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  1. #1
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    how many lumens for trail riding?

    What's the consensus on how many lumens you need to trail ride on rough stuff, not a fire road? I know the brighter the better, but what's the minimum to be safe?

    I've seen some lights with 180 lumens and some with 500 and up.
    You certainly have to pay for the lumens

    Thanks alot for any insight.

    D

  2. #2
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    I think 500 is a good point if it has a decent beam width. You can make do with less (200ish) also if the beam is wide enough but 30 mph runs will be dicey. The 180L by L&M has a spot but a wider "secondary" beam and isn't bad. Of course, I believe in making sure my light isn't an excuse and run 2200-ish with two lights.

    However, the 600L, Trinewt, and lights like that do quite well.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flyer
    I think 500 is a good point if it has a decent beam width. You can make do with less (200ish) also if the beam is wide enough but 30 mph runs will be dicey. The 180L by L&M has a spot but a wider "secondary" beam and isn't bad. Of course, I believe in making sure my light isn't an excuse and run 2200-ish with two lights.

    However, the 600L, Trinewt, and lights like that do quite well.

    Thanks for the response.

    That gives me a starting point. I'm really wanting to get into night riding this year, but it's so expensive to get a light with enough lumens..... not to mention one on the bars and one on the helmet.

    Thanks again

  4. #4
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    Expensive but worth it as well. I ride twice a week at night now and enjoy my rides a lot more.

  5. #5
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    By the time you get to about 400 lumens,and 4 hours of run time, you can ride pretty much anything if the light is mounted on your handlebars, without being impaired or at risk. Easily doable with 3 Cree LED' emitters in the" P" or "Q" series of bin builds. I'm thinking by the time the "R" series has run it's course, it will be doable with only 2 emitters, maybe just 1 by the time the "S" series is completed. The technology and manufacturing of overdriving single LED's past 350 milliamps to make huge amounts of lumens is growing exponentially, with substantial price drops in the works.

    For fire roads, I'd go with 2 lights and 800 to 1000 lumens total. You need time to react... The faster you ride, the more narrow a beam with flamethrower capabilities you need, to allow for enough reaction time.

    If you are on a shoestring budget, here is a cheap way to start...Costco has a Leatherman 500 Cree LED for $29.99 that will run for about an hour and 10 minutes on 3 AAA rechargeable batteries. Add to it a Sanyo Eneloop recharger kit on sale for $21.99 which has charger, with four 900 mah AAA's and eight 2000mah AA batteries. If you can find a way to mod it to run on 3 AA batteries, you should be able to get around 2.5 hours run time on the flashlight.

    Of course, for $52, you need to find a way to lash the light securely, or the light and power supply if you mod it, securely to your bicycle. With this set up, mount the light low, under the handlebars, and you should get plenty of depth and obstacle shadowing on single track to warn you of obstacles in your way. Currently, for the money, it's an amazing bit of light in a small package at a good price. This is a rig for a slow riding beginner on single track.... if you haul ass, or have to hang with the Big Dogs in your riding pack, you'll need a lot more than this, but if you take it easy and keep your single track speed around 15 mph or less, it should be OK.

    I'm 49, I use a $200 Trail-Tech MR-11 kit with the Welsh Allyn mini 13 watt HID bulb that all the HID manufacturers use, 560 to 575 lumens with a 3700 mAh NiMH battery.... Nightrider, Light and Motion ARC, you name it. The reflector I use is a 13 degree flood. For how I ride at night, it has plenty of spill, flood and distance for almost any riding I do except 30mph downhill fire roads... there I have to slow it down, turns can come up quickly at 225 pounds and sand over hard pack with a set of Performance Oro K-18's... Not the brakes fault, it's my fault, I need to lose the weight to slow down quicker.

    There's a ton of variables, talk to some local nightriders in your area, see what works for them, ask questions.
    Last edited by Boyonadyke; 12-11-2007 at 07:03 PM.
    "i'll brazilian when YOU do boy, right around the ol' rusty star. Actually, whole fruit bowl. Get on it!" NicoleB

  6. #6
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    Be careful if you live in fast and twisty areas. Just a bar light would get me into trouble here- big trouble. Open trails are fine.

  7. #7
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    great question, but not an easy answer

    Some of the factors I can think of that have to be considered to allow someone to answer your question.

