Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Stepping Up the Lighting Game

The hardest thing by far about rural transportation cycling for me has been coping with the dark. I have written about this before many a time, and you would think that by now I'd have become an expert at dealing with the pitch black darkness of country roads. At the very least, I should have certainly learned my lesson at this point, so that I'm never caught out at night due to inadequate lighting. Alas, I am a mere mortal. Once in a while I miscalculate, under-plan, or generally screw up. And so last night, what should have been a peaceful cycle home at 7 o'clock in the evening turned into another weeping fest at the side of the road, when 6 miles from home I could not, for the life of me, see where I was going - despite the bright (I thought) headlight attached to my handlebars.

To provide some background: Much of the time, I commute at night on my Brompton - which is equipped with built in dynamo lighting. I can never manage to remember how many lumens my particular version of the fabled B&M IQ Cyo puts out; I only know that it works for my needs. The headlight is adjusted/pointed perfectly for the specific bike it is permanently mounted to, and has been tested a gazillion times in all manner of conditions. Consequently, when I'm on the folder I need not worry about the dark.

However, as you might have noticed, I own multiple bicycles - in particular vintage ones that I love the ride quality of and insist on dragging all over the countryside despite owning a perfectly functional modern machine! Since fitting them all with top quality dynamo lighting is out of the question, I have a "traveling" set of easily removable battery lights that usually work just fine.

In particular, I own three battery operated headlights, all acquired some years ago: a Supernova Airstream (which was top of the line when it first came out!), a Light & Motion Urban 550, and a Nite Rider Mako 200. Often at least one of these will be on loan to a friend; the remaining will go on whatever non-dynamo bike I am riding. And that was how last night I found myself with only the Nite Rider for company, which I'd misguidedly thought would suffice. But the night was an overcast one, starless and moonless. And the road I ended up on was extra-remote, without reflectors or even white markings for guidance. The light was doing absolutely nothing for me. I could see the road ahead at walking pace. But as soon as I attempted even a tame cycling speed, all would fade to black. I kept calm at first, trying to half-cycle, half-walk, the remaining miles home. Then in the not-far-enough distance I heard the growling noises of wild animals, and fear got the better of me. When I got the worried "where are you?!" phone call from home, I caved and, snivelingly "agreed" to a rescue.

In fairness, rescues are pretty rare for me. When they do happen, I go through stages of emotion - from embarrassment, to anger at myself, to general frustration at not being as independent as I think I am or want to be. Thankfully, in the end this gives way to lucidity, where I try to take concrete steps to avoid the situation in future. In this case, that meant feverishly researching the latest offerings in battery lighting.

It occurs to me, I have not had a proper look at lighting options in some time. Now, whilst going through countless reviews, talking to local riders, and consulting twitter, one thing I quickly realised was that much, much brighter battery-operated lights are available today than what I currently own. According to my local bike shop, this is due to the recent popularity of night time mountain biking - though it's hard to say what came first - the night riding trend, or the bright lights. But in any case, if it's good enough to light up the narrow winding forest trails for those lunatics to bomb down with abandon, it should be good enough for me. And whereas the lights I currently own are 200 lumens, 550 lumens and 200 lumens respectively, there now exist options in the mid-1K lumens range without bulky external batteries. Now we're talking!

So I think that I shall gift myself this season an absolute blaster of a headlight for pitch-black country roads. Then I am going to keep this headlight fully charged at all times and shall never loan it out to anyone, so that there is never again a possibility of getting caught out. Aside from superb brightness, my criteria are for the light to be:
. rechargeable,
. compact,
. easily swappable between bikes, and
. allowing for at least 1.5 hours of run time at its brightest setting.
And in case you are interested in the same, here are the two options I am considering:


Lezyne Deca Drive 1500XXL
wide, 3-light beam pattern
USB rechargeable
1500 lumens max
1 hr 45 min run time in max mode
247g; easy mount



