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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Search brought up nothing addressing my specific riding conditions.

Riding environment will be almost exclusively: 20' wide converted rail to trails with snowpack. Long - straight - flat. Some groomed X-Country trails through timber, but rarely. We're in Iowa, so topography allows us to see Minnesota/Nebraska/Illinois with a strong enough light.

My immediate thoughts were long narrow beam with little need for flood as all climbs/turns are gentle and no obstructions to see around. In theory, seems by biggest concern would be glare/eye strain from snow reflection.

Read multiple reviews on different lights, but none addressed my environment.

Appreciate thoughts with reasoning.
 

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EAT MORE GRIME
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you want a high-cri LED for one thing (also called neutral)

(think, not pure white, more yellow, more natural sunlight color)

this makes snow adventures far easier on the eyes at night

and you want as many levels of stepdown you can find, so as you adjust you can dial back the intensity

and finally, NO PWM. high speeds at night in snow with PWM forget it

I have friends who teleski and I hooked them up with zebralight
H600w Mk II 18650 XM-L2 Headlamp Neutral White

and they LOVE them. many light levels and color rendering is awesome

and, FYI, I rock this same light on my helmet, on my bike in snow for the same type of riding you describe. I always have this on my helmet, and carry a spare 18650 in my pocket.

this is not a cheap light it is pretty advanced UI and solid warranty and they are in Texas. you will not find something more compact or lighter...which is another reason I love it. barely tell you have it on the helmet
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
..........and finally, NO PWM. high speeds at night in snow with PWM forget it

..........this is not a cheap light it is pretty advanced UI and solid warranty and they are in Texas. you will not find something more compact or lighter...which is another reason I love it. barely tell you have it on the helmet
127.0.0.1:

Will helmet lights alone suffice? Bar/helmet combo overkill?

I'm illumination ignorant. Enlighten me as to what PWM and UI are?

FYI - we'll be on fat bikes rolling Bud's and Lou's through snow, so "high speeds" no where in the equation.

Do appreciate your reply and link, though. Thanks.
 

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I think most lights use PWM (pulse width modulation), but they turn off and on so fast that you can't be perceived.

I think your conditions don't need anything super special. Since you are riding on snow which is super reflective and you probably aren't riding super fast you can probably buy anything featured on the first page and be satisfied.

I've heard some guys that ride in super cold temperatures have problems with the wires becoming brittle and breaking. Hopefully those guys will log in and answer that particular question. I think it's mostly very cheap lights that have this problem.

As far as the glare goes, you might have to run the lights on low or medium. I'm not sure which tint is better for snow, the older cool white or the newer neutral white. Probably the neutral is better.
 

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127.0.0.1:

Will helmet lights alone suffice? Bar/helmet combo overkill?

I'm illumination ignorant. Enlighten me as to what PWM and UI are?

FYI - we'll be on fat bikes rolling Bud's and Lou's through snow, so "high speeds" no where in the equation.

Do appreciate your reply and link, though. Thanks.
"PWM" is an abbreviation for "Pulse Width Modulation" and is the means that most light manufacturers use to control the brightness ( or mode...ie...H-M-L ) of the LED. In a nutshell, the current to the LED is varied at high frequency. The lower the frequency of the pulse wave the dimmer the light. Some people claim they can actually see the fluctuations when in the lower modes. While I don't know the actual frequencies used to do this they are high enough that the human eye cannot detect them under normal conditions. Exceptions to this rule might only happen if the circuit is using poor components, poorly designed or if the power source is too low.

It is possible though that extremely cold weather could effect the electrical characteristics of both the LED driver circuit and the power source to the point that it might be possible to see some slight fluctuation. At least that is "my" theory. I've ridden in cold weather before myself and have never seen the effect myself with any lamp I have used. Don't usually ride in extremely cold temps though.

As a reviewer of LED light sets for bikes I personally have never seen the effect myself except with the drivers used in very cheap Chinese flashlights. That said it is very rare IMO.

