Flashlight for riding a 'Onewheel' at night

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Nezil
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Flashlight for riding a 'Onewheel' at night

Hi guys,

I’ve recently got a Onewheel and have been enjoying both group rides and riding alone along trails around the Bay Area. It’s been great fun, but it’s summer, and I’ve already been caught out after dark with miles to ride back to my car. Fortunately that time I was with a friend who leant me a Nitecore MH11 flashlight and I was able to watch out for bumps / cracks / pot-holes etc. in the trail.

I’ve been doing some research in to the common flashlights that are easily available on Amazon and have found the Nitecore and Fenix models to be nicely built, offering good warranty etc., but also not so customisable for the application I need. The MH11 was fairly nice, but I was asked to use it in ‘High’ ~250 lm rather than ‘Turbo’ ~400 lm (after the first 4 minutes), and in that mode I found it to be a little underpowered for my liking, and to have a beam spread that has too tight a hot-spot for my liking whilst riding trails on a Onewheel. Having said that, it does look to be a really good value 1,000 lm flashlight with built in charging and widely available with next day shipping!

With those concerns, I’ve started looking in to other flashlight options that might be better for my application. The following considerations have come up during the course of this research:

- 21700 vs 18650 – given my desire for a bright, more diffuse beam, the additional run-time and current capability might be useful
- SST 40 vs XP emitter – This I’m not sure about. I’ve read that the XP die is smaller, has a green tint at the sides, but handles heat better and is slightly more efficient but lower overall output.. is that all correct in terms of pros and cons?
- TIR vs Reflector – This is interesting because it seems that a reflector is the source of the hot-spot in a flashlight, which could be seen as a good compromise for common usage; hotspot + spill, whereas TIR is a diffuse beam without hot-spot which can be made in to a broad, tight, or even elliptical beam
- Single emitter vs Multi emitter – More emitters means more light, but that’s not necessarily a good thing for me if that comes at the expense of heat and run-time

In an ideal world, I think I’d like to have a reasonably diffuse beam to see up to 100m ahead in natural colour, with ~2 hour run-time. I’m absolutely open to suggestions and feedback, but it seems to me that a flashlight with a 21700 cell, single SST 40 5000K High CRI emitter and a 45 ~ 60 degree TIR would fit the bill… what do you think?

P.S. I’m obviously going to get somewhat hooked on this and end up buying a different flashlight for general purpose and another for throw and another for super power… but lets start with what’s needed now!

Thanks in advance!

Edited by: Nezil on 08/02/2021 - 17:10
YuvalS
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Welcome to BLF Nezil

Here are some points regarding your needs:
1. Most ~1000Lm headlamps can only provide 1000Lm for short time (AKA turbo mode) it is to avoid over heat . For maintaining 1000Lm you will need a big and heavy aluminum heat sink for heat dissipation.  
2. TIR cost more money so most budget lights manufactures prefer reflectors.
3. Multi emitter is more energy efficient (AKA cooler and less power consumption) for the same lightning level. 
4. I don't think that SST 40 with 45~60 deg TIR is usable for 100m. The distance information of a flashlight means that light is detectable at this distance but it does not means you can spot obstacles from that distance  

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sp5it
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I would rather buy bike light with battery pack.
I use Nitefighter BT40S since a long time. No flashlight similar size compete.
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spoonrobot
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I’m not sure a 45°+ TIR is going to be able to give you 100m of view with the current lights and tech in 21700 or 18650.

Everybody’s eyes are slightly different but I’ve found that the relative throw for bicycle riding is about 0.5×-0.6x of the FL-1 throw rating. That is, a light rated for 100m FL-1 would be “good” for about 50-60m of visibility while cycling. The problem is that most manufacturers only release the max throw rating which does not matter for lower levels that run at regulated output.

Are you mounting the light on your Onewheel or holding it in your hand?

Nezil
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Thanks for the feedback so far… To answer a couple of questions…

100m wide throw would be ideal, but certainly not essential.

I will be holding the flashlight in my hand while riding, because you move your body around quite a bit when riding a Onewheel, so head mounting isn’t ideal. Mounting on the Onewheel also isn’t great because a) the angle is too close to the ground, and b) if you fall off, it’s going to inevitably get ripped off.

