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  1. #1
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    Options between cheap and expensive lights

    Hi guys first post. I’m trying to find a light that bridges the gap between cheapo and stupid money. I consider exposure top notch but spendy. So they have always been my bench mark the new zebralight sc600 can be had for 60 of the bay + 45 for 2x18650 batts and charger so 105. (65 less then the joystick)The zebralight is a floody light and seems to sit in the middle of exposures diablo and joystick models in spec.


    I like the idea of a wireless package, and of course would like some thing that's can offer decent out put vs cost. I know value is subjective but Im after some thing that fills the middle ground between the cheap Bastid HK stuff and exposue and lupine.

    What do you think?

  2. #2
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    You didn't mention the run time that you would need, but fwiw a buddy of mine just picked up a cordless nightrider 600 for use on his road bike. I am very impressed with the beam pattern and amount of light. I believe it has 1.5ish hours on high and roughly double in the 1/2 mode. He picked it up on sale for $100. linky

    I recently got in a Lupine Piko 3 and find it to be the ultimate helmet light, good for both for road bike and mtb.
    ONE SHOX, ONE GEAR, LOTS of FUN! www.TrailFu.com My Rides

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by spankone View Post
    Hi guys first post. I’m trying to find a light that bridges the gap between cheapo and stupid money. I consider exposure top notch but spendy. So they have always been my bench mark the new zebralight sc600 can be had for 60 of the bay + 45 for 2x18650 batts and charger so 105. (65 less then the joystick)The zebralight is a floody light and seems to sit in the middle of exposures diablo and joystick models in spec.


    I like the idea of a wireless package, and of course would like some thing that's can offer decent out put vs cost. I know value is subjective but Im after some thing that fills the middle ground between the cheap Bastid HK stuff and exposue and lupine.

    What do you think?
    You could get three of these, two for the handlebars and one for the helmet and still have a tenner change from 100.

    That includes 4x18650 battery packs and pouches, bar mounts, helmet mounts, chargers - the whole shebang.

    That's a shedload of light, far much more than one torch would give you, and the quality of the product is not bad at all, in fact it's very good indeed.

    I know this to be true because I bought one just to see what they're like and I was very impressed, much more than I expected to be.

  4. #4
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    I spotted the niterider600 and it seems like a nice package. I'm after up to 2hours on high and a decent 3hr on medium. I'll be switching between the 2. The lupine stuff is amazing i know but again starts to fall into that pricey catagory

    Im keen to stay away from the HK stuff after personal experience of anoying battery failures.

  5. #5
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    road runner has got it right these are great lights i use 1 in scotland for night riding and just ordered another one as well.

  6. #6
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    really don't understand,...
    spend a load on the bike, ....
    then spend more on tires then for a light ?!
    by the time you add up the pizza and beer after the ride,....
    the bike is probably cheap. ... at least for the ones who ride a lot...
    so wanna ask, which bike is cheaper ?! not really ?
    rather ride a Lupine / Niterider then an MS,... Baja is good too. what about Dinotte,...
    well Lupine has the best chargers,...
    cheers, Rob

  7. #7
    Rollin 29s
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    Quote Originally Posted by rschultz101 View Post
    really don't understand,...
    spend a load on the bike, ....
    then spend more on tires then for a light ?!
    rather ride a Lupine / Niterider then an MS,...
    cheers, Rob
    Do you really get 8.5 times the quality from your $300 light? Do you see the trail ahead of you 8.5 times better? Does your light make you ride 8.5 times better?

    My first generation Magicshine is still working like a champ almost 3 years after I first took it out on the trails. I bought another one 2 years ago and my DX light (same one Road Runner linked above) is on it's way from DX now. 2 lights on the bar and one on the helmet, and about 2000 lumens. Zero failures so far, and I'm lighting up the trail as much or better than your Lupine for less than $200 total invested.

    Spending more just to make yourself feel good is fine, but call it like it is.
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  8. #8
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    I do feel good with reliable, German-made lights. With the climate and near-constant winter darkness in Norway, why would I cheap out on the one item that affects my riding enjoyment and safety more than any other for about half the year? The fact is that the higher quality option is just that: higher quality. I'm not saying it's 8.5X better, but it is better.

    Nobody is claiming that there's a linear correlation between cost and light quantity. However, after seeing my riding mates' DOAs, reliability/quality problems, and mid-ride failures with the knockoffs, I don't have a problem spending the extra cash on the high-quality product. I like using things with top-grade fabrication and materials. I don't like supporting ethically questionable manufacturing.