    1. Type of trail. The more technical the trail the better you want your visibility to allow for reaction time - thus more lumens. Also, if the trail is twisty with tight turns or switchbacks more lumens don't help as much as beam spread. Most lights cannot provide the side spill required to allow fast cornering which is why a lot of riders add an additional light to their helmets or if they only have one it is on the head.

    2. Speed. Are you a fast rider? If so then more lumens are needed. I regularly hit 20 -25 MPH on singletracks and I have found that anything under 500 Lumens and I'm out running my light. Just like in the daytime the faster you ride the more up trail you need to see. In addition, to allow visibility further up trail your light will need to have good throw or distance. That can be accomplished with higher lumens or a tighter beam pattern. I'm not comfortable with a light that is only good at distance but achieves that characteristic while sacrificing beam spread. I need both. The L&M Arc was the first light I tried that achieved both up trail distance and great side spill. The Arc is rated around 600-650 Lumens. So we're getting close to the answer.

    3. Age or more precisely the quality of your night vision. I'm 54 and the eyes are not what they used to be. I would guess the older you get the more lumens are needed to achieve the same visibility.

    4. Beam color. Halogen is yellowish while HID are kinda blue. Led come in a variety of color temps. What is the ideal temp for night riding? Probably a personal preference. I tend to prefer a light that illuminates the area in the same way that I would experience in the daytime but people will differ as well.

    5. Last and certainly not least is your comfort range. When I was riding with an old Streamlight flashlight strapped to the bars I sure didn't feel safe riding 5 miles from the trail head.


    For me two lights are a must. Until lately I rode with two on the bars and none on the helmet. I wanted wide and bright with a deep throw. I was using dual Lupine Edisons rated at 1800 lumens. A little overkill. I currently use two Wilmas on the bars and that is about 1600 lumens. They don't seem as bright as the Edisons but that is probably due to the color. And I only use full power when bombing down a hill. I recently added a DIY helmet light that works quite well. It's output is somewhere north of 400 lumens and its color perfectly matches the Wilma.

    My next light will be completely DIY. Two dual Q5s on the bars and a dual Q5 on the helmet. Total lumens around 1300 lumens. I'm going all DIY because I want total control over all aspects of the light - total lumens, beam spread, beam depth, color, and run time. I also want to be able to upgrade the Leds at any time. The correct amount of lumens, as you can see, is complicated and a personal preference.

    I enjoy riding with more light because my riding style is not crimped and more visibility provides a higher safety margin.


    500 - 750 lumens minimum. (What is the maximum total lumens a rider needs would be a good discussion as well) A beam pattern with both up trail penetration and good side spill. I would suggest a single light purchase first and try on both the bars and helmet to see what you like. Check with your riding buddies to see what they are using to get a better feel for the color and brightness you might like.

  8. #8
    sonoranbiker
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    Just a slightly different persective- I have been riding a single helmet-mounted Niterider Head Trip (10W Halogen) for the last year and a half, and have been able to do everything that my dual-HID stadium-light-on-wheels friends do. If you have the cash, absolutely go out and drop $600-$1000+, but don't feel like you have to in order to get into night riding.

    If you are only going with one light, I would go helmet mounted. I rode for the first time with a bar-only setup last week, and it drove me nuts only being able to see where my handlebars were pointing. I'm now getting into the bar + helmet thing, which is awesome.

    Anyway, good luck. Just remember that you don't need to have the latest-greatest thing to be able to ride, and that there are some folks in these forums who have REALLY large riding budgets and forget that others may not.

  9. #9
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    Thanks

    I appreciate all the input fellas.

    I ride pretty technical stuff, that goes from fast rocky descents, to tight and twisty rock gardens. Needless to say, I think it could get dangerous if I don't have the proper amount of light. I wish I had the electrical knowledge to build a 1000L DIY, but who am I kidding. When I try reading through the DIY posts, it's like trying to read japanese... That leaves me with purchasing something, on a budget of about $300 - $350.

    Should I spend it all on one bright light for my helmet, or get 2 that are not as bright for handlebar and helmet?

    Another issue is with all the new LED technology coming out, I would like to purchase something that can be upgraded as the bulbs improve. Are most lights out there able to have upgraded bulbs and whatnot installed?

    Thanks again.

