Lights: Bar or Helmet Mounted?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
    J_B
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    Lights: Bar or Helmet Mounted?

    Should I buy helmet or bar mounted lights? I am going to buy a set of NiteRider HID and was wondering which ones to buy......helmet or bar mounted? Which is better?

  2. #2
    uofabill
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    Helmet mount if...

    Quote Originally Posted by J_B
    Should I buy helmet or bar mounted lights? I am going to buy a set of NiteRider HID and was wondering which ones to buy......helmet or bar mounted? Which is better?
    you are just going to buy one ilight nitially. A helmet light shines where you are looking not where your bars are pointing. You will ultimately learn that having both is optimal. But if you have to choose one only go with the helmet light first.

  3. #3
    Do It Yourself
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    A couple of things...

    I would go with a helmet light HID. 95% of the time this is fine. The upside of a helmet is you can see where you are looking, not just where the bars are pointed. You can look down at drop-offs and around corners/switchbacks to see where you need to go (or more importantly, were you don't want to go). The downside is the helmet light will reflect in mist/fog and dusty conditions blinding you. This usually isn't a big issue for the casual weekday night rides but when going all night in endurance races, chances are you'll get some morning mist and you'll need to switch to back up light on the bars. Having a back up light on the bars is a good idea but I don't think it needs to be HID. Personally, I don't like having two lights on at the same time. It can get confusing on which one you're supposed to be looking at.

    I wouldn't recommend the NiteRider lights especially for a helmet mount. The light heads are very heavy and poorly located on the front of the helmet. Also, NiteRiders are ridiculously priced when compared with a Lume Strada, on sale with 20% off MTBR discount for $263 with fast/smart charger or $223 with overnight charger. The Strada also has a new wider beam option that I like and comes with both mounts so you can pick which you like better. Beautiful construction on these. Worth a look anyway...

    http://www.lumelighting.com/mtbr.asp

  4. #4

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    Second Homebrew

    I agree with everything Hombrew just stated.

    I have a Strada HID and it is indeed a fantastic value. I got mine even cheaper through a deal with my local mountain bike club ($236 with the fast charger) but the MTBR deal is outstanding in its own right. Even at MSRP I would choose this light over the competition.

    I usually keep a bar mounted "backup" light just in case something should happen to my helmet light.

    I never use both because I don't like the way a bar light's beam is constantly swinging all over the trail.


    Bar disadvantages.
    The light is never pointed where I want. This is a huge problem for me.

    Switchbacks become much more difficult, I can't look ahead around corners.
    Jumps become extremely sketchy as I can't see the landing at all.
    Where I ride there are lots of short ups and downs in the trails.
    When cresting the ups the light illuminates the trees and not the trail.
    When reaching the bottom of down, I cant see the approaching climb.

    Even flat sections cause problems. Anytime you are manuvering aroung rocks or trees, your light is no longer focused on the trail ahead but rather the woods to the sides. Don't get me wrong, with a wide beam you still have some vision but it is definitely reduced. I also find the beam swinging all over the trail very distracting. In contrast, I can look where ever I want with the helmet light and the focal spot is much more stable in the rough terrain, which makes it far easier to concentrate (IMO). Overall, I can ride any of my local trails with either a bar or helmet light but I am much slower and feel more fatigued using the bar.

    As homebrew stated, the niterider mount is not designed well and can lead to the helmet tilting forward in rough sections of the trail. This is reason enough to stay away from the niterider.

    -Joe
    Last edited by Joeman; 04-07-2004 at 03:45 PM. Reason: typos

  5. #5
    Rollin' a fatty
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    The optimal is both as stated before. In my case I use bar mounted lights as the primary and use a helmet mounted light as a secondary.

  6. #6
    Fragile - must be Italian
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    Best for HID is bar mount

    I've tried 2 HID lights on both places - bar mound and helmet mount. I've also tried both the Nightrider Storm/Blowtorch (same light - different mount) and the L&M Arc. I now own a L&M Arc HID.

