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  1. #1
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    Lights for Trans Iowa

    Last year I learned a big lesson in lighting for all-night gravel riding. I finished, but only by the grace of other rider's lights.

    What's the going opinion on a light that will last all night, provide bright coverage, and not cost 600$.

    Thanks for the ideas or thread.

  2. #2
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    Difficult question!

    How long does your light need to burn in total?

    Does the race start at dawn or in the dark?
    Do you have to carry the light system the whole trip and can you get a fresh batterypack during the trip?,....

    How much light do you require?
    And is one light sufficient, or do you prefer a combination of helmet and bar light??

    I use a lupine piko 3 with smartcore battery on the helmet and a piko 6 on the bars. For most mountainbiketrips I have more than enough light with 7 watt or 560 lumens on the bar and 3,1 watt or 300 lumens on the helmet, that way I can ride over 5h30 min and I carry only half a kg of lights and batterys.

    For a gravelroad race I would consider taking only the piko 6, at 360 lumens its good for 9 hours riding for 300 gram and you have your taillight in one go!

    If you need more light you'll need a bigger battery or a spare one, but batteries are rather heavy! Keep in mind that lupine advertises with measured lumen, A lot of chinese ligths that claim 1000 lumens or more provide less at full power than the piko at 360 lumen!

  3. #3
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    Thanks. The Trans Iowa starts at 4 AM. So that's about 3 hours of lights on in the morning. Then it's all night. So that's another 10 + hours of use. No outside support is allowed...other than convenient stores. So spare batteries are either carried or purchased along the way. But you are so brain dead by 3 AM that battery swapping is hazardous and tedious.

    Though it's not singletrack, the variety of road conditions requires a pretty bright beam. The gravel roads of Iowa can bite bad if you're not paying attention or unable to see adequately.

    I would like to use just one light. I'm assuming a bar mount (but am open to the going thought on where to best use a bright light.)

    Thanks
    Last edited by jkcustom; 11-09-2012 at 05:47 PM.

  4. #4
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    You could try the new Cygolite Mitycross 800 Xtra. On its brightest setting it only runs for 4 hours but you don't need that for gravel roads. On its lowest setting (100 lumen) its rating for 32 hours.

    With its OSP though you can adjust the medium (500 lumen) to say 300 lumen and increase its time to around 11-12 hours. The complete package is lightweight as well.

    If you programmed it to only run at 200 lumen you may get away with one battery, but for your endevors I would recommend buying an extra battery so that you can run more light if you wanted. A spare is $60 and unfortunately it is half the capacity of the Xtra battery. The 800 Xtra can be had for about $210.

    I have the MityCross 350 and 480OSP and have found them to be very reliable with strong mounts. They work equally well on the bar or helment. I ride my cross bike with the 350 on multiuse trails and dirt roads and that is more than enough light for that type of terrain.

  5. #5
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    I just finished reading up on the event. What a killer event...over 300 miles with no support! ....sorry but F that.

    After reading the warnings on the website no way I would even think about something like that unless I was still in my twenties/thirties and had an elite fitness level.

    Do something like that and the equation you will deal with will be > ( Your butt and boys = ground beef ).

    Having enough light will be the least of your problems but if you did choose to go off the deep end I would think something like a Gloworm X2 run on it's minimal settings ( with Gloworm premium 6 cell battery ) should get you through most ( if not all ) of the event. Still I would also carry a spare 18650 type torch as back up and carry at least two extra cells. ( which is enough for another 6 hrs of light if run on medium )

    Good luck

  6. #6
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    AMOEBA !



    PM if you want more info

    ***

  7. #7
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    Definitely on the bars, you wouldn't want anything other than your helmet on your head for that long.

    As far as batteries, I wouldn't go with one big battery. Is this the only time you are going to be riding at night? If not, do you need that much juice on the majority of your rides? I would split it up into a 4 cell, and a 2 cell. Why carry the extra weight on all your other rides when you really only need it for the one event?

    My 2x Cree XP-G2 w/LFlex driver version sounds like it would be perfect. The XP-G2's mated up to the Ledil Regina reflectors give great throw with some real nice sidespill. I think this would be perfect for gravel goodness.


    ***

  8. #8
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    Thanks for the tips so far. As far as the TI goes, I finished it last year. I am headed back this year to singlespeed it. Really, one of the hardest parts of the race is just staying awake. Anyway, good lighting dogged me this year and I am determined to come back better lit.

    I do other ultras, including the Arrowhead Ultra 135 (I have skied, cycled and run it) and will be headed back this Winter to try to finish high again in the run. That race is doubly tough on lights because of the extreme cold (many hours spent at -20 to -35 below F.)

    So, I will check out a couple of the mights mentioned above. When I think back, one really does need a light on your helmet to read cue cards and road signs. But the brunt of the power is probably best served on the bars.

    Thanks again for the advice. Always appreciated.

  9. #9
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    I would take 1 piko on the helmet, at low light levels helmet light is more efficient, the beam is rather wide and 55 grams is not too much on the helmet.
    helmetligth makes a ride less monotone, I try to see things on the side,... it allows mapchecks, looking at signs, looking in corners,....
    At 360 lumens, you should be fine, but test it upfront!

    For + 13 hours, I think I would start with two 5,6 Ah batterys, you 'll be able to go to full beam occasionally without the risk of falling without light for something like 540 grams!

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by scar View Post
    Definitely on the bars, you wouldn't want anything other than your helmet on your head for that long.

