Light recommendation?



jbylake

New Member
Apr 1, 2016
10
2
3
N. KY (USA)
I've done so many google searches my head is spinning, and the reviews I read are so contradicting of each other, that I've nearly giving up, but I thought I'd try here first.

I need a light that has a great amount of power (lumens) and can balance that with long life. (15-24 hours, full power).

I understand that power and battery usage are pretty much inversely proportional, but I'm finding lights in the 500 Lumen plus category, with a "High" setting life of 1.5 hours, and maybe 24 hour battery life on "low".

Due to a severe neck injury almost 3 years ago, I've been out of riding for , well, that long. At my age, and history of injuries (mostly military related), I've decided on a "hybrid" bike, being the best thing for my age and physical limits. I plan on doing dirt/gravel road paths, from 8 to 20 miles, until I can get my stamina back to doing long, rides, that would include long, dark dirt/gravel bike paths.

What I need is a compromise between power/battery life. I'd like to have at least 1-300 Lumens with a minimum of 12 hours of use on high power. The reason is simple. If I'm by myself, it's dark and 10 or so miles to the trail head and my bike is broken or I'm injured, and have to push my bike, or set in place in the dark until I might have enough daylight to flag someone down, or see another rider(s) 12 hours should last me through any night.

Again, I realize the compromise between power and battery life is always going to be a factor, I thought maybe some others may know of the best compromise.

All experience based replies will be greatly appreciated, and you have my sincere thanks in advance.

J.
 

Weatherby

Well-Known Member
Mar 20, 2015
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Fenix BT20 with Panasonic 18650 batteries will run 8 hours at 300 lumens. That is all I need for 600km rides but I carry a spare set of batteries. Two batteries weigh 92 grams. A dynamo system might serve you better but my setup serves my needs fine but 3400aH batteries are key. It will run 20+ hours on low power of 100 lumens
 
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jbylake

New Member
Apr 1, 2016
10
2
3
N. KY (USA)
Fenix BT20 with Panasonic 18650 batteries will run 8 hours at 300 lumens. That is all I need for 600km rides but I carry a spare set of batteries. Two batteries weigh 92 grams. A dynamo system might serve you better but my setup serves my needs fine but 3400aH batteries are key. It will run 20+ hours on low power of 100 lumens
Great! I'll check that out. That's about as good or better than I expected I would find as far as output/batt. life. Spare batteries, and I should be able to set out a whole night if the need occurred. reply appreciated.
J.
 

Gnufrau

Well-Known Member
Nov 21, 2015
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28
How about a hybrid system? For your main light a dynamo system, with a flashlight as a backup?
For example: on the bike you can use this headlight, coupled with this bottle generator (or you can use a dynamo hub)

The advantages to a dynamo hub are that they provide more power with more efficiency while the downsides are that they are more expensive, and you need to get them built into a custom front wheel.

The bottle or side-wall generator has the advantage of being cheaper, but they tear up the tire and provide less power. The lighting system I built for my bike is a bit more robust than this, but it is also built on the "no overkill" principle. That is simply that "There is no overkill. There is only open fire and time to reload."

You may have noticed that all of the links I pointed to are German. If you have ever been stationed over there, you will likely know that they simply do not play when it comes to the lighting on their bikes. . . .

I was Army, what branch did you serve in?
 

jbylake

New Member
Apr 1, 2016
10
2
3
N. KY (USA)
How about a hybrid system? For your main light a dynamo system, with a flashlight as a backup?
For example: on the bike you can use this headlight, coupled with this bottle generator (or you can use a dynamo hub)

The advantages to a dynamo hub are that they provide more power with more efficiency while the downsides are that they are more expensive, and you need to get them built into a custom front wheel.

The bottle or side-wall generator has the advantage of being cheaper, but they tear up the tire and provide less power. The lighting system I built for my bike is a bit more robust than this, but it is also built on the "no overkill" principle. That is simply that "There is no overkill. There is only open fire and time to reload."

