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  1. #1
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    Need Help Picking 1st Light

    I've decided this year i will be doing whatever i can to ride year round and that is getting a new light. I've roughly $200 to spend and was thinking of getting a single light to mount to the helmet. I tend to ride technical singletrack as that is all that is around me here in NH.

    I've narrowed it down to three choices that seem pretty good based upon the backyard pictures in the 2013 light shootout.

    Gemini Duo
    Gloworm X2
    Jet Lights X-52


    Was wondering if anyone had an opinion about these and which way they might go.

    Thanks for the advice ahead of time.
    2013 Rocky Mountian Altitude

  2. #2
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    First off, you have picked three good light company's to chose from. I have the Gemini Duo and find it a good system that is very light weight. It has a well balanced beam pattern with no real hotspot. And probably the best feature is the programing.

    I believe the Gloworm X-2 is very similar as it also uses optics that can be customized to change beam degree. I think it also has a lower profile mount for your helmet which is a bonus over the Gemini.

    The Jet Lights X-52 is more of a flashlight type of beam pattern as it uses a reflector. This will give you a hotter spot with more throw surrounded by a dimmer halo or spill. I personally prefer the optic type of beam.

    It is a subjective topic as we all like different things, just know that there is a big difference between optics and reflector type lamp heads. Cheers!!!

  3. #3
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    ...adding to what was said above ( ^ ) the OP might want to rethink his options. No serious MTB'er is going to recommend "just one lamp" to mountain bike on technical single track. Two lamps is almost a "must have" not only from a "so I can see better" aspect but so that if one lamp has a problem you have a back up to get you home. No one wants to be back in the woods with only one lamp only to find out that you forgot to charge the battery or had another technical problem with the lamp. Scary as all git-out to be back in the woods at night and suddenly realize you don't have the equipment you need to get you back.

    All this in retrospect, if I only had $200 to spend I would buy a cheaper Chinese multi-emitter lamp ( something like a tri-clone lamp or duel XM_L lamp ), a good battery to run it and then buy a better name brand single emitter lamp for the helmet ( something like a Gloworm X1 ( XM-L U2 ), Xeccon X-12 ( XM-L2 ), MagicShine 808-L2 (with XM-L2).

    Done this way you end up with more light where you need it, spend just under $200 and end up with an extra battery to use as back up. Not to mention there are other cheaper solutions but you get the idea.

  4. #4
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    Out of curiosity and since you mentioned it... what is a good budget chinese light that you would recommend Cat-man-do? I have noticed your name around pretty much every light forum around here and was thinking of getting one before it starts getting dark too early for me to ride as much.
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Desidus View Post
    Out of curiosity and since you mentioned it... what is a good budget chinese light that you would recommend Cat-man-do? I have noticed your name around pretty much every light forum around here and was thinking of getting one before it starts getting dark too early for me to ride as much.
    There are lots of cheaper Chinese made multi-emitter lamps and while I own a fair share of these I don't like to recommend just one type or brand. However without giving a ringing endorsement I will say that the SolarStorm X2's have garnered a lot of attention lately due to their "Bang for the buck" value and overall usefulness. While I don't own one I have listened to what others have said about it and am impressed enough that I ordered one just the other day so I could play around with it and compare it to the other lamps I have. I should have it in a couple weeks.

    Whatever Chinese lamp you buy just remember that the batteries they come with are oftentimes sub-par. Typical price for a lamp is about 30-$40. Just assume from the git-go that you will need a better battery, maybe another $45

    All that said, this is the season for change. New lamps are being released and so no one knows if or when something better will come out that will be the better BFTB value.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cat-man-do View Post
    ...adding to what was said above ( ^ ) the OP might want to rethink his options. No serious MTB'er is going to recommend "just one lamp" to mountain bike on technical single track. Two lamps is almost a "must have" not only from a "so I can see better" aspect but so that if one lamp has a problem you have a back up to get you home. No one wants to be back in the woods with only one lamp only to find out that you forgot to charge the battery or had another technical problem with the lamp. Scary as all git-out to be back in the woods at night and suddenly realize you don't have the equipment you need to get you back.

