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  1. #1
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    Commuter lights: throw vs. area

    We're experimenting with some options for a commuter light with an integrated battery, and we figured what better place to go for feedback than right here in the lighting forum. Who out there uses a light for commuting, and what type of beam pattern do you favor? Beam lights are bright, but they don't always offer the most usable light. What features do you look for?
    Quality bike lights for after-dark trail adventurers.
    www.LuminTrek.com

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    Quote Originally Posted by LuminTrek View Post
    We're experimenting with some options for a commuter light with an integrated battery, and we figured what better place to go for feedback than right here in the lighting forum. Who out there uses a light for commuting, and what type of beam pattern do you favor? Beam lights are bright, but they don't always offer the most usable light. What features do you look for?
    Hi LuminTrek, just a quick question: are you a sponsor/supporter of MTBR.com? If not, you really need to not be doing marketing/product research here. This has become a problem over the past few months, as a company you are not to be marketing/researching/advertising for free on this site.

    That being said, if you are a financial supporter of MTBR.com, enjoy the site - MTBR has the greatest group of guys and gals around - I have personally met quite a few at events over the past few years.

    If you any questions please contact MTBR.com, I am sure they will be happy to place a nice sized banner ad for you on the forum of your choosing.

    Thank you,

    Shannon Scott
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  3. #3
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    Hey Shannon, thanks for the info. We actually are a sponsor of this forum, but I can understand the confusion. We've been promoting LightJunction with the banner on the right since they had been our primary dealer for awhile, but that's all changing soon.

    Cheers

    Greg Harbinson
    LuminTrek
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    Quality bike lights for after-dark trail adventurers.
    www.LuminTrek.com

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    That's great to hear Greg, as I watch the banner on the right scroll I can see the LuminTrek ad roll through...d'oh! Sorry for the cranky-pants.

    Good luck with everything!

    Shannon
    Last edited by Baja Designs; 04-30-2012 at 02:38 PM.

  5. #5
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    A really bright StVZO-light is the best

    Quote Originally Posted by LuminTrek View Post
    Who out there uses a light for commuting, and what type of beam pattern do you favor? Beam lights are bright, but they don't always offer the most usable light. What features do you look for?
    I have several different lights, but for commuting and on the road I only use my Philips SafeRide LED light
    It is simply the best light for commuting and roadriding that I know of!

    It's included in the 2012 Mtbr Lights Shootout, please check it out
    Philips SafeRide LED Bike Light – 2012 Mtbr Lights Shootout | Mountain Bike Review

    Including very interesting beam shots

    2012 Bike Lights Shootout – Backyard Beam Pattern Photos | Mountain Bike Review | Page 2


    /Håkan
    SWEDEN

  6. #6
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    Interesting. I like how wide the beam is...loads of usable light right in front of the bike for commuting. Have you tried this for off-road use yet?
    Quality bike lights for after-dark trail adventurers.
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    The philips safe ride has a very sharp cutoff similar to an automotive low beam head light.

    The 2012 light shoot out picture from above is clearly aimed too high. The beam cutoff is very sharp and will not travel much above handlebar level.

    Great for the road. Probably the best use of lumens for a road specific light.

    Not so great for off road. Can't see the branches, can't see the uphill section coming up when you're nearing the bottom of a downhill. Not designed for off road, but better than nothing if that's all you have and you're riding on the trails.

    Do a search on youtube for Philips safe ride or Philips LED. Then look for trail rides with this light and compare to other lights not designed for road use and you'll see a world of difference.

    Road = Yes
    Off Road = Not the best, but okay if it's the only light you've got.

  8. #8
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    Yes, for off road riding there are better lights, I have several my self.

    But for commuting I don't know of any better lights.

    But I would love to see somebody trying.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by ThinkBike View Post
    The philips safe ride has a very sharp cutoff similar to an automotive low beam head light.

    The 2012 light shoot out picture from above is clearly aimed too high. The beam cutoff is very sharp and will not travel much above handlebar level.

    Great for the road. Probably the best use of lumens for a road specific light.
    When I first saw this thread posted last week I knew it wouldn't take long for someone to mention the Phillips safe ride. While I have not seen one in person I am not completely impressed by the MTBR beam photo.