You may have noticed that all of the links I pointed to are German. If you have ever been stationed over there, you will likely know that they simply do not play when it comes to the lighting on their bikes. . . .

I was Army, what branch did you serve in?
Air Force, GnuFrau.:)

I'm thinking of one or two systems, that both give 6 hours of light at a medium of 300 lumens, which for a gravel/dirt/broken asphalt trail, will be more than enough. (In this part of the country, critters that are a bit grouchy, are a bit of a problem, but during my mil career, I spent enough time outdoors with ****** of critters, that that bit of anxiety isn't a big deal. The 6 hours I'm looking at, is in case of a wreck or bad break down. That would give me enough light to get me to daylight.

My time in Germany was never continuous, I was mostly always "passing through" (PM if you really want to know), and I'm not really up on the German bike scene.

Thanks for your input and for sharing your experience and knowledge.

J.:D
 

Gnufrau

Well-Known Member
Nov 21, 2015
199
74
28
If you take a look at the Busch & Müller site (I pointed to a headlight and a bottle dynamo), they also have good rechargeable headlights as well. One I can recommend is the IXON core. If you couple that with an external battery backup, that should give you plenty of run time also. It lists at 3 hours at full power(50 lux), or 15 at low power(12 lux). That should cover you for your overnight scenario. As I use my bike for travel (Touring), I have need of a lighting system that I will never have to worry about the condition of the batteries. I personally use the dynamo hub and a headlight that produces 80lux over a very large area. Of course, I compliment this with a tail-light that is also powered by the dynamo. Oh, and the dynamo will also be powering my cell phone (providing me with cycling-computer, GPS, music, and communications) all without having to worry about battery levels. Ever. Even a rechargeable battery will wear out over time. The newer LED based dynamo lights use capacitors to power the light while you are standing still, so you are still visible even then.
My "take no prisoners" lighting system:
SON28 dynamo hub (see link above)
Busch & Müller Cyo T Premium senso plus that produces this beam pattern.
Busch & Müller TOPLIGHT line brake plus
And I'll be putting my phone in this.
This leaves the only batteries as the ones in the flashing rear lights that I will attach to my panniers and rack trunk, along with spares for the light in the foul weather jacket I also carry. When you consider that the flashing tail lights have a run-time of close to a month of constant use. . .

You have been asking about lights that produce a certain number of lumens, which is actually the wrong measurement for a light that you will have to see by in the dark. Lumens is light quantiny, where what you really need is lux, which is light density. Lux is actually Lumens per square meter. As a result, if you have the same number of lumens, but one light is focused better it will provide better illumination than one that is not as well focused.
 

Froze

Well-Known Member
Jul 13, 2004
4,711
756
83
NE Indiana
The new bottle generators do not tear up sidewalls like the ones years ago did, but they still don't put out as much power as a hub style will but they are much higher quality then they use to be and thus do cost more then they use to but no where near as much as a hub system. You can read about them here: http://www.dutchbikebits.com/nordlicht-dynamo
 

Weatherby

Well-Known Member
Mar 20, 2015
508
194
28
Lux is fine and dandy except they don't tell you at what distance from the light source that they measure the light density. I prefers to know the lumens or wattage and to judge the beam pattern according to my riding style. Color or tone of the beam is also important as some are a harsh white light that produces eye fatigue on long rides. YMMV. Mountain bike rider has good lighting reviews.

Where the beam is pointed and shaped is more important than the absolute light intensity in my opinion. Many of the generator lights of recent times are too narrow and lack throw although they have a nice bright center spot. The new IX100 looks promising in that regard.

Another important consideration is the background light. When I am riding out in the country and it is dark everywhere, the lowest setting of my battery lights is more than sufficient because my eyes are fully dark adjusted. Age is also a factor. My son can see a deer across the field in the dark when I cannot. At around 2 am one dark evening, I came upon a corner into a flashing rail crossing light that seemed blindingly bright. OTOH, riding is urban areas, I prefer brighter settings because my eyes are less sensitive due to the light pollution of the urban landscape.