    All this in retrospect, if I only had $200 to spend I would buy a cheaper Chinese multi-emitter lamp ( something like a tri-clone lamp or duel XM_L lamp ), a good battery to run it and then buy a better name brand single emitter lamp for the helmet ( something like a Gloworm X1 ( XM-L U2 ), Xeccon X-12 ( XM-L2 ), MagicShine 808-L2 (with XM-L2).

    Done this way you end up with more light where you need it, spend just under $200 and end up with an extra battery to use as back up. Not to mention there are other cheaper solutions but you get the idea.
    Is that a shot at me Cat??? I do consider myself a pretty serious mountain biker, but you are right, after I sent my post I realized I forgot to mention having a back up light. Thanx for setting me strait. Cheers!!!

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by indebt View Post
    Is that a shot at me Cat??? I do consider myself a pretty serious mountain biker, but you are right, after I sent my post I realized I forgot to mention having a back up light. Thanx for setting me strait. Cheers!!!
    Huh ? ...hell no. The "OP" refers to the "Opening Poster". He's the new guy who wants just one light. My bad I suppose. I should of said, " No serious MTB'er is going to need "just one lamp" to mountain bike on technical single track". Hey, sometimes the fingers just types the wrong letters or at times the brain comes up with the wrong word. I edit my own posts all the time. Really not usual. Typically I see the mistakes by the next couple days and fix it.
    Last edited by Cat-man-do; 08-26-2013 at 02:19 AM. Reason: there I go again...

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cat-man-do View Post
    ...adding to what was said above ( ^ ) the OP might want to rethink his options. No serious MTB'er is going to recommend "just one lamp" to mountain bike on technical single track. Two lamps is almost a "must have" not only from a "so I can see better" aspect but so that if one lamp has a problem you have a back up to get you home. No one wants to be back in the woods with only one lamp only to find out that you forgot to charge the battery or had another technical problem with the lamp. Scary as all git-out to be back in the woods at night and suddenly realize you don't have the equipment you need to get you back.

    All this in retrospect, if I only had $200 to spend I would buy a cheaper Chinese multi-emitter lamp ( something like a tri-clone lamp or duel XM_L lamp ), a good battery to run it and then buy a better name brand single emitter lamp for the helmet ( something like a Gloworm X1 ( XM-L U2 ), Xeccon X-12 ( XM-L2 ), MagicShine 808-L2 (with XM-L2).

    Done this way you end up with more light where you need it, spend just under $200 and end up with an extra battery to use as back up. Not to mention there are other cheaper solutions but you get the idea.


    I've thought about the Chinese lights and i've looked through a bunch of posts here where people were complaining about the battery or the output of the diode. There was one where the guy opened up his sun-fire and ended up seeing all kinds of heat sink grease over the diode. And then the batteries that are shipped even the cheaper ones on ebay are all manufactured in china and many people complain about that. Therefore was thinking quality.

    I wouldn't mind having two lights at all. But i figure to start get one good helmet light and then expand to the bars later. I cannot go the other way (bike then helmet) as sometimes my front wheel is involuntarily moved on me while riding due to large objects.

    I've got a couple high power surefire flash lights i can bring with me in case my light dies that i can use to get back home. I really would like to get two lights, but those chinese lights just look sketchy. And since there was no photos of how well they light in the lights shootout hesitant to trust em.
    2013 Rocky Mountian Altitude

  9. #9
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    I wouldn't even go on a ride with one light. If it fails, the mount breaks or the battery runs out, you are in total darkness. Just hope that doesn't happen while you are on a downhill or technical section where the penalties for mistakes can be catastrophic. You wouldn't be the 1st or last.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by IamShakes View Post
    I've thought about the Chinese lights and i've looked through a bunch of posts here where people were complaining about the battery or the output of the diode. There was one where the guy opened up his sun-fire and ended up seeing all kinds of heat sink grease over the diode. And then the batteries that are shipped even the cheaper ones on ebay are all manufactured in china and many people complain about that. Therefore was thinking quality.