    As far as batteries, I wouldn't go with one big battery. Is this the only time you are going to be riding at night? If not, do you need that much juice on the majority of your rides? I would split it up into a 4 cell, and a 2 cell. Why carry the extra weight on all your other rides when you really only need it for the one event?


    My 2x Cree XP-G2 w/LFlex driver version sounds like it would be perfect. The XP-G2's mated up to the Ledil Regina reflectors give great throw with some real nice sidespill. I think this would be perfect for gravel goodness.


    ***
    I can agree with all of that. I can't see doing something like this and only using a helmet light. Something that is this long in duration, your head/neck is going to get real tired. That means your head/and neck will drop just out of shear exhaustion. If you want to continue to see where you're going you need a bar lamp. Now if I was to use an additional light, helmet light in this case, a simple ( light-weight ) torch will work fine. Definitely needed for reading road signs.

    Good idea about a 4 cell and 2 cell battery. Make's sense to me.

    I have to admit I'm curious about this event and what it takes to complete it. I have lots of questions: What kind of bike works best? What size and type of tire? Are you allowed outside support ( drops ) via cell phone? I know this is off topic but I'm curious. Is there a blog to read that goes into more detail?

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cat-man-do View Post

    I have to admit I'm curious about this event and what it takes to complete it. I have lots of questions: What kind of bike works best? What size and type of tire? Are you allowed outside support ( drops ) via cell phone? I know this is off topic but I'm curious. Is there a blog to read that goes into more detail?
    This event surely sounds challenging Cat. Pictures of the terrain suggest the best bike to use would be Cyclocross types. A 29er maybe be ok. From what I see tyres should be good for a mix of packed gravel, bitumen and mud. The timing of next years event, April 27-28 may see wet muddy conditions in certain sections but hard to say from a desktop.
    Trans Iowa Blog Page &
    Past Trans-Iowa Events Blog

    Totally agree 2 lights are needed. Map reading and looking out for signs + landmarks and repairs to bike if any will require a helmet light. Go for the lightest helmet light you can. If it gets too heavy after a while, take it off the helmet and put it on the bars. With cold conditions down to low single digits in the night, a torch on the helmet may not be the best way to go. Better to keep the battery in the backpack or best inside your jacket. Body heat will help the battery/ies run at optimum conditions.

    Leonard
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  12. #12
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    I used a Fenix LD20 flashlight and a Portland Design Works Dreadnaught on my failed TI attempt last year, and I'll be using them again this year when I go back for a shot at redemption. I think the Fenix could honestly get the job done by itself, and I had the handlebar light more as a backup than anything else. The Fenix mounts nicely on a helmet using a Jannd frame-pump mount, and it's lightweight to the point of being almost unnoticeable. Battery life isn't that great but with a few pairs of Lithium Ultimates along you should be good to go!

    I'm not sure how frequently you make it down to MPLS, but you're welcome to borrow mine at some point if you want to check em out.

    Ben

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xeccon View Post
    This event surely sounds challenging Cat. Pictures of the terrain suggest the best bike to use would be Cyclocross types. A 29er maybe be ok. From what I see tyres should be good for a mix of packed gravel, bitumen and mud. The timing of next years event, April 27-28 may see wet muddy conditions in certain sections but hard to say from a desktop.
    Trans Iowa Blog Page &
    Past Trans-Iowa Events Blog

    Totally agree 2 lights are needed. Map reading and looking out for signs + landmarks and repairs to bike if any will require a helmet light. Go for the lightest helmet light you can. If it gets too heavy after a while, take it off the helmet and put it on the bars. With cold conditions down to low single digits in the night, a torch on the helmet may not be the best way to go. Better to keep the battery in the backpack or best inside your jacket. Body heat will help the battery/ies run at optimum conditions.

    Leonard
    Yep, on a ride like the Trans Iowa keeping the battery warm would be important. Inside the jacket would be the way to go. Would be a PITA to do that for the bar light but on something this long you do what you have to do. If it were me I would also consider running Li-Po batteries because they are flatter and would be more comfortable next to your body. The added plus of running Li-Po would mean you might be able to get a quick charge at one of the local gas stations while getting some grub. Li-Po have the ability to handle a higher current for quick charging. Bring a small charger along just in case.

    The other way to go might be to consider a dynamo set-up for the bars. Then run a battery powered helmet light as back up and perhaps a bar torch for when you have to walk.

    @ Boney; Wow...you did the TI with just those two lights? Hey, I tip my hat to you. Even with both of those going that isn't a whole lot of light. I guess you chose that set-up so you could run AA's (?)...am I correct? Were you able to buy the Ultimate Lithiums on the road or did you bring all you needed with you?

    Damn, after watching the videos some of those people flated like 4 times...ever tried changing a flat when you are utterly exhausted? ...that would not be easy.

  14. #14
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    I know my opinion is somewhat biased, but the Gemini Duo may be efficiency champ. Turn if down to 700 lumens and you get 7 hours on a 4 cell battery or 420 lumens and you get 12.5 hours. Carry an extra 2 cell and you've probably got plenty. If you want to be sure team it up with a 6 cell.
    I've done some long night rides and think if your just going to have just one light, having it on the helmet is best. Being able to look around and see your surroundings or some wild life really help keep your mind entertained. Only 63g up top
    Jim Harger
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  15. #15
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    Cat man, not all people are nightblind

    This is the 9'th edition, first edition was 9 years ago I supose!
    Yes, HID existed, but i have the slight impression the participants of the first editions were not using that kind of alien technology
    AA battery or dynamo powered halogenbulb would have been the way to go back than I guess?

