Sunday, November 13, 2011

Bicycle Lights

If your shopping for a headlight for your bike it can be a bit overwhelming. So I thought I would share my recent shopping and research into bicycle lighting. Its a little better than it used to be since most of the industry seems to have settled on lumens as the best way to describe a light's strength. Whats a lumen and what is the difference between lux, lumen and watts? 

Lumen - measures luminous flux, the quantity of light emitted by a light source.

Lux - measures the amount of luminous flux spread in a square meter by a light source. Sunlight on an average day ranges from 32,000 to 100,000 lux.  Moonlight = 1 lux. 

Watts - The amount of power consumed by a light source.

LEDs (light emitting diodes) are pretty much the industry standard, which simplifies things when shopping for a light. There are different types of LEDs, Cree, and Nichia to name a few. 

There are 3 types of power sources;

Dynomo hubs which generate power when the wheel is rotating. 

Rechargable lithium ion batteries.

Disposable Batteries such as AA, AAA etc. Of course you can get these in a rechargable type as well.

When selecting a headlight you should consider where you will be riding. Dark roads, well lit roads, or trails. Some lights are only meant to increase your visibility to traffic, these are usually less than $50 dollars. This is a bit obvious but I'll say it anyway, In my experience traveling on well lit roads you only need a to be seen light, as even some of the brightest lights get washed out and add nothing to your ability to see. For trail riding you should get as much light as you can afford, obviously trails are unlit and strewn with rocks, branches, and holes.

If you ride at night in a variety of lighting conditions getting a light that falls in the middle of the extremes described above is the best bet. Since I fall into the later of the categories I will focus on mid-range lights that will suit a variety of conditions. The price range for lights ranges from double digits all the way to $950. My budget cuts off at about $150 so that's where I've concentrated this overview.
Cygolite Expilion 350-Lumen USB Rechargeable Headlight

Cygolite Expillion 350 - an all in one light offering 7 light modes, Run time - 2  hrs. @ 350 lumens. USB or AC rechargeable. Handle bar mount only.
List price $109.95
Cygolite offers other Expillion lights ranging from 400 to 170 lumens.

Cygolite Expillion 350 75' beam test from mtbr's 2012 light shoot out

Gemini Titan - 900 lumens, 4 light modes, light and battery pack mount on the helmet or handle bars. Run time - 4 hours on high. 
List price $99.99


Lezyne Super Drive - 450 lumen, All in one light. 4 light modes.
Run times - 1.5 hrs @ 450 lumens, 2 hrs @ 300 lumens, 4 hrs @ 150 lumens and 5 hrs on flash mode. Handle bar mount only. USB rechargeable.
List Price $110
Lezyne also makes 2 other models at 300 and 150 lumens.

 Lezyne Super Drive 75' light test from mtbr's 2012 light shoot out  

Lezyne Super Drive beam test from bike

Magicshine MJ-816 - 1400 lumens, Handle bar mount with O ring, separate battery pack and switch. Run times on highest setting vary between 2-3 hrs.
List Price $120 
One note about this light, the battery pack was recently recalled by GeoMan

Magicshine MJ-816 front light
Magicshine MJ-816 beam test from bike

Niterider MiNewt 600 Cordless - 600 lumens, Run times - 1.5 hrs @ 600 lumens, 3 hrs @ 400 lumens, 4.5 hrs @ 275 lumens. 
5.5 hour USB rechargeable. Handle bar and helmet mounts.
List Price $150

Niterider MiNewt 600 Cordless 75' beam test from mtbr 2012 light shoot out

Niterider MiNewt 600 Cordless beam test from bike

Niterider  MiNewt 600 Cordless 100' trail beam test from mtbr

Serfas True 500 - All in one design, Run time 1.75 hrs @ 500 lumens, USB or AC rechargeable, Handle bar and helmet mounts.
List Price $150 
Serfas also offers the True light series in 250 and 150 lumens

Serfas TSL 500 75' beam test from mtbr 2012 light shoot out

Serfas TSL 500, 100' trail beam test from mtbr 

Some of the information I've included in this overview was obtained from the following links which you may also find helpful.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Online or Bricks and Mortar?

I recently read a blog post by Jan Heine the editor of Bicycle Quarterly, about the disappearance of Independent bookstores due in large part to He noted that an internet query for bicycle components may also lead to This got me thinking about my own experiences shopping online and at local stores. 

I am a big user of the internet, I like the convenience of looking up just about anything online and sometimes the savings that can be found when shopping online. I'm certainly not rich and must live within my means so saving money is an important factor when deciding where and what I buy. On the other hand there are some shopped for items that have to be looked at, touched and tried in the 3 dimensional world. 

When it comes to buying bicycle components and gear I try to use my local bike shop. I know they work hard in a business they love, but they're not getting rich while doing it. Sometimes they have what I want in stock, other times they have to order it. I work for a small business so I completely understand that you can't carry everything, and if your business is somewhat seasonal you have to keep an even closer eye on your overhead and cash flow. 

Some might use a local shop to try an item then go home and see where they can buy it the cheapest. Others just use the internet for the convenience of not having to physically make a trip to the store. Both methods put the individual shopper before their community. If we don't patronize local businesses, particularly independent ones they won't survive and the jobs and tax dollars that they provide will be gone.

For every $100 spent in a local independent brick and mortar business at least $68 goes back into the local economy. Spend $100 at a big box or chain store and only $43 returns to the local economy. Spend $100 online and the local community sees none of it unless they are located in your area.[1]

If I was wealthy I would just shop at my favorite independent stores without price shopping. I would consider it my civic duty to perhaps pay a little more knowing the benefits to the local economy as well as the individual business.

Here's how I manage my budget restraints and try to support my local independent businesses; I get an idea of how much an item costs via the internet then I go to the shop and see if they have the item in stock at a similar price. If the shops price is the same or just a few dollars more I happily buy it there. I weigh in the shipping cost and the instant gratification of having the item in my hands right then and there. Sometimes they don't have what I am looking for, but they are always willing to order it. In which case I use the same criteria to make my decision. Of course small items that are not that expensive I just purchase locally and when it comes to cycling specific clothing I always shop local because I need to check the fit. You don't save any money if you have to pay for return shipping. 

I hope this gives everyone some food for thought and perhaps the next time you need to shop for a bicycle related item or something else you will consider your local independent business. Without them our main streets will become homogenized with one chain store or franchise after another.

1. Civic Economics 2008 study, Chicago IL

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Bike Show at The Dudley Flea Market

Give Thanks for Bikes Show
Sunday November 20th
7AM until its over
Large indoor bike show with all kinds of bikes and parts
 Free Admission
$25 for display space
At the Dudley Flea Market
10 West Main St, Dudley, Massachusetts 

For more info call 800-336-2453
For Directions Click here