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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have been considering buying a small, handlebar-mounted light for commuting for a year or so, but am unsure of what to get. I do not want the fancy ones with a battery in the bottle cage, but a self-contained unit. I realize that LED is much more efficient battery-wise, but what do I really need?

I only have 13 miles to work, but it is along a state highway, and I leave VERY early in the morning, as I have to be at work at 5:30 AM. I already have an LED taillight, with multiple settings.
 

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IMO, you need more than a small light. And, alas, small is the only thing you're going to get with LEDs and no caged batteries.

There is an alternative, however. Get a wheel built up with a Shimano generator hub--the hub is around $90, get your choice of rim. Then get a Lumotec headlight (about $25) and pop a 3w bulb into it.

The nicest thing about generator lights (IMO) is that they don't dim, as long as you're riding. 20 hours into a decent LED light, the battery is putting out a lot less power, and the LED, a lot less light. You don't notice it, because it happens slowly, but it happens.

With a generator, you've always got a decent power level, and generator lights are well-designed to take advantage of 3w.

You will still need a small flasher (I use a white Cateye on my helmet) so you don't vanish at stop signs, etc., but the generator lets me see the road. And lets others see me, very, very well.
 

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Not sure why you object to the bottle cage battery--is it the loss of the bottle cage, or the "complexity" of the system? If it's the former, there are systems with batteries that mount on the top tube (or maybe you just need a second cage :rolleyes: :D ); if it's the latter, well--do you want output or simpicity? The impression of LED lights that I've come away with is that they're great for being seen, but not so good for seeing. I've yet to try one that I'd feel comfortable replacing my halogen lights with. Cost also comes to mind; you can actually get a respectable halogen setup (I'm thinking of the Cygolites) for not much more than the price of one of the really "good" LED lights, and you won't be popping for batteries, either.
 

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I've been commuting with a small led light, and just recently bought a 10 watt halogen. OMG, what a difference. don't get me wrong. The led is very nice...,for what it is. You can't really use it to see, and over the last couple of years, I've had countless close calls with cars that couldn't see me either.

The 10 w Nighthawk I bought is very bright, easy to see by at any commuting speed up to 30 mph. These are usually quite expensive and start at aroung $100+. I bought mine from Performance for $39. They may still have them on sale.
 

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slowmo1 said:
I have been considering buying a small, handlebar-mounted light for commuting for a year or so, but am unsure of what to get. I do not want the fancy ones with a battery in the bottle cage, but a self-contained unit. I realize that LED is much more efficient battery-wise, but what do I really need?

I only have 13 miles to work, but it is along a state highway, and I leave VERY early in the morning, as I have to be at work at 5:30 AM. I already have an LED taillight, with multiple settings.
Check out Peter White Cycles for dyno hubs. He just built up a Shimano 3N70 and a Schmidt for me. While the Schmidt is still better, the new Shimano is significantly improved over the previous NX-30.
 

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I know you dont want to hear this, but I'd go with the Bottle cage battery light.

I've tried the handle bar light. It was ok, but for night-time, it just wouldnt cut it.

I have a simular commute and sometimes have to do it at night. I will never settle for anything less then my 10/6 Watt nightrider.

Safety is a big issue, and so is seeing all the crap on the road, like glass, logs, dead animales, ect...

Even more important is that everyone sees you.

Your life is well worth, more then the cost of a good light...
 

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Back when I used to commute in the dark, I used both a dynohub light and a bottle-cage battery light. The dynohub light was always there, even if it wasn't the brightest light around. The battery-pack light was very bright, but the batteries wouldn't hold more than 2 hours total charge, so I just used that light for the fast downhill stretches.
 

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"Cypress Gardens" Fl.
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Cateye EL 300

I still use my Cateye "EL 300" LED as my back up light and it's not a bad light. I used it exclusively for several years on my commute until I built my homemade pvc light. It is self contained with 4 AA batteries and has 5 LED's in the unit. Projects a five to seven foot beam about 15 feet and does pretty good really. It's not great, but it's good. The main thing I liked about it was the batteries lasted a long time. If you dont ride fast it will do o.k, providing enough illumination for safe 13 mph rides. I think I paid around $30 bucks for it from my LBS.

