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  1. #1
    mtbr member
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    What lights for the Front Range?

    What do you run?

    Halogen?
    HID?
    DIY LED?

    What beam angle?

    5,8, 25, 40 degrees? Narrow, wide?

    Bar mount, Helmet mount, both?

    What works best for you?

    I'm going to build a set of DIY LED lights and am gathering info....

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    Singletrack Daydreamer
    Reputation: rockymtnway's Avatar
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    LEDs are the future and the current technology is getting to the level that if you buy state of the art stuff now, you likely won't need to upgrade anytime soon. I have one of these Night Lightning Blaast DCM from New Zealand. For $218 plus shipping and a battery, you really can't go wrong for what you get. 720 lumens with the capability to dim down to a 1watt draw gives you the flexibility to get 12-14 hour adventure race light capability with a sub-half pound battery.

    For home brew, I tossed this (below) together as a bar light earlier this season using three Seoul P4 LEDs. It still cost about $105 to build (not including the battery) but I had a lot of fun building it. Not pretty, but it puts out almost as much light as my HID and in combination with the Blaast, it's a wicked 24 hour racing combination.



    Don't know if we should start another homebrew thread here rather than look in the larger forum, as there's hundreds of projects there, but if you want a local to talk to about them, PM me.

    Edit: oh, and for beam angle, some personal preference issues, but 8 degrees seems best for me. Wider just wastes light, IMHO, but some folks like more periferal vision.
    Last edited by rockymtnway; 10-30-2007 at 03:11 PM.

  3. #3
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    No new forum needed, but....

    .... there's a billion posts on teh Lighting forum on DIY LED, etc.

    But, in talking with friends in other parts of the country, I've gotten differing information on light spil needs for different trails.... soem trails benefit from a wider light, or a second helmet light, etc....

    BTW: nice DIY light... I'm working on picking parts for a project to convert an old Marwi Night Pro halogen to a triple CREE XRE Q5 (or similar) with an old Li_ion battery from a laptop....

    I think Front Range specific information would be useful though.

  4. #4
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    If you do LED, consider two spot optics (8 degrees) and two flood optics (25 degrees).

    At around 200-250 L per LED, that should cover it. If you want it on your helmet, keep the weight under 200 grams for sure. 175 grams is the most I like on the helmet.

  5. #5
    Singletrack Daydreamer
    Reputation: rockymtnway's Avatar
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    Good, glad you're familiar with the lighting forum.

    I won't go back to the flat light of only a helmet light or the long shadows cast from a bar light only. If you can afford to, use both. I like a brighter bar light with more flood and more spot on the helmet That said, that's not what I currently have, but it's what I prefer. The one shown is 3 Cree XRE P4s with one 8 degree and two 25 degree lenses driven at 700ma (I changed drivers after the build). If you can, get two different colors of LEDs, using cool white on the bars and warm white on the helmet (or vis versa). It helps increase contrast.

    My next build will be silly, converting a dual halogen to 2X3 setup that should crank out a maximum of 1800 lumens, but dimmable to 160 (way overkill, as I was completely content racing Moab with dual 550-650 lumen HIDs). I'll be sticking with my night lightning on the helmet for now, but considering some other builds, too. Frankly, I enjoy building them almost as much as I enjoy riding with them.

    Good luck with your project.

  6. #6
    Thread Terrorist
    Reputation: IndecentExposure's Avatar
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    The niterider trinewt is freekin' awesome for rides around here. I"ve used mine in Jefferson County open space trails and have done fine.

  7. #7
    Rolling
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    Any opinions on what company is going to dominate in the white LED world, Luxeon or Cree?

    Seems two of the 3 Watt lights are plenty if they really are getting 80 lumens per watt. Gosh, my HID system is 500 lumens and it's almost too bright.

  8. #8
    TEAM TOPEAK - ERGON
    Reputation: KERKOVEJ's Avatar
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    Helmet mount only.
    LED.
    Lithium-ion battery.
    12 hour burn time.

  9. #9
    brg
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    Quote Originally Posted by rockymtnway
    My next build will be silly, converting a dual halogen to 2X3 setup that should crank out a maximum of 1800 lumens, but dimmable to 160 (way overkill, as I was completely content racing Moab with dual 550-650 lumen HIDs)..... blah...blah.... blah...
    Frankly, I enjoy building them almost as much as I enjoy riding with them.
    hmm....you are more of a geek than i originally thought you were!

  10. #10
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    I was using a L&M ARC on the helmet (fantastic beam pattern and 675 L) I now use a Lupine Wilma (830 lumens) and am looking at adding a bar light with a wider beam.

    My options in order of appeal:

    Lupine Betty (1,400L)
    Nightlightning iBlaast with the wider 25 degree optics(720L)
    Nite Rider Trinewt (486L)

    I'm not sure which one I'll get but I'll figure it out soon enough. I love riding at night. I don't like spot patterns that bounce around. I prefer an even beam like a car headlight and the wider beams give me a better bearing of the trail when the speeds pick up.

