Lighting systems

Discussion in 'Cycling Equipment' started by Thomps, Jul 28, 2004.

  1. Thomps

    Thomps Guest

    Experience on standard/HID light systems?
    I'm interested in a system sufficiently bright for riding roads and
    established trails (no bushwhacking, or other sorts of whacking).

    Thanks all.

    Thomps.
     
    Tags:


  2. Bill Lloyd

    Bill Lloyd Guest

    On 2004-07-28 22:05:18 -0700, "Thomps" <[email protected]> said:

    > Experience on standard/HID light systems?
    > I'm interested in a system sufficiently bright for riding roads and
    > established trails (no bushwhacking, or other sorts of whacking).


    Depends on what you're looking for. You'll probably still find a lot
    of "homebrewers" who insist paying $400 for a lighting system is
    ridiculous, when you can cobble something together for under $100.

    That said, I have nothing but the highest praise for the Lights &
    Motion HID systems. The beam pattern is EXCELLENT, and they're the
    brightest/best I've used.

    I have also used the NightRider HID systems (I believe it's called the
    Storm). It is a bit bulkier/heavier than the L&M, and it's darker. I
    have both (L&M on helmet, Storm on my bars) but if I were buying a new
    light I'd get another L&M for the handlebars.

    I've also had some reliability issues with the NightRider system
    (starter has gone bad twice on me), though NightRider has always been
    good with warranty issues for me. It's a good product, it's just that
    the L&M is outstanding.

    Cheers,

    -Bill
     
  3. Tim McNamara

    Tim McNamara Guest

    "Thomps" <[email protected]> writes:

    > Experience on standard/HID light systems? I'm interested in a
    > system sufficiently bright for riding roads and established trails
    > (no bushwhacking, or other sorts of whacking).


    HID lights are like using a blowtorch for soldering something. There
    are few situations in which I need such a bright light, indeed I find
    lights that bright are problematic. They prevent dark-adaptation of
    the retina by over-illuminating close surfaces.

    For road riding, I have found nothing that is superior to my Schmidt
    SON generator hub and Lumotec Oval lamp. While rated at 3 watts
    nominal, it lights up the road better than most 10 watt halogen
    battery powered systems. I've ridden literally all night long from
    dusk to dawn with it, in both rural and urban areas. In urban areas
    it's a bit washed out by streetlights and such; in dark urban areas it
    really comes into its own. Lighting is ample for 40 mph twisty
    descents. And it's nice to not have to worry about batteries on a 4
    to 6 or more hour ride.

    The lamp should be mounted low, just above the top of the tire, for
    best coverage and contrast. The higher the lamp, the less effective
    it is at showing the road surface- IMHO the bars are too high and
    helmet mounts are just way out as a primary light source.

    This system probably would not be good for trail riding where speeds
    are often low enough to cause flickering. For that type of riding,
    batteries make more sense than a generator, and more output may also
    be helpful.
     
  4. Mrvongole

    Mrvongole Guest


    >Subject: Re: Lighting systems
    >From: Tim McNamara


    >
    >HID lights are like using a blowtorch for soldering something. There
    >are few situations in which I need such a bright light, indeed I find
    >lights that bright are problematic. They prevent dark-adaptation of
    >the retina by over-illuminating close surfaces.


    A statement which is pointless, since you don't ride with an HID light (but
    congratulations for having such excellent night vision). My experience with the
    Light and Motion HID is that it's far superior to my previous Nite Rider, and
    yeah, it's bright, but better to see and be seen, than not seen at all

    .. >The lamp should be mounted low, just above the top of the tire, for
    >best coverage and contrast. The higher the lamp, the less effective
    >it is at showing the road surface


    Gee, kinda like a candle?

