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  1. #1
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    Lighting system on a budget

    Well, sadly the days are increasingly becoming shorter. I've decided this is the year I'll give night riding a try. Subsequently I need a lighting system. I would like to keep the system under $125, because I am unsure at this point whether I'll enjoy night riding. I can always upgrade to something better down the road.

    Would something like this: Action-LED-Lights — MJ-816 1400* lumen light set be sufficient? I have a small AA torch that can carry as a back up in case of failure. The torch would sufficiently get me out of my trials, albeit at a heavily reduced rate. Are there other turn key options I'm unaware of? I'm looking for something fairly reliable, that won't need modification.

    Thanks for your help.

  2. #2
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    A lot depends on what you ride and what your expectations are.

    For me, I ride tight, twisty singletrack. It's not super high speed. I use the Magicshine 808e from action led lights mounted on my helmet and it works perfectly for me.

    I did just add a Gemini p7 since it was cheap - and will try out a helmet/bar combo to see how I like that.

  3. #3
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    I agree, just getting started several of my riding buddies either went with a 808E or an ebay clone. The clones so far have an unofficial failure rate of 50% in the first year (based solely on my observations). The magic shines have a more neutral light than the clones, which I like better. They are able to have fun riding all of the same trails that I can here in Montana.

    The true believers generally buy into a nicer setup with both bar and helmet lights in the second season.
    Josh

  4. #4
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    What about these lights (all under $170):

    Lenzyne Super Drive
    Nightrider Minewt
    Bikeray Speed
    Dinoette XML-1

    Also, which mount is better? I thought you would want to luminate the trail, thus a handlebar mount would be better (especially if the beam width is wide enough to capture some peripheral).

    Thanks for any and all help, as this will be my first time venturing in the dark.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by MattC555 View Post
    Well, sadly the days are increasingly becoming shorter. I've decided this is the year I'll give night riding a try. Subsequently I need a lighting system. I would like to keep the system under $125, because I am unsure at this point whether I'll enjoy night riding. I can always upgrade to something better down the road.

    Would something like this: MJ-816 1400* lumen light set[/url] be sufficient? I have a small AA torch that can carry as a back up in case of failure. The torch would sufficiently get me out of my trials, albeit at a heavily reduced rate. Are there other turn key options I'm unaware of? I'm looking for something fairly reliable, that won't need modification.

    Thanks for your help.
    Hi. I would be thrilled with the MJ- 816 1400 lumen for $102. It has the remote switch and the dimming feature, and it's plenty bright. Sure u could pay more for the MJ-816E and it would be a little brighter, but I like your choice. Wish I had gone with it and been over this constant search for the perfect light and price. Just buy one and use it. Hallelujah!

    patrick

  6. #6
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    I have this (or one like it, they are all over Amazon)... It's super bright and will last a good 3 hours on high. Can't beat it for $50. It's much brighter than friends $120+ lights they bought at LBS.

    Apparently I can't post links yet... Just search "CREE XML T6 Bike Light" on Amazon.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by iamspartacus View Post
    Also, which mount is better? I thought you would want to luminate the trail, thus a handlebar mount would be better (especially if the beam width is wide enough to capture some peripheral).
    That's a religious debate. I think much of it depends on your trail. If it's twisty, your bars often aren't pointed where you're looking, so a helmet light would work better imo. If it's more open, a bar light may provide better trail definition.

  8. #8
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    That is a fair response. I will take it. Thank you!

  9. #9
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    If these Cree XML T6 (1200 Lumens) lights are as good as reviewed here and there, it might be economical to just buy 2, one for the bar and one for helmet.

  10. #10
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    I suggest 2x MJ808e's to start out with. If you get into night riding you'll want to upgrade, but you can use the lights as backups and loaners. You can also buy nicer lights as a light head only if they are compatible with the magicshine batteries. This makes upgrading really reasonable.

  11. #11
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    derekbob, the lights on amazon are only 32 bucks each. This seems to be a much better deal, even if I don't like night riding, my investment is minimal.......even if I only start with one light.

