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expensive lights, why?

mikeoukmikeouk Posts: 148
edited November 2012 in Road general
I bought a chinese £30 front light off ebay, and used it first time last night for a 30 mile ride down country lanes and it was excellent, plenty bright enough to see where I was going.
It got me thinking, how much better can a £200/£300 light be? im sure the actually build quality must be better (although the one i got seems pretty good) ,but is it worth the extra and why?
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  • lostboysaintlostboysaint Posts: 4,250
    edited October 2012
    Because in the time that I've had my Four4ths light (as my bar light) and my Exposure Joystick (as my head torch) there's a whole load of people that I ride with have ended up replacing batteries, battery chargers, head units, brackets and yet mine keep soldiering on with no reliability issues whatsoever.


    EDIT: Oh, and I learned my lesson the hard way, I had a chinese bar light and torch and both were rendered useless by water ingress.
    Trail fun - Transition Bandit
    Road - Wilier Izoard Centaur/Cube Agree C62 Disc
    Allround - Cotic Solaris
  • asprillaasprilla Posts: 8,440
    I used to have a pair of Ultrafire torches strapped to lock blocks on my handle bars and I used them for one winter. I still use them as torches.

    The issues I had with them were:

    1) They weren't very waterproof
    2) They had no indication of when they were getting low on battery
    3) Hitting a pot hole or similar shock would occasionally turn them off
    4) Overheating would cause them to flicker and fade
    5) The beam pattern managed somehow to simultaneously concentrate in a spot giving little peripheral light whilst blinding people coming the other way

    I've now got an Exposure Strada and it's brilliant (pun intended). It's got a letterbox beam pattern so it's wide without blinding anyone coming the other way. It's also got a high beam spot when required.
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  • bluedoggybluedoggy Posts: 279
    +1 on Exposure.
    I have an Exposure Maxx D and it cost a small fortune, but it's worth every penny and one of the best pieces of kit i own. It FLOODS the road in front of you and adds so much for safety. Some say, it's over kill, but i disagree.
    Wilier cento uno.
  • chris_basschris_bass Posts: 4,913
    surely you could replace lights in this title with anything?

    you often get what you pay for!
    www.conjunctivitis.com - a site for sore eyes
  • danowatdanowat Posts: 2,877
    My £30 magicshine is now on it's 3rd winter, ok, so the mode change button doesn't work anymore, but it's used almost daily from October to March, minimum 1hr a day, so for the money, I can't complain.
  • Neale1978Neale1978 Posts: 484
    ultrafire lights are awesome for the price.. well the C8 XM L T6 is anyway (£30 with 2 batteries, mount and a charger). I just angle it downward slightly and its fine for oncoming traffic. Its easy enough to switch from high to low beam also. Sure the beam could be slightly wider ideally but i use just one on my bars on pitch black roads and i dont have to slow down at all apart from on turns where when looking ahead its not lit as well as it could be untill you get round it a bit more. I bought a better mount for it also (£4).

    Its not difficult to have a spare battery in a pocket either and iam certain i could change the battery in the dark easily enough but ive not had to so far

    I'd rather get used to that than pay £100+ anyday

    apparantly a non smooth reflector widens the beam on these?
  • mikeoukmikeouk Posts: 148
    time will tell how this one lasts, i agree totally that you get what you pay for and if a decent brand name light was say £60 id rather pay the extra, but I cant afford or justify £200 plus for a light when ill probably use it twice a week at most.
  • ProssPross Posts: 29,566
    You have to replace the cheap light a lot in order to justify paying £200 or more on a similarly bright named brand. I've just got a £25 Chinese 1200 lumen light to go with an Ultrafire torch, I can't see myself replacing it 10 times in the next 4 or 5 years that would justify a branded light. It gives me loads of light on the unlit country road part of my commute and the low setting is plenty in the urban areas.
  • ddraverddraver Posts: 23,202
    FYI - most of them are intended for use off road where failure can mean a long walk back in the dark, at night, in the cold and wet.

