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Lights for unlit country roads for newbie night rider.

blackpoolkevblackpoolkev Posts: 474
edited November 2014 in Road buying advice
I have never ridden my bike at night. My usual routes are unlit country roads.
So let's say I fancy going out for a couple of hours after sunset. Rechargeable front and rear? or just batteries for the back. Do I need to attach a power pack to power a decent front light?
What would you recommend?
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Posts

  • It's all about budget.

    Big budget: I recommend the Exposure brand, model Strada, Race or Toro. 100% reliable, super-bright, long burn times.

    Small budget: hundreds of options but none will let you actually see where you're riding, unless you want to take a punt on an eBay special, lots of lumens, short battery life and dodgy reliability.
  • jordan_217jordan_217 Posts: 2,580
    I'd recommend a Moon XP 700 for the front and a Moon Shield for the rear. Easy to mount, well made, no cables and USB recharging. The performance of both is excellent and run time should be good enough for your needs.

    You could also save a bit of money on getting the Planet X version of the Moon Shield and spend the cash on a spare battery for the XP 700. (I have no experience of this light though, just seen a few posts on here about it)

    It's also worth investing in some reflectives to make you visible from more angles. Useful for junctions and roundabouts, where other road users only see you from the side and you're lights may not be visible. Don't forget to carry a backup light/torch in case of mechanicals.

    Those cheap (Knog lookalike) flashing lights that Tesco sell are also great for mounting on your helmet.

    You didn't mention a budget but shop around and you could easily get all this for <£100 (a fair bit less too)
    “Training is like fighting with a gorilla. You don’t stop when you’re tired. You stop when the gorilla is tired.”
  • The Lezyne Deca Drive is the best light I have used for burn times and beam pattern on the road.

    http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/lezy ... lsrc=aw.ds
  • ben-----ben----- Posts: 573
    > Moon XP 700

    I've got the XP 600 which is identical to the 700 except slightly less bright but because it uses the same kind of battery lasts a bit longer. It's quite good I reckon. Definitely bright enough to see where you're going and avoid pot holes at reasonable speeds when completely dark.

    > save a bit of money on getting the Planet X version of the Moon Shield

    That's gone up, it's not so cheap now unfortunately. Pretty much the same as you can get a Moon Shield for.

    > spend the cash on a spare battery for the XP 700

    High on Bikes do replacement batteries for XP 600 / 700. The right kind wasn't listed on their site though, only on their eBay store page.
  • Philips Saferide 80 from Rose Bikes.
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  • slowbikeslowbike Posts: 8,498
    You'll get loads of advice on which ones best - they all have their merits.

    USB recharge is convenient - especially where they're draining quite quickly - ie the front light. For the rear I've found that normal AA or AAA battery lights are fine and last weeks/months (depending on use).

    My only advice is that if you're going to be doing a fair bit of night time riding you should have backup lights - especially if you go for some of the low price, high lumen lights.
  • oxomanoxoman Posts: 9,281
    Rear lights I use 2 smart Lunar R2 aaa powered, for the front I have Moon xpower300 which does me for dark lanes on my commute. Both are reasonably priced and reliable, yes ebay front mega lumen lights are brighter and cheaper but not always reliable.
    Too many bikes according to Mrs O.
  • I find having two front lights makes a big difference - one on the handlebars with a good spread - i.e. a wide beam, and then a helmet mounted one which will let you look through corners, pinpoint potholes, etc.
  • nferrarnferrar Posts: 2,511
    If you're talking riding at a decent pace (i.e. training) rather than commuting then IME you need at least 700 lumens (actual not theoretical as cheap chinese lights often quote). You also want a fairly focused beam so you don't blind oncoming traffic (it's you they'll hit if they swerve), ideally two beams - one focused about 10m in front and the other going out to about 100m, that way you have good visibility of potholes but also can see bends and hazards well in front.
    Personally I use an Exposure Strada but it's only barely good enough (although it is a couple of years old model so the current one may be fine). Have previously used Ay-Ups and with the newer models increased brightness they should be a good option to (and have independently adjustable dual beams). You can get away with cheap Chinese lights though (I have nothing against them and have used them for years when MTBing) but just be aware the floody nature of most of them wastes a lot of light where you don't need it and can blind oncoming traffic.
    For the rear I go with a cheap blinking LED light (more as a backup) and a fibre flare, on unlit/low lit roads I reckon the fibre flare is much more visible than an ordinary light plus it has the benefit that if you're out with others it doesn't burn the retinas of people on your wheel
  • It's all about budget.

    Big budget: I recommend the Exposure brand, model Strada, Race or Toro. 100% reliable, super-bright, long burn times.

    Small budget: hundreds of options but none will let you actually see where you're riding, unless you want to take a punt on an eBay special, lots of lumens, short battery life and dodgy reliability.

