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  1. #1
    Cormac
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    Best light for commuting/mountain biking?

    Hi,

    I commute my bike home every day in the dark and my not so decent headlamp isn't bright at all and I want to be able to see. I have had a couple close calls with deer, runners, and a raccoon that I actually hit (he seemed okay and immediately ran away). I also race my mountain bike and my road bike alot, and I would like to try to compete in some endurance races and go night riding on some trails with my half fat. What is the best light for me? I would prefer something costing no more than $100 and something I can mount on my head.

    Thanks!!
    '11 Dawes Deadeye
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  2. #2
    www.4estbiker.nl
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    I'm using a Lezyne Super Drive XL as my helmet light (500lm).
    Great light, great quality.
    My bike is never the problem and can always be faster than I can...
    http://www.4estbikers.nl

  3. #3
    Unhinged Aussie on a 29er
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    IMO the design constraints of a good commuter light and a good MTB light are nearing mutually exclusive territory (or superset territory, depending on how you look at it). A good commuter light has a focused beam which throws a lot of light forward and down, whereas a MTB light should have a reasonable amount of spill to see what's around you. Lights that are too bright are going to blind oncoming commuters, but IMO for off road there is no too bright. MTB lights are also designed to typically have longer runtimes too - a commuter light only has to get you home and back, and then you can charge it, which is why most of those will have ~2h run time, maybe longer on low power settings. Basically the two ways of looking at it are either a MTB light is a commuter light on crack, or a commuter light has completely different design constraints to a MTB light.

    Lumens for $, I would say go with a MagicShine ~800-1200 lumen or some sort of equivalent of that light. People use them heaps around here for commuting. Note that lumens just represents output light, whereas lux is more representative of light intensity at a single point - MagicShine lights tend to have high lumen ratings, but their lux kinda sucks because the reflective surface and lens doesn't focus the beam. For various reasons, they also overstate the power of their lights, so a Seca 400 might only be marginally less bright than a Magicshine 800. The flipside is for the price of one Seca 400 you can pick up two Magicshine 800 lights, one for helmet, one for the bars.

    The beam pattern is pretty bad for commuting, but there are solutions to that, e.g. a little electrical tape across the top of the light to prevent light spillage from blinding oncoming riders. There is a guy on MTBR who modded his lights to have a magnifying lens over the top half of the bike light, such that it focused the upper portion of the light in to a tighter beam, and the bottom portion of the light still had the normal spill - can't remember how to find that though.

    As a FYI, I was in the same pickle, and ended up picking up lights that were suited more for offroad use, and shield other people from my lights as they're riding towards me. It's a bit of a PITA, but it does everything I want it to. I have a set of Seca 400's that I have from a few years ago, and recently went dynohub + E3 Triple... but I keep the Seca 400's as a backup.

  4. #4
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    I'm currently using a Serfas True 1000 for both commuting and night riding. Got it off Chainlove for ~$150, I've seen it elsewhere for a little more than that. The beam pattern is excellent, an very bright center with a nice big halo around it. I have heard good things about the magicshines though as a budget light though I've never used one myself and can't compare.

  5. #5
    jrm
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    Hid

    yes its going to set you back some more. Having used the MS 1k lumen and a L&M HID, the L&M is a superior light all the way around.
    Wreck the malls with cows on Harleys

  6. #6
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    Trying a NiteRider 650 b/c of all the positive reviews...we'll see how it performs.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by C-Kryt View Post
    Trying a NiteRider 650 b/c of all the positive reviews...we'll see how it performs.
    I use/love it for my rural commuting

  8. #8
    sheep in FOX clothing
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    For all it's faults, the humble MJ808 is hard to beat for light-vs-price.

    Cold temperatures here open up existing cracks in the road to road-tire-width or greater, which used to mean that I was basically constrained to wide tires after dark even for rides on dry roads. The MJ808 is the first thing I've had that can light the road enough to use a road bike at full speed at night.

    For riding on snow-covered paths, the low beam is generally sufficient.

