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Lights for commuting..(16 posts)

Lights for commuting..Jay
Oct 4, 2001 8:56 AM
For all you commuters out there (who also Mountain Bike), what's a cheap good set of lights (the external battery kind) that I could use for both commuting and for the possible foray into night mountain biking or just to get back to the car for times like now when the sun sets too damm early. I figure 10W-15W single bulb would be fine and has to have a NiMH battery. Sierratradingpost has a Vistalite 5w + 10w Code 15 light for sale for $80 and I was thinking that might be good, it has both a 5w and a 10w Halogen bulb that can be used singly or even both and also has a nightstick NiMH battery that is a stick like tube so it doesn't use a water bottle mount.

I was also looking at a Jet Designs I6 which looks really great, 3 settings, except it's also $200 7w-15w settings.. Anybody have any recommendations for commuting. I've been biking lately during sunrise (~6:50am) and I'm afraid sunrise is going to be getting later and later and it'll be darker and darker!!!

I had some bad luck with....Underdog
Oct 4, 2001 9:49 AM
Cygolites. I tried the night rover and the night explorer. I returned the rover because the head kept falling off. Then I got the explorer and had a bulb go out on me after 6 uses. I'm running on one bulb until they send me another. (Which they better!)
Do your fellow commuters a favor, don't use a strongMB1
Oct 4, 2001 9:51 AM
helmet light and make sure your bike mounted light points slightly downwards. Don't want to blind riders going the other direction.

We've used all sorts of lights my current favorite is the Vistalight from Sierra Trading. A word of caution on these, they are being closed out by Bell Sports and may not be the light of choice if you expect them to last you many years. Sooner or later small parts will no longer be available.

For commuting stuff-shop price and carry a back-up.
Do your fellow commuters a favor, don't use a strongJay
Oct 4, 2001 10:01 AM
Thanks for the advice, STP sells alot of closeouts and stuff so I'm already aware of the stock situation... I'm debating on getting these or much more expensive ones from say a Jet Design I6 or something from NiteRider. I don't think I'll be using a helmet mounted one, unless I take use it for MTB'ing. Actually where I live I almost never see anybody else bike commuting, it's usually just me and the cars. I do see a bunch of joggers and stuff though.

wholly agreethejerseydevil
Oct 4, 2001 11:09 AM
please point the light down and use a mid-powered light, at least on bike paths or bike-busy roads. i was on the custis trail in virginia yesterday and i though a motorcycle was heading right for me! some one had a huge lamp rigged up that was as bright as those new car headlamps. i couldn't see for anything.
Cygolight report. . .js5280
Oct 4, 2001 10:51 AM
Just went out last night with my new Cygolight Rover NiCad Extra. It has a 6.3w blub and 10w. I was on my MTB and riding on road, paved path, tow path, and single track (not technical though). I have it mounted on the bars. What I found is that it's nice to have a good range of lighting options. For the roads and smooth paths, the 6.3 is great, particularly if you have residual light from traffic, lamps, etc. and helps conserve the battery. In darker areas and where there is greater potential for potholes and other obsticles, the 10w by itself did a good job. For the single track, I would have both beams on but it didn't make a huge difference light wise since they tend to overlap. The 10w by itself is sufficiently bright, but a little more couldn't hurt. The thing I like about the Cygo was that it was cheap ($90 at Performance) and has a 6 hours life w/ the 6.3 beam. I haven't established yet this is really the true life. I think it has decent light for most on-road/off road applications at moderate speeds (say under 25mph).

What I found is that a helmet light w/ a bright spot would be an ideal companion. On long sweeping turns, the inside of the turn is not lit well because your light goes out at a tangent. Also, any tight turn isn't going to be lit up by a bar mount setup. For another $100, I'm thinking of getting the Cygolite Explorer as a helmet mount which has 15w and 10w beams which should be more than enough for even twisty, technical single track or high-speed w/ reason burn times. Between the two, you have a lot of options and you can trade off brightness, longevity, and backup capabilities depending on your ride. The more expensive systems might be a little brighter, but it comes at shorter life and less lighting options and costs at least $150-200 anyhow for just a single unit. I think HIDs are the future but at $400-500 a pop, I'll have to wait till they come down in price. Personally, I think the Cygolites are the best value lights out there and I did a lot of research. Can't speak for their long term quality yet.