CatEye Volt 1600 
wide, 2-light beam pattern
USB rechargeable
1600 lumens max
2 hours run time in max mode
260g, easy mount






Both the CatEye and the Lezyne can be found priced in the mid-$100 range, which I am willing to pay for a good light. And for those willing to pay around twice that for a handmade in the UK light, there is also this lightweight beauty:

Exposure Race MK10
round, 2-light beam patter
USB rechargeable
1300-1700 lumens
2 hours run time
183g, easy mount



For those who do not need quite that many lumens, other well-recommended options worth checking out are these compact darlings from Light&Motion and Nite Rider. However, for a combination of all the features I am looking for, at a price I can currently handle, I personally have narrowed it down to the Lezyne and CatEye. Once I choose one and use it for a bit, I will post a review.

Needless to say, super-bright lights such as these are absolute overkill unless you are cycling at night through the woods or along exceptionally dark country roads. As it happens, I do both on a regular basis, and so updating my battery lights seems well overdue. Never again do I intend to cry on the side of the road because I can't see where I am going. Happily, there are now more products to choose from than ever, if you'd like to step up your lighting game.


58 comments:

  1. I had the Airstream for a season and used it on my non-dynamo bike. The brightness was impressive and actually brighter than the Cyo Plus, but combined with the sharp cutoff it actually became a problem for me. The path ahead was very well lit, however my eyes could not adequately adjust to seeing what was outside of the beam, thus creating a "tunnel" effect.
    As a bike camper, I'd love to see the Airstream with a more dispersed beam and a mini-USB port for charging. It would eliminate the need for a separate handlight, and could be recharged either from the bike's dynamo/USB system or a storage battery.

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  2. I spend a lot of time thinking about lighting. It's a shame that bicycle manufacturers leave it up to us to solve this problem; lighting should be a standard part of every new bicycle.
    I generally feel uncomfortable unless I have two options with me, one as standard, and the other as fallback in case the standard option fails.
    As standard I've been using the Magnic Light, which is a self-contained generator light that is powered by the motion of the bicycle rims. The coupling to the rim is magnetic, so there's no friction, and no noticeable drag. I really like this system; I think it will eventually replace hub-driven dynamo lights. But it's still relatively new -- it was a Kickstarter project a few years ago, and you have to order them from Germany and fit them to your bike yourself.
    As a fallback I have helmet mounted lights, which are great for getting driver's attention when in flashing mode. I regularly see drivers waiting to pull out in front of me, who have clearly seen me because of my lights. It's reassuring that they work well.
    I prefer replaceable to rechargeable batteries. I am a randonneur and there's no way a charged light would last long enough for an overnight ride. I prefer to just keep a few extra batteries in my luggage.

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    1. How much light do they give out, John. For reference my mk6 Exposure Joystick gives out 325 lumens in a not particularly clever pattern. On the completely unlit roads that make up about half my commute, this allows me to ride at about 14-16mph

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    2. I don't have a good way to answer that. I can't find any measurements on the Magnic Light site. In general, generator lights do NOT produce as much light as battery-powered lights (either rechargeable or disposable). So you do give up something in light that you get back in convenience (and, in a sense, in completeness; your bike becomes something that is already ready to use -- you just hop on and go, day or night).

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    3. The video on the Magnic site says 15 lux output. No real easy way to equate that to lumens without more information, I don't believe. Seems like very cool technology--thanks for alerting me to its existence!

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  3. Strangely I cannot find a spec sheet that states how many Lumens the IQ Cyo puts out. But I don't imagine it is anywhere near the brightness of the lights you are considering. There must be other factors at play that are the real problem, for example position, hight, orientation, beam pattern. Worth looking into!

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    1. This is very true, and exactly why I mentioned adjustment/position with regard to the setup on my Brompton. The thing is though: If the battery headlight will be shared between any and all bikes (with different hbar heights, front rack setups, etc), there is not going to be the same opportunity for control, fine tuning and experimentation. So I figure getting a light that is simply super-duper bright will compensate for that.

