In addition to the new 500L, DiNotte has introduced the 300L. I got my hands on one this week and I like what I see.
The 300L uses the same housing, battery and charger as it's brighter sibling, but the optics are different and the emitters aren't as bright. The price is different, too -- down $100 to $395. By using less bright emitters, the run time is up by 1/2 hour, so using the same battery will get you 3 hours on full bright. Inside the electronics have the same redundancy, the buttons behave like the 500L and the flash pattern is also the same.
Here's what the flash looks like:
As you can see, part of the light stays on all the time.
The beam itself, and I hope to have some comparison pictures up soon, is narrower than the 500L and has the intense spot that the 500L lacks. I have not spent very much time on the light, so I cannot comment -- yet -- as to whether or not I like the beam pattern better/worse than the 500L. My initial thought is that it looks like the tighter beam would be an excellent companion light to the 500L. I also think that the 300L will make a good light on it's own.
I'll report back after spending some more time with the light.
Wednesday, February 28, 2007
In addition to the new 500L, DiNotte has introduced the 300L. I got my hands on one this week and I like what I see.
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Normally you'll see an update to Lactic Acid Threshold every other day or so. Today, though, I've got some images of the beam from the new Wilma, courtesy of Gretna Bikes, that I didn't want to sit on. I did not take these pictures. I don't know the camera settings. I do not know any spacings in the pictures (how far to the trees, etc) so I cannot give any details.
Here's the Wilma that I reviewed:
And now here is the New Wilma:
And, for good measure, here is the Edison, arguably one of the brightest HIDs out there:
Frankly, I think that the new Wilma has a cleaner beam than the Edison.
Posted by James at 8:51 AM
Monday, February 26, 2007
High Intensity Discharge lights (metal halide arc lamps) are very efficient, sitting right around 50 lumens per watt. This is why they are so much brighter than halogen lights while using less power. And until last few months, they have been the king if maximum light output is your primary goal. They have flaws, though. I've mentioned them before, while explaining why I espouse the current crop of LED-based lights so readily. I've always had to curb my enthusiasm with the disclaimer that for the brightest bicycle lights available, HIDs still ruled, though lights like the Wilma and 500L were catching up... until now.
Gretna Bikes, importers of Lupine Lights just announced that in about a month, they will have an upgrade kit for the '06 and '07 Wilma lights -- currently at 380 and 420 lumens, respectively -- that will increase the light output to 750 lumens. Now, lets pause a minute while that sinks in. This is a drop-in replacement -- as I understand it -- that the end consumer will be able to do. I do not know the pricing, but I am told it will be reasonable. I am also told that run times will be unaffected.
Now, that is impressive on many levels, not the least of which is the fact that this will be a brighter light than the Light and Motion Arc lights, while consuming less power.
Now, as cool as that is, they are also introducing a new Wilma that uses a new light head. This new light will have and astounding 830 lumens! Lupines Edison HID lights -- arguably some of the brightest on the market -- have around 900 lumens using a 16W bulb. If the beam pattern of the new Wilma is clean (no dark rings or other aberrations) then I see no reason for the Edison. The LEDs have a longer life, don't break if you drop them and, now, they are more efficient.
The bar has just been raised, and as soon as I get my hands on one, you can expect a host of pictures.
Posted by James at 9:40 AM
Friday, February 23, 2007
BBB... here in the U. S. of A. we usually think of the Better Business Bureau when we see those initials. Elsewhere, though, BBB refers to a brand that has nearly every bicycle part under the sun. Until recently, though, we USA folks have only seen the stuff on TV during the races in Europe and elsewhere -- Tom Boonen's sunglasses are one example. Now, however, BikeMine has picked them up and will be distributing most of their goods over here. We just received a small tease of what they have to offer.
First up, RollerBoys. These are rear derailleur pulleys that roll on bearings, not bushings. They are made of a composite with 40% glass fiber reinforcement.
