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front light and tail light recommendation needed(18 posts)

front light and tail light recommendation neededpofo96
Oct 9, 2003 8:47 AM
I am looking for a good taillight and front light for my road bike. I was thinking about the Cateye LD 600 and the Vista Total Eclipse as options for taillight and for the front a Cateye HL 400. The front light is not needed to illuminate the road, only to help me be seen by peds and cars. Any opinions or recommendation would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
re: front light and tail light recommendation neededrussw19
Oct 9, 2003 9:28 AM
There are two types of light systems, as I am sure you know by now. Ones to let you see, and ones to make you seen. If you are looking for ones to let you be seen, then the factors I would tell you to look for are long battery life and common battery size. Some newer lights have really nice Xenon or Krypton bulbs that will get near 100 hours on a set of 4 AA batteries. Look for those types of lights and go to your local Wal-Mart and get some rechargable batteries if you are commuting every night. Otherwise, by the end of the season, the cost of batteries that you paid, you could have gotten a nicer Ni-Cad system light for the same amount, just all up front.

The lights I tend to steer customers away from at the shop I work at are cheap lights that use C batteries. They tend to go thru 2 C batteries in like 10 hours and for what you will spend on batteries if you don't get a set of rechargables, you should buy a cheap $50 6 watt Ni-Cad system that will last you for 2 or 3 winters.

As for rear lights... any simple flashing LED light is fine. I like the kind that have a quick release strap to go on my seatpost so I don't have to keep it on my bike all winter long. Most of them are just about as visable from 1000 feet, but unless your state has a law saying otherwise, use the flashing mode. It is easier to see in my opinion.

By the way, both Cateye and Vista make good light sets, so either way you can't go wrong... just get the features you like.

I think his choiceslotterypick
Oct 9, 2003 9:51 AM
For the rear light are good.

I have a smaller rear light on blinking mode, but it's small.

I would much rather have what he has chosen in the Cateye version. It's wider and gets past the angle that might be blocked by the tool bag, fi he's using one.

Mine did and this guy came up on me in his car and started yelling, get a light.

I think he sped off because when he looked I did have one, it was just covered by the bag.

I had to flip it upside down so it would clear better. If I had his light, people could definately see me.
Think about what you needDropped
Oct 9, 2003 10:35 AM
I commute in the dark every day, so I pay attention to what other riders have in the way of lights.

A flashing light, whether front or rear, can be seen about 200 yards away. Plus, since it's flashing, people know it's a bike.

A steady headlight, even a really good one, can't be seen too well by cars. Plus, it blends in with things like house porch lights, walkway lights, etc. A steady headlight can be a lot of things; a flashing one can only be a bike. I can't tell you how many times I've been startled by bikers with steady headlights because I couldn't tell they were a bike until I was right up on them. If I were a car, I would have hit them. They give the rider a false sense of security. In fact, while I had several close calls back when I rode with a headlight, I have never had a close call with a flashing front light.

I know it's fun to spend a lot of money on bike stuff, but this is one case where you can spend $15 instead of $150 and be better off.
same opinion re HID lights?shawndoggy
Oct 9, 2003 12:23 PM
Running an HID headlight on the front of my commuter, I've been brighted by other cars (i.e. signalling me to hit the low beam). Zero problem being seen, in my experience.

But I'd like to hear whether you've perceived HID-equiped bikes in the same "can't-tell-it's-a-bike" manner. Maybe I do have a false sense of security...

BTW, in answer to the question, for a light to see by, you can't go wrong with an HID light from Niterider (what I'm running) or Light & MOtion. Of course when you spend over $300, you'd better not go wrong.
Is a $300 HID light really necessary for commuting?pmf1
Oct 15, 2003 8:01 AM
I'd have to say no. I've had a few light systems. the brightest was a Niterider Classic system with a 12 + 20 watt lamps. When both were on, it was more than enough. Joggers used to complain (that was actually kinda cool). When that system went, I got a 16 watt Niterider system and it works fine for commuting on a road bike. You don't need a 20,000 watt HID system. Maybe in the woods mtn biking, but not for commuting on the road.

As for cars -- if you're riding on the right side of the road, why do you need a flashing light up front? Traffic coming towards you is in the other lane. A little care at intersections and street crossings is all that's required. A red flasher in the back is a necessity.
Well, on my commute...shawndoggy
Oct 15, 2003 9:36 AM
I've got a couple of 45 mph descents. Using my 12W halogen headlight I have to ride the brakes the whole way. Using the HID, I don't, and I can see the pavement cracks, the potholes, the glass, etc., all in time to avoid them. With my 12W halogen I usually see them just in time to mutter "cr@p!" HID necessary? No. Inappropriately bright? Gotta say no to that to, as there is an appreciable benefit (my experience and pretty much the experience of anyone who has used one).