    Reliability is less of an issue for road use.
    We're in danger of confusing passion with incompetence
    - @ddraver
  • lostboysaintlostboysaint Posts: 4,250
    ddraver wrote:
    FYI - most of them are intended for use off road where failure can mean a long walk back in the dark, at night, in the cold and wet.

    Reliability is less of an issue for road use.

    Indeed, which is why I traded UP very quickly when my Chinese ones failed.

    I do find it quite amusing that people will spend hundreds on bits to save a few grams or because they are a "must have"/right label bit of kit but won't spend it on something that is so important in the winter in order to see properly and, perhaps even more importantly, to be seen. Strange.
    Trail fun - Transition Bandit
    Road - Wilier Izoard Centaur/Cube Agree C62 Disc
    Allround - Cotic Solaris
  • diydiy Posts: 6,680
    I've been running torches now for about 5 years on and off road. My current set up for off road is 3-4 501bs with XM-L T6 LEDs purchased last year for £9 each (now £7). My road set up is 2 of the same. My batteries are out of old laptop batteries and I have probably 20 sets of high end cells. I made my own mounts up out of plumbing kit and I use a variety of charges. They do need a bit of ruggedising, but nothing that cannot be done in 5 mins.

    The mode bounce change can be fixed with a bit of insulation tape around the cell. Waterproofing just needs a bit of grease on the O-rings and threads. Occasionally the internals need alignment or tightening.

    I think there can be problems with the multi-cell based lights as they often don't have quality cells or charging circuits, so the cells can fade after a few charges. Again nothing that cannot be fixed easily, but I prefer single cell lights.

    The only down side is they are lights to see with rather than lights to be seen with.

    Reliability is not really an issue when you can chuck a spare in the bag along with some spare cells. Though I can't remember the last time one failed on me. I have run 6 light set-up on 8 hour off road enduros and last time I did that, I had people with "quality" lights riding close to me as there's had packed up hours ago and they had no simple option to change cells.
  • How do they justify charging £200 for every unit?

    Considering how cheap it is to buy components in bulk. How much are LED's? Around 11p each? And is a £200 light made in the Far East, just like a £30 light?
    "The Prince of Wales is now the King of France" - Calton Kirby
  • pilot_petepilot_pete Posts: 2,100
    I bought one of these http://www.mtbbatteries.co.uk/mountain-bike-lights/ a few weeks back. Fantastic quality, functionality and 1000 lumens when on full power. I think it is an absolute bargain for £90 and their customer service seems excellent too. Everyone who rode our club night-time chain gang was asking about it. It is very robust too. I'm a happy camper...

    PP
  • diydiy Posts: 6,680
    Also available for £50 though personally I'd go for the triple for £32 noting my comments about the power packs. But if you get good service £40 more is fine in my book.

    Though you have to take the Lumen claims with a pinch of salt. A single T6 will not produce more than about 700-750 Lumen once its been on for more than a minute. It is possible to get them to push more than 1K lumen, but you'd need 5A input and a cooling fan.

    There is one manufacturer that makes decent lights in the £200 range that are worth the money and that is http://troutie.com/ though I can't see why anyone would need that much light for riding on road.
  • If I'm 15 miles from home at 10pm on a cold, wet winter's night I want something that will be totally, utterly, 100% reliable.

    That's why I invested in an Exposure Toro a year or so ago. It's so well made and dependable I don't carry a back-up light. It fits to the bars solidly with an exquisitely designed, bomb-proof bracket and if it does come adrift (which it did once when I'd not clipped it in properly) it will happily bounce down the tarmac road but be otherwise unaffected. The worst rainstorms do not affect it. It has no wires, separate battery or any bits to fall off/go wrong. It gives a huge, usable pool of light, is easy to "dip" and charges overnight to full. It's made in England by a manufacturer that provides great back-up - I know because I've used it.

    I expect it to last a long time no matter what I throw at it (or if I drop it now and then) and so I'm feeling confident it will have been a good investment. Like someone said, people are happy to pay, say, over £100 for a lightweight saddle or whatever, so compared to that what is £200 on a superbly engineered, 100% reliable high-performance light?
  • deswellerdesweller Posts: 5,175
    Cos no-one makes a good quality, cheap dynamo light.