Riding at night was a blast, more focused on where you're going then how fast, cadence, (cause you can't see your computer anyhow) that sort of thing. It was really different and enjoyable. Actually passed someone else on a commuter and only one person/dog combo so the paths are a lot less crowded at night which is nice. I'm looking forward to riding more when the sun goes down. I'm also contempting the 24 hours of Moab here shortly but it looks like it might fall though (anyone looking for a rider?) Good luck!
I second the Cygolite....Horace
Oct 4, 2001 11:59 AM
I've had no problems with my Cygolite (Nicad Extra), and it is more than adequate. When you throw in the price vs. Nightrider, etc., its a steal. Battery perfomance with both beams on is less than advertise, but still good for a few morning rides before a recharge.
NiteRider....The General
Oct 4, 2001 11:20 AM
Get the Digital unit. It has 6, 10 & 15 watt settings for all different types of riding/commuting. It also has several flashing settings for daytime and night riding in traffic. It has saved my life several times, which is worth a little more than $200.

I also MTB all winter long in some serious conditions and it has been a great light for that.

Hope this helps,
The General
Specialized vs NiteriderRich Clark
Oct 4, 2001 11:43 AM
I have two systems, and while both of them are close to entry level from their respective manufacturers, comparing them is, um, illuminating.

One is a current-model Performance Viewpoint Dual with an SLA battery, just a few weeks old, thatI paid $90 for; the other is a y2000-model Niterider Pro 6 with NiCad battery, with a full year of commuting under its belt, that I bought for $110.

The Performance has two 12-watt lamps (a flood and a spot), each independently aimable. The casings are metal, gasketed, and appear to be watertight. The switch for the flood is on the casing; the switch for the spot is on a wired remote with a handlebar mount. The charger switches automatically to trickle mode, according to the documentation, and run time is claimed to be 2.5 hr at 12W, 1.3hr at 24W (I hven't tested this). The simple but sturdy and effective quick-release bar mount can be rotated to put the light either to the right or the left of the clamp, and to mount the lamp over or under the bar. The flood is very wide, and the spot is nicely focused.

The Niterider has one 15 spot that spreads a little bit more than the Performance's. Niterider casings are legendary for their bulletproof, weatherproof construction. Mine survived one crash last January unscathed. The switch is on the top of the casing (current ones have a wired remote). Mine came with a "dumb" charger, which I now keep at the office; I bought a MicroBrute charger to use at home. Runtime is claimed to be 2 hours, but I think that's a bit optimistic especially in cold weather (which is why I got the extra charger). The quick-release mount is IMO overly complex and ugly, and doesn't really feel secure -- but the light's never fallen off the bars, so I guess it works. It only allows a three-position tilt adjustment, and isn't reversible.

Performance replacement lamps are $18; Niterider replacement lamps are $20. My Niterider's original lamp failed after only about 40 hours of use -- almost certainly a fluke. The replacement has lasted since November.

After a year with the Niterider, I have a lot of confidence in it, but I prefer the features and design of the Performance. We'll see how reliable it proves to be. Since I commute twice daily in the dark for several months a year, reliable lighting is critical. I probably should have bought a really high-end dual system to start with.

Thanks (to all above too)-Anybody have a Marwi?Jay
Oct 4, 2001 12:19 PM
Yeah, I was originally going for a single beam job, but started to look at some Marwi or Performance brand lights. I've researched it and found that Marwi makes some lights under the Performance brand and that the parts are interchangable. I can get a Marwi Kamikazi (12w/20w) for $150 at Aardvark or your Performance Dual (12W/12W) for $120. Either one I think would be great for road riding. Have you had any experience between a 20W versus a 12W for off-road use?

