How many lumens is enough?

Discussion in 'Cycling Equipment' started by vio765, Oct 27, 2008.

  1. vio765

    vio765 New Member

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    I am just curious about how much light is appropriate for riding on open country roads that are flat where objects (such as buildings, outdoor floodlights, etc) can be seen for miles. Think: Kansas when there are no crops blocking any viewing. I am looking at Exposure's new Maxx D (the big 960-lumen monster). I am looking for people with experience using lighing systems with a known amount of lumens who are in road riding environments - not trail riding or hilly roads that are flanked by trees. Note: Do not consider cost or my reason for riding at night. Thanks.
     
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  2. kdelong

    kdelong Well-Known Member

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    The key question is do you want to be seen or do you want to see objects in the distance? If you want to illuminate distant objects, how far distant are you talking about?
     
  3. vio765

    vio765 New Member

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    i guess i would like the equivelent of a car's hi beams. i would like a ton of light, but how many lumens would do that?
     
  4. Powerful Pete

    Powerful Pete New Member

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    Do some internet research, as with megapixels in cameras, it is not only about the lumens. The pattern of light, the power vs. autonomy provided by your battery, weight and positioning of the setup all come into the equation.

    Honestly, for the riding you are talking about I wonder whether you need that kind of light... it may be better to go for something slightly 'lighter' (pardon the pun)... it seems that your biggest concern is making sure you see the road and are able to avoid potholes and the like. You do not need military searchlight strength for that! :p

    Also remember that you would like to develop at least some night vision when you ride, so having a monster light will usually mean that you are unable to see things just beyond the range of the light (animals/pedestrians/cars) that are yet to become a problem but of which you would rather be aware. ..
     
  5. scuppy

    scuppy New Member

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    Checkout the mtbr.com forums lighting section. Most keen night riders there would probably say around 500 lumens for mountain bike riding. Riding on sealed roads in open country, I would say you only need 200 lumens. 960 is way more than you need, I use 600 and it is overkill for open roads. If you do go 960lm be aware oncomming cars will think you've got high beams on, so make sure you angle the light down.
     
  6. ecandl

    ecandl New Member

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    I've been using a light with 200 lumens for a couple of years. It works great on flat roads and uphill (up the low 20s mph). I am not comfortable on downhill sections and have to coast to keep my speed lower. I haven't had a problem seeing potholes, roadkill etc. but I am not completely comfortable.

    The light I use is the Dinotte 200 (I think). It is small and mounts easily with a little rubber band - quite stable.
     
  7. vio765

    vio765 New Member

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    i have learned that the typical HID car headlight (found on luxury cars mosly) are around 1200 lumens. i can use that as a reference because there are a lot of people in my area that use these lights either as OEM or an aftermarket upgrade. for for entertainment only, i found a way to attach EIGHT 960-lumen lights (bar) AND THREE 240-lumen (helmet). now that is power! it is also overkill. i would do something like that just for the hell of it if i could afford that. most men would
     
  8. JTE83

    JTE83 Member

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    Houston has dark streets not lit well enough, and I used a helmet with Light & Motion HID Li Ion and Solo Logic light on it too light up to street at night so I can bike 20 mph safely and avoid potholes. The HID light by itself seems good enough, my Solo Logic is a backup light.

    I was gonna post an informative thread showing how my lights brighten up a dark parking lot but my photos got confused. Takes so much time to do this.
     
  9. Powerful Pete

    Powerful Pete New Member

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    So vio765 what have you decided?
     
  10. CAMPYBOB

    CAMPYBOB Well-Known Member

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  11. vio765

    vio765 New Member

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    i have some time. im not in any hurry. in fact, i am not sure i will be needing a light at all. i think i would prolly go with the Exposure Maxx D or maybe the the new cygolite trion.



     
  12. alienator

    alienator Well-Known Member

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    My suggestion is that you get the brightest light you can afford. That said, you should pay some attention to the beam pattern.

    What is important is that your light puts out enough power that you won't override your light. Overriding a light (or overdriving a light if you're on a motorcycle or in a car) is when you're moving at a speed that doesn't allow you to maneuver safely or see hazards quickly enough to avoid them. Frankly, I don't think you should worry much about adjusting so that you can see in the dark off the side. If you're riding with enough light that you can ride quickly, the intensity range of light is probably such that it either requires that your eyes be focused on the darkness and not on where you're going or it requires too much time for eyes to make any adjustment to be of any help at all.