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    2. The thing about lumens is that it's a measure that has little relevance; a light can put out 1000 lumens but not illuminate as well as one that puts out 300 lumens. Beam pattern is important. With a poor beam, regardless how it is mounted or aimed, a lot of light gets dispersed and unevenly focused into bright spots that cause your pupils to contract, reducing your vision.

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    3. Thanks for that bit of info Somervillain, that part about uneven levels of brightness bears remembering.

      My old halogen MTB lights are really bright and with both batteries last for longer than I care to spend in the woods in the cold, but they were hard on my eyes in some ways that that would explain. I now use them for outdoor work lights or clamped to the garden tractor. They make nice hand warmers too...

      Spin

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    4. You are not finding a lumens number for the B & M Cyo because B & M rates their lights in lux. In theory lux and lumens can be converted. If you read up on lux lumens candelas and steradians you will quickly discover you have to be an engineer or a mathematician to make sense of the discussion. This is a blog for artists.

      One takeaway you could glean from trying to read the definitions of lux and lumens is that any rating given in a single term is meaningless. Entirely meaningless and empty. The null set. Lumens ratings for bike lights are pure advertising claims and nothing else. Wanna buy a bridge?

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    5. If you want super duper brightness go to the hardware store and buy a modern flashlight. Mine has a Cree emitter/bulb, 2 C cell batteries, and a nicely made aluminum housing. Cost me $35. Claims 350 lumens but totally blows away bike lights claiming 1500.

      After you've experimentally determined to your own satisfaction that max overkill does not bicycle lighting make you're only out $35 and you have a good household flashlight.

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  4. I found this post particularly interesting as I have just been through the bi-annual "what light should I buy" process. I happily use a SON and Edeluxe I for on-roade used the Cyos and the Fly; but my new thing is night riding along our acequia or irrigation system roads and paths, for which the Edeluxe is insufficient.

    http://newmexicophotojournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/P1010714_acequia.jpg

    http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-wD00S1nZots/VEb10EFDZLI/AAAAAAAAdGs/h1QariX-jzs/s1600/20141021_160123_145-EFFECTS.jpg

    I first tried a Niterider Lumina 250, but found High a bit too dim for my poor night vision; and the runtime on High was only a claimed 90 minutes. I upgraded to a MiNewt, with a claimed350 lumens on H, 2 hours run time, but wondered what was available in a compact light for a bit more illumination and slightly longer run times. This is the first I've heard of the Lezyne and Cateye -- I'd have chosen one of these for sure, had I known about them.

    But my solution in fact was to give in and order a SP hub and Supernova E3 Triple2 to ensure sufficient light and unlimited run time -- and a claimed 640 lumens (the German Supernova site says in red: For racing only -- not legal on German streets). Expensive, but worth it for my poor night vision.

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  5. Oh wow! You too? Once I started riding farther and faster after dark a couple years ago, I had to call for a couple of "combat extractions" due to "new" batteries that had been hanging for too long in the 7-11 before I bought them or lights that just didn't have enough power to deal with even the tiniest amount of fog or mist.

    I bought 2 Cygolites on sale, a Streak 280 and a Streak 310 and then was given another Streak 310. Not quite the searchlights you can buy now but I haven't felt under-equipped for what I'm doing since. Oh, I bought an extra mount too.

    I keep one on my regular bike all the time with the extra mount, and the others with mounts attached in my gear-bag. When I'm going for a "real" night ride I take two lights and if I'm going out all night on a Dynamo or something I take all three. I keep one on whatever "bright" setting I want and another on a lower setting pointed down a bit so I can see a bit more of the road. With the longer run-times of the lower settings I always have light through the night by switching out the bright one for the extra one, although one time everything was giving me the warning light by morning.

