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  1. #1
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    one handlebar light vs. two

    with days getting shorter and more nighttime riding, I am thinking about my light game a lot. I have a Niterider Lumina 550 on my helmet and had a Minewt 750 mounted directly on my handlebar:
    Attachment 1284267

    because my handlebar is pretty low, the brake hoses cast significant shadows on the trail ahead.

    then put it on a $10 ebay bracket clamped to my handlebar:
    Attachment 1284265

    this helps quite a bit, but the front tire still casts a significant shadow on the trail right in front of me. I can raise it a bit, but I doubt it will be enough.

    it makes me wonder if I am going about this all wrong. I do not see a lot of riders using dual headlights on the handlebar (plus one on the helmet is still a great idea). I would think that the purpose of the handlbar light is to create a flood of light directly in front of you so you can read the terrain. would not a binocular light created by two sources a foot apart be better than a single light in the center? or am I just hyper-sensitive to light quality? (I hate overhead lighting in homes and offices!) not matter where I put the light, it seems to create a flat vision of the trail ahead that does not help as much as I would like it to.

    if I decide to try two handlebar lights, I can
    1. put my Lumina 550 on one side of the bar and put a light with similar power on the other, then my my battery pack light on my helmet
    2. buy a battery pack light with two heads ($$$!) on my handlebar
    3. buy two cheap lights that are probably brighter and have a longer run time than my old 550 and put them on my bars.

    so I guess my questions are- should i expect a big change from putting dual lights on my handlebar, and if so, what additional budget light(s) should I buy to achieve that? considering the cost of reliable lights these days, I would think I could find something with a decent output for not a whole lot more than $50 each. my night time rides rarely last longer than 2 hours, so I do not need ultra-endurance batteries, just more flood and better view of the terrain.

  2. #2
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    The only thing I can think as a benefit would be reducing the shadow.
    It's hard for me to relate as my tire doesn't cast a shadow as far as I know. I do have a slight issue with cables on one side though so I've switched my light to the side without the cable obstruction.

    I roll with one helmet and one bar light, however both are brighter than yours.

    I am sort of guessing that the higher the light is, the steeper the light angle will be and adds to the wheel shadow problem. Lower should shine beyond the wheel, however your hoses are then the problem.

  3. #3
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    moving the light lower will just lengthen the shadow that the tire creates, and make the hose shadows worse. my theory is that using two lights would allow the two light sources to cancel out one another's shadows.

  4. #4
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    Have you tried putting both your lights on your bar to see what it's like? I've tried and didn't think it was worth doing, different lights though.

  5. #5
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    I use my less powerful light (500-800 lumens) on the handlebar that points out in front of the front tire, down on the trail ahead. My more powerful light is on my helmet and looks farther down the trail. 800-1200 lumens.

    I have friends that are engineers and geek out on stuff and have 4 lights on the handlebars that have more than 3,000 lumens of output. They also carry around massive battery packs in frame bags. Not for me.

    If I could have only one light it would be on my helmet. The light goes everywhere you look which is not the case if you only have a handlebar light and ride switchbacks. The light could be pointed 180 degrees from where you're about to go.
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  6. #6
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    It sounds like your situation is really strange. Cable routing or light mounting options on the bar won't fix the shadows ? Nothing should be blocking the lamp output.
    Are you saying it casts an errant shadow out there a ways or just immediately in front of the tire travel path ?
    I don't ride fast and especially at night but my focus for riding and line of sight and terrain surface is like skiing. Trusting the early periphery and seeing/reading it there just a ways ahead. IOW, that first few feet in front of the bike tire was read and taken in a ways back and slight shadow in front as I ride wouldn't be a factor normally - for me.

    I've got the NR 750 on the bar and the same on the helmet. One is a Boost I think. Love the two-point perspective.
    In your case, I guess you are either not solving the issue easily with the one bar light and a 2nd might be best in your case. Especially if the helmet light can't be used to fill the void you are needing to fix. Reason being- a helmet light is what you want the most flexibility with IMO.
    "Before you criticize, you should walk a mile in their shoes. You'll be a mile away from them and you have their shoes"

  7. #7
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    I am not concerned about the amount of light. I rarely use my bar light at full power because that just means more harsh, flat light on the terrain and the same blob of shadow in front of my hoses and front tire. I'll have to take a photo of it. My handlebar is pretty low to optimize handling, so it's hard to get it the light up where that Is no longer a problem, for one thing.

