Planning for next Fall...- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Planning for next Fall...

    I'm not going to let another season go by thinking "I should have gotten some lights and done some night riding." I'm planning to get my lighting sorted out this summer to be ready to go when the time changes again.

    I'm no stranger to night riding, having ridden many nights in the 90s on Southern Cal singletrack with this system:

    Planning for next Fall...-98b372ed556994394ffc589dddbf971e.jpg

    My rides were usually under an hour and had a mix of singletrack that I knew very well and fire road (Topanga St. Park and dirt Mullholland). Technology has changed quite a bit since then!

    What's the current philosophy for lighting these days? With the massive increase in both lumens and battery life, it's obviously people are riding longer and harder at night.

    Is the bar-mounted system still the norm?
    Is helmet mounted the way to go?
    Is a dual system (helmet + bars) the best?

    I'm seeing the lights have gotten tiny but I don't see a lot of mention about batteries. Are they self contained? Strapped to the bike frame (probably not water bottle sized, like my old Nightsun!)? Carried in a jersey pocket with a loooong cable?

    What's the best combo you've all found in the $200 range?

  2. #2
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    For the price you are looking, you can get a very decent setup for both bars and helmet and not worry about needing to do any modding. Many people here are fans of getting some of the Chinese clones and tweaking them but if you are just getting started and just want to ride, something like the nitefighter bt40 on the bars would suit you well. These are on sale for 70 shipped on amazon and come with good reliable battery packs. They are also one of the few lights that come in a pleasant neutral white tint from the factory and aren't as harsh on the eyes. They should be releasing the bt21 for the helmet soon as well which would be a good companion as you will want a matching tint, xeccon makes some nice lights for the price bit as they have quite a few I don't know which ones to recommend. Magicshine, an mj816 or 872 on the bars and mj808 on helmet would fit the bill nicely and probably be within budget.

  3. #3
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    For a serious trail you still need two lights, bar and helmet, that hasn't changed. The batteries are much smaller also. A typical 4 cell battery is only a fraction of the size of the old water bottle battery. They mount in small pouches under the frame or are put pocket of a hydration pack/jersey. You do have to be more careful with them as they store a lot of energy. You can easily get two hours out of these lights.

    There's also a new category of light called the all-in-one. It integrates the battery into the light and can be recharged via usb connection. They are small and light and can be mounted to bar or helmet. These are definitely a possibility for an hour long ride as they typically last more than an hour on high. Check out the Niterider Lumina 650 and it's competitors.

    If you want to mess around with super-cheap straight-from-China lights check out the Solarstorm and Yinding threads here on the forum. You won't see these on the shelves of your local bike shop but they are bright and worthy of consideration.

    For top-range lights head to the mtbr light shootout. It's pretty much the best round up of lights. Much better than what's in then magazines.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by varider View Post

    For top-range lights head to the mtbr light shootout. It's pretty much the best round up of lights. Much better than what's in then magazines.
    Agree but it's a lot of data to digest. I spent most of the evening last night reading the 2015 shootout and I'm disappointed there's not a better summary of the data. Too many lights in too many ranges of brightness. While I certainly appreciate the amount of work that went into that article, it's a shame the data isn't in a more useful format.

    The reviewers obviously know their stuff...would it have been too hard to divide the lights into different categories (500-1000 lumens, 1000-3000, 3000+) and rank them?

  5. #5
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    Did you see this page, it has the all of the beamshots on one page
    2015 Lights Shootout: Beam Patterns - Mtbr.com

    If you click on of of the photos it expands on the picture and shows you information on the current light including brightness (in lumens) and the price. There's also a link to the review.

    The brightest lights tend to be the most expensive, but there's a huge range in both price and brigthness.

    The year before it was split into three main categories, but I don't think he did it this year.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by KevinGT View Post

    Click image for larger version. 

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ID:	980945

    My rides were usually under an hour and had a mix of singletrack that I knew very well and fire road (Topanga St. Park and dirt Mullholland). Technology has changed quite a bit since then!

    What's the current philosophy for lighting these days? With the massive increase in both lumens and battery life, it's obviously people are riding longer and harder at night.

    Is the bar-mounted system still the norm?
    Is helmet mounted the way to go?
    Is a dual system (helmet + bars) the best?

    I'm seeing the lights have gotten tiny but I don't see a lot of mention about batteries. Are they self contained? Strapped to the bike frame (probably not water bottle sized, like my old Nightsun!)? Carried in a jersey pocket with a loooong cable?

    What's the best combo you've all found in the $200 range?
    Judging from the picture you supplied ( NightSun's? ) you've not looked at bike lights for a long time.

    The convention of a two lamp system still remains the same. One for the bars, one for the helmet. The major differences are that today's LED light systems are brighter and more *versatile. ( * Most have multiple mode levels allowing the user to chose the brightness needed for the moment ) Some also allow the user to program the modes.