    Any other ride I just take an extra one and keep it in my pocket just in case. I really want to set up at least one of my bikes with a modern generator system but even then I would need clip-ons for the other bikes that live with us. Until then this admittedly imperfect system keeps me out of the ditches for less then $120. I still keep my old battery lights ready with a half dozen re-chargeable batteries nearby but they get used as flashlights or loaned out mostly. If you can't afford the new generation of generator lights DO NOT TRY THEM, whether hub type or the new rim drive ones, they are so fantastic as to crush ones soul to have to go back to juggling lights and batteries and peering down the brilliant but tubular beam of what you have now...

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    1. "Combat extraction" sounds much better than "rescue," I will go with that from now on!

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  6. Back before I fitted all of my bikes with dynamos, I was using a B&M Ixon IQ Premium, which has the same beam spread as the SON Edelux II and lasts a very long time on both of its settings. It houses a set of AA batteries, and I always used NiMH in there. Even though the light has a charging port specifically for that, I just swapped in another change of NiMH batteries when they ran out and recharged the dead ones when I got home. I could also get alkaline AAs at any shop in a pinch.

    With this setup, I wouldn't be limited by the inability to quickly swap the batteries that these sealed, USB units all 'feature', yet I could still charge the batteries in the unit. I wouldn't need to carry multiple lights; just multiple changes of batteries.

    Now as far as the rescues go, I've only had ones related to inclement weather. The first time was going out on a below-freezing day, and ending up snowed out in a very hilly area on a bike without tires wide enough for my confidence. The second time was offroad during a wind/rain storm with tons of flooding where I was: I ended up hypothermic and bloodied thanks to debris. I'm tuning down my inclement riding these days, as well as beefing up my wool layers.

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    1. I'm with you Neil: all daily-ridden bikes should be fitted with dynamo lighting. I swear it pays for itself in the long run.

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  7. On the topic of lights, but not battery, I've been wondering about bottle generators. Not a fan of battery lights and don't want to lace a generator hub into my wheel but bike shops give me a blank stare when I ask about them as if I'm stupid to consider anything other than battery options. I used to have a generator which attached to my bottom bracket and powered a large headlight. My commute was about eight miles through both rural roads and woods and some nights were as you describe, black as can be, but after installing the system there were no longer issues. Been looking for something similar since b/c there was no extra wear on the tire and I could easily release or engage it with my foot.

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    1. Check out the Velogical rim drive generators. I've ridden 2 bikes with them now and think they're really great. They can be a bit fiddly to mount but no worse than the traditional bottle generators(which I still like for when they're good enough). Use it with any wheel and they cost a fraction of what a best quality hub generator does. I think they might be the best solution for a lot of us...

      Spindizzy

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    2. I agree. Do you have any problems with yours in the wet? Mine seems to slip a bit. It's running a Supernova E3 and triple tail light. I improved it with some install tweaking, thanks to very helpful manufacturer support, but the light still dims when the rim gets wet.

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    3. Here is a thorough review of the Velogical system:
      https://lawschoolissoover.wordpress.com/2014/08/26/something-old-is-new-again-the-velogical-rim-dynamo/

      The same blogger also did a rather thorough comparative review of several hub, bottle, and at least 1 bb dynamo systems.

      Peter Jon White sells an inexpensive bottle generator: http://www.peterwhitecycles.com/dymotec.asp

      I briefly used an old Sanyo bottle with a halogen headlight, and the drag was the equivalent of climbing a slight rise or riding into a 10 mph headwind. Not as bad as Bart made it appear.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i7kgzgcqe5s

      Lumotec used to make a 12 volt bottle system that I also briefly used, with very low drag; and even with the old halogen lamp it was very bright; far brighter than the 6-volt halogen systems. I don't know if the much less expensive 6 volt system is as free turning.

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    4. I didn't ride them in the rain(They belong to friends) but they haven't said anything to me about any problems in spite of the fact that all we do on rides is complain about stuff...