    You mentioned that MTBR aimed the light too high. While true I think that was because if they didn't aim the lamp high they simply wouldn't have distance throw any where near the other lamps in the shoot-out. Looking at the photo it is very clear that there is a lack of "near light" in the beam pattern. No doubt caused by aiming it higher than the intended design.

    I do like the width of the beam pattern though. If the lamp threw as far as in the shoot-out AND still covered all the bases near the front of the bike I would be quite impressed ( especially at the quoted 400 lumen output level ). I was impressed by the beam pattern of the Cygolite Expilion 350, another commuter style lamp. The Expilion doesn't have the beam width of the Phillips but it provides illumination near and far and keeps the light confined ( which helps it use the claimed 350 lumen output in a very efficient manner ). In a nut shell, good beam pattern for the road, long run time and good bang for the buck$.

    I think the people who buy the Phillips Safe Ride are going to be people who are "overly concerned" about annoying others on the road. There seems to be the mentality ( held by some ) that you must keep the light down. The down side of this way of thinking is that not only are you "Not going to be as visible to others", but you aren't going to be able to see as well either. On the road, this could be a fatal decision. In my opinion if you are going to ride a bike on the road, you need to have some straight-out forward throwing light. Not just to see but to be seen as well. With too little ( straight-out ) forward throwing light you are just going to fade into the background.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cat-man-do View Post
    I think the people who buy the Phillips Safe Ride are going to be people who are "overly concerned" about annoying others on the road. There seems to be the mentality ( held by some ) that you must keep the light down. The down side of this way of thinking is that not only are you "Not going to be as visible to others", but you aren't going to be able to see as well either. On the road, this could be a fatal decision. In my opinion if you are going to ride a bike on the road, you need to have some straight-out forward throwing light. Not just to see but to be seen as well. With too little ( straight-out ) forward throwing light you are just going to fade into the background.
    Actually if you adjust it up a little the brightest part of the beam will be right in the drivers eyes. I sometimes use the light (B&M CYO actually but similar beam) like this in rolling terrain. I get more high beam flashes like this than with any other light.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cat-man-do View Post
    When I

    I think the people who buy the Phillips Safe Ride are going to be people who are "overly concerned" about annoying others on the road. There seems to be the mentality ( held by some ) that you must keep the light down. The down side of this way of thinking is that not only are you "Not going to be as visible to others", but you aren't going to be able to see as well either. On the road, this could be a fatal decision. In my opinion if you are going to ride a bike on the road, you need to have some straight-out forward throwing light. Not just to see but to be seen as well. With too little ( straight-out ) forward throwing light you are just going to fade into the background.
    You probably think I disagree with you on this but I don't. Without the typical top spill produced by most bike lights the Phillips would need a lumen output similar to a car's to be noticed by other drivers in an urban environment. It would still be a good light for canal banks and bike paths where it's not overpowered by automotive lights and your dealing with other cyclists and pedestrians. I do like the concept, but since it's marketed as a commuter light, Phillips needs to up the power level before I recommend this light anymore. Thanks for pointing this out Cat.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by MRMOLE View Post
    ..... It would still be a good light for canal banks and bike paths where it's not overpowered by automotive lights and your dealing with other cyclists and pedestrians. I do like the concept, but since it's marketed as a commuter light, Phillips needs to up the power level before I recommend this light anymore. Thanks for pointing this out Cat.
    Yes, I was thinking the same thing. ( about bike path use ) It would also work fine if you aim it up a bit and combo it with say a good front strobe/flasher for when on the road.

    If you're using just this photo as a guide, it would appear that this is not the light to use in an area where you have to deal with wildlife coming out of the woods and crossing the road. When a deer starts coming out in front of me I want to see more than it's feet when it finally hits my light beam.

    Of course if you use the Phillips and combo it with a helmet lamp and use the helmet lamp "as needed" then you're good. That being the case I have no problem with the Phillips as long as it's not considered as a "stand alone" bike lamp. Just remember, car low beams are generally confined to a certain area of the road but cars also have high beams for when they need to see farther. All things considered, cyclists need to have the same option when on busy or dangerous roads.

