Author Topic: Best Headlamps / Handlebar lamps  (Read 8403 times)

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Offline schellerl

Best Headlamps / Handlebar lamps
« on: November 25, 2007, 10:50:21 pm »
Hi Everyone,
I am looking to begin doing night riding - What is the best headlamps / handlebar lamps that are available? Your comments are obviously welcome.
Lisa
 :)


Offline whittierider

Best Headlamps / Handlebar lamps
« Reply #1 on: November 26, 2007, 01:58:10 am »
What price range?  The brightest ones are several hundred dollars and, if HID or halogen, usually require forfeiting a water bottle to hold the big battery pack in the water bottle cage.  The brightest LED ones like the Cateye Triple Shot are also up there in price and I understand they definitely compete in brightness, but their battery pack is smaller and straps to the frame, right behind the head tube.

But for around $50, you can get Cateye's best self-contained LED headlight, the EL-530 (see http://www.cateye.com/en/product_detail/345 ), which is very good for seeing where you're going, unlike the LED headlights of just a few years ago.  It is small and light, and a set of four AA batteries will last dozens of hours.  It unclips in an instant for daytime rides where you don't want it.

Our family has several older-generation EL-200's and EL-300's which are not as bright as the EL-530 yet were a couple of the first ones that were actually useful for seeing where you're going, not just being seen.  LEDs are advancing so quickly it's worth updating every couple of years.


Offline JayH

Best Headlamps / Handlebar lamps
« Reply #2 on: November 26, 2007, 10:44:29 am »
I can't comment on what's the best since I can't afford the $350+ headlamps that i see that are for sale, but I have seen the Cateye El-530s and the series and they seem to have good specs but they don't have a blink mode, they seem to have a lo and hi power mode but when I was looking for a basic AA battery handlebar light, the Cateyes looked nice but be aware they don't have a blink mode so if this is a "be seen" light, then be aware.

Jay



Offline whittierider

Best Headlamps / Handlebar lamps
« Reply #3 on: November 26, 2007, 01:45:17 pm »
Quote
the Cateyes looked nice but be aware they don't have a blink mode

Good point.  The brightest ones don't.  But the lower ones do, and I like to have a couple of lights on the bar, partly for reliability and partly to have one flashing and the other steady.  The EL-135 has a flashing mode and 320 hours battery life in that mode.  The EL-220 has a flashing mode, but the Cateye website does not tell what the battery life is.  The EL-320 has a flashing mode also, and is nearly as bright as the EL-530.  The tiny EL-410 has a flashing mode, but it's not bright enough to use as the primary headlight to see where you're going.


Offline WesternFlyer

Best Headlamps / Handlebar lamps
« Reply #4 on: November 26, 2007, 04:56:48 pm »
Lisa,

Try the REI website http://www.rei.com/.  REI has easy to use comparisons of many categories of products they sell.  They compare a vast array of bike lights from very, very expensive to the more proletarian models like I use, Cat Eye HL-EL410 front light (there are better lights out now for a little more money).  They sell very little junk.  They do independent testing on many of their products, but I don't know if they do it for lights.  They do try to compare apples and oranges by  using a common vocabulary, which cuts through some of the manufactures hype.

If you are considering taillights.  I use the eye Cat Eye TL-LD1100 rear bike light.  From the comments I receive from passing motorist it is very visible.

May the light shine all around you.

Western Flyer
Western Flyer

We must ride light and swift.  It is a long road ahead.

King Theoden

Offline ptaylor

Best Headlamps / Handlebar lamps
« Reply #5 on: November 27, 2007, 08:22:02 pm »
I would avoid Planet Bike.

These are widely available, moderately priced, and have nice features. I bought one of their tail lights about a year ago for my commuter bike: the on/off switch is failing, and I expect it to last only about another week or so. I presume the warranty has expired - at any rate, I don't have a proof of purchase, and presume I can't get a free replacement. I am looking for a replacement, of another brand.

For commuting, I recommend the brightest lights available. I have a 10/15/35 watt dual halogen headlight. For touring, I have a little LED headlight for emergency use only (like riding a mile up the road to catch a key baseball game at the local bar).

My advice: don't skimp. You'll appreciate a quality light long after you've forgotten how much it cost.

