Bicycle light for traveling - good all-around torch

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Bicycle light for traveling - good all-around torch

Hi all and well met.

I’m in the hunt for a light to use while travelling with the bike but also for the city. I read the other bicycle threads but since they were either outdated or more generic I decided to make this my first thread.

Points to consider:

  • First of all the obvious, sufficient flood to see branches and other obstacles and sufficient throw to be able to see in the road ahead. While travelling my top speed will be around 25 maybe 30km/h. Sometimes I’ll be in dirt roads but no downhill stuff or racing in the woods.
  • Single solution. My tank007 E09 will serve as an emergency and that’s it, no more unnecessary weight, I’d prefer to carry more food
  • I do not want a bicycle specific light or one that needs a battery pack, I do not want more cables running around and I need to take this out easily and fast for other uses. Neither one to mount on my helmet, I don’t always wear one.
  • It needs to have good runtimes and be flexible in battery options. Definitely 18650s but 18650 alone are not enough, I vape, I’ll vape em all dry if needed and I need to be able to buy batteries anywhere. So it should be able to accept 3xAAA or AAs or perhaps C type(?). 26650s are also nice but you have to take count of the point bellow
  • It needs to be compact and as lightweight as possible. Over 160g and 130mm in length are a no-no. If it’s a 26650, mind you I’m a small man @ 1.65 so it would be nice it it fits in my pockets. But I can live without it.
  • Warm(ish) to neutral 4000-5000k
  • The light should be compatible with dimmers for when I stop for the day. Firefly mode would be a nice but I can live without it, I’ll give preference to the other points.
  • Best part -> My budget is around $25. I’d go a bit higher, up to 30-32 top, but it needs to be really awesome to go there …and also it needs to be dependable, it will be subjectible to vibrations for long hours every day.

I’m asking for the moon and the stars, I know Innocent …but I can solder, so I’m also open to custom solutions if you are willing to guide me.

I should say I’m completely new to this and my mentors so far have being airbagz and wuwei.ap from FT forums, kudos folks! They were amazing help and really patient with me, but the options and flashlight community there is kind of limiting. If you are bored and desperate to read something, the original FT thread is here On the second post I have collected a few options. This post gives insight to the ideal form factor I’m looking for

So far I’m leaning towards tank007 TK737, the 5 modes, 460LM version.

Sorry for the long post and thanks for all the replies in advance, even OOT or just bumps Cool

Edited by: 314 on 02/26/2017 - 17:52
dekozn
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Headlamp like a skilhunt H02 or H03, takes 18650 and cr123. It’s the most flexible light I can think of. It shines where you look at and fo traveling with a bike a headlamp is a must have. Try setting up a tent/tarp or fixing your bike in the dark while holding a flashlight: annoying as sh*t.
H02 review
H03review
I’m just saying skilhunt cause those are the ones I use(d) and liked the most but look around nd maybe you’l find some other headlamps that might suit u better.

Lightbringer
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Wow, just recced this light not 5min ago. Big Smile

Ultrafire DV-S9. Waterproof (diving-light, so duh), magnetic-slider for everything from moonlight to full-tilt, 26650 but comes with a tube to fit an 18650, and you can get (but I don’t recommend) a 3×AAA adapter as well.

Nice throw, lots of spill, only is maybe 6000K if I had to guesstimate. A bit cooler than my 5000K EDC, but not as Angry Blue as cheaper lights. ~15bux at FT with BLF discount-code.

I’d also recommend a Boruit RJ02 from GB for 8bux for another few hours (flash sale). Amazing critter for the price. Ramps up/down in brightness, has a magic wave on/off if you need it. Great for supplemental lighting while the DV-S9 does the heavy-lifting.

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EasyB
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My convoy S2+ with XPL HI and narrow TIR makes a great beam for biking. The reflector gives a nice beam with this LED, too. You can choose the driver and LED to get the modes and tint you want. This is what I would recommend, although it doesn’t have the ability to take standard AA type batteries. You will need a 26650 size light with a 3xAAA adaptor.

IMO floody 18650 head lamps do not have enough throw for biking.

314
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Thanks,
I had a wtf moment with the skillhunts but then I realized how the odd design can be very useful. But I can’t see a way to mount them securely on the bike, you can’t buy batteries anywhere and it’s way over budget ‘_’. The light emitted was impressive though

I’ll check the ultrafire. I almost bought the boruit, loved the wave feature and the price was good. but I decided to not act on impulse, I’ve done enough lately and anyway I can always get it later for $2 more.