    D

  10. #10
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    I know Lupine and Dinotte LED lights usually offer upgrades you can purchase when newer led tech comes out. With Dinotte I think you have to send to them to have it upgraded while Lupine is a do-it-yourself deal. Lupine is gonna be out of your price range though. With your budget I would see if you can get a Dinnotte 600L standard beam and mount it to the helmet. Then later on or next year maybe consider adding another light on the bar.

  11. #11
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    500 Lumens a plenty

    500 lumens is brighter than my suv's headlights and whiter. A head mounted second light is a must when riding singe track that is always turnin corners. I run the Topeak moonshine. After a lot of research the prices for an HID average $350 to $400. I payed $278.

  12. #12
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    My reaction: It depend on how the light is focused and where it's mounted.

    I built a set of Achesalot type lights for the h-bars. Lots of beautiful light with good spill and throw. A center spot lens(5) and two outboard floods(15). It's good for most riding, but I'm faster in the singletrack with a helmet light. Even if I mounted my LED on my helmet I'd be OK.

    So for me, I have an L&M HID helmet mounted light and my LED 3X Soeul P4 SSC at 1000mA on the bars, and that works fine. If overkill, sorry but I'm old, and my night vision is not good. I'm thinking that I will replace the 1A buckpuck with a controller that allows dimming, but I destroyed my bFlex with my incompetence. So maybe not.

  13. #13
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    Personally I have a triple-cree on my head (8-degree spread) and 2 200L dinotte's on my bars (1 flood, one spot) Plenty of light for tight PA singletrack..now if I could just get my knee to heal so I can actually ride again......

  14. #14
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    The iBlast is in your price range. Looks great on the website; so far people seem to like them a lot.

  15. #15
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    In the past few weeks I have had the good fortune to be able to test the Light & Motion ARC, the Light & Motion Stella 180L, the NiteRider SolMate, and the NiteRider TriNewt.

    If $350 is your absolute max then I would try to find a deal on the Light & Motion ARC with the Nickel Metal Hydride battery. They retail for more than $350, but on eBay you can probably find one and get it "new in box" within your budget. That's 675 lumens on high, 550 on low. Mount it on your helmet and you will be completely satisfied. If you're lucky you might even find a lithium ion battery version in that price range on eBay, but that might be asking to much. The advantage being a much lighter battery.

    Now, if you are willing to ride a little slower, even something like the Light & Motion Stella 180 is bright enough for all but the rockiest descents or most difficult to navigate (e.g., due to switchbacks and massive leaf cover) trails. It is ridiculously light, very bright (180 lumens), has a long run time, and has a power switch on the light unit. It's also way cheaper than the ARC. The drawback is that the light is bright, but in a much smaller area than the ARC. This lack of light spill makes it harder to negotiate tight switchbacks, and also if you look very far down the trail or even around a bend you can't really see what's right in front of you. So with the Stella it's more of an adventure and using the ARC is almost cheating by comparison. There is a simple elegance to the Stella.

    The SolMate is not as bright as the Stella, but even at 115 lumens I had no major gripes with the brightness. I would still pick the Stella for it's extra brightness and also because the SolMate has no switch on the light. None of the NiteRider LEDs do, and this is something of a pain when your battery is at the bottom of your hydration pack.

    The TriNewt at 486 lumens is also extremely bright. Bright enough for riding fast and there's plenty of spill. The drawbacks are twofold: lack of a power switch on the light unit, and it is very heavy to wear on your helmet. Too heavy in my opinion.

    If you have a good beam pattern, I think 400 lumens is enough light to ride safely at night and fairly quickly, too. il2mb brings up very valid caveats above to my estimate. But for me I was very happy with the TriNewt on low (under 400 lumens), and as I said, the Stella is completely satisfactory for most riding. Of the lights I've ridden, I do think the most bang for the buck is the ARC, though.

    Finally, I haven't personally used the NiteRider HIDs, but they are all rated at 373 lumens according to NiteRider. I have four friends with NiteRider HIDs and they are all happy with the amount of light they put out. They are cheaper yet than the ARC. They are also lighter than the TriNewt and have switches on the light unit.