About the other questions; the term "UI" is a abbre. for "User Interface". Usually this refers to the LED driver and how it is controlled. Some lamps have multiple modes. If your lamp has say, "three modes including a push to hold flash mode, that is your UI. Some lamps have more extensive UI's that allows the user to program the modes or in some cases to change the firmware that controls the operating circuit.

As far as riding in snow and cold weather I agree that a lamp using a "neutral binned LED" is the way to go. Reflective glare will be an issue so lower output levels and more forward throw will likely be more useful. It will also be important to find a way to keep the battery warm as that will help extend run time. Hope this is helpful.
 

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Actually, pulse width relative to the period (a.k.a. "duty cycle") is changed, hence the name. Frequency remains the same for all the levels...
Yes, I understand. The shorter the duty cycle ( on vs. off ) the dimmer the light. This is also a function of timing ( or duration ) of the duty cycle. The circuit that controls the sampling of the output wave form must have "frequency" in the equation somewhere ( I would think ). I was just trying to be simplistic but yes, "Duty cycle" is easier to explain as it is simply a function of timing ( duration ) of the on vs. off of the output waveform. ( Note to those who don't know, we are talking about rectangular or digital waveforms )
 

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Imo (which is what im prepping to run for winter myself) this is what's needed:

Flood beam, strong spot is going to great huge glare. You dont need huge range cause your not doing 30mph+ on a long down hill.

As said neutral white (high cri), yellow tint light.

Pwm ONLY MATTERS if its low frequency (poorly done). High frequency pwm you can't see. Which depends on the light, its really hit or miss with the Chinese lights. Honestly hit or miss on the quality brands too as to who uses low or high frequency. And few exist without pwm.

I dont see that angled head flashlight doing much as run time or output is going to suffer badly. Good to have something like that on the lid for your use, but not as your primary.

And for your use, helmet light is simply redundant. A good mixed beam bar lamp with NW emitters and you'll be set. A decent flashlight (like linked above) on the helmet for back up/repairs etc where your off the bike and such.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I've heard some guys that ride in super cold temperatures have problems with the wires becoming brittle and breaking. Hopefully those guys will log in and answer that particular question. I think it's mostly very cheap lights that have this problem.

As far as the glare goes, you might have to run the lights on low or medium. I'm not sure which tint is better for snow, the older cool white or the newer neutral white. Probably the neutral is better.
It is possible though that extremely cold weather could effect the electrical characteristics of both the LED driver circuit and the power source to the point that it might be possible to see some slight fluctuation. Don't usually ride in extremely cold temps though.

As far as riding in snow and cold weather I agree that a lamp using a "neutral binned LED" is the way to go. Reflective glare will be an issue so lower output levels and more forward throw will likely be more useful. It will also be important to find a way to keep the battery warm as that will help extend run time. Hope this is helpful.
Imo (which is what im prepping to run for winter myself) this is what's needed:

Flood beam, strong spot is going to great huge glare. You dont need huge range cause your not doing 30mph+ on a long down hill.

As said neutral white (high cri), yellow tint light.

And for your use, helmet light is simply redundant. A good mixed beam bar lamp with NW emitters and you'll be set. A decent flashlight (like linked above) on the helmet for back up/repairs etc where your off the bike and such.
Thanks gentlemen.

Correct any misunderstanding, my takeaway from your posts for some type of consensus is:

1) Use Neutral white light, and;
2) Long throw/narrow beam not needed on non-technical trails @ 8 MPH +/-, and;
3) Low temps present wiring fragility/battery run times issues, and;
4) Bar light will provide primary illumination, helmet light useful as backup and off bike.

#1 - self explanatory.
#2 - define distance of throw/broadness of flood to qualify lights meeting definition.
#3 - how to practically address temperature effects on wiring/battery.
#4 - conclusion to #2 will determine which bar lights meet criteria - BUT - what characteristics/compromises in determining helmet light.