    I mostly ride trails with something like a combined 1000 lumens, but I know plenty of people who are mountainbiking with less than 360 lumen, on dirtroads 360lumen is certainly enough for me, certainly on the helmet, on the road 140 lumen does the trick, but 360 is more comfy!

    For me the piko 6 would still be the way to go, 55 gram is fine on the helmet, that's the weight of the feniks without batteries! with the 5,6 Ah battery included it's 300 gram, I would place the battery on the sadlepost as a rearlight unless there are arctic conditons!

    If you are a weight weenie, a single 5,6 Ah battery could do the trick if you are willing to toggle throug the powersettings: there are a lot of powersettings: at 360 lumen the battery will last only 9 h, at 300 lumen (eco modus) 10 h 40 minutes, at 140 lumen it works 24 h, at 120 lumen 36 hours, (at 50 lumen 90 hours).

    A push on the button of the battery and you see/ here how much capacity you have left, so you can calculate the optimum setting and secure you have power enough left to finish.

    I however would take a spare battery, at least a 2,5 Ah, that way you can ride at 360 lumens well over 13,5 hours for only 425 gram, so no need for calculations or riding with extreme low light, but also no spare to play around!

    With two 5,6 Ah batteries you can ride 18 hours at 360 lumen, so you can go to 900 lumen occasionally in difficult situations or just to look at landmarks to drive away boredom... And the whole light system would weigh 540 gram.

    About helmet or handlebar: A few years back long rides with only my good old switchback 2 (well over 100 gram on a 10 cm leverarm) on the helmet became painfull for the nek after a few hours.
    The weight of the helmet was one thing, but the bundle was so narrow that I needed to turn my head the whole time.
    With the piko its now 55 gram, close to the helmet, and a wide bundle, so i completely forget the light is there, 4 hours of mountainbiking and it's still as if there is nothing on the helmet!

    The piko also works fine on the handlebar, the halo is wide: 160/170, but it's just the halo, it has no throw, so for fast sharp cornering it's not enough, and you miss a lot off landmarks
    2 lights is nice on offroadtrips, but on stuff like the TI, i think it's overkill,and only in severe fog or when i know the place I would place on the handlebar!

  16. #16
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    about the gemini duo:
    For me the numbers don't match!
    A: gemini has the best battery on the market, outperforming all existing li-ion batteries, this would be strange.
    B:The gemini doesn't really provide the claimed amount of lumen
    C: the gemini doesn't reach the promised runtime

    Outer that, the helmet mount puts the light rather far from the helmet, the inertia of the weigt is wat counts in most cases, not the actual weight!

    Copies like the gloworm or the gemini?? I would go for the original, In Europe lupine is also sold though lokal dealers, they givesome discount, and try selling a gloworm or a gemini in a few years time and whatever profit you initialy made is lost!

    By the way, I am not connected to lupine, I am just a happy customer that made his homework a few weeks back deciding the piko was most interesting for me, but the situation in your neighbourhood might be different, i never bothered to look up the prices in the US, and lokal manufacturers might give interesting deals!

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nothing's impossible View Post
    Cat man, not all people are nightblind

    This is the 9'th edition, first edition was 9 years ago I supose!
    Yes, HID existed, but i have the slight impression the participants of the first editions were not using that kind of alien technology
    AA battery or dynamo powered halogenbulb would have been the way to go back than I guess?

    I mostly ride trails with something like a combined 1000 lumens, but I know plenty of people who are mountainbiking with less than 360 lumen, on dirtroads 360lumen is certainly enough for me, certainly on the helmet, on the road 140 lumen does the trick, but 360 is more comfy!...
    I wasn't implying that maximum lighting was required. Since this is the ninth edition I'll have to admit this is the first I've heard of the Trans Iowa. Sorry but it's been about 10 yrs or so since I've last had a subscription to ( or read ) a mountain bike magazine.

    Yeah, I suppose nine years ago the people doing the TI had their work cut out for them. God knows what they used back then. I remember back in the day I had a plastic bar mounted bike light that ran off of AA's. It didn't throw off much light but it was better than nothing. I suppose that's the kind of stuff they used back then.

    Today however you can certainly expect to use much more light because the LED lamps are much more brighter and more efficient. Still it would be a good idea on a ride like this to keep the output to a minimum if just to guarantee that you don't run out of battery juice.

    In my case I would probably use my Gloworm X2 on the bars coupled with the best battery I could find. The X2's lowest setting ( ~150 lumen ) is more than enough light for a slow ( ~10mph ) grind along remote gravel roads and should run about 11-12 hrs at that level. I've rode on that setting before and it is quite usable. I figure after 100 miles you aren't going to be breaking any land speed records anyway. Matter of fact the set-up that Boney was using would work fine once you get used to the lower light level. Once you start using the low levels of light you find that your eyes adapt. Every once in while I still practice using low light because I find it interesting to see just how little light I can actually get by with.

    Speaking of such, right now I have some nice torches that have low settings that are quite usable. Still on a ride like the TI it would be nice to have at least one light along that runs off of AA's, just in case.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cat-man-do View Post
    .