    +1 for Exposure. I use a Strada front and Blaze rear. Expensive but 100% worth it if you do a lot of night riding and need lights which perform superbly and absolutely won't let you down.
  • CrapaudCrapaud Posts: 2,666
    The Moon XP 700 looks good. It looks like the only meaningful time I'm going to have on the bike over the winter will be at night.

    It's not clear from a quick search whether or not the batteries are built in or if you can change them for fresh ones. Anyone know?

    Also, how's the mount? this is usually the weak point IME.
    A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject - Churchill
  • keef66keef66 Posts: 13,123
    I've been night riding for 6 years using a Fenix L2D torch on the front. Gives over an hour on 2 AA rechargeables, and spares are easy to carry / fit. Only issue is the beam shape because it's a torch, not a bike light. However much I angle it left and downwards I'm often aware I'm annoying drivers coming the other way. Some of them retaliate by putting their lights on main beam, and then I have no idea what I'm riding into for a few seconds. Last week I hit a pothole so hard I thought I'd broken a wrist / fork / frame / wheel (actually just a pinch flat and some wheel truing, but I'm left with a dented rim)

    I've decided I'm going to buy a Busch & Muller Ixon IQ Premium. Powered by 4 AA rechargeables it will run for 4-5 hours on full, puts out 80 lux so it lights up the road really well, and most importantly being road legal in Germany the beam shape doesn't blind drivers. Just over £45 if I buy from Rose Bikes in Germany, which is what I paid for the Fenix 6 years ago! Another plus is that I can mount it on a bracket at the fork crown, so my older style Tiagra and 105 gear cables won't get in the way any more. I'll keep the Fenix on the bars as a backup and to use as a torch in the event of a mechanical in the dark.

    Rear light I've been using the old Cateye holy hand grenade (TL1100?), again with 2 rechargeable AA's. 6 years on and it's still good as new, despite many soakings and bouncing down the road a couple of times. I like the side facing LEDS and the multiple options of static / flashing for the 2 banks of rear facing LEDS. It is quite directional though; you can't have it drooping down pointing at the road. If it's mounted horizontally it is very bright and visible from half a mile. I must add a second rear light though.
  • jordan_217jordan_217 Posts: 2,580
    Crapaud wrote:
    The Moon XP 700 looks good. It looks like the only meaningful time I'm going to have on the bike over the winter will be at night.

    It's not clear from a quick search whether or not the batteries are built in or if you can change them for fresh ones. Anyone know?

    Also, how's the mount? this is usually the weak point IME.

    You will need a coin or similar to open the battery cover. The battery is rechargeable and spares are available:

    http://www.parkersofbolton.co.uk/p-6988 ... Aunv8P8HAQ

    The mount is pretty solid. I've had over a years use out of mine with no issues at all.
    “Training is like fighting with a gorilla. You don’t stop when you’re tired. You stop when the gorilla is tired.”
  • BobbinogsBobbinogs Posts: 4,841
    Some good advice here. I would also add that you should start with your requirements and be honest since that will determine what you need.

    The cutover point I have found is about 2 hours. If you think you will ride 2 hours or less then there are a lot of options and some of them reasonably cheap. However, if your dark rides are going to be 2-3 hours or even more then you need to up the budget (Exposure, etc.), or perhaps look at battery packs or even dynamo hubs (yes, they sound incredibly old fashioned but there is no substitute if you want very long dark rides without worrying about batteries/charging, etc.).

    I would also advocate reflectors as a failsafe. Hence, rear reflector and also reflective strap on your legs for great visibility. A reflective strap on your right arm also helps as that is the arm you use when indicating to pull across traffic.
  • meanredspidermeanredspider Posts: 12,550
    nferrar wrote:
    If you're talking riding at a decent pace (i.e. training) rather than commuting

    This made me laugh out loud. Yup - there's definitely something strange about the roads between wherever you live and wherever you work that means you can do no more than 12mph :lol: :roll:

    The AyUp (even the old one) is perfectly adequate for night riding - even on roads that aren't between your home and work :wink:
    ROAD < Scott Foil HMX Di2, Volagi Liscio Di2, Jamis Renegade Elite Di2, Cube Reaction Race > ROUGH
  • CrapaudCrapaud Posts: 2,666
    jordan_217 wrote:
    ...

    You will need a coin or similar to open the battery cover. The battery is rechargeable and spares are available:

    http://www.parkersofbolton.co.uk/p-6988 ... Aunv8P8HAQ

    The mount is pretty solid. I've had over a years use out of mine with no issues at all.
    Cool!

    It'll be good for longer audaxes... if I ever get round to them.