    >For road riding, I have found nothing that is superior to my Schmidt
    >SON generator hub and Lumotec Oval lamp


    Oh, methinks you should keep looking.....

    sorry, I don't mean to offend, and I just couldn't resist a little poke in the
    Ribs to ya, but HID sytems are awesome, and very much worth the $$$$$$ (ouch)
     
  5. Tim McNamara <[email protected]> wrote:
    >"Thomps" <[email protected]> writes:
    >>Experience on standard/HID light systems? I'm interested in a
    >>system sufficiently bright for riding roads and established trails
    >>(no bushwhacking, or other sorts of whacking).

    >For road riding, I have found nothing that is superior to my Schmidt
    >SON generator hub and Lumotec Oval lamp.


    I can name something; my Schmidt SON and Bisy FL lamp. :)

    But; the guy does plan to ride on trails, and while the setup I have is
    superb for road riding, it's not ideal on the occasional impromptu
    cyclocross expedition that poor navigation lands me on.
    --
    David Damerell <[email protected]> Distortion Field!
     
  6. R. Bowmar

    R. Bowmar Guest

    Dear Thomps.

    I have run support for my daughter for a couple of years at the 24 hours of
    Moab race and there is probably no better test of trail lighting systems.
    Most riders use the NiteRider systems, partially because NiteRider supports
    the riders with a truck full of computerized chargers and technicians to
    keep everything up and running. Ignoring cost, the HID systems seem to be
    the most desirable, both for brightness and long battery life. Even with
    partial sponsorship, the HIDs are expensive enough that my daughter opted
    for a dual halogen system with 3 of 4 settings to tailor the light and
    battery life to what was needed. She topped it with a helmet-mounted Petzl
    headlamp with a halogen bulb. Grinding slowly up hill vs. a fast technical
    descent obviously have different needs. If you need to work on the bike, how
    are you going to do it?

    Having tried doing it on the cheap the first year, I can assure you that the
    emotional state of the riders who suddenly found themselves in the dark in
    the middle of the desert made it clear that having adequate professionally
    made lighting was not just a good idea, but also an important safety and
    survival consideration. Some kind of backup also is important as even the
    best made system can still fail.

    There is much discussion about whether it is better to have lights on the
    bars or the helmet. Both seems to be the answer of those well-heeled enough
    to afford it. There is a great link
    http://grannygear.com/Skull/index.php3?thread=8 on the Granny Gear 24 Hours
    of Moab site discussing all matters of lighting, especially light placement.
    FYI The course consists of a mix of terrain from rough steep and rocky
    ascents and descents to fast sandy descents punctuated by the occasional
    boulder section, not to mention winding through some fairly tight pinon pine
    forest. Depending on skill, condition, and mechanical problems, laps last
    from just under an hour to 4 hours.




    "Thomps" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]
    > Experience on standard/HID light systems?
    > I'm interested in a system sufficiently bright for riding roads and
    > established trails (no bushwhacking, or other sorts of whacking).
    >
    > Thanks all.
    >
    > Thomps.
    >
    >
     
  7. Tim McNamara

    Tim McNamara Guest

    [email protected] (Mrvongole) writes:

    >>Subject: Re: Lighting systems From: Tim McNamara

    >
    >>
    >>HID lights are like using a blowtorch for soldering something.
    >>There are few situations in which I need such a bright light, indeed
    >>I find lights that bright are problematic. They prevent
    >>dark-adaptation of the retina by over-illuminating close surfaces.

    >
    > A statement which is pointless, since you don't ride with an HID
    > light (but congratulations for having such excellent night
    > vision). My experience with the Light and Motion HID is that it's
    > far superior to my previous Nite Rider, and yeah, it's bright, but
    > better to see and be seen, than not seen at all


    Gee, sorry to have offended you by stating something different than
    what you think. My night vision is about average, actually. It takes
    about 45 minutes for the retina to become dark adapted, and the overly
    bright illumination of near objects with high-powered lights prevents
    good dark-adaptation. That parodoxically makes it harder to see,
    leaving you always wanting more light.