    Each person has to decide for himself whether the cost is justifiable, but I've yet to regret going with the good stuff.

  9. #9
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    Trail Led Darkstar - read before buying

    The Trail LED Darkstar may seem like a cost-effective way to enter the world of high-end lighting, but you will sacrifice customer service in the process and get what you pay for. I made the mistake of purchasing this light and now regret it.

    The "Company" is incredibly slow in repairing defects, such as LEDs and in providing communications such as emails or phone calls. They set a new low for customer service. Although the light itself worked well at first, the poor service prompts me to recommend against purchasing this light.

    Has anyone else had similar experiences with Trail Led?

  10. #10
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    Baja designs makes good stuff super bright reliable waterproof and light (Stryker and double stryke). Add a smidge more weight and the stryker II with its big optic will throw a monster beam pattern along with good fill lighting for wider range of visibility.

    Most important get a light that fits your budget and works for you, remember to bring a backup in a pack just Incase. If you can find a good light used that's not old that's an option to save a few bucks as well. I'd rather have a used good light vs a cheap new light. Just a thought.
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  11. #11
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    I completely understand the quality concerns and piece of mind many get from running more expensive name brand lights. These lights are less finicky, workmanship in manufacturing is better and they will probably still work 5+ years from now.

    I've never had a bad experience with my lights and, aside from the battery recall isssue neither have any of the 8+ other people in my riding group who purchased them on my recommendation. Now we all have our replacement Geoman batteries that are equal to the quality of any high priced brand's battery packs, and we are back in the night riding season.

    My first set of lights were a NiteRider Night Owl and a Planet Bike I used on the helmet. Great lights for their time (and expensive). I hated to ditch something I had paid so much for, but the new LED lights were much cheaper and much better.

    My biggest issue is, like the computer or smart phone industry, lights are changing and improving on a monthly basis now. I'm getting the latest CREE XML T-6 LEDs in a $45 light that you are in your high dollar light. I don't need anything brighter, but if I do want to upgrade to some newer technology in a year I not only can afford to do so, but feel fine turning my current light into a loaner for a friend who wants to try night riding. Unless you have more money to upgrade your lights than I do, you will be living with the technology you are paying $300 or potentially more for today when it is far outdated several years down the road.
    Whoever invented the bicycle deserves the thanks of humanity.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by spankone View Post
    Hi guys first post. I’m trying to find a light that bridges the gap between cheapo and stupid money. I consider exposure top notch but spendy. So they have always been my bench mark the new zebralight sc600 can be had for 60 of the bay + 45 for 2x18650 batts and charger so 105. (65 less then the joystick)The zebralight is a floody light and seems to sit in the middle of exposures diablo and joystick models in spec.


    I like the idea of a wireless package, and of course would like some thing that's can offer decent out put vs cost. I know value is subjective but Im after some thing that fills the middle ground between the cheap Bastid HK stuff and exposue and lupine.

    What do you think?
    Okay, the subject matter has started to go off topic so back to the OP's questions...

    Spanks, your looking for a not-so-cheap-not-so-expensive self contained bike light ( or light you can use on your bike ). There in lies the problem. Such a thing really doesn't exist on your side of the pond as I know it. Over here we have the Niterider MiNewt 600 cordless and some other US brands offering less output but it's slim-pick'ins even over here. You have a uniquely defined limitation on what you want as a bike light. As I see it, this would be likened to someone who wants to get laid but only wants to do so with a woman who is 5'2' and has short red hair. Now I'm sure there are short red-heads out there but you might have quite a wait till you find one. Not to mention that your a bloke from the U.K. to boot which limits your choice even more.

    If paying duties are a problem for you then you might want to look a little more on the UK e-bay. Since the Zebralight you mentioned is just a torch I would suggest you look to a cheaper model and buy two for the bars. Run both on mid-mode and you should have ample light for three hours. Add another for the helmet and you should be good to go.

    If you go to the Deal extreme web site and look at their XM-L and P-7 torches you will find several that are available from a U.K. warehouse I'm sure ( unless they've run out ). You just have to look. If they are stocked in the U.K. there will be some text in red telling you so. Here is an example...Link.... Humm....looks like not many in U.K right now. You can still order direct from Hong Kong. It might take a month to get but worth the wait. You can get everything you need too, batteries, charger, bar torch holder...a pound saved is a pound earned...