    I feel a purchase coming on.
    A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject - Churchill
  • GrillGrill Posts: 5,610
    If you have the budget then Exposure or Supernova.
    English Cycles V3 | Cervelo P5 | Cervelo T4 | Trek Domane Koppenberg
  • lakesludditelakesluddite Posts: 1,332
    I am currently using a Moon X500 (it's charging on my desk as I write!), and this is okay for dark country roads on the whole, but I would like a bit more light to be able to go full throttle with confidence.

    I have also bought one of those Chinese cheapo units with the separate battery pack - but haven't used it yet as I'm struggling to get the battery secured to the frame AND the last time I got it out of the cupboard the battery had run down - without it actually having been used! It does chuck out some serious light though, so I will try it soon, but I'll be popping my Moon in the back pocket just in case. It didn't seem like too much of a financial gamble at around £25, especially as I knew I had the Moon to fall back on.

    On the back end I have one of these, which has seen me through two winters so far:

    http://www.evanscycles.com/products/cat ... t-ec007955

    And I saw another guy on my commute the other day with something like this, and I could see him from about a km away, so I might get one of these, if indeed it was the same thing:

    http://www.evanscycles.com/products/lez ... t-ec052674

    I also use a flashing Knog type on the bars and the chain side seat stay.
  • Small budget: hundreds of options but none will let you actually see where you're riding, unless you want to take a punt on an eBay special, lots of lumens, short battery life and dodgy reliability.

    This just is not true check the buying guide on MTB Forum there are plenty of links to cheap torches and lights which are tried and tested by experts give more than enough light and are reliable. My own set up of two cheap 501 type torches cost well under £40 are still going strong after five years all weather commuting use. If you like or want the bike brand expensive stuff great but its not hard at all to get the same light output and reliability for far far less money.
  • lostboysaintlostboysaint Posts: 4,252
    These - http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Torchy-Oriole-2x-XM-L-T6-1000-lumen-led-bike-light-/121470576745?pt=UK_SportGoods_CyclAcces_RL&hash=item1c4835e869 - great value, UK sourced.

    They are the only budget brand I would think about having gone through too many sets of lights, batteries and chargers in the early days of my MTBing. Now will only use the Four4ths products for that - British designed and built by engineers who ride.
    Trail fun - Transition Bandit
    Road - Wilier Izoard Centaur/Cube Agree C62 Disc
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  • These - http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Torchy-Oriole-2x-XM-L-T6-1000-lumen-led-bike-light-/121470576745?pt=UK_SportGoods_CyclAcces_RL&hash=item1c4835e869 - great value, UK sourced.

    They are the only budget brand I would think about having gone through too many sets of lights, batteries and chargers in the early days of my MTBing. Now will only use the Four4ths products for that - British designed and built by engineers who ride.

    TorchyBoy stuff is good but its all just re/branded Chinese made stuff being sold on with a mark up - the main advantage is his after sales so if the extra cost is worth it to your or tht it's a good buy. He also checks quality which saves you reading the MTB Forum yourself to choose ones recommended by DIY, Archie, Supersonic Ouija etc to name but a few reliable posters on there who know heir stuff inside out.

    I've bought and will but again batteries from Torchyboy but got my torches from dx.. At the end of the day they are the same lights made in the same factories check recent discussion on that issue on MTB Buying..
  • jordan_217jordan_217 Posts: 2,580
    These - http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Torchy-Oriole-2x-XM-L-T6-1000-lumen-led-bike-light-/121470576745?pt=UK_SportGoods_CyclAcces_RL&hash=item1c4835e869 - great value, UK sourced.

    They are the only budget brand I would think about having gone through too many sets of lights, batteries and chargers in the early days of my MTBing. Now will only use the Four4ths products for that - British designed and built by engineers who ride.

    TorchyBoy stuff is good but its all just re/branded Chinese made stuff being sold on with a mark up - the main advantage is his after sales so if the extra cost is worth it to your or tht it's a good buy. He also checks quality which saves you reading the MTB Forum yourself to choose ones recommended by DIY, Archie, Supersonic Ouija etc to name but a few reliable posters on there who know heir stuff inside out.

    I've bought and will but again batteries from Torchyboy but got my torches from dx.. At the end of the day they are the same lights made in the same factories check recent discussion on that issue on MTB Buying..

    I have a Fluxient light which I bought from Torchy via Amazon. I've had it since last Winter and used quite a bit for commuting in all weathers as well as extended night time rides. It's been faultless and doesn't show any signs of failing any time soon.

