This is the last day of 2007. What a year. Let me reminisce a little and run through some of the highlights.
The year began much like it is ending, with me working frantically to get a light review finished and posted.
The beginning of the year saw fellow GearReview.com editor and blogger Jon move from his own blog to contributing here at Lactic Acid Threshold. It has certainly helped me out when I've been too buried at the ol' paying job to post regularly here.
Between Jon and I, we've reviewed all kinds of product. From sunglasses to tires, wheels to trailers. We've had a large review on jerseys and shorts.
In September we hit Interbike after missing it in 2006. It's still the same, but bigger.
This year we have posted 155 posts. The most in any year since I started back in late 2004 -- has it been that long? Where does the time go.
This year, this lowly blog has more than doubled it's traffic. You guys rock. Evidently we're doing something right. I hope you stick with us for 2008.
I will finish this light review. Really.
No, seriously, I'm nearly there.
See you in 2008. Have a Happy New Year
Monday, December 31, 2007
This is the last day of 2007. What a year. Let me reminisce a little and run through some of the highlights.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Well, since icycle was the only one who posted a request, that's what we'll go with!
He asked for the Betty, Wilma and 600L Wide. I'll post them in reverse order. One thing though, while the DiNotte is available in the wide beam, they don't recommend it, except for specific situations -- like to pair with a standard 600L or other spot light. With that caveat, here we go -- remember, click on the images for a larger version, as usual.
Here is the light on the target:
Once the above image gets put through the computer, this is the 3D image:
Finally, here is the beam shot:
The small orange flags are 20ft apart. At 100ft, there are three flags together. I aimed all of the lights at this cluster of three flags.
Next up, the Wilma.
And beam shot:
The Wilma is the 750 lumen, upgraded unit, not the 820 lumen light head. the 820 will be brighter, but I'm not sure it's appreciably so. Not to the human eye, that is.
Finally, the Betty:
And finally, the beam shot:
And there you have it. icycle, thanks for the request!
Obviously, the review -- which I am working madly to get done -- will have the above images as well as the same for all the other lights.
This will be my last post before Christmas, though, so to all, MERRY CHRISTMAS! I hope you all have a chance to get out and ride.
Friday, December 21, 2007
There is a break between storms today, so I'll be able to get the beam shots tonight!
That's the good news. Also, good news, I have the 3D images complete -- I really like them. Here's why. They show, graphically and quickly, differences between lights.
Here is the 200L, with its solid state optic for a lens:
And here is the Light and Motion Stella 180L:
Immediately, do can see that the Stella has a wider, though dimmer beam, with a hot center spot. Also, the beam doesn't fade out, but has a sharp cut off. The 200L, on the other hand, has a more gradual transition from the center to the edge, and isn't as wide, barely illuminating the dark ring on the target.
So the review is coming together, but not as fast as I'd like it too. No excuses, this is just a lot of lights to work through. Each light, in addition to its write up, has a run time graph, a beam shot, a target shot, an RGB line plot and a 3D graph.
Jon, who does the web posting for me -- the best I can manage is this here blog, I'm not much of a programmer, you see -- has his work cut out for him. I did not consult with him when I decided to add all of this. I just dump it on him. Thanks Jon!
The bad news is that I am not in anyway going to be able to wrap this review up before Christmas. My apologies. As a concession, I'll post the beam shots -- and 3D graphs so you can see the correlation -- to this blog this weekend for two lights from each category. The categories are: Single Emitter, Dual Emitter and Larger Cluster-- the large cluster are lights with 3 or more LEDs. You get to pick which lights get the beam shots posted.
So, which shall they be? MiNewt.X2? Exposure Enduro? The Betty? Maybe the 600L wide beam? You decide.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
I'm going to let you in on a secret.
I don't like beam shots. Usually, lights look better or worse than they do in person, never the same. The problem here is that your -- and my, everyone's really -- eye doesn't react linearly to light. We see light on a logarithmic scale, meaning that there is a bigger difference between 100 and 200 lumens than there is between 600 and 700 lumens. Cameras don't behave this way. So, what to do? I still use beam shots, there really isn't an alternative short of having everyone come out to my house and see all the lights for themselves. While I'd love to do that, for some of you, the travel time would be a little outrageous -- plus, I'd never be able to actually ride!
So, I've come up with alternative ways to look at the lights.
Here is the 600L spot lens. I took -- and posted -- this image before, but I'll use it for demonstrative purposes.
Another secret: My mild mannered alter-ego is an engineer at a materials testing lab. I design tests. I collect data. I've joined my superhero GearReview persona to my mild mannered engineer persona to create something... interesting.
First, I had T. make me a large target.
