Lighting suggestion for someone with "night blindness"- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Lighting suggestion for someone with "night blindness"

    To be blunt my eyes SUCK at night. Bunch of my riding buddies are trying night riding. Im interested but nervous cuz I have horrible(!) night vision. Im shopping for lights but have no idea what lumen level or even what set up i should go for i.e. handlebar or helmet mount or both. Suggestions?

  2. #2
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    Well, the real question is what kind of night blindness inflicts you? Do you see halos, have blurry vision, cannot adapt to the dark, or are slow to adapt to the dark?

    Obviously, having more light will help, but it's hard to lay down an ideal number until we have more info about your situation.

    One thing I can recommend is most anyone suffering from most any type of night vision issue should avoid all the lights with significant hotspots. That's just not going to help unless you are trying to see a single point. Leave that for your thrower flashlight.

    Both helmet and bar lights are recommended for everyone that rides at night. You want to keep light on the trail for your peripheral vision when you look to the side, and you want to be able to illuminate things to the side with a helmet light as well, so definitely you want both.

    I run 2200lm on the bar, 1500 on the helmet. 60/40 provides a nice balance, IMO. If my helmet light was much stronger, I'd be subject to the light flowing left and right as I pedal, which I find annoying. The stronger bar light mutes that a lot.

    As you suffer with night vision issues, you definitely want to go for a decent amount of light right off the bat, but don't have to go hog wild. As an example, 3700lm is more light than two automotive HID headlamps (low beam, out the lens, about 2500-3000lm), but we are catching up in the optics department, with most bike lamps built to throw light like flashlights.
    I will suffer no butt-hurt fools!

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the response Flamingtaco. My depth perception at night is pretty much non existent. I will say my peripheral vision is better at night than straight on. I was told I have what appears to be the start of cataracts. Yup 35 with cataracts...awesome lol. But anyway, Being my eyes are as "wonderful" as they are I'd most likely follow someone on the trail. Would there be an issue with glare or reflection?

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by CyclesnIPAs View Post
    Thanks for the response Flamingtaco. My depth perception at night is pretty much non existent. I will say my peripheral vision is better at night than straight on. I was told I have what appears to be the start of cataracts. Yup 35 with cataracts...awesome lol. But anyway, Being my eyes are as "wonderful" as they are I'd most likely follow someone on the trail. Would there be an issue with glare or reflection?
    Speaking from experience I would say glare is definitely going to be an issue because the developing cataracts defuse the light as it enters your eyes. Too much light will wash out trail irregularities, decrease your ability to read the trail and pick good lines. On the other hand the cataracts also obstruct your vision since you have to look through them requiring more light to see in certain situations. So what can you do, solutions to different symptoms created by the cataracts seem to work against each other. My suggestions are A): Pick a light with a neutral to warm emitter tint. Warmer tints will allow you to run more lumens (which you need) before the negative effects of glare start to limit your vision. B): Pick a light that has as adjustable as possible power levels (adjustable power levels is better than 4 preset levels which is better than 3 preset levels). Your eyes are going to be more sensitive to light levels (sundown, sunrise, how full the moon is), trail conditions and speed so adjusting your lights output levels to your needs is going to be a big help. C): Follow F..ingtacos advice too and you should be good to go.

    MY light suggestions would be 2 Gloworm X2V3's from Action-LED-Lights. Jim converts them to neutral white emitters for a small extra change, they have programmable light level steps, changeable optics so you can run what ever combo of floods and spots you like the best but this combination is going to run over $500. A more economical and better bang for the buck option would be 2 Nitefighter BT21's or a BT21/BT40S combo. These maybe a couple of steps down in quality compared to the Gloworms but already have the neutral white emitters, and similar lumen output. The main thing you loose is the light level adjustability but they only cost about 1/4 of what you'll spend on the Gloworms (actually the main thing you loose is quick delivery, excellent customer service/warranty/repair capabilities). I'm sure others may have additional suggestions.
    Mole

  5. #5
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    Im with mole except id say rolling the x2v3 on the helmet, XS on the bars. XS with 2 flood, one spot optic I think will serve you well. The glare caused by a "hot spot" in close especially following someone is annoying for the normal person which means lowering levels for lower output. Going with 2 flood optics will illuminate the entire area better and brighter without the glare, the spot optic will put some throw into it so you have some range to the light.

    As for optics on the helmet, id say dual spot and have it tilted up more so the hot spit is well out in front at the end of your needed line of site distance, in the case you get some distance between you and the guy in front.

    More I tinker with lights, when it comes to bar light the more im a fan of more lumens there, but nice flood pattern. The combo works well as I can see as much at night as during the day.

    I was almost going to recommend xeccon lights as well. But they all have a pretty strong hot spot in the middle which could cause you issues.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by tigris99 View Post
    Im with mole except id say rolling the x2v3 on the helmet, XS on the bars. XS with 2 flood, one spot optic I think will serve you well. The glare caused by a "hot spot" in close especially following someone is annoying for the normal person which means lowering levels for lower output. Going with 2 flood optics will illuminate the entire area better and brighter without the glare, the spot optic will put some throw into it so you have some range to the light.