  12. #12
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    Buying an ebay clone is a gamble. If they crap out you have to eat it. They could crap out in the dark too. If you buy from Action Led Lights you'll have a good company behind your purchase at least.

    The same applies to any light I suppose, but an actual magicshine is more reliable than a clone from what I read. I have 2 magicshines and they have been great so far.

  13. #13
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    As far as the investment is concerned I'd suggest not skimping too much. It's important that lights function properly.

    Maybe buy a clone and if it works try it out on some short rides. If you like night riding (and who dosent?) you can buy another light.

  14. #14
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    i am using this same set up for about 1 year now
    CREE XML T6 Bike Light
    plus i added the action led Wide Angle Lens diffuser thingy .
    Action-LED-Lights — Wide Angle Lens

    1 light on helmet and two on bike.

  15. #15
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    I have had good luck with one-cell CREE-based flashlights using 18650 Li-Ion cells (same thing as is in your laptop). From eBay/China. I got two flashlights, one mounted on the handlebars with an eBay handlebar mount, the other permanently fastened to a second helmet that I got at a thrift store for that purpose, using cable ties. I got 8 cells and a good 6-cell charger. They are plenty bright and get an hour or more per cell. I usually run both on medium brightness or one bright and one medium.

    All of this was under $100. The great thing is that spare batteries are only about $2 ea.

    Also get cases to carry the spare batteries in. They could start a fire if they get shorted, and are a bit fragile. I damaged one by dropping it on the floor.

    Let me know if you want details.
    Last edited by DennisF; 09-11-2012 at 02:00 PM.

  16. #16
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    Thanks for all the replies! I think I'm going to go with the MJ- 816, and add a Cree XML T6 to my helmet. Thanks again!

  17. #17
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    I ran a Magicshine 808e on my bars all last year and added one of the $35 magicshine knockoffs from ebay for my helmet this year. The noname light works with the magicshine battery and mounts and is just as bright. If I was to do it again I would have just bought two or 3 of the knockoffs instead of getting the magicshine.

  18. #18
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    Niterider just came out with a whole new line, the Lumina

    I picked up a Lumina 650 for $109 on Amazon. It's very, very bright and the beam pattern throws a gigantic cone in front of you that lights up probably 20 feet on either side almost as bright as the center. I've been through tons of lights and dollar for dollar this is the best you can get.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by iamspartacus View Post
    If these Cree XML T6 (1200 Lumens) lights are as good as reviewed here and there, it might be economical to just buy 2, one for the bar and one for helmet.
    ^What he said.

  20. #20
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    Magicshine 808s. 2; one on the bar and one on the helmet. Perfect setup and as much light as you will ever need. Delivered from action LED for about $150. I also added the wide-angle lens which really helps the bar light.
    Last edited by TiGeo; 09-16-2012 at 06:22 PM.
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  21. #21
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    I have an 808e and a cree xml t6. The 808e was $80, the cree was $35, The light on the cree is a little more bluish, is atleast as bright and is actually easy to see with. If i was buying lights again, id just buy 2 or even 3 of the cree lights and the flood lenses.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by vanwo23 View Post
    I have this (or one like it, they are all over Amazon)... It's super bright and will last a good 3 hours on high. Can't beat it for $50. It's much brighter than friends $120+ lights they bought at LBS.

    Apparently I can't post links yet... Just search "CREE XML T6 Bike Light" on Amazon.

    The exact same light can be bought directly from the distributor for $30 (sale price)
    $36 reg @ China Wholesale Electronics

    Buy CREE XML XM-L T6 LED Bike Bicycle Light HeadLight HeadLamp 1200LM 9W for Wholesale - Free Shipping

    After seeing a buddies work, I bought 2
    It was brighter than the 808 and the wide angle lens for the 808 will fit it.
    Bought the lens from action led.

    Action-LED-Lights — Wide Angle Lens

    I bought one for the handlebars and one for the helmet and will put the wide angle lens on one for the handlebar.

    Total cost for both lights and the replacement lens was about $65

    Even if one fails on the trail, the other is plenty bright to get me back.
    I also bought a back up universal flashlight holder to mount the handlebars for a little over $2 from tomtop.
    If for some odd reason both lights fail, I will have a 200lm flashlight that will get me back ok.

