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Commuter Lights

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  • JWall
    started a topic Commuter Lights

    Commuter Lights

    Howdy Commuters,

    I'm in the midst of putting together my first e-bike. It's a 2005 (maybe 2006) FELT RXC hardtail, and I'm super pumped to have it running that BBS02 soon.

    What I'm less pumped about is having to share a stretch of road from downtown Albuquerque about 2 miles in length with two lanes of same-direction traffic. The biggest concern is that after about a mile, the street passes under the freeway and cars will be merging right to head southbound and turning left to head northbound. I'll be staying straight to pass under the freeway and continue East. The street does, however, have a bright green, buffered bike lane. I recognize that, while I don't have to literally share a lane with traffic or get on the sidewalk, that "bike lane" means nothing for purposes of how I evaluate my safety on the road.

    That said, what are some of the better commuter lights out there to take a look at? I want drivers to basically be bothered by my visual presence on the road--I assume that's a decent tactic for being noticed.

    I am fully aware that I cannot and should not rely on being noticed, but if I'm doing everything else correctly, I still want to grasp every inch available to me in the opportunity to become noticed by drivers due to my lights.
    Last edited by JWall; 12-13-2016, 11:14 AM.

  • tklop
    commented on 's reply
    Each of their lights do seem to have their own beam-patterns.

    I kind-of wish I'd been able to be out there testing with your group! It's hard to really get a solid grasp, I suppose, with words alone.

    I think eventually I'll try to get video of my Luxos U in varying conditions of weather and terrain, and stick it up on YouTube to show what that model does.

    Thanks for the reply, JPLabs

  • JPLabs
    commented on 's reply
    If you mean the outer square corners of the forward pattern, which are wide and do swing into turns, yes, mine has them. Fine for roads, but on tight singletrack, they leave me turning into dark. Unless I aim the light extra high, then it's pretty good, but really blinding.

    I still use an open LED type flashlight on my bars, sometimes, to see in the dark on tight trails.

    My B&M light is at handlrbar height. Aiming horizontal is not sufficient to see these tightest of turns, it needs to aim upwards, to flood the foreground, 10 feet high, or so, then it's ok.

  • tklop
    commented on 's reply
    I've got some (crappy-ass) "action-cam" vids of riding at night with my Luxos U. It's a shame everything winds up looking so much darker on video--it's very hard to get an accurate impression. What I wish I could show, is how the beam is shaped, how it works through the turns, etc.

    The B&M website has some really nice (and optically accurate) images of the beam-patterns of their various lights. They're not BS--that's exactly what you get.

    But those are stills--and they don't really tell the full story--they don't show the full advantages of their beam-patterns.

    I've found my Luxos U is outstanding--for roads, curves--even off-road.

    The headlight is essentially a focused-beam, but its reflector and multiple LED arrays allow each beam-segment--each pool of light to be diffused--whenever aimed at anything beyond it's focal point. That's a huge advantage in terms of not blinding others--but also, it allows really cool effects of light-beam geometry--like when turning.

    While riding straight, I've got decent visibility to either side--which for me is quite helpful riding where there's potential animals running around (wild or domestic). This also helps prevent the "tunnel-vision" one can get with too narrow a beam. But though they're nowhere in the "main beam-pattern" at all--as soon as I begin to lean into a turn, a very handy extra rectangular pool of light hits the road (or trail), to the turn-side of the main headlight beam, filling it all in nicely.

    I've mentioned it before--but it's really nice--so I'll repeat it again: I never turn into darkness anymore!

    The side of the headlight on the outside of the turn is of course producing this same beam, but it diffuses beyond its focal-point--so it's not even blinding the birds.

    As you described, the abruptness of that beam-edge took me some getting used to. My night-vision had to adapt. But now, I actually really enjoy it--even off-road at night.

    Yes--it throws one hell of a lot of light on the ground--but very little upward. The beam is so efficient, that it won't help much with things like street-signs (actually a little annoying at times). The headlight just isn't wasting its energy shining "up there". But what that also means, is that there's almost no "glare-back"----not even as much as you'd get in a car from your own headlights. Because of this, I've found my night-vision actually remains useful, in spite of the full illumination of my path. I just needed to learn to relax (and allow myself to stop squinting).

    I also understand what you mean--how it'd be cool if you could switch on and off each LED array--for various lighting conditions. Let us figure our for ourselves what combinations work best for fog, rain, daytime-visibility, night-rural, night-city, night-off-road, --etc. I agree that'd really be ideal.

    On the other hand, I also understand that these darn things were certainly made to meed the German market's traffic-regulations--and that the manufacturer might not want their customers to select any modes that might not meet those strict standards...

    I can accept that, I guess--but I'm with you: Want me happiest? Just let me configure...

    For my city-bike, I mounted the light high (bracket give-or-take 100 centemeters above the roadway)--mounted it right at my gooseneck--and I've found it's pretty much ideal. That height means I don't have problems with shadows even if I venture off-road.

    For my Brompton folding-bike, it's just above the front fender (tiny wheels). Very close to the ground.

