will this headlamp be ok for muniing?

found this headlamp and was wondering if it will be ok for light muniing on trails in the woods.

thanks for any advice


I note they’re coy about power consumption and luminosity, I’d be happier if they said “1 watt Luxeon or 3 watt luxeon” or somesuch, but it’ll probably be ok. Not great.

My experience with most COTS LED lights is that they’re still better for “being seen” than “seeing”. I’m thinking that for Muni you want a lot of luminosity – lots and lots of photons bouncing off stuff for you to detect – makes it easier for your brain to see and understand.

I don’t muni at night, but i do cyclecommute at night quite often along a rails to trails path. I use a 15W MR-11 bulb helmet light with an 4x2AA NiMH powerpack, and it lights up the trail well enough that i can typically pull 21~24 through the whole ride, of which about 7 miles is off-street. i have about an 8 degree beam.

MUni is unlikely to be hammering along a straightish RtT trail at 24 miles an hour, and more likely something on the order of 2~7 mph in a high-clutter environment, so i’d offer that you might be happier with a much wider beam, maybe a 20 or 25 degree MR-11 at many (10 to 30) watts. 12V MR-11s are available at most Home Depot-type and other lightbulb selling stores. This will light up the whole area very well, w/o you having to point your head in the direction you want to see.

You can mount an MR-11 lamp in a piece of pvc pipe easily, and build a battery pack and cable w/o a lot of trouble – this would give you 10X the capability the the LED gizmo has for 1/4 the price.

It’s a thought. It probably wouldn’t have the finished look of the other thing, but I think you’d be much happier with the functionality, once you were out on the trail.

LEDs aren’t ready for muni yet. They don’t have a wide enough and bright enough beam of light yet. A 15 watt hallogen with a flood bulb will do you much better for muni.

I have a 15W NiteRider halogen light with a flood lamp (rather than the spot lamp) and it works OK for muni. It’s a helmet mount light. One issue with the halogen is that you can see the shadow from the fillament bouncing around on the trail in front of you which can obscure or hide bumps on the trail. LED lights don’t have that fillament shadow bouncing around (and neither do HIDs). A flood bulb is key. My NiteRider came with a spot bulb and the light was too tight to be useful for muni. I had to buy a flood bulb. With muni the light is focused right in front of the wheel and a tight beam is useless when looking at the ground that close in front of you.

I just recently got a Nitehawk Emitter LED light (I actually got the Performance Bike version on sale, but it’s the same light). Mostly just to see how bright LEDs are now and to have as a backup light. It has a very tight and focused beam. It lights up a bright tight circle right in front of you and the light falls off outside of that circle very very quickly. The light is too tight and focused to let you see anything but that little small circle. They need to figure out how to do a flood light wth the LEDs and still keep it bright enough.

I tried the LED with the 15W halogen flood and the LED light was actually brighter than the halogen in the one little tight spot that the LED light focused on. But outside of that tight spot the LED was way overpowered by the halogen.

The LED would be useful as a backup light or emergency light on a paved bike path. I’d still rather have my halogen flood light. The LED would be great for hiking though.

That site doesn’t say what LED the light uses. That leaves you guessing. Not all LED lights are equal. Some are bright and some are not. Don’t assume that one LED light will be just as bright as another just because the price is about the same or they look similar. Some are bright and some are not.

For MUni you definitely need a wideangle light.

The only LED I’ve tried is is a 3x 3W LUXEON unit, like this. I think it’s about equivalent in brightness to my 20W IRC Halogen lamp, but with a very white light which I find better for contrast on the trail. It’s got a broad angle beam so I have to disagree with John C on this- they’re not all narrow beam- it’s dependent on the LED reflectors.

I like it a lot but it’s still a bit pricey, and for that money I would pay a bit extra and get a Topeak HID (which is one of the cheaper HID units out there).

The 3x3W LUXEONs are not as bright as my 35W IRC Halogen lamp, which works very well for MUNI but chews through batteries faster than you can say “$#@! my lights dead”.

Neat light. I haven’t seen anything like that available commercially over here in the US. I’ve just seen reports of people doing home DIY builds of LED lights like that. I’d like to see some commercial lights like that available here in the US. LED lights do have lots of potential for good solid bright lighting with long run times.

ah important things:

  • I crash often (so need something solid)
  • 2 hours battery life is all I need (I am a braggard: I can’t muni for 2 hours!)
  • I used to have an exceptionally good night seeing: no more, I am too old … I prefer “hot” (orange) lights than white to spot things in the shadows

so any other suggestions?

Re: will this headlamp be ok for muniing?

john_childs wrote:
> LEDs aren’t ready for muni yet.

I think this may be, although I haven’t actually seen one in action yet:

Have a look at the comparison of the 3W light with a 10W halogen spot:

Danny Colyer (the UK company has been laughed out of my reply address)
“He who dares not offend cannot be honest.” - Thomas Paine

If you don’t need long battery life then save some money and get a Halogen system. The only reason to go for LED is reliability and long battery life. The only reason to go for HID is for Brighness and long battery life (and you’re paying a lot for it.)

I think white lights like HID and LED are better for trail riding though- yellow halogen lacks contrast on dirt. Theres also a nice unit made by USE which have 10W LED in a neat little unit which has slightly over 2hrs battery life.

Just what you asked for!

If you want the best riding light, Get the Night Rider 15w halogen. I’ve even used it flying through the trails on my mountain bike at faster speeds than my Muni.
I have used(beat on) mine for 2 years. Still shining.
It also has great battery life.