  13. #13
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    Try it yourself before you dismiss it

    Quote Originally Posted by Cat-man-do View Post
    While I have not seen one in person I am not completely impressed by the MTBR beam photo.
    I really think that you should try it yourself first.

    Looking at the photo it is very clear that there is a lack of "near light" in the beam pattern.
    Actually in real life the light beam of the Philips light is very good
    A problem that becomes more apparent as lamps become more powerful is that the near field is always too bright with symmetric beam lamps.
    To be able to see really long the light beam can't be too strong reall close to the bike.

    I was impressed by the beam pattern of the Cygolite Expilion 350, another commuter style lamp. The Expilion doesn't have the beam width of the Phillips but it provides illumination near and far and keeps the light confined ( which helps it use the claimed 350 lumen output in a very efficient manner ). In a nut shell, good beam pattern for the road, long run time and good bang for the buck$.
    If the light from the Cygolite Expilion 350 looks like in the MTBR Shootout
    Cygolite Expilion 350 | Mountain Bike Review
    I think it is pretty useless for commuting and road riding, at least compared to the Philips.


    The down side of this way of thinking is that not only are you "Not going to be as visible to others", but you aren't going to be able to see as well either.
    Not true, with the Philips light at least
    The light beam is strong enough that I can still can see the ground in front of my bike when I meet a car, even in a turn were the cars headlights shines directly in my face.
    At least as long as the road surface is dry.
    This is clearly wisible in this video: Philips LED Bike Light 80 Lux - "Testfahrt" 3 - YouTube

    You really should try a Philips light yourself before dissmissing it
    At least read this
    Philips LED bike light (LBL), battery powered, with cutoff


    Please Note:
    Just because a light is StVZO-compliant doesn't mean that it is a good light, it needs to be strong too, and have a wide beam.
    In the autumn of 2010 I bought a Sigma Pava
    SIGMA SPORT® online - Bike Computer, Heart Rate Monitor, Lighting
    I only rode it once a round the parking lot before I sold it.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by HakanC View Post
    I really think that you should try it yourself first....

    ....A problem that becomes more apparent as lamps become more powerful is that the near field is always too bright with symmetric beam lamps.
    To be able to see really long the light beam can't be too strong reall close to the bike.



    If the light from the Cygolite Expilion 350 looks like in the MTBR Shootout
    Cygolite Expilion 350 | Mountain Bike Review
    I think it is pretty useless for commuting and road riding, at least compared to the Philips.

    .
    About what I highlighted: Yes, what you said is true. But there does need be a decent amount of light directly in front of the bike as well. The MTBR photo didn't show the Phillips doing particularly well at providing close in illumination ( IMO ). Mind you if it had been aimed differently I might not have said that. The video's I've seen on Youtube are not impressive ( *including the one you linked to ). *In that video I kept waiting for a deer to jump out from the side of the road which was completely dark. To be fair though, most videos I see of bike lights in general don't impress me. Most video cameras ( IMO ) can't really do a bike lamp justice.

    I wish I could try the Phillips. Now if I see one at the LBS or REI I will do just that. In the mean time if I find myself needing to use a self-contained lamp for road use I can use one of my XM-L torches WHICH I may say work very well on the road thank you. On high it will reach over 150ft ( bar mounted ) and on medium about 80ft. While not the widest of beam patterns I have basically what I need and the spill will illuminate most anything coming out of the woods ( before it hits the road ).

    Spill is real important for road use because cyclist ride on the shoulder of the road. This means they would be the first to hit something coming out of the woods ( on their side of the road ). Without good road spill you are basically " An accident looking for a place to happen".

    Since you own the Phillips I'm glad to hear that you are happy with it. BTW, how would you compare it to an XM-L lamp using standard type reflector? I'm just curious as to what lamps you own that you are comparing it to. Since most people ride with lamps using standard optics or cone-style reflectors you would have to assume the current selection of bike lamps work well for most people.

