Our 24hr Moonride MTB race in early next month and we still haven’t got our lighting sorted yet . We will have about 14hrs worth of darkness and most lighting systems seem to run for about 2hrs and recharge for 8hrs. There are limited charging facilities on site. We have so far got a 24hr team of five, 2 solo riders for the 12hr race and 1 solo rider (me) for the 24hr race. So that’s means a whole lot of spare battery packs!
But I was looking at some of these Nightlightning LED lights. These seem to run for much longer but I wonder if they will be bright enough to race with? Does anyone have experience with LED lighting systems? In particular I was looking at getting some Agent Optics: LED lighting
Those lights look interesting, but I’ve never seen an LED light that’s good
for anything other than say reading in the tent or cooking. The LED
headlamps are not even close to bright enough for riding at night. Notice
that they give all kinds of stats including the size of the LEDs in mm, but
they don’t talk about light output… Find a store that has them and get
them to turn out the lights while you test one.
“GizmoDuck” <GizmoDuck.email@example.com> wrote
> Our 24hr Moonride MTB race in early next month and we still haven’t got
> our lighting sorted yet . We will have about 14hrs worth of
> darkness and most lighting systems seem to run for about 2hrs and
> recharge for 8hrs. There are limited charging facilities on site. We
> have so far got a 24hr team of five, 2 solo riders for the 12hr race and
> 1 solo rider (me) for the 24hr race. So that’s means a whole lot of
> spare battery packs!
> But I was looking at some of these Nightlightning LED lights. These
> seem to run for much longer but I wonder if they will be bright enough
> to race with? Does anyone have experience with LED lighting systems?
> In particular I was looking at getting some Agent Optics:
> ‘LED lighting’ (http://www.nightlightning.co.nz/agent%20optic.htm)
Thanks Nathan. I suppose that’s why they also have a piggyback lighting system with a regular light. But I wonder if the 36 LED light will the grunt to do the job? I’m guessing it will give a short distance light rather than anything penetrating; which may be OK since we will not be going much faster than about 15kph Max (It’s mostly single/doubletrack.)
The 12hr riders start 12hrs after the 24hr riders, but it’s the same course. It’s quite a big race, not quite as big as last years 12hr Day/Night Thriller but we are expecting about 1500 riders or so. I was really really stoked last week to find out we had 3 solo and a team of 5 for the race! That’s like having 44 solo riders and 15 unicycle teams in a 24hr race if we had the population of the UK. Maybe we are just a little bit crazy.
Tony Melton (12hr solo)
Peter Bier (12hr solo)- with an injured ankle
Ken Looi (24hr solo)
Malcolm Todd (this guy is a legend)
While training for the24hr held last weekend I tried an LED torch with 7 elements. It was okay on the bike track but nowhere strong enough on trails. I settled on a 6v 10watt headlamp running off cheap 6v sealed lead-acid batteries. At about $20 each they’re cheap enough to buy a few and have one recharging as you use the others. I used this setup when I rode a lot on 2wheels at night and it was good for up to 2hrs, depending on the state of the battery.
If you’re intending to do lots of night riding as well as this 24hr it’s worth getting a good light system.
I’ve got a 10w floodlight & 12w spot and two 4ah nimh batteries, as the setup I use for any long nightriding. I use lumicycles and they’re great, but you probably don’t have time to order from the UK.
You could get the Agent Luminaire Light with a 10w bulb off that site and either a 7ah lead acid battery or two of the expensive nimh batteries, or two 4ah lead acid batteries. That’d give you the run time you need.
If you’re using two batteries, charge them both up and swap which one you’re using each lap. That way, as long as you’ve got enough power overall, you don’t need to worry about carrying both batteries for all night laps. Maybe carry both after a couple of laps when you’re worried they’re going to be low.
If you’re not planning to be doing any more night riding then you might just want to get a petzl torch or something similar from a camping shop and a few spare batteries for it. Although beware, night riding can be pretty addictive, you’re quite likely to want to do it again. You can ride okay slowly on a petzl, it gets a bit sketchy if you go fast, but if you’ve been riding for ages you probably won’t be riding too fast.
I use a NiteRider Digital Headtrip. It’s a discontinued model but is similar to the new Digital Evolution.
If you only use the high power setting when you really need it you can extend the burn time to about 2 hours. But I find that I tend to keep it at the 15W setting and don’t use the 10W setting very often (I like being able to see well rather than saving the battery). The digital series lights allow you to dim the light and they also automatically dim and then shut off the light when the battery gets too low. If you over-discharge a NiMH battery you will ruin the batter and the digital lights try to keep you from doing that.
If you want to go for the Wow! factor there are the H.I.D. lights like the NiteRider Storm.
Insanely bright and insanely expensive (about $300 to $400 USD). Burn times of about 4 hours at full brightness (you can’t dim the HID lights). Very very bright. I haven’t tried one out on a trail yet, but I did try one in a dark room and compared it to a 15W halogen light. The HID is much brighter (no contest) and the light is smoother (there is no shadow from the halogen light filament) and a more even dispersal out to the edges.
A 15W halogen light will be enough along with a spare battery pack or two (depends on how many night laps you’re going to do).
A wide angle bulb or reflector will work better than a spot bulb. If you have the option go for a light with a wide angle bulb. On a unicycle you’re looking close in front of you and the wide angle option gives you a larger light patch.