  23. #23
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    USA warehouse

    Quote Originally Posted by kjlued View Post
    The exact same light can be bought directly from the distributor for $30 (sale price)
    $36 reg @ China Wholesale Electronics

    Buy CREE XML XM-L T6 LED Bike Bicycle Light HeadLight HeadLamp 1200LM 9W for Wholesale - Free Shipping

    After seeing a buddies work, I bought 2
    It was brighter than the 808 and the wide angle lens for the 808 will fit it.
    Bought the lens from action led.

    Action-LED-Lights — Wide Angle Lens

    I bought one for the handlebars and one for the helmet and will put the wide angle lens on one for the handlebar.

    Total cost for both lights and the replacement lens was about $65

    Even if one fails on the trail, the other is plenty bright to get me back.
    I also bought a back up universal flashlight holder to mount the handlebars for a little over $2 from tomtop.
    If for some odd reason both lights fail, I will have a 200lm flashlight that will get me back ok.
    I was going to order one of these. I called the 800 number and spoke with a young girl. I wanted to ask about the warranty. She said 3 months. She then mentioned that it was NOT available from the USA warehouse. I ordered some flashlights from Tomtop a long time back and it took 30 days to reach me. Not going there again. Plus a good contact I have said not to buy 'batteries (li-ion) from overseas, you just have no idea what you're getting. I would have ordered one anyway, only $30. For me it wasn't meant to be for some reason. Best wishes on yours. Please let me know when u receive them, just curious. Thanks...

    patrick

  24. #24
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    I've ordered about a dozen of the cheapest Li-Ion cells from China in various sizes for different uses. One was DOA which the vendor replaced without me having to return the bad one. I had one die when I dropped it on a hard surface. And one other failed for unknown causes soon after it was new -- my son may have dropped it. The rest have seen heavy use and so far are bulletproof.

    Anyway, at 1/3 the cost you can afford to order a few extra.

  25. #25
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    I just ordered my Cree XML T-6 light kit for $34, included free shipping. I know its not the name brand Magicshine 808e, but if it performs half as good, it will be a great value. First year doing night riding, so this will give me a chance to try it out with a lowl investment. I save enough money to order a new helmet (with a spot for a light) and some brushes to clean my bike. All in all, we will see, but as said above, the reviews for these lights are pretty good. Happy Trails, everyone!

  26. #26
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    The only thing about ultra-budgo systems is that you need to carry a spare if it takes a dump on your 10 miles from your car in the dark.
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  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by TiGeo View Post
    The only thing about ultra-budgo systems is that you need to carry a spare if it takes a dump on your 10 miles from your car in the dark.
    It's a good point, but I would argue that you should carry a spare with ANY manufacturer. Even the best built products fail, or can be beaten into submission during a rough crash. So regardless of $$$, bring at least something that will get you home.
    "Got everything you need?"

  28. #28
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    No doubt. Two cheap lights are usually going to be more reliable than one expensive one. I like having a light on the handlebar and one on my head. The shadows are a lot softer with two beams coming from two different angles. And as long as they don't both fail, I'm good
    Last edited by DennisF; 09-17-2012 at 07:23 PM.

  29. #29
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    Bonking ... not feelin' well

    Quote Originally Posted by saypat View Post
    I was going to order one of these. I called the 800 number and spoke with a young girl. I wanted to ask about the warranty. She said 3 months. She then mentioned that it was NOT available from the USA warehouse. I ordered some flashlights from Tomtop a long time back and it took 30 days to reach me. Not going there again. Plus a good contact I have said not to buy 'batteries (li-ion) from overseas, you just have no idea what you're getting. I would have ordered one anyway, only $30. For me it wasn't meant to be for some reason. Best wishes on yours. Please let me know when u receive them, just curious. Thanks...

    patrick
    My buddy said his arrived in 4 days from there.
    I got notices about the orders being shipped out the same ir next day.
    I actually placed two separate orders a couple days apart.
    Hopefully one will be here on Wed before a ride but I doubt it and even if it is, I doubt it will have time to charge.

