Need a brighter light for motorcycle helmet

chadbaldwin

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Hi all...so, down here in Southern California (US), there's a few mountain roads, that, during the summer, the roads stay hot at night due to baking in the sun all day. Me and my friends ride street bikes. Many times we like to head up to the canyon roads and go riding late at night.

We came to realize that, even though we all have pretty nice HID setups, as you turn into a corner, you are supposed to look though the end of the turn....unfortunately, your bike is still pointing straight while you're looking through the turn, which is pitch black dark...which means you're putting at 2mph, cause you can't see the road ahead of you.

My buddy did some research, and came up with the brilliant idea of buying some cheap china bicycle lights (supposedly rated at 1800lm [XML-T6 Bulbs]) and modifying some GoPro mounts to mount them on our helmets. Now, these things we're deceivingly bright!!!...however, they are a bit bulky, and riding at high speeds on some straightaways, you feel the wind hitting it (I ended up moving it to the top of the helmet, worked much better).

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Later on, I ordered a hand held flash light that had an XML-T6 LED as well, but had a zoomable projector style lens...I assumed it would be brighter than the one with just a reflector, but I was wrong. But, not by much. But at least now I have a nice bright flashlight to keep in my car. lol.

I found out CREE came out with the XML-U2, so I figured, there had to be some bicycle lights with this new awesome little LED in it. Sure enough, I found one! In fact....I found a TON....as I'm sure you know ebay is plastered with T6 and U2 flashlights and bicycle lights. So I bought this one, rated at "5000lm!!"...yeah....okay...I'm not that dumb...but two U2's vs a single T6...it's gotta be WAY brighter, RIGHT?:
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Wrong...compared them side by side in my alley way behind my house...at long distance, they're just about the same...at short distance, you can see the single T6 round one is MUCH more center focused, whereas this new one is much more distributed. I haven't gotten a chance to test the new one on the bike yet, so who knows, but they seem like they would both perform about the same.

Now that I've taken you on this awesome little journey....any recommendations? I think you get the idea...I'm looking for the smallest, brightest little mother effer I can mount to my helmet. Generally, I'll be looking about 30 -50 yards ahead of me, sometimes more. And in pitch black night....the first one (round one) just about gets the job done, and it has for a while. But if I can find something brighter, and the same size or smaller....then, even better!

:)

I'm findng all kinds of these things...all of them claim to be XML-U2's, but I'm also learning that reflector size/shape is a big player in this stuff. I'm also starting to wonder if the battery pack and the drivers they are using have something to do with it? All of them come with the same battery pack, which appears to be four 18650's wired together. I'm finding other lights, with 1, 2 and 3 lights, but if the battery pack is still limited to a certain current, then adding more bulbs, isn't going to help me any and may actually make it worse. Lots of different styles out there...but bank account isn't big enough to test them all!! :( Preferably want one that runs on a battery pack, BUT, I do have a standard SAE battery connection on my bike, so fixing up some sort of wire that plugs into the flashlight isn't a problem....it just has to be 12V.

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dss_777

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Oct 31, 2004
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You have a problem similar to what mountain bikers have, just scaled up in speed and distance. Their solution is the same as well, using both bike and helmet lights. One problem with helmet lights is if you're not facing the right way during a turn, or if you turn your head, you can lose the road in the middle of a turn. :eek:

I might first consider adding purpose-built auxiliary lighting to the bike, like what the offroad/rally riders use.

But, certain bicycle lights might give you the distance you need. Look into the high end, high-power lights like the Lupine Betty, or DiNotte XML-3...

Also, ask around in the transpo lighting sections: http://www.candlepowerforums.com/vb/forumdisplay.php?85-Transportation-Lighting

Cheers!
 

TEEJ

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I'd like to point out that you are shopping by lumens...and eBay lumens at that.

The unit that tells you how far the beam projects is the cd (candela) which is NOT comparable to candle power, which is even less reliable than ebay lumens if you can imagine that.

Of course a strong throwing light hitting an oncoming driver in his eyes may cause him to be flying blind around that same corner. ..A potential hazard.
 
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Tmack

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From an all conditions rider, flood is your friend. Especially touching knee pitch black.
You want as wide of a field of vision as possible. I however know nothing of bike lights, helmet light etc. But after putting 14000 miles on my gsxr750k7 in two years, I would have loved to have a monster flooder on my helmet. :)

Happy riding. Great idea for when your head us out past the side mirror :p
 

chadbaldwin

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May 22, 2014
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@dss_777 - well, here's the problem, unfotunately, I can't mount any auxiliary lights to the bike due to it being a sport bike, however, that sorta defies the reason I need it mounted on my helmet anyways. When you're entering into a corner, you need light where you are looking, but the bike is still pointing straight, even though you're looking towards the end of the turn =\ Now, fortunately, my current light has gotten the job done and it has done well. The implementation of the light is (so far) perfect, my goal here, is to find one that's brighter than what I have now. Thanks for the recommendations, I'll look into those lights!

