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  1. #1
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    quick question about what's 'enough' light for helmet mount in tight east coast woods

    What's a minimum lumen recommend light for the helmet to go along with a 1000 lumen niterider pro handlebar light?

    is 360 enough or is 720 really more ideal? I am tending to go to the 720 so I can run it at medium and get more than just a couple of hours out of it for much of the easier parts of the trails.

    Never used lights so don't have any experiences to fall back on...thx.

  2. #2
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    first off: brighter light goes on the helmet. If you have a halfway decent helmet light, there's really no need for a bar light.

    Second: I've never, ever heard anyone say they thought they had too much light; so what is "enough" I don't know anyone that's switched to a brighter light and regretted it. OTOH, we used to ride with 12w of halogen lights, which seems insane now, so clearly 'enough' is relative.

    FWIW I ride with an ostensibly 1000 lm magicshine on my head and nothing on the bar all the time.

  3. #3
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    If you can afford the higher lumens go for it. You can always lower the settings and get longer run times.

  4. #4
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    I ride with a Lumina 650 on the helmet and nothing on the bars. And I run the light on the 250 or 400 lm settings regularly. So it's all relative. This is for fast XC/light trail riding.

  5. #5
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    I think they should be balanced so one doesn't drown out the other. If you are running 1000 lumens are the bar, I would want close to that on the helmet. Its great to ride with 2 lights...they both serve a different purpose. The bar light is just to light what is in front of the bike; the helmet light is for lighting further down the trail and into corners etc. where your bike may not be pointed. Two lights is also nice b/c you have some radiancy built into your system if one fails. I ride "tight East Coast woods" with ~6-700 lumens on the bar and helmet and have no issues what so ever riding fast.
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  6. #6
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    Do the lights need to be set up differently for bar and helmet? As in, a more floody beam vs a spotlight beam pattern?

  7. #7
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    Yep..flood on bar and spot on hemet is a popular way to go.

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  8. #8
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    People generally like more flood on the bars to light more area in front of the bike and a tighter beam on the helmet to shine further down the trail.

  9. #9
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    If you're riding tight singletrack, I'd say you'd be happier with floods on helmet and bar. The spot is wasted when you are rarely more then a few dozen yards between your next turn or elevation change. A spot on the helmet in situations like this lights up a wider area of the trail, which shows you more options, and blends better with the bar light so you're not distracted by the spot 'dancing' around.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by lucmac View Post
    What's a minimum lumen recommend light for the helmet to go along with a 1000 lumen niterider pro handlebar light?

    is 360 enough or is 720 really more ideal? I am tending to go to the 720 so I can run it at medium and get more than just a couple of hours out of it for much of the easier parts of the trails.

    Never used lights so don't have any experiences to fall back on...thx.
    As you've probably figured out by now no two people completely agree on "What the best set-up is". Personally I use a good 1500 lumen Gloworm X2 on the bars and a different set-up on the helmet depending on trail conditions. In the summer I use a XM-L drop-in torch on the helmet most of the time. Eighty percent of the time I am using only about 600 total lumen - combined output. ( 300 bar, 300 helmet ) When needed I up the output. During the winter I use a dedicated helmet lamp ( ~ 800-900 lumen ) along with my GW bar light. Since I rarely use full intensity on any of my lamps I rarely have an issue with battery run time. I will note however that I don't use cheap batteries.

    Since you are leaning toward something in the 800 lumen range I would suggest you go that route and buy a good multi-mode single emitter XM-L lamp. If you don't need the higher output you can always dial it down. On the other hand better to have the option for more output and not need it than to need more and not have it.

    Since you also seem to not need as much light as others I might suggest something like the Gemini Xera lamp which will allow you to program the output of the three available modes between 10-100%. This gives you the option to use only the output that "YOU DECIDE" best serves your needs. The Xera also allows you a choice of optics as well to help you dial in a beam pattern that will suit your own preferences.

  11. #11
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    It is not just about lumen output, beam quality means alot also

    I find it interesting that the Chinese lights mostly only use XM-L's. Do a search in this forum, you will find most everyone is never satisfied with the "throw" of XM-L's. I guess they only use XM-L's so they can really "blow up" their numbers for output. The other problem is that they are using optics and not reflectors. For the helmet I prefer to use XP-G2's mated to Ledil Regina reflectors. The XP-G2's have much better throw than XM-L's, specially when used with a reflector. Depending on the light design, you can still have nice, useable sidespill and also have the "throw" where it is needed.