    I'd still like to get better quality light from a more advantageous angle, like the spacing on car headlights or fork-mounted spotlights on a motorcycle.

    Lighting the path in front of your bike is like shooting video with your eyeballs. In photography, using and manipulating light is not about directing more flat, harsh light directly on the scene, but providing quality, more diffised light from more than one direction to give the scene depth. You use diffusers, bounce light off other surfaces, and use more than one light. My eyeballs are spaced horizontally on my face, so using a cyclops light or stacking the lights vertically does not make sense.

    I try to ride trails at the same speed in the dark (sometimes so I don't get left behind or slow down the train behind me). I see no reason to disadvantage myself by blasting harsh, unidirectional light with my current setup.

    Makes me wonder if I have some weird vision issue. I have a light prescription and wear clear rx glasses at night, but I could do with regular clear glasses with little change to visual acquity.

  8. #8
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    As we get older many struggle more and more with night rides once fall rolls around. Every fall I see more setups that light up the whole freakin forest! Everyone is different and there's many variables but I've never had more than a helmet light. I currently use a Lumina 900 and I've had many previous versions of NiteRider lights that have all been great. I just 'pre-ordered' a Hangover from a new company (Outbound? there's a link somewhere in this forum). When that shows up. I plan to finally use two lights and mount the Lumina on bars and the Hangover on helmet.

    Sounds like you are on the right track so keep experimenting to find what works for you.

    One thing I notice every fall when night rides start is that I need to back it down a bit and adjust my technique due to the difference in vision. Our trails are very tight and techy with lots of forest so there's crazy shadows from everywhere. Combine that with the huge amounts of leaves that have fallen and it's often hard to even FIND the trail in some sections. It's just not possible to ride it at the same speed. But it's really cool how a trail I have ridden for years suddenly changes drastically on a night ride and it becomes a new trail to me.
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  9. #9
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    If you are having problems with hot spots of light you may want to look into lights with replaceable optics that will allow you to fine tune the light disbursement.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by bachman1961 View Post
    ........IOW, that first few feet in front of the bike tire was read and taken in a ways back and slight shadow in front as I ride wouldn't be a factor normally - for me........
    Could not have said it better.

    It seems lots of folks want quite a lot of light right near the front tire. If that works for them that's good. I also wonder how many would actually ride better if they tried aiming a bit further out, choosing their line ahead of time and riding it rather than paying too much attention to what is right at the tire.
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by kevin267 View Post
    Have you tried putting both your lights on your bar to see what it's like? I've tried and didn't think it was worth doing, different lights though.
    I like this method. Worth a shot just to see if it has the desired result.
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  12. #12
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    my handlebar lights get a diffuser. Super wide, homemade diffuser from cheap window vinyl. Spreads the beam evenly in a 150 deg plus arc, with no hotspots. A lot of waste light going up, but I can see everything. On the cheap amazon cree lights from over 5 years ago.
    "a hundred travel books isn't worth one real trip"

  13. #13
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    I ride with a BT40 and a Ituo Wiz20 on the bar and a Lumina 1100 on the helmet for night rides. On climbs I only use the BT40 and the Lumina both on low settings. But when its time to go downhill or on flats that I can go fast all lights are on in the highest settings. I opted with two bar lights because I can see better. I had the BT 40 and a helmet light only but adding the Wiz 20 on the bars was a game changer. My night vision is not as good as it used to be. Heck, if YOU need three, use three

  14. #14
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    the amount of used lights makes for me not really a differenz.

    i use most times one light on the bar, sometimes i add an helmet light.


    for better view and night vision, warmer light colors are the better option they have lower blue spikes in the spetrum , so decrease glare and selfblinding alot.

    Lights with higher CRI values improve the view, "colors, contrast, opject detection" to alot.

    here a quick compare.
    a 6000K 70 CRI light on the bar with ~ 25 spot lenses.


    and a 4000K 90 CRI light on the bar with ~ 32 spot lenses that i prefer.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails one handlebar light vs. two-k-p1150476.jpg  

    one handlebar light vs. two-k-p1150467.jpg  


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