Again gentlemen, I'm too ignorant on this topic to answer #2, #3 and #4. Will provide some additional info that should help narrow candidates: Riding temps will be low 30's to single digits. Ride times will rarely exceed 2 hrs., never intentionally exceed 3 hrs. Typically ride 4x per week. Budget max $200 for bar + helmet lights + batteries/mounts/chargers/etc. Will be buying x2 - duplicate for wife, so $400 for both bike setups.

Check with Scar on this forum. He uses his Amoeba lights for snow riding and probably has the best real world experience.
Will search and send him PM - is "Scar" (spelling/capitalization) how I search him?
 

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RAKC
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Scar is a perfect person to get you set up, however not sure if he can in your budget. But his lights come with everything you need. As do most lights (unless you specifically buy just the light itself, nothing else with it).



That said, if he is out of your budget, first this is what temps are we talking 15-30deg F or sub zero temps? That plays a HUGE part in things. The cracking of wires really doesn't happen except for the really really cheap china crap down into the 20s or so, start getting below 15F and especially anywhere near and below 0... The outer casings (except on wires rated for the cold) will get brittle. That in itself isn't a problem right away, the protection and stress support of the casing is lost. creates a point where wires inside can bend sharply and end up breaking. Biggest way to protect against that is to keep the cable from being bent sharply while cold. Bends and flex need to be like that of your bike cables. Keeping the supported (Velcro) at the stem, just enough loose wire that it isn't strained by turning bars and don't "bundle" extra wire while its cold. Best to have bike set up while everything is warm then expose to cold.



With batteries, still same thing l, based on temps. First rule though, DO NOT STORE IN THE COLD. Keep inside where its plenty warm except during use. Even when transporting, keep the pack in your jacket pocket or something so it stays warm till use.



As for flood and throw. Think like an led flashlight with the almost laser dot in the center when you shine it on something, that spot is the light being focused and more intense so it reaches further. Think of flood like a car headlight on low beam, light spread all over so you can see a nice panoramic view of what's in front of you. What you dont want is one narrow and very intense spot in front if you, blinding in snow and ice. The throw you want is things are still lit well in front if you but not that tight intense spot that reaches 100yrds.



Still back to scar in this though, when it comes to snow riding I think he has all of us beat by far. But if that's out of your price range:



Fenix bc30 is $80, has the tint you need, batteries are installed in the case so no worries of wires. But that instance you need to buy 18650 cells , which a pair of the top end Panasonic can be had for $20, charger for $20. So 2 lights $160ish
Fenix bc30r which is 80% the output but fully self contained USB chargeable for $150. Buy 2 of those and your literally done. No charger needed, comes with mount and all. Both fenix lights come with mounts, just one is self contained and one not.
 

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#2 What some people consider a narrow beam/throw light, others will consider to be a broad/flood light. It's higly personal what you consider "good". Look at the pictures in this thread:
http://forums.mtbr.com/lights-night-riding/2013-budget-light-shootout-886062.html

That's an old thread, but it will give you some things to compare. GJHS is doing another huge comparison here http://forums.mtbr.com/lights-night-riding/budget-light-beamshot-requests-986161.html, but it's not up yet.

#3
2 or 3 hours rides means that you will have to use a light with separate batteries. That means the wires used from the battery to the light head are one point of failure. Some guys remove the wires that come out of the lighthead and replace them with better quality wires (such as a Magicshine extension cable) before using them. This would require some soldering/disassemble skills. Most people just wait until they break. The cheap ones may last the winter and it could break in the middle of the woods. I don't have any experience with this, as I tend to just stay inside on the coldest days. I would carry a spare battery on the cold days as the cold reduces the voltages of the cells, thereby reducing run times.

#4
Not sure what you mean by this. You need two light running simultaneously when you run off road, one on the bar and one the helmet. The bar light never really points where you need it to. It helpful if you can move the bar light to your helmet if your helmet light breaks during the ride. The current rubber band mounts makes this easy.