      Spindizzy

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    5. My Axa HR bottle dynamo started to slip in foul weather yesterday (not night, so it wasn't vital and I just turned it off - I do carry emergency be-seen lights too, so I could theoretically legally continue at night too). On inspection, the roller tread had worn smooth so I've ordered a new roller tread at £5 for two. This is its third winter, so it's not doing badly. I wonder how many batteries I would have gotten through to get anything like equivalent lighting in that time.

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    6. I have a Velogical on the Royal H commuter I've been using since Spring. No problem riding in the rain, but I find the adjustment very fiddly. If you do not have the screws on the bottom set just right, it does not work. Mayor Rahm is doing a better job than his predecessor repaving streets, nonetheless I ride over enough bad pavement the set screws have come loose multiple times this summer.

      Definitely a very good solution if you can keep it working. My luck has been bad enough that I am in the process of donating the bike to a theft victim in San Francisco (she rarely rides at night).

      The commuter I am building up now will have the Supernova Airstream 2 with the optional tail light. We'll see how that works.

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  8. Have you considered adding a handlebar mounted dimmer switch feature into the mix? Easily changing to a high and low beam might make the device more useable day to day. Here is a link to a Strada Exposure model with remote.

    Scott


    http://www.wiggle.co.uk/exposure-strada-mk6-front-light-with-remote-switch/

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  9. I have two Cygolite Metros that I ordered from Rivendell. They're nice and bright, and can be switched to flash mode or a lower-powered steady mode. They can be recharged, either on your PC or on a wall charger. They're also waterproof. One even survived a trip through the laundry after I forgot to take it out of my pants. I also have an extra mounting bracket, so it's super easy to swap a light between bikes.

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  10. When i needed a light to see with i wanted the brightest legal light i could find, something with a proper beam pattern. I choose Trelock LS 950 CONTROL ION, i bought it online from a shop in Germany. It's a great light 10-70lux. lucky for people in the UK i've now seen it in lots of online stores.

    http://www.rosebikes.co.uk/article/trelock-ls-950-control-ion-battery-front-light/aid:470889?gclid=CjwKEAiAkb-zBRC2upezwuyguQ4SJADZG08vwui62MBohTzhLplZHpGJD3wRTvx_JLyhF2P6mufE3RoC23Tw_wcB

    thanks for the great blog i love the eclectic nature of your articles.

    keep up the great work,

    Richard, Colchester, Essex

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    1. I have the same light...ordered it from bike-discount.de. Worth mentioning, it also has a runtime of 6 to 45 hours, depending on brightness setting, and has a backlit LCD screen that shows you how much runtime you have left for each setting. I've been told several times while doing group rides that people thought my light was that of a car coming up behind. I got it just in time for Boston's Midnight Marathon bike ride, and the Paul Revere "reenactment" ride, both of which involve some poorly-lit rural roads. On the Paul Revere ride, one of my friends and I ended up riding at the front of the group for a while, and he was actually riding ahead of me, but using my light to see the road ahead!

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  11. What you want is Cateye EL-6000, 6000 lumens for 1 hour, or 1000 for 8 hours.
    Can be seen from low earth orbit, making combat extraction quite easy.

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  12. I went through a similar upgrade process when I started bike commuting years ago. I had some rather pathetic lights mounted on the bike in the early days. They were barely sufficient for being seen in the daytime. The one time that I commuted home in the dark with those lights swiftly convinced me to upgrade my lighting system. I went to my bike shop expecting to add another dim light to my arsenal. Thankfully, the guys at the shop steered me toward the truly bright "to see" lights after I explained my year-round bike commuting intentions. I ordered a Cygolite Expilion 800 through the shop, as it was the brightest single-unit light that they had at the time (that is, it does not have a separate battery pack), and I could dial the light up and down as needed. Later I bought some smaller Cygolite lights as backup for my bike and primary lights for my sig other's bike. I also "saw the light" regarding USB rechargability and now I have only one light in regular use that has AAA batteries (and it's on my helmet, so that light gets little use). My main taillight is a Light & Motion Vis 180 and couldn't be happier with it. I plan to upgrade my sig other's bike with a Vis 180 and use their current Vis 180 Micro as a backup taillight for my bike.

