), in which case you should tape around the seal.
I've had something similar to the knogg elastic rubber lights which one failed, and the other was reliable but the elastic rubber case broke because its not designed to fit properly around an MTB post, and it had to be removed regularly to charge it (which was no bother, but its removing and replacing was what broke the rubber). I've bought another light that suprise surprise didn't fit around a standard MTB post (what were they thinking), which is why the old superflash is alone again.
Here's something I just recently came across linked on another forum site. It looks to be 2012 based, so some newer lights won't be there, but it may be of some help. It certainly looks good for comparisons
Some of the lights from Deal Extreme appear to be good value but slow shipping and reliability can be an issue
http://dx.com/p/ultrafire-3-x-cree-xm-l ... 650-173133
http://dx.com/p/cree-xm-l-t6-3600lm-4-m ... 650-171971
http://aud.dx.com/product/marsfire-m03- ... lXic1BBN8E
I have AYUPs myself but they cost a lot more than the DX ones but are super reliable and fast shipping. I like the compactness (is that a word?!) of these.
As for mounting headlights on your helmet...this subject is a bit controversial. My personal view is don't do it if you are commuting on bike/shared paths as they are blinding for people coming the other way, but probably great if you ride MTB off-road.
Ay-Ups on the front, Cherry Bomb on the back, white and red winkies on the helmet. Works fine for me.
Too heavy to climb, too old to sprint.
Roger Ramjet: 2009 Giant CRX3
Lady Penelope: 2011 Avanti Cadent 1.0 TdF
Thanks for the replies.
Ross, I am having a 'girl' moment and need to study each link a little more. All the lights on initial glance all seem the same except for the price.
Someone has mentioned the Ayups lights. He said they were expensive, but he was happy with the quality and light projected.
Brawlo when i looked at the link with the illumination of the two styles of lights, it seems that one focuses more on the immediate area in front of the bike and the other on the distance. What's more important? I almost want to attach a searchlight on the handlebars.
Zero thanks for your in-depth reply giving me some of your own personal experiences. Each time I think I'm getting a little wiser to only realise how little I truly understand.
It would also be be very effective, both for seeing and for being seen.
Discussions of bicycle lights can become a substitute for religion. Gorilla monsoon's set-up will work for most people most of the time (except off-roaders). If it's within your budget, it would be a very practical solution.
Nobody younger than <del>27</del> 28 has experienced a month cooler than the 20th century average.
Actually it sounds to me like you are getting close to understanding - there is a lovely expression from SE Asia - "same, same, but different" They are each trying to copy anything that sells. There are differences, but it can be hard to tell what they are, partly because most of the descriptions are, to be blunt, lies. There are three problems with the 3x lights - (1) the housing cant dissipate the heat the leds can generate (2) the batteries can't deliver the power needed for 3 leds & (3) the beam from the reflectors is generally horrible
Ay-ups use LEDs that are a couple of generations old, but they still deliver the goods & more importantly have very well sorted batteries.
For a couple of cheaper options, two lights currently getting good reviews, particularly the yinding, are
http://dx.com/p/solarstorm-x2-2-x-cree- ... 650-207021
http://www.fasttech.com/products/1603/1 ... umen-white
Both could do with much better waterproofing of the battery.
The yinding is pretty much a copy of the gloworm X2 with the major difference being the battery. The gloworm shows what a good battery pack should look like
Part of the reason it is $130 just for the battery is that it uses top quality Panasonic cells (retail ~$50 for 4) all safely wrapped up in a waterproof container
. . . . . . .
The lights listed so far are all unshaped and thus not friendly to other road/bike path users.
The philips saferidehas a shaped beam without hotspots and is very effective at lighting your way without blinding oncoming traffic
edit: supernova airstream is shaped I believe and if so would be a more considerate light to use also.
I can't be bothered with batteries so I've gone with dynohub systems on most of my bikes. Lights are always there, always ready to use.
Riding bikes in traffic - what seems dangerous is usually safe; what seems safe is often more dangerous.