The photos I have seen from convoy s2’s and some others from the s series show a more focused beam. Have you used it with TIR riding a bike? Does it have enough flood? There are lights that combine 18650 with 3xAAAs tank007 tk737 is one of them. 26650s will need both the 3xAAA holster and a sleeve I think.

dekozn
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I think you can get the H02 for around $26 and for the H03 there’s a code floating around to get it at $29 if I’m not mistaken.but as easyB said maybe not enough throw? I gotta say I don’t have that problem when I drive my bike but I don’t drive on mountain paths or in dodgy woods at night. I don’t fix my skilhunt to the bike, I keep i on my my head but I can imagine that might not be all that when you go downhill on a rocky road. (How do you fix your light now to the bike? I would think you could use the same setup by just rotating it a bit) I still would recommend you to get headband or headlamp. It’s really not a luxury thing to have for setting up camp, fixing your bike or just for cooking a meal in the middle of nowhere on moonless night and the extra weight of headband is negligible. A decent one can be found for around $5 maybe even less. But like I said shop around.
A latern is also nice but way to bulky and not really versatile so I always take some of these with me : film canister They are nice to keep small things dry (like medicine pills, matches etc) and if you can fix em over the head fo a light you get a great diffuser. I always have at least one with a lid and another one I stacked under it. I heated one up with a hair dryer so plastick got soft and then just pushed over the head of my NC MH20. It works like a charm.

314
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Oh now, there won’t be downhill paths or fast woody trails, just travelling. Usually it will be asphalt but sometimes not. Also the asphalt in the balkan area, especially in smaller roads is not of best quality.

Right now I use a sigma quadro x that is only good to allow others to see you. It’s no good for you to see your way in dark places. It also gave up spirit and decides to turn on/off on its own leaving me moving like ninja biker. I haven’t started travelling yet, just planing ahead Big Smile But I do use my bike as main means of transportation within the city and outskirts.

You have a point about the headlamp. I was thinking to overcome that by using a diffuser to save weight, something like that

dekozn
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The diffuser will work but you still got to fix the light somewhere and make sure it still lights the things you’re working on without you standing in the way of the light. I just use those film canisters cause they’re free and have double use.
I drive in the city and there are a lot of cobble stone roads here in bad shape, never head a problem with my headlamp on my head. But yeah a convoy is much cheaper and I think Simon (from convoy) cells good headbands cheap and thingies to mount the light to you’re bike. So you can go that way. Just fix the light to your bike and when camping put it in the headband. It still doesn’t compare to a good headlight that you can position and operate with one hand but it will be an enormous help.
Before I knew BFL I used to use dirt cheap 3xAAA headlamps, they are crappy and drain NiMH batteries in an hour or so but I still would not have traded them for a $50 light just cause they are so handy.

And for your traveling I don’t think you will be needing lots of throw, I believe the skilhunts have 120m throw. I think that will be more than enough.

One problem I have encountered is when it’s really foggy or the air is filled with light rain and the light from my headlamp just blinded from reflecting on the fog/rain. I think that if I had my light fixed on the bike it might have been less blinding for me.

314
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Ah you use the film canister as a diffuser! Now I get it. Thanks for the tip on fog/rain I’d need to experience that, no way I could imagine it.

Yes 100-120m should be is enough throw. That’s why I was curious about the s2, from what I have read and seen it’s more of a thrower; not dedicated, but a thrower nevertheless. For example, I have a Varta/Rayovac Indestructible that is completely useless for the application, the beam is too focused

EasyB
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The S2+ with narrow TIR has a bigger beam than the reflector versions. This is because the TIR collects more of the light that would be just spill and puts it in the beam. So the beam itself is wider, but the spill directly from the LED is more narrow than a reflector light. There are also wider beam TIRs and elliptical beam TIRs made for biking.

It’s hard to talk about the narrowness of beams without comparing to lights known by both parties, but I measured the beam size of mine to be ~1.2m at 4m distance. The beam is perfect, IMO, for riding quickly on not-so-well maintained asphalt roads. Mine has a FET driver and does 20Kcd on full. I find that about 30-40% of that intensity is bright enough to comfortably ride quickly.

Here is a pic comparing the narrow TIR with XPL HI (left) with the S2 SMO reflector with XPL HI (right).

314
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Ok the TIR one is clearly better but still both look too focused compared to a cheap zooming xml clone I have around

I’ll try to get comparison shots tomorrow, the only place I can do that is the bedroom and the wife will kill me if I wake her up for that Hat
That clone though, fully zoomed out, would give a ~2m diameter from 1.5m distance…

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Not sure about S2, but Convoy S2+ is definitely a flood, not a thrower.