    "Superior" has to be defined somehow- how are you defining it?
    Illumination coverage of the road? Oncoming cars flashing their
    brights at you because you're making it hard for them to see the road?
    Length of useable ride time? I saw lots of high powered lights at PBP
    this year, and my system provided much better illumination to ride by
    than theirs. I heard a lot of complaints from riders of eye fatigue
    from trying to see up the road outside of a circle of intensely bright
    light. With my light, I could see up the road, see the edges of the
    road, and could ride for 8 hours at night with no problems seeing.

    >>The lamp should be mounted low, just above the top of the tire, for
    >>best coverage and contrast. The higher the lamp, the less effective
    >>it is at showing the road surface

    >
    > Gee, kinda like a candle?


    WTF are you on about? This is simple optics for a point source
    focused beam. That is not analogous to a candle.

    >>For road riding, I have found nothing that is superior to my Schmidt
    >>SON generator hub and Lumotec Oval lamp

    >
    > Oh, methinks you should keep looking.....


    No, thanks. I've looked at all the available options in the past 18
    months in preparation for PBP and tried most of them. The system I
    have is the best for my needs. It's not affected by weather, has
    negligible drag, adds much less weight than a HID or high powered
    halogen battery light system, provides excellent illumination and can
    be used all night without thinking about batteries. Some of the
    high-powered systems would have required me to have four or five
    batteries to get through the night! If I was riding for only 60
    minutes in the dark, some of the other options might be acceptable.

    > sorry, I don't mean to offend, and I just couldn't resist a little
    > poke in the Ribs to ya, but HID sytems are awesome, and very much
    > worth the $$$$$$ (ouch)


    Perhaps with the $$$$$$ to you, not to me. The overly bright light
    making it paradoxically harder to see, less illumination coverage,
    lack of a reasonable run time without carrying spare batteries,
    excessive weight, and causing visibility problems for other road users
    make HID and high powered halogen systems a no-go for me. Even if the
    price was the same, I'd have bought the system I bought.
     
  8. Tim McNamara

    Tim McNamara Guest

    David Damerell <[email protected]> writes:

    > Tim McNamara <[email protected]> wrote:
    >>"Thomps" <[email protected]> writes:
    >>>Experience on standard/HID light systems? I'm interested in a
    >>>system sufficiently bright for riding roads and established trails
    >>>(no bushwhacking, or other sorts of whacking).

    >>
    >>For road riding, I have found nothing that is superior to my Schmidt
    >>SON generator hub and Lumotec Oval lamp.

    >
    > I can name something; my Schmidt SON and Bisy FL lamp. :)


    I didn't like the BiSY's beam pattern- too focused to the center
    without enough illumination to the sides of the road. I prefer the
    Lumotec's more gentle and broader light pattern.

    > But; the guy does plan to ride on trails, and while the setup I have
    > is superb for road riding, it's not ideal on the occasional
    > impromptu cyclocross expedition that poor navigation lands me on.


    I wasn't sure what he meant by "established trails" e.g., established
    single track or a paved trail or a canal towpath or... Hence my
    caveat about this not being a good system for off-road use.
     
  9. Werehatrack

    Werehatrack Guest

    On Thu, 29 Jul 2004 00:05:18 -0500, "Thomps" <[email protected]>
    wrote:

    >Experience on standard/HID light systems?
    >I'm interested in a system sufficiently bright for riding roads and
    >established trails (no bushwhacking, or other sorts of whacking).


    "Sufficiently bright" is a matter of opinion and visual acuity.

    HID lights tend to be much brighter, and far more expensive, than
    others. I have yet to find an inexpensive (as in, under US$40)
    conventional (halogen or otherwise) bike headlight that provides
    enough brilliance to allow me to to see small obstacles clearly on
    typical Houston city streets at speeds of 10mph or more. None throw
    enough luight to illuminate potholes and bumps adequately in my
    personal opinion. Some HID headlamps throw more than enough light,
    but I have less need for night riding capability than I have need for
    their cost elsewhere, so I haven't bought one.