@sp5it suggested a bike light because the run time is longer. The Nightfighter BT40S looks like it’s no longer available, but was powered by a 2S2P 18650 pack, with a 5,200 mAh total capacity. Each pack would therefore have ~2x the capacity of a single 5,000 mAh 21700 cell. When riding a Onewheel you stop fairly often to take a short rest, so changing out the battery wouldn’t be a problem at all. The form factor of a bike light isn’t great because it would be difficult to hand hold.

It sounds like a multi emitter design might be best if they’re more efficient, and these seem to usually be TIR based. The BT40S is a good example of that as well. I do like that the BT40S was supplied with two TIR optics because I’m not yet sure what angle would be best to ride with. If I’m hand holding, I can freely move the light around to scan the upcoming path, which might allow for a tighter beam.

I think I’d favour something that is customizable so that I could try different beam shapes by changing out optics / reflectors and maybe even between single and multi emitters.

Thanks again for the feedback so far.

Lightbringer
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Headlamp.

You’ll thank me later.

 

Here’s one: https://budgetlightforum.com/node/78481 .

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Paul321
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You could hand hold the Fenix BC 30
I did not do a deep dive to check all the parameters to match your desires.
I used mine on my mountain bike since 2015 I have no issues with it.

Paul-

wle
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most bike lights have about a 25 degree light angle at best

the trouble with flood is 2 things:
1. it is hard to get a wide area to be very bright
2. it may blind cars

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wle
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head mounted light is great

most bike lights ( at least the $30 cheap ones that also have 4 × 18650 battery pack and charger ) come with free head mount

if you have head mount you do not need wide angle of lighting

you can just turn your head to see things off center

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xevious
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Consider one of these:

Astrolux BL02

Lumintop B01

Lights that are dedicated for bicycle use are designed for this, with certain beam patterns. A regular hand-held light mounted onto a bike will cause undo glare. I’m considering the Lumintop B01, as I like the fact that by design it seeks to prevent glare for oncoming traffic.

Lastly, you can always augment with a headlamp. I would not use a headlamp alone, as that can confuse oncoming traffic—a steady bike mounted light makes it clear what you’re looking at, a small vehicle, likely a bicycle.

Lightbringer
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Did anyone not catch the word “Onewheel” in the OP?

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wle
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Lightbringer wrote:
Did anyone not catch the word “Onewheel” in the OP?

yeah
it is not a bike
has no handlebars
so would be good candidate for head mounted light or helmet mounted
wle

"You never have the wind with you - it's either against you, or you're having a good day."
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Oli
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I’ve never ridden a onewheel. I used to ride a unicycle but not at night. And not too much off-road. With these onewheels your head and hands are doing a lot of moving around. And your head is not really fully pointed straight. Having said that I do think that a headlamp and a handheld light used in combination is probably the way to go. You going to want both of them to have a wide beam pattern without a distinct hotspot so that all of the movement is not disconcerting. The new Armytek wizard C2 MAX in warm would seem ideally suited mounted on the head even if you’ve got to mount it slightly crooked. The handheld part I’m not sure. But again something without a hotspot that still has some reach.

Oli
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A right angle light like most headlamps might actually be more comfortable to hold in the hand out in front of you than a regular flashlight. Unlike walking where your hand is kind of down by your side I assume on a one wheel you’re keeping your hand and arm somewhat out in front of you.

spoonrobot
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I think a Zebralight H600w MkIV would be a good choice. Handheld or even mounted on your helmet (if you choose to wear one, no judgement implied). The 875 lumen level is temp controlled but I’ve generally found the airflow of moving at 10-12 MPH is enough to keep it from stepping down. Has a reasonable combo of flood/throw and good runtime.

Nezil
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Wow, lots of activity on this thread since this morning. I’m sorry I got tied up on phone calls and couldn’t respond as quickly as I’d like, even though I’m seeing the posts.

As Oli mentioned, with a Onewheel, you are moving your body around to turn and even just to balance or ‘carve’ as you go down the road / trail. Also as Oli said, your body is somewhat sideways and therefore not pointed perfectly forward. Additionally, your head is higher up than it might be on a bike, and the higher the light is, the less it is able to identify undulations in the terrain. I do wear a helmet by the way, no judgement taken, but this also has an implication on the feasibility of a head mounted light. All of this is to say that despite the initial obviousness of a head mounted solution, the freedom of movement that you have with your arms, actually makes holding a traditional non-right angle flashlight pretty much ideal.

