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Lighting system for winter rides(8 posts)

Lighting system for winter ridesMcBaine
Oct 16, 2003 5:19 PM
I'm considering a lighting system for winter rides. Would you recommend helmet or handle bar mount? I read that NiMH batteries can be problematic in the cold. Are any specific systems recommended?
re: Lighting system for winter ridesrussw19
Oct 16, 2003 6:08 PM
If you are using a combo of both, then helmet lights are great, but I (my own opinion only...) only like to use them with a handlebar light. The handelbar light always lights were you are going... the helmet light lights where your head is pointed. If you look away from your path, your path is no longer lighted. But if you use both, the combo is great.

I personally use a Cat-Eye Stadium Light... it's as bright as a car's bright headlight... but it's super expensive. I also have a less powerful TurboCat light that is nice. But it is only a 10 watt light (the Cat-eye is like 85 watts)

And as for the cold, I live in Florida, so I rarely see weather under freezing (only at night on maybe 7 nights a year in january) so I can't spead to the cold weather issues.

I've done both...Gregory Taylor
Oct 16, 2003 6:26 PM
...the helmet mount and the bar mount. I actually preferred the helmet mount in terms of lighting up what I need to see because, like another posted noted, the light shines wherever you point your head. With a bar-only mount, you light up only what is directly in front of you. So, for example, if you are taking a tight curve, a bar mount light sometimes won't light up the portion of the corner that is "around the bend". You can partially compensate for this with a wide beam light, however.

In the end, I've gone back to a bar mounted light. Ultimately, I got concerned about having a very robust piece of plastic strapped to my helmet. I had visions of going over the bars and having the light get pushed through my helmet and into my skull. Granted, I'm probably too sensitive to this because I went through an 18 month period a while back where I racked up two concussions from landing on my head in two bike wrecks.

I have a Nightrider Digital Pro 6 with a NiCad battery. It's okay...not great. It's my second (and probably last) Nightrider system. Customer service bites, and the quality isn't quite what it once was. The first system that I bought was trouble free and lasted a good long while. I replaced it when the battery died -- it wasn't that much more to buy a whole system versus just the replacement battery. The most recent system (now on its second year of service) is finicky and the run times are nowhere near what they advertise. Oh well, live and learn.
If only one, go with bar mount...biknben
Oct 16, 2003 7:33 PM
When you only use a helmet light you can't see shadows. It is difficult to explain but noticable. It is hard to see the depth of debris or imperfections in the road.

Go with a H-bar mount or both. I use both on the MTB but just the bar mount on the road. The addition of the helmet light is significant off-road. Easier to see trail intersections and tight turns. You can look down and see what the noise on your bike is. On the road, turns are not as tight and you usually have light from other sources (cars & street lights) to help.

As far as which to get, get the most watts you can afford. I prefer single beam systems rather than dual beams. If you have money for a dual beam, spend a little more and get two single beam systems. The difference between a low and high beam isn't big. It just puts more light in the same place. Get a second single beam for your head and put more light wherever you need it.
If only one, go with bar mount...MShaw
Oct 17, 2003 3:09 PM
With a head mount light only, the reason you can't see right is that the shadows are lined up wtih your line of sight. Little rocks, big rocks, you can't tell 'cause they look the same without a shadow.

I ride with some friends that own HID Niteriders. One has had battery problems, and NR has been good to him. The one thing about the HIDs is that they are BRIGHT! I've riden in front of someone that has one on and the shadow I cast is darker than the light on my bars' ability to overcome it.

I have a NR Commuter Pro, a 6v 10w, a 6v 15w, and a Vistalite 6v 10w. Of all of them, the Vistalite seems to be the most efficient bulb ie: the battery runs the light the longest. The 10w is a flood, the 15w is a spot, the commuter has both.

I've noticed that the NR head units get heavy after a while, so I jury rigged a mount for the Vistalite out of a NR helmet mount. Seems to work OK. Last time I went out with a head light on, my neck was sore the next day...

Around here (San Diego) where there really are no such things as trees, you can get away without a head mounted light. In VA, it goet a lot darker under the canopy and the trails are a lot more twisty-turny so a head mount is almost essential. At least that's my $.02...

One benefit of having a helmet mounted light in traffic is that you can look at a driver who is about to turn left in front of you. With a bright-arse light in their face, they're much more likely to see you!

re: Lighting system for winter ridesSaddle_Sore
Oct 17, 2003 12:36 AM
Go for a Cat-Eye ABS35 or the Stadium model mounted on the H-bar if you are road riding. When it comes to lights you should spend as much money as possible because they are essential to you not getting wiped out by unseen hazards. Although the Stadium has a fast-charger and excellent wattage, the run times seldom approach the "on the box" figures, but that is true of almost all lighting systems out there. Running the lights in lab conditions is one thing, running them in the real world where it gets cold and wet seldom occurs to the manufacturers!
Highly recommend Turbo Cat Lights...mainframe
Oct 17, 2003 7:34 AM
They are high quality, very light weight, and the company is great to deal with. They have systems to suit all purposes. Just this morning I rode pre-dawn, not having done so in some time, and was once again reminded of how nice a light it is. The company rep will answer all questions concerning winter. I, like the poster above, live in Florida
Here's my $43 Canadian homebuilt recepie:BowWow
Oct 17, 2003 10:16 AM
Please note that I am not the originator of this idea, although I came up with it independently, then discovered that it had already been done. I just can't remember where I saw it - a site from Australia, I think...

1 - 20 watt MR-16 12 volt bulb (I prefer spot to flood, but they are harder to find)

1 - 1 1/2" rubber plumbing connector (they usually come with a thin corregated metal wrapping that has a hose clamp at each end. They are 1 1/2" diameter and 2 1/8" long)

1 - 1 1/2" ABS threaded end cap (black plastic, with the square end for tightening with a wrench)

1 - 9" zip tie

1 - 5" hose clamp

4 - female spade connectors

1 SPST micro switch

black tape

4' lamp cord (a bit smaller gauge wire is also acceptable)

Batteries. I use Panasonic LC-R122R2PU laptop sealed lead acid batteries. 12 volt/2.2 amp hours. I bent an aluminum bottle cage and the battery fits quite snugly. I recharge the batteries with a 12 volt wall wart transformer. I leave it attached for 24 hours. I'm still researching the *correct* amount of time to leave the battery attached...

Here's some photos of my setup. It is wonderfully bright, and I get about 70 minutes out of a fully charged battery. I bought the batteries (2) for $11 each at Princess Auto, a Canadian auto/farm parts store. The other stuff came from Totem, a chain lumber/hardware Home Depot type store. Total spent, $43 CAN. Which includes 2 batteries, recharger, and 2 lights (1 spot, 1 flood). Beat that!!!

The 10 watt bulbs in the package shown here are the smaller MR11 bulbs - too dim for me, but very tiny and very tidy. I'm still looking at how to mount these, and also trying to find higher wattage.

I used a cap that you can thread a dishwasher drain into. It's open, so not very waterproof, but you can see the wiring. I'm replacing it with a regular threaded end cap that will be sealed, and will accommodate the switch better.

I zip-tied mine to an old Cateye commuter light mount. Instead of zip-ties, use the large hose clamp that comes with the fitting to hold the end cap in place, and interlock it with a smaller hose clamp that will fit around your handlebars.

Here's the battery set-up. As you can see, it's still a work in progress. But it works great!