I quite the look of the new Cateye 3x3Watt LEDs:

Has anyone tried them yet? They seem pretty well priced but I’m not sure if you can change the batteries on them during the ride. 3.3hrs run time is not a lot.

I still think Neon lights are the way to go.
Originally, I just put a red on on the back of my seatpost.
Now, I’ve got two Purple/blue 12-inch ones, one on each fork of the frame. They light up the path ahead of me very well, but only for about 3 to 5 feet in front and to the side of me for reasonable light–I don’t really need much more than that.
They’re not really durable right now. Really, I need to get a wire cage around them. They’ll hold up fine for plenty of rough drops on streets, since the pedals stop them from ever contacting the ground, but if there’s a rock sticking up and that hits the lights, they’ll break in an instant.
I run them on ten AA batteries. They last about 2-3 hours between charges.
The whole setup cost me about $11, (not including the batteries) so it’s a pretty cheap experiment, and even if you find it doesn’t work too well, it looks cool as anything.
Here’s a pic of them on my Guni…I’ve since moved them to my normal uni, one on each fork.

I’ve played with a 1W Luxeon led headlamp but not ridden with one. I think you could just get away with it for light muni, but for the price, they’re not worth it unless you really need the runtime. It’s brighter than a really cheap normal bike light, but not as bright as halogen bulbs. Very white light too.

If you’re looking around the same price as the LED one, I’d recommend getting something with a 10 or 15w halogen bulb with a rechargeable battery. I use a 12W halogen spot for most riding I do. Something like a Smart or Electron light system.

If you’re handy with tools, search for DIY bike lights on the internet, there’s tons of sites saying how to make them up.


We’re talking 3 x 3Ws LED here :slight_smile:
I think if 3W LEDs had been around when I got my Halogen unit- I would definitely have gone the way of LEDs- there’s not a lot of difference in price when you consider how many batteries you need to keep a halogen light going. 9W of LED power seems about as bright as a 20W Halogen- and will last more than twice as long. Nowhere near as bright as my 35W IRC Halogen, but then I don’t need to change batteries every 2hrs either.

But now for me it’s more of a toss up between HID and LED- I like the brightness of HID but even the cheapest unit is slightly more expensive than LEDs.

Re: will this headlamp be ok for muniing?

In article
GizmoDuck <GizmoDuck@NoEmail.Message.Poster.at.Unicyclist.com> wrote:

> We’re talking 3 x 3Ws LED here :slight_smile:
> I think if 3W LEDs had been around when I got my Halogen unit- I would
> definitely have gone the way of LEDs- there’s not a lot of difference
> in price when you consider how many batteries you need to keep a
> halogen light going. 9W of LED power seems about as bright as a 20W
> Halogen- and will last more than twice as long. Nowhere near as bright
> as my 35W IRC Halogen, but then I don’t need to change batteries every
> 2hrs either.

They are indeed bright. I have an engineer friend who made a 3x3 unit
last year and found it quite bright. The one unfortunate thing i
noticed was that the beam pattern wasn’t very good for high speed
biking, although it should be quite satisfactory for uni riding.

The beam is very blue and the emitter is effectively shock (as in
g-force) proof.

As if that weren’t enough – Luxeon is now shipping 5 watt LEDs,
although i’m not certain if they’re white or colored.

cautionary notes for the inspired home builder follow:
This is one area where the home-bodged lamp should be as effective as a
store bought one; the LEDs come with a matched monolithic
reflector/projector lens mount, greatly simplifying the optical
engineering challenge: it’s about as challenging as mounting an MR-12

HOWever, the home electronics whiz should know a thing or two about heat
sinking (these things run quite (!!) hot) and current limiting. It’s
painfully easy to overdrive a 3W luxeon with too much current, resulting
in a very expensive solid state flash bulb.

To achieve long battery life my engineer friend made a fairly complex
kHz pulse-width voltage chopper thing that can suck almost every drop of
electricity out of his battery pack. One would derive significantly
less battery life from a simple current-limiting resistor.


Sorry, was referring to the original question about inexpensive lights not the rest of the discussion.

As for expensive LEDs, over here, the cateye LED costs £315 and runs for 3 hours, compared to the Solstice HID 5.0, which costs £250 and runs for 5 hours, with a whole lot of light. Even the cheaper solidlights cost £280 for 2hrs 45 mins runtime.


You can buy something very similar (same light unit) from trailtech in the USA, that comes as a head mount for motorcycling. If you’ve already got a 12V battery, it’s pretty cheap, $134 + postage for the light unit + controller. They are very very bright. I’m not sure if you use the same attachment for a bike helmet, or something different. I think that’s cheaper than the nightlightning LED light even.



I’d be a bit worried about HID though as I’ve crashed and broken a bulb before, and replacements are something like £70 for an HID light.


Oh, that’s neat.
Any info on the beam pattern (spot or flood)?
Cateye mentions that their Double Shot is a spot pattern.
The Triple Shot also comes with only handlebar mounts, no helmet mount. The Double Shot comes with a helmet mount and handlebar mount. Will the Triple Shot work with the helmet mount? Can you get a helmet mount for it?

The picture here shows that the battery pack is detachable but the cord looks way too short to be used with a helmet mount.


If you are a do it yourselfer you can always experiment with this design. I used it for mountain biking. Since MUni speeds are slower the lamp can be dropped down to 15 or 10 watts and then you can even switch over to 6volt power which would be significantly lighter. Indestructable helmet light.

You can buy constant current sources for luxeon LEDS. They cost about 15-20 euros ( = less than 20$). The ones I’ve seen could handle 6W each with a 12V battery and 12W with 24V.

Try looking on

for advice on homebrew LED lights (and HID lights for that matter).