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  1. #1
    Do It Yourself
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    New question here. How much light is enough?

    In order not to derail thread further, I thought I would start a new post. There was a statement made in another thread that less than 700 lumens is useless. I completely scoffed thinking I've been night night riding over 10 years and only recently has that kind of firepower become readily available. I know this is a forum full of light geeks (why do you think I'm here?), however I really would like to know what everyone think about how much light is NEEDED.

    Used to be, the general recommendation was 10W halogen as minimum and a 20W Jet or HID were the gold standard (both around 450 lumens). Would you stay home and watch CSI reruns rather than ride if you only had 650 Lumens? Or do you think you'd have to drop 2mph average if you only had for example two Dinotte 200Ls?

    Now I fully agree that there is more to light than just lumens. Beam pattern, tint, etc play heavily on perceived brightness. But if you had to narrow it down to minimum, normal and overkill, what do you think? How much light is enough?
    Long Live Long Rides

  2. #2
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    450 lumens is enough. My Amoeba is bright enough. My dynamo lights are a little brighter.

  3. #3
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    Less lumens ='s more excitement.



    Around 500 helmet and 500 bar for twisty single track.

  4. #4
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    It's impossible to put one number on what is "enough". Too many varying factors. Trail type, riding level, quality of eyesight, and then beam shape, light tint, and I'm sure many more.

    I'm happy with different amounts of light for different rides.

  5. #5
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    6000 lumens is enough ...

  6. #6
    BBW
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    I used to run only a Jet 12w and I could ride almost as fast and technical than during the day... I rode a new trail alone with only 225 lumens (Surefire updated with Q5) and had no probles about speed or been scared.
    2 Dinotte 200L would be OK but the color is perceived as less light for me cause I like warmer tints..
    I ride with 1500 lumens and I don't use them on high all the time because I think is excessive in many places where light gets reflected back to you. When dimmed to around 800lm I can ride as hard as I can through everything

    My two cents. 400-600 lumens in bars and 200-400 on helmet is more than plenty not only enough

  7. #7
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    My last build was an MCE with a boom SS reflector. At full power ~700 lu, it's hard to really say "i need more" without an ear to ear grin. The end of venturing, lets spend more time riding now!

  8. #8
    Goats Rule!
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    1200 lumens is plenty for me to comfortably ride most anything. I am known as 2000 lumen guy in the group I ride with, but I seldom use 2000. Seriously, that's just overkill in my opinion.

    Usually it's just two 400L's on the bars and one on the helmet.

    The only time I really run 1200 is on fast downhills - other than that, I'm usually riding with 400-600.

  9. #9
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    When I'm climbing fireroad stuff > 250-300 lumens

    When I'm on flat, twisty singletrack > 400-600

    When I'm on rocky, rutted singletrack > 500-700

    When I'm bombing down a beautiful stretch of technical goodness > 1500 lumens


    When I want the guys in front of me to think there is a semi rolling up on them - 2400


    Bob

  10. #10
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    My 500 lume HID died, which I thought was a lot of light. Ordered the L&M Seca 700, which arrived today and I took it out on our usual night ride. I love it, but to say 700 lumens is necessary is total overkill. Part of the fun of night riding is feeling like you are out at night. This doesn't give you that feeling, but on the other hand I did ride a lot faster on the descents. Also have a 120 lumen light on the bars.

  11. #11
    Fists of Ham
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    Almost any light can be enough - if you are riding on your own, on familiar trails. Some of my best night rides have been frosty/snowy winter rides by full moon and no lights at all.

    Problem starts when you ride with others who have brighter lights than you. When they are behind you, their light drowns yours, and you end up riding into your own shadow. This is where the lights "Arms Race" begins - the logical ending being purchasing something that Mr Trout made
    [SIZE="1"]When I die, I want to go like my Grandad, peacefully, in my sleep - not like his passengers - shouting and screaming![/SIZE]

  12. #12
    One Gear
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    I think that it's simple enough to say that the more light you have, the faster you can ride. I ride with a bunch of guys who usually leave me in the dust. At night, my lights will completely overpower what they are running. I can bomb all of the downhills just like it was the middle of the day.

    A long time ago, we thought that a mini maglight taped to our helmets was enough light to make it out of the park. Then a little Cateye handle bar light was better. Then 10 years with a Turbocat system made night riding awesome. These days I'm running 9 Cree R2's and I'm still searching for the "monster" light.

    Right now I have "enough" light for me AND the guy in front of me.

  13. #13
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    I am behind the light forum, but I was running on a Digital Night Owl since 2000, with something like 15w max. It was a wee bit lacking, but perfectly usable. Now I picked up a cheapo Hope Vision 1, at 200 lumens and it's really bright and floods the area really well.

