/ Bike lights for winter communting

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MikeR 08 Nov 2019

Hi all,

I cycled in for my night shift tonight for the first time in a couple of weeks, and concluded that I really need to get some brighter lights. My route is around 20 miles, mostly on unlit country lanes with some pretty steep hills, then a few miles through Aberdeen city centre at the end. Coming down the steep hills while only having a vague idea of what was coming up was less than ideal.

Can anyone recommend a good bike light for lighting up the road rather than just being seen without blinding traffic going through town? Preferably at a reasonable budget.

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JimR 08 Nov 2019
In reply to MikeR:

I use exposure Sirius front light, not cheap but worth it imho 

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MikeR 08 Nov 2019
In reply to JimR:

Thanks. Looks good. A bit more than I'd like to spend, but maybe an early Christmas present.

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Dave Cundy 08 Nov 2019
In reply to MikeR:

There have been a few threads on this. There are any number of lights out there but i would suggest you need

1) a light with at least two settings, where you can easily switch from one to the other (one handed, preferably with one finger push)

2) around 200-400 lumens for street-lit urban areas, or when you want to avoid dazzling oncoming traffic (cars, bike or pedestrians).

3) around 500-1000 lumens for unlit country roads, where you might expect to go bombing along while avoiding pot holes.

I use lezyne light (400 or 800 lumens) which is excellent but there must be loads of others out there.

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MikeR 08 Nov 2019
In reply to Dave Cundy:

Thanks Dave, I'll check it out. I had done a quick search but was wondering if there where any more up to date recommendations from the last threads.

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Ben Sharp 09 Nov 2019
In reply to MikeR:

I use an old myo xp headtorch and one of those cheapo million lumen things - www.tinyurl.com/y3wf5wr3. Although I think it was £20 when I bought it. It's really bright and I usually just ride with that on low and the head torch flashing. Perfectly bright enough for dark country roads and it's good on the head tube as you can angle it further down when cars are coming the other way and put it up a bit for faster descents. It's lasted me 2 years, no doubt it will fail at some point but I carry a spare. It's best to charge them up outside.

Post edited at 06:45
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girlymonkey 09 Nov 2019
In reply to MikeR:

I use my head torch. Easier to direct the beam away from other people/ cars if needs be and plenty bright enough.

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Run_Ross_Run 09 Nov 2019
In reply to MikeR:

Cateye volt 800. Perfect. 

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Schmiken 09 Nov 2019
In reply to MikeR:

I really like the Exposure Strada. It’s not cheap, but will probably outlast the bike!

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Guy Hurst 09 Nov 2019
In reply to MikeR:

Halfords do a 1600 lumens Bikehut front light for £50 (often less if you can wait for a sale) which is really good, It gives plenty of light to see and be seen on the unlit country lanes around here, even on the 1000 or 640 lumen settings, has a good run time when used at those lower levels, and the spread of light is well thought out.

It's not perfect, with the fact you have to go through all the settings to get back to where you were being a bit irritating, but that's really a pretty minor drawback, especially given its price.

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Mowglee 09 Nov 2019
In reply to MikeR:

Exposure are expensive, but they will last for years (decades?), unlike a lot of cheaper lights. They can also have the batteries replaced, unlike most other rechargables so they really are a good investment. They do front and rear ones - the Trace, TraceR, Sirius and Joystick would be worth looking at. Lezyne lights look pretty, but the ones I've had the batteries give up after a couple of years.

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TobyA 09 Nov 2019
In reply to MikeR:

I commute through winter including along an unlit canal towpath and unlit country lanes. I think having a number of lights front and back works well. I've used two smaller front lights and helmet light for the last few years, and then three rear lights, two on my bike, one on my rucsac. But a year or two ago I got a big front light with a removable battery pack from Aldi, I think it was 20 quid reduced from 40. You can find many very similar looking ones on Amazon or Ebay, but getting it from Aldi you actually get a multiyear guarantee. I bought it for mountain biking, but actually this year decided to try it on my commuting bike, and this week I've decided its just great so I think I will keep using it. The box claims 1200 lumens on high and 600 on low. I can see fine on the two path with 600, but high feels like I'm in a car - really impressive. The second light on my bars is a little rechargeable one also from Aldi (about 12 quid IIRC). It's high setting is very respectable on its own, but I'm using it on a flash (not strobe!) setting now, next to the big light more to be seen than to see by. On my helmet I have one of those bright classic shaped "flashlight" that runs on one 18650 rechargeable Li-ion batteries in it. I bought mine years ago from a Hong Kong website (Deal Extreme or something i think), and it is still very bright and the batteries still hold the charge well. This is quite a focused narrow beam but helps you look at things out of the main light spread (including a beautiful barn owl once!) and is particularly good when crossing side roads as when you look down the road to check no one is going to drive into you, any drive approaching sees a light, not just the wheel reflectors on my bike and perhaps the side of my front and back lights.

