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  1. #1
    mtbr member
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    Basic questions. Mainly, where to mount your light?

    The question is simple:

    If you have only one light, where do you mount it? Handlebar or helmet?

    I didn't have a bike light until now, I just bought a Solarstorm X2 via Amazon. I'm still skeptic about the quality of the light, given that they're chinese and there are even clones of these lights (I've heard batteries are mostly crap) but they're cheap, so I might as well give it a try.

    I've seen a few people using them on their helmets as much as the handlebars.

    Is this light enough for mild night riding by itself? (I won't be racing at night). I understand that the actual output will be much lower than the claimed output, but they're supposedly good enough.

    Any help for a lighting noob?

    Thanks,

    Luis

  2. #2
    Drinkin' the 29er KoolAid
    Reputation: kwarwick's Avatar
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    As a general rule for mountain biking, if you have only one light, it is best to have it on your helmet. This is so that the light follows where you look (around turns, etc) rather than on the handlebar where the light will follow where you turn the bars.

    As you've pointed out, this is a cheapish Chinese light, of unknown quality... I'd definitely not want it to be my only light for a night ride. Best to get a 2nd light and put that on the handlebars and then you have the best of both worlds as far as lighting coverage as well as redundancy in case one fails suddenly.

  3. #3
    RAKC
    Reputation: tigris99's Avatar
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    Helmet first above all. If you got the actual solarstorm light and not a clone, your fine except the batteries suck (always do). They work but run time is poor and make sure to charge somewhere on concrete and away from anything flammable.

    Nothing wrong with actual solarstorm lights, the clones on the other hand..... Ya their cheap but better QC and such vs the clones. And they work just like they say they will. the X2 is a VERY popular light, many are happy with them, I have an X3 on the way for my bars.

    Enjoy night riding, btw take that stupid strap off the head mount, use the mount itself and a velcro strap through your helmet vents. Helmet light mounted in all of 2 mins and far better than the strap set up that comes with them. Or you can get a gopro adapter from vancbiker and use a gopro helmet mount (as many of us do)

  4. #4
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    I will buy the helmet mount right away, there's one that doesn't use a headstrap, instead it uses two straps similar to the GoPro helmet mount (If you're familiar with it). If you can recommend a helmet mount, i'm open to suggestions (The light will be used mounted to either a Giro Hex or a TLD A1, if it matters)

    My thoughts were exactly those, helmet first. One of my concerns with this was the fact that your light focus will be constantly moving instead of on the same point in front of the bike, but I suppose one can get used to it.

    Does anyone know is the cable supplied with the Solarstorm is long enough to store in the pack and would not restrict movement?

    As far as battery replacement goes, what compatible battery should I buy? Is there a better one? a longer-lasting one? One with better runtime? I understand they use 18650 cells, is there any battery pack that holds regular, removable 18650 cells? (I have quite a few flashlights that use these batteries)

    Thank you for your help!

    Luis

  5. #5
    Stand-up philosopher
    Reputation: drwx's Avatar
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    Clone lights are cheap on amazon. Get a $20 one for the bars and use your current one for your helmet.

    --
    Stephen
    --
    stephen


    no one can appreciate the poor misunderstood

  6. #6
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    There is a thread on the new SolarStorm 2S2P battery case (to use your own cells). It's not perfect, so read the thread for the fixes or to at least know it's issues. Or buy a Hunk Lee pack on Ebay (Think his store is "A-OK Battery".)

    -Garry

  7. #7
    Always in the wrong gear
    Reputation: ARandomBiker's Avatar
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    I was never able to get a helmet mount to secure satisfactorily.
    After literally months of waiting, the Yinding I bought through a group-buy here on MTBR finally showed up, I ordered it before Christmas, it finally arrived in a beat-up box, but intact, about 3 weeks ago. Like march 9th. Different story, though.
    I immediately mounted it up and went for a ride with the Light &Magic helmet kit and extension cord I got from Amazon. My light is a Yinding, not a Solarstorm but my cord was not even close enough to reach my camelbak.
    Cut to the chase: No matter how I fiddled with it, the thing bounced so badly it appeared to me to flicker and cut out. Badly enough that I actually stopped a few times to make sure the light was working properly, and triple checked the connections.
    Light and Magic kit, secured with the supplied velcro straps, plus zip-ties to a Belll Stoker Helmet. Battery pack in my camelbak
    After a few miles I got so fed up I mounted it to the bars, and the battery moved from my camelbak to my toptube. Shadows are longer, and depth perception is a little less, but the light is rock solid and the beam is stable.


    I vote bars.

  8. #8
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    Was the light moving on the helmet mount or was the helmet moving on your head? I'm not using the the mount you posted, but my helmet light only moves when my head moves. It is very stable.