    Anyway, if you think you might not want the red-head after all then just check out the Exposure's again on the other birds...

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by isleblue65 View Post
    I completely understand the quality concerns and piece of mind many get from running more expensive name brand lights. [...]Unless you have more money to upgrade your lights than I do, you will be living with the technology you are paying $300 or potentially more for today when it is far outdated several years down the road.
    I definitely understand. That's a very reasonable assessment of how to benefit from a rapidly evolving technology, and it's probably the right call for a lot of people. Once the technology matures and hits a development limit, I think a lot of people will end up getting the top-grade gear, but for now there's little drawback to having something that might not endure several years of abuse.

    However, I'm lucky enough to be in a position where budget isn't a huge deal with lights. So I'm quite happy to go with the current best of the bunch from Lupine, Exposure, or other top-quality manufacturers. After all, someone's got to foot their R&D bill so the other guys can make lower-cost versions. In the meantime, I get a really well-made light to use. I guess I just dig well-made objects for their own sake to a certain extent. Also, I'm fine with supporting a company like Lupine; they do good work.

    By the way, I can't wait to post a few shots of the new Piko 6 units when they get here - they should ship at the end of the month. I have high expectations of these things, and I doubt I'll be disappointed. Even though I know there will be something even brighter in a year or two, 750 reliable microprocessor-controlled proper lumens from a 55-gram head is still bloody amazing.

    It would be ridiculous to be some kind of light snob, though; nobody gives a crap about 'em except us lighting nerds. You're going to have fun either way! It's great that we have so many options for light outputs that were unimaginable not too long ago. These things have made it possible to ride year-round in any weather, and for that I'm very thankful. I don't expect anybody else to care about my lights, I just expect to have a good time on the trail.

  14. #14
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    I have picked up on tinkering with lights. As a hobby, certainly not cheap, but the results can be some very affordable light solutions. Some things I've learned without seeming overly pointed at any one solution:

    18650 Li-Ion cells have amazing power densities. Battery quality directly relates to cost. 3100mah is the current tech's max capacity. Protected cells are really not needed but recommended by most. One little dirty secret to protected cells is the positive lead that runs along the body to power the protection circuit. I use both and understand the implications. High capacity cells can put you back $15-20/cell!

    The actual LED (emitter) in these mega-buck lights is probably the cheapest component. An XM-L T6, for instance, is only about $7 and fully capable of putting out 900+ lumens. All these require is a couple of wires soldered on and some heatsink compound or epoxy. They come in various configurations. This is one place that cheap stuff tends to fail.

    The driver (the circuit that provides modes and power control) is the real heart of the lights. Every company has their own "proprietary" formula. It is tough to get around some of the specialized offerings. Armed with a little knowledge, however, your perfect light can be realized... or at least close to it. Some solutions are rather spendy, while others should be considered dirt cheap.

    The "host" or the housing that puts the solutions all together isn't cheap unless you go the flashlight route. Bike specific solutions with external power sources are not found in catalogs. They are often complete solutions from which you can scavenge the needed hardware, This is probably he only use I would have for a cheap HK knockoff at around $50. If unwired/wireless is your goal, flashlight hosts are available for very reasonable costs. There is a host that will let you "drop-in" any one of dozens of "P60" modules. This is a standardized form-factor that many flashlights will accept. It has the driver, emitter and reflector all built into one. The host can be gotten for $10-15. The only risk is the highest failure mode component, the switch. If you want 900 lumens out of a flashlight, you need a quality switch. Fortunately, this too is upgradeable for many quality hosts. Non-P60 hosts too offer a wide range of very usable parts to build a light you can all your own.

    Last but certainly not least; reflectors. The P60 hosts use a standardized reflector but with a little work, one can easily shape the beam of their light. Most cyclists don't like the piercing hot spot of high $ flashlights. The good this is that you can easily tweak this in the P60 hosts and many other flashlights.

    None of this is for those that just want a light and go from there. This is for those who are on a budget but really need some lighting for night riding or even some be-seen markers. Features like runtime and light output are a relatively simple math problem often solved with a basic multimeter and manufacturer's specifications.

    I run 5 flashlights at night and I recharge every time I ride; 4 marker lights (redundant) and a helmet light. My runtimes are at least 4 hour. If I only need 2 hours of "more light", I drop in another P60 into my helmet light or just switch to the mode that allows the runtime and visibility I need for that run. I run no wires and these lights have proven themselves for 4000 miles of riding. In all, I have less than a $bill in the setup including quality batteries and charger. But don't ask me what I have in the hobby.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cat-man-do View Post
    Okay, the subject matter has started to go off topic so back to the OP's questions...