If all we were talking about is what we "need" I think the discussion could end with a thrift-store huffy, a blinky light and headlight from walmart and maybe a flashlight duct taped to your walmart helmet for good measure. Betcha I could get you outfitted with this "basic" commuter for under $75 too.

But if you are already spending $160 on a headlight, I'd say might as well spend $275 (which is what you can get a HID light from Performance or Nashbar for with the 20% off coupon) because you can't duplicate the added benefit for an additional $115 later. Compared to the "should I get dura ace or ultegra hubs on my new wheelset" question, there's WAY more bang for the buck with the HID over the halogen.

YMMV, my $.02.
Relax dude ...pmf1
Oct 15, 2003 11:02 AM
I wasn't busting on your HID. Just saying that for most of us, a 15 watt single beam Niterider light is sufficient for a commute. I certianly don't have any 45 mph descents in the dark (nor would I do that) on my commute. The fastest I get going is maybe 20-25 mph and the 15 watt light is sufficient to frighten a deer or show me glass with enough time to react.

The single beam is easily 50% less than the HID if either are bought with a Performance coupon (lets compare apples to apples here). Money is short for me lately (I'm spending $2200/month on child care these days) and $150 to spend on something else is significant to me. Probably is to others too. I'd rather have the 15 watt single beam and a new set of carbon bars for one of my bikes than the HID, but that's just my preference.

And no, a "a thrift-store huffy, a blinky light and headlight from walmart and maybe a flashlight duct taped to your walmart helmet for good measure" would not be sufficient. My commute is 39 miles round trip and I do it 3-4 times a week. For five of those months, weather permitting, its in the dark on the way home. I've done it for over 10 years and frankly, spending a huge wad on a lighting system isn't worth it to me. I spent over $200 on the dual beam Niterider dual beam (top of the line at the time) and while it was nice, it really wasn't necessary. If you count how many miles you really use a lighting system, the money is better spent on nicer bars, hubs or wheels IMO. Just because something costs more doesn't mean you need it, or that the money is insignificant.

I'm glad you need and enjoy your HID. If you gave me one, I'd strap it right on to my bike as well. But for the guy asking the question about lights, the point is that he probably doesn't need a $300 massively bright light to ride his bike home from work at night in the winter when one costing half as much would work just as well.
No flame intended... since you have kids, I'm going toshawndoggy
Oct 15, 2003 1:40 PM
give you the Green Eggs & Ham reply. Try it, you might like it (BTW, nice with the childcare payments -- I always tell people that my $1400 a month is my Porsche payment... you've got a Ferarri!).

And I'll betcha a dollar it's a much more significant day in and day out upgrade than carbon bars, especially for someone who commutes in the dark for five months out of the year. I do lots of my training at 5:00 a.m. (also weather permitting) and in January, that means leaving and coming home in the dark. A light to see by makes all the difference.

I by no means want to give the impression that the money was insignificant. To the contrary, this is one of those rare upgrades where the additional money is WAY worth the upgrade, as opposed to spending the same amount to save 70 grams on a saddle or something silly like that. But don't sell the thrift store bike short either. There are plenty of people in the world who really do the commute you've described on less. Appreciate that you don't have to (I do!), but dude, it can be done and is.

But if we always did what was good for us, what fun would life be?

And back to the topic at hand, this light, for $50, would probably suit our theoretical commuter just fine as a starter:
No flame intended... since you have kids, I'm going topmf1
Oct 16, 2003 4:57 AM
I doubt I'll try it since I have 2 functioning Niterider lights now. Frankly, when these go, I'm going the cheap route and just buying something like a $100 cygolight. Niterider lights are getting outrageous. The quality has gotten no better (mediocre) and the cutomer service has become terrible (they expect you to hold for half an hour on a non-800/888 number). I use a light one way (20 miles) 3-4 times a week for the winter months. Count the days with snow on the ground that I don't ride, the days its just too cold (25 is my limit), its rainy, its a holiday, etc, and you're not talking about major miles (I ride around 5,000 a year total). I'd get a lot more utility out of a carbon handlebar --- you tried these? They're really nice.

As far as the child care goes -- its temporary and not something I want to skimp on. We have a nanny come to the house to take care of our baby (4 months old).