    @ Boney; Wow...you did the TI with just those two lights? Hey, I tip my hat to you. Even with both of those going that isn't a whole lot of light. I guess you chose that set-up so you could run AA's (?)...am I correct? Were you able to buy the Ultimate Lithiums on the road or did you bring all you needed with you?
    Last year was my first TI attempt and I didn't finish, but my DNF didn't have anything to do with my lights. You're right that its not much light, but I personally find it adequate for gravel use. Seeing as the Fenix is pretty much the go to light for racers participating in true multi-day efforts like the Tour Divide or Colorado Trail Race, I think it's safe to say that it'll get the job done for TI. The lithium AAs aren't available everywhere, so in the past I've sometimes started out with them and then just switched to regular AAs later on.

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    Cat, the 10 mph, that will be during the climbs

    If you have a 340 mile race and a 34 hour time limit in which you need to cycle, rest a bit, do the shopping, eat, and don't want to finish last, you'll need to ride quite a bit faster on the flat parts and a lot faster when it goes down!

    The fenix has a rather bleu and narrow beam if i remember well, That way you need to move your head constantly instead of only your eyes, that's a big diiference, and probably a reason tto get neck complaints!

    If you want to go for a torch, pick one with XML emitter and a wide optic!

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boney View Post
    Last year was my first TI attempt and I didn't finish, but my DNF didn't have anything to do with my lights. You're right that its not much light, but I personally find it adequate for gravel use. Seeing as the Fenix is pretty much the go to light for racers participating in true multi-day efforts like the Tour Divide or Colorado Trail Race, I think it's safe to say that it'll get the job done for TI. The lithium AAs aren't available everywhere, so in the past I've sometimes started out with them and then just switched to regular AAs later on.
    Hi Boney, Kudos to you. Looking at the videos I would be a DNS, let alone DNF. I am curious about the gravel:bitumen:mud: other (including singletrack type of trails, if any) ratio. What was the temperature like in the nights?

    You are right, the seemingly endless straight gravel grind won't require much light. Probably just need to look out for potholes only. Anywhere in the vicinity of 250 lumens should be sufficient. You'd probably only need more light when you come to a, landmark, juncture or going up those muddy climbs. I noticed what participants was given instruction guide rather than maps, is that correct?

    All the best in next years event. Hats off to you giving it another go.

    Leonard
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    Yes, it seems quite an adventure!!

  22. #22
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    In keeping with the spirit of all this I decided to do some run time tests using a couple lights I own that I thought might work well on an endurance type event such as the TI.

    For the test I chose my Gloworm X2 ( V1 ) set on the lowest mode of the "Adventure Program". ( ~150 lumen ? ) To make things easier I hooked up a two cell MagicShine battery ( 2200mAh? ). The other light is just my single 18650 cell Yezi Z1X 3-mode XM-L torch set on it lowest setting and using a single Panasonic 3100mAh cell.

    As it stands right now both lights are still going which absolutely just blows me away because it's been almost 8hrs! The Yezi torch is supposed to draw about 125ma on it's lowest setting. Not sure how much lumen that equals to but I would estimate about 125 lumen. Just looking at the output from each light I know that either one would work very well on a pitch black back road of Iowa. Another 20 mins and it will be eight hours since I started. Sorry but I have to stop because I have to go to bed!
    I'll note the time and finish the test tomorrow. Damn! 8 hrs on one cell! This goes beyond my expectations to say the least. Not to mention that I'm quite impressed that the two cell MagicShine battery is still going. I'll let you all know how it all turns out when I get up. Good night folks, time for the CAtman to hit the hay. .....

  23. #23
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    The 140 lumen of thepiko, that won't do the trick for me for a descent on gravel on an all nighter!

    I realised we are forgetting an important detail!

    Mountainbikelights loose half of the light into the air, for mountainbikelights this is a nice feature, it means you'll see branches and you'll be able to follow the terrain on a pumptrack, but on the road it is just waisted!

    In germany bikers are not suposed to blind others, so the optics are adapted, This is why a low lumen roadlights is so brigtht!

    I placed a small reflective hood on the piko to test this a few weeks ago, and you immediately notice the difference on the road! but instead of the hood you could also have a look at: headlight beams from Peter White Cycles

    On the helmet the led lenser might also be fine, you can focus the beam if you need to find something far away, and for normal riding you cans pread the beam!

  24. #24
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    Continued from my last post:

    Update: It's been 10 hrs now and both lights are still going strong. Folks it seems I have grossly under estimated how long a battery will last when on a low level of light. To check if the intensity of the outputs have dropped I momentarily switched batteries on both lights. To my surprise I see no difference in output. The test continues. I will update when when the batteries finally belly-up.

    @ Nothings impossible: Just keep in mind that the people doing a race like this are riding in groups and seeing very little vehicle traffic once they get out to the boonies. While watching the videos I noticed that many of people were just coasting down the hills. I figure that's because they are so wasted that you take a break whenever you can. Also keep in mind that while going down a hill you can chose to look farther ahead if you have a good helmet thrower. Then again I would think that at some point you would be so tired that you really wouldn't care. Once you hit "Zombie mode" nothing matters except resting when you have to rest, eating when you have to eat, peeing when you have to pee, everything else is just whatever.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cat-man-do View Post
    Continued from my last post:

    Update: It's been 10 hrs now and both lights are still going strong. Folks it seems I have grossly under estimated how long a battery will last when on a low level of light. To check if the intensity of the outputs have dropped I momentarily switched batteries on both lights. To my surprise I see no difference in output. The test continues. I will update when when the batteries finally belly-up.

