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Headlights/Tailights(19 posts)

Oct 23, 2002 12:34 PM
I'm sure this has been asked before, but anyone have recomendations for lights, now that it is getting dark earlier? I'm looking mostly for something that will allow cars to see me rather than helping me to see the road.

I used to buy them every year.onespeed
Oct 23, 2002 12:41 PM
When it started to get dark. Then I would lose them when it started to get light again. Finally I stopped buying them, and havent ridden with a light in 4-5 years.

Of course everyone will opine on this subject. Mine will probably be lambasted.
Niterider and other stuffdave woof
Oct 23, 2002 12:48 PM
I bought a niterider a year ago, I love it - twin beam, 12+12 watts - really bright. Battery is lead acid and heavy, but at night, big deal.

Also a note -

the bulbs for niterider and others sell for 20+ bucks at your lbs and online bike shops. The bulbs are actually just low voltage, halogen track lighting bulbs, you can find them online for 3-5 bucks each. You have to know wattage, volts, etc for the light. for example mine are 6 volt, 12 watt, 10 degree spotlight.. and a 30 degree flood. good for fast riding at night on roads

Niterider options (similar question)laffeaux
Oct 23, 2002 12:55 PM
I was about to post a similar question regarding lights.

Nite Rider has two products that I'm trying to decide between:
the BlowTorch Handlebar H.I.D., and the Digital Pro 12-LCD. The BlowTorch is brighter, but the Digital Pro seems to have more options as far as settings (6w to 32w). For commuting purposes, do you find it better to have a single setting light that is bright, or a light that can used as a reflector, headlight, and everything in between?
Niterider options (similar question)PdxMark
Oct 23, 2002 1:15 PM
My 6 volt Niterider headlight has 6, 10 and 15 watt settings. I like having lower power settings to extend my battery life when I forget to recharge the battery. Otherwise, the brighter the better. I also like how bright the niterider tailight is.

As one down side to the low niterider power settings, one reviewer felt that the brightness at low power is much lower than the power would have you believe due to inefficient circuitry. My goals would be a balance between brightness and battery life, with the time of your commute (to and from in my case) setting the minimum battery life per charge.
Niterider options (similar question)dave woof
Oct 23, 2002 2:16 PM
I never cared for the bells and whistles on the lights. two beams - one broad, one tight, works fine. Broad to be seen, tight to see at higher speeds.
I don't need led's to let me know the battery is getting low - I can tell by the lights brightness, duh!.

I bought a second battery recently - now I just trade batteries on the charger before or after each ride. If I forget to trade one night, I still have one fresh battery.


Go blowtorch for sure!shawndoggy
Oct 23, 2002 3:55 PM
Disclosure, I don't actually own one. But look at the specs between the lights. You might be able to get the same run time out of the digital as the HID, if you run it at a power that is so low that it will look like a flashlight. the HID light on the other hand will be basically the brightest bike light known to man for all four hours of its run time.

I did a 24 hour MTB race at tahoe this year. I ran 20 watts of hallogen on the bars and 12 watts on my head. Guys with the HID lights would pass me and it would be like the sun came up for a couple of minutes. The light output on the HID lights (either nightrider or light & motion) is nothing short of amazing. If you are going to spend over $300, absolutely positively get HID.

I'm just tucking the pennies away till I can get mine.
re: Headlights/Tailightsoutofthesaddle
Oct 23, 2002 2:41 PM
I've been really happy with my TurboCat headlight. I use a 10 watt with either a lead acid or NiMH battery. I don't have alot of experience with different lights but I noticed on a group ride the other morning that my light was significantly brighter than other lights in the group. In fact, someone commented that they thought I was a car as I approached. I've had the light for about a year and its been trouble free. They also have a program that allows folks engaged in 24hr/adventure/endurance racing to purchase spare batteries and bulbs at a discount.

For tailight - Vistalight Total Eclipse

Good luck.
To answer your question: strobesKerry
Oct 23, 2002 3:49 PM
If what you are looking for is conspicuousity, then strobes are your answer. There are a number of low cost red and white/yellow/green strobes that are quite visible to drivers from both directions. As examples, both Nashbar and Performance have strobe lights on sale right now for around $10 each. If you don't need to light the path in front of you and only want to be seen, strobes are the best answer.
If you only want ot be seen...biknben
Oct 23, 2002 4:58 PM
go with strobes or flashers like Kerry suggests. Save yourself a few hundred buck too.

I have a NR HID light. It's certainly bright and lasts plenty long. If you needed light to see ahead, I would recomend it. I've been commuting just before dawn for the last couple weeks. I can see fine without a headlight, but I use a red flasher on my seat post to make sure everyone can see me from behind. To take it a step further, you could mount a white or amber flasher on the front of your bike to be seen by those ahead of you.
re: Headlights/Tailightsbianchi boy
Oct 23, 2002 5:34 PM
The first thing you need is a tail-light. They are inexpensive and the good ones will really make you visible. I like the Vistalight Eclipse, which costs about $20, is reasonable small and light, and puts out a very bright flash.

