I have written articles about bicycle lights before. Here goes another posting about them. With the invention of LED lights and the development of various lights over the years I think it is safe to say “we’ve come a long way”. It is my understanding that a standard automotive headlight is about 1200 lumens. A lumen is a measurement of brightness a light produces. I won’t bother giving the exact definition here as it is too technical for most of us to grasp much about what they say. HERE is a pretty good explanation of the whole enchilada which is easier to understand.
There are bicycle lights available that are way over the 1200 lumens of a car headlight. The NightRider 3600 Pro is claimed (by NightRider) to be the brightest headlight available currently (at the time I am writing this). 3600 lumens! Wow! That’s more than twice as bright as an automotive headlight. With that kind of brightness one could certainly OWN THE NIGHT.
If one is riding somewhere all by their lonesome away from others out in front of them having that kind of brightness is fabulous, especially at night time in the dark. However, if others are involved out in front of that bright light … well, first of all I pity them … and secondly shame on the one who would expose them to such brightness which most definitely is blinding. To make matters worse for some reason unknown to me most manufacturers of bicycle lights sold here in the United States shine up high rather than have a built in diffuser lens to prevent the light from doing so. It makes absolutely no sense to me. I seldom ride at night but when I do I am not looking for owls up in the trees so I sure don’t need my headlight to shine up high illuminating the trees. Even in the daytime bicycle headlights can be a problem for some folks who are out in front of these bright headlights that shine up way too high.
And the brighter the headlight the more of a problem they cause others. In flash mode in the daytime they could trigger seizures in some people. I think it high time that we cyclists unify and let the bicycle light manufacturers known that they need to do something about this matter. Our lights should be like the bottom illustration above.
Below is a picture of a bicycle headlight that is definitely blinding to anyone out in front of it. THERE IS NO EXCUSE FOR THIS! This person should receive a ticket from a police officer. Such a cyclist is a menace!
Here is a picture of my own trike with my lighting all turned on in the daytime. As you can see it is blinding and I don’t even have any of these powerful lights I am writing about here. My brightest headlight in this picture is only 350 lumens. And I might add that the camera doesn’t really capture this like looking at it with one’s eyes. It is truly annoying, obnoxious and offensive. I have many times come upon bicyclists who have blinding lights on and it is really hard to see the pathway ahead because of it. One can try not to look at such lights but they still cause serious problems.
I don’t have a problem with these extremely bright lights so long as they are not shining up into my face. I am all for them as long as they are being used properly. What little night riding I have done on my trike most definitely I have experienced poor lighting vs. good lighting. I will take good lighting over poor lighting every time I am out there riding at night by myself in total darkness. Crashing into trees, riding over a cliff, etc. is not my favorite activity. BTW, I have written about blinding headlights before.
As I said, I don’t have extremely bright lights on my trike as I really don’t have need of them since most all of my riding is in the daytime. Here is the lighting I used to have … with the brightest headlight being 350 lumens. I had three headlights at the time this picture was taken. They were the same three that were in the picture above.
Actually I don’t even have any of these lights on my trike anymore as I have bought new lights since this picture was taken. My brightest headlight I have is 450 lumens with a diffuser lens but I seldom use it. I usually just use a 350 lumen headlight and it doesn’t have a diffuser lens. And I usually only have one headlight mounted at a time although I have others I could quickly add if I needed them. I would do so if I were to ride at night. I like the idea of owning the night and being able to see quite well where I am going.
Here are two 450 lumen headlights on my trike. They have a built in diffuser lens which keeps the light beam from shining up high blinding others. The red arrows point to the two headlights. The fence in the background is about 112 feet away.
UPDATE … I went out riding at night to test these lights. In the picture they look pretty bright but when I rode with them I was disappointed as they didn’t do the job as I had hoped. I certainly did not own the night with these headlights. In total darkness I certainly could not safely ride very fast as they just didn’t do the job. I even added one more light to these two and it made little difference.
One of my very favorite websites for viewing and comparing various headlights is HERE. You can select from a drop down list a headlight and then select another one from the other side. They will display side by side. Just use your cursor to move the blue divider from side to side to view the other light. And HERE is a similar website.
So by all means if you are riding at night by yourself you can OWN THE NIGHT too. But please don’t blind others … daytime or nighttime. We all want to and need to be safe out there and courteous to others. It can be done amigo. Does that sound like a spaghetti western? Oh never mind!