  11. #11
    trail waggler
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    7 year old Jetlite...

    Dual Phantom 20 watt helmet lights, just went with a new Batteryspace.com battery pack. 20 degree flood, redundancy for solo riding/sharing, alternate one for climbing, both for descending, works great! Alittle heavy (I don't race, except to the beer cooler).

    Got it charging for a SSV ride tomorrow night!!

    BTW, bar lights suck for trail riding, they are seldom aiming where you want to see.
    MY dog can lick YOUR dog!

  12. #12
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    Jet Lites halogen lights are fantastic. The Phantoms are some of the best halogens ever. Only the Turbocats are brighter but their runtimes are terrible.

  13. #13
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    A helmet and a bar light

    Honestly, if you are riding any type of trail that is even slightly rougher than a bike path, then you need both a helmet and a bar light. A helmet light only wipes out the "depth" of any rocks, drop offs, etc. A bar light only makes every rock look like they have a 8' drop off on the other side and as stated they don't necessarily point where your are traveling. But if you have both, they work nicely together to eliminate the shortcomings of the other.

    I am currently using a Niterider Classic bar mount with a battery that I had rebuilt at Batteries Plus and a Niterider helmet mount with a little flat battery pack (I don't remember it's name). They are both older systems that I have had for about 10 years, but they do the trick riding Palmer Park at night. Fun stuff!

  14. #14
    Living the High Life
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    Has anyone made a crack about zip ties* and Maglites?

    Really, LEDs have about a 10,000 hour lift span so your bulb won't burn out, I just got myself dual LED from REI, a CygoLite Dualcross. Worked great on its first trip to work this morning, I ride down parts of bike paths and through parking lots to save time, they don't have many street lights.


    *Duct tape can be substituted

  15. #15
    Light freak
    Reputation: scar's Avatar
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    Been using a 13.2V NiMH Jet Phantom with a 10 degree spot bulb helmet mounted since 2000. About 2 years back the original battery died and I replaced it with a 14.4V NiMH battery (who would think you could improve a Jet lite?). A couple years back I wanted to add a bar mounted light but didn't want to spend a bunch more money on lighting. Did the DIY halogen light thing and created the Pond Scum light. These are great lights that can be built up for helmet or bar mounting for just over $100. Riding with both handlebar and helmet mounted lights is the way to go as mentioned earlier. You can look off trail with the helmet light and still be able to see peripherally in front of you with the bar mounted light.

    (lidarman - Seems two of the 3 Watt lights are plenty if they really are getting 80 lumens per watt. Gosh, my HID system is 500 lumens and it's almost too bright.)

    Here is what I am running now for helmet mounted lights. 2 Cree X-RE LED's pushing out ~400 lumens running on a 7.4V Li-ion battery. Battery and light head mounts to the helmet using industrial strength Velcro.

    Weighs only 6oz/134 grams and gets ~3 hours of burn time. I made a few extra of these, PM me if you are interested.

  16. #16
    I heart the drops
    Reputation: giantsaam's Avatar
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    Jet light phantom there is not a better light for the money and I light up the trail

  17. #17
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    Since Larry is now a Jet, Nite Rider, Lupine, and Light & Motion dealer, my light needs are covered. The Jet prices went up a bit but they are still the best value in Halogens. I still like Halogens a lot. The amber-white beam color is great. I like that more than the color of my ARC or Wilma. For those on a budget, I easily recommend the low-maintenance halogen like Jet Lites, Lupines, and even the Turbocats. These three are betttr than a large majority of HIDs as well.

  18. #18
    I heart the drops
    Reputation: giantsaam's Avatar
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    not to mention flyer and his HID attract more bugs than a boulder hippy fest

  19. #19
    Ride Everything
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    I've got an old 10w Niterider Trail Rat that I'd like to upgrade. Would the Jet Lites, Lupines, or Turbocat be significantly brighter?
    GRAVELBIKE.COM - ride everything

  20. #20
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    I can't argue with that. I don't know why the bugs liked that ARC HID so much that night. I can prob rig one up as a really expensive bug-zapper.

  21. #21
    I heart the drops
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    jet lites phantom for the price hands down read the reviews I am not the only one who loves them

  22. #22
    Rolling
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ithnu
    Has anyone made a crack about zip ties* and Maglites?
    great commuter light.




    and you can get LED kits for maglights.

  23. #23
    MTB B'dos
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    I say if you really want to enjoy night riding you want a nice bright, wide flood type on the bars and a bright, semi-spot on the helmet. This way you can always see where you're going and into corners etc and still have the immediate vicinity infront lit up. It's definitely the setup I'll be taking next time I visit the Front Range after that nice "easy" lil trail I was taken on last visit Prob going LED for bars and HID for helmet, since LED's aren't effected by vibration like HIDs.
    One day your life will flash before your eyes, will it be worth watching??
    MTB Barbados
    My Phantom pics

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