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  1. #1
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    How much light do you really need?

    I was recently in the market for a front light.

    I ended up with a TAZ 1200 which seems to make night into day. I have ridden in the pitch dark and to be honest cannot see the need for any more light.

    On the low power setting it is adequate but you'd be wanting for more, but on high power it really does light up the trail ahead like daytime.

    Now I see light systems offering 6,000 lumens and more.

    I guess you can never have TOO MUCH light in front of you, but is 6,000 or 7,000 lumens not overkill?

    What would people say was a reference point, where you have enough output for most situations. 1,000 lumens?

  2. #2
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    It's a matter of opinion. Every year the standard of what is adequate increases. When you have a massive amount of light you need to make sure its not too focused or else it washes out the terrain. It's all about what you think you need and what you're willing to spend and carry around. I think in order to properly utilize 6k lumens we need better reflectors/optics as well as better heat sinking and batteries, so that's a few years off.

  3. #3
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    My TAZ splits the 1200 lumens over three LED's.

    My friend has a single LED 1,000 lumen light and it is nowhere near as bright, plus it seems to dim after a while. If you turn it off for a few minutes it regains it's brightness.
    A lighting guy l know showed me the other week, a 1,000 watt (not lumens, watts) LED chip. The chip was small enough to fit in a bike light, obviously it needed a lot of power to operate, plus a heat sink, but the light it put out was unbelievable from such a small device.
    If you put that on a bike you would have aircraft landing on your head.

  4. #4
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    Lotus, there is no answer to this question. You can say 'as much as you want' or 'as much as you need'. Everybody needs and wants differ.

    I for instance bought a Taz 1200 and Volt 1200 and on the handlebar I thought both of them were terrible. I'm saying on the handlebar specifically because I think on a helmet they would be better (the light has further to travel and can light up a bigger area). I'm saying this because I run my Gloworm X2 v2 at MED setting (about 900 lumens I think) on my helmet and it lights up the trails better than either the higher output Taz or Volt on the handlebar.

    I find the 900 lumen X2 on the lid sufficient, but the 1200 handlebar lights insufficient.

    There are other things to think of too. Optics, reflectors and beam pattern can make or break a light. A 900 lumen light with a good beam pattern might be better than a 1500 lumen light with a poor beam pattern. Also, spot patterns tend to be preferable for going fast (like on the road) and floods for going slower (typically on a mtb).

    Also, battery quality, run time and weight also plays a big role. No use in having a 3600 lumen light but it can only run for 45 minutes at that output, or the battery weighs 3 pounds maybe.

    Like someone said, the lumen wars are over. Almost every light you can buy will provide enough lumens. Now it's more an issue of run time, battery size/weight (fast becoming less of an issue as energy density improves and emitter efficiencies increase) and beam pattern that becomes the deciding factors.

    Either way, you can't really go wrong and the consumer wins all the way.

  5. #5
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    I think you have more than enough light. No worries.

  6. #6
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    Wow l cannot believe you thought the TAZ and VOLT were "terrible"
    My friend has the Volt and it's a good light, not the best, but good.

    This is my TAZ lighting up my garden in the pitch dark (no moon or stars)

    The TAZ is a self contained light with no seperate battery pack.
    I didn't want a battery pack.

    I guess the 7,000 lumen lights would melt the plastic chairs

    How much light do you really need?-imag0266.jpg

  7. #7
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    overkill ? anything over 2000 combined is a bit too much stress on my eyes for long durations at night, but it depends if snow/wet/dirt/rock. there is a point where 'yup i can see fine' meets 'too bright, destroys my vision' but that is subjective.

    I mean, yah throw more light out there I will like it. but with 1200 on bars and 1190 on my noodle I seek no more light, regardless of funds available

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by lotusdriver View Post
    Wow l cannot believe you thought the TAZ and VOLT were "terrible"
    My friend has the Volt and it's a good light, not the best, but good.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    I actually think the Volt was better. Not as much spill but brighter and more throw. However, I think in both cases it was due to the mounting position. I think these lights will be great being mounted higher. As I said, my 900 lumen X2 seemed to light things up much better with it being mounted on my helmet. But it just shows that everyone wants something different.

    As for going cordless, I agree, specifically for the handlebar mounted light. On the lid I don't mind being tethered. I leave my light and extension cord permanently mounted on a dedicated helmet. When it's time to ride, I just connect the battery and throw it in my rear jersey/jacket pocket (I rarely ride with a hydration pack and even when I do, I do not like putting it in the hydration pack) and I'm good to go. There are already so many things to do to prepare for a ride and this just makes it easier and faster.

  9. #9
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    2500 lumen of combined helmet and handlebar light is the max I would go. A few years ago I would've said 1500 combined. As for single unit setup like the Taz, way too big for handlebar and way too big and heavy for helmet.