There are advantages and disadvantages of battery lighting systems compared to dynamo systems but in terms of wide and throw of the beam, I have not seen any dynamo system better than my battery system and carrying a spare set of batteries makes my overall system almost as heavy as a dynamo system in total without losing 6 watts drag. It is indeed a minor nuissance changing batteries on a 1200k but one set is usually fine on a 600k. i sometimes just carry two battery sets cased and just change the plug. Two main drawbacks to dynamo systems are cost and difficulty moving the system from one bike to the next. A German dynamo, brackets, headlamp, and a new wheel to house the dynamo will run in the $700-1000 range whereas my BT20 and 2 sets of batteries were $110 all in. I have to carry an auxilliary battery for the Garmin for rides longer than 13 hours or I need to charge it during a stop. The real very serious drawback to battery lights for on road use is the limited choices to shaped beams although the Fenix BT20 has some shaping although for riding on trails or offroad, this is not a disadvantage because you want to see branches overhead or branches sticking out at you. Where I live, seeing deer at the side of the road was one of my light selection criteria. I don't mind the battery inconvenience but then again I don't mind pumping my latex tubed tires up on every ride.

If you take a look at the Busch & Müller site (I pointed to a headlight and a bottle dynamo), they also have good rechargeable headlights as well. One I can recommend is the IXON core. If you couple that with an external battery backup, that should give you plenty of run time also. It lists at 3 hours at full power(50 lux), or 15 at low power(12 lux). That should cover you for your overnight scenario. As I use my bike for travel (Touring), I have need of a lighting system that I will never have to worry about the condition of the batteries. I personally use the dynamo hub and a headlight that produces 80lux over a very large area. Of course, I compliment this with a tail-light that is also powered by the dynamo. Oh, and the dynamo will also be powering my cell phone (providing me with cycling-computer, GPS, music, and communications) all without having to worry about battery levels. Ever. Even a rechargeable battery will wear out over time. The newer LED based dynamo lights use capacitors to power the light while you are standing still, so you are still visible even then.
My "take no prisoners" lighting system:
SON28 dynamo hub (see link above)
Busch & Müller Cyo T Premium senso plus that produces this beam pattern.
Busch & Müller TOPLIGHT line brake plus
And I'll be putting my phone in this.
This leaves the only batteries as the ones in the flashing rear lights that I will attach to my panniers and rack trunk, along with spares for the light in the foul weather jacket I also carry. When you consider that the flashing tail lights have a run-time of close to a month of constant use. . .

You have been asking about lights that produce a certain number of lumens, which is actually the wrong measurement for a light that you will have to see by in the dark. Lumens is light quantiny, where what you really need is lux, which is light density. Lux is actually Lumens per square meter. As a result, if you have the same number of lumens, but one light is focused better it will provide better illumination than one that is not as well focused.
 

Froze

Well-Known Member
Jul 13, 2004
4,711
756
83
NE Indiana
I agree with Weatherbe, the only time a dynamo system would be the thing to have is if you're touring and expect to run in darkness, then you don't have to worry about batteries, but also with the right dynamo system you can use it to recharge your cell phone and other small electronics while you ride in the daytime when you're not using the lights. That stuff could be an advantage, but for commuting not so much. I use rechargeable lights without any worries about night time runtime.
 

Gnufrau

Well-Known Member
Nov 21, 2015
199
74
28
Note: I did also point out a good rechargeable headlight, and a means of recharging it on the road. I simply prefer dynamos for myself. The light I'm getting has a nice wide beam pattern, and unlimited travelling time. Thissystem is for my touring bike. My sport bike will have the rechargeable light and I will carry an auxiliary battery pack to keep the phone topped up. If the light turns out to need topping up, the auxiliary pack has the capacity to handle that as well. The OP did not mention the need for swapping the light between several bikes, so that was not a consideration in my original message.
 

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