    Not only does this make them more efficient but it makes them more reliable. The Li-ion batteries used with these lamps are also more lighter than old style NiMH, have larger capacities and generally mount very easily to one of the bike's main tubes. Adding to that prices for the better brand batteries have started to drop.

    Without endorsing any lamps ( per say ) I'll just say any of the two emitter Chinese made models make for decent light output. I usually only buy the lamp heads and then use batteries that are of better quality. Anyway, that's a good place to start. Some are better than others but for $200 you should not have a problem buying a decent two lamp system with decent batteries. Chinese lamp heads usually around $30 ea. Decent brand batteries ( at least 5200mAh capacity are maybe $40 ea. with a good battery bag ) You also will need a charger, usually about $15 or so.

    This of course leaves money left over. Up grades are always available for more money. Read some of the reviews on the Chinese lamps. Ask some questions before buying. Choose what you think will work and then roll the dice.

    @varider; How come you only have three greenies? Please, someone give this man some green!

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by KevinGT View Post
    I'm not going to let another season go by thinking "I should have gotten some lights and done some night riding." I'm planning to get my lighting sorted out this summer to be ready to go when the time changes again.

    I'm no stranger to night riding, having ridden many nights in the 90s on Southern Cal singletrack with this system:

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	98b372ed556994394ffc589dddbf971e.jpg 
Views:	254 
Size:	229.1 KB 
ID:	980945
    Love that picture. I rode with the same lights for a long time. That goes back to the late '80s early '90s. Impressive!


    My rides were usually under an hour and had a mix of singletrack that I knew very well and fire road (Topanga St. Park and dirt Mullholland). Technology has changed quite a bit since then!

    What's the current philosophy for lighting these days? With the massive increase in both lumens and battery life, it's obviously people are riding longer and harder at night.

    Is the bar-mounted system still the norm?
    Is helmet mounted the way to go?
    Is a dual system (helmet + bars) the best?
    For safety, and either on or especially off road, you need both. And it's a good idea to have redundant batteries and lights. Having been almost marooned in that matter and wondering if I was going to get out of the woods before the mosquitos drained me of blood, I learned that I never want to repeat that experience.


    I'm seeing the lights have gotten tiny but I don't see a lot of mention about batteries. Are they self contained? Strapped to the bike frame (probably not water bottle sized, like my old Nightsun!)? Carried in a jersey pocket with a loooong cable?

    What's the best combo you've all found in the $200 range?
    The "best" combo is going to be an individual thing. There are too many factors and choices that make it difficult to pick one "best" solution for everyone. I'd suggest looking at the MTBR light shoot out to get an idea of what features are available.

    First off, you'll probably need to decide if you want to be bar or head lamp centric. That's an individual choice and depends on a lot of things. For example, I prefer to have the bar light be my primary light because I find it a bit unnerving to find it black in my peripheral vision in the direction I'm actually moving as I look off my direction of travel. YMMV.

    I would suggest that you need to have at least one light that is capable of about 1500 lumens. While you can probably turn it down much of the time, when you need the brighter light, you really need it. More is better than less. It's also cheaper - if you under buy, you wind up buying another light set. They depreciate pretty quickly in value with all the innovation that is happening so an unused light set in the drawer is not cost effective. Buying correctly the first time is the right choice.

    At the top end, I'd suggest the gold standard is probably a Lupine Wilma on the bars and Lupine Piko on the helmet. An outstanding set up would be two Pikos, one of the bars and one on the helmet but both of these will pretty much blow up your budget.

    Other brands that are excellent are Light and Motion, Exposure, Dinotte, Lezyne. There are a plethora of cheap Chinese knockoffs that have worked for many but after my experience with a light that died, reliability is a big deal for me.

    So what I'd concentrate on is the set of features that you think would work best for you. For me that is:

    1. Minimum of 1500 lumens (real lumens - be careful of inflated manufacturers claims especially amongst Chinese knockoffs).
    2. Two light system for reliability and redundancy.
    3. Quality construction (related to #1).
    4. Very light weight on helmet and option for extension cord to carry battery in jersey pocket. I'm sensitive to weight on my neck and helmet.
    5. Quality battery mount for both helmet and bars. First off, I don't want a mount that doesn't hold well and can cause a light to swivel facing down - very dangerous. Second, I want a low profile on the helmet.
    6. Quality batteries and mount. Batteries only last about 3 years (it's a function of the Li-ion technology) so make sure the batteries are good and that replacements are reasonably priced. It's not inconceivable that over the life of the light you'll spend more on batteries than you did on the lights.
    7. This market is getting to the point where shortly we ought to be seeing some consolidation so picking a stable company is a good idea.
    8. Good beam pattern that is not too wide but not a needle beam either. I think around a 25 degree beam width is about right. Maybe a touch narrower for the helmet light.


