We've come a long way- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    We've come a long way

    Night riding was still fun in 1989 with my 12v dual beam halogen Nite Rider on my bars and their 6v single beam halogen on my helmet.

    Upgrading to NR's HID was a game changer and speeds got faster and the fun factor went up.

    These days, it's just like riding during the day. But without any other trail users.


  2. #2
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    Funny but I was reminiscing about exactly that this morning lying in bed. I had dual halogen with a big-ass gel-cel lead acid battery, then HID with (~700 lm) with big NiCd pack (had to periodically cycle to ameliorate memory effect). 700 lm was huge back then. Now piddly little one-piece lights are putting out 1200+ lm.
    Do the math.

  3. #3
    beater
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    I found my ~1990 Petzl headlamp a year ago. I remember that was a game changer for camping and other outdoor activities.

  4. #4
    Candlestick Maker
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    Yeah, back in the old days, we used to walk to school in the snow, uphill both ways!

    Seriously, though, lighting has improved so so much since I started 24 hour racing in 1994. The amount and quality of light sucked. The battery life was terrible. And the batteries were insanely heavy. I remember doing Canaan with 2x6w bar lights (vistalite?).

    Lighting and battery improvements are one of the biggest gains I've seen in my 30 years of riding. Along w/ suspension, of course.
    baker

  5. #5
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    In the mid 90s whenever I went for a solo night ride I was always afraid of being viciously murdered or captured by a angry cult, or both. Nowadays if I solo ride at night with super bright lights I'm only afraid of mosquitos and cold alien probes.

    Sent from my SM-T387V using Tapatalk

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by baker View Post
    Yeah, back in the old days, we used to walk to school in the snow, uphill both ways!.
    Sounds like my dad. He used a carbide lamp on his bike back in the old country.
    Do the math.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by baker View Post

    Seriously, though, lighting has improved so so much since I started 24 hour racing in 1994. The amount and quality of light sucked. The battery life was terrible. And the batteries were insanely heavy. I remember doing Canaan with 2x6w bar lights (vistalite?).
    .
    I did Canaan in the early 90s with those VistaLites....in rain and fog....good times!
    It was like having 2 birthday candles on your bars.
    I then bought Night Sun Pros....which were amazing at the time(and I still have them).
    Around 97...I met a MIT guy who was developing HID lights....another big step.
    Got Nite Rider HIDs around 2002.
    After trying a bunch of Chinese LEDs....I now have Gloworm XS and X2....it's pretty funny to match these to the Night Suns.

  8. #8
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    My first good lights for night riding were a Marwi 12watt halogen on the bars and a Niterider 10 watt spot for a helmet light. Actually these were decent lights but the NiMh batteries they came with tended to only last a couple seasons and only provided about two hours of light ( when new ). For me the biggest improvement came when Li-ion battery packs started to be sold and it was discovered that you could double the output of your halogen bulbs by over-volting the bulbs using the Li-ion packs. This of course shortened the life of the bulbs but since bulbs were cheap it was a fair trade off. Doing this I still got about two seasons out of the bulbs. Personally, I never drank the Kool-aid of HID. Lot of people had problems with the HID's.

    My first LED lamps were a couple DiNotte 200L's. After that I eventually bought the then ~$400 DiNotte 600L. About a year after buying the 600L I started hearing about the Chinese torch market. For $30 you could buy a 900 lumen / 3-mode C8 type torch using the new SSC P-7 LED and a single 18650 Li-ion cell. Not long after that Magicshine came out with the first MJ-808 using the same LED. , 900 lumens, a 4 x 18650 Li-ion battery pack and all at a very affordable price. IMO, it was Magicshine and the Chinese that really improved and opened up the sport of night MTB'n since few people back in the day were willing to drop the big bucks on the DiNotte stuff or the high price HID lamps. Eventually Cree bought out the S. Korean company ( SSC ) and the Chinese started using the Cree high power LED's. Since then more manufacturers started to make LED bike lights with higher outputs and more features. That said you can still save money by buying some Chinese made LED bike lights or torches but most avid night riders like the features provided by the better bike light manufacturers.

  9. #9
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    The bang for the buck is so much better now. In the late 90s my oldest son and I were racing cross country. He wanted to try 24 hour racing. We got a team together and I ended up dropping ~$1200 to buy 4 NR halogen setups. Probably about 400 lumen lights. After 2 seasons, 2 of them were dead or unreliable. No longer in warranty, I tore them apart and fixed them.

    A few years later when sort of high power LEDs came out but were not in wide use in bike lights (HID was still the high end gig) I used some of the insight gained in fixing those NR lights to start building my own LED lights.
    GoPro adapters for bike lights http://www.pacifier.com/~kevinb/index.html

  10. #10
    Light freak
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    Old school halogen vs current technology LED

    We've come a long way-img-2232.jpg


    ****

  11. #11
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    Around '96 or so we'd ride with two double C-cell CatEye lights on the bars and an AA mag-lite zip tied to the helmet. Then in '97 or '98 I got a Performance Viewpoint Dual halogen (Marwi type) with wide and spot. OMG, I was invincible!!! Something like 10-12W each and a giant brick of a battery. Literally the size of a brick. Hydration packs had come of age so I was able to utilize the bottle cage for the lead acid block.

    Just when I got back into night riding the Magic Shine and Chinese clones were the rage. I found this page (might be one of you?) LED Bike Light projects where the guy was converting the Halogen bodies to LED. Wasn't worth my time and I found a couple direct drop in LED's at the hardware store that were made for Architectural lighting that fit. Not that high powered but the beam pattern was 100x better than the halogen while being plug and play.


    I rode that way once or twice before downgrading that set in 2011 to duty on my push lawnmower. Needed something to see by after daylight savings occurs when I got home from work and needed to cut the grass at 6:30pm. It's still on my lawnmower today but I haven't used it in 5 plus years. Now I just cut my grass or leaf blow wearing my bike helmet and Gloworm Alpha. My neighbors already probably think of me as the crazy bike guy, so whatever. And you can never be too safe.

  12. #12
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    LED's are obviously great, but lithium batteries and brushless motors have revolutionized my childhood hobbies (R/C cars and airplanes).

    When I started racing R/C cars, I guess about 1990, the new red 1400 mAh sub-C cells were the new hotness, a good upgrade from the 1200's. No one but pros wanted to use the 1700's because they weren't tough enough. We'd gear the cars to run for about five minutes battery life, that would get you to the end of a four minute race plus finish your lap.

    And who's going to bother with a gas engine in a model airplane now when you can fly a nearly silent drone requiring no flammable liquids that has an autopilot and a wifi HD camera? It's SO MUCH BETTER

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