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  12. #12
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    NiteRider Pro 1000 Race LED Headlight - Performance Exclusive -

    Thanks for the info, it's been educational. I hadn't thought of putting the larger light on the helmet as opposed to the handlebars but I'll give it a shot. It does make sense that if the helmet light is 'good enough' like this one then something on the bars is mostly just redundant. I bought the Axiom Lazer 200 LED Headlight to put on the helmet but instead I'll test swapping them and put it on the handlebar as a backup or as extra forward light for the easy areas where I can also turn down the niterider light to a low setting to save the batteries. Axiom Lazer 200 LED Headlight -

  13. #13
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    My guidance is to go have two lights, one on the bar, one on the helmet. The helmet light should be no less than 1/2 the (honest) lumen rated output of the bar light. I use the helmet light to look into corners but don't like the distraction if it starts to bounce around in the main beam.

    At some point, I think probably near 1000 lumens, a helmet light starts to be a problem because you start to get reflection back from stuff in the air - humidity, dust, etc... And in the summer, here in Minnesota, the bugs key on it (attracted to light) and you get a lot of face shots from bugs. When that happens, the helmet light is emergency only and I go with just the bar light. That's bad enough from the bug perspective.

    A note on lumens - manufacturers are starting to be more honest about their light output. Older lights and those typically from Chinese mfgs are typically way off - often by even twice the real output in many cases.

    J.

  14. #14
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    quick answer to OP

    go for 500 lumens each, bar and helmet, or higher


    500 is enough for hammering, more is better but not required, but lower
    than 500 is frustrating

  15. #15
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    I'd probably agree with this. Although I like a bit more 500 x 2 is ample. Much less and it requires more concentration. Flood on the bars and spot on the helmet.

    I like having a bar light as it puts dome shadow behind trail texture. Helmet alone looks flat to me. Personally if I was to have one or other it would be a bright floody bar light. But that's probably different to many who prefer throwy laser beams.

    My point is you probably need to have a think about your preferred light setup and that might mean experimenting.


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  16. #16
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    OP - one thing here to put this in perspective.....its just lights. At the end of the day, pretty much any current LED bicycle light that you read about here is going to be sufficient for night riding and you will have a good time. Whether the lumens/flood/spill/throw/type of LED aren't just so will likely make little difference to your experience and something that only after you spend some time offroad after dark you can start to toy with.
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by TiGeo View Post
    OP - one thing here to put this in perspective.....its just lights. At the end of the day, pretty much any current LED bicycle light that you read about here is going to be sufficient for night riding and you will have a good time. Whether the lumens/flood/spill/throw/type of LED aren't just so will likely make little difference to your experience and something that only after you spend some time offroad after dark you can start to toy with.
    I agree with having two lights. Some of the commuter lights work well as helmet lights. Also, as some have pointed out, lights have gotten brighter and brighter over time. Use em. Play with em. Try riding with different settings. I think anything over 500 lumens is overkill, but I'm an old fuddy duddy.
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  18. #18
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    With the choices available today you will have no problem finding a lighting solution that works for you. I went the DIY direction because I couldn't find the the right light combination that I liked. I went through plenty of retail lights before figuring out what worked. Riding with a helmet light, to me, washes out too much of the trail detail. Rocks and ruts will have a shorter shadow because of the elevation. I also dislike the bouncing spot affect when using a dual setup. I agree with Scar above, it is not just about lumens. I see most riders with a dual setup. They need that to see around tight switchbacks and in tight twisty trails. If a bar light is sufficiently wide that is not necessary. I ride with a single bar light of unique design. 1500 lumens with both wide spread and deep throw optics. I get a bright 10' wide beam and a usable throw of at least 150'. No need for a helmet light. I also pick the led tint to maximize trail detail. The DIY solution is not for everyone but I thought I would add my experience to the conversation.

  19. #19
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    quick question about what's 'enough' light for helmet mount in tight east coa...

