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Need front light reccomendations(18 posts)

Need front light reccomendationsMudman
Nov 3, 2003 6:48 AM
Hello all. I meant to bookmark the last thread on this topic but forgot and now cant find it.

I am in need of a small headlight. Newbie purchase here. I do a quick 15 loop after work and need a lighting system.

I have two rear lights and fireflys - now need a front light and know very little about them. Thanks.

Cateye OpticubeDave Hickey
Nov 3, 2003 6:56 AM
I paid $35 at my LBS. It takes 2 aaa batterys and is very bright. I've been using it about a week and it works great.
My 5 led Opticube isn't bright enoughContinental
Nov 3, 2003 7:56 AM
The Cateye Opticube is a good light for making you visible, but not for illuminating the road. If you ride on well-lit streets, the 5 LED Opticube is great (I got mine on Ebay for about $20), but if you need to see sticks, stones, and potholes on a dark road, you need more light. I'll be getting a brighter light.
AgreedDave Hickey
Nov 3, 2003 8:20 AM
I ride in fairly well lit sub-divisions and don't have a problem.
A little dissapointed in the Opticube ...Geardaddy
Nov 3, 2003 9:52 AM
I've used one of the Cateye HL-xxx lights for awhile, and I agree that it seems to throw better light out than the Opticube does for seeing the road. I think my HL-xxx is rated as something like a 4 or 5 watt light. The downside is that I only get about 1 1/2 hours of runtime out of it, but that works pretty well for my commute distance. Also, it works OK as a backup light for off-road night riding, as it is just bright enough to be useful and it is very lightweigt and easy to deploy.

The Opticube seems to illuminate on little spot on the road. I suppose the advantage is that it has a much longer runtime, but that's about it.

I also have an older Vista-lite with two 10 watt bulbs. It lights things up real well and I get 3+ hours on a single 10 watt bulb, but compared to the simple Cateye light it is a bit much to drag around and setup all of the time. Plus it takes 12+ hours to recharge the thing.
10watt Turbocat.xrmattaz
Nov 3, 2003 7:01 AM
I've used one for years, battery is 9 years old and still going strong! About $100.

Also have a 10/15watt dual bulb CygoLite Night Explorer that works well. $90 via Ebay.

Both use water bottle-type batteries.

I commute on "pitch-black" roads (no streetlights) and cannot imagine doing so with something like the Opticube...I need 10 watts MINIMUM.
Trail Ratlyleseven
Nov 3, 2003 8:11 AM
Been using a NiteRider Trail Rat 10 watt light for two years; no problems, good illumination, light weight, paid $89 at Performance.
2nd the TurboCat - 2 years and going strong (nm)outofthesaddle
Nov 3, 2003 9:25 AM
re: Need front light reccomendations--CygoLiteMilliet
Nov 3, 2003 8:34 AM
I have the CygoLite Night Explorer and LOVE it.

It is 25W total (10,15 and 25 watt settings), uses two halogen bulbs and a ni-cad battery pack inside a sealed water bottle that will fit in the cage. The light has a quick connect to the handlebars. Comes with AC charger.

Puts out a ton of light. Battery life depends on setting, but will last long enough for most road use. The whole setup appears to be high quality.

Highly recommend. Should be able to buy for about $100 or little less. I think I paid $95.

Hattiesburg, MS
re: Cateye HL-500 (halogen)jrm
Nov 3, 2003 8:59 AM
Unlike the LCD stuff this thing throws a beam. There about the size of a pack of ciggies and about $20.
if you need to see (not just be seen) don't skimpcommuterguy
Nov 3, 2003 9:20 AM
I would agree that you need at least 10 watts of halogen light to create enough lumens to actually see the road. I have used Performance halogen lights and found them OK (if annoying that they switch suppliers and don't support their old stuff anymore). I recently made the HID plung (with Light and Motion's Arc Light)--now I can finally see where I am going, and I can go as fast as I do during the day.
Yes - zero street lightsMudman
Nov 3, 2003 9:25 AM
I am lucky that the loop I ride is a service road and rarley used by cars. 1-3 steel machines may pass during the entire ride. I know the route well, but need both - to be seen and to see the road. I am researching the suggestions now.