@TEEJ - yeah....I kinda figured that out after my first few minutes of searching when I bought the first light, the second I saw "6000lm"!!! I was like....6000 lumens with 3 bulbs? Why isn't Ebay putting Rigid industries to shame then!? lol. But yeah, after researching into the actual capabilities of the LED's them selves on the CREE spec sheets, I found those numbers were not nearly close to accurate. Also, my friends and I are very respectful to other drivers, if we know a car is coming up, we usually look away from them so as not to blind them, just as you would turn your brights off to on coming traffic and putting them back on once they pass. Unfortunately, ebay cheap china lights don't offer any other measurements other than the terribly bloated lumen numbers...and half the time, I'm not even sure if the LED model they list is correct.

@Tmack - flood is definitely my friend, but i've found only to an extent. I'd much rather have more focused light at exactly where I want it to be, than flooded out and dimmer light all over. I'm finding the lights with the larger reflectors, seem to be more directional, and the smaller reflectors are more flood? And yes, touching knee at about 2AM on a canyon road....there's nothing else like it :)
 

chadbaldwin

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May 22, 2014
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@dss_777, one thing I'm worrying about with these lights you recommended....how do they differ from these cheap china lights I'm finding? I mean, if they both have XML-T6 or XML-U2 LED's in them, and they are both recieving the same amount of current pumped through them....shouldn't they be the same? Seems like a flashlight can't be any simpler....I mean, yes, there's science in the shape and size of the reflectors, but other than that, it's just a matter of pumping as much power through the LED's as they will allow.

I'm just worried, these other lights, like:
http://store.dinottelighting.com/dinotte-xml-3-headlight-p174.aspx

Is just a fixed up fancy-fied version, of the china stuff on ebay...with things like nice chargers, and indicators, and charge lights on the battery pack, etc.
 

dss_777

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@dss_777, one thing I'm worrying about with these lights you recommended....how do they differ from these cheap china lights I'm finding? I mean, if they both have XML-T6 or XML-U2 LED's in them, and they are both recieving the same amount of current pumped through them....shouldn't they be the same? Seems like a flashlight can't be any simpler....I mean, yes, there's science in the shape and size of the reflectors, but other than that, it's just a matter of pumping as much power through the LED's as they will allow.

I'm just worried, these other lights, like:
http://store.dinottelighting.com/dinotte-xml-3-headlight-p174.aspx

Is just a fixed up fancy-fied version, of the china stuff on ebay...with things like nice chargers, and indicators, and charge lights on the battery pack, etc.

These actually work exactly like they claim they do. And will continue to work when you need them to. They're US made, have a great reputation, and all that jazz.

Certainly more expensive. But then, what's skin cost these days? ;)

Look into the MagicShine options if you need the best of the cheaper china lights...
 

yellow

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to be totally "straight":

You can
A) get a quality light (means more expensive than that E-Bay junk which is more-or-less always the same driver, no matter what led or what number of led and thus not neccesarily brighter) and this quality light will drive the led to its allowed ratings
or
B) put another driver, a good one, into the ones You have. One that drives the number of led to their allowed ratings


B) is easier, because You already have most parts (but not in granted quality) ;)
and while doing so, You could check the interiors and "repair" all other flaws (bad mounting of led, thermal paste missing, metal filings in housing that might cause shortings, ...)
 

mcnair55

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You are not bikers end of.If you intend to ride a motorcycle seriously just forget out any hobby lights they are not designed for what you want them to do.Any further recommendations are just pure b/s.
 

dss_777

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Hobby lights for those who are not bikers: http://www.coreracing.co.uk/cyclops.php

Or perhaps there is a blue light industry store he could pop in to, instead, where there are plenty of lights best suited to his work and at professional users price rather than inflated boys toys prices?

;)
 

chadbaldwin

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May 22, 2014
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You are not bikers end of.If you intend to ride a motorcycle seriously just forget out any hobby lights they are not designed for what you want them to do.Any further recommendations are just pure b/s.

Maybe you don't understand my post....the light I have now works great for what I need it to do, and I will continue using it they way I have been. The ONLY point of this post, was to find out if there is anything brighter than what I have now, but isn't going to break the bank....and the only reason for wanting a brighter light is because it would be nice. The point is to find a light weight, very small, helmet mountable flash light, that is brighter than what I have now, preferably battery powered.

So guess what, it's not "pure b/s" because the light I have now has already been tested for the use I want to use it for, and it works great, it would just be cool, if I found a brighter one purely for convenience....so, unless you actually have something constructive to add to this thread, you can go somewhere else.
 
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chadbaldwin

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May 22, 2014
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to be totally "straight":

You can
A) get a quality light (means more expensive than that E-Bay junk which is more-or-less always the same driver, no matter what led or what number of led and thus not neccesarily brighter) and this quality light will drive the led to its allowed ratings
or
B) put another driver, a good one, into the ones You have. One that drives the number of led to their allowed ratings


B) is easier, because You already have most parts (but not in granted quality) ;)
and while doing so, You could check the interiors and "repair" all other flaws (bad mounting of led, thermal paste missing, metal filings in housing that might cause shortings, ...)

