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  1. #1
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    Lights, on the helmet or bars?

    I've never ridden after dark but do find myself sometimes cutting my rides short due to diminishing light and thus plan to get a light.

    My question is simple, helmet mounted or handlebar mounted and why?

    Thanks

    Mike

  2. #2
    FKA Malibu412
    Reputation: Glide the Clyde's Avatar
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    Both. But, if you only can get one light at this point, helmet mount. Why is because your light is pointing in the same direction as your eyes/head and lighting your way through turns better. Second why is if you have a flat or mechanical, it is much easier to use the helmet mounted light as a work light.
    "I love the bike. It's my meditation. I think I'm bike-sexual." -Robin Williams

  3. #3
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    +1

    Have used just bars before but the guys who have both can ride a lot faster and with less accidents than just bar lights. If you are not pushing it (at least on tight wooded trails) a single light can be OK. Also dual helps when you have one fail, which happens. Also bring a pen light or some backup in case so you can get home. They are costly, I know to get a good set but good lights are worth it if you ride enough at night.

  4. #4
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    Thanks guys. Helmet it will be with handlebar mounted to follow.

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  5. #5
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    you should check the "lights and night riding" forum. this topic has been discussed ad nauseam 100+ times there and you might find some detailed insights there already written.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by mack_turtle View Post
    you should check the "lights and night riding" forum. this topic has been discussed ad nauseam 100+ times there and you might find some detailed insights there already written.
    While 99% of the time ill agree with telling someone to post to the appropriate forum and search first... The beginners forum is the only forum where posting repeated beginners topics is typically accepted.
    Put a mountain biker in a room with 2 bowling balls and we'll break one and lose the other - GelatiCruiser

  7. #7
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    it is accepted. and I gave some helpful advice: there are alternate forums where specific topics such as lights are discussed. word to noobs: chances are that someone has already asked the exact question that you have, probably on more than one occasion. that is why there is a "search" function.

  8. #8
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    Thanks mack. I understand what you're saying and it's not a big deal to me (to be pointed to the correct forum). I should have searched first, you're 100% correct. Regardless, thanks to all that answered here.

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  9. #9
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    It does depend also on what light you are using, and whether you are riding on or off road.

    Off road....
    I have a TAZ 1200 which casts a wide beam, and I fiited it to the bars. It lights the way ahead superbly and I do not feel the need for a second light on my helmet.

    However, my friend has a ONE 23 light which has a much narrower beam, although it still claims to be 1,000 lumens.

    With this light he needs to back it up with a helmet mounted one.

    On road, either type of light would be fine but I would suggest a bar mounted one if it is going to be your only light, as it is always facing oncoming cars.

  10. #10
    Light freak
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    Characteristics of where you place the light

    Light on the bars – With the light being below your eyes, it produces “shadowing” of obstacles. The downside of the light being on the bars is the light is always pointed in the direction that you bars are pointed. Can be a problem on tight, twisty switch backs where you want to look around the corner. The other thing is having to make a repair in the dark with your light bar mounted. Almost have to remove it to get the light pointed where you need it



    Light on your head – With the light above your eyes, it tends to “flatten” out obstacles as it doesn’t produce as much “shadowing”. The upside is that your light is always pointed directly where you are looking. Making repairs in the dark in much easier with the light on your head. The downside to a helmet mounted light only is that when you are looking to the sides or around a switchback, you don’t have lighting on the ground (which could be actually visible in your peripheral vision). In snow, fog, and rain, a helmet only light can be difficult. The light reflecting back at you off of the moisture in the air can make visibility very difficult.



    Light on both the helmet and the bars – Best of both worlds. Always have light directly out in front of you and where you are looking. If it gets snowing, raining, real dusty,or foggy and it is making visibility difficult because of the helmet light, then you just go bar only. All 24hr races require repetitive light systems for safety. I have heard stories of many people that have had their only light die on them and have had to walk out, not fun.


    ****

  11. #11
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    True, you cannot really go wrong by having both. After all, you can turn off when not needed.

    I have never had an occasion where my bar mounted TAZ felt like it was not lighting where l wanted to see, but others may of course ride faster/more extreme than l do.
    In these situations having both types of light may be more necessary.

  12. #12
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    Yeah. Technical with sharp turns you kinda need a helmet light...or slow way down as needed.

  13. #13
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    Been riding at night for 15 years. Personally, if I can only have one light, I prefer it to be on the handlebar. It does make it more difficult to 'see around corners', but I can live with that easier than having my light in front of me going away if I turn my head. I'd rather have consistent light on the trail in front of me. JMHO and YMMV.

    I have ridden many times with just a handlebar light. Currently using a Magicshine 816, which has two small lights and one larger one in the center. The two small lights yield a rectangular flood pattern, and the large center light is more of a spot, so I can see around corners reasonably well, even at speed. Really tight corners or switchbacks are more challenging without a helmet light.