    Oh and BTW if I do try one and find that I DO like it, I'm not afraid to say I was wrong. For the record while I trust MTBR to provide good beam photos I have seen them drop the ball a time or two when doing beam shots. Regardless I have yet to see a decent beam photo of the Phillips that I find impressive. Hopefully that may change as I like the concept of confined beam patterns.
    Last edited by Cat-man-do; 05-06-2012 at 09:58 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cat-man-do View Post
    Spill is real important for road use because cyclist ride on the shoulder of the road. This means they would be the first to hit something coming out of the woods ( on their side of the road ). Without good road spill you are basically " An accident looking for a place to happen".
    There is spill with the Philips light.
    Unfortunately the camera can't see it, but the eye can. And if it is enogh for you is impossible for anybody but you to find out.

    Since you own the Phillips I'm glad to hear that you are happy with it.[/I] BTW, how would you compare it to an XM-L lamp using standard type reflector? I'm just curious as to what lamps you own that you are comparing it to.
    I have owned and used quite a lot of different lights during the last few years:
    A few P7-torches from DX
    A few MJ-808 bike lights from DX
    A MJ-808E
    A MJ-808E-clone from DX T6 Water Resistant XML-T6 3-Mode 930-Lumen White LED Bike Light with Battery Pack Set - Free Shipping - DealExtreme
    A MJ-856

    The Philips-light is better then all of these, IMHO
    The optics of the Philips-light put the majority of the lumens on the roads surface, exactly were you need it.
    Measurements have also shown this, the MJ-808 have been measured to 550 lumen and the Philips-light to about half of that, 270 lumen.
    But when the amount of light on the road is measured it is the other way round
    MJ-808 = 50,1 Lux
    Philips = 90 Lux

    I still own and use the MJ-808E and the MJ-856, mainly for off road riding, running and x-country skiing (the winter is long and dark in Sweden), but I don't use them on the road.

    I have also recently compared the Philips-light to the Edelux (dynamo light),
    we were riding side by side, we all agreed that the Philips-light was the best.

    Since most people ride with lamps using standard optics or cone-style reflectors you would have to assume the current selection of bike lamps work well for most people.
    I think that the main reason people are riding lights with circular optics is because that outside of Germany StVZO-lights are not that readily available.

    For me the main drawback with the Philips-light is the short run-time on high.
    But I have modofied my light to take a external battery. I now can get >4 hours from a 'standard' MJ-808-battery
    Philips LED bike light - Page 3

    There are of course a lot of other things I don't lika about the Philips-light;
    The cost, I can get it for 850 SEK (about 125 USD)
    The size
    The power consumption, 6W and only 270 lm!

    But it is still the best light for commuting and road riding that I know of.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by HakanC View Post
    ....There is spill with the Philips light.
    Unfortunately the camera can't see it, but the eye can. And if it is enogh for you is impossible for anybody but you to find out.....
    I did see another video that gave me pause to reflect. Sorry, I didn't save the link but at least I could tell ( lamp viewed from head-on ) that the lamp has some spill and should be easily seen by motorist. I'm still not sure the throw is long enough to please me ( but that remains to be seen ). So far I've not seen photos or video that clearly demonstrate good distance throw. In order to judge distance throw I have to see a beam photo with the lamp aimed properly and set-up with distance markers so the forward throw ( or cut-off distance) can be viewed.

    I figure it won't be too long before someone actually does post some good beam photos. I look forward to the reviews. Hopefully Phillips and others will continue to refine the concept of "confined road beam optics" that include a longer throw before cutoff. Even better, High and low beam optic in one lamp so forward cut-off can be increase when needed ( just like in a car ). Perhaps with a little more power coupled with some Li-ion batteries for longer run times, the upgrades could add some nice improvement. With that said, I wonder how long it will be before the DIY'ers try to mode one with a brighter LED. Now THAT I would like to see.

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    Teaser...

    Quote Originally Posted by Cat-man-do View Post
    Perhaps with a little more power coupled with some Li-ion batteries for longer run times, the upgrades could add some nice improvement. With that said, I wonder how long it will be before the DIY'ers try to mode one with a brighter LED. Now THAT I would like to see.
    Hey "Cat,"
    It actually won't be long till you get to see something like that. I'm nearing completion on a complete "gutting" and upgrade to the PSR. A PSR owner approached me with the idea, so I said, "Sure, I'll give it a shot." It's going to work, and the beam is going to be something to behold, but I sure won't be doing this again... it's a LOT of custom work, and getting the reflector out of the housing without damaging it is not for the faint of heart. I'll be posting the complete project in the DIY forum, for anyone who wants to try and re-produce it, but here are a few teaser pics with the XMLs installed and the new H6Flex driver mounting scheme. It'll be driven off of one of my high capacity 11.1V packs.
    Cheers!
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Commuter lights: throw vs. area-permanentely_adhered_xml_boards_s.jpg  