Superflash used to be the "gold" standard of rear lights but now there are better and brighter ones on the market for around the same S$ (probably even cheaper if you shop around). The Planet Bike Superflash (there are some clone lights from Basta and other manufacturers that seem to be just as good) is only 1/2 watt, most decent rear lights start at 1 watt these days. They are very susceptible to dampness, the road doesn't even need to be wet, just slightly damp in my experience and the light will turn itself off or (better) just stay on solid mode rather than flashing. As Zero says you can tape up the joing to eliminate this but then you need to untape it every time you want to replace/recharge the batteries. This is too much mucking around IMO and shouldn't need to be done (I don't know of any other light that you need to tape up to make it water resistant). They also have a habit of splitting in half and falling off the bike which you might not notice until several kms/several hours down the road or until a car runs into you because you are riding without a light (the bit that falls off has the actual light in it and the batteries).
I run a Tioga Dual Eyes on my bike. Not sure the wattage, I think they are 2 x 1 watt, seem pretty bright, I have people behind me in group rides complain about the brightness. My version just runs 2 x AAA batteries (I use rechargables) but you can pay a bit more an get a USB version now, which is handy if you are working in an office you can charge it up off your computer and have it ready to go for your journey home.
I also have a Cygolite Hotshot 2W USB Rechargable Rear Light but I usually leave that as a backup in my jersey pocket in case my Tioga one fails. The Cygolite is quite bright, thought you do have an option of dimming it, but it is a bit too direct so unless you are directly behind and it is mounted solidly on the seatpost (rather than hanging off saddle bag strap as I have my light) it you don't get the full benefit of it, so I actually prefer the Tioga one because it can be viewed better off to the side.
Front lights are generally measured in "lumens" (the cheap Asian brands like DX tend to exagerate outputs...) and rear lights in "watts".
I have the 3 beam version of the solarstorm. very happy with the light it gives but am worried about the build quality. a simple thing like the screw cap to join the battery and the light cable was put on backwards, so I do wonder how much care was taken in the electrical assembly. Got 3 hours on low beam last night with the standard battery and still on 2/3 on the battery indicator. Previously have got 2 hours on mid beam before it died. for $50 though it seems great value. It doesn't have a flash mode though which would be nice sometimes as a commuter light
Also have a magic shine clone that has also lasted very well, 2 years of regular use and still reliable for 2+hours run time.
I wouldn't bother with AY UP's. I think they have had there day. The technology they use is now a bit dated and I find the light they produce to be unfocused and next to useless in wet conditions. I also am not a fan of the deprecate battery pack having had a few broken cables and plugs over the years.
The only thing going for the Ayups is the long burn time from the battery's. Great for a week of early and late commutes.
For road use you need a light that puts all it's power on the ground in front of where your going not shooting above into the sky. Your not riding single track trying to avoid branches. Your on the road trying to dodge potholes, road debris and make yourself visible to motorists.
In my search for a new light I've pretty much narrowed it down to 2 lights. The Trelock ls950 and the Cateye Volt 1200. Both of these lights have a focused beam for road use. Are a sturdy 1 piece design with good battery burn time. They are also easily charged at work via a USB cable.
I have been using the Ay-Ups now for 5 years. My original light is still going strong, and I have two more head units from a couple of years ago.
On my commuter I run a dual set. The lower set is a narrow beam aimed about 10m in front of the bike. The upper set is the original "intermediate" beam, and that is aimed slightly lower than the narrow set so that it lights up the full width of the lane ahead of me.
As an all weather daily commuter, what I seek most is a reliable light set. The Ay-Ups may not be the brightest or cheapest, but they are indestructible and truly waterproof (you can operate them whilst submersed in water). The battery is good for days of commuting before a recharge and has long burn times.
I am sure that the lights will get subsequent upgrades, since they already allow you to send your unit back to have them swapped for more powerful units. How many manufacturers let you do that?
'11 Lynskey Cooper CX, '00 Hillbrick Steel Racing (Total Rebuild '10), '09 Electra Townie Original 21D
I know guys who commute a lot and have had their Ay Ups for around 3+ years. Several claim the lights have grown dimmer, and are looking at upgrading. So I presume you have to factor in finite life no matter how much you pay.