    When I have both, I aim the handlebar mounted light directly in front of me, and then I have the helmet light aimed just in front of the handlebar light. I don't like the lights aimed at the same space as the varying intensities and shadows can be disorienting.

  14. #14
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    I too have been riding at night since buying one of the original Niterider set-ups back in 1992 or so, back when they were repurposed SCUBA lights. A couple things that I find are that if you're going to have one light, a helmet mount functions a lot better on twisty singletrack and technical stuff, running bar mount only seriously sucks when you crash and all of a sudden find yourself tumbling in the complete darkness with no way to spot a somewhat comfy landing pad, and that spending a lot of money on hugely powerful lights is a total waste. IME, there's no need for anything more than one of those $120-ish Niterider Minewt helmet mounted lites (I think they're pushing like 300 lumens or so these days, which is twice what I've been running for ages now) unless you're ripping full-on DH trails. I also find overkill lighting systems kinda ruin the aesthetic of night riding; you only need to see the the narrow little swath of dirt your bike's going to be travelling over, not light up half the forest like a friggin' stadium. It's night time - it's supposed to be dark. Hopefully a little spooky too; keeps things interesting.

    Also, never overlook the fun that can be had by shutting the lights down completely and just riding by moonlight and the seat of your pants. Some of the most fun I've had riding bikes has been on 'Jedi' night rides. Very 'immersive'. (Not recommended on techy or unfamiliar trails, or without a couple good friends and a brew or two in your pack.)
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  15. #15
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    Both....They have gotten so cheap now that there is no reason not to roll with one on the bars and one on the helmet. For about 50 bucks(on up to what ever you want to spend) you can have some XML Chinese specials from Amazon. I have a diffuser on the one on the bars so it makes a flood beam and one on the helmet that is without diffuser so I can turn my head and put the spot where I want it.

  16. #16
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    Get both. I use LiIon flashlights, one mounted on my handlebar, and another permanently zip-tied to a spare helmet I got for a couple bucks at a thrift store. I like this system because spare batteries are cheap and I have good flashlights to use for other things. I have about $100 total investment -- most of that is for a good charger.

    Using LED flashlights for cycling

  17. #17
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    I ride steep technical single track all winter and have been using a cheap pair of $50 1200 lumen lights for the past 3 years, bar and helmet mounted. If I only were to use one it would be helmet mounted as it follows your eyes/head and ability to look around corners ahead on the trail.

    They are cheap now so get both.

  18. #18
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    Thanks all.

    Which brand are $50 for 1200 Lumens?

    Thanks!

    Mike

  19. #19
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    Well, l only have a light on my bars.

    But the light l have has a very wide beam spread, almost 180 degrees.
    It has two LED's providing the main beam, with a third designed to produce a wide spread of light.

    I do not ever feel the need for extra light when l go round corners.

    In the UK the cheap 1,000 lumen light is called a "ONE 2 3" and available on ebay.
    My friend bought one, it comes with a battery pack and is a good light for the money

  20. #20
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    I brought mine on eBay and don't know the brand. Just do a search for "lumen bike lights" as there are more powerful ones now and they are even cheaper now than when i brought mine 3 years ago.

  21. #21
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    Thanks for tip I see some of those. I have not ridden night for long time have an ancient Niterider system but the battery is long dead and the bulbs eat juice, one of thes LED systems looks decent. I had searched ebay but needed to apparently needed to start more low level outside of bike/accessories since these are also marketed to hunters and others.

  22. #22
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    I agree with other posters that both helmet and handlebar is best for the reasons described. Another benefit of having two is that if one fails or is damaged in a crash you have the second light. Last year I had a Nite Rider light fail midway through a ride. Not much fun being left in pitch black darkness in the middle of a wilderness trail at night.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike123456 View Post
    Thanks all.

    Which brand are $50 for 1200 Lumens?

    Thanks!

    Mike
    Nowadays you can get two lights for under $50, if you go with China-clones. Some clones are pretty good, others aren't so great. None of them will probably give you 1200 lumens by themselves, but you might 1200 with two lights. I'd recommend getting lights with the orange peal reflector. Something like this would probably be OK: Amazon.com: CREE XML XM-L T6 LED Bike Bicycle Light HeadLight HeadLamp 1200LM Gold: Sports & Outdoors
    Last edited by s0ckeyeus; 01-02-2014 at 12:20 PM. Reason: Added link.

  24. #24
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    I don't know how many lumens they are but they are bright as hell and they just keep getting cheaper. I bought one a few months ago for $23, added another to the my wish list on amazon a month ago at $19, and now it is $17.50 .

  25. #25
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    One on each. Redundancy and the need to see around corners and in front of you at the same time.

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    Geologist by trade...bicycle mechanic (former) by the grace of God!

    2012 Specialized Stumpy EVO 29 HT

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