Need some helmet light recommendations- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Need some helmet light recommendations

    I have a Nitefighter BT40S on order and am looking for a helmet light to compliment it. I know there are dozens of options but I also know you guys have good, practical experience with most of them so I'm hoping you can help narrow down my options.

    I'm not new to night riding. I rode at night extensively in the trails off dirt Mullholland, in LA, in the 90s, using an old school Nightrider. I only rode with a bar-mounted light and it was obviously not nearly as strong as what we have today. I survived.

    I'm looking for:

    - Moderate lumens. 500-1000 should be fine as it's only going to be a backup/supplemental light.

    - Self contained. I'd prefer not to have to mess with a battery pack on the helmet or in my Camelbak or jersey pocket.

    - easy to mount without having a permanent mounting bracket. I don't want the bracket on the helmet for the 99% of the time I don't have the light mounted.

    - easy access to the controls but without a remote. Not mandatory but a nice to have.

    Suggestions?

  2. #2
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    I'll leave it to others for good suggestions, because my experience is with the cheap cree knockoffs from amazon. I have a battery pack on mine that's velcro'd to the helmet. Don't recommend it. bounces around like crazy. The integrated light/battery is a much better design. Also, I leave my helmet light at a lower intensity than my handlebar light. I want to make sure I see the shadows from the bar light. For me, the main goal of the helmet light is to have a second light incase the barlight turns off and to look around corners. I have a dedicated helmet for night riding and the light is always on it. I'm not leaving the helmet out in the sun so I'm not worried about the styrofoam degrading or anything. having a second helmet just works for me.

  3. #3
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    I like the cygo lights for the bars and helmet. Helmet mounts are extra.

  4. #4
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    What about strapping on an 18650 high-powered flashlight with velcro or silicone bands? Lots of options on high-quality budget lights, output options (heck, even with custom programming options at Mountain Electronics), and tints (i.e. neutral white). Fits all that you want (assuming you have a helmet that works for this).

    Mine (still working up a tighter mount option):


    I chose the Convoy M1 (I built 1 with XM-L2 T6 4C and another with an XP-G2 R4 5A2) running "guppydrv Universal" custom firmware (though I'd really prefer a firmware that gives me a higher low setting). If you order the parts at Mountain Electronics Richard will build the light for you for a small fee if you are not comfortable building it yourself. Email him and ask for details.

    -Garry

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by KevinGT View Post
    I have a Nitefighter BT40S on order and am looking for a helmet light to compliment it. I know there are dozens of options but I also know you guys have good, practical experience with most of them so I'm hoping you can help narrow down my options.

    I'm not new to night riding. I rode at night extensively in the trails off dirt Mullholland, in LA, in the 90s, using an old school Nightrider. I only rode with a bar-mounted light and it was obviously not nearly as strong as what we have today. I survived.

    I'm looking for:

    - Moderate lumens. 500-1000 should be fine as it's only going to be a backup/supplemental light.

    - Self contained. I'd prefer not to have to mess with a battery pack on the helmet or in my Camelbak or jersey pocket.

    - easy to mount without having a permanent mounting bracket.
    I don't want the bracket on the helmet for the 99% of the time I don't have the light mounted.

    - easy access to the controls but without a remote. Not mandatory but a nice to have.

    Suggestions?
    If you're ordering the BT40S you're going to want another lamp with neutral LED(s). That wouldn't of been a problem but you want something that is self-contained.

    Almost any lamp you order that is self-contained is going to be using cool white LED's ( AFAIK ). The greater problem though might be the mounting solution you want. Almost no mounting solution for the helmet is going to be easy to work with. Personally, I have a very unique Bell helmet that I bought more than 15 years ago. This helmet allows me to sit a small 18650 torch ( Ultrafire 501-B ) right in the center air vent where I then hold it in place using just a long piece of Velcro ( and a little silcone tape on the torch ). It works and is aimed perfectly. Unfortunately Bell no longer makes this model helmet and for that matter I don't even know what model it is. Years ago I even contacted Bell to see if they had old helmets listed but they were really of no help sadly.

    Anyway, if you can use a torch you can usually find a place that can customize the LED selection and UI. The cheap Ultrafire torch I use uses a P-60 3- mode ( H-M-L ) drop-in module. A couple years ago I ordered a custom XM-L2 T6 3-mode drop-in from Customlites. Customlites will build the drop-in with LED and UI driver of your choice. Back then I didn't ask about neutral LEDs but I bet they have them. The one I have ( the XM-L2 T-6 ) is kind of a warm tint and blends very well with the BT40S.