As far as head lights go, you can get a reasonably good system for $70-100 or spend several hundred dollars on something top-notch. A lot depends on how much you ride in the dark. If you commute or ride every day in the dark, spend the bucks on a good system. Myself, I generally ride 1-2 nights a week so I didn't want to spend a lot. I've got a Cygolite (can't remember the model) that was only about $70 -- and it's very reliable, has 2-6 hours of run time, and the battery mounts in a bottle cage. For about $100, Planet Bike makes a nice NiMH system which I probably would have gotten but they were out of stock when I needed to buy one last fall.
READ ME...Ride-Fly
Oct 23, 2002 8:32 PM
sorry for yelling but I wanted to get your attention. :^) I have a recommendation for your needs. I just got a Specialized Astro 5.0 head light for my road bike. It suited my needs perfectly because I wanted a bright, fairly long-lasting handlebar light that didn't need an external battery that I had put in the water cage or attach to the frame (i.e. Niterider Trail Rat). The Astro 5.0 lists for $45-50 so it is a little steep for what it seems- your basic AAA handlebar light. But here is the catch, it is a Rechargable
b NiMH
battery with a burn time of well over 2 hours. It is brighter than all AAA battery operated bar lights and is
i almost
as bright as my Jet 12W helmet light. Another bonus is that it is fairly light when compared to Niteriders and my Jet setup. The only problem you might encounter is finding a shop that carries them. I had to special order from my LBS and it took about 2-3 weeks. Still I am way happy about the purchase. Also, for taillights, check out one of the Specialized twin lights that uses watch batteries. They are really bright and light weight due the battery type. I have them on ordr too because my LBS ran out them. I think they are about $20-25. Check them out if you can and Good Luck. Ride ON!!!
Cateye & Lightmanroadcyclist
Oct 24, 2002 1:41 AM
For an inexpensive headlight, check out the led headlights from Cateye. They make one that has 5 leds, it must be blinding because the 3 led model is BRIGHT! Planet Bike also makes an led headlight. For a blinking taillight - do a web search for Lightman Xenon strobes. It's brighter than the other blinkies listed in the posts above (about $25.00).
My suggestions are based on - You want to be seen. You don't want to spend a fortune. You don't need a rechargeable system. I use a Cygolite Nite Rover Extra dual headlight system for commuting (rechargeable, about $100.00)
What duration do certain light systems ACTUALLY provide?Geardaddy
Oct 24, 2002 7:44 AM
I've been using a simple Cateye 2.4 watt halogen that takes 4 AA NiCad batteries on my commuter for 5 years. I also put a taillight (with strobe of course) on the bike and another one on my backpack. I also have a Vistalite 540(?) system which has two 10 watt bulbs (one bike mount and one helment mount) and uses a battery pack with 6 NiCad D cell batteries. I've found that the manufacturer suggested battery lifetimes are often very inaccurate (although Vistalite's estimates were right on). Here are the specs that I'm getting.

Cateye Micro:
cost: $15
bulb: 2.4 watt halogen
batteries: 4 AA NiCad rechargables.
running time: 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
recharge time: 5 hours.
pros: small, lightweight, easy to take on/off bike
cons: short running time

Vistalite 540:
cost: $80 (got it used)
bulb: 2 10 watt bulbs
batteries: NiCad battery pack (6 "D" cell sized batteries)
running time: one bulb - 3 hours+, two bulbs - 2 to 2 1/2 hrs.
recharge time: 12 hours.
pros: bright, bar and helmet mount, easy to use switches
cons: battery pack mount, lights get hot, no beam controls

So, what kind of specs are you all getting on your light systems??
Night Rider HIDgrzy
Oct 24, 2002 1:47 PM
Good News: 4 hour burn time - measured and verified on three different systems. 10 watt draw with the equivalent of 30W to 40W output. It's so bright that cars will flash you to turn down your "high beam."

Bad News: $379 suggested retail price.
re: Niterider Blowtorch & Tail lightPoulidor
Oct 24, 2002 9:10 AM
I have used the Blowtorch HID (high intensity discharge) headlight and Niterider tail light, for commuting, since last winter. The system is expensive but the Blowtorch is unbelievably bright (and has a burn time of 4 hours). This not only allows you to see what's ahead but makes you very visible to cars. The tail light also seems fairly expensive but it is the brightest I have ever seen (after having used various Vistalight tail lights). It is bright enough to use during daylight hours and draws a very small amount of power from the battery. For increased lateral visibility, I strap a small personal strobe light into one of my bottle cages. With all this light, I have not had any close calls and, in fact, cars seem to give me a wider berth at night. As I mentioned, the system is expensive, but when it comes to safety, it is money well spent.

re: Headlights/Tailightsgotj
Oct 24, 2002 9:13 AM
I went through the same process recently. I ended up getting the Light and Motion Commuter, which for me had the best combination of high power, low weight (for a battery pack system -- according to the site below the lighthead and battery together weigh only 340g), and relatively low cost:

I couldn't find a LBS that had them, so I got mine at Supergo for $89:

I haven't really tested it on a dark ride yet, but it looks good so far.

I also have the Vistalight flashing tailight, which works great.
re: Strobe Light?mbologna
Oct 24, 2002 9:51 AM
First, thanks for all the replies so far. Second, this may seem stupid, but several people mention strobe lights for tail lights. What brands are these? Is this the same thing as the Trek disco-light they sell as a tailight? I guess I had no idea how involved finding a set of lights would be (Come to think of it, it was the same way as buying the bike in the first place!)!
re: Strobe Light?Poulidor
Oct 24, 2002 11:00 AM
The strobe light I mentioned is a personal emergency strobe that, I believe, was first developed for use in boating (it was supposed to be clipped to a life vest). The one I have has a clear lense and essentially is the same thing as a strobe-type flash on a camera (very bright). You can get one from (search for emergency strobe). It flashes 50-60 times a minute for up to 16 hours and then flashes at a lower rate for up to an additional 40 hours, on a single D-cell battery. Since it has a clear lens, I don't use it as a tail light but I have seen them with different colored lenses (red, yellow, blue etc.) at websites that sell emergency services/personal safety equipment (such as It would probably make a good taillight but you would want to make sure to change the battery after about 20-25 hours in order to keep the strobe flashing at a fairly fast rate(50-60 times a minute). When the battery drains too much, it flashes too slowly and would not be as useful as a tail light (not as much an issue when used for lateral visibility).