You can get two China light sets including batteries for around $80-$150. One thing you could do it to buy the batteries/chargers from a reputable dealer such as action led as they have a 6 month (?) warranty and then buy the lighheads from Gearbest. Some of the lights set from Gearbest also include some decent batteries. Remember China lights are dirt cheap, so have to carry a spare and they might not work in few months. For $25 bucks you are getting something that would have cost $200 ten years ago. I would probably buy one or two lights first and then see how they are going to work out before committing to buying four of them.

I suspect that many of the lights we talk about on the first page will work for you including Solarstorm X2, X3, XT 40, the three Nitefighter lights, and the Yinding dual. Everyone used to buy this light with a single xml led which was a clone of the Magicshine 808. These days I advise skipped this light and going straight to the dual (or more) emitter lights.

A step up from the straight-from-China lights include brands including Magicshine, Gemini, Glowworm. Action led is a good retailer of these (US based).

I don't think you can really go wrong with any of these, they all put a good amount of light on dirt trails. I imagine they will light up half the forest when it's covered in snow.

If you want something that's going to last a long time and is supported by the manufacturer with a warranty consider lights that are in the official mtbr light shootout. They cost more, but they are better made and the money goes into the hands of actual American or UK citizens.

I always wanted to try riding a fat bike in the snow, it looks like so much fun.
 

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I've ridden a lot in colder temps and mid-Winter here in NY. I used to ride with studded tires around town in snow storms and temps close to 0 degrees Fahrenheit although I haven't for a few years now. In cold weather you will be charging your batteries more often as the cold saps the energy out of them faster. As far as cables being brittle, I guess it could be an issue, but haven't seen it with what I've used in the cold. The best lights I've used in the cold are Lupines which have been seemingly bulletproof since I purchased them in 2008. The past couple years I've been using glowworm x2 lights too without issue in the cold and although the cables appear fragile they have handled temps down well below freezing without issue.

All winter I frequently walked with the glowworm x2 headlamp in freezing temps without issue . This year, in order to get away from the cabling on foot at least, I picked up 2 Zebralight headlamp/flashlights and as far as I'm concerned they are about the best thing since sliced bread. I have the H600w Mk II and also the all flood version H602w. Both are neutral and both are amazing. Time will tell how they handle the colder temps though. I expect they will be fine just with shorter run times.

This year since I've gradually been moving towards neutral white on my flashlights and bike lights, I picked up a Nitefighter bts40 b/c it's so cheap and it works fairly well as a bar light though I would prefer a bit more throw. Not sure how well it would hold up to rain or snow though as I haven't tested it. Neutral white should cut down on some of the glare as others have stated it certainly makes things more pleasing to look at and gives a more accurate color rendition over the cool white offerings.

If I didn't already have so many lights and was in your position, I would hit up Scar to see what he can do for you.
 

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Here's a gif of pictures taken by bhocewar
2013 Budget Light Shootout- Mtbr.com

The first couple of shots are the the older-style single led light, then a few dual led lights near the end including the Yinding and Solarstorm X2 and finished off by a higher end Magicshine.

The newer and high powered Solarstorm X3, XT40, and the Nitefighter lights are all missing. This was also before the xm-l2 emitter came out, which puts our more light than the xm-l at the same current.

 

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Thanks gentlemen.

Correct any misunderstanding, my takeaway from your posts for some type of consensus is:

1) Use Neutral white light, and;
2) Long throw/narrow beam not needed on non-technical trails @ 8 MPH +/-, and;
3) Low temps present wiring fragility/battery run times issues, and;
4) Bar light will provide primary illumination, helmet light useful as backup and off bike.

#1 - self explanatory.
#2 - define distance of throw/broadness of flood to qualify lights meeting definition.
#3 - how to practically address temperature effects on wiring/battery.
#4 - conclusion to #2 will determine which bar lights meet criteria - BUT - what characteristics/compromises in determining helmet light.