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    1. Can you explain how you "saw the light"? USB recharging seems like it usually means connecting an inefficient USB power converter with an inefficient USB charging circuit (nearly doubling your losses), instead of simply using one individual specialist NiMH or 18650 charger (depending on your light).

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    2. Mjray: USB charging is far more convenient than fumbling around with AA or AAA cells. At work or at home, I simply plug in a cable to charge the light; no need to remove batteries and plug them into a separate charger. I've even set up a system at home where I can plug in the lights without even taking them off the bike.

      Are there any inefficiencies in the charging system for the lights? Possibly, but I don't care. I'm much more interested in the convenience of this system vs. maximizing charging efficiency. USB recharging is about as convenient as it gets for battery-powered bicycle lights. I have considered a dynamo hub system too, but I've already invested a lot of money in my battery lights, so I've held off on dynamos for now.

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  13. When I started reading this my first thought was "she probably has not bought a light in a while" ;-)
    A couple things Mountain biking at night is not a new thing, but I guess with the modern lighting systems it makes more sense then it did when we did it. 30years ago riding a mountain bike in the woods with the lighting they had then was all about the wackiness of it and despite $200 Nite Sun systems still barely being able to navigate.
    Today riding at night is probably more popular because of the new lights rather then the other way round.
    the new lights have a couple things going for them the Newer super bright LED's which throw out tons of light with little current draw AND the new Lithium Ion (and other types)batteries which pack much more power in a smaller package.

    In a couple years the lights will be even better! They're developing Super capacitors and some other things which could have benefits here.
    -masmojo

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  14. I got that problem of having proper lighting a month ago. I also was surprised by the rise of night mountain riding. It really helped some sites with light reviews and in the end I ended buying a Ixon Core from bush+muller. The criteria besides the light was to be USB powered. Their catalogue is quite helpful. http://www.bumm.de/fileadmin/user_upload/Katalog/B_M__Catalogue_2015_16__English.pdf

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  15. I almost made a comment asking at what point a light becomes too bright. I'm thinking about the crazy-bright helmet lights some folks keep showing up for night rides with that blind anyone they look at. A woman on one of our "Sat. Night Friendlies" had to stop and call for a ride because she had an empty white hole in the middle of her vision that she said lasted for over half an hour. But since I don't want to appear to be a grumpy old fart I decided not to.

    Anyway, we've been over this question before and I think the technology is going to keep going until we all resort to auto darkening glasses at night and the birds and animals can just go crawl in a hole... That Cateye Volt 6000 light can be helmet mounted so it's only a matter of time till someone around here throws down the $800 and blinds us all.

    Dang. I guess I really am a grumpy old fart.

    Spindizzy

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    1. One of the things that I like about my B+M Cyo premium is the beam cut off/attenuation below eye level, so I don't have to be concerned about blinding oncoming riders.

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    2. +1 on the Cyo Premium. 80 lux dispersed beam with no hot spots, as good as the Luxos.

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    3. I agree Spindizzy.
      I was temporarily blinded by an oncoming mountain-biker with helmet-mounted anti-aircraft gunner's light on a flat and smooth cycle path in my home town. Came off my bike and broke my hip. That was two years ago and it annoys me still. I guess as a society we are all having to learn what counts as "antisocial" as this brightness thing is still such a novelty!

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    4. A friend bought a 1500 lumen headlight and set it on flash to ride at night. The intensity and angle of the light got her pulled over by the police for obscuring traffic lights, esp. at red lights. She was also blinding oncoming traffic, probably.

