Re: Commuter Bike Lights

Postby radical_edward on Sat 25/Apr/15 7:30pm

Simonk wrote:If you like what you see, there's also a 20% discount voucher for the best-in-test on the same webpage (redeemable as 13 bike shops in the Wellington region). All the best lights are now rechargeable, have a low battery indicator, and certainly bright enough to improve your chances of being noticed by tired motorists amongst a sea of other lights.


Do you think that brightness is a fair test of blinkies? I don't know how you would actually design a test, but there seems to be an upper and lower threshold where flashing lights are useful. They can be too bright, and distracting in their own right. There is a sweet spot of brightness, directionality, and an attention grabbing pattern.

I have the 4 LED Knog blinkies, and having a low battery indicator is not all it is cracked up to be either. Once the indicator comes on, you have a whole 10 minutes before the light totally shuts down. Useability is subjective, but brightness alone does not make the light.

Dougal wrote:Most of the commuter models I found were competing for brightness at the expense of run-time. USB recharge is also a big negative for me as you can't swap batteries in a hurry if you're caught out with it dying mid-ride.


USB recharge is the reality for any non-budget commuter light at this point in time. Off road lights still have swappable packs, but every high end light manufacturer has doubled down on USB charging.

The dirty secret of companies shooting for brightness is that the brighter lights are actually much more useful as a product at lower settings. This is a marketing fail more than anything. I moved to tree lined suburbia at christmas, so upgraded to a 250 lumen USB rechargeable, but in actual use, it gave me 1h20 of light, tops. I had to charge it every night, because if I took a detour on the way home I wouldn't have the light I needed. Range anxiety in action.

For winter, I have upgraded to a '750 lumen' (by Niterider), but in practice it gives me 6 hours at 200 lumens and I can leave it on the bars all week.
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Re: Commuter Bike Lights

Postby Simonk on Sat 25/Apr/15 8:15pm

I agree that lights can be too bright, but this test is only of lights with an RRP of under $100. There's only a few that could be deemed obnoxious...none of them are SUPER-bright like the ones designed for night-riding in rural areas or MTB parks.

The main thing to look for in a commuting light is brightness at 20 and 45 degrees. Cummuter ights that devote a fair % of their lumens to a broad beam are seldom too bright at any one point.

Regarding the low battery indicator, 10 mins warning is better than none, I guess. Other low battery indicators last longer and some come with a function that automatically turns them from hi to low output (where they'll last for much longer). If you have a long commute, a back-up lights are a sensible idea.

I have a USB Niterider on the front. Not a huge fan of the flash pattern, or the highly focused beam, but in all other respects it's going well. I swapped out the reflector to get a wider beam.
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Re: Commuter Bike Lights

Postby happybaboon on Sat 25/Apr/15 11:47pm

http://seesense.co/

I have/had some of these. They've got some neat features and the beam spread is EXCELLENT - 180 degrees with a frenzal lens (like a lighthouse) so it's highly visible from all directions in front/from the sides, and the responsive flashing patterns is a cool idea which is probably pretty helpful. Unfortunately a lot of crappy features too, like you got to spin them around to turn them on/change their settings and they're fiddly and not the greatest build quality. I hope the technologies make it into either a better light that they make, or lights from other manufacturers.
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Re: Commuter Bike Lights

Postby Simonk on Sun 26/Apr/15 8:37am

happybaboon wrote:http://seesense.co/

I have/had some of these. They've got some neat features and the beam spread is EXCELLENT - 180 degrees with a frenzal lens (like a lighthouse) so it's highly visible from all directions in front/from the sides, and the responsive flashing patterns is a cool idea which is probably pretty helpful. Unfortunately a lot of crappy features too, like you got to spin them around to turn them on/change their settings and they're fiddly and not the greatest build quality. I hope the technologies make it into either a better light that they make, or lights from other manufacturers.


Wow! That's a smart light, all right.
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Re: Commuter Bike Lights

Postby mark2c on Sun 26/Apr/15 11:55am

Looking forward to those features becoming ubiquitous. 80 GBP for two commuter lights is silly, even if they do save a bomb on batteries.
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Re: Commuter Bike Lights

Postby happybaboon on Sun 26/Apr/15 3:54pm

Yea they aren't worth it at the moment. Not built well enough to last - mine made it about ~6 months, including one replacement.
I'm glad I invested in the technology as the lens and the changing flash patterns are cool features I'd like to see survive.
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Re: Commuter Bike Lights

Postby Dougal on Sun 26/Apr/15 5:43pm

Simonk wrote:We tested the Cateye EL135 a couple of years ago (when we teamed up with ConsumerNZ - https://www.consumer.org.nz/products/bike-lights The test results are still there, but the photos are a bit mixed up) . It was pretty average and has been superceeded by Cateye's brilliant Volt lights. The EL135 is no longer available in Wellington bike shops.


Found it in there. Thanks. Shame I didn't find your test earlier as there's such a flooded market it's hard to know what is good and what is rubbish. I'm happy to see far worse rankings for other lights the shops would prefer I buy. The price was worth the punt.