One light that might be appropriate, is the Sofirn IF25A @ 4000K. This is a quad SST20 TIR optics traditional flashlight with a 21700 cell that also happens to have internal charging (a nice to have feature, but not essential). The 4,000K emitters are high CRI so should be a good form of light for riding. Thermal throttling seems to have this flashlight running at ~500 lm max over an extended period of time, giving a run-time of 2 hours 40 mins according to the charts from 1lumen.com.

I’ve also thought about the Convoy S21A (or S2+) with TIR optics. The S2+ is a lovely form factor, and seems to be more customisable, but I might be left wanting in run-time. The S21A appears to have TIR optics available to buy, and again according to 1lumen.com, the similar S21B with a single Osram Boost HX emitter was able to run at ~700 lumens for over 2 hours with a 4,000 max 21700.

To be honest, 2 hours is more than enough run-time. There is no way I’d ride continuously for an hour, and I have no issue carrying spare batteries, so even an S2+ could work if it can hold up the luminance.

I think the most critical points of consideration are going to be beam shape, and ability to maintain a steady high lumen output without getting too hot to hold.

Jack Kellar
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Lightbringer wrote:
Did anyone not catch the word “Onewheel” in the OP?

I don’t think 80% of them did, no Silly Though the thread would sure benefit if Nezil put “Onewheel” in the title.

Nezil
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Thanks, that should be done now.

Jack Kellar
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Nezil wrote:
Thanks, that should be done now.

Yep, it’s there Thumbs Up

Lightbringer
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Jack Kellar wrote:
Lightbringer wrote:
Did anyone not catch the word “Onewheel” in the OP?
I don’t think 80% of them did, no Silly Though the thread would sure benefit if Nezil put “Onewheel” in the title.

I had to goggle what it was.

Thought it’s the wheel without the board, like one guy on my block rides. Reminds me of the BC car2n…

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Nezil
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An Electric Unicycle (EUC) looks more like the BC Cartoons. A Onewheel does have a board, and you ride it sideways rather than in-line BC style…. not that that makes it any less geeky!

It feels almost exactly like Snowboarding.

xevious
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Lightbringer wrote:
Did anyone not catch the word “Onewheel” in the OP?
Well, I thought it was the brand the way it was written, “Onewheel”. Didn’t say “unicycle” or “single wheel.” A single wheel design has always been referred to as a unicycle in my experience. But I’ve had enough snark today. Outta here.
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Lightbringer wrote:
Headlamp.

You’ll thank me later.

 

Here’s one: https://budgetlightforum.com/node/78481 .

+1… agreed Thumbs Up

And the headlamp suggested is a good one & very reasonably priced.

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IMO… to get range you will need a decent hotspot. However, for things like walking, running, bicycling, and skateboarding, you might appreciate a wide spill that will illuminate whats by your feet/wheel.

I might suggest an Acebeam L35 (Cree XHP70.2 version) for a 21700 size, or an Acebeam TK18 (Nichia 219C version) for an 18650 size. Both have WIDE hotspots with a decent reach, and the spill is wide enough to illuminate things close to your feet/wheel. The downsides that come to mind are: the Acebeam has a larger bezel so it’s not pocketable, and the TK18 is discontinued (although some dealers are still selling them)… also both require the battery to be removed to charge, and the Acebeam requires 20 Amp continuous 21700 (mine came with an Acebeam battery); the TK18 doesn’t come with a battery.

I don’t have any Zebralights, Lumintop, Sofirn, Convoy, etc. brands so I can’t attest to their beam patterns. I would assume the “floody” Zebralights would do well, and that the Lumitop FW3A should have a similar beam profile as the AB TK18 mentioned above if using similar LED emitters.

Edit: I might still lean towards a headlamp as suggested above.

Nezil
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I wanted to give everyone on here an update about this.

I didn’t get any feedback about the Sofirn IF25A, so I bought a 4,000K version and I’ve used it for a couple of nights now.

The 4,000K light is nice, with a high CRI, but it doesn’t feel bright compared to 6,500K lights if that’s what you’re used to. The high CRI does illuminate things in a very natural way though, and that’s nice.