As far as lights that take 3xAAA as well as 18650, there is Anker LC40; however, you’ll only get about 250 lumens out of it when using AAA batteries (400 lm when using 18650). It’s got a fairly pronounced center spot, but decent amount of spill as well.

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314 wrote:
That’s why I was curious about the s2, from what I have read and seen it’s more of a thrower; not dedicated, but a thrower nevertheless.

Uhh, no. Not sure about the S2 specifically, but the S2+ is definitely NOT a thrower. It’s a nice smooth floody beam which is great for close-in work, lighting up the walking-path in front of you, etc., but not for looking way down a trail to see what’s 100m out or even 50m out.

The lights I mentioned, and any decent P90 or P90ish light will have a nice hotspot for seeing far out, as well as enough spill to see what’s up close.

My own idea for a custom-built bike light would be to have at least 2 emitters, with TIR lenses, one “highbeam” and one “lowbeam”. A nice floody lowbeam for seeing up-close, and a nice throwy highbeam for distance. I’d rather go for 4 emitters, 2+2, for redundancy and switchable for “city” vs “dark”.

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314
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Well, EasyB above has a shot with an S2 creating a 1.2m diameter from 4m. Compared with my cheap zoomer that creates a 2m diameter from 1.5m I’d say it’s more of a thrower than flooder. I’m not sure I’d feel comfortable with that amount of flood. Is s2+ that much different?

The varta/rayovac indestructible on the other hand from 1.5m creates a hotspot of ~22cm and a (barely) visible circle of 1.2m. I definitely would want to use that

Lightbringer
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314 wrote:
Well, EasyB above has a shot with an S2 creating a 1.2m diameter from 4m. Compared with my cheap zoomer that creates a 2m diameter from 1.5m I’d say it’s more of a thrower than flooder. I’m not sure I’d feel comfortable with that amount of flood. Is s2+ that much different?

It’s a MOP reflector, so there’s no real distinct hotspot to speak of. But it’s definitely floody. Short of an aspheric, it’s the nicest flood-beam I’ve seen in a while.

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EasyB
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314 wrote:
Well, EasyB above has a shot with an S2 creating a 1.2m diameter from 4m. Compared with my cheap zoomer that creates a 2m diameter from 1.5m I’d say it’s more of a thrower than flooder. I’m not sure I’d feel comfortable with that amount of flood. Is s2+ that much different?

The varta/rayovac indestructible on the other hand from 1.5m creates a hotspot of ~22cm and a (barely) visible circle of 1.2m. I definitely would want to use that

Well, of course it will be less floody than a zoomie in mule-mode. Wink

Only you can decide if a beam is wide or bright enough for your riding. But you can’t have a beam be both wide and intense unless you increase your total lumen output. For instance, your zoomie in flood mode will probably not be intense enough for fast riding.

314
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I see. I also come across a polish forum with photos from almost the rider’s position. Indeed it looks alright, even too bright at 500lm. I have the S2+ 4c version it in the basket along with the 18350 conversion tube. But I’m still undecided, what if I run out of batteries? It won’t be possible to just buy, I’ll have to find a way to charge Facepalm

Anyway, in the meanwhile what type of mount would you suggest? That should be easier to get out of the way. Velcro, fixed or elastic?

EasyB
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The velcro one. I use this kind and it works great for S2 sized lights.

If you really want 3xAAA compatibility there is probably a suitable host available, but it would be a gamble whether it was a quality host, you would almost definitely need to mod it to make it suitable as far as modes and brightness, and the stock reflector would probably be a bit bigger in diameter which really might make the beam too narrow for biking.

Here are a few possibilities that are at least close to the right size.
https://www.fasttech.com/products/1601/10005701/4129505-singfire-sf-345-...
https://www.fasttech.com/products/1601/10014338/6014600-1-led-3-mode-130...
https://www.fasttech.com/products/1601/10019443/4078502-samsun-bk31-led-...

There are small USB Li ion chargers around that are pretty convenient for travel. Like the Liitokala li-100.

314
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Thanks. I have the liitokala li-202. I like that it also doubles as a power bank.

I saw that SingFire, there’s also an ultrafire that uses this host, it comes without the 3xAAA holster and a Q5. C13 I think is the actual model name but couldn’t find much info about it other than it’s modable

The link is here -> https://www.fasttech.com/product/1282903
I’ll try asking for some info on it there

314
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I think I’ll go for the s2+ AMC7135*4 T6-4C. I need something dependable and cheap and that seems to fill that role but fall short on battery options. For that I’ll also get a UINFIRE B68 that runs on a single AA for those times. Sometime in the future I’ll probably get that nice boruit headlamp but not right now. The total cost is about $6 less than TK737 which isn’t that much of a difference, but I’ll save some weight and bulk in daily transportation and end up with two torches that are more easily modable, at least for a beginner.

