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  1. #1
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    Bike Lights: How Bright is Too Bright??????

    Hi,
    I am looking for a light for training in the early mornings before day light.

    I am looking at both the Light and Motion Taz 800 and Taz 1200. One has 800 lumens and the other 1200 (as you may have guessed).

    Is 800 lumens good enough? Is 1200 lumens overkill and more likely to dazzle oncoming traffic? Or is brighter just better where the 800 will be good and the 1200 will just be better?

    I ask this largely because most lights are designed for mountain biking where brighter probably is better. Not sure if this is always necessary or good on the road.

    Curious to hear your opinions.

    thanks
    matt

  2. #2
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    I commute in the winter with a 200 lumen leyzne.

  3. #3
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    The 200 lumen lezyne in my opinion is fine in a city where there is some ambient light. In the country I use a Cygolight 700. 700 lumens and I'm never running out of light. you can always use the low setting on a bright light, but not the reverse.

    Consider battery life an weight and I think you should be happy with either light you are looking at.

    Ray

  4. #4
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    I've got a 1500 lumen light. I use the low setting in suburban areas and the high setting on the country roads. It's definitely bright enough that it annoys oncoming traffic, but I'd rather have them annoyed for a few seconds than not see where I'm going.

    I read somewhere that some countries (Germany, for one) have brought in new regulations for the new generation of bicycle lights to make the beam pattern more like that of a car and reduce the glare to oncoming traffic.

  5. #5
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    The light is serving two purposes, conspicuity and road illumination. A strobing 100/200 lumen light can be plenty for conspicuity, IMO. For illumination, you say you'll be doing training rides which probably means you intend to ride fast rather than just putt along, so brighter longer reach lights can be very helpful for illuminating the road surface. IMO, 500-800 lumen is about the minimum for this depending on beam shape. It's best to aim it such that it's not blinding oncoming cars. All the better high power LED lights have lower lumen settings, so you do have the option of running them at less than full output with the benefit of longer run time.

    FWIW: Germany has laws regarding bike headlight beams that require a sharp cutoff, similar to modern automotive headlights, to reduce the chance of blinding oncoming traffic.

    Here're a number of sites that show comparative beam shots. These aren't perfect and need to be taken with a grain of salt, but they do give you some idea...

    Bicycle Light Comparison Guide - ModernBIKE.com
    2013 Bike Lights Shootout – Beam Photos and Mtbr Lab tests | Mountain Bike Review
    Bike Lights Buyers Guide
    Last edited by looigi; 06-26-2013 at 03:56 AM.
    ... 'cuz that's how I roll.

  6. #6
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    Your environment will have some influence, as not only do you need to see, you need to be seen as well.

    When I ride early morning in total darkness, my Cygolite 300 is just adequate at bicycle speeds (16 17 mph for me). I also have a low power blinkie in flash mode. The roads can be described as semi-rural residential, with no ambient lighting (with the exception of very few street lights and porch lights). I might see 10 cars in 20 miles, and Ive never had an issue where I wasnt visible. I usually keep the headlight on until 15 20 minutes before sunrise to see road hazards in the wooded areas. The low power blinkie stays on until I get home.

    I wear high viz clothing as well. Ive seen a few ninjas in early morning light, and theyre nearly invisible, especially in the shadows.

    Im considering getting something more powerful, such as a 600 700 lumen light. Im getting older and need more light to see.

    I also have two tail blinkies. Greater visibility, and redundancy when the batteries crap out.

  7. #7
    Slippery Old Devil
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    I just got a CygoLite ExpiliOn 700 USB for my wife and I run a CygoLite Turbo 740 (separate battery). Neither require the high output in rural darkness and her CygoLite ExpiliOn 700 has a cool flash mode incorporated into a steady beam. It also costs about $100.00 less than the Taz 800and has better run times.

  8. #8
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    Can't have too much light. I'd buy as much as you can afford. You can always turn it down.

    Like others have said, many areas have plenty of ambient light, you just need a little kicker to be noticed by others. When I dirt road ride at 20mph in total darkness, my 1600 lumens is nice.