    Spanks, your looking for a not-so-cheap-not-so-expensive self contained bike light ( or light you can use on your bike ). There in lies the problem. Such a thing really doesn't exist on your side of the pond as I know it. Over here we have the Niterider MiNewt 600 cordless and some other US brands offering less output but it's slim-pick'ins even over here. You have a uniquely defined limitation on what you want as a bike light. As I see it, this would be likened to someone who wants to get laid but only wants to do so with a woman who is 5'2' and has short red hair. Now I'm sure there are short red-heads out there but you might have quite a wait till you find one. Not to mention that your a bloke from the U.K. to boot which limits your choice even more.

    If paying duties are a problem for you then you might want to look a little more on the UK e-bay. Since the Zebralight you mentioned is just a torch I would suggest you look to a cheaper model and buy two for the bars. Run both on mid-mode and you should have ample light for three hours. Add another for the helmet and you should be good to go.

    If you go to the Deal extreme web site and look at their XM-L and P-7 torches you will find several that are available from a U.K. warehouse I'm sure ( unless they've run out ). You just have to look. If they are stocked in the U.K. there will be some text in red telling you so. Here is an example...Link.... Humm....looks like not many in U.K right now. You can still order direct from Hong Kong. It might take a month to get but worth the wait. You can get everything you need too, batteries, charger, bar torch holder...a pound saved is a pound earned...

    Anyway, if you think you might not want the red-head after all then just check out the Exposure's again on the other birds...
    Thanks for bringing it back on topic.

    I have been using solarforce lights one with an xpg emitter the other an XML with good effect. But I was looking to upgrade. I have made my mind up on my helmet light it's a spark st500cw. With decent run times and a nice all round headlight. I just wanted some thing cool for the bars.



    But Spark have just released the sd6 500cw and offers the same functionality as the spark st6 but it's all flood. So it should combo up well with my helmet light. Cool thing is it has a thread on the side for an M4 bolt making mounting easy.





    It will have an add on reflector it's just not ready yet. But I run frosted lens on my bar light at the moment and tbh I like it floody. Floody lights suit my local woods.

    Fingers crossed this setup will be the right one for me.




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  16. #16
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    Just a QD shot of the spark ST6 500cw no special mounts need for my helmet. The strap just pulls over and holds it very well.








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  17. #17
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    I guess I am confused... these headlights go for about USD$100 each. What are you considering expensive? The 'newts are only a bit more with batteries and charger.

  18. #18
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    I Guess expense is subjective

    Alot of lights here in the UK are very expensive. 200+ for a semi decent exposure. 399 for this years lupine piko. These spark lights with the exchange rate are 60 each just for the lights. But I have batteries and chargers. So the set up basically cost me 120 + 10 for a nice bar mount. I can't comment on the SD6 as it's still in the post. But the quality is amazing on my ST6.

    A minewt 600 cordless is 120 I would want 2 one for the bars one for the helmet. So that adds up quickly.

    I wouldn't mind paying up to 350-400 pounds for a full set up but not just one headlight. I think it's excessive.




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  19. #19
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    Hi check our Geomangear and look at the BikeRay lights. Lower cost and they put our ton's of light.

  20. #20
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    I have two Magicshine 800s, one bought a year ago and another bought the year before from GeoManGear. The battery pack issue is a bummer, but Geoman is making it right although it's taking some time. But the light itself works great, and two is plenty of light output and gives you some redundancy in case of a failure. There is absolutely no way I'd be riding on just one light, since it's too easy to damage something or have it fail miles from your car.

    I think aiming to spend $200-300 on two lights is a great setup. With a light on the bars and light on the helmet you have two angles which illuminate the trail better. The Magicshine lights are great, but they are a "cheap chinese light" at the end of the day. But get them from Geoman and you'll be taken care of.

    Another company who has also been great is Gemini Lights. They have gone from basically a Magicshine clone to a more customized package. My next light is going to be the Gemini Xera and due to the light weight and small package it'll be up on my helmet. The light head is smaller than the Magicshine, and they offer a lightweight 2 cell battery pack that can mount to the helmet. You still get 2+ hours of run time on high, but without the weight of a giant 4 cell pack. The beamshots of the Xera are pretty impressive with more flood than the Magicshine, but almost as much throw and without the spot.
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