KEEP ON TRIKIN’
A FREE GIFT awaits you!
After about 8 years or more of dependable service my 1 watt Planet Bike headlight has started shutting off all by itself. So I am now looking for a replacement.
I came across this webpage which is somewhat unique. I shows many different headlights as they shine forward on the road at nighttime. It has a split screen where you can compare one light with another. You can adjust the split screen however you want it.
HERE is another website where you can compare the lighting from various headlights at nighttime.
HERE is another side by side comparison.
HERE is an explanation of LED lighting with helpful information.
HERE is an article on lumens and brightness.
As you can see, not all lights are equal. In the image above are two lights both rated at 300 lumens. Obviously the one on the left is much much brighter than the one on the right. I also selected some other 300 lumen lights to compare and the result was identical to what you see in this picture. Good optics make all the difference in lights.
In the image below are beamshots of a 350, 700 and 1000 lumen headlights. As you can see the 350 holds its own pretty good against these much more powerful lights. Again, good optics make all the difference in lights.
I bought the 350 lumen headlight shown in the image above. It is a Light & Motion Urban 350 which sells for about $50. I like it fine for nighttime riding … which I seldom do … but I am very disappointed in its pulse mode for daytime riding … which is what I almost always do. As far as I am concerned its pulse mode is nearly worthless in the daytime. There is no comparison between it and my Planet Bike headlight. So I more less wasted $50 on a light I really have little need or use of. I looked at some others which were about twice the price and their pulse mode was very attention getting. I don’t understand why this light I bought fails so miserably in this one area. It’s pulse mode would be fine at nighttime, but in the daytime … like I said … it is about worthless.
Here is a video of my Planet Bike headlight flashing inside my home.
Fortunately my Planet Bike headlight is working again so I am continuing to use it for daytime riding. It turned out that the problem of it shutting off by itself was simply a matter of the battery contacts needing to be cleaned. Its flashing mode is very attention getting. BTW, Planet Bike lights have very good optics.
Here is a still shot of my current headlights at nighttime. I have changed the mounting positions since this picture was taken.
One thing I have noticed about many of the new headlights being sold now is that they have rubber straps to mount them instead of much more solid and secure clamps. I hate these rubber straps as they are a cheap way of making what are otherwise good lights. The rubber straps won’t tighten up and hold the light in position and they make it extremely simple, fast and easy to steal the light. I am constantly having to reach down and reposition my two new headlights as they just keep moving out of position as I ride along. I would never buy another headlight that uses a rubber strap to mount it. They are a joke … only I am not laughing.
Well, I hope this article has helped to shed some light on the subject of headlights. Be safe out there and …
KEEP ON TRIKIN’
A FREE GIFT awaits you!
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I have posted articles about headlights and taillights previously, but you know new products and technology are coming out on the market all the time. When it comes to lighting there have been some pretty decent products showing up. Some show up more than others. Some cost way more than others. Still some show up quite well and the cost is quite reasonable. Such is the case with Planet Bike headlights and taillights.
I personally have a Planet Bike 1 watt Blaze headlight and two Planet Bike Superflash 1/2 watt taillights. They have offered a 2 watt version of it for some time, but the battery life isn’t quite as good as the 1 watt. Even though theoretically it is twice as powerful looking at it it just doesn’t look all that much brighter than the 1 watt. Don’t get me wrong. It is slightly brighter … just not all that much brighter. Now they have out the “Blaze Micro 2 watt” which is not only less money than their regular 2 watt Blaze, but the battery life is the same as the 1 watt version. That sounds like a good deal to me. Here is a picture of it.
I am impressed. I have not seen any figures of battery life that even comes close to the Planet Bike Blaze headlights. You can buy brighter lights, but for me these are plenty bright. I only use my headlight on flashing mode and only ride in the daytime normally. And I normally use rechargeable batteries in my headlight and taillights. I carry extra batteries with me … both rechargeable and alkaline. The PB Blaze headlights take 2 AA batteries. The PB Superflash taillights take 2 AAA batteries. I have had these lights for several years now and found them to be very well made and reliable.
