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What are the advantages of each setup. Obviously more is better :) but if you had to choose one, which would it be and why? The scene would be in a tight wooded single track.

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marked as duplicate by mattnz, freiheit Feb 26 at 16:13

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You should probably think about changing the style of your questions to not solicit answers based on opinion or theory. bicycles.stackexchange.com/tour –  hillsons Feb 26 at 3:31
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@hillsons Perhaps have a look at Good Subjective, Bad Subjective? I don't think this is really bad at all. It asks for the advantages and disadvantages of each. It asks why, not just what's best. It's pretty impartial. It doesn't go so far as to explicitly say "don't answer if you haven't tried it", but I'm not sure that's really necessary to slap on every question. –  Jefromi Feb 26 at 3:44
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I believe this is closely related to this question: bicycles.stackexchange.com/questions/8781/… –  R. Chung Feb 26 at 4:06
    
@hillson, I haven't asked one question that asks for opinion. The "tour section" does not state anything about asking theory based questions. Theory is, after-all, where ideas and innovation come from. I personally like to understand concepts, not just have someone give me a blanket answer. –  SoilSciGuy Feb 26 at 4:08
    
Thanks, I did not see that question Chung. –  SoilSciGuy Feb 26 at 4:09

2 Answers 2

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Head light:

  • [+] points to where you are looking at (good while cornering)
  • [-] bumps, rocks, roots may not clearly be visible since their shadow is behind your sight of view (since the rays come a couple of inches above your eyes)

Bar light reverses the above two points:

  • [-] is very late while cornering, making you blind
  • [+] casts good shadows on bumps, rocks, roots

If you are riding MTB then using both is highly suggested. If you can only aford one then go with the helmet mounted light.

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+1: Its interesting that you consider shadows a [+] while I consider them a [-] - Ideally OP needs to try both and decide for himself. Agree having both as the best option by far, and solves the "lights out" issue I have suffered a long way from home. –  mattnz Feb 26 at 6:16
    
Hard shadows may not be nice but no shadows at all on a bumpy terrain can at times be dangerous. –  cherouvim Feb 26 at 6:54
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Having two lights means you can clearly see the track a sensible distance ahead at all times, while being able to scan for major hazards where you're going next. You might prefer a narrower beam on the headlight in this case - I do but my dark riding is nicely made trails. Both would also leave you not completely stuffed if one failed suddenly - batteries coming loose for example –  Chris H Feb 26 at 11:21
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It doesn't matter. The stronger (for both) the better. The only dissadvantage of very strong lights I know of is that if you are doing trail riding with friends, then the ones in front of you will not like their shadow which will be cast in front of them on top their (weaker) lights because it'll make their ride a bit harder. –  cherouvim Feb 26 at 19:01
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Here is a video from a recent night ride: youtube.com/watch?v=y8oDTTddKrc Watching it in HD at 2:28 you can see my shadow due to the lights of my friend behind, but it's not interfering with what I see a lot because my lights are stronger than his. Also, after 2:30 you can see a clear dark border (shadow) on top of every small bump and rock. This is cast by the handlebars light which is strong. The eye of sight is very similar to what you see in the video because the camera is right next of my left eye. –  cherouvim Feb 26 at 19:09

Helmet light is my preference. The light is aimed to where you are looking - though this means that the lamp must be positioned correctly or you get a crook neck. On technical single track, corners can be a problem with handle bar mounted lights as you cannot see around until you are turning - often too late. Helmet light also provide a better angle down to ground level, casting fewer shadows in hollows and over dips. Mounting on handle bars creates shadows can show up small bumps better, but the depth of the hole on the otehr side is hidden. I prefer to go over small stuff I did not see to big stuff I mistook for small stuff.

Weight with a decent lamp and battery pack can be an issue - a separate battery pack is a better option than helmet mounted batteries, and some people have questioned what happens to the helmet and your head in a prang when you have a lamp strapped to it.

Handle bar lights are better in rain and snow, where the light from a helmet reflects straight back into your eyes.

However, with modern LED lamps competing with the sun for total light output, it makes less of a difference than 15 years ago when we rode on tight technical track on 5W or 10W halogens - Night riding was largely by feel and memory backed up by quick reactions in those days.

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"LED lamps competing with the sun for total light output" - I want one of those :-) –  andy256 Feb 26 at 5:33

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