Multiple Light Intensity Settings?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Multiple Light Intensity Settings?

    Other than perhaps having a high beam/low beam switch on your bike light to use for oncoming traffic, do any of you really feel that there is a need for more than one light intensity for any reason other than trying to conserve the battery charge?

    From my riding experience, I've never felt the need to reduce the light intensity for either on road or off road use.

    Also, I've noticed that a number of you seem to prefer a top mounted switch on the light. Other than for poor light mounts that allow the light to move, what is the difference between having a light switch on the top, versus a light switch on the back of the light?

    I ride all year long and I need a light switch that I can actuate with heavy mitts on. I don't care if the switch is in the rear or on the top of the light, as long as I can actuate it without having to remove my mitts in the cold.

    Scott Novak

  2. #2
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    Glad to see that I'm not the only one to evolve into a night owl.

    Can't say I really gave much thought about where I prefer the mode button to be but I suppose for helmet use I'd rather have it on top. Of course with torches I prefer it to be on the end cap but if on top it could still work as long as the torch does not move ( rotate ). On the bars I really have no preference as long as the lamp doesn't move when changing modes. Almost all of my bar lamps use remotes so for me it's not an issue I regularly think about.

    As far as the, "need for different modes" question; Speaking for myself I like only using the amount of light that is needed for the moment. I prefer three modes if programmable but four if not. Like you said it helps to preserve battery power using lower output levels but it also helps that you not let your eyes get used to, "Too much light". If you always run your lamps at a high intensity ( even when going slow ) your eyes get used to the light. Then when you start to go fast you may feel that you need more. That's because over time your pupils will have adapted ( constricted ) and have limited the amount of light that reaches your retinas. That's why when I do use the maximum amount of light I'm only using it on fast, technical and or downhill sections and only for a few minutes. Not really a good idea to run the max setting a lot anyway because then the lamp might overheat. Yeah, that might not happen too much if riding in sub-freezing weather but then you still have the issue of using more battery amp/hrs than necessary and in sub-freezing temperatures your battery will not last as long if you do so.

    All this said, not everyone likes to constantly move the hands off the bars to change modes. Completely understandable. That's why I was always an advocate for including remotes ( even before anyone made a lamp that included one ). If you have a good remote and have it mounted in a place accessible without taking your hands off the bars, it makes riding at night OH so much easier.

  3. #3
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    I don't consider it reasonable that a helmet light and a bar mounted light should be expected to do the same task. I think that they each have different requirements.

    I also don't consider it reasonable to need to dim a light to prevent it from overheating. That's a design fault that needs to be addressed. The rider should not have to change his habits to accommodate the shortcomings of the light.

    I definitely agree that any light intensity changes should be done with a remote button. You should NOT be removing your hands from the handlebars to change light intensity. A thumb operated button would do nicely.

    For the same reason I consider stem mounted shifters to be dangerous and irrational.

    I also think that light intensity and power switches should be separate. The power switch should be on the light. A light intensity or high beam/low beam switch should be on the handlebar.

    And don't get me started on Fixies without brakes.

    Scott Novak

  4. #4
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    Top button preference for me. Much easier to get to button depending on where the light is mounted and with a easily pressed mode button a 1 finger operation.

    As far as overheating being a design issue I guess it depends on your priorities. I look at it as more of a design compromise between two desirable characteristics (heat management vs. weight). Designing a 1500 lumen lighthead that won't overheat in the temperatures I sometimes ride in would require too much weight for comfortable helmet use for me (using current standard designs). Linear thermal protection will prevent overheating but sometimes reduces the light produced to a less than ideal amount and is really just automatically adjusting your max. preset level + add cost to the light. I also like having a very low setting for trail repairs. Gloworms UI combination of 2 programs (3 adjustable preset levels for mtn. and 2 adjustable preset levels for road) + 2 special programs (trail maintenance at exit of mtn. mode and flash at exit of road mode) works well for me.
    Mole

  5. #5
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    I disagree on expecting a lighthead to be properly designed to handle heat. Well, I would say it should be designed to handle the heat WHILE MOVING (at least at medium speeds). A properly designed lighthead will incorporate temperature monitoring with automatic adjustments (stepdowns in power). The extreme high outputs we all crave can NOT be handled by the body sizes we desire (or our size/weight limit) without stepping down to lower levels while not moving (whether manual or automatically). And many of us budget techy guys will gladly beef up a light risking the heat and take care of lowering the levels on our own.

    To expect the low end budget lights to incorporate thermal controls is absurd. Of course they will burn themselves up, the manufacturers don't care. They don't have warranties or lawsuits to worry about and are giving people what they want, a cheap product.

    -Garry

  6. #6
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    I prefer multiple light settings for the simple fact that why have a high powered light blasting when on a tight and twisty flat or up a climb. Rather preserve my night vision (and battery) by running much lower power. That way when I hit a fast descent I can crank up the power and actually see more clearly further away versus no night vision due to being blinded on every tight corner lined with trees.