My usage is also quite different to inner city commuting. So finding a relevant review can be difficult. I'm using them for riding to/from trails in the dark so being seen ahead/behind by motorists and having enough light to see through the shadows are the main concerns. Followed by battery life (change them once a year or two) and a bar clamp that works.

radical_edward wrote:
Dougal wrote:Most of the commuter models I found were competing for brightness at the expense of run-time. USB recharge is also a big negative for me as you can't swap batteries in a hurry if you're caught out with it dying mid-ride.


USB recharge is the reality for any non-budget commuter light at this point in time. Off road lights still have swappable packs, but every high end light manufacturer has doubled down on USB charging.


My big lights are plug-in charge and I'm fine with that. But the led's that stay on the bars over winter I much prefer batteries for fast swap when they die. This isn't a problem any more as the larger low end lights are still getting better and sticking with AA's.

A few years back it seemed to be a bad market spot with USB charging, high price, low run time and light output that wasn't flash.

Now I can ride with the bar mount LED's if I have to. Like when I've forgotten to charge the big suckers.
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Re: Commuter Bike Lights

Postby znomit on Sun 26/Apr/15 6:13pm

Dougal wrote: A few years back it seemed to be a bad market spot with USB charging, high price, low run time and light output that wasn't flash.

The USB charging is still a bit iffy. If they are non replaceable batteries then expect to throw the lights away in 2-3 years when the batteries have run down (just like your cell phone). A lot of the Lezyne ones seem to feature replaceable 18650 batteries (or less common 123A) which is great.

I still like AAs for commuter lights.
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Re: Commuter Bike Lights

Postby Simonk on Sun 26/Apr/15 8:42pm

znomit wrote:
Dougal wrote: A few years back it seemed to be a bad market spot with USB charging, high price, low run time and light output that wasn't flash.

The USB charging is still a bit iffy. If they are non replaceable batteries then expect to throw the lights away in 2-3 years when the batteries have run down (just like your cell phone). A lot of the Lezyne ones seem to feature replaceable 18650 batteries (or less common 123A) which is great.

I still like AAs for commuter lights.


The Cateye Volt 50 and 300 have replaceable USB rechargeable batteries, too. The USB rechargeable lights are available for very low prices now, but some of the cheapest ones do look pretty nasty.
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Re: Commuter Bike Lights

Postby Datsane on Mon 27/Apr/15 10:32pm

Can someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm sure that is actually illegal to have only blinky light/s on your bike. Not to mention flashing modes aren't the best thing for night time sure they are visible but its hard to range an object if its disappearing all the time.


NiteRider Sentinel is a cool tail light projects the safety lane thingys onto the road.
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Re: Commuter Bike Lights

Postby happybaboon on Mon 27/Apr/15 10:35pm

I believe the law used to be you weren't allowed flashing lights up front. But that got changed 'cos everyone was doing it anyway.
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Re: Commuter Bike Lights

Postby znomit on Mon 27/Apr/15 10:45pm

Yes, only one flashing light up front. Rear facing christmas trees are fine.

From the cyclists code:

When cycling at night or when visibility is poor, cycles must have the following:
One or more steady or flashing rear-facing red lights that can be seen at night from a distance of 100 metres.
One or two white or yellow headlights that can be seen at night from a distance of 100 metres. Only one of these headlights may flash.
Pedal retroreflectors on the forward and rear-ward facing surfaces of each pedal. If the cycle does not have these the cyclist must be wearing reflective material.

Cycle lights
There are many cycle lights on the market – some are designed to help cyclists be seen by other road users during times of low light, and some lights are designed to help cyclists see where they are going, like a headlight.
When considering lights it is important to be mindful that:
Headlights should be attached to handlebars and pointing down.
Your lights can be a hazard if used incorrectly. You must not use cycle lighting equipment in such a way that it dazzles, confuses, or distracts so as to endanger the safety of other road users.
Correct use of cycle lighting will make your cycling experience safer and more enjoyable, while ensuring other road users are not at risk.
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Re: Commuter Bike Lights

Postby Simonk on Thu 7/May/15 5:35pm

I have the 4 LED Knog blinkies, and having a low battery indicator is not all it is cracked up to be either. Once the indicator comes on, you have a whole 10 minutes before the light totally shuts down. Useability is subjective, but brightness alone does not make the light.


We tested the Knog Blinder 4 lights yesterday. The front light was pretty average, but the back one was 14th out of about 60 rear lights - not bad.

I noticed there were a couple of 'lesser' flashing light modes (that didn't flash all four LEDs at once). If you used one of the lesser flashing modes, you might get more than 10 minutes of use after the low battery indicator comes on. Worth a crack.
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Re: Commuter Bike Lights

Postby happybaboon on Thu 7/May/15 5:39pm

What came first?
(Hurr)
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Re: Commuter Bike Lights

Postby Simonk on Thu 7/May/15 7:50pm

happybaboon wrote:What came first?
(Hurr)


The Lezyne Macro/Micro and Cateye Volt 300/50 sets were the brightest. Note we're only testing lights availble for under $100 in local bike shops.
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