First off, I'd like to wish everyone a happy and safe New Year.
Now, down to business.
When taking comparative pictures of the beams cast by headlights, you have to do them all at the same time, otherwise you cannot really compare. Weather, ambient lighting, camera settings, etc. all affect the image. But when you have 16 different light heads -- all the LED lights plus a HID, a 10W halogen and a 15W halogen -- there isn't a handlebar made that can hold them all. PVC pipe to the rescue!
Using the modern marvel that is PolyVinyl Chloride I was able to make a stand that is handlebar height, but can hold all of the lights and then some. (Missing in the above pic are the Double Shot, the halogens and the HID.)
What does it look like with them all powered on?
Bright. One the far right of the pic is the HID.
Of course, these are taken with my phone's camera -- it's oh so handy -- the photos used in the review will be taken with a digital SLR (Canon Digital Rebel).
Saturday, December 31, 2005
First off, I'd like to wish everyone a happy and safe New Year.
Thursday, December 29, 2005
Last night I went for a ride with just the Blackburn System X lights. At first I was a little wary of them because on my commuting rides, they get overpowered by passing cars and street lights.
Bad pic of the X6 on my single speed:
The X6 differs from the X3 in that there are two lamps, each with a Luxeon III emitter. One is a spot -- on the right in the pic above -- and one is a flood.
Closeup of the flood:
The battery is the same shape/size as the X3, but with larger capacity cells inside. The light comes with a remote dimmer.
Lights from above, with dimmer on stem:
The battery wasn't connected in the above picture.
Overall, I found them to be plenty of light for serious riding. This has been my experience all along, though, place the lights in other lit areas, on the street for instance, and they are ho-hum. Put them out on the trails, and they are ample.
Really, the only drawback is the lack of light spill. Blackburn tries to remedy this with the flood, as does CatEye with the Triple Shot. DiNotte does the same on their Dual. This is better than just a spot, or even two, but it still doesn't match a halogen's or HID's wide beam pattern. Really, the way to get around this is to run a helmet light, which I did in the form of the X3 light. Running all three -- the spot on the bar, the flood on the bar and the spot on the helmet -- worked very nice. In fact, I have run the NiteHawk paired with higher power bar lights with good success. Really, you just need something to light up where you look to make up for the lack of peripheral light from the bar.
Note, these are preliminary observations and not a full review.
Posted by James at 7:22 PM
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
First off, sorry for the dearth of posts. I'm on vacation, you see. However, I have received some products that need an introduction. First up is a seat post from Race Face. Not the most glamorous of products but one you never, ever want to break on you.
The thing that separates this post from others is the ability to adjust the angle and seat rail position independently. The rails are clamped with the bolt near the top of the post and the angle is adjusted by sliding the sleeve up and down and then tightening it to lock in the angle. Ingenous. Maxm had a similar design -- both companies arrived at the clamp design without any collaboration -- but it isn't clear how this will play out with regards to patents and prior art.
Next up is a pair of sunglasses. These are by Tifosi. These have a retail price of $59.99 and feature photochromic lenses. We are currently reviewing some Rudy Project glasses with lenses that darken in sunlight but these are much less expensive and have an orange tint, rather than the red. Jon has the same frames, but with a red lens, so we'll be compairing both lenses to the Rudy's. The Tifosi lenses are polycarbonate while the Rudy's are polyurethane.
I'll be back to talking about the lights next time, since the X6 lights arrived just before Christmas.
Posted by James at 12:48 PM
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
I saw the title for today's post on a bumper sticker while riding home yesterday in a downpour of biblical proportions. I was soaked through and through, even with rain gear. I wimped out today and drove in, partly because I was running late, and partly because some of my gear was still wet.
I also received the light from CygoLite. They sent the HiFlux 200, a 1W LED based light. The mount allows for 10 degrees of rotation and is easy to set up. The battery is an NiMH affair, with an overnight charger.
I like the mount, though I find the light head to be a bit on the large size. Of course, my perception of "large" is a bit tainted after spending time with the DiNotte set up. The light is a spot and comes with a second lens that attaches to the front to make the beam more of a flood. I have not spent any time with the flood lens, but will shortly.
The only light left to arrive is the X6 from Blackburn. Once that gets here (this week) I'll be able to start taking comparison pictures. Look for more info after Christmas.
Posted by James at 11:10 AM
Monday, December 19, 2005
Man, have I been slacking on the image posting.
As I stated last week, I received the Formula Oro K24 brakes and promply mounted them up.
Here's the rear lever...
Here's the rear brake caliper...
Here's the front brake lever (next to the DiNotte 5W)...
And the front caliper...
First impressions? Powerful. Great lever feel. The lever blade has a nice hook on the end. Easy to align.
On to more light stuff. I've failed to post images of the Double and Triple shot.
First the Triple Shot...
And the Double Shot...
So far, the Double Shot has the most powerful spot of all the LED lights.
Posted by James at 4:00 PM
Friday, December 16, 2005
FormulaWe received Formula Racing's Oro K24 brakes today. They feature two piston calipers and a lever that is remarkably similar to Hayes El Camino, though I'm told that this is coincidental. Our test brakes have a 180mm front rotor -- my favorite size though 200mm rotors are also very nice -- and a 160mm rear rotor. The brakes are post mount with adaptors.
We've tested Formula brakes in the past and have liked their power, modulation and light weight.
I'll post more details and images on Monday.
Posted by James at 8:52 PM
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
Just a quick note to let you know that my review of the SL-K carbon compact cranks is up and running. It is a very, very nice crankset, though not the lightest out there.