    What I use is a Wilma on the bars and a Piko on the helmet. Love that system and it's overkill in some respects, but it's super flexible and more than enough light. That, however, blows your $200 budget to pieces.

  8. #8
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    I just carry a half dozen lights and batteries with me at all times lol

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by manbeer View Post
    I just carry a half dozen lights and batteries with me at all times lol
    Why?!

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnJ80 View Post
    Why?!
    Because he can!

    For some (many?) bike lights are just another manifestation of flashaholism. How many flashlights do you need? The answer is always "just one more"

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by kwarwick View Post
    Because he can!

    For some (many?) bike lights are just another manifestation of flashaholism. How many flashlights do you need? The answer is always "just one more"
    I get having that many lights, but if you carry all of them, then it's some kind of OCD thing or something.

    J.

  12. #12
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    Yep that's just it. My main "decent" lights are gloworm, Gemini, etc. None are up to lupine standards but all have proven to be reliable performers. However, I often ride with other lights and carry backups for the fun of trying out new things and also for redundancy. I am notorious for overpacking, the guy who brings a 70 pound pack on a one night backpacking trip. I also carry 3 tubes, plus a few co2 inflator AND a pump when I ride. I always stop to help a stranded cyclist, same thing with cars, etc. So I guess I'm kind of not only planning ahead for myself but I like being the "go to" guy when others have problems

  13. #13
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    Got it. So you're just that guy. That's cool.

    J.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by manbeer View Post
    Yep that's just it. My main "decent" lights are gloworm, Gemini, etc. None are up to lupine standards but all have proven to be reliable performers. However, I often ride with other lights and carry backups for the fun of trying out new things and also for redundancy. I am notorious for overpacking, the guy who brings a 70 pound pack on a one night backpacking trip. I also carry 3 tubes, plus a few co2 inflator AND a pump when I ride. I always stop to help a stranded cyclist, same thing with cars, etc. So I guess I'm kind of not only planning ahead for myself but I like being the "go to" guy when others have problems

    And I thought I overpacked most of the time.....i ride naked compared to you lol.

  15. #15
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    Lol and I thought I overpacked..... I ride naked compared to you.

    Me I just went Chinese for lights. Yinding with spot optics on the lid and solarstorm x3 on the bars. I go for both for 2 reason, one is more light, second is if I loose one I still have the other too get back to trail

    Most systems these days aren't self contained, they have separate battery packs. 2-6 cell 18650 li-ion cells.
    Last edited by tigris99; 04-14-2015 at 09:44 PM.

  16. #16
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    Get two of these Nite Rider Luminia lights, 100$ each, one on the helmet one on the bars. You'll thank me later

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B00E3V...=AC_SX200_QL40
    2 Hands Working Do More Than 1000 Hands Praying

  17. #17
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    Adding to the above conversations ^^...The only time I carry more than my usual helmet/bar lamp combo is when I am testing lights and/or taking photos. Most of the time I just carry the two lamps that I feel are best for the ride I am on and include a back-up ( single 18650 ) torch on the bars and a small ( AA ) pocket torch for emergency repairs.

    The only exception to this rule would be if I were using a cheaper Chinese lamp as one of the primary lamps and I had questions about how it might fair in a good rain. If I were expecting rain I would likely bring an extra lamp that I knew could handle a good rain, just in case. Generally I check all of my lamps for their ability to function in a good rain but sometimes it takes me a while to get around to it. Right now the KD2 I own has optics that are rattling slightly. In a good rain I'm sure it would leak. To fix this I need to get bigger O-rings for the optics. In the mean time I won't be using it unless I carry a back-up ( just in case it rains ).

    Like others I carry other stuff as well. I try to carry as less as possible. I do carry a CO'2 inflator but only because I hate having to pump up a tire all the way with a mini pump. Believe me, makes a big difference especially when you are really tired. I'll start the repair with the pump and then finish it with the inflator. For me this works. Other than that I carry my phone, tire patch kit, extra tube, some small emergency meds, a couple buck$, emergency whistle and lastly extra clothing depending on the time of year and expected weather. Basic stuff really. Last year I took a ride during the early spring ( or was it late fall (?) ) and got caught in an unexpected downpour on my way back to my car. DAMN!...nothing more dangerous than getting caught in a really COLD DOWNPOUR and realizing you forgot to bring the rain shell. Lucky for me I was only about 15 minutes from my car. If I'd been maybe an hour or more away that would of been really bad. When I got back I felt like a frozen turd. Hypothermia is something not to be messed with. I now carry a light-weight emergency poncho just in case I forget the jacket.

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