    Commuter lights: throw vs. area-psr_bracket_layout_3_s.jpg  

    Commuter lights: throw vs. area-psr_front_view_layout_s.jpg  


  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cat-man-do View Post
    Hopefully Phillips and others will continue to refine the concept of "confined road beam optics" that include a longer throw before cutoff. Even better, High and low beam optic in one lamp so forward cut-off can be increase when needed ( just like in a car ). Perhaps with a little more power coupled with some Li-ion batteries for longer run times, the upgrades could add some nice improvement. With that said, I wonder how long it will be before the DIY'ers try to mode one with a brighter LED. Now THAT I would like to see.
    Belive me; so would I.

    But I think that the complicated and detailed StVZO-regulations will stop that.
    At least until the manufacturers realize that the German market is small, compared to the rest of the worls at least, and the only one were StVZO-approval is mandatory.



    Quote Originally Posted by pethelman View Post
    I'll be posting the complete project in the DIY forum, for anyone who wants to try and re-produce it
    Very impressive.
    I am looking forward to your DIY-posting.

  19. #19
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    Cat man said,
    ....Hopefully Phillips and others will continue to refine the concept of "confined road beam optics" that include a longer throw before cutoff. Even better, High and low beam optic in one lamp so forward cut-off can be increase when needed ( just like in a car ). Perhaps with a little more power coupled with some Li-ion batteries for longer run times, the upgrades could add some nice improvement.
    The response....

    Quote Originally Posted by HakanC View Post
    ....But I think that the complicated and detailed StVZO-regulations will stop that.
    At least until the manufacturers realize that the German market is small, compared to the rest of the worls at least, and the only one were StVZO-approval is mandatory....
    Just remember the Chinese copy everything.
    If there's a buck ( or Yen ) to be made they will copy it. ( and then sell it for $49 )

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cat-man-do View Post
    If there's a buck ( or Yen ) to be made they will copy it. ( and then sell it for $49 )
    $33.50

  21. #21
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    DX sells a lower priced version of the XC-997, without the NiMH-batteries and charger. for 19.50 USD
    XC-997B
    XC-997B Cree 3W 200LM White LED Bicycle Bike Light - 3-Mode (4 x AA) - Free Shipping - DealExtreme

  22. #22
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    I have that light. Its no Safe Ride. Neat toy, terrible beam, underwhelming output (I think its an XP-C). Definitely not anywhere near the output level where a shaped beam would be useful to you or other road users.

  23. #23
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    my 2c

    if I were buying a commuter light (instead of making them) I would first look for side visibility, which is almost universally terrible. Then something that would evenly (no rings, voids etc) light up the width of my lane at ~12-15m, without too much light right in front of the wheel. Finally, it would have to be an all-in-one (no separate battery pack) as that's a PITA to attach and detach, especially in miserable weather. The PSR approach makes a lot of sense. On the road it's not so much how bright your light is but how effectively that light is used.

    That said, my standard round reflectored commuter light is fine if it's aimed carefully. With the spot aimed about 12m in front of me, the top spill reaches out to twice that difference and is very useful in picking up reflective stuff (street signs, animal eyes) in the distance. Several times I've notice dog walkers on the bike path over 30m away just by seeing their dogs eyes

  24. #24
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    I guess that the XC-997-lights is best used as a donor-light for modification.

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    Beamshot with distance markers

    Quote Originally Posted by Cat-man-do View Post
    I'm still not sure the throw is long enough to please me ( but that remains to be seen ). So far I've not seen photos or video that clearly demonstrate good distance throw. In order to judge distance throw I have to see a beam photo with the lamp aimed properly and set-up with distance markers so the forward throw ( or cut-off distance) can be viewed.

    Philips Battery LED Light



    Distance markers


    All pics from:
    https://picasaweb.google.com/1030147...47/Bikelights#


    /Håkan
    SWEDEN

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