Thursday, March 10, 2011

Brighter is Better

Fiat lux: let there be light! And the canal path was lit.

At the tail end of a product's life cycle, just before complete discontinuation, there's usually a short period of deep discounting to deplete stocks so that the new units, which are typically remarkably similar to the old units, can take center stage. I'm sure the new Eye Scorcher 9000s have features to recommend them, too, but price isn't one of them. When I saw the Niterider TriNewt at end-of-life closeout prices, I had to get one. Back when this model was $400+, that seemed too much for a bicycle light to me, and made the Magicshine and its brethren appear positively economical. But when the TriNewt showed up for just a little more than the Magicshine I picked one up.

I've had good experience with the quality and durability of previous Niterider lights, so that was also a selling point for me. In use, I found this one to have an excellent beam pattern: it illuminates everything in front of me very clearly, and also makes me very visible to cars, as well as other cyclists, pedestrians, and possibly airline passengers cruising at 37,000 feet.

One of the books I bought at the 2011 VNSA book sale, "The Complete Book of Long Distance and Competitive Cycling" by Tom Doughty (1983) (with Ed Pevelka and Barbara George), says this on p.30: "In general I advise against riding at night, because too many bad things can happen, most of them the fault of inadequate lighting on the bike." I did ride quite a bit at night back in 1983, usually late at night to get home from work, with no lights whatsoever. I believe my approach for my bike was "hide it in the buses behind the restaurant". I did try a few different versions of lights you could buy for bicycles then, usually feeble little filament lights that hardly seemed worth it. I still have an old Cateye that runs on two D cells that I could use for comparison, but there's no point since there's no comparison. This TriNewt with its LiON battery addresses the concerns that Tom Doughty raised about riding at night. It's going to be tough to get me to ever use a lesser light. Get up. Go ride.


  1. There has been such a leap forward in recent years in the power output of cycle lights....As you say absolutely no comparison with the feeble output that we all used to try and cycle with.


  2. Having a good lighting system makes all the difference between riding confidently at night and venturing out at risk to life and limb. I never realized how important beam spread is until I got a light with really good spread. I have brighter lights, but none of them are as effective at showing me where to go.

  3. I think the Magicshine is the same as my P7. It would be great to see a "head to head" shootout between the two lights. The P7 puts out more lumens and is 230 grams lighter, but I strongly suspect that the Niterider has a better beam focus and the power supply is better designed. I don't think Cateye has anything worthy of being compared to either. In my LCI course, I had to turn off my light for the segment where we watched people ride at night because it swamped the output of the Honda's headlights that were intended to show how reflective stuff looked.

    You will indeed not want to go back to lesser lights. I'd be tempted by Niterider as well if I could find any at a reasonable price. If you know of a place, PLEASE pass along the word! One cannot have too many good lights. I now use a Planet Bike Blaze 2W light as "emergency backup."

    We need to find a common reference to test against. I don't think my daughter wants to drive her VW Jetta to Arizona just to see its high beams humiliated by yet another bike light.

  4. Steve, I've seen them on Pricepoint, Performance, and Nashbar for 199, and you probably find a 10 or 20% off deal or coupon code too. I was also attracted to the Magicshine or P7 because it's incredibly bright. I believe it's near to "eyeball exploding" with its single LED, while my three LEDs are merely "retina searing", so I'd give the edge to the P7 there.

    cycler, exactly, and being more noticed by cars also helps I think.

    Trevor we live in great times for bike lighting. It's hard to imagine much brighter lights being more useful that this one, although increasing battery run time on both sides (more efficient LEDs and continuing battery technology advances) would be incrementally more useful. A retina-searing light the size of a pen that lasts for 10 hours between charges, for example.


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