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  1. #1
    viva la v-brakes!
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    3W LED Headlamps: A synopsis of research

    I am looking for a moderately bright head mounted light as a primary light for ultra endurance races like the Trans-Iowa and the Susitna 100 as well as for a second light for more traditional night riding and racing. It seems to me that produces marketed towards cyclist are automatically 30% more expensive then similar products marketed towards other users groups. I've seen this exemplified of this with both HID and LED lights.

    So in order to find something more economical I'm looking at a bunch of 3W LED headlamps that are marketed towards general use instead of towards cycling. So one caveat here is that I have no idea how well any of these lights will attach to a helmet. But I've found many ways to do this with other lights in the past.

    Here's the info I dug up, comments and additional info are appreciated:

    Princeton Tec Apex - $84
    +output: 60 lumens
    -burn time (high): 1-1.5hrs (alkaline), 3.5 hours with NiMH!
    +power source: 4 AA's, longer burn time? says specifically it works with rechargeables
    - weight (w/ batteries): 226 g
    +4 LEDs for low power mode use
    +waterproof
    -really annoying flash-based website

    Comments: using 4 AA batteries (rather then 3) should mean this lamp has a longer lifespan, however, since manufactures don't have any consistent way of relaying this information to consumers, there's really no way to tell. Also, good heat sinking means it should be a brighter running light then others. Overall looks like a smart design and it's well reviewed online. Despite the extra $25 over the Black Diamond Icon, I think this is the one I will buy. Then again, $25 will buy some extra Li batteries for some long lonely nights of riding.
    Note that Princeton Tec has a new "Apex Pro" that's sells for $90, and drops the weight to 173 g. Sounds like a good thing for a light thats on your head all the time, but for only another $25 you can then move up to the highly regarded Brunton light. Also, it uses 2 CR123 batteries instead of 4AA's. For economic and environmental reasons, not being able to use rechargeable batteries makes this a deal breaker for me, but maybe an option for a weight weenie.


    Petzl Myo XP - $70 or $80 for belt mounted version
    -output??
    -burn time (high):??
    -power source: 3 AA, cannot be used with lithium batteries, probably fine with rechargeable since it's not regulated
    - weight (w/ batteries): 179 g or 283? g for belt option
    +belt mounting option for less weight on head and cold weather use!
    -unregulated power output
    -Boost mode doesn't sound like it would work out for cyclists, so will the "maximum" setting produce less light/burn longer then other 3W lamps?

    Comments: The non-regulated status of this light is a deal breaker for me. There's nothing more annoying then riding with an LED light and thinking "I think the light is getting dim... is it? Is it just me? Should I stop and replace it? No, no... its fine. No, well... is it as bright as it was before? Maybe if I compare it to....." Screw that. Though the belt mounted option seems like a key feature for me, perhaps I can get creative with some wiring and a DIY battery pack for another one of these lights.


    Black Diamond Icon - $60
    -output??
    -burn time (high):??
    -power source: 3 AA, also available is NiMH rechargeable pack, so it probably works with NiMH rechargeable batteries just fine
    +weight (w/ batteries): 188 g lightest of the 3
    +cheapest of the 3
    +4 LEDs for low power mode use
    +IPS Waterproof Rating: 4
    -no heatsink? issues related to this?

    Comments: This seems like the best option if you're looking for a 'light and fast' option, but personally I would lean towards something with more batteries for more burn time. I already have a Princeton Tec EOS 1W LED lamp for my light and fast needs.


    Brunton L3 - $115
    +output: 85 lumens
    -burn time (high): 3 hrs?
    -power source: 4AA, Includes external 4 C battery pack, attaches to belt, also optional $20 lightweight belt battery pack
    - weight (w/ batteries): 241 g
    -generally very good reviews, but some quality issues?

    Comments: I don't have a lot of info about this one. This looks like a pretty slick light, unfortunately with a price to match. This might be a great option for a serious head mounted light for a lot of people, but not what I'm looking for right now. Call me back when you have a 5w version and we'll talk.
    Oh, wait, they do have one. :0. At $195, it ain't cheap, but it has similar specs to the Dinotte Ultra 5, for $100 less!

    Summary: There are a lot of questions with these specs, perhaps others can chime in with more information. I think one thing to bear in mind is the laws of physics. While some lights may have slightly better electronics for better run times, and better optics for more light output, I don't see how any of these lights can be significantly brighter/longer lasting then the others. I wish someone could do comprehensive reviews of these lights. I have found flashlightreviews.com to be very useful, but it doesn't have all the lights listed here. Perhaps some people can donate some money to me and I can review them in detail myself
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  2. #2
    Grizzly
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    Princeton Tec also makes bike versions of many of there headlamps. One I have gotten a lot of use out of is the Eos. It is only a 1 watt light, but it is great for fire road flats and climbs. The bike version has a helmet and a bar mount.

    It is cheap also, I think I paid less than $30 for mine.
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  3. #3
    @adelorenzo
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    You might want to try BLT lights. I run an
    Ozone 9ine
    that is plenty bright (they say 9W equivalent) for my needs. Mine cost me $70 at LBS: the less bright models are cheaper.

    If you are thinking about Su100, it has been performing well here in the cold and darkness of the Yukon winter, down to -40 C. I use it as a primary light -- when riding on dark, snowy trails you don't need those massive light systems, IMHO. The snow reflects a lot, and all the roots and rocks are covered anyways.

    The claim 17 hours burn time but I bet you would get a bit more with lithium batteries.

    Regards,
    Anthony

  4. #4
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    There have been quite a number of people who modded their EOS with a CREE led and a reflector. The light output would be similiar to an APEX at a much lighter package, not to mention a total lack of wires. I wonder when will princeton tec actually make available such a package since it's so much better than their current setup with the luxeon leds.

    Frankly the only thing that's keeping me away from getting an APEX for a helmet light is the added weight and having to worry about cables and batteries.

  5. #5
    viva la v-brakes!
    Reputation: FishMan473's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tinier
    There have been quite a number of people who modded their EOS with a CREE led and a reflector. The light output would be similiar to an APEX at a much lighter package, not to mention a total lack of wires. I wonder when will princeton tec actually make available such a package since it's so much better than their current setup with the luxeon leds.
    Where could I learn about this mod? mostly just curious since battery life is critical to me. Already my EOS only lasts 2ish hours, can't imagine that would improve with a more powerful LED.
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  6. #6
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    You can try searching www.candlepowerforums.com on it. Try using the keywords 'EOS Cree'. Quite a few people have modded their EOS, only problem is that Cree LEDs and the IMS17 or IMS20 reflector is not available in my country, and most internet shops either sell one or the other..*grumbles*

    The runtime is identical to the original EOS, as the EOS has a regulated output of about 350mA. However, the Cree throws out approximately twice the amount of light at this same battery output. Together with a good reflector, the light has significantly better range with brighter flood.

    PRINCETON TEC, ARE YOU LISTENING?

  7. #7
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    ->The non-regulated status of this light is a deal breaker for me. There's nothing more annoying then riding with an LED light and thinking "I think the light is getting dim... is it? Is it just me? Should I stop and replace it? No, no... its fine. No, well... is it as bright as it was before? Maybe if I compare it to....." Screw that. Though the belt mounted option seems like a key feature for me, perhaps I can get creative with some wiring and a DIY battery pack for another one of these lights.<-

    It's so much better to have it die in about 5 seconds- had that happen with my regulated LED flashlight just tonight- turn it on, it's bright as ever, then blackness. At least I was sure it was getting dimmer

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