    As for optics on the helmet, id say dual spot and have it tilted up more so the hot spit is well out in front at the end of your needed line of site distance, in the case you get some distance between you and the guy in front.

    More I tinker with lights, when it comes to bar light the more im a fan of more lumens there, but nice flood pattern. The combo works well as I can see as much at night as during the day.

    I was almost going to recommend xeccon lights as well. But they all have a pretty strong hot spot in the middle which could cause you issues.
    While I like your light set-up better I still think for the OP who is going to have glare sensitivity issues with his cataracts even with NW emitters a 1500 lumen bar light is probably about as much as his eyes are going to be able to handle before it starts to reduce his overall vision in most situations. He could possibly get away with running the XS as a helmet light but it's not needed and realistically most people are not willing to spend even what it takes to get into the dual X2 set-up. That's why I offered the Nitefighter combo as a far more affordable (and almost as good) option. More opinions are always good though and who knows, He may contract the bike light disease we have in which case He can justify buying all sorts of lights he doesn't really need with no guild what so ever.
    Mole

  7. #7
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    Lol very right mole. Im just becoming a huge fan of more lumens in a flood pattern. Way easier on the eyes for me. Also right on the expense lol. That's alot for a light set up

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    Thanks for all the great info and suggestions folks! Im gonna check out your light suggestions and talk to my lbs about my issue as well. Hopefully I can join my buddies for a night ride in the near future.

  9. #9
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    I would add "KD2" has NW leds and 10 level driver. It can be used as inexpensive try-out to see how things works before going to higher price lights. Also BT40s has wide lenses in addition to stock (which are already pretty wide). So this inexpensive combo might be good to start with. If the are not the ones that suits you can still sell them easily.

  10. #10
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    I would try to borrow lights and then give night riding a try. Somebody has to have a spare set. Go on a short section of a trail you know by heart with a friend. I sure wouldn't spend hundreds of dollars on lights before even knowing if you can do it.

    Problems with depth perception would just make night riding even more difficult than it already is. It might not be worth the risk, to be honest. Even when using a proper setup with two lights, depth perception is a problem for people with regular eyes. Even with the bar light casting shadows, obstacles such as rocks and roots just don't look the same at night. Your brain just can't perceive things quickly enough. It gets better as you gain some experience, but it's never the same as riding in the daytime. Throw in some vision problems and it may be too much to ask. You might be better off spending your money on a trainer and some spinervals dvds.

  11. #11
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    I wouldn't suggest dropping a light from the list because it can throw enough lumens to cause glare when one has adjustable output and aim. The XS is too hot aimed 15ft off the front wheel, but at 50ft, could easily send 4400lm down range and not cause vision issues for most.

    Gloworm lights have a large main beam and decently gradual transition to spill with the spot lenses. The extra flood lenses I bought have spent the past year sitting in the box, I get good distance and reasonable peripheral without them. OP might benefit, though.

    Gloworms are good budget lights if you source your own battery packs. The XS light head is $185, the X2 is $130. Worth the extra $$ over Nightfighter if you want to get into top tier lighting system. Not so if you go with the Gloworm batteries.

    OP: Sounds like you are going to have to get on the trail and see what your vision will permit. Definitely borrow a light if you can to determine if you can get in a comfortable frame of mind at any reasonable speed before laying out your money. If no one has a light you can use, pick up a 150lm headlamp from a hardware store or Walmart ($15), aim it so you don't get dazzled, and see how that goes. Many of us started with low lumen setups and did just fine until we decided we yearned for more. For about that same layout you can get a 500-600lm flashlight in about 6-8 weeks from the Chinese e-tailers.
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  12. #12
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    Taco, 4400 lumens from the XS... Typo??? . 2100 max iirc

  13. #13
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    This is excellent! I glad to see more people sharing their ideas on this. I may have shared the cataract issue with the OP but when it comes to vision and vision problems He's the only person who knows what he really sees and the problems that his vision limitations create so the more options he has to consider the better. CyclesnIPAs, one thing I wanted to add is if you have problems don't get discouraged on your first few rides with lights. My first few actual night mountain biking experiences were total failures but I found I could ride canal banks and bike paths OK so that's what I did for the first couple of years (I had no one to give me advice on lights at the time and lights just were not as good as they are now). I'd still try the trails occationally but never felt comfortable with them till I ran across a wide angle lens that fit my light. From that point on I was fine. I'll never be someone who can ride just as fast at night as I can in daylight but it didn't stop me from experiencing the fun of night riding. With the advice you get here and from your riding buddies your learning curve should be vastly quicker than mine was. Look forward to hearing how this turn out for you.
    Mole

  14. #14
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    I friggen love this site. You people are great! Thanks for everything. I love the fact that Im getting legit advice from people who know what they're talking about and can actually relate to my issue. I always have the fear of asking a store cuz they are trying to sell me something. Having me walking out with the most expensive lights available. So getting some knowledgeable and impartial advice is so refreshing. I think Im gonna borrow or rent a set of lights before diving in. Ive already concluded that I will not be a ride leader which is fine by me...I'll leave day riding for that lol. We'll see. Im psyched either way.

  15. #15
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    There's another light we all missed, the yindings. Not as good as bt21 but a great little light. With all the lights I have ill still never part with mine lol.

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