    After a lot of trial and error, my recommendation is to put an HID light on the handlebars. And here's why:

    1) Depth perception -- HID light is VERY white and easily washes out contours and shadows. If you mount an HID light on your helmet, it is in your plane of vision. This means that shadows will disappear and you will lose a LOT of depth perception at night. Placing the light on your bar puts it in a different plane than your eyes and you still get a "shadow" effect from rocks and contours. This helps tremendously.

    2) Light reflection -- have you ever driven with your brights on in fog or dust? It's blinding because all of the particles reflect the light back into your eyes. Turning off your high beams solves the problem because the light isn't directed "up" at you. Mounting an HID on your head and riding in dust or other low vis situations gives the same effect. I live in the desert where we have a LOT of dust and helmet-mounted HIDs are notoriously bad at reflecting the light back into your face. Mounting the HID light on the handlebars keeps the light lower and you do not get nearly the amount of reflection from particles in the air.

    If you buy a wide-beam HID, mounting the light on the handlebars is perfectly fine for peripheral vision. My L&M HID has almost 180 degrees of light, so I never have to worry about not seeing out to the side on a windy course.

    The other issue with the HID, particularly the Nightrider, is that it places a lot of weight ahead of the mount. This causes your helmet to bounce forward. I personally find this very distracting.

    Anyway, some of the better lights come with both bar and helmet mounts now, so you aren't forced into mounting your light in one place or the other. And even if you get a Nightrider, which mounts only one way or the other (bar/helmet), you can still buy another mount and switch it to a different location.

    Thx...Doug

  7. #7
    www.derbyrims.com
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    Bar light first

    Quote Originally Posted by J_B
    Should I buy helmet or bar mounted lights? I am going to buy a set of NiteRider HID and was wondering which ones to buy......helmet or bar mounted? Which is better?
    A below bar mounted light works best if only one light. It will make shadows that highlight bumps. Helmet lights in addition are great for looking way ahead and around corners and into the shadows of the bar light. But helmet lights alone make no shadows and the trail looks flat when riding when it may not be.

    The new HID lights have such a flood that a bar mount is all you need, unless you want to go for a hike.

    - ray

  8. #8
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    I suppose it depends a lot on what and where you ride. Also as other's have said both is best of course. My ideal has always been a flood on the bars say 10-15 watts and a higher power tighter spot on the helmet say 20 watts. I run HID now so there's enough fill light on my helmet Light&Motion that I don't miss the flood on the bars anymore.

    Myself I much prefer a helmet light if I only have one light. Not only does it go where you look, but if you have a mechanical or have a lot of very twisty singletrack even a flood on the bars is not enough to cover it. I just would rather have the light go wherever my eyes go, not just where my bars are. Again here the HID have a lot of spill light so I'm sure that helps on the bars as well.

    Also while having a light above your plain of view is a hinderence in fog/rain as we all know just by using our high beams on cars in fog, to me I'd rather not have shadows of the terrain show up if I can help it. I can understand both views, but you take a place like Moab with a lot of drops and very steep stuff wtih surprizes at the bottom and you are not going to want just a bar light, cause you'll see the shadow but have no idea whats behind/under/in the shadow. If you know the trails very well and don't have spots like that then it's not an issue.

    With a bar light though you never have to worry about blinding everyone whenever you look at them A helmet light can be kind of a pain on the neck for long rides, esp. for some that put the weight well forward of the mount.

  9. #9
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    Well, let me reccomend you buy the Lume Strada HID, which is not only a great deal on a searingly bright light, but comes with both helmet and bar mounts (so does the L&M). With the Lume, get the "wide beam" option unless you ride straight, flat dirt roads at 60+mph. (Hello, Craig.)

    I have many nights and miles of riding after dark in different places, and tend to agree with Doug above that, with only one light, I would go with a strong, widebeam BAR mounted light over a helmet mount. There are exceptions to this, but only when the very negative aspects of helmet-mounting are overcome by particular trail conditions. Your results may vary, so get a light that gives you both options and use both options...make up your own mind.