Two of my back lights are Aldi USB rechargeable and are remarkably good for not very much money, and the last one is a basic 2 AAA one, which is there for redundancy, just in case I had forgotten to recharge the other two or something.

Basically I don't think you need to spend that much at all to have bright, safe lights. Aldi had front and back sets in a week or two ago and my local shop had some left this week when I went in. Definitely a good starting point, and could easily be used alongside whatever else you settle on.

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wbo2 09 Nov 2019
In reply to MikeR: I have a Magicshine on the front with a smaller led as backup. On the back three cheap LED unis for plenty of redundancy.  

I didn't get on with a head torch at all

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nniff 09 Nov 2019
In reply to MikeR:

Exposure Sirius for me (two of them actually).  Go to road.cc and look at their beam engine which compares two lights side by side.  Brilliant thing.

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MikeR 09 Nov 2019
In reply to all:

Thanks guys, loads of helpful replies there. I'll have a proper read through them tonight.

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danj1974 09 Nov 2019
In reply to Run_Ross_Run:

> Cateye volt 800. Perfect. 

I'll second this recommendation. It's been great for me on my commute which includes unlit minor roads and farm/forest tracks.

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monkey man 09 Nov 2019
In reply to MikeR:

i commute unlit roads too. Have had several lyzene lights (and cheaper ones), they have all looked nice and been bright but not lasted. Now have an exposure tracer front light and have been very impressed with battery life and the attachment - very convenient and robust. i am converted now.

I use a hope mtb light on the front, it is very bright but quite a wide beam, i perhaps would have got something more focused if i were to get a big light again but the quality of the hope one is excellent. previously have had 3 of the cheaper imported lights, none have lasted that long in the pot holes around here but while they worked all were very bright. 

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Wilderbeest 09 Nov 2019
In reply to monkey man:

have to say that I’ve been happy with my Leznyes over the past 4 years...easy to charge, survived being dropped and you can change brightness from urban road to bridleway reasonably easily.

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monkey man 09 Nov 2019
In reply to Wilderbeest:

fair enough, maybe i got unlucky. i still have a rear one which has lasted well, battery isn't what it used to be but maybe they all end up like that! 

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Wilderbeest 09 Nov 2019
In reply to monkey man:

They’re also a talking point when I go into meetings with them charging on the USB ports on my laptop...I tell people they are additional RAM for laptop.

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stevevans5 09 Nov 2019
In reply to MikeR:

I commute 10 mile either way on about 50% unlit country lanes. my approach is two eBay/Amazon specials (the cheap ludicrous bright ones) and then even if it breaks mid ride I have the spare. The eBay ones were pretty crap but the current one is from Amazon and has lasted pretty well including some super wet rides. Back lights I have a mix ofcateye and lezyne as they are not as expensive. 

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Schmiken 10 Nov 2019
In reply to MikeR:

One thing that is worth pointing out, try not to use off road lights for on road commuting. The beam shape is not designed for keeping the light out of oncoming drivers and can have the effect of blinding cars that are driving towards you.

A lot of manufacturers have picked up on this and are starting to obey the German STvZO regulations (even though technically they don't need to). 

http://www.light-test.info/en/faq-en/169-stvzo-bike-lamps-regulations

I use a dynamo setup on my bike which is easily bright enough for unlit roads and (although initially expensive) is absolutely perfect for commuting - no uncharged lights to worry about!

These are the Exposure lights I recommend with the dynamo ones below:

https://exposurelights.com/products/bike/stvzo-lights

https://www.bumm.de/en/

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Garston 10 Nov 2019
In reply to MikeR:

I use fenix lights which are bomb proof, ipx6 rated so really waterproof and a nice neutral white colour. Only downside is that you need 18650 batteries and a charger but this is actually a plus for me as I had lots and can carry spares

https://www.knivesandtools.co.uk/en/ct/fenix-bc-series-bicycle-lights.htm

cheers

chris

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benp1 11 Nov 2019
In reply to MikeR:

It's quite hard to input without knowing your budget. I have three Exposure lights (Strada, Diablo, Joystick) which I tend to use, but they're expensive

I also have lots of other lights, from blinkers to dynamo, on other bikes. I also have the Bikehut 1600 light as linked above, surprisingly decent light, have got this for sticking on bikes for quick trips (like on the kids bikes or my brompton)

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gravy 11 Nov 2019
In reply to Guy Hurst:

I have one of these halfords lights and it is good but has the following drawbacks:

The power level button broke a week after making really hard to change levels and you have to cycle through them.