    ETA: That's my reason, anyway.
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  • iPeteiPete Posts: 6,076
    Because I wanted a reliable, solid, British built and made product with good customer service that can take an offroad beating when required.

    As said earlier, you can say the same for any component.
  • pilot_petepilot_pete Posts: 2,100
    edited October 2012
    diy wrote:
    Also available for £50.

    Interesting link. It appears to be the same light, but of course it is in US dollars, so may be import duties etc to consider. Also, it says up to 90 mins on high mode, mine is quoted as 'up to 3 hrs on high mode'. Battery quoted at 4.4AH, but different voltages.....not sure why run times would be so different? The link you posted also says 1200 lumens output, whereas mine says 1000. Again, not sure why. Anyhow, like you said the service is important too...

    PP

    P.s. just seen the option to change to GB£, so forget the import duty comment...
  • unixnerdunixnerd Posts: 2,864
    3) Hitting a pot hole or similar shock would occasionally turn them off

    That's down to a poor connection between the end cap and the torch body. I had to resolder one of my XML-T6s to cure it. I also found that wrapping a thin layer of tape around the battery stops it rattling.

    I've had a MagicShine Mj-836 which is on it's third winter and two Cree XML-T6s which are on their second. Great illumination and battery life. I also have an old Maglite with an LED upgrade, it's better made and there is a quality difference. But it's not a massive difference by any means.

    As for reliability I'd always run two lights in case one had a problem or a bad battery.
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  • ddraverddraver Posts: 23,202
    How do they justify charging £200 for every unit?

    Considering how cheap it is to buy components in bulk. How much are LED's? Around 11p each? And is a £200 light made in the Far East, just like a £30 light?

    Well it is except that you have to re arrange and re solder the internals, tape the button down, make your own mounts, make your own chargers, grease the light so it works in the wet and not use it more than a few times so the battery does nt wear down...Perhaps there is a reason why his name is diy? ;)

    200 squids buys you a light that works out of the box, and continues to for years...
    We're in danger of confusing passion with incompetence
    - @ddraver
  • wilky27wilky27 Posts: 200
    Pross wrote:
    You have to replace the cheap light a lot in order to justify paying £200 or more on a similarly bright named brand. I've just got a £25 Chinese 1200 lumen light to go with an Ultrafire torch, I can't see myself replacing it 10 times in the next 4 or 5 years that would justify a branded light. It gives me loads of light on the unlit country road part of my commute and the low setting is plenty in the urban areas.
    Can I ask which you bought?
  • peatpeat Posts: 1,242
    The cheaper lights/batteries work well if you use them regularly and take waterproofing precautions. If you use them every fortnight or so, the batteries tend to decompose rather quickly.
  • d10brpd10brp Posts: 70
    unixnerd wrote:
    3) Hitting a pot hole or similar shock would occasionally turn them off

    That's down to a poor connection between the end cap and the torch body. I had to resolder one of my XML-T6s to cure it. I also found that wrapping a thin layer of tape around the battery stops it rattling.

    I've had a MagicShine Mj-836 which is on it's third winter and two Cree XML-T6s which are on their second. Great illumination and battery life. I also have an old Maglite with an LED upgrade, it's better made and there is a quality difference. But it's not a massive difference by any means.

    As for reliability I'd always run two lights in case one had a problem or a bad battery.

    +1 for the XML-T6. Picked one up on eBay after looking at this blog http://www.TorchyTheBatteryBoy.com. Check out the bike light database.

    Only used it a handful of times so far but one of those was during a torrential downpour and there were no signs of water leaking into the unit. My frame gets fatter towards the front so I secure the battery by tightly securing it near the back, then pushing it forward to the fatter part of the bar.
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  • unixnerd wrote:
    As for reliability I'd always run two lights in case one had a problem or a bad battery.

