• 09-11-2004
    SMOKEY
    Kids=scarey rides at night! Helmet or bar lights?
    Dudes, :D
    I have decided to try night riding because of work, school, kid, and wife.
    I think I can achieve a good balance of spending time with the family and still go riding at night. My only problems are my fear of aliens and the typical assortment of scary ass creatures at night... (Unfortunately I will probably be riding solo at night which freaks me out) and which way to mount the light. I have decided to go for either L&M's arc li-on HID or Nite riders blowtorch, but I don't know the pros and cons of bar VS helmet mounted lights. can some of you please let me know which type of mounting I should go with? and why. thanks
  • 09-11-2004
    Bikinfoolferlife
    I would suggest you at least
    start off with bar mounted lights, and then later maybe add a helmet light. Both would be best, but that can be pricey with the lights you're looking at.

    I personally have only tried a helmet mount light once because it was all I had as my battery went out on my handlebar mount (it was a 24 hr race and I knew I was low on the battery, so I had a spare helmet mount that I usually used for camping); the ability to see was extremely limited with only the helmet light (brightness was not an issue), mostly as it was very dusty.

    I've never had a use for these super bright lights, I think they're overkill. I use two old Nightsun Team Issues, a 10w broad beam with a 20w spot, and rarely use the 20w setting unless I'm going really fast (fire roads usually). If you go with other people those super bright lights can be really annoying, casting too much shadow or blinding you if you see one head on.

    Most of my night miles were in various locations in the SF Bay Area and some other spots in norcal. Most of it solo. I never worried too much about nightlife, other than human, but the majority of the rides were in parks or open space that were so close to major population areas that there really was not much to worry about (altho deer can dart out in front of you at odd moments). I was religious about knowing the status of my batteries and equipment as I really didn't want to deal with any problems at night.

    Have fun! It'll make your regular rides seem like totally new ones...
  • 09-11-2004
    Speedub.Nate
    I'm riding with "old" lights too -- a <a href="http://www.niterider.com/BIKEPRODUCTS/Classic.html">Nite Rider "Classic" 8.5w/20w dual beam</a> on the bars, and a <a href="http://www.niterider.com/BIKEPRODUCTS/TrailRat.html">Nite Rider Trail Rat 2.0 10w</a> on the helmet.

    The Trail Rat is a relatively new addition. Prior to buying it a year-and-a-half ago, I used the bar mount exclusively for the previous 6 years. I'm at the point now where, without the helmet light, I feel as if I'm at half capacity and half the confidence.

    For climbing, especially so on familiar trails and fireroad, the electron sipping 8.5w setting is enough for me. Yeah, it leaves things pretty dark around my periphery, but I can see what I need to in front of me and rest easy that I'm not strangling the life out of my battery in the process.

    The 20w position gets used for anything faster than a climb. I also have the option of a dual beam setting, but I rarely use that -- comes in handy just after nightfall where there is still the faintest hint of ambient light out.

    The helmet light has added so much to the equation.

    * It allows me to "look into" turns and continue riding at a good rate of speed. The bar mount alone leaves me in a bit of a tunnel, so if I'm winding my way through twisting singletrack, there's a surprise around every turn.

    * I can look at the funny noises I hear in the bushes.

    * Great insurance. If one battery dies, I've got redundency.

    * Almost a requirement for trailside repairs.

    * Great second light. In this case, the Trail Rat can be mounted to the handlebars (as I would assume of most helmet lights). If I want to take an "unenlightened" friend, or my wife, we're both covered. It's also a more compact commuter option than my water bottle-sized battery attached to my Classic.

    The point of all this (if you didn't already see where I was leading to) is that my recommendation is, if it comes down to a choice between one expensive light versus a less-expensive Helmet AND Bar light combo, I would choose the latter. Even better I suppose if you can swing both in HID form.

    I appreciate the output of the HIDs, the dimming options and battery level guages are neat-o-cool-o on the digital systems, but I'm completely content with the simple on/off analog functionality, reliability and frugality of my setup.

    I've got a nice <a href="http://www.thomas-distributing.com/mh-c777plus.htm">Maha 777 Plus-II charger</a> which takes good care of both sets of batteries.