I use a 3 yr old 800+ lumen thing bought from dx extreme for under $50. The beam is too narrow, which is a pain when going through bush or on roads with lots of bends. It's still fine but my use is minimal. I also had to loctite the screws and superglue some of the housing, though nothing insurmountable.
I understand the cheapies have improved a lot recently.
Comes down to what sort of riding you are doing. For off road MTB, I'd presume you don't need a very bright light, in which case a 0.5 watt AAA operated would suffice.
If on the road at night, then brighter the better in my view. And I think it's wise to have two. I know it kind of helps me gauge distance when I drive up behind a cyclist. A bit of side beam also helps. I don't commute regularly but would run two angled to the side slightly if I did.
Otherwise I have one on my saddle bag and loosen the bag a bit so the light moves around a little more.
I was running a half watt AAA operated thing until the weekend, when I bought a Cygolite Hotshot and an echelon sports beacon. The latter is actually brighter, but beam is narrower. Just keep in mind, even with lowest settings, they can be too bright for riders close behind. I am favoring the hotshot at this point because you can slow down the light pulses and extend battery life dramatically.
http://www.gizmodo.com.au/2012/03/the-b ... ail-light/
Have a look at the Philips saferide 80 also. It does all you have listed including the USB charging. Has the best beam according to most reviews and is rain proof IME, something the trelock is not according to some of the reports I read.
The only thing I would add is get the older non swivelling mount if you order one. The new one it is supplied with isn't strong enough. Bike24 have them.
i still use my ayups from 4 years ago, admittedly i have upgraded to the higher output lights, the batteries are still the same.
I have friends who have the dx lights, and while i can say that they are good lights, the battery life sucks.
AYUPS are bullet proof never have to worry about them at all and the battery life is brilliant.
you gets what you pay for...
and on the back i have tioga dual eyes, great lights and also great batt life.
On the helmet at the back i use a blackburn flea blinky usb rechargeable.
Extremely happy with this setup and i wont be changing it
Boardman CX pro now the commuter, Salsa Casseroll, Trek Domane
I run exposure lights both on the front and rear. The rear is their Blaze model which puts out 80 lumens. The front are more suited to MTB trails as they can pump out some serious lumens and coverage but also because they light up unlit pathways and you can see animals off in the far distance. As friendlier a 300 lumen light might be fine for others I'd find the exposure lights trump a lot of the less powerful lights when it comes to riding at higher speeds (into the 60's and above, proper descending both on road and off road), rain and in pitch black situations. If I'm riding at night (and by night I'm talking about proper night time. No sun or ambient light at all) along an unlit path and if it takes all 1200 lumens to point out some person in all black walking along then it's not my problem that they might be blinded as I approach because they aren't wearing anything reflective/have their own small light to notify others of their presence. You can buy an accessory cable where you can mount it on the bars to control what mode the light is in so you can be on the drops and see someone up ahead with a couple clicks the light will go from high to low. Pass them and give it another couple clicks to put it back up to high. You can also buy another cable that utilities the light as a external battery so you can recharge GPS devices as well while on the move.
I have a Light and Motion Urban 550 on the front and Moon red blinking light at the back. They are both reasonable for the 2.5 hour rides I do sometimes at night.
The former is 550 lumens on full brightness. And it is quite light. Bumps can make it move slightly. It recharges by USB.
Exposure (and Ortlieb) won me over when I accidently left my pannier on the ground in a car park. Came back a couple of hours later and it was still there with added tire marks. The front light had turned itself on after being driven over but appeared none the worse for wear and the pannier was fine too. That was over a year ago.
I've got a magicshine 808 on the front. Had it for 18 months, very happy with it.
There are plenty of different styles of magicshine's & their knockoffs around. One thing to check is the modes they have.
Mine has high, medium, low and flashing. It's a nice slow, regular flash. Some have a seizure-inducing strobe, some have a SOS morse pattern, some don't flash at all.
I use the flash function during the day, depends on what you want to use it for though.
Front: Busch & Muller Luxos U
Rear: Busch & Muller Toplight Flat S
Flasher: PDW Fenderbot
Power source: Schmidt SON28 dynohub
All works very well.
Riding bikes in traffic - what seems dangerous is usually safe; what seems safe is often more dangerous.
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