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Helmet Lights for Inline Skating (Rollerblading) Cycling (Bicycling, Biking)

Below is a series of emails about various helmet lights, in reverse order of posting date:

Huston: Bob's inquiry & my recent ventures in solo nightskating re-stimulated my search for lighting. Here's what I found:

All the comments were helpful, because it's a jungle out there. No uniform standards, altho' 10W halogen or equivalent seems to be a baseline if you really want to see anything. HID is much brighter & pricey, but probably overkill for my nightskating. I'd be up for a group deal. However, the Cygolite on eBay is such a great deal that I think we'd be hard pressed to beat it. It's about half the price of the same item at Performance ($150) and the NiteRider ($130) Evolution or HeadTrip.

For the same $$, Evolution has both helmet & bar mounts. Since there is no web info, I think NiteRider may have discontinued the HeadTrip. The Solo is really nice ($170 at Bike Nashbar) and the lowest wt. overall (320g v 500+ for the rest), but the Cygo head weight (81g v. 54). PrincetonTec & TurboCat looked good, but I couldn't find info on helmet mounts.

The guy at Skate Escape showed me a Blackburn x3 for $150, same as Perf. He probably would do a deal, but I doubt as low as the Cygo. It felt really light, but I can't find a spec. The reviews say the light is great. They complain about battery bulk, but not weight. Unless something changes soon, I'll be springing for a Cygo. Huston

Jay M.: You know, if you organize it, you might be able to get a local shop to give a discount if you get a bunch of people together that want to buy the same thing. Sounds like there might be some interest here...Jay

Mims: Bob, i waited a long time before deciding on the perfect lamp. systems were either too expensive, too heavy, or too weak. i chose the solo logic mv system from light & motion. it has three levels of illumination, an adjustable-focus lens, and a lightweight battery. my favorite feature is the lightweight lamp itself. it adds maybe an ounce of weight to my helmet and mounts on the very top of my lid so that it doesn't weigh down the front like a lot i've seen. most of my skating now is at night and my trip to the carter center for group skates is about five miles down dark streets each way, so i was able to justify the extra expense of about $170. the three levels of power are nice in that the low watt mode doesn't blind other people when chatting and the high beam can really flood the road in front of me. burn time is between 2-4 hours and the thing charges up in about an hour. comes with a handlebar mount too

rgarner55: I recently purchased a CygoLite Nitro XM, http://www.cygolite.com/2-Products/6-NitroXM.htm. The 10W Halogen bulb provides sufficient light for night skating. My only complaint is the helmet mount. It does not hinge up and down, it has a metal tab you can bend into position. I mounted the remote off/on switch to the side on helmet for easy access. It is available on EBay for $69.99 as Cygolite-Nitro-XM-NiMH-10W-Rechargeable-Bike-headlight

mbillips: I've done the mini-maglite, although I pop-riveted a strap to hold it in place. Doesn't work; not enough candlepower. The cheapest thing I've used that is (barely) adequate is a rockclimber's light I got at Galyan's for about $30, the straps of which will go over a helmet. If you can afford the NiteRider, I'd say go for it. Mike

Huston: Bob,If you're planning to do a lot of nightskating, spring for the NiteRider or something like it. I wish I had & probably will soon.While I was debating on what to get, my daughter got me a Petzl 4-LED helmet light from REI for Xmas, probably similar to Barry's CatEye & equivalent or better to a mini-Mag - at least it straps on w/o Velcro. I've used it biking & skating. It's OK for biking if I know the street, and it's better than nothing, but it's not adequate for skating if there's little or no street lighting. Duct tape your Mag to your helmet & try it on a street w/o lights. It's hard to tell what the surface is like from a little spot about 10 ft. ahead. Dark patches could be a discolored asphalt, a patch or a hole, so you have to slow down a lot to know for sure. I just came in from skating around Marietta - there were several places I braked because I couldn't see well enough, when I otherwise just let go. Huston

Barry H: Mine is a NiteRider. I don't know the model, but it has just one brightness. I got it as a gift about 2 years ago.I am very happy with it - it's plenty bright enough, and I just leave the base mounted on my helmet all the time. It only takes a few seconds to put the light on the helmet.My original light was a CatEye which ran on double A batteries. It was ridiculously dim and basically worthless. I would be skating along with my light pointed at the ground, and there'd be somebody 30 feet back from me and *their* light would illuminate the ground better than mine.With my light, I've learned not to turning it on until it's pretty dark. Otherwise the light can be more distraction than help. I wonder if other people have had the same experience. Barry

Sam: i got my nite rider thru performance bike and i think it was on sale for 90 with 20% off or $20 off or something,so it came out to 70.it's not the digital one. it's just got one brightness.and paul hill had to do some nice rubber electrical tape work on the batter pack wire lead out to make it more sturdy,but i definitely am pleased with the purchase.it's not as bright as the more expensive stuff (10w),but it does a good job and now i won't leave the house at night to skate without it.

Jay: It's not likely that you'll get adequate light from a mini-maglite. I got a NiteRider years ago when we did a group buy on the Digital Head Trip (great light, great price at the time). They seem to be really expensive these days. One potential alternative might be TurboCat <http://www.turbocatusa.com/config.html> I don't have any experience with these, but they look like they might be good at first blush. PrincetonTec <http://www.princetontec.com> might also be an option.Some other folks have rigged relatively inexpensive lamps with mixed results. How about more info from the peanut gallery?Jay

Bob: I'm trying to decide if I spring for a fancy NiteRider, or just grab some Velcro and a mini-maglite.Any advice or suggestions would be appreciated.Like brands and models, and stores to shop, either local or internet. Thanks, bob


roadskater's picture

Serfas HLM-1 1-Watt Luxeon LED 35 Lumens Strap-On Headlamp

Thanks to the generosity of my Roadskater.net Team members, some of whom donated (at their suggestion) their Tour to Tanglewood prize certificates to me to get something from Cycles de Oro (who donates these to benefit Multiple Sclerosis), I picked up a strap-on style single LED headlamp. Their price was $39.99. I have used it more at my house and in my yard than on skates, but I have to say it is impressively bright. I hope to do a test soon and report back.

The lightweight unit has the battery compartment at the back and lamp at the front of course, and this balances the weight to get rid of the annoying downward tipping of the helmet that some lights cause. For the low end occasional use, this seems great, and I can tell you it is the BEST flashlight I have by FAR and has the advantage of being hands free.

I think it would be easy to rig this up in a more permanent or more usual way with just a few parts and some Velcro.

More on this later, as I have a dual-beam CygoLite which I love too, though it is somewhat worse for wear and relies on lead-acid batteries (which is fine if you consider the weight just part of good training for wearing a pack at T2T or A2A).

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