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Lighting systems(10 posts)

Lighting systemstarwheel
Nov 9, 2001 5:59 AM
I'm toying with the idea of getting a lighting system but I'm somewhat overwhelmed by all the options, ranges in prices, etc. I don't plan to use the lights for commuting or mountain biking, just occasional rides in the evenings maybe a couple times a week now that the days are so short. I would mainly be riding back roads or neighborhood streets, some with streetlights but most without. From what I've read, the double-light sytems are mainly for mountain bikers, so I've been focusing on the single-light systems. Is this a good assumption? The systems that interest me most are the new NiteRider Evolution series. The regular Evolution is a 10 W single beam, with a NiMH rechargeable battery, and costs about $150. The more expensive Digital Evolution has 6, 10 and 15 W options, a low-battery indicator and a few other extra features, and costs about $230. Anyway, my main question is whether there is a real need for different wattage levels as in the Digital version, or would 10W serve just as well for the kind of riding I would be doing? Is there any need for double lights for road riding? Are there any other brands of lights in my price range I ought to check out? I would prefer a system with NiMH batteries because it seems like they provide the best combination of light weight, duration of charge, etc.
Sierra Trading on line has the VistaLite Code 15 NightstickMB1
Nov 9, 2001 7:28 AM
on sale for about $90. It has both a 5W and 10W lamp with a NIMH battery that attaches to your bottle braze-ons and still has room for the cage. Hummah just got one and thinks highly of it, we have used them for the last couple of years. A very good light and a very good value.

The 10W is very good for unlit streets the 5W is more for letting people see you. No need to spend more.
Is VistaLite out of business?tarwheel
Nov 9, 2001 9:00 AM
Sierra doesn't have them in stock anymore. I did a search on Yahoo and found the VistaLite web address, but it doesn't work. Are they still making light systems?
They are part of Bell Sports. Who knows what they are doing. nmMB1
Nov 9, 2001 4:20 PM
re: Lighting systemsrollo tommassi
Nov 9, 2001 7:47 AM
these are always hard questions to answer! so i can tell you what i use...

i have a single digital nite owl (3 yrs old now!) and it works great. It's bright enough that I can still be seen on the street with it, and it also lights the way. i don't see the need for a dual headlamp system - for mtb essential (fills in shadows) but not so much road. My model is a 10w and kicks butt! If you are on a mix of lit streets and unlit side roads, a single lamp should be fine. I believe these are all high output bulbs (halogen or better)? I wish the manufacturers would list lumens (anybody know?) as it's hard to compare wattages with different battery and lamp styles.

you dont' mention how long your rides are - look at the charge life of the batteries; the dual wattage enables you to blast a lot of light for a short period of time, or the lower wattage for up to two hours. You could, with the cheaper model, just pick up an extra battery for really long rides.

As for "extra" features - doesn't anyone feel the "low battery indicator" a bit redundant/master of the obvious?? i mean, i can SEEE the damn thing is fading (lol)
re: Lighting systemstarwheel
Nov 9, 2001 7:57 AM
The NiteRider systems last about 2:20 at 10 W. I can't envision riding longer than that at night. Typically I ride 1-1:20 on weekdays after work, so that's probably all the time I would need. Of course, I'm not sure when the light starts fading. Does 2:20 mean that much usable time with bright light, or does the light start fading long before then?

I also looked at the VistaLite systems at Sierra Trading Post, but was a little concerned about the availability of parts since they are discontinuing the models. It seems like NiteRider, being so widespread, would be better from that standpoint -- if (and when) I needed to replace a bulb or battery.

If 10W is plenty of power for typical road riding, then it seems like that's the best option, as the systems with more power than that cost quite a bit more money.
About the low battery indicator...dsc
Nov 9, 2001 9:01 AM
...I'm sure that battery technology has improved since I bought a Nite Rider system (single 15w) 5 yrs. ago for off-road riding. But, that damn thing would go from beacon to a weak yellow glow in a matter of minutes, when nearing the end of the battery's run-time. Very exciting when you're in some canyon out in the middle of nowhere!
Anyhow, I'm sure that's what initially drove the addition of a low-battery indicator on some of the models.
re: Lighting systemspmf1
Nov 9, 2001 8:00 AM
I commute and use a 15 watt Niterider Pro 6 model. I used to have a 2 lamp classic system which was more than necessary. I recently learned (on Sheldon Brown's site) that the cheap battery rechargers are the main reason the batteries get fried. I just bought a fancier recharger from Colorado Cyclist for $50 that senses when the battery is full and stops charging it. Plus, it charges in five hours rather than 16. My wife also has the same light, so I think this is worth it for us.

If I were you, I'd get no more than a 15 watt system. A 10 watt one for less than $100 would probably be sufficient for what you want to do. Then again, if you decide you really like night riding you'll be wanting something nicer.

I wish I would have thought this way when I bought the Park consumer truing stand rather than the fancier one.
Nov 9, 2001 9:51 AM
Has the vistalights on sale too. Check them out.

Just a warning about the NR Digital sets. Go to and go to the Product review section for lights. There are a lot of negative posts on the NR digital stuff. The batteries have had problems.

For your suggested use, it sounds like 5w-10w system would be good. Also, go with a bar mount for road riding, although I think you knew that.

Finally, do not forget about a very good rear light. My favorite brand is the Specialized. They make those small read light systems that throw off tons of red light, and have 3-4 different blinking options. Go to local bike shop to check them out. The rear light is incredibly important at night.

This is the one I got, on closeout sale at Specialized.

Its the Backburner tail light about 1/2 down the page. $8.50.
Planet Bike InsightBryan
Nov 9, 2001 4:13 PM
Just ordered the Planet Bike Insight from for $109. Has a 4.5 Amphour NiMH battery, 9w/12w/15w settings with 1.6hr/2.5hr/3.4hr burn times. Low batery/charge/full charge indicator.

Sounds good. Anyone have experience with this one?