    ]
    From this last post:

    So now the conclusion: I was able to get 13hrs and 50 minutes out of the two cell MagicShine battery using the lowest setting on the Gloworm X2 ( V1). That is absolutely awesome! If I was to use my 5200mAh 4-cells batteries likely I'm going to get over 29 hrs. riding on the lowest level. Sweet!

    On a side note I noticed that the X2 never did go through a strobe warning like I was told it was suppose to do. That's an issue I might have to take up with Gloworm.

    As for the Yezi Z1X with the Panasonic cell; I decided to end the test at 14hrs. No sense in overly discharging the cell. I'm happy with 14hrs!
    In retrospect, I'm not really sure what the output is on the Yezi low mode. While doing the test I compared it to another torch I have that is suppose to be 110 lumen and that torch looked a little brighter than the Yezi. To be fair I'll have to call the Yezi low mode somewhere around < 100 lumen. Perhaps that is why the battery seemed to last so long.

    Now that all that is done I really want to know how long the batteries will last on the next level up. To be continued....

  26. #26
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    Cat man, if you know how much current the light draws, you can have a good estimate of the burntime on a battery, certainly on low currents it is really precictable!
    Isn't it in the manual??

    The question is, how much light are you producing at a certain current draw, there a lot of brands have strange outputs!

    It is difficult to estimate the amount of light, I hardly see the difference between 120 & 140 lumen on the piko,the one next to the other,yet the manual indicates that the battery life increases from 12 to 18 hours on a 2,5 Ah battery (2 cel), and I noticed the manual tends to underestimate burn time.

    But I compared the piko to a chinese claimed 140 lumen flashlight and I rather ride with the piko at 50 lumen setting than with that torch on full power!

    For me, zombie mode in general means that i need more light, it takes longer to notice the potential dangerous situation, and it takes longer to react. With low light settings i will end up in the pothole, with a bit more light I'll drive around the pothole!
    I wouldn't want to rely on the light of others!

    I could take the piko with the 2,7 Ah battery, and at 120 lumen have around 20 hours of light, front and rear, for 185 gram. It would allow to turn up the light for short periods to search for landmarks or in the more difficult situations, but the moment visibility is a bit less it might become difficult/ dangerous.

    On the other hand, on a clear full moon night you might just need 20-50 lumen to read the map and to be visible.

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nothing's impossible View Post
    Cat man, if you know how much current the light draws, you can have a good estimate of the burntime on a battery, certainly on low currents it is really precictable!
    Isn't it in the manual??

    The question is, how much light are you producing at a certain current draw, there a lot of brands have strange outputs!

    It is difficult to estimate the amount of light, I hardly see the difference between 120 & 140 lumen on the piko,the one next to the other,yet the manual indicates that the battery life increases from 12 to 18 hours on a 2,5 Ah battery (2 cel), and I noticed the manual tends to underestimate burn time.

    But I compared the piko to a chinese claimed 140 lumen flashlight and I rather ride with the piko at 50 lumen setting than with that torch on full power!

    For me, zombie mode in general means that i need more light, it takes longer to notice the potential dangerous situation, and it takes longer to react. With low light settings i will end up in the pothole, with a bit more light I'll drive around the pothole!
    I wouldn't want to rely on the light of others!

    I could take the piko with the 2,7 Ah battery, and at 120 lumen have around 20 hours of light, front and rear, for 185 gram. It would allow to turn up the light for short periods to search for landmarks or in the more difficult situations, but the moment visibility is a bit less it might become difficult/ dangerous.

    On the other hand, on a clear full moon night you might just need 20-50 lumen to read the map and to be visible.
    NI,..yes, if you know the current draw, the voltage drop of the emitter and the battery mAh rating you can figure out run time by doing the math. Still, in the real world things like batteries can lose capacity so it doesn't hurt to do an actual run time test once in while.

    About estimating lumen output: Yes, it is hard to do. It helps if you have other lamps to judge by. As for my Yezi torch, the low mode I found quite usable when traveling at moderate speeds on terrain that is not too rough.

    On a ride like the TI I would think that many people would bail out by the time night falls. If you're lucky you might end up following a small group of people who work together taking turns at taking point and helping each other out ( as in the video ). That would help a whole lot because the person in front can not only warn others of approaching pot holes and ruts but the people following can also notice if the person running point is weaving or dodging which might indicate an obstacle.

    About torches vs. bike lights: A torch that uses a "cool white" emitter seems to work best when using minimal light. The Yezi I have actually has a bluish tint which I tend not to like but at lower light levels it seems to carry distance well and is not too annoying. Still, like you I would rather use my nice Gloworm X2 rather than a torch because the dedicated bike light has a much brighter, wider, longer beam pattern. Regardless, even if you only had the torch as back-up it's nice to know that not only would you be able to see well it would also be able to give you some decent run time.

  28. #28
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    Having done the TI last year, I swore I would change a few things for this coming year.

    First. You NEED a bright light coming down the hundreds of steep hills at night. The dumber you get as the race progresses, the better the light you need. And coming down those hills is not a slow affair. Even if you actually aren't going as fast as you would normally during the day, the effect of being super tired and feeling the desperation of getting to the finish leads to some sketchier than usual riding.

    Second. A decent helmet light is a necessity. I need a brighter light this year to read street/road signs in the middle of the night. Again, the constant bouncing on gravel makes it so difficult to focus on cue cards when you are shelled.

    Third. I'm guessing at 200 lumen. And I need at least 15 hours of battery life. Right now, I am looking at the Ay Up Ultra Lite. Comes with a 6 hr battery (at approx 200 lumen) with another 12 hr back up battery. I would wear as a helmet mount.