Paul
Paul

Offline JayH

Best Headlamps / Handlebar lamps
« Reply #6 on: November 28, 2007, 08:56:30 am »
Paul, as a commuter myself, I've had my share of lights, pumps, etc fail and frankly, most mfgrs don't ask for a receipt or so. I've gotten replacement covers for blinkies that have fallen off (I commute on some rough fireroads as well as partly road), I've had bike pumps fail, etc. etc.  I've had parts rust on my thule rack on my car and have had really good customer service from different companies, including Marwi, Blackburn, Thule.  but I am honest, if I obviously have a blinkie that is a few years old, I don't try to claim I just bought it. On the other hand, LEDs should last more than 1 year and sometimes the warantee is just that...1 year.  You should contact them and tell them you are a commuter and had so-and-so fail, tell them you don't have a receipt but be honest and explain that something like that should last longer than it did, commute or no commute.

FWIW, Blackburn has a lifetime warantee on their bike pumps and I've used it on a really old mtb pump that I had like forever, they replaced it with an equivalent model much to my surprise. I didn't expect it and was nicely surprised.  I beat the piss out of it!

Jay

p.s. I've heard great reviews of the Planet Bike Super 7 red LED, it's supposedly really bright! It's not a cheap LED though in terms of a rear LED..



This message was edited by JayH on 11-28-07 @ 4:57 AM

Offline RussellSeaton

Best Headlamps / Handlebar lamps
« Reply #7 on: November 28, 2007, 10:47:54 am »
The more I use them, the more I appreciate hub generator lights.  I have a Shimano generator front hub wheel.  Schmidt also makes one for about twice the price.  Read about them on the Peter White Cycles and Harris Cycles websites.  I have two Schmidt E6 headlights running on my hub.  Mounted right by the front hub down low.  I've put in more than a few miles in all conditions and they always work when I want them to work.  No worries.  I would go for the SolidLights generator driven LED lights today.

On long night rides I use a modified Princeton Tec EOS helmet light.  I put a newer brighter LED into it.  On short night rides I use Niterider halogen helmet lights in 15 or 10 watts.  A friend recently bought an HID helmet/handlebar light from http://www.batteryspace.com/ for $200.  Uses the same HID lamp as everyone else, Welch Allyn, but their own batteries and chargers.  Seems good.

For rear blinkies I use Vistalite Eclipse or Nashbar or Balckburn Mars or Performance Viewpoint.  All are really bright.  I have anywhere from 4 to 7 on the back of the bike and always one hanging from a zip tie through the back vents of the helmet.  I think rear blinkies need to me numerous and at various height levels.


Offline schellerl

Best Headlamps / Handlebar lamps
« Reply #8 on: November 28, 2007, 12:04:14 pm »
I appreciate all the feedback I have received to date and will begin looking at the models that have been presented. Your continued comments are welcome. Thanks for the advice.
Lisa


Offline ptaylor

Best Headlamps / Handlebar lamps
« Reply #9 on: November 29, 2007, 09:12:48 pm »
Jay. Good advice, as usual.

But an option I had not considered. I logged onto the Planet Bike web site, quickly found the e-mail of their customer service, and posed my problem.

I'll keep you posted on the outcome.

Thanks.

Paul
Paul

Offline ptaylor

Best Headlamps / Handlebar lamps
« Reply #10 on: November 30, 2007, 05:25:10 pm »
Jay.

Thanks again for the advice. I contacted Planet Bike: their customer service is excellent! I will not hesitate to buy Planet Bike products in the future.

Paul
Paul

Offline bogiesan

Best Headlamps / Handlebar lamps
« Reply #11 on: December 02, 2007, 11:37:55 pm »
"Best" is, of course, relative. I've been commuting for decades but I do
not ride trails or tour at night.

During the last twenty winters my lighting needs have changed with
my commute distance. I'm now riding a 12 mile round trip that takes
about 35 minutes on sub-32 degree mornings and 25 minutes return
in the evenings. That's about an hour each day. These days I run three
lights: a NiteRider HID, a NiteRider halogen, and a Cateye 500 LED.
They each have different uses and battery run times but the LED is
mainly for backup. I run two Cateye wide/skinny 5-LED blinkies and a
Blacburn super bright blinkie for taillights. I also have the NiteRider red
LED rig but the cable is broken, just need to solder it. Someday this
spring maybe.

I sometimes add more lights depending on weather conditions and I
have a reflective vest and an AlertShirt with five big stripes of retro-
reflective tape.

I ride past three schools on my route and I see everything that's
WRONG with bike lights every morning. If you're commuting, you need
to be seen. Flashers are great for that but they don't help you see the
road.

david boise ID

go, ristretto, FCP/AE
"Read the manual."
I play go. I use Macintosh. Of course I ride a recumbent