One thing beyond battery life and wattage (lumens) that makes all the difference in lights is their optics. Some lights are just better than others. The Planet Bike lights have very good optics which really make the lights very visible. Also they do quite well being seen from the side. Some lights do very poorly being seen from the side. In fact, some lights can’t be seen from the side at all. I personally would not have a headlight or taillight that aren’t quite visible from the side. It is all about our safety folks!
Normally the more wattage a light uses the quicker the battery power is drained. I have seen other brands which are virtually the same as my headlight as to size, brightness (with new fully charged batteries) and the same batteries (2 AA) which ate batteries up like crazy and the light dimmed quickly. I am not an electronics engineer so I can’t say much about this, but I know it has to do with the design of the electronic circuitry inside. What I am saying is that not all lights are created equal.
It may appear as though I am “pushing” Planet Bike lights. Well, all I can say to that is “yes, I am”. I am just so impressed with them. I know that there are those who spend a whole lot more money for other lights and usually they are buying lights known to be quite bright. To each his own as they say. First of all, I don’t have that kind of money to spend. Secondly, I personally see no need for a headlight that is any brighter than what I am using. Oh, today I would buy the 2 watt Blaze Micro as I see that as a “no brainer” … a bit brighter for the same money and the battery life is the same as the 1 watt I have now. Anyway, I think we can have too bright of headlights to the point they are “offensive”. I just want to be seen. I don’t want to make people mad at me.
HERE is a review article on another blog about headlights which is pretty well written and informative. It is from 2013 however, so it doesn’t have the latest lights that have come out.
HERE are the headlights offered by Performance Bike. It will give you a pretty good idea of what is available (from them) and their prices of each light.
HERE is one great deal on a very good headlight and taillight combination. (This is one I would seriously consider myself if I were in the market to buy lights for my trike.) It is a 4 watt Cygolite Metro 360 headlight and a 2 watt Hotshot taillight … both for $71.43 (at the time of this posting)(on Dec. 4,2015 the price was under $50 so it came down quite a bit) with free shipping from Amazon. The battery life is pretty good too. They have built in USB rechargeable batteries. Both have very good optics. And the headlight has good side visibility … yellow light in fact. It is sort of a “what’s not to like?” I would say. The one thing I am wondering is how long will the rechargeable batteries last as far as total number of times they can be recharged … and when they are kapoot what then? Can they be replaced and, if so, how much … or do you have to junk the lights. If that is the case it would seem like a real waste if they are still good otherwise.
- Super bright 4 watt headlight with 360 lumens for distant throw; Ultra bright 2 watt red LED tail light for intense visibility
- Internal rechargeable batteries saves cost of replacing batteries, headlight lasts up to 10 hrs. and tail light last up to 500 hrs. on a single charge
- Headlight 6 lighting modes: Medium > High >Low > Steady Pulse > DayLightning > Walking
- Tail Light: Adjustable flash speeds to maximize visibility; 5 Flash Modes: Steady > Zoom > Triple > Single > Random
- Includes Metro 360 headlight, Hotshot 2w tail light, USB charging cable, seatpost mount and Lock-tite handlebar mount.
I can’t help but wonder what the bicycle light manufacturing industry will be coming out with next. I guess I will just have to wait and see. Well, as long as my trusty Planet Bike lights continue to serve me I don’t think I will be buying any more lights. It is not that I am not tempted mind you. It is all a matter of self discipline! 🙂 Having good lighting on our trikes will help us to …
ENJOY THE RIDE!
This is a Public Service Announcement … and I am asking … how bright are you and what is your aim?
When we are riding somewhere away from motorists (and fellow cyclists) using an extremely bright headlight is fine, but when we are dealing with others out there it is not a good thing to have our headlight too bright or pointed upwards to where they have to deal with it’s brightness. Indeed it not only is not very nice of us, but it makes for a very dangerous situation which could lead to serious problems … namely an accident where somebody could get injured or killed. When I ride in the daytime I use my headlight on flashing mode so that it is attention getting. I also have it pointed upward so that it is aimed at drivers eyes as well as pedestrians. This is not a problem in the daytime and I highly recommend it. But if I ride at night I aim my headlight down so it helps me see the path ahead of me and I use it on steady on mode. There is nothing wrong with having bright lights. Just don’t be a menace out there with them. The life you save may be your own. We all want to …
KEEP ON TRIKIN’