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    5. The B&M Cyo Premium is a great dyno light. That's what I have on my daily commuter. I've been using the Cygolite Expellion 850 on my non-dyno bike. It's a very good light with a nice beam.

      As I understand it lux is a measure of how much light goes where you need it. Lumen is a measure of total output, but without knowing the beam pattern doesn't mean much.

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  16. The only place I go for reviews of lights is the MTBR Lights Shootout. Of the two you're looking at the Cat-Eye has the better light output but suffers from heat, dropping the output as it warms up, with slow recovery.

    http://reviews.mtbr.com/review-lezyne-deca-drive-1500xxl

    http://reviews.mtbr.com/review-cateye-volt-1600

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  17. I'm surprised that Rev Spin didn't offer you one of his restored carbide lamps.

    I am partial to the lens design on the Light & Motion lamps. I have found the beam pattern to work better for me than NR or Cygolight equivalents. My personal light is a Taz 1000, which is no longer made, but is most similar to the Taz 1200.
    The L & M lights do tend to be a bit pricier than some others, but are also a handmade option for those that care about those things.
    (They are made in Monterey, California a few blocks down from Doc Rickett's lab.

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  18. None of the lights in the main article are sufficient to satisfy the UK law - if you're careful not to dazzle, they're not illegal, but they don't count. Basically, because they make you choose between dazzling others and not being able to see yourself, they don't meet any accepted standard for headlights.

    The closest legally-sufficient light to those is the Cateye GVolt, which seems like it's basically the Volt with a decent lens that directs the light onto the road and not up into the sky.

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  19. For the 150 EUR on average that each of the battery lights proposed cost, one can get 3 dynamo light sets, one for each of the bikes. Not all dynamos need to be hub dynamos, bottle dynamos have never been so efficient, cost way less, and have zero drag when unused.

    Axa Pico 30 front light (15 EUR), Axa Slim Steady back light (10 EUR)and Axa HR dynamo (16 EUR) can be found on any German online retailer. Fit and forget, plenty of light, no need to remember to take them off when parking, no disposal of polluting batteries. Win, win, win.

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    1. I liked its predecessor the Axa Riff, but the Slim is only a single point which I don't think is as good (I've seen both in use). I'd pay another few EUR and go for the Axa Blueline Steady, or the B+M Toplight View.

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  20. I think beam pattern counts for more than overall brightness. It's why it's better to go with dynamo lighting as even the basic lights have a light pattern designed as a proper road going headlamp and put the light where it is needed and won't dazzle anyone in the process.

    Also, mounting the light lower down will work better for road riding as it will cast shadows and highlight things like potholes which a high mounted light won't.

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    1. I agree with you re positioning of a bright light. Part of my commute is on an unlit rural cycle path. Unfortunately it's on the right hand side of the road (UK) and so on my outward journey I cycle within a yard or two of the oncoming traffic. i have a basic Cateye pointing at an angle which ensures that I'm visible. I also have a Hope Vision 1 mounted lower so that I can see my way ahead on the unlit path. The Hope Vision is both heavy duty and easily adjustable, positioned carefully I find it a great light for my commute.

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  21. Agree with the Ixon Premium suggestion. It has the same light source as your Cyo (actually wider than the Cyo if you don't have the Cyo Premium). I have seen too many NiteRider lights with 'cone beams' that put too much light where it doesn't belong and blinds oncoming traffic to ever consider one of their products.

    Matt

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    1. As readers give their testimony about the truly wonderful B & M lights (I totally agree) it bears noting that B & M did a major redesign and upgrade that came to market autumn 2013. They kept most of the same product names after the upgrade. Anyone using a 2012 or early 2013 Cyo has a much more modest light than a current Cyo. In fact the slightly downmarket battery powered Ixon Core has a beam about the same as the older Cyos. The current Ixon IQ Premium (batteries) has exactly the same beam as a current Cyo. And that beam is much brighter, wider, and more even than the older Cyos.