    The TI is arguably one of the toughest events going. I know, a very subjective statement, but close to true. A bright light with a decent battery is what I need to improve on for 2013. I'm riding it singlespeed this year.

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    I've done similar races in the past and being able to optimize for long races is one of the reason I started building my own lights many years ago. But, given the selection of lights available today you should be able to do something similar with off the shelf lights. What you really need is a light that either already has the right medium-low setting or a light that lets you program the brightness levels. This is the kind of application where the fact that LED efficiency gets much better at lower power levels really helps you out. This was a much harder problems back in the days of halogen and HID lights.

    My lights use the programmable taskled drivers that let you program brightness levels. You want something you can configure ahead of time, because as you say, you don't want to have do anything complex during the middle of a long race. What's nice about the taskled drivers is you get to pick a current table based on max power and then it has 5 levels in that table. You then tell the driver which of the 5 levels to use for your low setting. With all the various current tables, there's almost always a setting that is the perfect balance between runtime and brightness. Here are a set of tables I created a long time ago for my triple cree xp-g lights and a 4 cell 2.6ah battery pack.

    1000 ma

    L1 / 50ma / 0.42 watts / 82 hours / 78 lumens
    L2 / 140ma / 1.4 watts / 25 hours / 200 lumens
    L3 / 260ma / 2.7 watts / 13 hours / 300 lumens
    L4 / 500ma / 5 watts / 6.5 hours / 600 lumens
    L5 / 1000ma / 10.5 watts / 3.25 hours / 900 lumens

    750 ma

    L1 / 33ma / 0.3 watts / 128 hours / 60 lumens
    L2 / 100ma / 0.9 watts / 42 hours / 125 lumens
    L3 / 215ma / 2 watts / 19 hours / 250 lumens
    L4 / 390ma / 3.6 watts / 10.5 hours / 450 lumens
    L5 / 750ma / 7.5 watts / 5 hours / 800 lumens

    I marked the row I'd use for this race in red. I always use 2 lights because, like you mention, you want to be able to see things you look at and you want a backup. So between 2 lights that gives you a 19 hour runtime with about 500 lumens of total light. You also have enough reserve to use the high settings for short periods when you really need it. It's also why I worked really hard to keep my lights under 75g. Weight on the helmet really matters when you're wearing it for a really long time. I give the lights a couple of good test runs before the race and I don't carry any additional battery packs. That's just to keep things simple and lightweight, and I have 2 complete lights in case something goes wrong.

  30. #30
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    So the dumb question is...how do I get what you have described? Do I have to construct my own? I thank you for the detailed advice.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jkcustom View Post
    So the dumb question is...how do I get what you have described? Do I have to construct my own? I thank you for the detailed advice.
    Jk, there are many good lights out there that I think could work real well for the super long endurance events. I would think the Gemini lights would be real nice because they all have programmable settings that allow the user to program the brightness on each mode. Gemini Duo on the bars and Xera on the helmet and you should be good to go. However not to be out done by the new Gloworm lights that have the added plus of a wired remote.

    Gloworms newest model the X1 has the same varied menu as their double XM-L model, the X2 , with great mounting options and is the single XM-L model supposing to have *extended throw ( *new model, remains to be seen ). All of these lamps offer good low settings for extended ride time or brighter modes to be used when needed. Program in the menu you feel would work best for the long race and you are set to go. Having a wired remote in an endurance race would be absolutely fantastic need I say.

    Also you might want to check with Scar about his Amoeba double XP-G2 set-up. Not sure what driver he is using in his builds but might be using taskled drivers. Worth looking into.

    Another lamp worth looking into using wired remotes ( that doesn't get talked about much ) is the K-lite. This lamp and builder hails from Down under and designs his lamps with 24 hr. endurance events in mind. I believe he's using Bflex drivers and those should offer some great options for choosing output levels. Not sure if Kerry is using the XPG/XPE type 2 yet but worth looking into. BTW I own an XP-G version K-lite. I only stopped using it because I considered the Gloworm X2 better because it offered a greater mode menu choice and more defined beam pattern. Whatever, worth looking into the K-lite if you like the idea of small light-weight programmable lamp with remote.

    About the downhills on the TI: Yeah, I can understand the need for a thrower if going real fast. FWIW, I've use one of my 501B XM-L torches on the helmet on occasion and even at 30mph it has enough throw for me to see well into the 150ft. range. Definitely works well as a lite-weight set-up. Carry a couple of spare 18650 cells in the bag and that should get you by as long as you don't over use it.
    Last edited by Cat-man-do; 11-15-2012 at 04:20 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cat-man-do View Post
    ...Now that all that is done I really want to know how long the batteries will last on the next level up. To be continued....
    In keeping with my previous thought, I just had to know. To make things easier I measured the current levels and than did the math. The next level up on a Gloworm X2 is supposed to be 300lm. ( 360ma ) This level is very useful and what I generally ride around with when on moderate terrain. With the two cell it should get about 5 hrs.
    With a 4 cell 5200mAh battery ( using better cells ) it should get close to 12 hrs. at that 300 lumen level depending on the age of the battery, the outside tempature and how well the cells charge. Nice to know if I ever plan on doing an epic.

