First Light Setup - Which Light Helmet/Bars- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    First Light Setup - Which Light Helmet/Bars

    Hello!

    I'm very new to MTB and just started a couple of months before daylight savings time. I can basically only ride at dark after work now (maybe some on the weekends but usually running whitewater then), so I just purchased a light setup.

    The general guidance I've seen is to put a more powerful light on the bars and less powerful on the helmet. I purchased a Nightrider Micro 850 for the helmet and RAKC Theia for the bars. Would that be a decent setup and is that how you would set the lights up?

    I purchased the Micro 850 as a cost saving measure but it seems like I might be better off sending that back and getting another Theia or something else. With that said, I think this will probably also work for the easy flow trails I'm riding. Thoughts there as well?

    Thanks in advance for the help!

  2. #2
    RAKC Industries
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    IMO the micro is going to become annoying because it's low output and short run time. Run into tints conflicting too. Not all bike lights are the same in that regard

    The vast majority use cool white (bluish light). The MTS lights are Neutral white some others do as well.

    That said there is nothing saying you must get another high powered light. The 850 could simply be used as a back up.

    Granted there is several ways you can do it, my may is putting the Theia on the helmet and have the micro on the bars as purely a backup and run the Theia on the helmet.

    As long as you have a backup light that's all that matters. Never a good idea to go out with a single light. Beyond that try things out and report back. Each persons taste is different so play around then see if some changes are needed.

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    Life on a bike doesn't begin till the sun goes down.


  3. #3
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    Several guys and myself use just a pair of dual beam 'cheapo chinese' lights on the bars (solarstorm brand, under $20 ea), I'm pretty happy with that setup, mostly for the simplicity: both batteries go on my stem, with a big velcro (old surf leash ankle velcro) to further secure the batteries, - everything is compact on the bars/stem, and out of the way, well over 2 hrs runtime.
    Most guys do seem to like the helmet light as well, but I've avoided that due to cost/runtime/extrawires complications. My kid night rides with us, so I have 2 bikes to get setup (working on getting him more self supporting).
    I've also got a pair of the bt40s clones (4beam, natural light), they throw a better light and pattern than the cheapos, but runtime with the cheapo batteries is significantly less; I can get well over 2 hrs on low with the dual beam lamps, but less than an hour on the 4 beam lamps. I'm admittedly very 'frugal', but I'm considering getting some better quality battery packs to run with my 4 beam bt40s clones. I also have one of the 3 beam 'solarstorm' lamps, it also runs down the cheapo battery quite quickly.
    I can't recommend headlamps (no experience), but running a pair of lamps on the bars is good. For the cheapest option the dual beam solarstorms is acceptable, under $40 for everything.
    Stepping up from that, it looks like BT40s clones are about $25 ea on amazon, pair those with the $30ea battery packs from ebay that others have recommended here, and I think most guys would be pretty happy.
    And yes, always bring some sort of backup, even just a small flashlight that you carry in your pocket. Those tiny handlebar lights with the built in band/strap from ebay china are less than $2 ea, the strobe is good for daylight riding on the road too.
    skidding is the signature of the novice; learn how to use your brakes.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimPacNW View Post
    Several guys and myself use just a pair of dual beam 'cheapo chinese' lights on the bars (solarstorm brand, under $20 ea), I'm pretty happy with that setup, mostly for the simplicity: both batteries go on my stem, with a big velcro (old surf leash ankle velcro) to further secure the batteries, - everything is compact on the bars/stem, and out of the way, well over 2 hrs runtime.
    Most guys do seem to like the helmet light as well, but I've avoided that due to cost/runtime/extrawires complications. My kid night rides with us, so I have 2 bikes to get setup (working on getting him more self supporting).
    I've also got a pair of the bt40s clones (4beam, natural light), they throw a better light and pattern than the cheapos, but runtime with the cheapo batteries is significantly less; I can get well over 2 hrs on low with the dual beam lamps, but less than an hour on the 4 beam lamps. I'm admittedly very 'frugal', but I'm considering getting some better quality battery packs to run with my 4 beam bt40s clones. I also have one of the 3 beam 'solarstorm' lamps, it also runs down the cheapo battery quite quickly.
    I can't recommend headlamps (no experience), but running a pair of lamps on the bars is good. For the cheapest option the dual beam solarstorms is acceptable, under $40 for everything.
    Stepping up from that, it looks like BT40s clones are about $25 ea on amazon, pair those with the $30ea battery packs from ebay that others have recommended here, and I think most guys would be pretty happy.
    And yes, always bring some sort of backup, even just a small flashlight that you carry in your pocket. Those tiny handlebar lights with the built in band/strap from ebay china are less than $2 ea, the strobe is good for daylight riding on the road too.
    I'm OK with your choice of lights and being frugal but ask that you think about running those cheap batteries. The $30 Hunk Lee ebay batteeries you mentioned should run your BT40 for at least 4 hrs. in its highest mode (turbo) so there's a good chance if those cheap batteries are more than 2 cells that part of them are dummy cells and guarantee they are poorest quality. Your probably OK if you've had the batteries for a while but those cheap batteries have had safety issues (linked to fires). Since your thinking about upgrading I encourage you to do so and if you have a metal container to charge the cheap batteries in till you get the new ones and at least inspect the batteries and discontinue use if you see any signs of leakage, swelling or excessive temperature after charging.
    Mole

  5. #5
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    Thanks for the warning! I had read about fires, but figured they were pretty rare, I had been charging them on my covered patio, but of course after a period of time I started charging in my shop again. I've never felt any heat when charging, but I suppose over time some corrosion may develop and a problem could occur, - it's best to charge any/all in a metal container on the patio and I will switch to that. I did some quick googling, I only found 3 reports of batteries catching fire, the last ones from 2015, but it is good to always be careful nonetheless.
    I should buy a pair of those Hunk Lee's for myself for Christmas, I'd be very happy with the Bt40s on medium, high would be fantastic.
    skidding is the signature of the novice; learn how to use your brakes.