    The disadvatage of the lower-mounting on the Brompton, is that the beam-angle to roadway is much lower, meaning if I am cresting a rise (or traversing a speed-bump), I can potentially zap oncoming traffic with the full 90 Lux. Obviously, the "non-blinding" characteristics are much improved with higher mounting (if possible--it's not with the Brompton).

    So I'm happy as can be with both my Luxos U installations.

    But I wondered if your IQx-e also had that really nice cornering beam-pattern.
    Last edited by tklop; 4 weeks ago.

  • JPLabs
    commented on 's reply
    Thanks, Tklop. For these more obscure lights, I figure it will be some of the only info to be found, so wanted to try to confirm it's pretty darn nice, with some limitations and possibilities.

    Appreciate the note.

  • Retrorockit
    The low power draw of modern LED lights may make the fficiency question more or less moot between battery power, and Dynamo hub.

    Leave a comment:

  • tklop
    commented on 's reply
    I'm following this--and find your review and experience quite helpful!

    I just wanted to tell you that--in case you thought you might just be posting to yourself over here...

    All the best, JPLabs!


  • JPLabs
    commented on 's reply

    That bracket worked great. The pattern is as good as described, I think, it's a clearly defined zone with sharp edges. It's not overly bright in foreground, can carry a LONG ways, and it's won all the 'who has least glare' tests with my riding buddies. A few of those other lights are various Nightrider lights. Not sure which, but I had more light on the paved path we were on, and less glare, for sure.

    It's still plenty bright to be seen, but not painfully blinding, in night mode. In day mode at night (achieved by aiming a light at photo sensor) it is a good light level, but the conspicuity lights are REALLY bright to onlookers compared to the main beam in day mode, so I put tape on those for the testing DAY mode at night, and the lower main beam level was a lot more pleasant to use.

    There's a very sharp, horizontal cutoff so it's not ideal for off road and hilly, curvy areas with normal aim, but aiming up just a bit for trails works pretty well. The bracket lends itself to easy adjustment while riding, as long as screws aren't too tight. Stem accessory bracket is plastic but is stiff enough to let you aim pretty precisely on first try, not too springy, but a stiffer one would be even better.

    It's plenty bright for everyplace I've used it. It's way brighter than needed for off-road night use at lower speeds, unless you don't care about night vision, so I carry a 2nd light with low levels and open pattern, too. To fill in a moonlight trail's shadows without blinding me, for instance.

    The DAY mode would be much better for such use, it's dimmer for the main beam. This is auto switched with a photosensor, but I would rather have a manual switch so i can back off sometimes at night, too.

    With a bit more manual control of the various lighting elements and levels, it could be better, but then probably wouldn't comply with the rules, since user could put in wrong mode. So I want to mod it.

    If it had levels or a dimmer knob, it would be a far more versatile light. If I could figure out how to open it up, I might add one, as well as a mode switch. But I can't get into it. Does anybody know how to open it up without wrecking it? Seems tight or glued.
    Last edited by JPLabs; 06-14-2019, 07:58 AM.

  • joebreeze
    commented on 's reply
    So how did you wire it up .
    I've got a Wolf V2 pack. XT-90(x2) discharge , can you use the spare XT90 ?
    What cables/connectors does it ship with.

  • JPLabs
    commented on 's reply
    OK, I shopped more, looking for brackets, and found a screaming deal - I ordered the above B&M Lumotec IQ-X E from Bike24 in Germany. Instead of about $200 shipped from Mr. White, I payed less than $79 USD + $19 shipping, from Germany. 2 weeks or less.;product=193881
    Last edited by JPLabs; 05-18-2019, 03:28 PM.

  • JPLabs
    commented on 's reply
    FYI it looks like the "Nylon mount for 1 1/8 steerer tubes" is a mounting option available from Peter White Cycles, for my Bluto Fork...just tried to order the IQx-e, but they are closed for weekend.

    The beamshots and design sold me. I really appreciate a good pattern without overblown close area illumination, and am excited to find this.

    I'd rather have a low level, too, but this is high, or DRL, only. Auto switching for day or night. I plan to try adding a PWM motor speed control as a dimmer, between driver and LED, for when 150 Lux is way too much. Moonlit nights, etc. Hope I don't blow it up!
    Last edited by JPLabs; 05-16-2019, 02:01 PM.

  • tklop
    commented on 's reply
    Glad to help, JPLabs! Their stuff is truly top-shelf--with lots of price-levels and a broad product-line. I like 'em.

  • JPLabs
    The B&M IQx-e looks pretty great, from same site tklop linked. Ebike specific, up to 60V. Bit less expensive, too. Fabulous looking pattern. Needs external switch if you want to turn it off. I'm seriously considering one.

    Thanks for getting me back onto their site, tklop! Or I wouldn't have seen it...