That's exactly what I've been considering. I'm not shy with electronics, so I've got no problem "cleaning up" or "repairing" the existing hardware, or swapping it out with a better driver. But, what I don't know, and what I was hoping you guys would, is the cost effectiveness of doing that. Is it worth doing that work? Or is there a moderately priced light I could pick up, no modifications needed.
 

mcnair55

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Hobby lights for those who are not bikers: http://www.coreracing.co.uk/cyclops.php

Or perhaps there is a blue light industry store he could pop in to, instead, where there are plenty of lights best suited to his work and at professional users price rather than inflated boys toys prices?

;)

Why are you trying to be funny with a blue light industry store?Being clever are we so i will give you a hehe for your troubles.:p I can honestly say i have never seen a serious UK bike rider using a helmet mounted light before and i never would consider one for road use on my bike.

114

You MUST NOT

  • use any lights in a way which would dazzle or cause discomfort to other road users, including pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders
  • use front or rear fog lights unless visibility is seriously reduced. YouMUST switch them off when visibility improves to avoid dazzling other road users (see Rule 226).
In stationary queues of traffic, drivers should apply the parking brake and, once the following traffic has stopped, take their foot off the footbrake to deactivate the vehicle brake lights. This will minimise glare to road users behind until the traffic moves again.
Law RVLR reg 27


115

You should also

  • use dipped headlights, or dim-dip if fitted, at night in built-up areas and in dull daytime weather, to ensure that you can be seen
  • keep your headlights dipped when overtaking until you are level with the other vehicle and then change to main beam if necessary, unless this would dazzle oncoming road users
  • slow down, and if necessary stop, if you are dazzled by oncoming headlights
116

Hazard warning lights. These may be used when your vehicle is stationary, to warn that it is temporarily obstructing traffic. Never use them as an excuse for dangerous or illegal parking. You MUST NOTuse hazard warning lights while driving or being towed unless you are on a motorway or unrestricted dual carriageway and you need to warn drivers behind you of a hazard or obstruction ahead. Only use them for long enough to ensure that your warning has been observed.
Law RVLR reg 27

I would have no problem using a helmet mounted light whilst not riding.
 

chadbaldwin

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May 22, 2014
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@mcnair55 yeah...would be nice if any of that applied to me. I live in southern California in the United States. Also, stop trying to argue my usage. Obviously this has been tested, I know what I'm doing. at 2AM on a canyon road, there is NO ONE there. In all the years I've been riding the canyons at night, I've seen MAYBE a handful of cars.

So, again, please stick to the original topic and stop posting useless inapplicable information.

This helmet light is not for "regular" every day riding. This is for "brisk" speed riding on twisty roads at 2 in the morning when there's no one around but me....like I've said multiple times before. ALL I need is a light that is possibly brighter than the one I have now purely out of it being "nice" to have. If I don't find one, then I'm just going to keep doing what I'm doing with the light I have now.
 
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mcnair55

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@mcnair55 yeah...would be nice if any of that applied to me. I live in southern California in the United States. Also, stop trying to argue my usage. Obviously this has been tested, I know what I'm doing. at 2AM on a canyon road, there is NO ONE there. In all the years I've been riding the canyons at night, I've seen MAYBE a handful of cars.

So, again, please stick to the original topic and stop posting useless inapplicable information.

This helmet light is not for "regular" every day riding. This is for "brisk" speed riding on twisty roads at 2 in the morning when there's no one around but me....like I've said multiple times before. ALL I need is a light that is possibly brighter than the one I have now purely out of it being "nice" to have. If I don't find one, then I'm just going to keep doing what I'm doing with the light I have now.


There is no need to be rude chap, how was I to know you are living in the US&A,that explains a lot. I will leave you to it for reasons I know.All I can say at least I will not come across you breaking our traffic laws.Have a nice day.
 

makapuu

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Wazup chad. After reading through your post, I'm kinda wondering if you need a collimating optic based light instead of a reflector type one. Try and take a look at this Surefire UB3T Invictus light review http://www.candlepowerforums.com/vb/showthread.php?322021. Especially the outdoor beamshots. You seem to want to channel most or all of the beam to the area you're looking at ahead. Since the beam has a much more narrow funnel, with practically no spill, (almost like a spotlight) you probably won't blind oncoming traffic unless you tilt your head to look right at them. The one thing I'm not too sure about is if a optic base light will provide enough of a spread for you since you did mention you will be looking at only about 30 to 50 yards in front of you.
 

chadbaldwin

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May 22, 2014
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@makapuu thanks! Looked into how they work, sounds like they're basically a laser...but for flashlights? lol. (in it's simplest explanation). I suppose that is sort of what I'm looking for, as, once I've seen what is ahead of me, then I don't need to see where the bike is going, just where I'll be going next. (if that makes sense).

Here's a video, of basically what I'd be doing (keep in mind, this is an old and stupid video of mine), but you can see where the light from my bike is going, and where I'm looking.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmpF30sy_z8
 

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