Brightness Comparisons

For a comparison of the bike lights, these photos show the relative differences in the light intensity. The low end standard is what was considered a strong LED light, the Cateye Opticube 5 LED model. The strongest is the “Cheap” 20 watt Maglite conversion. The Cateye is a weaker light but it will last over10 hours, while the Minimag light LED conversions (using 2300 mahr NiMH rechargables) last only about 3 hrs for the MadmaxLite model, and 1 1/2 hrs for the Madmax Plus model. Enough time to get you to your destination if caught with the sun going down. If you know you will be longer in the dark, carry a couple of extra AA rechargable NiMH batteries. The conversions (including buying the Minimags) are not cheap (about $60 each) but give excellent light comparable to tactical flashlights. The 20 watt conversion Maglite lasts about 2+ hrs on a 6.5 Amp-hr lead acid battery.

The following photos were all taken in my driveway from the same position on a bike. I used the same exposure on my digital camera with an ISO 400 rating. The streetlight across the street gives a comparison brightness and reference level for the photos. While the Cateye light seems insignficant in the photo, it is acceptable for slow riding in areas like a bike path. Likewise the last photo of the “Cheap” 20 watt light would be normally aimed farther out on the roadway because it has a tremendous reach. The lights were aimed about 15 feet in front of the bike. The white objects are milk-white jars, starting about 12 feet down a driveway from the bike and spaced about 6 feet apart. The orange street glow is typical of full-cutoff high pressure sodium vapor residential streetlights. It gives a reference intensity for the bike lights.

Starting at the left with the beam from the Cateye Opticube 5 LED light. I consider this light only bikepath useful. The second is the Lowes 1 watt Luxeon LED. Strong enough to use on bikepaths and dark streets as a backup. Definitely brighter than the Cateye. The third is the MadMax lite 1.2 watt AA flashlight. The fourth is the madman Plus 2.4 watt AA flashlight. The fifth is with both the MadMax lite and Madmax Plus flashlights, combined for 3.6 watts. A useful intensity for road riding. The last on the right is the 20 watt 'cheap' bikelight. Definitely the kind of light to have on the road at night. For more comparisons of the frontal intensity. See the white wall tests.