And they come in clear -- we got the clear ones -- as you can see.
BBB also has brake pads and disc brake pads. We got their El Camino version. There are lots of after market pads out there -- Kool Stop are our go-to pad for disc and rim brakes -- but the BBB pads retail for a mere $19. If they are as good as the Kool Stops, then BBB might have something here. As usual, I'll let you know.
Finally, we received the Winner sport glasses. These are the style used by Boonen and, frankly, I feel faster just wearing them. The come with 4 sets of lenses -- dark mirrored, orange, yellow and a very cool mirrored clear -- and retail for $90. The frames are Grilamid and the lenses are a specially coated polycarbonate material. They feel good on my face and I like the wide array of lenses that come with the glasses.
BBB also has chain rings, stems, handlebars, seat posts, and a whole lot more.
One more, unrelated note. I know that some of you out there started reading this little part of the InterWeb for light information. In addition to the normal parts reviewing that goes on throughout the year, this year looks to be THE year for LED lights. I'll have some more news next week about an updated, very bright light as well as a slightly dimmer, less expensive version of the 500L, called the 300L.
Posted by James at 9:44 AM
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
I've spoken about disc brakes on both 'cross and mountain bikes. To save you some time, I'll sum up: I like them in every application I've used them.
I recently stumbled across this post on Bikeforums.net. It's about the beautiful Waterford shown below (imaged taken from the thread).
The bike is undeniably cool. It has clean lines and is utilitarian enough to be useful day in and day out. What really stands out to me are the brakes. This is not a 'cross bike, this is not a mountain bike... this is a road bike. The second thing that I noticed was the fact that those aren't Avid road discs, but, rather, they are Shimano's road discs. That's right, there is now a choice for those of us who choose to run discs with road bike levers. Sort of. There is one catch, Shimano America isn't stocking them.
They tell me that there isn't the demand for disc brakes on road bikes. I say, this is because they haven't educated their customers. What are the complaints against disc brakes?
1st, that they are heavier. This one is true. They do weigh more than canti's or road calipers. In fact it is worse than you'd think. The forks are heavier and the hubs are slightly heavier, too. So this all really adds up to a little over a pound difference.
2nd, they are more difficult to set up. Nope. I'd rather set up a set of mechanical disc brakes than any cantilever or linear-pull brake on the market today. They are dirt simple.
3rd, they are more likely to leave you stranded. This is one that I hear from the touring crowd. Again, this isn't true. They are at least as robust as canti's and they don't rely on the integrity of the wheel to work. The argument goes something like this... canti's are merely a lever, they are easily repared and parts are available anywhere. Well, mechanical discs are merely a lever, with bearings. There aren't really any parts to fail. If you break a cable, you buy a new cable. The pads last 2 to 3 times longer than canti and v-brake pads do. The rotors can handle the heat and friction better than aluminum rims can, too. And, damage a rim and you'll still have brakes.
4th, they interfere with racks and fenders. Unfortunately, this one is also true. I blame the frame builders for this one, though. If you look at the Waterford in the thread that started my rambling, you'll see that they placed the rear caliper on the chain stay, not the seat stay. This opens up the rack and fender mounts and moves the caliper out of the way. Trek (Portland) and Lemond (Poprad) do the same thing.
The benefits, however, are increased pad life, increased rim life, and all weather braking. I haul my son in a trailer behind my 'cross bike, and the increased power in inclement weather has made taking him with me safer. Having enough stopping power in a torrential downpour is worth the extra weight. Having my brake pads last over 4000 miles in grit, dirt and wet conditions makes the fender mounting issues seem trivial.
I use Avid's brakes, I'd like to try the Shimano's. I'd like to see them enter the market if for no other reason than to bring down the price of the Avid brakes. Competition is good for the consumers.
Monday, February 19, 2007
Saturday was beautiful--not at all like February should be. As such, I took the time to swap out the Hometrainer tire on my Synapse for a Hutchinson Fusion so I could head outside. The weather was perfect. Though I wore arm-warmers, I got away with short-fingered gloves.