  10. #10
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    The TAZ only weighs 220 grams, and it's not exactly huge!

    I don't notice any difference when it's on my bars.

    It's obviously bigger than a separate light unit, but then I don't have a battery pack to hang somewhere on the bike.

    How much light do you really need?-imag0322.jpg

  11. #11
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    I don't think the amount of lumens is as important as getting lights that work for you.

    You need the right beam pattern from your two lights. I really like a spot light on the helmet and a floodier light on the handlebars. The handlebar light should have a bright central spot with a fairly bright wide flood around the spot. The helmet should brightest in it's central spot, yet still have a bit of fill around the spot to help you see low hanging branches.

    I think the balance of lumens from your lights is also important. I've been experimenting with a 1200 lumen gemini clone on the handlebars and a fairly low power 120 lumen AA powered flashlight (Nitecore sense). The flashlight is held to my helmet with a foam wedge and a velcro strap.

    This isn't quite perfect, I think I'd like a bit brighter helmet light. I can still see fairly far down the trail, even with this low powered light. The advantage of having a very low weight helmet light with no wires running off my head makes up for it being a bit dim. I find running the handlebar light at around 600 to 800 lumens (best guess) with the helmet light on high (maybe 120 lumens) works pretty well once my eyes adapt to the dark. I don't ride real fast. I can see that if you are into going fast you may want brighter lights, especially on the helmet.

    If you are riding with folks who use much brighter lights, they may mess up your night vision. I've noticed as I get older it takes my eyes longer to recover from getting dazzled by a bright light night.

    Mark
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  12. #12
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    I think it all depends on how fast you are going. Higher speeds require more light. This past week I hit my local DH spot at night for the first time to see if it would even be fun. It was!

  13. #13
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    Hmmm I must be really slow , I run helmet mounted 700 " urban " only and do fine.
    No....nothing to knarly

  14. #14
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    Like everyone has said, speed makes a difference. I also think 2 lights are better than one. I've found that 800L on the bars is pretty good for open spaces. Riding tight singletrack or where you are passing close too objects makes the 800 almost too bright because the light bounces back so much. I have a 400L on my head (which is a great light), but I've been thinking I need more throw to peer further down the trail. I think for me 800 to 900 L on the head and bars would be really great. But only a single 400L works too if you forget almost everything.

  15. #15
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    Nice!

  16. #16
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    I have a pair of 900 lumen Exposures. One on my helmet and one on my bars. Fine for me.
    I like turtles

  17. #17
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    Great video, hoping Santa brings me my GoPro. For me, it illustrates the need for a wider "floodier" beam on the bars. The constant back and forth of that spot on the bars is very distracting, while the helmet mounted beam is nice and steady, looking at the trail.

    My .02 or 1/33,000 BTC

  18. #18
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    As others have said, I think the beam pattern and the helmet/bar configuration play a bigger role than lumens alone. I have used a huge assortment of lighting combos over the years and I have come to realize that in terms of "enough" light, if properly configured 1500 real lumens combined is more than sufficient for most. When I say properly configured I was referring to utilizing a good flood setup on the bars and a good thrower on the helmet. I have a gloworm x2 as my helmet light with 2 spot lenses. This is incredibly bright but would make a poor single light setup as it is too tightly centered. Similarly, the same light with flood lenses would make a great bar light, but a poor helmet light as it wouldnt give much depth perception. Whenever I have friends shopping for a light set that aren't trying to break the bank, I usually recommend a pair of single emitter magicshines, with a wide angle lens on the bars. I find that this provides good bang for the buck and generally makes everyone happy. With that being said, I ride with about 4000 lumens up front on the road because nobody respects bikes here so I have to be "that a***ole" that blinds everyone because it beats getting run over by a drunk driver

  19. #19
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    I have a combo I have not seen anyone else use, and I think it is superior

    1200 white led on bars, 1190 high CRI led on the head.

    the place is lit up very well and shadows are crisp from the white bar light, and the hi-cri is bright but far more relaxing (and close to natural sunlight) to my eyes and whatever my head is turned toward. after riding like this for 2 years I will never go back to only one type of tint. will be white on bars, high cri on head from now on, forever

  20. #20
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    Hmmmm.....time to buy a helmet light I think, as it seems well worth adding from reading the posts above.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by lotusdriver View Post
    Hmmmm.....time to buy a helmet light I think, as it seems well worth adding from reading the posts above.
    Yep, nothing better than a two lamp set-up. The bar light shows you where the bike is going and the helmet light points where you want to go. For turns this a real "must have".

    Just be sure to take a good look at your helmet so you know what you might be dealing with when you decide to mount a light to it. Some helmets are just not configured well for helmet lamp mounting as the air slots will be all in the wrong areas. If this is the case you might need to shop for a suitable "night ride" helmet.

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