    I'm not against technology and increasing lumens or patters with less watts, but it really seems like a "MORE POWER" thing going down here

    However, this forum rocks with people experimenting and thinking outside the box.

  14. #14
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    Every time i think i need more light i switch off my main lights and switch on the single cateye el530 i use for back up (and used to ride the trails with until i descovered self build nirvana!) and it gives me a good "dont be so bloody stupid!" kick up the arse!
    Got 720 on me heed and 720 on the bars.
    (Although i have ordered a P7 torch to play with just because they are so stupidly cheap on DX!)
    Tommo.

  15. #15
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    I've been reading about those P7's on DX. The search doesn't work on the parameters i'm putting in, so mind telling about them? 900 lumens? What kind of battery and spread?

  16. #16
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    I ordered this one http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.19189
    Not recieved it yet so dont know what its like,just after the led/lense really as in England it costs about 26 just for the LED plus packing!
    I paid 22 for the whole torch from DX with free P+P to England no brainer really.
    Have bought a 2800mA driver from Kaidomain? so i can mess about with driving it properly (if it needs it) but there are useful modes on this one already like 300Lm setting and 800Lm strobe which would be handy for be seen road mode.
    Tommo.

  17. #17
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    Wow, nice, and I can likely order to Germany, and then wire in a Ni-MH pack into it.

  18. #18
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    Apparently the drivers in the flashlights can be a bit weak but only time will tell.
    Setting up a Battery pack in series/parallel for better run times is a good idea
    its just gonna be about how robust the driver is.
    Will probably power mine with the 2 18650 i ordered from there as well in parallel
    and see how it goes,just hope if the driver does melt down with the extended run times
    it doesn't take the LED with it!
    Tommo.
    Tommo

  19. #19
    I don't huck.
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    400 lumens on the bars and 200 lumens on the helmet with the right beam patterns has been very rideable. I don't think I would want less, but really, it would just mean I need to slow down a bit, not that I could not go ride.
    Blog Ramblings
    West Coast writer for twentynineinches.com

  20. #20
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    Sorry I couldnt resist it

    this is too much light


  21. #21
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    Lol your an animal and should be barred from this thread!!!
    Ahem Troutie that is.
    Tommo.

  22. #22
    Bigger is better!
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    A bit off-topic, but for XC skiing I found that repair-mode aka moonshine-mode, was more than enough with my MC-E/Boom headlight:



    Full mode (500mA through each die) was WAY overkill!
    And I am VERY pleased with the beam-pattern of the Boom reflector. Hotspot + big spill = perfect!

  23. #23
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    I was thinking about this the other night, and I think lights now are just approaching the point where we are getting to the point, there really is enough light. I see the situation similar to when we went from v-brakes to disks, at first everyone used 160mm front an rear, and only the downhill guys used anything larger. As time has moved on we are seeing bigger rotors on lighter use bikes.

    With the maturing of LED technology we really get the best of both worlds. We get the option to have brightness when necessary but dim the lights down when not necessary. The amount of light necessary depends on how and where you are riding.

    As a reference point lets start with car lights as a comparison. Excluding the efficiency differences of the housings (which in modern automotive lamps are in the 40-55% range) most car lamps today are putting out 1700-3000 lumens for each lamp on low beam (3000 is for an HID lamp). High beams are in the 1800 range per each lamp. That means on the modern car have between 7000 and 10,000 lumens with the high beams on.

    With my poor eye site, I have found that the 500 or so lumens from my L&M Arc is just adequate for night riding on paved roads. For off road trails I really need a headlamp or brighter bar lamp. IMHO, about 1500 lumens is getting to enough for most off road riding.

    One thing nobody has mentioned is how much light is necessary for a tail light. I have both the Sigma 1100 and the Planet Bike Superflash, which are far brighter than the older lights, but still inadequate. I think that to really be seen on the road, you need to have something in the neighborhood of 50 lumens for a tail light.
    Riding slowly since 1977.

  24. #24
    Feet back and spread 'em!
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    wow, what is that an H-bomb test?
    the time is right for violent revolution

  25. #25
    Lets RIDE!
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    Oh no, not the "how much light?" thread again.

    200 is enough. Until you try 400. Then 200 is not enough. Then your buddy buys 800, and now your 400 sucks.

    Buy/build what you can afford, and go ride, and enjoy. And try not to get caught up in the nuclear arms race.

    I, I'm ashamed to say, am caught up in it

    JZ

    and don't ride in front of a guy with more light than you!
    It's not about speed, it's about lack of control.

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