Today, I woke up to around 2" of snow on the ground outside. Today is February again. If I'm going to ride, it'll be on the rollers inside. I need to swap out my tire again to do such.
Today, I want two things:
1. Ritchey Deep Section Road Wheels (available as front and rear wheels--not paired up, for some reason--at Bike Nashbar (click the banner on the right)). These are 50% off now, so the set can be had for around $225. They aren't fantastic, but Ritchey generally makes some good quality stuff for a reasonable price.
2. Shimano 105 10-speed Cassette. $59.45 at Nashbar. I need this to make the transition between bikes even easier. It'd have to be 12-25, just like my current Dura Ace setup.
Bonus item: I only have one Hometrainer tire right now. I'd get another from www.BikeTiresDirect.com (direct link) so I wouldn't be wearing out any road tires unnecessarily.
Friday, February 16, 2007
Since my last post on the 500L, I've received requests for more images, specifically of the back of the light. Well, your wish is my command.
From the back:
You can see the two buttons that are used to control the light. One of them is the 'high beam only' button.
From the Top:
And from the front:
The light next to it is an amber flashing light, also from DiNotte. It's the same size as the 5W, so you can see the size difference between their original lights and the new big one.
Posted by James at 10:51 AM
Thursday, February 15, 2007
A new feature for Lactic Acid Threshold is "What I want to buy today". In it, I'll feature items I want to buy. You might also want to buy the same items, but that's merely coincidence.
Because I get hourly sale updates from Performance and Nashbar--reminding me of all the stuff I don't have, but want--I might just feature them heavily. However, I am leaving it open for branching out.
Today's item: Adidas Adistar Road Comp Shoe
Though I've never used Adidas before, these look nice. I like the idea of a quick-lace system, and the vented carbon sole is a great feature. It ought to be light and stiff and cool. Right now, it is on sale at 50% off. Also, it comes in gold (pictured)--which would nicely match the spokes on my Topolino wheels. They even have my size: 9.5.
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
I've received quite a bit of correspondence about DiNotte's 500L (what I was calling Big Green) -- something that's not too surprising really. So I thought I'd give a little more info on the light today. Some Lactic Acid Threshold exclusive content, if you will.
First, the light that I was sent for the review was a preproduction light. It's only running at a little over 10 watts, while the production units will be more like 13 watts. My light's control circuits are taken directly from the 5W light, so it lacks the more interesting features. I've been promised a production light head so that I can try out all the features for myself, but here's a little of what I/we can expect.
I mentioned in the review that the light has two buttons on the back. This enables DiNotte to give a little different user interface than lights normally have. In case you missed it in the review, here's what I said, "Second, they put two buttons on the back of the light. One of them cycles through the light levels, while the other is a dedicated high beam button. No matter what light level you are on, hit the high beam button and you'll be at maximum brightness." I think that this is great, personally. No cycling through the light modes when you need maximum light NOW.
Another feature -- one that hopefully you'll never use -- is under the hood. DiNotte has gone out of their way to make this light all that and more. They don't want you stranded in the dark, for any reason -- that's why they are throwing in two batteries. They are also making all of the electronics redundant. Re-read that last sentence. Each LED is run off of it's own circuit. If one fails for any reason the other two will be unaffected. In fact, things could really go bad and you could lose two of the three and still be able to see where you are going. How cool is that?
Finally, they are doing something different in the flash mode. Because they can control the LED independently, they are dimming two of the LEDs and flashing the third at full brightness. As I said above, I don't have a production unit so I haven't tried this out, but I will, and I hope to get a video up here when I do. In theory, I like it, but I'll withhold judgment until I use it.
Did I miss anything? Anything else you want to know about it? Post a comment or drop me a line and I'll let you know.