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  22. I like the Light and Motion urban lights and in the winter usually run two of them, mostly because I'm bad at remembering to keep them charged. I run one on the handlebars and one on one of these fork mounts from Paul Components.

    http://paulcomp.com/shop/components/gino-light-mount/

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  23. Your point regarding how the technical specs do not really say anything about how the light will perform in the real world (on a completely dark night on a road with no markings...) reminded me of my situation early this year.
    When I started training for a bike marathon at the beginning of this year, due to a job that steals a lot of time and not wanting to sacrifice the time with my family, I decided to train late in the evenings and very early in the morning. This meant looking for adequate lighting, as the days in February are very short. Finally I decided to upgrade to a Shimano XT dynamo (SON was too expensive) and B&M LUMOTEC IQ Cyo T premium senso plus. This combination worked well with my city/trekking bike. As the weather improved, I decided to switch to my road bike, so I needed a battery powered light. I decided to buy the same light again, but this time in the version with rechargeable batteries. In semi-lighted conditions it worked well. However, it just didn't seem to be powerful enough for spirited righting on truly dark roads...Thankfully the days got longer and the problem could be postponed...until just about now, where the days are once again very short.
    I will definitely look into the lights you have short-listed!

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  24. I have a Lezyne Mega Drive light which you are welcome to have (for free) if you would like it. I bought it for canal side cycling 2 or maybe 3 years ago. My local bike shop recommended it for this purpose but I knew immediately that it was far too bright. I spent the cycle home shielding it from the many oncoming cyclists I encountered. I think it has 1000 and 500 lumens setting as well as an awful strobe option. I intended to do more daring, off road night time cycling but it never transpired and that no longer appeals to me.

    Jennifer in Scotland

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  25. I have brighter lights now, but back when I started commuting by bike all I had were very dim. Good to be seen, but not see by. I found that mounting the lights lower, I have several quick release axle mounts, I could max out the puddle of light right in front of my bike. That worked for me for slow speeds on dark paths for years until brighter lights prices came down.

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  26. My night riding lights were purchased in my MTB hayday of 2005 and each ride makes me wonder if I'll get back with light & puts a damper on the speed but without having yet had a 'combat extraction' I do think... One more ride then I'll buy that light...

    I look forward to the counter post of riding on moonlit nights without artificial light. The shadows, the quiet, slipping through the countryside. It's just magical

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  27. I've noticed that it makes a big difference whether the road is wet or not. I have this theory that a wet surface allows more light to bounce away from you. Blacktop in the rain looks like the edge of the earth to me.

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  28. I'm coming a bit late into this discussion on lights, and I must say I'm a total fan of B&M dyno-powered lights. For a battery-powered unit the best I've found is the B&M Ixon Speed, which uses a separate battery pack and has high/low settings. Flat upper cutoff reduces blinding on-coming traffic, and the light head can be swiveled a bit when taking sweeping downhill curves. The light pattern and brightness come close to rivaling the B&M dyno lights. I use it regularly on one of my commuter bikes for a 10 mile total darkness rural commute.

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  29. So....what was the result? Did you find a light that works for you, V?

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    Replies
    1. I got the Lezyne Deca Drive but have only used it several times and will wait for more usage to give feedback. It is certainly very bright!

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  30. Powered scooters (such as the Vespa) come standard with a very adequate headlight, rear light, brake lights, and "blinker" turn signal lights for left and right turns. In fact, powered scooters are required by law to have all these lights.

    All bicycles meant for commuting should come standard with a complete lighting system just like powered scooters. Or someone should sell a complete lighting kit (with all these lights, including brake lights and turn signals) that can be easily installed on any bike.

    In fact, such a lighting system should be required by law for any bicycle driven on a road/street at night.

    Let's be honest. Bicycling on roads/streets with 4,000 pound motor vehicles is dangerous. Bicyclists need to be at least as safe as those who ride powered scooters and motorcycles.

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