Now if you really want something to light up the road.........

http://forums.roadbikereview.com/showthread.php?t=57384
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I have liked the EL-300 since it came out several years ago, and have thought it would serve. Ride fast? I wish! As big as I am, and since I am still getting into cycling, my average speed is about 13.6 mph. I appreciate all the comments, especially the ones that tell me what I don't want to hear in this particular situation. That's why I specified "experience"!:D I will continue to consider these options.
 

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My commuter has a $300 frame and fork, a $20 seatpost, $35 handlebars, and $35 brakes. The brakes are tektro with koolstop pads. I have a $400 light system. There were parts that I went cheap on, and others that I would not. I see it this way, my morning commute is in complete darkness with last part on a very busy roadway. I want to be seen. I also ride quickly through one section so I want to see what is ahead on the MUT. For me, a HID headlight and 16 LED tailight both running from the same bottle battery does the job. My battery will provide 4 hours of headlight from a <3 hour charge. On more than one occassion I have had a co-worker tell me that they thought I was a motorcycle because of my headlight.
 

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wooglin said:
Light and Motion Vega. Given the requirements of the OP it seems like a no-brainer to me.

http://www.bikelights.com/Products/vega.htm
Only 85 lumens compared to 675 for the ARC, though. I agree with bigbill on this one. I started off with a cheap light and switching to a HID made a huge difference. It was well worth the admittedly large amount of money I spent. I leave my house at 5am when I ride to work and most of my ride is on roads or MUTs that have no lights. I feel much safer and can see much better with the HID than the previous system I had. Maybe the Vega will be fine for what slowmo1 needs, but I would have been better off just paying for the expensive HID light in the first place.
 

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Got to agree with bigbill. Tried all the led's out there and finally settled on TrailTech Dual HIDs. Has the halogen equivalent of 78 watts and with the $100 poly-Li-ion battery I've a run time of 3 hrs. Just for extra safety I have 2 red led auto style taillights in the rear and 2 yellow ones up front that I power off another battery, so when the main headlight battery goes out I always have the running light one with juice to get me home. Had a cop pull me over to tell me how impressed he was with my rolling light show. We talked for about 15 min. about the setup, so to those who think HIDs are too bright and disorienting for the average motorist, there's an opinion from a safety professional.
 

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visibility or sight? budget?

for your own sight at night a 'normal' LED only puts out moonlight, and may not be sufficient to illuminate obstacles. does your commute have street lights the entire way? i'm not familiar with the light output of the HID, so i defer to those who do.

one thing i do know about HID lights, though, is cost. it's not just a few hundred bucks to purchase. since they run on batteries, and those batteries may only last a year or two, you might want to check replacement battery prices. my wife and i both had Niterider batteries fail a couple years ago. each would have cost a hundred bucks to replace, which amounted to approximately 80% of the retail price of the whole setup! so call the manufacturer and ask them about battery replacement prices if you want a true picture of the long term cost.

can you tell i'm a fan of dynohubs? a 3 watt halogen bulb running off a Shimano or SON dynohub provides similar illumination as a 10 watt battery light - except in a narrower focused beam for road use only. the SON dynohubs' first service interval is predicted at 50,000 km, so don't worry about maintenance costs. the halogen bulbs cost perhaps ten or fifteen bucks. peter white's website, and sheldon brown, discuss these alternatives...
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Well, I did finally get a light. Thanks to everyone who offered advice! I ended up with the 5-watt Nite Rider Nomad, which is powered off standard batteries in a frame-mounted pack. I will invest in rechargeable batteries, and we will see how this one does.
 

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slowmo1 said:
Well, I did finally get a light. Thanks to everyone who offered advice! I ended up with the 5-watt Nite Rider Nomad, which is powered off standard batteries in a frame-mounted pack. I will invest in rechargeable batteries, and we will see how this one does.
Not a bad start. The standard 3 watt lights just dont cut it. I hope the 5 watt works out for your situation. I love rechargable batteries they are always a great investment and serve many uses.

Let us know how it works for you..

Cheers :thumbsup:
 

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Speaking of lights and such

Was thinking back to my younger days when we had the generator lights, the ones that rubbed the sidewall. Was looking about the various sites I have bookmarked and saw from yellowjersey.org, a swiss made generator light for $119, think that includes mounts, and then you pick a headlight which varies widely in price. Seems the latest versions of the bottle style generators are highly efficient, low drag units. Some have a resistor that allows the light to burn after you stop for several minutes. You can always pair these with a mini lite or helmet mounted lamp. A little cheaper than the hub generator, probably a little heavier. I'm not a battery/recharge kinda rider.
 
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