  9. #9
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    I run my Dinotte at 1000 lumens in the city, aimed downward a bit. I get a bright pool of light on the road ahead. City riding can go from streetlights to dark spots to glare from car headlights very quickly. I can see and be seen with the 1000 lumens.

    My next setting is 50% power, 500 lumens. That's good for riding on dark country roads. The Dinotte has a wider than usual beam, and if I light up the road far ahead with 1000 lumens, the nearest parts of the beam are a bit too bright. I kick it up to 1000 on downhills.

    It's interesting that dave14423 uses high power in the country, and lower in the city, just the opposite of me. Beam width and throw is maybe the difference. My wide beam can be aimed downward and it lights up the width of the road, instead of making a small ultra bright spot.
    Last edited by rm -rf; 06-26-2013 at 05:49 AM.

  10. #10
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    Make sure you have side on visibility, I don't think there is anything that is too bright, I have a magicshine at the front and dinotte at the back, but side on? that is where it falls apart.

  11. #11
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    got some directional light, for example philips saferide. It's a pain in the ass cycling towards some one that thinks half the light should go into the eyes of oncoming traffic.
    Blows your hair back.

  12. #12
    Burnum Upus Quadricepus
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    I'm with rm -rf. (I shudder just typing that name.)

    I live and work in the city. I bike commute exclusively--it'll be seven years without fail in the middle of next month. With my schedule, headlight season lasts from mid-August to early-May. I'm currently enjoying the seasonal respite.

    I my preferred setup is a pair of 900 or 1100 lumen MagicShines with the aftermarket wide-angle lens (sold at Action-LED-Lights.com).

    Having started out with cheap-o blinkies, I moved up to 200 lumen lights, a Schmidt eDelux dynamo headlight (about 250 lumens spread in a sharp cutoff, German light pattern), and then the 900 lumen MS lights. What happened is that each time I moved up, I experienced fewer and fewer cars crossing or pulling out in front of me.

    While they could see me just fine with the cheap-o blinkies and 200 lumen lights, they wrote me off as just a guy on a bike, and pulled out anyway. Now, they confuse me with actual traffic and treat me as such.

    Near as I can figure, at lower light levels either my lights looked too much like stationary background lights, or they couldn't judge my distance or speed, or they just plain decided that bikes don't move fast enough so they had plenty of time.

    I still see it happen to other riders, particularly those with only a blinkie. Cars slow, stop, say "it's just a bike" and pull out anyway. I'll come along and they'll wait.

    In the city, well, in my city anyway, the best strategy seems to be put out enough light that you're indistinguishable from cars, motorcycles, and other traffic.

    As for the blinding drivers argument, in the city, I've never been flashed. Once out on an unlit suburban road, but never in the city.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by rm -rf View Post
    It's interesting that dave14423 uses high power in the country, and lower in the city, just the opposite of me. Beam width and throw is maybe the difference. My wide beam can be aimed downward and it lights up the width of the road, instead of making a small ultra bright spot.
    I find that my light (and I forget what it is at the moment - bought on ebay from New Zealand) seems to have the same beam pattern at either low or high setting, but the high setting throws the beam farther. It might be 1800 lumens, not 1500.

    It also has a flash mode that has literally stopped traffic. I tend t use that on our group rides at night, and I've never had a car pull out of a side street yet, because they have no idea what's coming down the road. Actually, as a group we probably look like a UFO coming down the road.

  14. #14
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    I'm running the CygoLite ExpiliOn 700 USB as well, nicely packaged, good lighting options. A good light will definitely get you some respect and will light up the road for you. You don't want to blind the oncoming cars and have them fixate on you, point them in the right direction.

  15. #15
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    The blink mode on my Cygolite 300 is way too bright for me. The reflections off the signs is enough to induce a seizure! But remember, Im in an unlit semi-rural area.

  16. #16
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    I use a helmet mounted NiteRider 650 (650 lumens) and a bar mounted Bontrager Ion 2.

    The bar mount is my "be seen" light and gets set to flash.

    The helmet light the the "to see" light. I usually set it to medium (400 lumens). I find this is good for both rural (unlit) and semi-rural (lit) roads. Occasionally I'll use the high setting on unlit roads. Generally, I think it's a stupid-bright light.