    As for the wild beasts in the brush, the "worst" I've encounted so far is a boar on the trail above me (I actually did turn around on that ride after he entered the same single track section I was shooting for), but the "real" scary animals are (a) skunks, and (b) awe-struck cows. But on solo rides, I just put some tunes in one ear and concentrate on giving myself a good ride. It's always a fun experience.
  • 09-11-2004
    piney
    I like bar mount
    Having been on the side lines for years on night riding, I finally took the plunge. I really thought I would want to helmet mount and since my L&M had both, I popped it on the roof for a couple of rides. I found it hard to distinguish the terrain, especially in the duff, but accepted that as part of night riding. I ride tight and twisty singletrack. I finally tried the bar mount and am reluctant to try it on the helmet again. It is much easier to see what is on the trail in front of you (me, anyway). I have learned to really anticipate so I get the benefit of seeing down the trail. I do ride solo in bear country and almost got attacked by a manzanita the other night, chilled me to my toes at the time, until I figured out it was just a shadow.

    Helmet Pros
    -The light goes where you look.

    Helmet Cons
    -Heavy thing on your head tiring out your neck. (could probably minimize this)
    -Washed out trail in fromt of you.

    Bar Pros
    -No heavy thing on your head.
    -Better trail perspective.
    -On the L&M you get the benefit of seeing the 15 minute warning led flashing.

    Bar Cons
    -The light can bounce with your bars.
    -When you hear crashing in the bushes next to you and look, all you see is black.
    -The only thing you can see is located where your bars are pointed.

    Good luck, it has added at least one ride a week to my bag of tricks.
  • 09-11-2004
    ozlongboarder
    on yer noggin
    I have used both bar and helmet lights. I prefer the hemet, I can see everything I look at on the trail up/down and side to side. It is also safer if you ride to the trail head as you can shine the light at cars at any intersections/driveways so they really see you. It is true that you loose some trail definition with a hellmoot light but not enough to make we want to change. I also carry a petzel zipka LED light in my pack for backup or emergencies.
  • 09-11-2004
    Jeff_FLG
    Blowtorch
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SMOKEY
    Dudes, :D
    I have decided to try night riding because of work, school, kid, and wife.

    For the same reason, I got a Blowtorch about 2 months ago. The bar-mounted light is fine so far, particularly as bright as this light is. I can already see why also having a helmet light would be useful for "fine tuning" where your light was, but the Blowtorch drained my bike fund for now. Maybe next summer. :D My critter sightings so far are a few skunks, a fox, a porcupine, and endless rabbits. Plenty of rustlings just outside the light cone, too. No mountain kitties yet!

    It is quite the riding, cruising along with just trail and ghostly tree trunks whooshing by. A great way to finish a long day. It's also kind of amusing finishing rides (riding from home, my last few miles are sometimes through residential areas) and, if anybody's out and about, hearing all kinds of variations on "What the he!! is that??" I adjust the light down a little when I'm in these areas, because it's absolutely blinding and cars will flash their lights.

    BTW, because of the occasional road segments to and from trails, I also spent an extra $11 and got a red LED taillight. Cheap, flashing, and plenty bright to be sure you're seen. Good luck and happy riding!
  • 09-11-2004
    Speedub.Nate
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Jeff_FLG
    BTW, because of the occasional road segments to and from trails, I also spent an extra $11 and got a red LED taillight. Cheap, flashing, and plenty bright to be sure you're seen. Good luck and happy riding!

    Those red LED tail lights come in handy on the trail, too.

    My buddy rides with a pair of inexpensive Cateye lights powered by 4 'C' cell batteries. They're not bright and they don't last for sh1t.

    I was leading the charge with my NR Classic one night and he switched to "MAX CONSERVE" mode (lights off).

    The trail gently transitioned to a descending turn. As we gained speed, I reflexively flicked the grip-mounted light switch to change to the next power setting.

    Unfortunately, I was already in the 20w bulb setting, and the next step in the switch cycle is "OFF".

    So, faced with pitch black, a rough but thankfully not rutted section of fire road, and a fair drop-off on our right side, my hands were full. It took me (what felt like) a few seconds to collect myself, slow the bike, and find the switch to get some photons flowing.

    My friend, who was right behind me, was in nearly the same predicklement. He told me that after the lights went dark, he only saw my red taillight dancing in front of him, and all he could do was follow it and pray I knew where I was going.
  • 09-11-2004
    FM
    Now we're talking! Smokey, you may have just found the solution to your parental angst!

    I just presume everybody night-rides, cause everybody I ride with does. It's the only way us 9-5 guys can get a decent weeknight ride in, here in seattle, due to daylight savings time. Starting on october it's dark here by 6:30, we work till 5pm and most good rides are :45 drive from downtown. So basically we need lights as soon as we're in the woods. When conditions are good, we do 3-4hr nightrides. When they're horrible, we still go and ride at least for an hour- enough to keep some fitness and have a good time.