I think I will probably go for the Agent Ruby’s $339 NZD (about $175 USD) which is 20W and have electronic dimmer functions and about 2 or 3 extra SLA batteries + charger. They seem to be really popular in NZ. The Nighriders are pretty pricey for what you get.
Looks like a good light and the price is good. And they have flood bulbs for the Commet Pro and Ruby.
Their helmet mount system looks a little odd. It might be difficult to aim the light down enough for unicycle use. Make sure you try out the light before the race so you can figure out how to aim it in the right place and how to best secure it on the helmet. You don’t want to be debugging those kinds of problems on the day of the race.
Night riding is fun and is a whole new muni experience.
Is a 10W bright enough to ride by? You have a 15/10W lamp - would 10W be enough? I was intending to get a Cateye 10/6W light plus a spare battery. I figure I don’t need to spend $339, when I could get a 10 Watter for $140. Especially as I’m only riding 4 hours out of 12 in the dark.
10W could be enough, but not likely. If it’s a clear night with a good moon and sparse tree cover it’s more likely that 10W will be enough. But if it’s a dark night and under tree cover you’re going to want more light. Also, the more technical the trail is the more you’ll need extra light. Even a little twig or a little dip in the trail is enough to cause a UPD if you don’t see it so you need enough light to see the stuff on the trail even if it’s hiding in the shadows. I’ll only use the 10W setting on a smooth trail and even then I’ll be saying to myself that the 15W setting would make things easier. If you have good night vision you will find the 10W setting more useful than I do.
Do you know someone that you can borrow a 10W or a 15W light from just to try out for one night on a trail?
Tony, I might get a couple of spare batteries anyway. Will probably have 2x 7a/h batts + 1x 4a/h batts SLA’s. The first night section will be the longest 10pm to ?6-7am so will need two. But the next day 5.15pm-10pm we will probably only need one 7a/h battery. You’re welcome to charge up one of my spare ones, but you’ll need a charger as I can only charge one at a time (13hr charge time). I think I can get hold of some Cateye LED’s as supplementary lights.
Tony I bought the batteries from an electronics supplier- I don’t know if you have Tandy or Dick Smith shops there- but most electronic supply shops should have them. Good luck and it’s a lot of fun at night.
Gizmo - thanks for your offer of a battery. I saw a 35W Nightlightning light today and was very impressed with its brightness and small size (it’s hard to tell how big they are from their website!). From the website I can’t pick the difference between the Comet Pro and the Agent Luminere. They are the same price and apparently have the same features! Do you know the difference(s)?
More Light questions:
What does 4a-hr refer to in terms of batteries? 4 Amp-hours? 4A per hour? Is 7a-hr better? Will a higher wattage bulb drain a battery quicker?
Their website is a bit confusing but it’s all in there. I forwarded you the message I got from that Eric guy. Basically the Comet Pro is only slightly bigger than the Agent Luminaire and is probably better because of bigger reflector and better lamp etc. The size and run time of the batteries are on this page.
The advangtage of the electronic lights like the Ruby over the manual ones like the comet and agent luminaire is that you can run it at lower power eg 60% which will make it closer to a 10-15w lamp. Whereas you’re stuck with 20W without the electronic dimmers. But you could probably ask them to put in a 15W bulb for you. Also you can buy the kitset from them and build it yourself and save a few $$$
I’m getting them because they seem to be really good value and made in Chch. They’re pretty popular here too I think.
I noticed that the Comet Pro and Ruby lights have the option for a wide angle bulb. I didn’t see wide angle options for the other lights. Wide angle is the way to go so it’s a choice between the Comet Pro and the Ruby. But their site isn’t too clear on what lights have wide angle bulbs so you should ask them for clarification.
> TonyMelton wrote:
>> Is a 10W bright enough to ride by? You have a 15/10W lamp - would 10W
>> be enough?
> 10W could be enough, but not likely. If it’s a clear night with a good
OR, you could go for over voltage. Use a 6v battery with a 10w 4.8v lamp (
if you can find one, my smart set came with that set up a few years
back) It gives about 13w true power and was enough for me on night laps of
the Red Bull 24, which had lots of wooded sections. The only problem I had
was dust, but that happens even worse with a brighter light. If its V
dusty its hard to see anything but the relected light off the dust in the
air. kind of like riding in the dark when snow is falling.
>More Light questions:
>What does 4a-hr refer to in terms of batteries? 4 Amp-hours? 4A per
Usually it’s written 4 Ah, not 4a-hr. It is a measure of battery
capacity and means Ampere.hours, which is electrical current
multiplied by time. So you could drain 4 Amperes for one hour before
the battery is flat, or 2 Amperes for two hours etc. If you multiply
the Ah number by the voltage of the battery (or batteries if you have
them in series), you get the number of Watt.hours. The number of
Watt.hours is a more ‘true’ measure of capacity. So if you have 5
cells of 1.5 V each, and each cell is 4 Ah, then the voltage is 1.5 *
5 = 7.5 V (assuming the cells are in series which is usual), and the
total capacity is 4 * 7.5 = 30 Wh. A 12 W light could run 30/12 = 2.5
hours on those.
>Is 7a-hr better?
Yes 7 Ah has almost twice the capacity (assuming that the voltage is
the same). But it’s also heavier, larger and more expensive.
>Will a higher wattage bulb drain a battery
Yes, as per the calculation example above.