    ~15 years ago when I started night riding I only had money for a single system and it went on the bars since the battery weighed a ton. It worked well enough that a night lap was only a few minutes slower than a day lap during a 24hr race. I'm pretty sure now though with a helmet and bar combo, there would be no difference in lap times, except maybe for fatigue.
    GoPro adapters for bike lights http://www.pacifier.com/~kevinb/index.html

  9. #9
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    For trail riding, a helmet light is the most important, but I still think you need both a helmet and a bar light. I always find that if I'm just using a helmet light, it gives me the willies to have this big dark area in front of my bars in the dark. That's something I can see with my peripheral vision and I don't want it to be dark so I think you need both. You can decide whether your most important light should be on your helmet or on your handlebars, but you need both.

    You also need redundancy in lighting and batteries in case one dies. That happens on occasion, and without any light you're pretty much up the proverbial creek with no paddle.

    If you're predominantly on the road, then I think you need a bar light as your primary light and the concerns are flipped. There you also need a helmet light in order to make sure that cars at cross streets see you or looking into tight corners etc...

    But I don't think it's a good idea to ride with just a single light no matter what.

    J.

  10. #10
    RAKC
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    Quote Originally Posted by ARandomBiker View Post
    I was never able to get a helmet mount to secure satisfactorily.
    After literally months of waiting, the Yinding I bought through a group-buy here on MTBR finally showed up, I ordered it before Christmas, it finally arrived in a beat-up box, but intact, about 3 weeks ago. Like march 9th. Different story, though.
    I immediately mounted it up and went for a ride with the Light &Magic helmet kit and extension cord I got from Amazon. My light is a Yinding, not a Solarstorm but my cord was not even close enough to reach my camelbak.
    Cut to the chase: No matter how I fiddled with it, the thing bounced so badly it appeared to me to flicker and cut out. Badly enough that I actually stopped a few times to make sure the light was working properly, and triple checked the connections.
    Light and Magic kit, secured with the supplied velcro straps, plus zip-ties to a Belll Stoker Helmet. Battery pack in my camelbak
    After a few miles I got so fed up I mounted it to the bars, and the battery moved from my camelbak to my toptube. Shadows are longer, and depth perception is a little less, but the light is rock solid and the beam is stable.


    I vote bars.
    Helmet depends on the helmet. If its got too many funky angles, a strap mount (gopro then buy a standard camera mount adapter or more preferably vancbiker makes direct fit adapters) but get a strap mount that has tensioning straps, not just standard velcro. the cheapy ones with standard loop velcro will never get tight enough.

    If your helmet is more smooth and can fit the curved adhesive gopro mount your golden. Still need to get adapter for gopro mount but the adhesive mounts are as sterdy as you can get. My camera weighs noticably more than a gopro and no way that adhesive is letting loose without me hitting a good sized tree branch.

    Battery pack, best option is the solarstorm case garry mentioned, isnt perfect but modded its GREAT. Biggest problem with these cheapy packs is mixed quality sells and you cant balance charge them. Unless you like me and stripped the pack and removed the crap from the cells and use them in SS case (and proper balance charger) The stock packs work but charge in a safe place on concrete or in a metal sink. Not sure how long you plan to ride but a fully charged crap pack for me (before ripping them apart) I could run my KD2 for a good hour at 70% power to the leds. Sometimes you can push 2 hrs no problem (watch battery indicator, when it flashes shut off light asap). Make sure you let the pack charge several hours, a concrete garage floor overnight if possible.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by tigris99 View Post
    but get a strap mount that has tensioning straps, not just standard velcro. the cheapy ones with standard loop velcro will never get tight enough.
    Any recommendations for a decent helmet strap with tensioning straps? The cheaper the better.

  12. #12
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    Is the risk of fire that bad with the standard battery pack? I'm starting to get nervous.

    I'm really not into night riding yet, and I'm getting the light because with work I find myself well past dusk when I'm finishing my ride. This means I sometimes have a hard time on the trail and that I'm barely seen when on the road post-ride. I rarely find myself riding at night for over an hour and a half.

    I don't need a full-blown setup, just enough to get me through this situation and back home safely. I've seen solarstorms here (Although I believe most are clones) and they're perfect for what I need.

    I will decide afterwards where to mount the light based on your tips. What would be a cheap, easily available, reliable helmet mount? I have two helmets: a TLD A1 and a Giro Hex. I can't go with exotic, forum-member-made solutions -even if I wanted to- because I'm in Venezuela, and shipping can become difficult.

  13. #13
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    You'd be fine with the standard pack using protected batteries and charging them in an good external charger. If you monitor them with I meter you can get away with charging them in the battery case (recommend a known good wall charger for that use - many are junk).

    What about the group buy on the 2 cell Fenix case? You'd get good runtime on 2 high capacity cells using a light that doesn't suck a lot of power.

    -Garry

  14. #14
    Always in the wrong gear
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vancbiker View Post
    Was the light moving on the helmet mount or was the helmet moving on your head? I'm not using the the mount you posted, but my helmet light only moves when my head moves. It is very stable.
    Definitely not the helmet moving on my head. The biggest issue I think is that the mount plate is a different radius than the helmet (Bell Stoker)

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