    Nope, I afraid most people will have a major problem trying to mount a torch on the goofy vented helmets they sell nowadays. You probably have to buy something like the Cygolite Expillion 800. It comes with a helmet mount and uses a swappable battery ( one of the few S-contain lamps that do ). I have no idea how well the mount will work and likely the LED tint will be bright white But you are likely going to have to compromise on some of your requirements to get something that will work for you.

  6. #6
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    Im gonna go with the torch idea, easiest for self contained and gearbest (not sure if you ordered bt40s from there) has several good neutral white flashlights. Convoy and eagle eye both have small ones like harry pictured that are light weight, small, plenty of light for the size as a backup, and good battery life (with use of good 18650 cell)

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by garrybunk View Post
    What about strapping on an 18650 high-powered flashlight with velcro or silicone bands? Lots of options on high-quality budget lights, output options (heck, even with custom programming options at Mountain Electronics), and tints (i.e. neutral white). Fits all that you want (assuming you have a helmet that works for this).

    Mine (still working up a tighter mount option):


    I chose the Convoy M1 (I built 1 with XM-L2 T6 4C and another with an XP-G2 R4 5A2) running "guppydrv Universal" custom firmware (though I'd really prefer a firmware that gives me a higher low setting). If you order the parts at Mountain Electronics Richard will build the light for you for a small fee if you are not comfortable building it yourself. Email him and ask for details.

    -Garry
    Garry, thanks for the link to Mountain Electronics. I've run across that website before but truthfully I really didn't give it a good look over. Looks like the perfect place for someone who wants to build their own torch. I was going to order a neutral white ( 4C ) XM-L2 on 16mm board but it seems almost everyone is out of those .

    I was thinking about ordering one of those torch hosts but one thing I noticed; they make no mention of the switch type included with the kits ( forward or reverse clicky )...Personally I hate forward clicky. That's one of the reasons I keep using the cheap Ultrafire hosts. I don't want to have to turn the torch off to change modes.

    Anyway, I only looked at one of the Convoys so maybe I missed it being mentioned somewhere. Hope they get the NW's back in stock soon. I'd like to upgrade my usual back-up bar torch ( from neutral XM-L to neutral XM-L2 4C. )

    On a side note; I noticed that there seem to be two versions of neutral white XM-L2's. One is between 4500K-5000K ( I think those are referred to as "3C") and the other is between like 3500K - 4000K, those are the one's being called "4C". I had no idea the 4C's were that warm. No matter, I like the 4C ( If indeed the BT40S's are using the "4C" tint with the XP-G2's )

  8. #8
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    Cat, Mountain Electronics is run by BLF member RMM and his thread over at BLF which announces product releases, stock status, etc . . . is located here. Can't say enough good things about Mountain! Great quick service and Richard will work with you on custom builds (and as you see on the M1 host page it's only $5.50 for him to build and test your custom build M1! He even offers service to add or remove AMC 7135's on current regulated drivers to change desired output currents.

    The Convoy lights are all Reverse-clicky (except the L4 model which is a dual switch setup). The Convoy's really can't be beat in terms of quality for the price. The M1 (perhaps others too) even has the emitter mounted against part of the flashlight body and not a separate pill. I EDC (every day carry) an old Convoy S2 and beat the crap out of it. I even lost it for awhile and then found it. Turned out I had dropped it while snowblowing and the snowblower tossed it into my front yard (under snow for a week). See post#35 here which includes a photo.

    I like 4C as a neutral white, though I still prefer 5B1 tint as I find it most "true" in rendering colors the same as in daylight/home interior lighting. 3,500 sounds too low for 4C. Here the XM-L2 T6 4C is listed as 4,200 to 4,500k. To me 4,000 to 4,200k is where it's at! And here you will see the 5B1 is just ever so slightly warmer than the 4C and the 3C is close to 5,000k.

    -Garry
    "My Bike Lights" Thread on BLF teardowns, measurements, and beamshots. Moving my photos, PM or post up if you can't see them.

  9. #9
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    Btw here's a x10 on what garry said about mountain electronics. Love that place. I get all my emitter on noctigons and silicone wire there. Now that I started tinkering with flashlights.. have a eagly eye x2 and convoy l4 ive gotten some stuff for with new guppydrv drivers on the way for the x2 and the convoy s2+ I ordered.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by garrybunk View Post
    Cat, Mountain Electronics is run by BLF member RMM and his thread over at BLF which announces product releases, stock status, etc . . . is located here. Can't say enough good things about Mountain! Great quick service and Richard will work with you on custom builds (and as you see on the M1 host page it's only $5.50 for him to build and test your custom build M1! He even offers service to add or remove AMC 7135's on current regulated drivers to change desired output currents.

