After last nights ride ending in the dark I’ve decided I need to finally buy a light. Jeff and Mike?(kinger) mentioned they got their lights online for a very reasonable price. The big price tag at the LBS is why I never bought a light before.
I’m not sure what brand Jeff’s light is, but it seemed very bright. ‘Cree’ was also mentioned which I found on eBay.
So a few questions;
How many lumens do I want? Is more always better? I saw a bunch with 1800lm, but some had as much as 4200lm.
Some had 3 leds while others have 6. Again, more is better?
Some had a battery pack, some took 2 AA’s. I always heard with cameras that a battery pack is better, same thing here?
Most if not all had a helmet mount and some also came with a handle bar mount. Do most people use a helmet mount?
I bought one of these. http://intl-outdoor.com/shadow-bl21-xml-800lumens-bike-light-p-465.html and replaced the handlebar mount with one of these. http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/Models.aspx?ModelID=23533
I’m a flashlight hobbyist (yes, I know ) so I’m picky about lights, and I also know how much all the components actually cost and how much mark up is on mainstream lights (a lot).
Many lights overstate how many lumens they output, and I doubt you would need an 1800lm light (4200lm is just ridiculous), that is very very very bright. For our type of trails you don’t really need any more than 700lm. And remember, the brighter it is the shorter run time you will get unless you have really big battery packs. The brightest flashlight I own puts out 2500lm and I don’t know if I’d want that on the front of my bike.
More LED’s are not necessarily better, what it does do is allow them to do is use smaller LED’s at lower currents to keep heat down and reach the same brightness. Some will use multiple LED’s to get a desired beam profile with more or less flood/throw.
Regarding batteries, you need to go li-ion/li-po (which will be in pack form) if you want bright, standard AA’s just can’t pump out the current required to reach hight brightness levels. An example is the CREE XM-L LED that is in the light I posted above, it’s the most powerful LED that isn’t silly inefficient and it can pump out around 1000lm at the emitter when driven at it’s maximum 3 Amps (the light above drives it at 2.8A). You would need a lot of AA’s to deliver 3A, but even a single li-ion cell can do that.
A lot of the cheap Chinese lights will say like 1000lm as well but are usually about half that in real output. They also use knock off batteries that literally can explode catastrophically.
The brand that was on my head was a MagicShine. This is a cheap direct from hong kong brand. Of course no warranty and battery life isn’t excellent but new batteries for them are very cheap so some people just go the cheap route and get multiple batteries. It was my first time riding with it and I was quite satisfied.
Now about my own light. I have a Light and Motion Stella 300 (lumen). I paid pretty close to 400 bucks for it and within 1 or 2 years LED technology went kind of crazy and you can now get a 500 Lumen for the $149.99 range. (Thinking the Serfas one at sportwheels for example). Great battery life AND the battery is internal. the light and battery are all one unit, no wires going astray, lighter etc.
You do NOT want AA batteries. They just don’t have the amperage. (remember there are 2 classes of lights. Those to see with and those to be seen. AA is fine to be seen with, but they just don’t cut it for going 30kph + in the woods unless you are part beaver and enjoy eating trees… I’m not judging)
About helmet vs handlebars: Helmet is nice cause you get light where your head is pointing and more importantly where your eyes are pointing. HOWEVER I know some folks that run both. I’m pretty close to making my Light&Motion light live on my handlebars and getting a Serfas 500 lumen for my helmet. Nice combo.
This is the one I have:
It works great for me. I had to adapt the headband to strap on to my helmet. But it was pretty easy and works well.
There are different sellers of same one. So I cannot make any guarantees. This is not the same seller I used. I could not find the order in my email history.
It takes a while for shipping. 4-6 weeks should be expected.
*** edit *** First link was ebay, but I found same on amazon.com where I got mine originally.
My mistake. I thought I had a magic shine on my head. I had a CREE
CREE makes high power LEDs. They are pretty much all CREE LED’s inside just different models and packaging. (I’m not sure if CREE actually makes a packaged product.)
I think the one I posted is a knock off of a Magic Shine MJ-808U (closest match) which is ~$90 online. They both use a CREE XM-L. One is a T6 and one is a U2.
The knock-off of a knock off is a pretty good deal at $35.
both my lights are ebay cree, single led. one takes 2 of the bigger style batteries which are rechargable and can be interchanged on the trail. initialy I was having difficulties with battery life, turns out it was my own fault as I was only letting it charge for about 3 hours, it takes about 5 for full charge (finally the red light turned green) The one i bought came with the helmet strap and mounted on mine very easily. cost was under 40 bucks shipped. I also purchased 2 additional batteries and a wall plugin for them for an additional 10 bucks or so (shipped)
my 2nd light is a single led cree with a 4 battery pack, which the batteries cannot be removed from. this one i use on the handlebar of my roadbike and its as bright as a car headlight, i love it.
If you are new to ebay, there are only a few simple things to know.
- Only buy from power sellers or top sellers, people with over 10,000 sales
- only buy from someone with a very high feedback rating (IE I only buy from 98% and above)
Thanks for all the info guys. Going to do a bit of looking tonight and will hopefully have a light on its way.
I will add this as it’s drivin into our head on the flashlight fourms.
Don’t leave lithim ion batteries charge unattened, never charge them overnight, keep them away form anything valuable when charging. Brand name cells like Sanyo or Panasonic are great, but when your buying from China you often get knock off cells that are nowhere near the rated capacity and can have dangerous flaws that can cause them to explode without warning. Cheap chargers that don’t charge with CC/CV make them even more dangerous.
I am crazy paranoid about charging li-ion, even if I leave the house fot 15min I take them off the charger. You never know.
Don’t let this happen to you:
Only you can prevent a lithium ion fire.
Also agood idea to install a diffuser to help spread the light horizontally. I will post a link when I get home…
My magic shine gets hot charging, but my serfas is fine.
honestly… serfas.com/products/warranty … lifetime… sportwheels do it in-house. just food for thought.
Love the Serfas. I have the 250 and the 500.
Serfas has a couple new models for this year.
Check them out: https://www.serfas.com/products/index/lights/headlights
I’ve also used a magicshine, which certainly doesn’t provide the claimed lumens whatsoever, but does the trick.