    Here, it's dark. Very dark. In Tucson, Pima County, and surrounding areas, there are light laws that severely limit stray light, at night. Lights must direct a certain amount of light down, and the lights must have an intensity low enough to keep light reflected toward the sky to a specific minimum. The laws were enacted to protect the work being done at the many telescopes in the mountains around here. It's dark in the city and out where we are, it's a lot darker. Very dark. I use all the light I can get, and that allows me to ride as fast as I want.

    As for what you need, only you can know. Light manufacturers don't always express light output by the same parameters or same units. If you can, try testing some lights at an LBS at night. It's getting to the time of year when that is feasible. I would suggest a helmet mounted light. Part of having a light is being seen, and I like being able to turn my head and look at drivers coming toward or sitting at intersections, so that my light hits their eyes. It makes it less likely that they'll violently renovate my bike or my skeleton.

    I've been eyeing the new offerings from Light and Motion, specifically the Seca line. I believe I see, in my future, a Seca 700.
     
  13. xtrainer

    xtrainer New Member

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    One brand you should definitely check out is Lupine from Germany. The lights are not cheap, but they are good.

    http://www.lupine.de/2009/en
     
  14. Powerful Pete

    Powerful Pete New Member

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    Fair enough on the lupines, but you are talking about stuff in the 800+ Euro range if I am not mistaken... :eek:
     
  15. xtrainer

    xtrainer New Member

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  16. Bob Ross

    Bob Ross New Member

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    fwiw, I have a Niterider MiNewt X2 Dual on my commuter bike, which allegedly puts out 300 lumens in high mode.

    300 lumens is more than enough for the darkest unlit roads I've ever had to ride on, and is way too much for 90% of the night riding I do. I almost never use the MiNewt in high mode.
     
  17. kleng

    kleng New Member

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    I'm using a Hope vision 4 led on the road, the high beam is 960 lumens but this is overkill unless there are no street lights.Usually on half power for double the duration.

    [​IMG]

    Cygolite dual cross (modded cree 5) on left and Hope on right
    [​IMG]
     
  18. m0rjc

    m0rjc New Member

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    I've just had a look at the Lumicycle Freeway and Apex. I've chosen the Apex in the end, which is the brighter, though it was not the maximum brightness that was important.

    Riding in complete darkness on roads and paths I find Apex's LOW mode at 160 Lumens is quite nice. I ended up using MID at 300 lumens on Freeway up to about 20mph, HIGH at 600 lumens above this. A lot depends on what other light sources there are, and what your eyes are used to. More power is useful in town if you want to fill the gaps between streetlights, unless the street lighting is good enough you only need the light to be seen. Freeway has a narrower beam so its 300 lumen MID level achieves this. Similarly Apex's 550 lumen MID with its wider beam.

    Riding faster on country lanes I found I used HIGH (600 lumens) on Freeway and MID (550 lumens) on Apex. Both of these were good to low 30s mph. Apex's wider beam makes cornering easier, though I expect I could learn to position myself to be able to place Freeway's spot where I need it.

    Lumens are not the most useful measure, because they do not account for the optics at all. Lux is more useful, but you'd need to be consistent about where this is measured. For example "Lux at 5 meters on-axis". Some of the german manufacturers try to keep the illumination on the road consistent so give "Lux on the road". The higher end Lumotec lights quote around 70 lux, and reviews claim them to be bright. Some lights I've seen have a very bright small centre spot and a weaker surround. The Lumicycles seem to graduate nicely so when pointed at the road ahead there is a nice graduation of light back to the bike.

    - Richard
     
  19. Scott2468

    Scott2468 Member

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    Yes, I agree. Lux is a more realistic measurement.

    I tested my lights for battery life about three years ago. (apologies for the small image I made on PDF. I am a computer dunce)

    [​IMG]

    This show an average of 600 lux (600 lumens / m2) at 4 metres. I have poor eyesight, especially at night. This gives me ample vision. In fact, I am equally confident with this light as the day time riding.

    (I should do this test again to see how worn my batteries are after two charges a week over three years.)
     
  20. alienator

    alienator Well-Known Member

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    Is that the average illuminance for the entire spot at 4m? I like what road.cc does. They give a plot beam shape and illuminance as a function of position in a cross section of the illuminated spot (@ 2m). Their labeling sucks, but it looks like their cross section is taken from left to right across the illuminated spot. Frankly, I don’t know that just giving illuminance at 2m as road.cc does or at 4m as you do is all that helpful. I’d really like to see cross sectional illuminance at several distances so that a reader could get a feel for beam falloff with distance. For road riding, especially at speed, I don’t think 2m or 4m are useful distances. I’d like to see illuminance at 20-30m as well. Here's the road.cc example: [IMG ALT=""]http://www.cyclingforums.com/content/type/61/id/295062/width/500/height/1000[/IMG]
     
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