    The Convoy lights are all Reverse-clicky (except the L4 model which is a dual switch setup). The Convoy's really can't be beat in terms of quality for the price. The M1 (perhaps others too) even has the emitter mounted against part of the flashlight body and not a separate pill. I EDC (every day carry) an old Convoy S2 and beat the crap out of it. I even lost it for awhile and then found it. Turned out I had dropped it while snowblowing and the snowblower tossed it into my front yard (under snow for a week). See post#35 here which includes a photo.

    I like 4C as a neutral white, though I still prefer 5B1 tint as I find it most "true" in rendering colors the same as in daylight/home interior lighting. 3,500 sounds too low for 4C. Here the XM-L2 T6 4C is listed as 4,200 to 4,500k. To me 4,000 to 4,200k is where it's at! And here you will see the 5B1 is just ever so slightly warmer than the 4C and the 3C is close to 5,000k.

    -Garry
    Thanks again Garry for the added feedback. Yeah, the temps I quoted for 4C were just off the top of my head. I think most of us think of 4C as around 4000K.

    If the Convoy is built with a reverse clicky I might just order one and have it custom built with my driver and LED or choice. Personally, for mountain biking helmet use I'd like to get just a two mode ( 100% and 30-40% ) But the standard three modes ( 5-25-100% ) ( no flash ) works great as an alternative.

    For the road I have a 3-mode ( slow flash- medium-Hi ) drop-in torch using a CW XP-L that I picked up last year. That one I'd like to convert to neutral as well. ( @ tig ) Looks like I'll have to put myself on the waiting list for the Noctigon neutral white ( 4C ) XM-L2 16mm's as I have two torches that I can easily upgrade.

  11. #11
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    I went with "guppydrv" firmware to give me a two-mode driver (plus options to change mode group to access strobe or beacon if ever needed - TIP: keep a screen capture of the programming instructions on your phone) but I don't like the low being so low. I also didn't want the unneeded 5% mode in the mix. I've started to get setup to do my own driver flashing but got too busy to get back to it. I've got the programming clip and USB programmer and left off with the software side of things. I intend to use Dr Jones' "lucidrv" firmware which allows 2 mode groups and custom programming of each group (programmed without re-flashing the driver). I actually emailed RMM to see if he'd flash that firmware but never got a response from him.

    -Garry
    "My Bike Lights" Thread on BLF teardowns, measurements, and beamshots. Moving my photos, PM or post up if you can't see them.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by garrybunk View Post
    I went with "guppydrv" firmware to give me a two-mode driver (plus options to change mode group to access strobe or beacon if ever needed - TIP: keep a screen capture of the programming instructions on your phone) but I don't like the low being so low. I also didn't want the unneeded 5% mode in the mix. I've started to get setup to do my own driver flashing but got too busy to get back to it. I've got the programming clip and USB programmer and left off with the software side of things. I intend to use Dr Jones' "lucidrv" firmware which allows 2 mode groups and custom programming of each group (programmed without re-flashing the driver). I actually emailed RMM to see if he'd flash that firmware but never got a response from him.

    -Garry
    The idea to keep the instructions on the phone is a good idea. I had no idea there were so many custom firmwares available. I have a custom firmware on one of my XP-G torches and honestly I forgot how to access all the different modes. lol It would be great if I could find one with a menu that would do all thing things I wanted. I can think of several different mode set-ups that would be useful for different bike use.

    #1 ) for the MTB; > 2-mode with the ability to set the brightness for each mode ( and with memory ). 3-mode ( same as before with extra mode )

    #2 ) for the road; 3-mode , 2 with adjustable brightness and one with an adjustable flash mode.

    I need to look over some of those firmwares. Some do have some of those abilities but reading through all the options ( and deciphering what is written ) is quite tiring. I might pick your brain on this at a later date if I want a driver with a good UI.

  13. #13
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    I have an Exposure Diablo for my helmet. Self contained, super bright but also super pricey.
    I like turtles

  14. #14
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    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQh_2QzHLuo
    Solarstorm X2 (2000 lumens) on my helmet and another on my handlebar.
    They cost me 24Sterlings off Ebay last summer.

  15. #15
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    I like my NiteRider Lumina 750 on helmet. Depends on what kind of run time you're looking at but I have no complaints about it at all. I run a first gen TriNewt on bars which has a bad battery pack indicator since day one but still works fine. Also have had to repair the wires. To be fair its quite old now. The TriNewt rubber band mounting system was stupid though, hate it. Lumina clamp is no nonsense and makes sense! Helmet mount likewise works simply if you have helmet with sufficient vents for the straps.

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