    So, I think the one HID on the helmet is still the way to go in December, 2007 if you're on a budget, but I suspect that within 12 months that will no longer be the case. As the LEDs get brighter and brighter and the weight and price comes down on the lights in the 500 lumen range, it will be a no-brainer to go LED. They are more durable, last longer, and potentially run longer, too. And there is a lot of research being done on LEDs in the automotive and commercial lighting industries, so we'll definitely see these lights develop in the next year and on from there.

    Along with all the other people's replies you have a lot of opinions to sift through. I hope this helped. I've been doing a lot of reading lately and wanted to pass on what I've learned.

  16. #16
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    Ive been evangelizing my setup to anyone who will listen.

    I got a TriNewt on the bars and a Minewt on the helmet and its been real good on twisty stuff and also for going faster.

    And as Flayer says, the money spent is WELL worth it. Unfortunately, no nitghriding for moi this week due to other commitments.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by likeybikey
    If $350 is your absolute max then I would try to find a deal on the Light & Motion ARC with the Nickel Metal Hydride battery. They retail for more than $350, but on eBay you can probably find one and get it "new in box" within your budget. That's 675 lumens on high, 550 on low. .........Finally, I haven't personally used the NiteRider HIDs, but they are all rated at 373 lumens according to NiteRider. I have four friends with NiteRider HIDs and they are all happy with the amount of light they put out.
    Where did you get these figures? I have a L&M ARC LI, and several friends have NiteRider HID's. They seem to put out similar amounts of light, although the NR HID is more of a spot than the L&M. I like the L&M, but know folks who feel the NR is brighter, although it doesn't throw light as wide. Your Lumen figures suggest the L&M is almost 2x as bright as the NR, but it certainly doesn't look that way to me.
    I love mankind - it's people I can't stand. ~Charles M. Schulz

  18. #18
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    I rode a single track in pitch black with a pocket (not keychain size) maglight zip tied to the bar. That was the stupidest thing I've ever done (biking wise). My buddies did the same but the one leading had a head strapped flashlight. If you are riding singletrack with switchbacks and rocks or obstacles on the trail, you MUST use a helmet mounted light. You cant see anything when youre maneuvering the bars with the lights going left and right. Before this experience, I wanted a bar mounted light. Now, I know the helmet mounted lights are more practical.

  19. #19
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    I would just like to thank everyone for taking the time to respond to my post.
    It has really helped narrow down my search.

    thanks again for all the input ..... now to find something in the $350 price range, pull the trigger, and ride.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by EricfromLA
    I rode a single track in pitch black with a pocket (not keychain size) maglight zip tied to the bar. That was the stupidest thing I've ever done (biking wise). My buddies did the same but the one leading had a head strapped flashlight. If you are riding singletrack with switchbacks and rocks or obstacles on the trail, you MUST use a helmet mounted light. You cant see anything when youre maneuvering the bars with the lights going left and right. Before this experience, I wanted a bar mounted light. Now, I know the helmet mounted lights are more practical.
    I ride at night here in North Wales on tracks and paths covered in all sorts of obsticals and I'm quite happy with a bar mounted light

    Always, never and must are words that shouldn't really be used in these cases. It works well for some people and not for others.

    I personally don't like helmet mounted lights for biking as it means your helmet is attached to your pack which I find a faff.

    The problem you experienced with your bar mounted maglite is a very focused beam. This is not very good bar mounted. A bar mounted light needs to have a nice wide beam. A helmet mounted light workes well with a tight beam as properly mounted it points where you look.

    The other problem with helmet mounted lights is they flatten the trail, you cant see the shadows because the light source is so close to your view point. This also creates a problem in fog with light reflecting back.

    Ideal found by a lot of people is to have a powerful flood mounted on the bar with a less powerful tight focused light on the helmet.

    The USE enduro combination is a good example

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sasquatch
    Where did you get these figures? I have a L&M ARC LI, and several friends have NiteRider HID's. They seem to put out similar amounts of light, although the NR HID is more of a spot than the L&M. I like the L&M, but know folks who feel the NR is brighter, although it doesn't throw light as wide. Your Lumen figures suggest the L&M is almost 2x as bright as the NR, but it certainly doesn't look that way to me.

    I emailed NiteRider a while back and they provided the 373 figure for me. The L&M numbers come from their website.