  9. #9
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    The best jetlites or dinotte you can get.

  10. #10
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    I picked up a CREE XML T6 XML... from Amazon about a month ago for $36. Yes, it's a cheap MS knock-off, but it has been working well, no issues yet (although when it's drained there's little to no warning as it shuts off.) First light I've ever had where I feel safe to go full-blast downhill (30+mph). YMMV. I figure not bad for a $36 investment (yeah, stupid American disposable attitude)

  11. #11
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    NiteRider 650 here, I love it.

  12. #12
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    Cygolite expillion 700 LM for both commuting and mountain biking. Definitely some limitations while mountain biking due to the short battery life. Also don't need all the different modes, but its been a good versatile light.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spatialized View Post
    I picked up a CREE XML T6 XML... from Amazon about a month ago for $36. Yes, it's a cheap MS knock-off, but it has been working well, no issues yet (although when it's drained there's little to no warning as it shuts off.) First light I've ever had where I feel safe to go full-blast downhill (30+mph). YMMV. I figure not bad for a $36 investment (yeah, stupid American disposable attitude)

    I purchased this light as well when my magic shine failed and it has worked great. it held up in the rain and snow so far no problems. I did upgrade the lens for about 4 bucks from action leds Action-LED-Lights — Wide Angle Lens so i could get a wider beam. I did this because i commute on some nasty roads and like to see the potholes and not just whats in front me. no regrets so far, but i may pick up a niterider 650 or similar and use this one as a back up/ head lamp but im in no hurry to do that.

  14. #14
    Still want a fat bike....
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    I was using an Urban 300 for a while from Light and Motion and for the price it's a pretty decent light. I recently with Dynamo and the difference is astounding, but that's a whole other topic. I don't think there is any one light that is the pinnacle. I think most of the mentioned lights are all solid choices, its all about how much you're gonna spend at this point. For $100, I hear the MS lights can't be beat, but that is all opinion really. Keep researching and check out some threads over at candlepowerforums.com. They have several bike light threads and those guys know their stuff over there. Also good to wait for BrianMC (I think) to chime in as he is a flashoholic if I am not mistaken.
    I am a man of many words. KCCO!

  15. #15
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    For commuting, I bought a Shimano dynamo hub and used it with B&M front and rear lights. Fit and forget. I won't be going back to batteries anytime soon.

    MTB is another story altogether an I agree- different beam patterns are needed. Never tried so can't comment.

  16. #16
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    I am happy with Chinese no-name XML T6 led light with external battery from eBay. $38 with shipping costs.

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  17. #17
    sheep in FOX clothing
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    They random-mid-ride-fail rate of the MJ808 series is enough that I usually run two of them side-by-side.

    The flip side is that when they are both working I have the option of twice as much light, and I've still only spent 80 bucks.

  18. #18
    Squeaky Wheel
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    In case your wimpy 1200 lumen lights are not enough, you could buy one of these and rig it up on your handlebars. You won't be making many oncoming friends however...

    FandyFire UV-S5 Flashlight Review - webBikeWorld

  19. #19
    mtbr member
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    Another vote for CREE T6 series lights. Bang for your buck they are really hard to beat at under $40. Bought two of them last year for my commuter (one as primary and one as spare since I had a 26 mile round trip at the time) Only drained the primary once when I pushed my luck and didn't recharge for 3 days.

    They are cheap and effective. The two I bought last year are still going strong and last ~3hrs on the bright setting. They are great for the cash and plenty bright. I recently bought a 3rd one and currently keep two for MTB use (helmet + bars) and one permanently mounted on the commuter.

    BTW - I used to switch to strobe mode in the early morning twilight but stopped when people started pulling over for me!