Any objections?

I’d like to also order a TIR to try but I know nothing about lenses. What type should I get and what diameter? I’ll order the rest from FT, the prices are very good so ideally I’ll get the lens from there too

EasyB
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I haven’t looked at TIRs from fasttech, but ones around 20mm should fit. Go with the narrow beam variety. I have gotten mine from leddna.com.

These probably should work. You’ll have to remove the white plastic housing it comes with, and sometimes you have to get creative with the centering ring/spacer.
https://m.fasttech.com/products/1606/10007055/1574902-21-2-12-6mm-pmma-o...

S2+ is a great all-around light. Note that if you get one with a domed LED, rather than an XPL HI, it will have less throw and a wider beam. I personally would go with more current than the 4×7135, but 1.4A is probably enough for most uses.

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You can order every angle TIR from leddna for sub $4. Once the weather breaks I’ll see which I prefer for night riding on the local trail with my 8×7135 S2+.
It’s a very subjective topic, people praise floody headlamps and others praise far throwers. It’s really about what you want and prefer.

314
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Why pick narrow beam lens? If anything I’d like it a bit more flooder than the comparison photo you provided above …or at least I think so, I’ll know for sure when I actually use it. I was thinking more like 45 degrees or perhaps something like that http://www.leddna.com/20mm-elliptical-spot-lens-optic-30-x60-for-cree-xh... (thanks for suggesting ledna)

Where do you get an s2+ with XP-L I see only XM-L2 even on the official shop. I mainly picked 1400mA for longer runtimes. Oh btw these are regulated right?

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314 wrote:
I see. I also come across a polish forum with photos from almost the rider’s position. Indeed it looks alright, even too bright at 500lm. I have the S2+ 4c version it in the basket along with the 18350 conversion tube. But I’m still undecided, what if I run out of batteries? It won’t be possible to just buy, I’ll have to find a way to charge Facepalm

Anyway, in the meanwhile what type of mount would you suggest? That should be easier to get out of the way. Velcro, fixed or elastic?

You could try this Fenix
I fellow I ride with uses it and claims it is great. Although it won’t work on your helmet.

Paul-

EasyB
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314 wrote:
Why pick narrow beam lens? If anything I’d like it a bit more flooder than the comparison photo you provided above …or at least I think so, I’ll know for sure when I actually use it. I was thinking more like 45 degrees or perhaps something like that http://www.leddna.com/20mm-elliptical-spot-lens-optic-30-x60-for-cree-xh... (thanks for suggesting ledna)

Where do you get an s2+ with XP-L I see only XM-L2 even on the official shop. I mainly picked 1400mA for longer runtimes. Oh btw these are regulated right?

Well you can try different TIR beam sizes; they are cheap and interchangeable. Personally I felt like I needed more throw to ride fast with my S2+. The narrow TIR was a good improvement over the stock S2+ orange peal reflector. Similar beam size but quite a bit more throw.

Not sure where to get a XPL S2+. You can always switch the emitter later if you want.

Yes it would be current regulated.

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Almost every led bike light is blinding for oncoming trafic because there is no “cut of” of the beam, that is why they are prohibited in Germany (and most other country’s).
That is why i use a Busch & Muller Lumotec IQ-X as “low beam” on my bicycle (powered by the hub dynamo). http://en.bumm.de/products/dynamo-headlights/lumotec-iq-x.html
It is not super bright, but lights up the road more than enough.
For the dark roads with no oncoming trafic is use a Convoy C8 with XPL HI led (together with the Lumotec IQ-X). https://www.aliexpress.com/item/Convoy-C8-with-XPL-HI-LED/32651190452.html?spm=2114.13010608.0.0.Up879t

I also have one of these at the front of the bike (white version) https://www.aliexpress.com/item/USB-Rechargeable-Rear-Mountain-Bike-Tail...COB-Bright-Cycling-Bicycle-Lamp/32656254503.html?spm=2114.13010608.0.0.LjetqA and this one at the back https://www.aliexpress.com/item/Cycling-Usb-Rechargeable-Led-Rear-Bicycl...MTB-Warning-Lamp-at-Night-Shockproof-Waterproof/32635357128.html?spm=2114.13010608.0.0.LjetqA .