    Either way I will post when I get it.

  30. #30
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    Just received my MS knockoff
    Ordered it Thurs at lunch from amazon. Arrived today and its charging now.
    $43 shipped so if it turns out to be a real dud, not a big loss.
    I bought it as more of a 'just-in-case' 'cause there's been a few times I finished a ride and I was racing against the setting sun. But now that I have it, thinking i'll incorporate a few more night-time or very early am rides into my schedule.

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by kjlued View Post
    My buddy said his arrived in 4 days from there.
    I got notices about the orders being shipped out the same ir next day.
    I actually placed two separate orders a couple days apart.
    Hopefully one will be here on Wed before a ride but I doubt it and even if it is, I doubt it will have time to charge.

    Either way I will post when I get it.

    Pulled the trigger on this one:

    9W 1200 Lumen CREE XML XM-L T6 LED 2 in 1 Bike Bicycle Light HeadLight HeadLamp | eBay

    ships from USA, they say 2-3 days shipping. Hope to get it this week. Has 6 month warranty. It should do me fine. Thanks to all for saving me a few $. Hopefully I won't have to renege on my thank you ")

    patrick

  32. #32
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    I've bought 3 from that same seller. All arrived in 2-3 days and work great. The first one was bought last December and it went thru some horrible weather with zero issues.

  33. #33
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    Looks like I'm returning the light.
    (not fully charged) I showed a co-worker the light and noticed it had High, Low, and lower (wasnt a strobe like description said) the light was on maybe 2 minutes max. Came home, finished charging the battery and now, I cannot get it to turn on.
    well see how that all turns out.

    ****edit****
    Will drop the package off at lunchtime today.
    Will get a full refund thru Amazon.
    Just glad it was basically DOA and didnt die on a ride.
    Still, it looked to be built pretty solid. machined aluminum and all that
    May end up getting a NR Lupine, we'll see.
    Last edited by Whacked; 09-20-2012 at 09:55 AM.

  34. #34
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    thread tagged for future response
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  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by saypat View Post
    Pulled the trigger on this one:

    9W 1200 Lumen CREE XML XM-L T6 LED 2 in 1 Bike Bicycle Light HeadLight HeadLamp | eBay

    ships from USA, they say 2-3 days shipping. Hope to get it this week. Has 6 month warranty. It should do me fine. Thanks to all for saving me a few $. Hopefully I won't have to renege on my thank you ")

    patrick
    Let us know if the light you get has an op reflector like in the pic or if it's smooth like other knock offs.

  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by hkenshin View Post
    Let us know if the light you get has an op reflector like in the pic or if it's smooth like other knock offs.

    hard to tell from those pics but I guess it is sort of an orange peel reflector, we'll see. I will give a review and maybe post some pics. I am looking forward to this light, only hoping it isn't like the one Whacked received, but it shouldn't be.

  37. #37
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    sorry

    Quote Originally Posted by Whacked View Post
    Looks like I'm returning the light.
    (not fully charged) I showed a co-worker the light and noticed it had High, Low, and lower (wasnt a strobe like description said) the light was on maybe 2 minutes max. Came home, finished charging the battery and now, I cannot get it to turn on.
    well see how that all turns out.
    sorry about your light Whacked. Hey, can you tell me the name of the seller please?

    Good luck on everything....

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Whacked View Post
    Looks like I'm returning the light.
    (not fully charged) I showed a co-worker the light and noticed it had High, Low, and lower (wasnt a strobe like description said) the light was on maybe 2 minutes max. Came home, finished charging the battery and now, I cannot get it to turn on.
    well see how that all turns out.
    Precisely my point.
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  39. #39
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    Cree XM-L T6 from mTomtop

    Quote Originally Posted by hkenshin View Post
    Let us know if the light you get has an op reflector like in the pic or if it's smooth like other knock offs.
    Got my light today. Very fast shipping as they had a warehouse close by. No manual came with it but really no need for one. One thing is the charger gets really HOT while charging, almost too hot to touch, that can't be good. Any else experience this? Orange peel reflector. Cable comes out of the front side of this light, I would prefer the rear. All in all I think it's a great deal and will serve my purpose well. Here's a few pics but you've seen these on the website:






  40. #40
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    feidaming on Amazon
    havent returned it yet, no time. prolly tomorrow

  41. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by MattC555 View Post
    Well, sadly the days are increasingly becoming shorter. I've decided this is the year I'll give night riding a try. Subsequently I need a lighting system. I would like to keep the system under $125, because I am unsure at this point whether I'll enjoy night riding. I can always upgrade to something better down the road.:
    I didn't read all the replies so not sure if this has been touched on.
    "Well, sadly the days are increasingly becoming shorter."- You like riding? Get some decent lights and you'll never think this way again.
    "I am unsure at this point whether I'll enjoy night riding."- You like riding? Want to extend the season?
    "I can always upgrade to something better down the road."- Get a light initailly that you can build a system around. Get a head lamp that you can use with some bar lights once you realize what a blast it is.

    Just got back from a 10 mile solo ride, not huge but I didn't see a soul. Sweet.
    Gone are the days we stopped to decide,
    Where we should go,
    We just ride...

  42. #42
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    I pulled up this thread to post here. i think it talks about charging the system up too. They get real hot...take caution...maybe put it in the bathtub or somewhere away from flammable objects.
    http://forums.mtbr.com/lights-night-...ue-748647.html
    roccowt.
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  43. #43
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    I've got two of the 808e clones from separate sellers on ebay.
    Slight differences in fit and finish. One is little warmer colour.
    I took them both apart and added artic silver heat sink compound under the led die as well between the all the metal to metal contact points between the reflector and housing.
    Also added a small cable tie to prevent wire being ripped off driver board.
    I have added the wide angle lens with thin glass lens sandwiched over top as Action Led recommends.
    The lens works even better than It shows on the website.
    Could use some silicone caulking to waterproof where the wire enters housing.

    other than that that, Works fantastic. I have been riding in stanley park single track in Vancouver in pitch black darkness .
    I recommend taking them apart and improving as I did. Should help with heat issues.
    Also the threaded ring which holds the light module in place was loose on both lights.
    Last edited by Reelchef67; 09-22-2012 at 06:32 AM.

  44. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by Reelchef67 View Post
    I've got two of the 80 clones from separate sellers on ebay.
    Slight differences in fit and finish. One is little warmer colour.
    I took them both apart and added artic silver heat sink compound under the led die as well between the all the metal to metal contact points between the reflector and housing.
    Also added a small cable tie to prevent wire being ripped off driver board.
    I have added the wide angle lens with thin glass lens sandwiched over top as Action Led recommends.
    The lens works even better than It shows on the website.
    Could use some silicone caulking to waterproof where the wire enters housing.

    other than that that, Works fantastic. I have been riding in stanley park single track in Vancouver in pitch black darkness .
    I recommend taking them apart and improving as I did. Should help with heat issues.
    Also the threaded ring which holds the light module in place was loose on both lights.
    This sounds real interesting...wish you could send some details about these modifications...
    roccowt.
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  45. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by zarr View Post
    I pulled up this thread to post here. i think it talks about charging the system up too. They get real hot...take caution...maybe put it in the bathtub or somewhere away from flammable objects.
    http://forums.mtbr.com/lights-night-...ue-748647.html
    Neither of my chargers get hot . ??
    Be careful ...

  46. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by zarr View Post
    I pulled up this thread to post here. i think it talks about charging the system up too. They get real hot...take caution...maybe put it in the bathtub or somewhere away from flammable objects.
    I've not noticed any of my chargers or batteries getting unusually hot, but to be safe I charge (and store) my batteries in fireproof battery bags.

    They can be found on ebay for even a little less (I've gotten them for under $4 shipped).

  47. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by fightnut View Post
    I've not noticed any of my chargers or batteries getting unusually hot, but to be safe I charge (and store) my batteries in fireproof battery bags.