  20. #20
    29er and 26er
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    Quote Originally Posted by hunter006 View Post
    IMO the design constraints of a good commuter light and a good MTB light are nearing mutually exclusive territory (or superset territory, depending on how you look at it). A good commuter light has a focused beam which throws a lot of light forward and down, whereas a MTB light should have a reasonable amount of spill to see what's around you. Lights that are too bright are going to blind oncoming commuters, but IMO for off road there is no too bright. MTB lights are also designed to typically have longer runtimes too - a commuter light only has to get you home and back, and then you can charge it, which is why most of those will have ~2h run time, maybe longer on low power settings. Basically the two ways of looking at it are either a MTB light is a commuter light on crack, or a commuter light has completely different design constraints to a MTB light.

    Lumens for $, I would say go with a MagicShine ~800-1200 lumen or some sort of equivalent of that light. People use them heaps around here for commuting. Note that lumens just represents output light, whereas lux is more representative of light intensity at a single point - MagicShine lights tend to have high lumen ratings, but their lux kinda sucks because the reflective surface and lens doesn't focus the beam. For various reasons, they also overstate the power of their lights, so a Seca 400 might only be marginally less bright than a Magicshine 800. The flipside is for the price of one Seca 400 you can pick up two Magicshine 800 lights, one for helmet, one for the bars.

    The beam pattern is pretty bad for commuting, but there are solutions to that, e.g. a little electrical tape across the top of the light to prevent light spillage from blinding oncoming riders. There is a guy on MTBR who modded his lights to have a magnifying lens over the top half of the bike light, such that it focused the upper portion of the light in to a tighter beam, and the bottom portion of the light still had the normal spill - can't remember how to find that though.

    As a FYI, I was in the same pickle, and ended up picking up lights that were suited more for offroad use, and shield other people from my lights as they're riding towards me. It's a bit of a PITA, but it does everything I want it to. I have a set of Seca 400's that I have from a few years ago, and recently went dynohub + E3 Triple... but I keep the Seca 400's as a backup.
    This is great advice. The MUP I use to commute to and from work is heavely wooded in areas. I use a light typically suited for off road MTBing because I like to see where I'm going. When approaching oncoming bikers/runners I always try to cover my light as not to blind them. Its a PITA but a small price to pay in order to see where I'm going.

    I'm actually looking for a nother light to put on my other bike and was looking for suggestions as well, and thats why I jumped into this thread.

  21. #21
    T.W.O
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    Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: Philips BF48L20BBLX1 SafeRide Black LED Battery Driven BikeLight

    I also like using a mininewt for the helmet for trail riding.
    ------__o
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    ---(_)/ (_)

  22. #22
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    Smile

    Quote Originally Posted by aandegrens View Post
    i'm using a lezyne super drive xl
    great light, great quality.
    +1

  23. #23
    Squeaky Wheel
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    I bought one of these:

    Amazon.com: 4 Mode 1200 Lumen CREE XML T6 Bulb LED Bicycle bike HeadLight Lamp Flashlight Light Headlamp: Sports & Outdoors

    Just because I wanted to see what you get for $28.48. What you get is a light setup that looks exactly like the original Magicshine, only brighter. I'm a little leery of the battery given the issues with the original Magicshine battery, so I've used the light a few times with my replacement Magicshine battery. It's working fine. For $28 it's a great backup light. Heck at this price you can buy two in case one of them dies.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by pfox90 View Post
    I've been running a Supernova E3 Triple with an Alfine dynamo on our local bike trails for the past year and my wife's bike is equipped with a pair of Planet Bike 2w Blazes which are powered by NiZn rechargeables. For path and woods riding these lights have been great, though the beams aren't flattened enough for road riding - I don't like to blind oncoming motorists.

    Picked up a Saferide 60 Dynamo light for my Fargo and an 80 (battery powered) for hers. If they work as well as touted we'll each have a 60 and use the 80 as a backup in the event of dynamo failure.

  25. #25
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    I use both a Helmet light(Petzel Tactika) and a light on bike. Forot the name brand of it. Not too expensive but casts a decent light. I leave the bike light on and turn the helmet light on when necessary. Just came up with my own way to secure it to my helmet and it works great for those times I need extra light or light somewhere other than in front of my bike!!

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