  6. #6
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    I am new to night riding this season.
    I run a Lumina 950 boost on the helmet and a Serfas E-Lume 1200 on the bars. I've heard the rumor of brighter bar lights but without trying it opposite I cannot confirm.

    I sometimes will run just one light, depending on the trail. The Serfas has 4 brightness levels. The Lumina does as well, however the 4th is the Boost mode which is meant to drain the battery. haha It does work great, but I don't think Niterider intended for a user to use the full 950 Boost for 1.5+ hour rides.
    I use my lights on high/high mode for faster descents. Depending on the trail conditions I alternate the brightness of each light and/or the use of each light. I ran them pretty bright a couple weeks ago on flat single track. We were hauling.

    There seem to be complains of Niterider falling off in lumens through the life of the charge. That is true, however my understand is that it is true of must self contained light systems. It was either the CatEye Volt or the Serfas that rated high on lumen output throughout the charge.
    So far I have not experienced any issues with my Lumina becoming dim by the end of a ride.

    I do not think it is uncommon for me to run the bar light on option 1 while the helmet is on option 2, depending of course on the conditions. I definitely prefer the brighter light be on my head if I need to see around curves or switchbacks.

    I wonder if perhaps the theory of a brighter bar light stems from years back when lights were not as bright. So far, being new to night riding, having dual 800 beams is more than adequate. If 800 was considered larger and 400 was average, I'd probably say 800 on the bars is better than the head. But again, both bright lights for me seem to be adequate without wishing I could swap output options.

  7. #7
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    I run handlebars only. I just like the simplicity. I just hate the wires, weight and complexity of rigging a light to the helmet. The helmet light is a nice touch to be able to see around corners, etc. but the value in that for most of your riding is not critical.

    The biggest factor in choosing your set-up is this... A bright light on the helmet directs light along the same angle as your line of sight. This means that objects in your path will not have a shadow visible to you. A brown rock on a brown dirt trail can appear virtually invisible. It will not stand out as a significant object. For this reason, I prefer bar lights only. Shadows of objects and contours are far more pronounced. On the rare occasion I run a helmet light, I run a less powerful light on the head.
    TTUB - Ventura County California

  8. #8
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    OP, I'm a newbie to riding at night as well, just went on my 2nd night ride last night.

    My setup:

    Revtronic BT40S for my handlebars
    Gloworm X2 Adventure in Neutral White for my helmet

    I had a NR Lumina 850 Micro and was unhappy with it after the first ride. It was supposed to be 850 lumen for 1.5hrs but it started fading within the first 30mins. My riding buddy has a Cygolite that's 850 lumens and his stayed bright the whole ride, which was a bit over an hour. Returned it and got the Gloworm on the Black Friday sale and couldn't be happier. It's bright, customizable and most importantly, it kept the same brightness the whole ride.
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  9. #9
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    My setup is a modded bt40s (2000 lm max) on the bars and an ituo xp2 (1500 lm) on the helmet. Perfect for dark woods - wild board get a sunburn

  10. #10
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    UK rider here, currently running 2 cheapo chinese ebay 1600 lumen cree units on the bars with 4 cell batteries and a exposure joystick mk12 on the helmet with max 1000 lumens. The current setup lasts me a good 3hrs apart from the exposure as it only lasts 1.5hrs on full but i normally run it at 75% which lasts the 3hrs. If money was no object i would probably go for the bigger exposure lights. Used on CX tracks and red graded trails.
    Anthem 27,5 SX XC MTB.
    Moda Bolero Road bike.

  11. #11
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    If money was no object i would probably go for the bigger exposure lights. Used on CX tracks and red graded trails.
    That's interesting - never heard of Exposure lights. just had to google it - at least in Germany that's already a pretty expensive light - around 190 . Same in the UK?

  12. #12
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    Picked my Joystick up in black friday deal for less than 90GBP. Top quality lights that a mate introduced me to, and until a deal came up was loath to pay full wack. Best bet is to buy just after they upgrade the models and reap the benefits of outgoing model discounts. Mate has a sixpack model which is over 4000 lumens, that he uses for all week road commuting on reduced setting without charging over 10hrs riding time and then for offroad stuff with me on higher setting. It lights up the trail unbelievably, will get one similar once they come down in price, apparently customer service is good as well if any problems.
    Anthem 27,5 SX XC MTB.
    Moda Bolero Road bike.

  13. #13
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    BT40 on the bar
    Ituo WIZ2 on the lid
    - perf combo imo

  14. #14
    Rod
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    If I planned on using one light I would put it on the helmet so I can look through or around the turn.

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