I liked the 50-34 set up and the stiffness of the crank. I also like the fact that it is carbon composite, but then I'd like this toilet seat.
Posted by James at 8:14 AM
Friday, December 09, 2005
I've driven to work the last day or so -- long story and pretty boring as to why so I won't go into the details -- and have been thinking about lights. My pickup is a '91 Ranger with what I would term adequate headlights at best. But this doesn't bother me and on the drive home, I think I figured out why I am more demanding of my bicycle lights than my car headlights. While driving, I am concerned about BIG things -- deer, people, other cars, large rocks or huge gaping holes in the road. I don't care about glass, sticks, leaves in the corners or other small debris. On my bike, however, the oposite is true. I don't care so much about the big things, since I am not travelling nearly as fast (most deer won't stick around long enough to be a problem) and can stop quickly. I do need to see trail details, glass in the road, sticks lying under leaves, debris on the road that can make cornering tricky... you get the idea. In order to pick out this kind of detail at 20mph I need to be able to see well with enough light and having the right color of light helps tremendously. All of these LED lights have the right color, the white light helps to pick out the detail that the yellowish light from Halogens tend to wash out.
I need to make a correction. I have been calling DiNotte's tail light a 1W Luxeon. I am wrong, it is a 3W Luxeon that has been de-tuned, if you will. Had DiNotte not taken the LED down a notch, it would have been brighter than the 5W white LED (140 lumens vs. 120 lumens). Whoa.
Price will be $169 for the tail light when it is available in Feb. of '06.
Posted by James at 9:39 AM
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
Nite Hawk's Emitter line of lights have been available for some time under various brands. There own of course, and also under the house brand of the Performance/Supergo/Nashbar triumvirate. They are based around a 1W Luxeon emitter and feature a reflector, rather than solid state optics. The use of a reflector is very common in other types of lights -- halogen and HID -- but not so in LEDs.
Nite Hawk sent us the helmet mount Emitter -- shown below -- that also comes with a handlebar mount.
The mounts -- helmet and bar -- allow for adjustment on both the horizontal and verticle planes. The light is powered by 4 AA batteries and came with alkalines. Price is $79.95 and the light gets a crazy 9 hours on high.
Blackburn, thus far, has sent us their System X3 light. This is a single 3W LED in an aluminum housing. All of the electronics are housed in the battery, making it a little bigger than the others, but allowing Blackburn to keep the heat away from the parts that shouldn't get hot, e.g. the circuit boards. This also allows Blackburn to provide a lifetime warranty on the light head. Below the the X3 is shown next to two DiNotte 3W head lights. The X3 is adjustable on both the horizontal and verticle planes like the Nite Hawk.
The battery, though not the smallest, fits a water bottle cage just fine, and can be strapped to any location on the bike.
The X3 gets 4 hours at full power and takes 3.4 hours to recharge and costs $150.
Posted by James at 6:45 PM
I just learned that Cygo Lite will be participating in the LED shootout as well. At this stage I don't know which light that they will be sending -- they make three: the HiFlux 200, the HiFlux 100 and the new DualCross 300.
I'll post more info and pics when the lights arrive.
Posted by James at 11:24 AM
Monday, December 05, 2005
There seems to be some interest in these lights. I'm not at all surprised, especially given the dearth of technical information on their website. So, here's the breakdown of what we know. There are four distinct light systems available.
1) Single Beam 5W LED light. MSRP $219. This light runs on 4 AA NiMH rechargeable batteries and has a 1 hour 40 minute runtime on high. Low gives you 3 hours. In the image below, it's on the right. The light on the left is the new Blackburn System X3.
2) Single Beam 3W LED helmet light. MSRP $169. This light also uses the AA batteries (same
pack) and gets 2 hours on high and 4 hours on low.
3) Dual 3W LED bar light. MSRP $289. This light is the odd duck in that it uses it's own battery. This is a Li-Ion system and gets 4 hours on high and 8 hours on low.
You'll notice that the light on the left has a different lens than the one on the right. That is because the rings on the left lens helps to spread out the beam, giving it less of a spot.
4) Red LED tail light. Not sure on the cost. This light uses the same AA pack as the others and gets 3 hours on high (blindingly bright) 6 hours on medium (too bright to look at), 12 hours on low (still brighter than almost anything) and 12 hours on flash (might send you into convulsions).
My favorite of the bunch so far is the helmet light. It is small, light, has enough light and features red LED's (the normal variety, not high power ones) on the back of it.
My bike now looks like this from the front...
Left to right: DiNotte Double, Ciclosport HAC4 -- which these lights don't mess with but the HID lights do -- Blackburn System X3 and DiNotte Single 5W. Plus the helmet light. When they are all on, it really lights up the road!
Ok, normally my bike doesn't look like this, but since the review is scheduled for mid January, I need as much time on them all as possible and this lets me swap between them constantly to get a feel for them on various conditions. On my mtb I can fit more lights than my road bike.
Posted by James at 8:42 AM
Thursday, December 01, 2005
Lights from DiNotte arrived yesterday, so I thought I'd post my first impressions. First, they are tiny! The light head is approximatly one inch in diameter and two inches long. The battery pack -- which holds four 2300 mAh NiMH AA's -- is 2.5 inches long by 2 inches wide. And they are light weight. By far, the heaviest componant are the batteries.
DiNotte sent us one 5W head lamp, one 3W helmet mounted light and their killer tail lamp. The tail light uses a red Luxeon emitter -- I'm guessing a 1W from the run times -- that is very, very bright. The color LEDs have higher Lumens/Watt output, so at full power, this thing is blindingly bright.
One more set to go, and the review will be in full swing.
Posted by James at 10:33 AM