  17. #17
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    I think it depends on where/when you are going to use it. I ride in a fairly rural area with no street lights and a lot of hills. I have the L & M Seca 1400 that I mount on my handlebars. I use it on low mostly (approx 350 lumens) when on the flats and going up hills. However when going downhill I like the high beam (1400 lumens) because there tend to be a lot of deer and other critters around and I want to see as much as I can when going fast downhill. Using the light this way also makes the battery last longer and I typically have no trouble getting 3 hours of use out of it. I also ride with a back up helmet light L & M 360 that I typically use. The helmet light is more to be seen but does come in handy when looking to the side or wherever.

    If I was only going out say 30 min before sunrise, I think that the helmet light would be enough but if I'm going for a longer ride in the dark, I like both of them. Good luck with your choice.

  18. #18
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    Not to be overlooked is a helmet light. I also run a Princeton Tec Eos on my helmet (most of the time). A helmet light allows you to alert drivers at intersections who may not see your headlight. This is especially true in urban areas where your headlight competes with street lights and cars. Also, you can't beat a helmet mounted light if you have to fix a flat in cow land. Having a back-up ain't a bad idea either.

    One thing I left out in my previous post is that the Cygolite 700 I bought for my wife has a much whiter, cleaner light than my Magic Shine "900" and has more functions. And again, it's all self contained.

  19. #19
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    I have a Cyglolite USB charge light, think it's 500 lumens - it's plenty bright enough for any speed I ride. During the Winter months when it's warm enough and the sun rises late, I'm pretty much riding in the dark all the way on my morning rides before work, the battery lasts about 1.5 hours to 2 hours on high, but I am fine on one step down from the high setting. I haven't ever out ridden the light even down hills at 40mph.
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  20. #20
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    I carry a CatEye Nano Shot with me for post work rides and use it when the weather turns bad or my ride goes long. Its plenty bright for what I use it for....but I haven't ridden in a week because of severe weather every afternoon/evening and need to start riding early morning. I am not sure it will be powerful is enough to illuminate the road - its fine to bring attention to myself at dusk.

    I'll try it out next week with some 5 AM rides when its not completely dark and will only need to rely upon it for a short period of time.

  21. #21
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    All depends on needs.
    Morning commute; riding solo: Minimum of 400 lumens, no maximum; strobe feature for dawn/dusk; not much battery needed - 1-1.5 hours will do
    Morning group ride: Minimum of 400 lumens, maximum of 800 (can be disorienting if rider behind you has a very bright light - washes out your own light, you ride in your own shadow); 1-1.5 hours will do
    Mountain biking: Minimum of 600 lumens, no maximum, 3+ hours of battery needed; remote thumb switch for toggling between brightness settings is idea, e.g. climb on medium, follow on medium, lead downhill on high

    I just ordered a 1900 lumen Magic Shine. This is definitely overkill for my 6:AM group ride. But for mountain biking, it'll be awesome. I'll dial it down to low or medium for the group rides.

  22. #22
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    FYI, The Clymb has Lezyne LED Micro Drive front and rear lights for $24.98 each.
    Coupon code HAPPY4TH will get you 30% off thru tomorrow.

    http://www.theclymb.com/invite-from/david_mulligan

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave1442397 View Post
    FYI, The Clymb has Lezyne LED Micro Drive front and rear lights for $24.98 each.
    Coupon code HAPPY4TH will get you 30% off thru tomorrow.

    http://www.theclymb.com/invite-from/david_mulligan
    At 150 lumens, I wouldn't even think about riding in the dark with one.

  24. #24
    pmf
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    I've got a Magic Shine 900 that claims 900 lumens, but realistically is probably more like 600-700. Its more than enough light for me. I've owned bike lights for 20 years and its the best light I've owned, and the cheapest.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by seacoaster View Post
    At 150 lumens, I wouldn't even think about riding in the dark with one.
    I'm going to use it as a secondary flasher or just a backup in case my main light gives up.

    A buddy's light went out last winter on a dark road and he didn't say anything. By the time we noticed he wasn't with us anymore, we had no idea where he went.

    We waited 15 mins after the ride and were just about to go out in a car looking for him when he pulled up in a friend's car. He said the light went dead in seconds and he couldn't see a thing. I'll take 150 lumens over nothing.

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