I want to be seen on the road, i don’t like being run over by a car or truck on the way to work… (i also use a reflective vest)

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Sorry, cant help very much
If you go 25-30km/h what are ~7-8.3 m/s then how far you want to see? I read from somewhere some calculations, but cant remember anymore. Must say, that I ride ~20+ km/h and it are so-so throw with my Cree XM-L T6-4C 523-Lumen 1400mA (4×7135) S2+ type flashlight (actualy Roche F12). It are ~1h runtime. Read that maybe Convoy M1 may be better choice for riding than S2.
My first “ride” flashlight was UltraFire WF-501B from dx (bought it ~2011 so how much it same). It was better throw and ~1h runtime too. I put some folium between reflector and host inside for better cooling. If you ride, cooling will be bretty good anyway.

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Fellow biker here (generally mountain biking now, but I’ve done some backpacking trips). Maybe some of what I’ve sorted through can help. I also own a Convoy 2.1A S2 and some Convoy M1’s (built for helmet use). I’ve posted some beamshots comparing some of the typical optics beams. I’ve also tested some diffusion techniques (though don’t trust the lux comparisons so much – that’s before I built my sphere).

From my limited experience I’d say in this order choose a headlight, then a headlight, then a headlight Smile . Seriously, the headlight will be worth it’s weight in gold when you need both hands. Go neutral white (4000 to 4200k my personal preference) whenever possible; while biking you’ll get less glare and be able to see details such as rocks, roots, etc. . . much better. I’d also recommend quality lights. The Convoy’s are a value that is extremely hard to beat. Problem with Convoy’s has been the usual stock “2 group” driver which has that annoying flash in low mode and is too easily accidentally changed into the group with flashy modes.

I do like your idea of using a flood-to-throw light. You’re never going to beat the wide flood of a zoom light with a reflector based or TIR based light. It’s versatile too. I would look at the cheap Warsun X65 (I have one which hasn’t been used much) which takes 3*AA’s * not 3AAA’s like listed at Banggood. AA’s will give a huge runtime increase over AAA’s, though at the expense of weight and size (that Warsun is very large).

On my trip (not that long of a trip) I fretted too much about being able to get batteries on the go. In reality the numerous 18650’s I carried (in cases) were way more than enough for me. I’d say carry more cells and buy some good high capacity ones to get the most runtime.

I agree with the post above, you need more throw for riding with speed. The S2 would be sufficient at slow speeds, but I’d step up to an M1 for faster rides. I’d say the M1 has enough spill for rides on road or path, a bit too dim of spill for me on singletrack in the woods though. See this thread on my 2 Convoy M1’s (XP-G2 2.1A vs. XM-L2 3.04A). I’ve since reflashed the drivers to boost low mode up to 30% (or was it 35%?), but it’s still 2 mode, always starts in low. Surprisingly 30% (or 35%, whichever it is now) isn’t that much different in actual use from 100%, but has much much more runtime.

-Garry

My Bike Lights Thread, Optics (TIR) Comparison Beamshots, Diffusion Techniques


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EasyB
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I agree a stock S2+ (with domed XML2 or XPL, and OP reflector) doesn’t have enough throw for fast riding. But changing the emitter to a domeless XPL HI and getting a narrow TIR will make it throw about as well as an M1 with a domed LED.

The stock OP reflector is not good for throw, but the narrow TIR throws about as well as the S2 smooth reflector, but with a larger beam.

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EasyB wrote:
I agree a stock S2+ (with domed XML2 or XPL, and OP reflector) doesn’t have enough throw for fast riding. But changing the emitter to a domeless XPL HI and getting a narrow TIR will make it throw about as well as an M1 with a domed LED.

The stock OP reflector is not good for throw, but the narrow TIR throws about as well as the S2 smooth reflector, but with a larger beam.

Just curious, what does a narrow (I assume you mean the 10º LEDDNA optic, which is also at FT & others) optic do with the stock domed XM-L2 beam? It is worth using? Is the optic a simple drop-in or are there mods to be done. I actually don’t want throw from my EDC S2; I prefer it nice and floody.

-Garry

My Bike Lights Thread, Optics (TIR) Comparison Beamshots, Diffusion Techniques


NOTE: Moving my photos from PhotoBucket to Flickr. PM me or post in the thread if you can’t see my images and need me to fix or send a gallery link. PhotoBucket images should remain visible until November 2018.
Jtm94
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Last seen: 3 weeks 5 days ago
Joined: 02/22/2017 - 05:08
Posts: 392
Location: Pennsylvania

All of my leddna optics for my s2+ just drop in before the pill then I screw the pill in.

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