I'm also interested in NiMH batteries, not SLAs (there's enough lead in the world). I've only started to commute this year so now I'm just starting to find myself commuting in the dark. I currenlt have a 3.5w light from Planet Bike that is pretty light but is still really a "be seen" light rather than a "need to see" kind of light.

The Niterider Pro-6 looks like a good value to at $120 too..

Just got the Vista lite about a month ago.look271
Oct 4, 2001 12:17 PM
Nice light. I just use the 10w. Plenty bright enough. I have the 5w on my single speed and it's ok, too. Really good deal on a nice light. Highly recommend them.
Marwi NightProStew
Oct 4, 2001 12:23 PM
15 and 20 watt lights. Long battery life. Got them at for $125.

Also check out the product "spotlight" (no pun intended) at They review a number of lights. You can check out my review in product review section too.
Oct 4, 2001 12:46 PM
I have the Marwi Pro Elite too, also from, based on Stew's suggestion. It works great, but I rarely use the 20w dual light. The 15w is fine. The plus of having it though include things such as, when you need more light you have it, and if bulb one blows on a night ride, you have the 2nd as a backup.

I've done one night MTB ride with mine. Worked fine. I am adding a helmet light for increased visual. I had to ride pretty conservatively even by nightime standards with just the bar mount. I am mainly going for a long burn time with lower wattage on the helmet, so I think I'm getting the Lights and Motion Cabeza Logic. $200, but very very good reviews and a 4.4 hour burn on the 6w setting.

I flatted on my first mtnb night ride. I'm glad I brought a little flashlight. With the helmet light I'll already have it.
Oct 4, 2001 5:46 PM
My road/mtb bar light is the Nightsun Team Issue; helmet light Nightsun Trail Max.

The team issue is dual bulb 10w/20w single selector; 30w max. both beams. The Trail Max is 10w single beam. Both 1995 vintage. These are great lights but pricey ...$200 & $120 respectively back in '95.

These remote mountain roads are plenty dark at night but am not the nervous type. However oncoming cars/trucks etc. will dim their lights with the 30w beam on, otherwise you get blinded. Fast downhill you may need lots of light and so use the 20w & 30w on the curves. Otherwise the 10w is OK for the most part, esp. if in a small group ...share the road; share the light :) There are no other riders on the roads but we few up here. On full moon nights we need no light a'tall but carry them of course's the law :)

For the MTB single track you need the helmet light too. But carry a small pen light for bike mechanical check if needed. A quick cheap helmet light can be made with velcro. Glue one side of the velcro to a small flat style battery light, and the other side to the helmet. Will work well on known non-technical trails with no surprises.

Am not into testimonials but another brand for you to hear some jibber on.
Have not checked their website to see what they offer now-a-days(nights:)

Oct 5, 2001 1:41 AM
I agree with your assessment of Nightsun's products; generally quite good, and the 12w/20w is bright enough for just about anything, even deep-dark-woods-at-midnight trails. They also made a 45w(!) model, in case you and your riding pals might want to go jacklighting deer on your rides. My only bitch with them is the people at the company are just about the worst in terms of customer service. On the occasions that I've talked with them, it seemed they were more concerned that I might be trying to "modify" their products (Iwasn't, by the way) than with trying to "serve their customer." Interestingly, I've heard similar reports from friends, but also from two LBSs. I understand not wanting to be pestered by customers, but to risk irritating your dealer network?

If their lights didn't work so well, I'd never do business with them again.
Oct 5, 2001 11:28 AM
You are correct. Had forgot that only wanted the batt pack but "they" would not sell it as an "item". Maybe their sales to Law Enforcement keeps them independent from giving in. Speaking of law enforcement good thing no one, or almost anyone, on the board knows what jackin' deer means. In Texas late 40's we used the old 1936 Plymouth with the side spot light. You could sit on the front broad shouldered fender with out denting it, double 12 w/slugs the "procurer" of choice. My poor (as in no money) relatives jacked deer and ran trot lines to supplement the beans and potatoes diet. Nuff said :)