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  1. #1
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    How to start? Enlighten a noob

    It is hot as the devil here in Georgia right now, and I am also naturally nocturnal as is my lady, so I/we am/are wanting to try out some night riding. I've never tried it, don't know anyone who does it, and could wind up hating it. That said I still want to try it, how can you cheaply (less than $100 per bike would be ideal, I was hoping I could get my feet wet for about half that) go about getting the proper light rig to try it out? I see a few kits that are insanely priced, is that how you roll or is there something I'm missing? I am pretty handy so I'm cool with a little DIY, but I don't have a bunch of extra time to invest sourcing doo-dads and building components, so as off the shelf as possible would be great.
    Any suggestions?

  2. #2
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    I know its tricky because there is so much information overload on here - but the answers are there, with a bit of reading. Maybe some others will take the time to give a nicer summary for you, but here's my take:

    If you're trying to keep it cheap, you're looking at the chinese knock off stuff. Generally the consensus is: it works, the batteries can be suspect, and you generally get what you pay for.

    check out retailers like action-tec, they have good reputations and decent products - pricing is in the middle.

    want to save more? you buy from deal-extreme, kaidomain, or other china-direct places and cross your fingers.

    Personally? I decided to get two small flashlights: find the "dealextreme torch" thread. I think you can do better now (maybe), but it was an easy way in for me. I don't like cords, so the all-in-one of a torch was the deciding factor in my decisions.

    good luck!

  3. #3
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    I've done a lot of mtn and road night-riding and have a lot of interest in lights. So... if I were to start from scratch... here is my two cents.

    Are you looking at doing night-riding on roads and occasionally off-road? Or, are you going to hit the knarly, single-track right away?

    The reason I ask is that, personally, I find it helps to have quite a bit more output (at least 500 lumens or more) for fast, single-track trails but you don't need as much if you're doing mainly road and only some off-road (I started with only a 200 lumen light strapped to my helmet when I first hit the single-track trails).

    Also, if you don't know too much about lights but want to DIY, you will need to find out about soldering, do a ton of reading as you need see what's out there for LED's, housings and battery pack builds. Personally, I've built a few battery packs and have done a few, small projects with swapping emitters but I shy away from doing a build from scratch since I don't have the patience or advanced skill. If you have the patience, then that's the route but it may take some time to ramp-up your knowledge.

    The alternative is off-the-shelf. As suggested, try Deal Extreme for some cheap setups, look for XML or XML2 emitters as they give you a lot of output (some approaching 800-1000 lumens). You can even try single- or triple-XPG / XPG2 / XPE / XPE2 emitters for more throw but you will need the triples for more output. Check out the Fenix BT10 for a decent setup, especially with the 4xAA version that is just around $100 - only problem is that the max output for that one is 350. That's good for most night-riding but not quite enough for fast fire-roads / singletrack. You can also try Magicshine for some good-priced XML / XML2 lights.

    Good luck and post any other questions you may have.

  4. #4
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    Re: How to start? Enlighten a noob

    for one hundred you can get a cygolite expilion which i think will be enough light for a decent go-around on the trails for an hour and a half. i love nite riding, so if you find you like it, you will end up getting one more light like me, one for helmet and one for handle bar

  5. #5
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    How to start? Enlighten a noob

    I'm a was-newb .... Now completed four rides. Two big group rides, 16 and 20 miles; one solo Ez short ride; and one technical solo ride in the wild desert. My advice is : 1) don't screw with cheap lights. Get good stuff. Alone in the dark would be a bummer. I'm using two Exposure Diablo IV's (about 500 lumens each at 3 hour setting). Use two lights, one on the helmet and one on the bar; and 2) find some groups to ride with.

  6. #6
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    for the city with street lights i think $100 could be made to work. a magicshine in the front ( on the helmet ) and some blinky in the back, plus reflective clothing.

    on the trail however you would probably want more fire-power from the bar and helmet lights than you could get for $100. even if you go with magicshine the bigger magicshines are over 100 ...

    i would also suggest that for a trail you will probably want two lights in the front - one on the bar and one on the helmet. the two lights should be of approximately equal output ( the helmet light can be brighter ) but the bar light should have a flood pattern while the helmet light should be more focused. with a single light ( even if it is a helmet light ) it may feel a bit claustrophobic because you would not be able to illuminate your trajectory and whatever you want to glance at sideways at the same time.

    so if you're looking at 2 lights in the front + a blinkie on the back you're looking at about $110 + $110 + $30 = $250 or so for a basic setup ...

    of course you could ride with ANY light - you would simply be riding your brakes all the way down depending on how inadequate your light was ...

  7. #7
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    I did my first nightride in the woods last week. My light was a niterider MiNewt Mini.150-USB (150 lumens). For level groung and climbing i was able to go 80-90% of my daytime speed on the same trail. Downhill I was around 40-50% of daytime pace. It was a blast! I am gouing to get additional lighting to use with this for better light and to have a backup.

    I also used this on a bike path that runs out of town, around town on the roads, and on the road outside out of town.

    I will be using this on my loaner bike for my friends when i get something a little better.

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