    I think, on the surface, the numbers are misleading for two reasons. First, lumens are measuring complete light output from the light. I rode with a friend last night and he was using a NiteRider HID and I had the L&M ARC. The ARC was definitely a little brighter, and as you noted it also has more spill. So in addition to a small--but detectable--additional brightness at any given location in the ARC beam, the 675 lumens are spread over a larger area than the 373 from the NiteRiders.

    Also, and maybe more importantly, the human eye doesn't detect brightness on a linear scale, but rather on a logarithmic scale. So even though the increase from 373 to 675 lumens is about 80% [(675-373)/373*100%=80.97%], in practical terms there is only about a 10% perceptible increase in brightness [(ln675-ln373)/ln373*100%=10.02%]. And even that figure assumes the lumens are spread in the same area. Since the spill from the ARC is larger than the spill from the NiteRiders, the difference in brightness at any one point is probably even less than 10%.

    I like your Andy Goldsworthy icon, Sasquatch. Anybody reading this who hasn't seen Rivers and Tides should rent it immediately.

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  22. #22
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    I have been riding on trails for the past 17+ years and this is what I found out. I started out with a small motorcycle battery and a head light off a ATC mounted to my bike. then I went to a dual beam night sun and finally I modded that night sun to have 6 led's. My hallogen night sun was just fine for me until others started getting HID lights a couple of years ago. Then when they were behind me they would make me cast a shadow directly in front me of me and it became dangerous. Now with almost 1200 lumens i am the one casting the shadow

    But I never had a problem with each light setup thinking i need more light. At time going really fast I would start to out run the beam alittle so I would either point the light higher or slow down. And these were all bar mounts, never tried a helmet light and never felt the need to. I am probalby sure that are as helpful as everyone says they are but I don't think they are necessary though. Most of the guys I ride with ride bars only and most of them have tried helmet lights at one point or another. So I wouldn't be too quick to buy 2 light systems right off the bat. Its probably going to depend on who you ride with and what they are running.

    Well that's my 2 cents.

  23. #23
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    My take on it...

    I'm new to night riding. I bought a helmet-mounted NiteRider Enduro HID for my only light. It's a blast in the tight and twisty, but I almost outrun it on the wide-open fire road descents. Supposed to be 3+ hours of burn time on the NiMH battery. Plenty bright.

    If you're only going with one light, it's gotta be helmet mounted. A second bar mounted light will give you much better depth perception with respect to trail obstacles, but for singletrack, the helmet light is key.

    This time next year (Dec. 08), LED will be where it's at, but I don't think it's quite there yet, especially if you're talking about running a single lamp.

    The light was $270 out-the-door from Performance. This was with a 20%-off coupon; the Enduro retails for about $300, but Performance is always having a sale.

    YMMV
    Johnny Ryall rode MTB

  24. #24
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    LOL, so many different thoughts. I currently ride a NiteRider TriNewt on handlebar only and I think its awesome. The brightness and width of beam make it great for the technical stuff. I have a 3watt PrincetonTec LED on my helmet as an emergency backup and worklight and have ridden out on the trail with it and lent it to friends whos lights have gone out. In past I've trail ridden with a NiceLite only on handlebar or fork. Tried supplementing with a Pelican on helmet, but that thing was such a tight pencil beam it was pretty useless. Finally graduated to the first NiteRider when it came out. That was a huge step up. After the battery gave up the ghost and i jurry rigged some gel cells for a while, borrowed friends TrailRat which was ok. Picked up a 6V NR Classic for fairly cheap and it worked and supplementing it with the 3W helmet light actually helped. The TriNewt I just got and it blows all previous light setups I've tried and definitely allows for faster riding. I don't bother with the little helmet light with this. So really, you can use just about any light, just the more & brighter you go, the faster you can ride. And it depends on what the rest of your crew are running. If they've got bright lights, you'll find them pulling away from you as you try to keep up the pace but find it uncomfortable with the light you have. Then the light arms race begins, heh.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Quercus agrifolia
    My take on it...

    I'm new to night riding. I bought a helmet-mounted NiteRider Enduro HID for my only light.

    This time next year (Dec. 08), LED will be where it's at, but I don't think it's quite there yet, especially if you're talking about running a single lamp.

    YMMV
    have you tried a Lupine Wilma (830 lumens)? or a Betty(1400 lumens)?
    This LEDs are OVER but $$$$$$ have to pay
    They ARE here

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