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    Jk,

    My current setup, a piko with 2,7 Ah battery and a piko 6 would do what you want if you want 2 lights:
    run the small battery constant on the handlebar at 120 lumen for 19,5 hours,
    (or at 140 lumen for 13 hours)
    and use the piko 6 on the helmet in an 120/750/Off mode:
    - off on the easy road stretches or if you're riding in company,
    - 120lumen for map checks or whenever needed (it runs 36 hours at 120 lumen)
    - 750 lumen for difficult downhil stretches, when looking for landmarks,...

    The piko with 2,7 Ah battery is 185 gram, the piko 6 300 gram, the lighthead is 55 gram and I haven't seen any onther manufacturer that has a more compact light or mounting system with some punch!

    Personaly, i would only take the helmet light, with either two 5,6 Ah batteries, or the 5,6 and the 2,7 ah battery, the chance that the light fails is so small that i'm willing to take it, this is german craftmanship after all, and if you hit something so hard that the light is damaged, you 'll be in an ambulance instead of a bikerace after that!

    you can take one bigger battery, lupine has 9 and 12 Ah batteries, but i would go for 2 smaller ones:
    Changing a battery takes no time, But, if you brigthen up to often or to long you'll notice it in time to rectify things with the second battery.
    Secondly, on normal rides you probaly won't need such a heavy battery!

  34. #34
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    Cat-man-do...thanks so much for the advice! I'll look into these.

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    If you are going for asian, i noticed Xeccon is coming out with the geinea, it seems rather smal and they also claim a high output!

    Lumen output might be a bit exagerated if they measure lumens the same way they measured it before, but I noticed that for most asian manufacturers!

    Xeccon has competitive prices

  36. #36
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    Amoeba - made in the USA by an actual mtn biker

    2x Cree XP-G2 w/LFlex light head




    2600mah battery



    5200mah battery would be double that


    Helmet mount





    Not sure if you checked the prices of those Lupine batteries Gretnabikes.com | Lupine Batteries


    My 2600mah battery goes for $45 and the 5200mah battery goes for $80

    It is cool to see some manufacturers finally coming out with some smaller lights. I have been building my Amoeba light now for 5 years. Neat to see the fad finally catching on


    jkcustom - had the winner (Pete Basinger) of last years Iditarod Invitational take one of my lights along for the ride. Have had a quite a few Colorado Trail racers and Continental Divide racers use my light, never have had any complaints.


    ***

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    Scar, 5 years ago, when I noticed your light I was really impressed!

    But the year after that the first piko became commercialy available, even more compakt, crash and waterproof, with an ultralight mount (the combined weight from the piko with the helmet mount with velcro is under 59 gram), the batteries are in a hardcase, now the batteries have a small protective circuit and capacity indicator,..

    Time to get back behind the drawing table ;-)

    The price, the dealer network makes things more expensive, but a lokal dealer might be able to give a discount and still make a nice profit if gretna is not to greedy?

  38. #38
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    Originally posted by Nothing's impossible -
    Time to get back behind the drawing table ;-)
    Wish I had time, too busy trying to fill orders and "light" people up.


    ****

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nothing's impossible View Post
    and capacity indicator,..

    Time to get back behind the drawing table ;-)
    the Taskled drivers Scar uses are far superior to almost anything available in a big name light on the market right now, even Lupine. Programmable thermal throttling, user configurable multiple battery capacity warnings, multiple power levels, different UIs (of which Threemode is the best UI for bike lights). I'd rather have one of Scar's lights over a Piko any day of the week.

    Perhaps you might want to build some of your own before slamming the efforts of one of the most experienced light builders on here?

  40. #40
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    Sorry.....

    I don't want this thread to turn into a pissing match. I just wanted the OP to know about another option. Not much more to add on my end, I am sure I will hear from him if he is interested.

    Carry on



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    Scar, I hope you read the first line, I was really impressed with the amoebe when it came out, it was a top DIY prototype, but i have the feeling you stated producing the alpha prototype instead of a finished produkt.
    It is my opinion, but as you are selling lights, other have a different opinion!

    If I would build a light from scratch, there would be a big chance I would end up using an existing rectangular aluminium profile,with the button on top, a cree set with reflectors, an existing driver, a ruberised batterypack, and I would end up with comparable mounts.

    But if I buy A light it is a different story, I rather buy a finished produkt than an alpha prototype!

    I did consider a lot of lights before buying the piko, but I never considered the ameuba!

  42. #42
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    N.I., Not sure you can compare a product produced from an internationally renown company like Lupine with a product produced by a person who is a virtual one-man-show. Kind of like comparing a single grape to a shopping cart full of watermelon.

    I also wouldn't call the Amoeba's " a prototype". Just because the outer casing is not machined per say doesn't mean it's not a finished product. I'm sure a lot of thought went into these builds. Last thing a DIY builder wants is a bunch of product being returned. While I don't own an Amoeba, I have noticed that over the years the product has continued to improve whenever new DIY components and accessories have become available. That includes driver's, mounts, LED's and reflectors. For someone ( like Scar ) who does this kind of a thing as a side-line and does all the work himself ( as far as I know ), that's saying a lot. I'll also add that as long as I've been hanging around on this forum, I've never seen or heard anyone speak out or claim to have a problem with one of the Amoeba's. Not that it's never happened but if the product had not met up with the claims of the builder I think I would of heard something by now.

    Now with all that said, If I was going to buy a light for my helmet right now and I had a choice of say one of the Piko lamps from Lupine or one of Scar's XP-G2 Amoeba's , I'd likely buy the Amoeba unless the Lupine people decided to significantly drop their price.
    I'm not dissing the quality of the Lupines. I'm just making the point that the discerning customer is always going to consider the quality AND the "Bang for the Buck" factor before making a purchase.