-- Just a reminder, Jon's reached a little over 50% of his pledge, but still needs your help. You can help by clicking on the link in his post "A New Challenge", or by buying something at Performance, Nashbar, or Backcountry after clicking on the respective link over on the right. It's a great cause that needs help. See his post for more details.
-- One more LED related item, it looks like Raleigh, NC is looking to go all LED for the city. Engadget has the news. They, the government in Raleigh, is teaming up with local LED company CREE to make this happen. The figure $80,000 in savings from converting parking deck lights to LEDs alone.
Monday, February 12, 2007
Last year, I rode LOTOJA. I wrote a lot about it, so I will only mention it briefly here. This year, I planned on nothing. I figured I'd ride, but I had no concrete goals in mind. A week ago, I participated in my first mountain bike race, the Frozen Hog. I won't go into details about that today either, but suffice it to say I didn't put much training into it. No, I want to talk about what I've decided to challenge myself to do this year which will take, perhaps, less training, but more effort.
I signed up for the Tour de Cure--a fund-raising event for the American Diabetes Association. It is a 100 mile ride on June 9th. Last year, 100 miles was easy. I hope I'll be able to say the same this year. What won't be easy, however, is raising the $500 I've pledged.
There are two ways you can help in this great cause. The easiest is to make your Performance Bike, Nashbar, and Backcountry purchases you would normally make through this site by clicking on the banners for this page--the top three banners. (NOTE: I am NOT endorsing you to click on the Google Ads on the right, but only the three graphical ads for the companies I've mentioned. It is illegal for me to encourage you to click on the Google Ads.) If you buy something from one of those three companies after clicking on an ad, this site gets a kick-back. James has generously decided to donate 100% of that money--between now and June 1st--to sponsor me in the Tourde Cure.
The second way is more direct. By clicking here, you can go directly to my sponsor page and make a tax-deductible donation online with your credit card.
Diabetes affects millions of people, and your donation will help treat, prevent, and cure this terrible disease.
Posted by Jon at 9:16 AM
Friday, February 09, 2007
At the beginning of summer, all the TV shows go on vacation. Knowing that there won't be new content for three or four months, the networks try to come up with big cliff-hangers--seemingly to keep your mind on the show throughout the hiatus. I don't have that long of an attention span. For a couple of days--maybe even a week--I can't wait for the next season to begin. After that, I no longer care. In fact, I don't even think about it. Unfortunately, I'm that way about a lot of things; like cycling in the winter. At my day job, the workload always picks up in the winter. Invariably, I miss a day or two. Then I forget the experience and it goes longer. Yesterday, I remembered how long it had been and decided I wouldn't let the day end without getting on the rollers. The day was almost over when I got to it. As soon as I sat down--well, after about thirty seconds of being terrified while I reminded myself that I know how to ride rollers--I felt the euphoria of being on my bike. Even in the cold of my basement at 11:30 pm, it was wonderful. And this is where the TV analogy ends. The moral? Just don't forget to ride.
Side note. I got all suited up in lycra for my ride on the rollers, of course. It occurs to me that I’d be more careful about what I ate if I saw myself in lycra more often.
I don't have that long of an attention span. For a couple of days--maybe even a week--I can't wait for the next season to begin. After that, I no longer care. In fact, I don't even think about it.
Unfortunately, I'm that way about a lot of things; like cycling in the winter. At my day job, the workload always picks up in the winter. Invariably, I miss a day or two. Then I forget the experience and it goes longer.
Yesterday, I remembered how long it had been and decided I wouldn't let the day end without getting on the rollers. The day was almost over when I got to it. As soon as I sat down--well, after about thirty seconds of being terrified while I reminded myself that I know how to ride rollers--I felt the euphoria of being on my bike. Even in the cold of my basement at 11:30 pm, it was wonderful.
And this is where the TV analogy ends.
The moral? Just don't forget to ride.
Posted by Jon at 10:11 PM
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
Well, after a marathon writing and editing session, we -- Jon and I -- got the 2007 LED Light review finished and posted. I think that it came off pretty well, if I do say so my self. The lights included are shown in the graph below. The same graph is used in the final review.