    If I had the need and budget, HID with a rechargable battery pack
    would be my choice.
    --
    Typoes are a feature, not a bug.
    Some gardening required to reply via email.
    Words processed in a facility that contains nuts.
     
  10. Tim McNamara

    Tim McNamara Guest

    Werehatrack <[email protected]> writes:

    > On Thu, 29 Jul 2004 00:05:18 -0500, "Thomps" <[email protected]>
    > wrote:
    >
    >>Experience on standard/HID light systems? I'm interested in a
    >>system sufficiently bright for riding roads and established trails
    >>(no bushwhacking, or other sorts of whacking).

    >
    > "Sufficiently bright" is a matter of opinion and visual acuity.
    >
    > HID lights tend to be much brighter, and far more expensive, than
    > others. I have yet to find an inexpensive (as in, under US$40)
    > conventional (halogen or otherwise) bike headlight that provides
    > enough brilliance to allow me to to see small obstacles clearly on
    > typical Houston city streets at speeds of 10mph or more. None throw
    > enough luight to illuminate potholes and bumps adequately in my
    > personal opinion.


    Huh. And I find a 3 watt system adequate for riding from dusk to dawn
    at speeds of up to 35 mph downhill. Go figure. I don't think it's
    about visual acuity, though- I wear glasses and have 20/400 vision and
    have no trouble seeing at night with my setup (Schmidt hub and Lumotec
    Oval lamp). I discussed the issue as I see it (no pun intended) in
    another post.

    I'm curious as to where your headlight(s) is(are) mounted on your bike
    or person. As I mentioned in another post, a low mounting (at the
    fork crown, or even lower) is beneficial in bringing out the texture
    of the road surface. Jan Heine mounted his lamp at the front axle,
    much lower than mine. The French tended to mount the lamps on a rack
    below the top of the tire or on the very front of the front fender,
    but most riders no longer use fenders or front racks.
     
  11. Werehatrack

    Werehatrack Guest

    On Fri, 30 Jul 2004 17:20:35 -0500, Tim McNamara
    <[email protected]> wrote:

    >Werehatrack <[email protected]> writes:
    >
    >> "Sufficiently bright" is a matter of opinion and visual acuity.
    >>
    >> HID lights tend to be much brighter, and far more expensive, than
    >> others. I have yet to find an inexpensive (as in, under US$40)
    >> conventional (halogen or otherwise) bike headlight that provides
    >> enough brilliance to allow me to to see small obstacles clearly on
    >> typical Houston city streets at speeds of 10mph or more. None throw
    >> enough luight to illuminate potholes and bumps adequately in my
    >> personal opinion.

    >
    >Huh. And I find a 3 watt system adequate for riding from dusk to dawn
    >at speeds of up to 35 mph downhill. Go figure. I don't think it's
    >about visual acuity, though- I wear glasses and have 20/400 vision and
    >have no trouble seeing at night with my setup (Schmidt hub and Lumotec
    >Oval lamp). I discussed the issue as I see it (no pun intended) in
    >another post.


    It's a YMMV issue for a lot of reasons.

    >I'm curious as to where your headlight(s) is(are) mounted on your bike
    >or person. As I mentioned in another post, a low mounting (at the
    >fork crown, or even lower) is beneficial in bringing out the texture
    >of the road surface. Jan Heine mounted his lamp at the front axle,
    >much lower than mine. The French tended to mount the lamps on a rack
    >below the top of the tire or on the very front of the front fender,
    >but most riders no longer use fenders or front racks.


    I started with the light mounted above the handlebar, added a second
    unit below it at a shallower angle and got to the point that I could
    stop within the lit distance at moderately liesurely paces even when
    there was loose gravel present (which is a lot of the time around
    here), but no better than that.

    I also have a Puch with a generator light that's mounted beside the
    top of the front wheel; it doesn't do any better.