    They can be found on ebay for even a little less (I've gotten them for under $4 shipped).
    Thanks for the tip! That's some big time info. I'd imagine that and charging them in a place safe from anything flammable would be double-good.
    roccowt.
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  48. #48
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    I've been Rc stuff for a long time,
    Chargers for lithium batteries , should never get hot to touch. Something is wrong , either charger is putting out too much current, or being stressed by not being able to provide enough current.
    Batteries and charger should only be Luke warm to touch at most.
    " I don't ride park"

  49. #49
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    Hello. Appreciate your reply as I am fairly new at this. Yes, the charger gets quite hot. Jim, over at Action-LED, if I'm not mistaken, said they will get hot. Doesn't seem right to me. I'm trying to sort things out with the seller on E-Bay but having some communication issues ") Any danger in using the charger as is? Once again, thanks for any help/advice...

    patrick

    p.s. I don't know if this helps but this is what is on the charger:

    input: 100-240V AC
    50/60Hz
    output: 8.4V DC 1000mA
    Last edited by saypat; 09-26-2012 at 10:45 AM.

  50. #50
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    Exact same specs as mine. I've got
    two with same specs , never get more lukewarm .
    When lithium batteries charge they slowly warm up. Some
    Rc lithium battery chargers have tp sensors..They peak in temperature at peak of charge.
    I would not charge them unattended..
    " I don't ride park"

  51. #51
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    well, after playing with the light in the apt some more, I put it back on the charger. It seemed to work fine this time, never getting hot. And, like Jim said, as it reaches full charge it starts cooling way down, so much so that I thought it wasn't working. But then BINGO, the green light came on!
    Rode to church and then home afterwards in the dark, first time ever trying a bike light. It was terrific! I only used the low mode and kept it shining way down, like right in front of my front wheel. It's a great spot light with a bit of spill. I think I would like more flood so I might order that flood lens for it. I shined it into a large field on the high mode and also shined my EagleTac D25C flashlight running on an RCR 123, which puts out about 650 lumens. The bike light, Cree XM-L T6, was a tad brighter, so maybe about 750 lumens? I am very happy with this set up for street use, especially at $35.
    Thank you for all related posts, I'm a sponge.

    patrick

  52. #52
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    Well, I can't wait to get mine in the mail and try it out, especially with all the information that has been added here. I will give an update on mine as a comparison of all these previous comments.

  53. #53
    Bike Virgin
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    I love these threads. If you're going to get "made in China", it might as well be at "made in China" prices. I am very interested in night riding, but probably only on the road or trails through residential areas. I took a ride through some of the more remote trails around here(daytime) and as I rode by a bush, something very large growled at me! I set a new personal best for that downhill.

  54. #54
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    Quote Originally Posted by TiGeo View Post
    Precisely my point.
    But you do realize that for everyone 1 case you read of a cheapo light failing, there are 100 that are working fine.

    The people that spend $400+ on a bike light are very quick to jump on the "I told ya so" wagon when they read about a cheapo light that had problems.
    But if you look at the number of cheapo lights sold, compared to the number of high end lights sold, the percentage of failures is probably not far off from each other.

  55. #55
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    I just got my "cheapo chinese" light and it looks great (just like a MagicShine). It is bright. I will charge it and see how it works on trail. For 30 bucks, I am not sure if there will be much to complain about.

  56. #56
    little mad riding hood
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    thanks to the OP for putting this thread out here. I discovered the Magicshine 816 listed on Amazon Prime for $105, and decided to pull the trigger. It was well reviewed on both Amazon site and here. Can't argue with free 2 day delivery after all. Amazon's been great with customer service backup for me in the past and the product lists a 12 month warranty. I'm willing to take the extra $$ hit for that above a clone; it's worth it.

    I am eager to check this one out. If nothing else, so long as it doesn't explode or set the garage on fire, it'll be better than the 150w Stella I've been using, lol.

  57. #57
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    Went with this higher power Chinese light for both me and my wife.

    3x CREE XM-L T6 LED 3800Lm Bike Bicycle Light Lamp HeadLamp HeadLight SET | eBay

    Got some trail time with them Wednesday night and they performed really well. Hadn't done the night ride thing in a few years and the best we had previously was the old double Vista light on the bars. Always the weakest light in our riding group, so we wanted to go a more powerful but keep the cost down ($75 Each).

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