Again gentlemen, I'm too ignorant on this topic to answer #2, #3 and #4. Will provide some additional info that should help narrow candidates: Riding temps will be low 30's to single digits. Ride times will rarely exceed 2 hrs., never intentionally exceed 3 hrs. Typically ride 4x per week. Budget max $200 for bar + helmet lights + batteries/mounts/chargers/etc. Will be buying x2 - duplicate for wife, so $400 for both bike setups.

Will search and send him PM - is "Scar" (spelling/capitalization) how I search him?
I just wanted to add some additional comments to help clarify my previous comment on issue #2;

Usually a lamp that provides more of a wider beam pattern is very useful on the bars. The only time that this is not true is if you are on a trail that is very narrow and very straight OR....if you are riding in snow. I say that because too much light in the foreground ( while riding in snow ) is going to reflect right back to your eyes. The only way to control that is to lower the output to very minimal levels and/or use a lamp with not so wide a beam pattern.

For the bars ( and since you plan to ride in snow ) I would recommend either the Gloworm X2 with ( with neutral emitters ) or one of the cheap Duo clones from Kaidomain ( also available with neutral emitter ). Both of these lamps have changeable optics and are also programmable. I think the ability to program the intensity of the lamp's modes will serve your purpose very well, especially in snow. ( modes are adjustable in 10 levels of output ). Gloworm would be the better choice as it is higher quality and better made. The Duo clone though can be had for about $15 ( lamp head only ) ( edit: almost forgot, Nitefighter BT21 should make a good bar lamp for the snow as it has a very low low mode and of course neutral emitters )

While talking about neutral emitters I'd just thought I'd add a few more thoughts. With the Cree XM-L2 T6 ( or XP-G2 ) emitters, most people like either the 3C or 4C tint ( 4C being slightly warmer ). I think most of the stuff I have is 3C. A word of warning though; I just purchased a rather well made torch that I custom ordered all the components. When I placed the order I ordered a Cree XM-L2 U2 ( 3C ) emitter. I just got it the other day and while it is a great torch it seems the U2-3C bin creates a more whiter light that what I anticipated. ( it was listed 4700-5000K ( K=Kelvin ). Sadly it is probably more near that 5000K range. I should of ordered the U2-4C which was listed as 4200-4500K. ( :incazzato: )

I just now looked at the Kaidomain website and almost all lamps offering neutral lighting are suppose to be XM-L2 "U2" 3C. This gives me pause. The one I bought almost a year ago I believe was likely T6 3C but honestly I don't remember now. I just know it is neutral just like my other lamps. Hopefully this will not be an issue with lamps using the XM-L2 U2. I need to contact Gloworm and find out what emitters they are using with their "neutral upgrade".

On a side note; Kaidomain is now selling the Nitefighter BT40S..with BAK battery! They also have other new lamps of interest.

Anyway, @Billium, Whatever bar lamp you choose, when riding in snow keep the output low. Then use a multi-emitter helmet lamp and keep it aimed high ( when in snow ) Too much light close to the bike will just cause problems seeing things in the distance. Whatever you use on the helmet don't expect to see too far because in snow most of the light doesn't reflect back to your eyes like it does under normal conditions. Shouldn't be a problem though as likely you don't go real fast in snow.

Now about the battery; Use good quality cells or a good battery pack. Batteries behave differently in cold weather. Internal resistance tends to increase and these changes how the lamp voltage indicator and cutoff systems work. It has been suggested ( by others ) that to compensate for this you need a battery with more capacity than you generally use. My DiNotte 600L used to give me fits in cold weather but it was just the issue with the battery.
 

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For winter riding, I've switched to the NiCd and LiFePO4 batteries long time ago: they're essentially intact to the cold temps. Ordinary LiCoO2 cells have better weight/capacity ratio in the warm environment, but below freezing this difference diminishes gradually.

OTOH, this kind of batteries require some DIY: at the moment, finding suitable battery and charger might be difficult...
 
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