I realise this question has been asked before, but as far as I can tell the last time was over a year ago, so I thought it might be worth asking again in the light maybe of newer products being on the market...
I’m having trouble finding a headlight. I only really started serious night-riding this winter, and pretty soon found that the headlight I already had (a Cateye running on 4xAA batteries and rated at 2200 candela) was fine for the city but not for dark country roads. So I started looking for a brighter headlamp and found that Cateye did a newer model, again running on 4xAA batteries but rated at approx. 4000 candela. I bought one and the light was not brilliant but certainly acceptable.
That was just 2 months ago, and on my ride home last night the front of this light just fell out. Fortunately I was carrying a spare but when I got home was unable to fix the new light. Possibly there was another part that got left on the road… Anyway, this is going back for a refund, and I need to start looking for a different headlight.
My requirements are:
- Brightness: at least as bright as the light I’m replacing, although I see that higher-spec lights are specc’d in terms of lumens, not candela, so they are measuring slightly different things. But I am minded to go for something suitable for trail riding, even though I will be using it on a road bike, because the better the view I have of the road (and of the potholes) the safer my ride will be.
- Battery life: will need at least 3 hours between charges, running at full power. Preferably more. My actual commute is normally around 90 mins per day, and I want to build some resilience against (a) unforeseen delays, and (b) forgetting to charge the light every night.
- Size/Portability: I want to be able to put the light on one bike, to get it off in a matter of seconds, to be able to stuff it into my pocket while I’m on the train, and to then use it on another bike when I get off the train. I’d be happy to buy multiple brackets if necessary (which is what I did with the cateye).
- Ruggedness: I don’t mind spending money on a headlight but I don’t want it falling apart after two months like the last one. I want something that’ll be good for a couple of years at least.
- Mounting: I'm only interested in something I can put on the handlebars. (I already have a light on my helmet and like to ride with both sets.)
and a preference is:
- that it runs on AA batteries. This is probably the most awkward thing, and I realise that most of the better headlights run on their own rechargeable batteries, so I may have to sacrifice this one. The reason for wanting this is twofold: First, my rear light runs on AA batteries so in terms of keeping spares in my saddlebag, I only need one variety of battery. Second, I find standard battery sizes reassuring because if push came to shove, I can walk into a shop and buy replacements on the spot.
Other things…..my budget is quite open. I’m quite happy to spend a few hundred (GBP). Obviously, the cheaper the better since ideally I will buy two of them, but by the same token I don’t want to sacrifice quality.
I guess my question at the end of all this is whether anybody had any suggestions for me? I know I can google to death, and read reviews all over the web, so I don't need peoples' help there. What would be good are answers based on peoples’ real world experience gained over a period of time. The kind of stuff that I'm not likely to see based on the short test e.g. Bikeradar would have performed.
Anyone got any advice? TIA
Update #1 (decided what to buy)
In the end I have sacrificed the AA aspect and today ordered a Niterider Pro 1800 headlight. This was the best my budget would allow and I figure I will be able to run it on med or even low to get the kind of runtimes I'd like. I bought it from a UK dealer - if I were based in the USA I would certainly have given the DiNotte lights more consideration. Thanks very much especially to Benzo and Glenn for pointing me in this direction.
Update #2 (first impressions)
Used the light for the first time today (6:30am, -1C, clear, no moonlight) and was very happy with the brightness (low setting, 400 lumens), and with the shape of the beam (width and depth). "Enough" brightness was a big unknown because some people have mentioned 300 lumens, others much higher values. Seems very well built overall. Battery was a little larger and a little heavier than expected, but not uncomfortably so and not noticed once strapped onto the top tube. Certainly worth it if I can squeeze 6 hours out. Minor issue was the velcro fastener rubbing against my tights, will need to watch that because those tights were expensive! But this will just be fine tuning. I now just need to ride to the station every day for the next 2 months to offset the cost of the light against car park charges!