    Thermal issues are designed into good lights, they step down power if needed. Has nothing to do with a design flaw. Its the demand on high output and light weight/small size. To keep light from overheating and frying they design thermal regulation.


    As for being able to control modes from the handlebar near the grip, thats something that costs extra but does readily exist. But they arent going to offer wireless remotes with any reliability for $20 on Amazon.

    Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk
    Life on a bike doesn't begin till the sun goes down.


  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by garrybunk View Post
    I disagree on expecting a lighthead to be properly designed to handle heat. Well, I would say it should be designed to handle the heat WHILE MOVING (at least at medium speeds).-Garry
    If you have a tailwind of 15 MPH and are riding at 15 MPH the net airflow is about ZERO. Your light intensity requirement doesn't decrease because the airflow decreases.

    If the light cannot provide the necessary light intensity for all riding conditions it's a design flaw and design failure.

    I think that you folks have become so used to crappy bike lights that you are willing to accept the substandard as a reasonable standard.

    --------------------

    Thermal protection is something that you add to protect against something like a coat being laid over a running light.

    I've seen the testing on here of lights going into light intensity rollback and they aren't even operating at hot summer temperatures.

    --------------------

    Helmet lights are a separate issue and have their own requirements.

    --------------------

    A wireless remote is overkill for a bicycle mounted light. A remotely wired switch is preferable and likely to be more reliable anyway.

    Scott Novak

  8. #8
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    Well then we all should just drop down to low output NiteRiders or Cygolites. That, or shell out a ton of money on lights we don't really need.

    And I'll take my chances of riding in conditions yielding a net airflow of 0.

    -Garry

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by garrybunk View Post
    ...To expect the low end budget lights to incorporate thermal controls is absurd. Of course they will burn themselves up, the manufacturers don't care. They don't have warranties or lawsuits to worry about and are giving people what they want, a cheap product. -Garry
    In the USA, most states have implied warranty laws that a product should work for it's intended purpose for at least a year, whether or not a company actually states a warranty.

    You can also look at it this way. If someone sells you something that doesn't perform as intended for a reasonable amount of time, that it's fraud.

    The problem is that those laws are seldom enforced. How many people ever bother to make a warranty claim on a $10 product that they bought mail order? The return shipping costs often make it not worthwhile.

    So yes, there is a "reasonable expectation" that a product work for it's advertised purpose.

    Scott Novak

  10. #10
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    Totally agree, and you're right, the cost to deal with it (shipping back to China) means we just roll the dice and take the loss on low cost items. Many Chinese sellers will refund your money or even reship another one - this happens to many of us a lot. Now a US (or UK, or actually just about any other country) company - I'd expect a lot more out of. Bought on Amazon - yep, call them out on it and demand a replacement or refund. Random sellers on eBay - just roll the dice. I just have a limit of how much money I'll "roll the dice" with.

    -Garry

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Novak View Post

    ...I also don't consider it reasonable to need to dim a light to prevent it from overheating. That's a design fault that needs to be addressed. The rider should not have to change his habits to accommodate the shortcomings of the light....
    All things that use electricity generate heat. Power LED's generate a lot of heat when used with their maximum outputs. Just like with computers, heat sinking can only remove so much heat. That means in order to control the heat you have to either limit the current ( which produces the heat ) or increase the size of the heat sink ( per each LED ). As Rakc alluded to increasing the size of the heat sink would mean a much bigger ( heavier ) lamp size and most people really don't want something the size of a baseball sitting on their bars or on their helmet. There is the option of including electric "cooling fans" which would help big time with removing heat away from the sinks but the down side once again is size of the lamp would have to be increased and it would also require more power to be used from the battery which would of course lower the run time of the lamp.

    When ever I ride at night I rarely have issues with a lamp overheating. I use the appropriate output for the appropriate speed/environment I'm riding and usually I'm good to go. My personal list of issues with "lamp design" has more to do with things like; flexible optic array, flexible /sturdy mount design and a good UI. While I too have concerns about the ability of a lamp to dissipate heat it is usually something lower on my list. The only name brand lamp I ever used that didn't handle the heat issue to my satisfaction was the Gemini Olympia. That said it worked fine on high as long as you maintained at least 10 mph. On the slower climbs though it would step down really fast. Once again though I was only testing the lamp at the time for a review as usually I would never have run a lamp on high while riding slowly up a climbing section.

  12. #12
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    Idea!

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Novak View Post
    • do any of you really feel that there is a need for more than one light intensity for any reason other than trying to conserve the battery charge?
    • what is the difference between having a light switch on the top, versus a light switch on the back of the light?

    Last edited by angerdan; 02-11-2018 at 06:41 PM.

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