  10. #10
    Who are the brain police?
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    Jet Lights

    Quote Originally Posted by J_B
    Should I buy helmet or bar mounted lights? I am going to buy a set of NiteRider HID and was wondering which ones to buy......helmet or bar mounted? Which is better?
    I'd say if you're going to have one light, I'd start w/ a helmet mounted one. If you're riding single track that rolls up, down, left, and right.. you have to make decisions about the line you're picking before your bike (more specifically, your bar) is facing that way. That whole thing about having a bar mounted light first because of the shadow thing doesn't make sense to me. Depending on ambient daytime conditions, you don't always have defined shadows, so why is this so important at night?

    And before you commit to HID light you should at least check out Let Lights. Bright white light (w/o that weird bluish HID color), and not that expensive considering it's intense output. Look at the Jet Phantom and compare it's beam and cost to the competition. http://www.mtbr.com/spotlight/lightshootout/index.shtml

    Another good thing about the non-HID lights is that you can turn them off when you want to. I remember hearing that this isn't the case w/ HIDs, but I could be wrong. Oh yeah, one big negative about the non-HID is the lesser burn time (I just bought an extra battery for the longer night rides).

    Good luck either way. Night riding is incredible--
    The Who - Glittering Girl
    Ween - The Grobe
    Yellowman - Strong Me Strong
    all your base are belong to us

  11. #11
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    I'd lean to a bar light

    I have a digital head trip that I use on my night rides at home. I like the point where you look feature. However, I did the 24 hrs of moab last year and used both a bar & head light (non HID). I really liked the bar light. The head one causes your helmet to slide forward a lot so you always have to push it back or tighten your straps a lot. Plus, it is a bit of work to hook up the light, put it on your helmet, put the battery in your pack or pocket & not get tangled up. I am serious. I want to get a HID & will probably get a bar. The HIDs are so good that I turned all my lights off at 24 hrs of Moab when I rode right behind someone with a HID! They are awesome.

  12. #12
    Do It Yourself
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimmy
    The head one causes your helmet to slide forward a lot so you always have to push it back or tighten your straps a lot.
    This is more of a problem with Nite Rider than others lights because the they have particularly heavy light heads and the position of the mount (forward on the helmet) is very poorly balanced. The Jet Lites are much lighter and the newer mount design is much more stable. With the Jet, I don't even notice the light on my helmet.

  13. #13
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    Well, based on this input, I just ordered the Lume Strada $270 out the door is one hell of a good price for a HID. They did have a 20 watt Xeon blub which I also considered but I couldn't pass on the HID.

  14. #14
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    I prefer a helmet mount. Most of the riding we do is on twisty single track, so it's nice to be able to see where the trail is. If you can spring the $, get both.

  15. #15
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    If in doubt, get one that can be mounted in both places, and figure out what work best for you. Ther are good & bad points to both.

    Helmet mounted: gives flat shadows so it's harder to determine the terrain. If you are riding behind someone in a dusty environment (or in fog) the backscatter becomes a real problem.

    Bar mounts: Points where your wheels are, not necessarily where you look. If the beam pattern is a narrow spot, then tight single track is more difficult.

    Personally, I like them on my bar.

  16. #16
    mtbr member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Guppie58
    Well, based on this input, I just ordered the Lume Strada $270 out the door is one hell of a good price for a HID. They did have a 20 watt Xeon blub which I also considered but I couldn't pass on the HID.
    Yep, great price and your buddies will oooze all over them when they see the smooth carbon fiber and machined aluminum housings for the lighthead and the battery pack. Nice stuff.

    One Tip: be VERY careful not to drop or bang the lighthead onto hard surfaces.

  17. #17
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    I got both

    HID on the Bars and Halogen on the helmet. I wish the Lume light was available when I got my Storm (Is their web page cool or what?!!?).

    My system works great for me. It provides enough light in front of me for the overall view, plus w/ the helmet lamp, I can see forward on the twisty single track just fine.

    JPS
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  18. #18
    inner peace to make peace
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    helmet

    helmet first, then bar
    unless you ride straight and slow all the time

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