    I wouldn't mind having two lights at all. But i figure to start get one good helmet light and then expand to the bars later. I cannot go the other way (bike then helmet) as sometimes my front wheel is involuntarily moved on me while riding due to large objects.

    I've got a couple high power surefire flash lights i can bring with me in case my light dies that i can use to get back home. I really would like to get two lights, but those chinese lights just look sketchy. And since there was no photos of how well they light in the lights shootout hesitant to trust em.
    Yep, sometimes someone gets a bad one. It happens. Doesn't mean everyone will have the same issues. If you like more of a quality guarantee than your best bet is to buy from an on-line vendor. The ones with ad's on MTBR will stand behind the products that they sell. They also provide better batteries with those products as well. It will cost a little more doing it this way but it is a good option if you hate dealing with problems.

    When I ordered the X2 I bought I ordered from one of the Chinese websites that I've ordered from before. Some are better than others. If I have a problem with the product I can send it back. It will take a while to replace but only because it is being shipped from the other side of the world.

    I think I own about 9 lamps that were made in China. Some are decent lamps, some are so-so and one was a piece of crap. The ones with branded names ( and vendors ) are usually better products. Still on occasion you buy a cheap generic lamp and get a decent deal. When this happens you get what I like to call, "the best Bang for the buck". When you only spend $40 and get something that rocks you feel great. The only way to get that though is to "roll them dice, or else pays the premium price".

  11. #11
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    If you need to pick one light, another option to consider would be the Fenix BT-20. It's two lights in one. It has a wide angle flood and a great throw to let you know what's coming up a head. When I'm not using the lights I've made I use this one as my handle bar lights.

    But as Cat has said, you'll need at least two sets of lights when on the trails at night.
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  12. #12
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    I can't afford the 200 dollar craziness that is out there (I mean that's half my bike cost) so chinese mumbojumbo is kinda the only route I can go right now. As for me I will be getting only ONE and see if the crappy chinese battery works and I will have just a standard flashlight and some zip ties as a backup. Always handy to have a flashlight anyways. Mostly I will be using it for the times that I end up riding out too late rather than pure night riding so I think this will be fine.
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by IamShakes View Post
    I've decided this year i will be doing whatever i can to ride year round and that is getting a new light. I've roughly $200 to spend and was thinking of getting a single light to mount to the helmet. I tend to ride technical singletrack as that is all that is around me here in NH.

    I've narrowed it down to three choices that seem pretty good based upon the backyard pictures in the 2013 light shootout.

    Gemini Duo
    Gloworm X2
    Jet Lights X-52


    Was wondering if anyone had an opinion about these and which way they might go.

    Thanks for the advice ahead of time.
    Flashlights is a very important part of your kit. I've seen cheaper lights break and fail under hard use and ruin trips.
    I'll invest my money in a quality product that I know is bomb proof and will work every time I need it.
    People should be less worried about cost and more worried about value.

    As for me, I carry Armytek Predator. It costs more than $100. But I think it's good price for well-made light.

  14. #14
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    I was just looking at the Cygolite Metro 420 Lumen light on amazon for $65.00. It seemed to have good reviews most were onroad commuters. For the price you could buy three of them handlebars, helmet and a spare. The again I am also looking at the Serfas 500 or 750 lumens lights they are running 160.00 and 170.00 online from Serfas.

  15. #15
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    if you ride singletrack might want to consider stretching your budget a bit for a NiteRider Pro 1800. rugged, powerful, full featured, great helmet mount, and a good pattern for off-roading.

  16. #16
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    For singletrack, what are recommended lumens for the helmet lamp and lumens for the bar mount lamp? My understanding is that the bar mount can be/should be less than the helmet.

    How much weight is too much for the helmet lamp (assuming remote battery)? I ask, because the 2013 Light Shootout keeps mentioning bar mounts, as if the light should not be helmet mounted?