    +1 - another advantage of the torches .. completely redundant back up, no shared parts.
    Sometimes you're the hammer, sometimes you're the nail

    strava profile
  • DesWeller wrote:
    Cos no-one makes a good quality, cheap dynamo light.

    ETA: That's my reason, anyway.

    Exposure are bringing out a dynamo light soon, cant say it will be cheap though but does have a small internal battery to keep it going once you stop
  • deswellerdesweller Posts: 5,175
    DesWeller wrote:
    Cos no-one makes a good quality, cheap dynamo light.

    ETA: That's my reason, anyway.

    Exposure are bringing out a dynamo light soon, cant say it will be cheap though but does have a small internal battery to keep it going once you stop

    Having dropped £120 on my Schmidt I shan't be replacing it this decade (I hope).
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  • ProssPross Posts: 29,566
    wilky27 wrote:
    Pross wrote:
    You have to replace the cheap light a lot in order to justify paying £200 or more on a similarly bright named brand. I've just got a £25 Chinese 1200 lumen light to go with an Ultrafire torch, I can't see myself replacing it 10 times in the next 4 or 5 years that would justify a branded light. It gives me loads of light on the unlit country road part of my commute and the low setting is plenty in the urban areas.
    Can I ask which you bought?

    This one http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/120994014537?ssPageName=STRK:MEWNX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1439.l2649

    My only slight moan is that the light could do with being more 'contained' when riding on roads with no hedges etc.
  • diydiy Posts: 6,680
    I know this is a road thread, but my first exposure to decent lights was night mtbing with a mate. I turned up with my standard road lights and was greeted buy guys riding with £200 lights kicking out 300 Lumen (going back a bit). I did a bit of research and realised I could do 400 Lumen for about £40-50. Next night ride, I turned up with better lights at 1/4 of the price. I have since upgraded from XRE to XPG to MCE and XM-L each time spending about £5-7 per unit.

    For me to spend £200 I'd want variable drivers, with variable flash modes, Batteries with proper thermal controls, auto dimming via light sensor and at least 3000 Lumen capability all wrapped up in a well designed cool looking package.

    For me its a perception of value, not about what I can or can't afford.
    Pross wrote:

    This one http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/120994014537?ssPageName=STRK:MEWNX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1439.l2649

    My only slight moan is that the light could do with being more 'contained' when riding on roads with no hedges etc.
    better if you can get an orange peel reflector.
  • deswellerdesweller Posts: 5,175
    diy wrote:
    I know this is a road thread, but my first exposure to decent lights was night mtbing with a mate. I turned up with my standard road lights and was greeted buy guys riding with £200 lights kicking out 300 Lumen (going back a bit). I did a bit of research and realised I could do 400 Lumen for about £40-50. Next night ride, I turned up with better lights at 1/4 of the price. I have since upgraded from XRE to XPG to MCE and XM-L each time spending about £5-7 per unit.

    For me to spend £200 I'd want variable drivers, with variable flash modes, Batteries with proper thermal controls, auto dimming via light sensor and at least 3000 Lumen capability all wrapped up in a well designed cool looking package.

    For me its a perception of value, not about what I can or can't afford.

    But it also sounds like you don't expect the kit to live for very long. Upgrading and upgrading over and over...I can't be doing with that. Too many horror stories of these things packing up unexpectedly.
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    On Strava.{/url}
  • diy wrote:
    For me to spend £200 I'd want variable drivers, with variable flash modes, Batteries with proper thermal controls, auto dimming via light sensor and at least 3000 Lumen capability all wrapped up in a well designed cool looking package.

    For me its a perception of value, not about what I can or can't afford.

    And most of that is exactly what's available, except for the power, which as you well know, you don't need if the light is correctly powered, cooled and the beam spread is correct.

    That, and the fact that I can afford it, are the reasons I chose what I did. I really don't see the value of strapping half a dozen modified lights on my bike to achieve the same results. But hey, you clearly do so good luck to you.
    Trail fun - Transition Bandit
    Road - Wilier Izoard Centaur/Cube Agree C62 Disc
    Allround - Cotic Solaris
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