Click on the chart for a larger, more legible version.
This review, as with last years, really shows how fast things can change in lighting. 1W lights are off the radar, except as "be seen" lights. 3W is the least I would use to ride by, and there are some really good offerings. NiteRider's MiNewt brought Li-Ion batteries to a price point not seen before, while BR Lights and Princeton Tec raised the bar for speedy battery charging. More manufacturers are including things like extension cables and helmet mounts in the box, making the lights more versatile without the customers needing to spend more money.
These lights are also very bright. To be honest, I haven't used my HID for quite some time now, and it has now been relegated to loaner status. I love the fact that I can dim the LED lights and I don't feel like I am missing out on illumination with the Lupine Wilma or DiNotte 500L (formerly Big Green).
The single emitter lights make excellent helmet lights. They are small, lightweight, have enough light to be useful, even when paired with a handlebar light, and can be relatively inexpensive.
Every brand that participated in this review makes a quality light. I cannot fault any one of them. Sure I had some problems, but they were addressed very quickly. These are reputable companies who stand behind their products.
Overall, this was a fun review to put together. I've enjoyed using these lights and I look forward to seeing how they develop over the next year.
Monday, February 05, 2007
I love adventures. I love getting outside, and not knowing what's going to be around the next corner. This is one reason why I started mountain biking nearly 20 years ago. At the time, it was the only way I could get out into the woods without bumming a ride from my parents!
Saturday, I decided to do some adventure riding. This means different things to different people, but to me, this is defined not by mileage, or terrain, but in doing something that I haven't done before or going somewhere -- by bike of course -- that I haven't gone before. In the past my adventures have included rides like the entire North Umpqua Trail and the Coos Bay Wagon Road. Since, I didn't have the time, nor inclination to do an all day ride, something closer to home was needed.
I've been fascinated by this dome above a gravel pit near my house for some time. It looks like a large soccer ball up on the hill. Here's an image of it courtesy of Google Maps.
I have done some asking around, and most people had no idea what it was. Finally, I found someone who said that it was an old radar station for WW2. Now, my mysterious building took on a new attraction... it might still hold old radar equipment. You see, the area was once part of Camp Adair -- at it's hey day it was the second largest city in Oregon -- so the idea that it was a relic from that time isn't too far fetched.
I had tried to reach the dome before, but without any luck, by using some trails on the east side of the hill. This time I approached it from the west, then north, then back to the east, without any success. I could see where I wanted to go, but just couldn't get there.
Once again, I rode up the trail. At the hill's peak, I left the trail, riding/walking my bike (hey, if you don't need to carry your bike, is it really an adventure?) for about 50 - 100 feet. I then left my bike -- turning on my headlight on flashing mode so I could find it again -- and took off on foot. I'm glad that I was wearing my Lake shoes, as my Sidis aren't nearly as good a walking shoe!
After hiking what seemed like a very long time, I reached the dome. It turns out that there is a road down, but it looks like it either ends or goes through some private property. It also turns out that the dome is very much in use today. I could not get inside, nor could I even see inside. It appears to be a weather station now. Needless to say, that the result was a little anti-climactic, but nevertheless, my goal was reached.
What adventures have you done? What makes a ride an adventure for you?
Posted by James at 8:16 AM
Friday, February 02, 2007
I know that many of you are on pins and needles waiting for my review to be finished. It's very, very close. I'm in the final editing stage now.
However, I thought I'd let you see some more beam shots that will be in the review, along with the respective burn times.
First up, Exposure Lights Enduro Turbo.
And the run time graph:
Next up, it's main competitor, the new-on-the-scene BR Lights C2.
Run time graph:
Both lights are self contained and use dual 5W emitters. Both are pretty darn cool, to be honest. There'll be more information about each one in the review, as you'd expect.
Posted by James at 1:20 PM