Discussion: Neutral LED's; Advantages and Disadvantages- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Reputation: Cat-man-do's Avatar
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    May 2004

    Discussion: Neutral LED's; Advantages and Disadvantages

    Since it was suggested that a thread be started on this subject I thought I'd go ahead and start one. Since I have some experience with neutral LED's I will add my thoughts as well. Of course anyone that was doing night rides back in the 90's ( using halogen lighting ) will understand some of the advantages of riding with a "warmer" light spectrum. Anyway, some of my first thoughts;

    I'll try to keep it simple. The wider spectrum of light used in the "Neutral White" LED should add another dimension to the sport of "Night Mountain biking". I say, "Should" because it's quite possible that there are going to be some negative aspects as well.

    Last night I just happened to be home playing hookie from work. As fate would have it I caught a couple episodes of the series "Brain Games" on T.V. Basically they went into some detail of not only how you see but how the brain processes the information which is also very important. One of the basic facts I learned was, "How little information ( visually ) our brains can actually process at one time AND what the brain does to make up for that fact.

    We can sit here talking about the workings of the eye and how the eye functions at night but it's the brain doing the actual work of telling you what you think you see. I'll explain how that might effect night riding. I don't doubt that the softer spectrum of light is going to highlight more natural trail features. I think that will be most useful when riding slow through technical sections. On the faster sections...well, that might work out differently. As such I'm going to speculate a bit based on what I learned last night.

    Since I have yet to ride with a high powered ( bar / helmet ) Neutral LED set-up I'm only going to state this as a possible scenario so here goes;
    When used on the bars a neutral set-up should please a lot of people. Colors and textures of the trail surfaces should become more clearer and defined, especially close up. There should also be less close-in glare reflecting back to disturb your night vision. There should also be less glare reflecting back from the illumination of particulate matter in the air. All of these are good things. With enough lumen going the night riding experience should be enhanced but of course I'm not finished...yet.

    Here are some possible negatives; For one, by it's very nature "neutral" lighting appears to be not as bright as CW. Actually this is just a trick of the brain in some sense but only because of how the brain interprets light. "Glare" is associated with bright light. Because the "Neutrals" have less glare some will think they are significantly dimmer. For most people used to "Cool white" LED's there is going to be a breaking in period. My theory is that once used to the effects of "less glare" the brain will adjust and all will seem normal.

    I am wondering how the effects of NW led's will effect riding at speed. When riding faster the brain has less time to process information, not only on the peripheral but directly in front as well. With less time to process what the eye sees the neutral LED's might not be as useful at speed. Quite possibly there could be more of a tunnel effect but this of course depends on the terrain, your speed, the ability of your lamps to illuminate the peripheral and the total amount of light your set-up is able to throw into the distance. On the other hand I could be completely wrong about that and in this case I hope I am.

    Anyway, food for thought. Feel free to comment, one way or another.

  2. #2
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    Aug 2011

    Discussion: Neutral LED's; Advantages and Disadvantages

    Interesting post. My fenix bt20 btr20 and bc30 are neutral tints. I find they are nicer to use. There is less glare and eye fatigue because of it. I also find you can spot trail features better.

    Your probably right when going faster you tend to auto pilot and ride more on instinct meaning tint becomes less of an issue.

    On aside note. I find on cold rides I feel warmer with a warm tint and my spirits are higher than with a CW tint.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  3. #3
    Just Ride !
    Reputation: C.M.S's Avatar
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    Aug 2009
    Being at the CPF more and more and reading a bunch about flashlights and how many flashlight manufactures offer NW & CW options , so I wonder why Bike lighting manufactures don't offer up the same thing . I would like to have a NW option with bike lights , don't know if I would like it but worth a try .
    Hit the trails with your bike and get freaky. :cornut:

  4. #4
    Drinkin' the 29er KoolAid
    Reputation: kwarwick's Avatar
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    Jun 2004
    Quote Originally Posted by C.M.S View Post
    Being at the CPF more and more and reading a bunch about flashlights and how many flashlight manufactures offer NW & CW options , so I wonder why Bike lighting manufactures don't offer up the same thing . I would like to have a NW option with bike lights , don't know if I would like it but worth a try .
    It has started to happen with some manufactures *only* offering NW. The Fenix BC30 is a recent example and a truly excellent bar light.

    Fenixlight Limited

  5. #5
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    Sep 2007
    This will I hope soon be irrelevant in some aspects because cree will soon have 80+ CRI (color render index) from 3k to 6k. In the old days high cri meant warm. I really like more neutral tints and am pleased to see CRI increasing. Seems like all the new Si3 chips feature better CRI and now may have better optical control at well.

    It now being 2015 I feel that no bike light should have a color temp more than 6K

    I have a light with a new cree MK-R LED that is about 4k color temp and 80CRI its amazing. Performance in snow, dust rain is so much better than a cool 6 or 7k light.

    I wont talk about the light I am using much here since it really belongs in the diy light forum.

    6k and 7K temp lights of all sorts are a thing I hate. WHen I see someone driving who has fitted cheap 9k or even 10k HID in the stock halogen reflector I nearly always find my self hitting them with the brights because all I can see is purple glare.

    If my MKR light had a DOT approved pattern I would get another one for my car I like it so much more than stock halogen lamps in my 2004 toyota.

  6. #6
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    May 2004
    Continued from my last post:

    I want to add a bit more to what I said in my last post about "Tunnel effect" because after I thought about what I said I began to think that maybe TE ( tunnel effect ) might not be such a bad thing after all.

    When traveling at speed most of the rider's attention is focused both at what is directly in front of him and what is directly ahead in the distance
    ( or as far as they can see ). In this sense what lies in the peripheral generally gets lost in the mix. Looking forward I think this effect will be more pronounced using NW LED's. I'm hoping that rather than being a negative that this will end up as a positive and useful side effect.

    During the late summer of last year I was riding with and testing one of the Xeccon ( XM-L2 U2 ) helmet lamps called the Spiker 1211. Because the beam pattern was wider than most single emitter lamps I was having a hard time seeing as far into the distance as I was used to. I was to later find out that most of the problem stemmed from having too much feedback glare from the Gloworm X2 I was using on the bars which was limiting my distance night vision more than I had expected. Once I realized this I limited the GW to the lower modes and suddenly I found I could see much better into the distance. Lesson learned: Too much close-in glare can significantly effect distance vision at night ( in certain environments ).

    Keeping with this thought It needs to be understood that, "Too much flood light coming off the bars can be detrimental", in certain situations / environments. At speed, this can be even a more pronounced truth because when riding fast you really do need to see further into the distance so you can prepare mentally for what is coming up.

    I'm now beginning to think that having a NW set-up on the bars is going to be a "Must have". With less reflective glare coming off the bars from your NW set-up you can use more light ( close in ) with less negative feedback, at least this is my theory.

    To go along with this is , "Theory #2", " Single emitter lamps using a NW LED will become more useful". With less glare than cooler LED's the typical, "Dancing ball" effect so often associated with single emitter reflector lamps ( tighter beam patterns ) should not be as bothersome AND quite possibly could become the lamp style of choice when using NW LED's on the helmet.

    Once again, all food for thought. I look forward to testing some of these theories once the spring comes, the mud dries up and I begin to ride in the mist of a lush, green and vibrant forest. I am very much looking forward to the warm natural earth tones of the summer forest at night.

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