    I've been nightriding year-round, weekly, since probably 1994. Had a lot of different lights. Generally I prefer helmet mounted lights, so you can see around switchbacks. Last year I scored a killer deal on a HID blowtorch. The light is at least as bright as my old 2-light combo and has way better run time, and charges faster, and more reliable too. However, the light itself ways a ton, too heavy to wear comfortabley on my helmet. After 6 months of fighting it, I stuffed the batteries in a water bottle and converted to a bar mount. If you go nightrider HID, go bar-mount. The light&motion lights are not as bright, but also not as heavy- so they're better for helmet mounting.

    Night riding is a lot of fun. Spooky scenery. More critter sightings (never been dangerous here in Wa.) Actually very good for bike-handling skills since you won't be disctracted by scenery.

    Two more tips:
    -Come super prepared, especially since you're solo. Extra tubes, tools, clothing, a mylar "space blanket", extra lighter, cel-phone, etc. Seriously. My wife got lost on a girls night ride once, spent the night in the woods, with rain. That $2 space blanket and jacket saved her bacon.
    -Bring an extra light, like a good LED flashlight or maglight. Perfect for safety meetings, mechanicals, and a good back-up in case your mainlight goes down. (it can happen).

    You're going to love it!


    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SMOKEY
    Dudes, :D
    I have decided to try night riding because of work, school, kid, and wife.
    I think I can achieve a good balance of spending time with the family and still go riding at night. My only problems are my fear of aliens and the typical assortment of scary ass creatures at night... (Unfortunately I will probably be riding solo at night which freaks me out) and which way to mount the light. I have decided to go for either L&M's arc li-on HID or Nite riders blowtorch, but I don't know the pros and cons of bar VS helmet mounted lights. can some of you please let me know which type of mounting I should go with? and why. thanks

  • 09-13-2004
    EndUser
    Welcome to the ďdark sideĒ
    Night riding will twist your brain put a new spin on your favorite trails and it will make those tiresome trails new again.

    I ride all year in Alaska so I do know a few things about riding in the dark. Iíve been using L&M systems for a while now and I only have good things to say about them. They might not be the brightest, but they are certainly the lightest and will serve you well. Iím currently using the old Halogen type L&M Duel logic on my handlebars and a Solo logic on me noggin. Excellent comboÖ. Iíd love to get a new HID, but I canít justify the cost since my old halogen systems still work so darn well.

    However, if I were in the market now, Iíd throw down and get a L&M arc Li-on for your helmet and the Solo Logic MV for you bar. Why? Bright directional lighting is key for fast riding at night and its good to have a static back-up light to illuminate the trail in front of your wheel at all times. I also like helmet-mounted lights because when mechanicals do occur itís just easier to fix them since the light is always where I need it. At minimum, get a good bar light and all will be fine

    L&M are nice lights because you can change light output with need (even the ARC, I believe). You can adjust the light to a bear minimum while going slow to full power when moving fast. Also, you will discover when the conditions are just right that sometimes less lighting or no lighting at all is more.

    Finally, like others have saidÖ be prepared if youíre going solo. Itís easy to get lost during the night even on the trails you know bestÖ itís easy to take a wrong turn when you canít see your surroundings. Iíve been lost a couple of times at night on trails I thought I knew well and itís sort of creepy.

    Good luck

    EndUser
  • 09-13-2004
    1speed_Mike
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SMOKEY
    Dudes, :D
    I have decided to try night riding because of work, school, kid, and wife.
    I think I can achieve a good balance of spending time with the family and still go riding at night. My only problems are my fear of aliens and the typical assortment of scary ass creatures at night... (Unfortunately I will probably be riding solo at night which freaks me out) and which way to mount the light. I have decided to go for either L&M's arc li-on HID or Nite riders blowtorch, but I don't know the pros and cons of bar VS helmet mounted lights. can some of you please let me know which type of mounting I should go with? and why. thanks

    Hey,

    I've been night riding/racing for 10-yrs, including 2 x 24-hr solos and 9 x 24-hr 5-man teams, etc. I also do a lot of fall/winter early morning/late night rides for the very reasons you are looking to get into night riding: Kids (4-yr old Boy and 2.5-yr old Girl), wife, work, etc.

    The bar vs helmet decision has been debated for a long, long time and is generally a personal preference. There are pros/cons to each, but for 95% of my riding/racing, I go with just a helmet light. The other 5%, I'll use a helmet light with back-up bar light. I cannot stand just using a bar light because I find it too destracting/annoying to have my light mounted on a bar that might not necessarily be pointed to where my head is pointing. But, the bar light does cast better ground shadows, which pick-up the ground contours better than a helmet light does.

    FWIW, I've been using a Lupine Edison 10 with an additional small Li-Ion battery for about 2.5-yrs. Amazing system, but pricey.