Even though I commute on a Litespeed Ultimate, you're right about getting by on the cheap if you want. I sometimes ride with a guy who has a $700 bike from Performance. I've got wheel sets that cost more than that. He's not the fastest guy on earth, but he rode over 10,000 miles last year. Does at least one century every month of the year. Still, I do think that a nice bike, while not directly proportional to the extra cost, is something worth investing in. My friend refuses to believe this and thinks a bike is just a bike, but that cheap Performance bike is all he's ever known aside from some cruiser type bike. Maybe its the sama analogy withthe light, but the one I have works fine for what I do. I never wish it was brighter, just that the days were longer.
No flame intended... since you have kids, I'm going toshawndoggy
Oct 16, 2003 9:22 AM
Wasn't sweating you about what you pay for childcare, just empathizing about seeing the number at the end of the month ... agreed, "bargain" childcare ain't whatcha after.

Re niterider customer service, I've heard the same. My experience has been 180 degrees different, though. Broke my bar mount twice at 24 hours of tahoe (mtb race) this year and twice they fixed it on the spot for me at no charge. That's "customer for life" status in my book. But I know others have had equally bad experiences, so c'est la vie, no?

I bought this light, as you suspected to race offroad at night. If you want to even have a chance at being on the podium you need one (an HID, I mean, not necessarily from Niterider), no question. As I've used it on the road, though, I couldn't go back.

Carbon bars, huh? Might have to add those to the "weeeellll, if I find a deal that's too good to pass up..." list.

Be safe out there!
No flame intended... since you have kids, I'm going topmf1
Oct 16, 2003 12:10 PM
I could definitely see a HID system for night mtn biking, no less night mtn bike racing.And if you have it for that, might as well ride it commuting too.

Re NR customer service. It used to be very good. Years ago, they would send you free replacements for stuff. Its gone down hill dramatically. I think just getting a hold of someone is the real problem these days.

Yeah, carbon bars. I put a set of Easton bars on my C-40 last year. Up until then, it was always TTT Prima 199 or 220. Big difference. A lot stiffer and more comfortable. The shape is really nice too. Try 'em, you'll be impressed.
Flashing lightsglia
Oct 9, 2003 5:03 PM
I have been using the new tiny Cateye opticube, with 3 LEDS in flasing mode can be sen very nicely. It simply clamps on the bar (even oversized) and weighs 70g including batteries!! For a taillight, Specialized makes an outstanding one with two enhanced LEDS that run about 50h on 2 AA batteries. Again, it only weighs 60g with batteries. So for a total weight of 130g you can get at least 50h of dwan or dusk riding per battery set.
I haven't noticed this issue, but thanks for bringing it up.maximum15
Oct 10, 2003 9:08 AM
I am using a Niterider, 15W if I remember correctly. My experience is driver's do not pull out in front of me, in fact, they wait ridicously long times for me to go past. I think they have depth perception problems (Florida retirees?). In any event, thanks for the comments.
For the original question. I think the Vista eclipse is an excellent tailight. I also think you need a strong headlight because obstacle avoidance with low power lights is poor and dangerous.
I haven't noticed this issue, but thanks for bringing it up.InTraining
Oct 10, 2003 12:16 PM
Where are you in Florida, I am in Boca and could use a partner. Safety in numbers.

Go with double flashersKerry Irons
Oct 9, 2003 4:38 PM
If conspicuosity is your driver, go with flashing lights, two on the front and two on the rear. They won't be flashing together, so it sets up an even stronger visual cue to drivers and peds. Plus, if one fails or the battery goes dead, you're covered. I use a fast red and a 60 cps orange on the rear, and a fast greenish/yellow plus regular VistaLite head lights on the front (I need to see as well as be seen).
re: front light and tail light recommendation neededAndy M-S
Oct 11, 2003 11:14 AM
For the rear, the Total Eclypse is an excellent choice--narrow enough not to get in your way, and extremely visible. I bought a few that have a faster flash than normal--I suspect the wrong capacitor was installed--and they are EXTREMELY visible. Just make sure you don't have anything in the way that might obscure the light.

For the front, I have two types of light. One is a Cateye 3-LED unit, for being seen and for traveling where the road is reasonably well-lit.

The other is a 5+10 NightHawk system, 6v SLA battery pack. For riding in real darkness, something like this is the only reasonable choice. NightHawk is a Canadian company that makes excellent, low-priced headlights.
Lights across Americachar
Oct 11, 2003 7:36 PM
Front light is the Cygolight, lead acid 6 volts and whatever watts. Rear is vista/cateye blinky, usually in steady mode.

The kicker is the three hokey spokes on the front wheel, I now get respect and courtesy from the motoring public during the evening commute.

And chicks dig it!

:charlie the chicken