Turbo mode is fun, but it doesn’t last for very long because of heat. I had to calibrate the temp sensor out of the box, and I’ve set the limit to 65 currently. Turbo works, but it’s pretty pointless for my application because I care more about a sustained high luminance flood of light than a temporary shot.

The beam shape is fine. I’ve read that there is no hot-spot and it’s a flood, but that’s not true. It is a fairly broad hot-spot though, and the spill is weak to the point of being irrelevant. Overall I’m happy with the beam shape; any wider and it would need more lumens output to be useful, and any narrower would not light up enough of the surface ahead.

A good test of the performance is if I feel confident to ride at the same speed as in the day, and I cannot say that it’s the same… but it’s close, and that’s a win I think.

I’m finding myself running the light at ~60% of the ramp, and at that point it gets warm to the touch, but not hot. Run time would probably be about 2 hours at this output.

Another finding, which is to be expected, is that if the ambient lighting is higher (due to street lights etc.), you need a higher light output from the flashlight. This is because the human visual system is adapting to the brightest objects in your field of view, and we can only see so much range. The flashlight needs to bring the foreground in to this visible range and more light is required to do that. I’m confident that if I were riding on a non-street-lit trail, this flashlight as way more than enough output to be effective.

Finally, the ergonomics… I’m hand holding this flashlight, and that’s proving to be very good; far better than a headlamp, for many reasons I’ve covered in earlier posts. The problem I have with the IF25A is that it is quite short. I wear wrist guards which are slippery plastic on the outside, and the short build of the IF25A makes it feel slightly insecure in my hand.

Given the ergonomics, I would love to have something that takes two 21700 cells in series, with a similar light output (beam shape, colour and lumens), and has a buck converter for continuous steady drive as the battery drains. I don’t think such a flashlight exists… but we can dream.

Short summary is that I’m reasonably happy with the IF25A for my application. It’s not perfect, but it’s a very good solution…. I’ll keep looking for something with better ergonomics, but I’m liking it so far.

Oli
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I and I’m sure many others assumed you were riding in total darkness. Yeah a headlight is not going to help if you already have street lights somewhat lighting up what you’re doing. I also assumed these were real trails but it sounds like you’re on fairly well groomed hard surfaces. That changes things quite a bit. What is this surface and what color is it?

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Eh, Nezil good to see another PEV rider out and about. I almost got a EUC but went for an E-Scooter instead! Smile Yeah, those One Wheels are for sure fun as heck. I know because I tried one out a few times already. Fun as heck and a lot safer than a EUC. Big Smile
About lights when you’re out and about one wheeling, I would use a headlamp and a handheld EDC. This way, you always have light wherever you look plus you can use the handheld EDC for quick scanning outside of your headlamp zone. For tint, I usually have a 5000K and 4000K light happening when I go ride.

Nezil
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Oli wrote:
I and I’m sure many others assumed you were riding in total darkness. Yeah a headlight is not going to help if you already have street lights somewhat lighting up what you’re doing. I also assumed these were real trails but it sounds like you’re on fairly well groomed hard surfaces. That changes things quite a bit. What is this surface and what color is it?

The surface varies quite a bit, but I try to stay on asphalt and concrete trails as much as I can if it’s dark.

These are mostly smooth, but on a Onewheel, which requires you to balance to turn, a crack in line with the direction you’re riding can put the wheel at an odd camber and shoot you off in a direction you weren’t expecting, and an unseen bump can bounce you off or at least make you loose your foot placement.

With practice, you may be able to handle either of these occurrences without issue, but it really helps to have the terrain ahead lit to make you aware of surface imperfections like this before you ride over them, so that you can be prepared for the way the Onewheel will behave.

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congrats on your new light, and thanks for sharing your impressions

fwiw, a narrow Tir use less batteries than a floody Tir

a narrow beam can be brighter at less lumens, less heat, and less battery drain,

than a wide beam that demands more lumens to be equally bright over a larger area

cool white LEDs are brighter, but they do not produce any Red spectrum. If you want at least some Red color rendering, choose a light with a high CRI LED such as the LH351d 5000k

I think a headlamp on your helmet would be a versatile option.. can be handheld when desired, and handsfree as needed

enjoy your rides Thumbs Up