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by dcelento View Post
    For singletrack, what are recommended lumens for the helmet lamp and lumens for the bar mount lamp? My understanding is that the bar mount can be/should be less than the helmet.

    How much weight is too much for the helmet lamp (assuming remote battery)? I ask, because the 2013 Light Shootout keeps mentioning bar mounts, as if the light should not be helmet mounted?
    IMO minimum for fast singletrack riding with occasional roots and rocks is 700 lumens for helmet and about 1200 for bars. That's 1900 300 real lumens combined. It will most probably end up closer to the lower end of the equation from heat build up.

    All things being equal, the helmet light should have a light intensity of at least 80% to the bars 20% when both's central hotspot are shone on the ground at 5 meters in front of you. When the helmet light is lifted up to shine 60-80 meters away, both lights should have about the same brightness and intensity creating one long even flow of light.

    Everyone's sense of weight is different. A helmet weighs 250g on average. Add a light head of 80 you may not feel it. Past 100 you'll begin to. Any loading over 500 grams and you'll suffer on the trails in 20 minutes. Do it for an hour and you'll never do it again.
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    Thanks for the thoughts, MTBRevolution!

    Some have suggested that if the helmet lamp is less, one may not visually adjust quickly enough when one looks up or around a turn. If I understand correctly, you're suggesting using the bar lamp almost like "fog lights" on a car to provide more ambient light up close. Then the helmet light (which is/may be weaker) picks up the distance?

    Do you also recommend a "wide angle lens" on the bar lamp in your setup, or not?

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by dcelento View Post
    Thanks for the thoughts, MTBRevolution!

    Some have suggested that if the helmet lamp is less, one may not visually adjust quickly enough when one looks up or around a turn. If I understand correctly, you're suggesting using the bar lamp almost like "fog lights" on a car to provide more ambient light up close. Then the helmet light (which is/may be weaker) picks up the distance?

    Do you also recommend a "wide angle lens" on the bar lamp in your setup, or not?
    This is from my personal experience rather than a physics textbook. A good reflector helmet light may be just 700 lumens compared to 1200 lumens for a bar light. The helmet light concentrates the beam to say 15-20 covering a smaller area hence higher intensity spot light effect. It actually means the light is stronger albeit narrower, rather than weaker. For myself at least, the eyes follows and focuses what's highlighted by this hotspot. The seemingly higher rated bar light is spread out to cover say 45 (in reality) on the horizontal axis and the same on the vertical axis but since it's facing down with the hotspot at 5-8 meters, the ground is brighter while the top 22.5 keeps going depending on the aspheric lens (they may be designed and rated at say 18 but I've never once seen them keep light within) used and this is why these mtb lights are not StVZO compliant. The bar light floods to 20 meters effectively but light will keep going to about 60 losing intensity your eyes will have trouble seeing. The helmet light overlaps at 20 meters onwards to 100 meters or more, depending on the light.

    If the helmet light is twin aspherics and bar is multi emitter like a quad, the helmet light may be flooded out since they are both covering the same area. It will be bright, but may not be effective. Just get the right tool for the right job. Single emitter lights for helmets and multi emitter lights for bars. There is no need for wide angle lens in this case. If you have a reflector light but would like to use it for the bars then the wide angle lens will help spread light wider on the horizontal axis.
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  20. #20
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    Spot light for helmet, and flood light for bars.

    The most important thing is that you have light where you're looking. And you want to be able to throw that light as far down the trail as you can see. And in order to get that throw, it needs to be more of a spot light.

    The flood on the bars is going to light up the ground right in front of your wheel, and the trees/bushes lining the sides of the trail, and low hanging branches, etc.

  21. #21
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    Perfect!

    Years ago, I rode with VistaLites (xenon?). I think I had 10w on the bars and 15w on the helmet. Or maybe it was the reverse setup. Can't recall now.

    Somehow I survived!

    Kind of curious how many lumens these old VistaLites put out, compared to the new LEDs that pump out between 700 and 1500 lumens. Anybody have any insights here?

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