    Here's the deal - everyone is going to have a different threshold for "enough light" due to lots of things like geography, weather conditions, ability to see in the low light conditions etc... The main thing to understand is that it's a LOT easier to turn down a light with too much light than it is to turn up one past it's maximum if you need more so buy more than you think you will need and buy quality.

    A lot of us have gone through a lot of lots until we got "enough light" so it's going to be safer to buy more and ultimately probably cheaper if you buy more (I'd say at least 1500 true lumens which is not terribly expensive now) and run it lower if you think that's too much light.

    I started riding with 200 lumen Dinotte lights years ago. Every year I would upgrade because that wasn't enough light. Finally, when I got to the Lupine Wilma at 2400 lumens, I have what I think is enough. I typically ride it at the 2000 lumen position by itself and carry another light for redundancy. That works really well for me where most of my riding is on the road. In the woods, I'm happier with considerably less because I'm going slower and the trail is narrower. That said, there have been a lot of times in the woods, especially descending, where I've been more than happy to crank it up to the full 2400.

    Reliability is a big thing - just ride out into the middle of your favorite trail and turn off you light and try to change a tire and you'll see what I mean.

    J.




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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnJ80 View Post
    Here's the deal - everyone is going to have a different threshold for "enough light" due to lots of things like geography, weather conditions, ability to see in the low light conditions etc... The main thing to understand is that it's a LOT easier to turn down a light with too much light than it is to turn up one past it's maximum if you need more so buy more than you think you will need and buy quality.

    A lot of us have gone through a lot of lots until we got "enough light" so it's going to be safer to buy more and ultimately probably cheaper if you buy more (I'd say at least 1500 true lumens which is not terribly expensive now) and run it lower if you think that's too much light.

    I started riding with 200 lumen Dinotte lights years ago. Every year I would upgrade because that wasn't enough light. Finally, when I got to the Lupine Wilma at 2400 lumens, I have what I think is enough. I typically ride it at the 2000 lumen position by itself and carry another light for redundancy. That works really well for me where most of my riding is on the road. In the woods, I'm happier with considerably less because I'm going slower and the trail is narrower. That said, there have been a lot of times in the woods, especially descending, where I've been more than happy to crank it up to the full 2400.

    Reliability is a big thing - just ride out into the middle of your favorite trail and turn off you light and try to change a tire and you'll see what I mean.

    J.




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    I agree with all this

    reliability ? my E11

    I have a cheap chinese thing on the bars (yinding duo clone),
    and a zebralight h602w mark II on the helmet. I carry a spare 18650 for the ZL if needed. i also carry a Fenix E11 AA light in the 'Bak which would be for flat repair or if both other lights fail, I still have the E11 I can clip on and ride out with....I'd rather have a camelbak with 20 lbs of garbage I will never need, than need something in the middle of nowhere and not have it.

  21. #21
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    I haven't done a ton of night riding, but got out last night for a solo night ride (with only 1 light on my bars).

    Keep in mind I was extra paranoid because I was on a "closed" trail, the animal poop and overgrown bushes just made it seem like there were lions everywhere. This is when I realized a helmet light can also just be for comfort haha. It was a little intense with only a light in front of me as I rode. If I heard something or thought I saw something, I would either have to stop and point my bars at it or just keep riding with the feeling of being chased by a lion.

    I was wishing my bike was louder, and when I got deep enough to hear no car engines I just turned back and rode to my truck. Picking up a helmet light today haha.

  22. #22
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    Where the gooney goo goo are you riding where 'lions' and rim busting animal poo poo are a feature?

  23. #23
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    I'm in San Diego. I don't know if the poo is rim busting, but I know that when I think of little foxes, coyote and deer taking dumps on trails I also think of a big mountain lion in the bushes ready for dinner.

  24. #24
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    I have used a combo of Exposure Diablo/Maxx-d (900 and 1200 claimed lumens) helmet/bar lights. Got myself a very cheap chinese 6*cree headlamp with 4 26650 separately bought pack (total of 42 $ shipped). I just love the extra light compared to the Maxx-D. The Diablo is great as a headlamp and the cheap Chinese light outshines the Maxx-D to an amazing degree. In my mid fifities I find I need more illumination than before to feel in control.

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