Yes - zero street lightsMudman
Nov 3, 2003 9:26 AM
I am lucky that the loop I ride is a service road and rarley used by cars. 1-3 steel machines may pass during the entire ride. I know the route well, but need both - to be seen and to see the road. I am researching the suggestions now.

agree, don't skimp...shawndoggy
Nov 3, 2003 10:46 AM
For doing night rides in the DARK (meaning no street lights, people not expecting to see some idiot riding a bike in the dark, etc.) I'll agree that you AT LEAST need ten watts of halogen power. You'll be able to see reasonably well, and oncoming traffic will see you.

Don't know your commitment or your financial position or philosophy, so take the following with a grain of salt. If you are a committed night rider, AND you can aford it, AND you like to buy stuff once, I wholeheartedly recommend getting an HID system. Here are the advantages: 1. light is bright enough to REALLY see potholes, glass, etc. at speed with enough time to avoid them (very important where I live, the broken glass on the side of the road capital of the world); 2. cars can SURE see you, at least from the front (I frequently get "brighted" running mine); 3. battery life is about three times what you get out of a similarly bright halogen. I do a 40+ mph descent with my light every time I use it (I live at the top of a long hill), and I can see using the HID. With a 12W halogen I can see just far enough to mutter an expletive before hitting glass, pothole, debris, etc, and I never let the bike get going more than 25 with the 12W either.

Yes, it's $300+ for the darn thing. But if you have to do a lot of training at night, it's certainly worth more than a set of carbon fiber bottle cages and a $100 saddle come springtime. Prices are dropping lately too (seems the REI holiday catalog had a cygolight version for $279 +/-?).

FWIW, I use the niterider. But brand choice on HID systems is a whole 'nother shimano/campy barrel of monkeys...
agree, don't skimp...dgangi
Nov 3, 2003 7:25 PM
Yes, do not skimp. If you are really riding in the pitch dark, then I think 20w of Halogen power is the minimum you should run. Some people may disagree with me, but a 10w Halogen light is just not bright enough to light up things like potholes and glass in the road with enough distance for you to avoid them. A 15w bulb is marginal IMHO. A 20w bulb will give you plenty of brightness at distance (we're still talking <100 feet).

If you really want a good light, get a HID. That will light up the night and you will have absolutely no problem seeing obstacles in the road.

In addition, do not get a headlight with an SLA (sealed lead-acid) battery. They are very heavy and do not give you much runtime. Go with a light that has Nickle Metal Hydride (NIMH). You will save some weight on the battery pack and get more riding time.

Good brands to check out: Nite Rider (, Night Hawk (, PlanetBike (, Light&Motion, and Performance Bike (they have their own house brand that is supposed to be good).

Nite HawkAndy M-S
Nov 3, 2003 9:25 AM
Get a Nite Hawk Raptor. About $50 at Performance or Nashbar (forget which). It comes with a 6v SLA waterbottle battery, 10w head, and smart charger (which makes this a great deal). They're made in Canada. And work, really, really well.

I have one Raptor and one of their Viper heads wired together for a 5/10/15w system on my commuter/trail cost (got stuff on sale) was about $60, and I have two batteries and two chargers as a side benefit...
re: Need front light reccomendationsaliensporebomb
Nov 3, 2003 12:32 PM
If you have a high speed connection you can watch
me ride my commuter bike on halloween night.

-Two Cateye EL300 headlights ($22 ea @
-Rear Cateye 5-LED blinky
-Yellow Tirefly LED blinkies on the valve stems

It's a quicktime video...

It's my commuter bike, not my roadie but you get an idea
of what they look like anyway.
re: Need front light reccomendationsaliensporebomb
Nov 3, 2003 1:43 PM
Oh. And yes, if I could afford it I'd have an HID light.

On my commute I ride in about 6 a.m. and there's this guy
who has a light that can be seen from about four or five
miles away.

Since we're on the Hopkins to Minneapolis leg of the
Cedar-Lake Kenilworth bike trail he can be seen for an
amazing distance off.

When he finally passes me it's like passing the sun.

I need me one of those.

My two EL300s when I point their beams together isn't too
bad. But I'd like more light.