    Part of the problem here is the wild variance in ambient darkness
    levels and paving hue; we have a seemingly mix of patched asphalt,
    patched concrete, potholes that appear *lighter* than the surrounding
    surface, and (of course) random debris. To make matters worse, too
    many of the local car drivers seem to have aimed their headlights high
    enough to read street signs with, and there are very few places where
    there's no automotive traffic present.
    --
    Typoes are a feature, not a bug.
    Some gardening required to reply via email.
    Words processed in a facility that contains nuts.
     
  12. Tim McNamara

    Tim McNamara Guest

    Werehatrack <[email protected]> writes:

    > On Fri, 30 Jul 2004 17:20:35 -0500, Tim McNamara
    > <[email protected]> wrote:
    >
    >>Werehatrack <[email protected]> writes:
    >>
    >>> "Sufficiently bright" is a matter of opinion and visual acuity.
    >>>
    >>> HID lights tend to be much brighter, and far more expensive, than
    >>> others. I have yet to find an inexpensive (as in, under US$40)
    >>> conventional (halogen or otherwise) bike headlight that provides
    >>> enough brilliance to allow me to to see small obstacles clearly on
    >>> typical Houston city streets at speeds of 10mph or more. None
    >>> throw enough luight to illuminate potholes and bumps adequately in
    >>> my personal opinion.

    >>
    >>Huh. And I find a 3 watt system adequate for riding from dusk to
    >>dawn at speeds of up to 35 mph downhill. Go figure. I don't think
    >>it's about visual acuity, though- I wear glasses and have 20/400
    >>vision and have no trouble seeing at night with my setup (Schmidt
    >>hub and Lumotec Oval lamp). I discussed the issue as I see it (no
    >>pun intended) in another post.

    >
    > It's a YMMV issue for a lot of reasons.


    Yeah, to an extent anyway. More to do with ambient lighting
    conditions I suspect than visual acuity. Although some people do
    indeed have better night vision than others, most people never have a
    chance to fully dark-adapt except when they're trying to sleep.

    >>I'm curious as to where your headlight(s) is(are) mounted on your
    >>bike or person. As I mentioned in another post, a low mounting (at
    >>the fork crown, or even lower) is beneficial in bringing out the
    >>texture of the road surface. Jan Heine mounted his lamp at the
    >>front axle, much lower than mine. The French tended to mount the
    >>lamps on a rack below the top of the tire or on the very front of
    >>the front fender, but most riders no longer use fenders or front
    >>racks.

    >
    > I started with the light mounted above the handlebar, added a second
    > unit below it at a shallower angle and got to the point that I could
    > stop within the lit distance at moderately liesurely paces even when
    > there was loose gravel present (which is a lot of the time around
    > here), but no better than that.
    >
    > I also have a Puch with a generator light that's mounted beside the
    > top of the front wheel; it doesn't do any better.


    Interesting! I would have expected this to do significnatly better,
    from my experience at least.

    > Part of the problem here is the wild variance in ambient darkness
    > levels and paving hue; we have a seemingly mix of patched asphalt,
    > patched concrete, potholes that appear *lighter* than the
    > surrounding surface, and (of course) random debris.


    Such features make it difficult to extract adequate information from
    the road surface, even during the day in some cases. Fortunately our
    roads seem to be in somewhat better repair (most of the time- there
    are some exceptions).

    > To make matters worse, too many of the local car drivers seem to
    > have aimed their headlights high enough to read street signs with,
    > and there are very few places where there's no automotive traffic
    > present.


    I call 'em "owl hunting lights." The light shining in your eyes
    interferes with night vision. I find it easier to see out on rural
    roads at night where there is a minimum of street lights, headlights,
    etc.
     
  13. Tim McNamara wrote:

    > Werehatrack <[email protected]> writes:
    >
    >>
    >>I also have a Puch with a generator light that's mounted beside the
    >>top of the front wheel; it doesn't do any better.

    >
    >
    > Interesting! I would have expected this to do significnatly better,
    > from my experience at least.


    I wonder what sort of headlamp he's using. In my experience, the
    variation in lamp optics is more important than the variation in
    generator output.