    Leave a comment:

  • pure_mahem
    The Dynamo Hub is very intriguing. But I dont think its for me. $300+ for the hub to fit my fatbike. Perhaps a consideration if I was going to do long term bike packing or touring and lack ability to find recharge points.

    have an Anker PowerCore 20100 and that thing rocks. I can plug in my Galaxy S5 and run it non stop for 3 days and just barely get the charge drop to half on the battery pack. The Anker only cost me $40. I ran the USB lights off one for a long time. now I'm not saying that it would power a set of lights for days on end because honestly I dont know I havent needed my lights for more than a few hours to get home. I will say with the added wires of the ebike I really didnt care for the wired set up I had. I got the NR Lumina Micro 850 in this week. I will say I'm very pleased with those. I still carry my Anker with me so if I really had to I could charge one of the lights with that while I run one. I much prefer running both on the lower setting. Actually I may have mentioned I have 2 of the Ankers so if I was planning a trip I'm sure Id be covered for well over a week and a small usb battery charger allows me to recharge AAA that I use in my rear lights.

    I will say I really like the idea of the Dynamo however for my circumstance its a point of diminishing returns on investment. I do see the plus side that youd never have to buy batteries and youd always have that power source on your bike. Maybe... I'm running out of things to buy for my bike, lol

    Leave a comment:

  • tklop
    commented on 's reply
    No free lunch at all, no. But the dynamo delivers an alternating-current signal, and the rolling-resistance caused to create this signal, is less than the amperage lost powering DC lights off your battery power. You can experiment for yourself--many lights can be used by both systems. The difference in range was dramatic. Same thing for charging my phone via the USB port on the TSDZ2's display, versus powering it off the hub-dynamo (via my headlight). Less energy was needed, and I had greater range with the hub dynamo.

    The difference was enough to be obvious, so I didn't bother doing any math, any proofs. The proof was in the range. Now--admittedly--even though the zero-load resistance of a hub-dynamo is almost zero, I do realize that it is in fact not zero. So, whatever miniscule resistance offered by the non-loaded hub-dynamo when running the lights off the battery--was therefore decreasing the apparent battery-powered efficiency by some tiny miniscule amount (which would be far less significant that a tire-pressure adjustment of two or three psi).

    Furthermore--when it comes to the costs of conversion--in your situation--those costs are real, and no laughing matter. I get that.

    My bike came this way. All I had to do was add the mid-drive. So it's a totally different situation for me. I'd already invested in upgrading to the lights I wanted--back when the city-bike was purely "me-powered"...

    So, I do totally understand your points, and agree with them.

    I guess for me, it's also different when it comes to building wheels... I've done a few by myself. It's not impossible, but it's not much fun either. And I won't say I made them so much "well" as just "well enough". I may choose to have my next wheels built. I got a shop. It's not really that much cost in the long-run (at least not here in The Netherlands it isn't). I like to have assembled wheels--ready to swap--just like a car--for when winter comes, etc.

    I've also considered adding a front-wheel hub-motor to the city-bike. And that'd mean going with the "system lights" that you're talking about here, so believe me--I am paying attention! ;) If--and let's face it--it's probably a matter of when--I experiment with making my city-bike 2WD, I'm gonna be right there with you!

    I got lots of battery to work with on the city-bike (went for a 48V 20AHLiFePO4 beast with a 45A BMS) so one of those 350W hub-drives might run without overloading things...

    Anyways... Again, Retro--best of luck! I'll be following along.

    [edit] In response to the lights I'm talking about, I've got the Busch & Muller Luxos U headlamp:

    It's horrifyingly expensive. On the other hand, using this lamp allows me to see broken glass on dark roads in the rain--in time to avoid it--if you want an idea of the illumination. Plus, the design is such, that a nice pool of light dips down into your turning-path, as soon as you begin to lean into a turn. No more turning into darkness--as your headlight shines where you just were facing a second-ago! The beam's intensity adjusts automatically with your speed (and the adjustment-range is also adjustable). As I said, it allows you to charge something via a USB outlet as well. Though of course you can turn it all off if you want to, the headlight has a "daytime running-light" type function for high-visibility. During daytime, whether the light's in "daytime running-light" mode or just off, the control button--if pressed momentarily--will flash both the headlight and tailight once--as a signal (think passing-signal, whatever). In night-mode, this instead activates an "intense-flood" mode; sort-of like a high-beam on a car. I don't find this really helps me see a whole lot, but if someone flashes their brights at you, you can flash back--to let them know you're on low-beam after-all... Same as you probably ought not to do in a car... There's also an indicator to let you know if your taillight is functioning as it's supposed to--or not. Handy.

    The taillight I've got is called Toplight View--Brake Plus. It's from the same company.

    Yeah. Sticker-shock--and no mistake. But I've spent as much on crappier lights and batteries and chargers over the years too. Two-years--all weather--and not a single issue with these lights; nor a single battery!

    What I like about the B & M headlights, is that their beam isn't wasted where it isn't needed. It's a clean-cut beam, from the level of the lamp down to the road--not up, not blinding other drivers. They've worked hard to get the most our of their beam-patterns, and this remains true also for their much more reasonably-priced models.

    This is also a very good headlight--still has "stand-light"--where it'll keep glowing while you're stopped at a light, or trying to nagivate your dark back-gate, etc.; and it too will monitor your taillight's status--but it doesn't do USB charging:


    [end edit]
    Last edited by tklop; 05-09-2019, 03:13 AM. Reason: To answer Retro's question--including links to the lights I've got--since I forgot to do that first-time-around