The lens protrudes ~1mm past the case which means you get your night vision screwed up by stray light - fixed using gaffer tape.

The LEDs indicating charge are far too bright (see above).

The rubber mount is not under the centre of gravity and when it is wet the light rotates on the handle bars on big jolts (my route has four small drop-offs each way so happens four times) and the <extremely> bright light shines directly into your eyes.

Apart from that it is very good - I'd definitely get another one for commuting.

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Yanis Nayu 11 Nov 2019
In reply to MikeR:

Cat eye volt 800. Good blend of price, performance, good battery life, size/weight, durability. 

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Le Sapeur 11 Nov 2019
In reply to MikeR:

I have a couple of Cateye Volt 1300's and they are very good. Variable light settings including flashing and they are USB charged. I think they are around £100 so shouldn't break the bank. One good thing is they don't heat up so I can use them as hand held torches for dog walks etc.

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MikeR 08:24 Fri
In reply to all:

Thanks again for all the replies, been a busy week but finally got round to a proper look yesterday.

I ended up splashing out on an exposure sirius and traceR, an early Christmas present to myself. Hopefully they'll arrive in time to try them out on my next ride in Sunday night.

Thanks for all your suggestions.

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LastBoyScout 12:10 Fri
In reply to MikeR:

I use a NiteRider MiNewt, I think the replacement model is the Lumina - great lights, but the brackets are a weak point. You can get a GoPro adapter and use something a bit more solid, though.

Various levels overall power with adjustable settings.

This might help: https://road.cc/content/buyers-guide/212914-best-20192020-front-lights-cycling-40-light-beam-comparison-plus-how

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Neil Williams 12:31 Fri
In reply to MikeR:

The blinding issue is mostly misalignment (and it seems to afflict far too many cyclists - amazing how often I get blinded when cycling or running which means they are basically pointed up in the air) - make sure it's pointed slightly downwards and almost any light is fine.

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cb294 13:53 Fri
In reply to MikeR:

Too late, probably, but I just received my Lupine Tesla 4. Four years old, and I bought it used for 120€. The rechargeable battery pack is strapped to the frame, lamp itself mounted on the handlebar.

Tried it last night for the first time on my steep run home from work over leaf covered forest tracks that are currently also damaged by harvesters. Brighter than my car headlights if full on, and plenty bright enough even on the lowest setting!

CB

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gravy 15:44 Fri
In reply to cb294:

Oh yes - I forgot candb-seen do excellent lights which I use for off-road but are slightly more faff than the halfords one for commuting

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nniff 16:00 Fri
In reply to MikeR:

> I ended up splashing out on an exposure sirius and traceR, an early Christmas present to myself. Hopefully they'll arrive in time to try them out on my next ride in Sunday night.

Good choice - you'll find that the Sirius runs for ages on blink mode (at least a full week of 2-3 hours/day) and has a good run time on fixed beam. Be gentle with the rubber cap.

The TracerR also runs for ages.  Should you manage to tear the rubber seal thingy (my old one did, the new one's stronger) then a slice of old 700c inner tube fits perfectly over the thing and works as a good seal.  the old one still works fine with this modification.  They also do a saddle rail mount for these which coincidentally also enables you to fix it to a helmet.

You can also get an elastic band to turn the Sirius into a head torch.  

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MikeR 16:56 Fri
In reply to nniff:

Thanks for the tips. The run time on full beam was one concern I had as it has been taking me around 1:45 to cycle in to work, but I figured it would be a good incentive to peddle faster! Should be ok if I switch to blink mode in town (I'll carry a backup just in case).

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Dave B 17:29 Fri
In reply to MikeR:

I like my trace r loads. 

I find most of the time I don't need full beam on my cateye volt 800, the mid power is enough for riding about 18 mph on unit roads. Just occasionally I need the full. Extends the battery life loads. When it's light I just use the blink or pulse mode. 

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