    The first generator I used had lousy optics, but it was a salvage store
    cheapie. The better one that followed also had lousy optics. When I
    replaced its lamp with a better one, things really began working for me.


    Regarding the HID fans, especially those who advocate them for road use:
    is there _any_ level of light output that you'd call "too bright"?

    I get the feeling that some cyclists are in some sort of a lumen war,
    and would use nuclear-powered aircraft landing lights if only they'd fit
    on their bike. To me, there _is_ such a thing as overkill!


    --
    --------------------+
    Frank Krygowski [To reply, remove rodent and vegetable dot com,
    replace with cc.ysu dot edu]
     
  14. Werehatrack

    Werehatrack Guest

    On Sat, 31 Jul 2004 18:57:11 -0400, Frank Krygowski
    <[email protected]> wrote:

    >I get the feeling that some cyclists are in some sort of a lumen war,
    >and would use nuclear-powered aircraft landing lights if only they'd fit
    >on their bike. To me, there _is_ such a thing as overkill!


    Something with a light output that makes it capable of heating the
    back of the neck of the driver of the pickup that nearly ran me off
    the road would be just about adequate. Preferably "heating to the
    point of flash vaporization".

    Seriously, though, I have (by short-term experiment) concluded that
    for me, in my local conditions, the output of a 60W halogen bulb,
    given a suitable reflector and lens, is adequate. That's enough to
    even out and adequately supplement the lighting in the areas where
    streetlights destroy night vision while failing to illuminate road
    details, and it's more than adequate for areas where there's no light
    to begin with.

    Oddly enough, the typical automotive headlamp bulb uses about 60W.
    --
    Typoes are a feature, not a bug.
    Some gardening required to reply via email.
    Words processed in a facility that contains nuts.
     
  15. jmm

    jmm New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2003
    Messages:
    36
    Likes Received:
    0
    > ...areas where streetlights destroy night vision
    > while failing to illuminate road details...

    Couldn't have said it better, and that is why I use my L&M Arc HID almost exclusively when riding in urban settings. As others have said, decent range from the central beam pattern, AND a bright and wide enough spill area to help when turning. I run on the low power setting 95% of the time for a little (very little) extra battery life, and the lower illumination level is not dramatic. I also have older Cateye and Nite Rider HIDs, but greatly prefer the L&M Arc beam pattern.

    I've also been playing with one of the new ~3 watt Performance/Night Hawk LED units in more remote areas with lower ambient light levels as it's feeble by comparison to the HIDs, and way to focused to provide much sense of trailside detail or be of any real help on turns.

    I don't buy into any of the bar OR helmet mount arguments. If you're going to ride extensively at night it's really nice to have BOTH, if for no other reason than backup. I use Nite Rider Digital Evolution and L&M Solo Logic halogen units on my helmets rather than HIDs, as I like the the "instant on" extra range and directable beam they provide when desired.

    I have used hub and "BB mount" generators in the past, with a variety of lightheads, and can understand their attraction for something like PBP IF you can live with their light output, but I'm old and simply need more light than they can offer now.

    John
     
  16. Werehatrack wrote:

    >
    >
    > Seriously, though, I have (by short-term experiment) concluded that
    > for me, in my local conditions, the output of a 60W halogen bulb,
    > given a suitable reflector and lens, is adequate. That's enough to
    > even out and adequately supplement the lighting in the areas where
    > streetlights destroy night vision while failing to illuminate road
    > details, and it's more than adequate for areas where there's no light
    > to begin with.
    >
    > Oddly enough, the typical automotive headlamp bulb uses about 60W.


    Seriously???

    My BMW motorcycle has a 55 watt halogen bulb. I ride it at night on two
    lane roads at 55 mph and feel adequately safe.

    My bicycles typically have three watt bulbs, well focused, and are
    almost always perfectly adequate. I've _never_ wanted more than six
    watts, well focused.


    --
    --------------------+
    Frank Krygowski [To reply, remove rodent and vegetable dot com,
    replace with cc.ysu dot edu]
     
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