    Yes you can buy cheaper via DX but, as commonly known and reported, the QC is so hit and miss that I'd rather pay the extra and have piece of mind, as well as some kind of after sales without the need to ship back to Asia. False economy IMO.
    “Training is like fighting with a gorilla. You don’t stop when you’re tired. You stop when the gorilla is tired.”
  • Monty DogMonty Dog Posts: 20,614
    MTB Batteries do some decent value lights - modded Chinese stuff, but you get a reliable charger that won't go bang and back-up service if needed. I've had Exposure stuff that's gone wrong and needed returning. Lupine have been my biggest disappointment - expensive and still don't last. I'm current using a Gemini Olympia 2100 headlight for offroad - half-power is fine for most stuff and save max for scarey-fast. PDW/Smart 2 x 0.5W led rear is very bright and random flash is psychadelic!
    Make mine an Italian, with Campagnolo on the side..
  • Zak3737Zak3737 Posts: 368
    edited October 2014
    I'm new to night road riding too, and bought a Lezyne Macro front recently, with 400 lumens, - £46 on CRC.
    Its got about 5/6 different modes/power modules, incl. 2 Flashing modes, and at its full 400 - its more than adequate for unlit country roads, as I found last night.
    Has a 'Race' mode too, which just alternates between 400 & 200 modes, so easy to click it down for oncoming cars if you need.
    Really pleased with it, USB chargeable, bargin.
    Rear is a very bright Cateye - and again for £13, bargin. 2 AAA's required, but lasts for yonks.

    £60 all in, job done.

    I know you can get brighter, - I used to have a Cateye Stadium light for MTB'ing, but in all honesty, for road use, totally un-useable, it literally stopped traffic if ever used 'on road'.
  • hypsterhypster Posts: 1,183
    I train on unlit country roads and whatever lights you do decide on here is my general advice. You need two lights front and rear because you never know when one is going to give out for whatever reason (usually batteries). I would advise one decent front light and one cheaper backup to get you home if the main light fails. I use two rear lights, one bright flashing and one permanently on.

    Buy the best batteries you can and get a decent charger as well. If you are using rechargeable AA/AAA cells then get decent ones like Eneloop or Recyko plus a quality charger. Look after your batteries and make sure they have enough charge for the journey you are planning. In my experience most problems with lights are caused by the batteries.
  • flanners1flanners1 Posts: 916
    Yep what he said, my main light died on a pitch black country lane last night, thought my eyes were going to be sucked out of my head as they tried to compensate was quite scary, got home on the back up light.
    Colnago C60 SRAM eTap, Colnago C40, Milani 107E, BMC Pro Machine, Trek Madone, Viner Gladius,
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  • meanredspidermeanredspider Posts: 12,550
    In 4 years of 30+ mile round trip commutes in the Highlands I never once had a light failure - front or rear - despite the bad weather and more dark days. I'd suggest that if you're going to use more than one set of lights, think about doing something different with the second set. I run a set of AyUps up front (totally reliable and robust), a rear light and then a set of helmet lights (Light & Motion Vis 360). Helmet lights are particularly good where there are summits and dips or hedges which there were on my commute. Also the helmet light shines where your head points - useful for catching the eye of other road users.

    I'd say don't buy cheap when it comes to lights - it's a false economy.
    ROAD < Scott Foil HMX Di2, Volagi Liscio Di2, Jamis Renegade Elite Di2, Cube Reaction Race > ROUGH
  • CrapaudCrapaud Posts: 2,666
    Flanners1 wrote:
    Yep what he said, my main light died on a pitch black country lane last night, thought my eyes were going to be sucked out of my head as they tried to compensate was quite scary, got home on the back up light.
    Been there, but without any lights.
    Wasn't as fit as I thought I was on a 200k, so thought I'd finish in daylight. Cycled 20k in pitch darkness, throwing myself into hedges every time a car went past. Finally abandoned 5k from the finish. The galling thing was that I could have finished within the time limit.
    A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject - Churchill
  • I personally recommend the Hope Vision 1. The second hand ones are generally reliable as they take 4xAA batteries rather than in inbuilt rechargable- so you don't have to worry about the batteries being duffer. They can't really take ordinary batteries due to the high current the light draws, but they work incredibly well with the modern rechargable batteries- I run 2300amph energisers which hold charge like non-rechargeables and will run it in low power (easily enough to see with) for nearly 48hrs.

    The biggest downside is it cuts out when the battery voltage drops to a certain level, but if you keep it in the second setting once it cuts out you'll still have a couple of hours in the setting lower.

    I use mine for road night riding and I can keep up pretty much the same speeds as I can during the day. You can mount it to a helmet (be careful not to dazzle others!) but I personally use it on the handlebars.
    When compared to the exposure MaXX lights it does seem pretty tame, but compares about the same to the Joystick, albeit heavier. But then you can get them for less than half the price of the joysticks second hand.
  • You'd do well to have a read of this...
    viewtopic.php?f=20005&t=12807034&start=2940
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