  43. #43
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    Cat, how many ameuba's do you own?
    And why did you buy them?

    Or did you rather go for something else?

    I also more like a flood on the helmet, with the current output, they provide flood and throw at once.

  44. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nothing's impossible View Post
    Cat, how many ameuba's do you own?
    And why did you buy them?

    Or did you rather go for something else?

    .
    Question one answered in the post above your last. Question 2 N/A.
    Question three answered by process of elimination. Done.

    I own many lights. I can't own every light that I like no matter how much I might like to. Scar is not the only DIY'er who's work I admire. There are many others. I'd like to have a troutie light...or perhaps a DesignShine light...or that guy that was selling those real nice double triple XP-G set-ups some years ago. So far I've bought 2 light sets from DIY'ers. I can't buy from everybody but I can admire their work.

  45. #45
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    Cat, I think you have a bikelight fetish! Or is there a purpose for owning many lights?

    For me, DIY lights are cool if you actually made them, not something I would buy.

  46. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nothing's impossible View Post
    Cat, I think you have a bikelight fetish! Or is there a purpose for owning many lights?

    For me, DIY lights are cool if you actually made them, not something I would buy.
    I'm a collector of sorts. Collecting and using bike lights is my hobby and goes back many years. While I do spend some money on this it is not as expensive as other hobbies. My Mother ( God rest her soul ) used to collect teddy bears. There were bears in her collection worth thousands of dollars. Her collection filled the shelves of an entire wall in her bed room. My older sister is a collector of various nick-knacky type of stuff. She has so much stuff on her walls and shelves that it is hard to explain. Perhaps it runs in the family.

    Over the years I might have collected bike lights and torches that might total up to not more than $3000. Not really a lot when you consider that some of the stuff is quite dated and no longer usable.

    As hobbies go, collecting bike lights is not that expensive of a hobby. If my hobby were fishing I might go out and buy a $30K fishing boat, not to mention all the gear and maintenance that goes with it which could easily cost a couple thousand a year.

    Unfortunately I don't have lots of money burning a hole in my pocket so I have to be picky with what hobbies I choose. I tried golf once but that got real expensive. Not to mention that golf is probably the most frustrating sport on the face of the planet.

    So anyway, that's it. I buy lights I like either because I just have a fascination with the build or the light has special features or upgrades that I deem "must have". As with all my purchases, quality, usefulness and "bang for the buck" are determining factors.

  47. #47
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    In keeping with the subject matter of the thread ( the Trans Iowa ) I did a quickie road ride tonight in the cold night air. After checking for typical temperature at night during April for Iowa, it turns out the temps in my area are around that same level at night as during the race. When I got back the thermometer read 39F. That was one cold ride. Keeping your hands and feet warm are the big problem. All I can say is that the people who do something like the T.I. better have figured out the "hands and feet " issue because those are the first things to get really cold if the temperature starts to drop.

    Back in day I used to ride mountain bikes even in the winter. The only issue I never really figured out was my feet. I tried everything. Went on line and asked others what they did. Nothing really worked well. After 3 hrs I'm done because by that time my feet are really cold. At road speed it is much worse. After 1.5hr my feet are ICICLES, and that wearing my winter mt. bike shoes.

    Anyway, I went out to see how riding with minimal light was going to work. Once again using my Gloworm X2 ( V2 this time ) on the bars on the lowest level ( LL ) I found I could see somewhat well but I certainly could wish for more. Once I hit the next level up ( 300 lumen ) all my problems were over. I had no problem seeing anything.

    The Yezi torch I tested previously did seem to work very well on the lowest level although like the lowest level on the Gloworm you could wish for more. Thankfully if I go up a level once again I can see well although not as nice as the Gloworm.

    I'm going to search around for a torch with more output choices. If I find a suitable torch that might make a better back up bar torch I'll let you know.

  48. #48
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    Cat man, it's called fetish ;-)

    Buy the way, did I mention I would start with a piko around 300-360 lumen

  49. #49
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    Cold hands and feet idea

    Quote Originally Posted by Cat-man-do View Post
    In keeping with the subject matter of the thread ( the Trans Iowa ) I did a quickie road ride tonight in the cold night air. After checking for typical temperature at night during April for Iowa, it turns out the temps in my area are around that same level at night as during the race. When I got back the thermometer read 39F. That was one cold ride. Keeping your hands and feet warm are the big problem. All I can say is that the people who do something like the T.I. better have figured out the "hands and feet " issue because those are the first things to get really cold if the temperature starts to drop.

    Back in day I used to ride mountain bikes even in the winter. The only issue I never really figured out was my feet. I tried everything. Went on line and asked others what they did. Nothing really worked well. After 3 hrs I'm done because by that time my feet are really cold. At road speed it is much worse. After 1.5hr my feet are ICICLES, and that wearing my winter mt. bike shoes.
    Transplanting this paragraph in the right thread.

    "And Cat, to prevent cold feet, just use cycling shoe covers like these. Thicker skiing gloves or purpose made cycling ones will help for hands but I suggest best to have another pair of standard ones. No joy riding with hot sweaty hands in thick gloves. The lobster ones cost heaps but I bet they are like a warm log cabin in Anchorage." .

    Leonard
    Leonard - All things Xeccon + Beyond
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    And, a decision about TA lights already?

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