Then I set up the lights 16" from the target, in front, and I set the camera up about 42" from the target, in back. I set up the camera with F13 and a shutter speed of 1/60 of a second. The same 600L beam looks like this:
Now, I hand the image over to my coworker Eric. He plugs it into some software and gives me a data file and a plot. The data file breaks the image down to Red, Green and Blue components. Plotting the data looks like this:
Plotting it in 3D looks like this:
In the 3D plot, you can make out the black lines from the target. They normally show up in the line plot, above, also, but I've removed them.
So, what does this tell us? All by itself, you can see beam spread and intensity. The larger the spread, the more of the target shows up. The more intense the light, the more white shows up in the 3D plot.
It's not perfect though. In order for these plots to be used to compare one light to another, the camera settings have to be the same. But at a setting where the dimmer lights show up, clipping occurs on the brighter lights. This is evident in the line plot. The blue line going flat across the top is indicative of overpowering the camera sensor. Oddly it happens most with the blue component. Still, combined with the beam shots, this is another way of comparing the output from the myriad of lights on test.
Monday, December 17, 2007
Here at GearReview, we are working overtime to try and get this light review out the door... but the weather might have other plans.
Let me explain. In order to have beam shots that are of any value at all, they must be taken at the same time. This eliminates environmental variations light a brighter moon, fog, slightly different light positions, etc. Now, since I am using the latest lights, some of which have just become available, I am just now able to get them all together for the aforementioned beam shots. Now, however, the weather is playing games with me.
Not exactly ideal conditions.
Now, I'm not just sitting back waiting for the rain to stop. I've been compiling data. Oh yes, lots and lots of data. You think those graphs make themselves?
This is what the data file looks like:
All those tabs at the bottom represent graphs. That, my friends, is a whole lot of graphs. The graphs, of course, look like this:
So, as you can see, we are hard at work here. Later this week, I'll let you in on another addition to the review. Something that should set it apart from all the rest.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
If you don't know what the contest was, I'm sorry. Read it here.
This contest proved to cause quite a fierce battle with many a close call. In fact, a family was almost torn apart by it. However in the end, we, the judges, were able to come up with a winner.
Congratulations, Ceri, with your insightful comment. Our heart goes out to you and your family and only hope that this derailleur reaches you in time to save your family. However, if it doesn't, enjoy the derailleur and try and make some money off the story. If you need help writing the book, let me know.
Please email me your details so I can get this in the mail soon: jon at gearreview dot com
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
A note from the editor: The winner of that coveted SRAM X-9 front derailleur will be announced tomorrow. If you haven't entered, do so now. Quick! Before it's too late! Click here!
Though Surly's Pugsley is obviously not a "standard" mountain bike, many people overlook the tremendous responsibility of owning one. Nor do they bother acting any different on the trail when either riding with others, or just encountering others on the trail. However, following these simple guidelines will help even the most novice Pugsley owner minimize trail-side embarrassment.
Pugsley tires (Surly Endomorphs) are wide
This might seem both obvious and irrelevant at the same time. However, as someone purportedly wise in a movie once said, "with great [big tires], comes great responsibility." I couldn't have said it any better myself, Uncle Ben.
Endomorphs, due to their mammoth width, are like single-track-making-machines. Eventually, your riding buddies will succumb to your barrage of requests to go riding in the snow--even though they might not be Pugsley riders. When the time comes, it is your obligation to lead out on the snowed-over single-track. Much like Cervelo Soloist road bikes (who's owners are required to always lead in a pace-line do to their superiorly aerodynamic bikes), it is what Pugsley's are made for. You see, no matter what the trail is like before you get there, the Pugsley will create nicely packed, super-wide single-track. In fact, careful riders will be able to ride two abreast in your track--though strictly speaking, the Endomorph track isn't wide enough to be considered double-track.
Similarly, loose dirt trails are magically transformed into a fine, smooth hardpack in the wake of the steamroller-like tread.
Pugsley tires (Surly Endomorphs) are big
Because of the current 29er push, you might often encounter many such bikes on the trail. In fact, you might ride with people on 29ers. The biggest temptation for you, whilst on a Pugsley, is to point out how much larger your wheels are than theirs. This should be avoided.
However, if you run into a particularly fanatical 29er--one who insists that no one should ride mountain bikes with 26" wheels--you're fine to point out how much larger your wheels are, and make sure and tell them that you're riding 26" rims. Hopefully this person will then be more likely to be accepting of others in the future.
Pugsleys aren't light
Now that you own a non-light bike, it is no longer okay to make fun of others' bikes because of their heft--even if your other bike is a full suspension bike that weighs only 19.7654 lbs. On the other hand, you can now make fun of their bikes for being too light and, possibly, not as sturdy as yours. For instance: "You call that heavy? I crushed 3 vertebrae lifting my Pugsley onto my roof rack."
Pugsley's use a non-standard fork
Just like the Cannondale Lefty owner who always needs to be the one driving to the trail-head, it is unlikely that your riding buddies' cars are sufficiently equipped for you to mount up your Pugsley to their rack.
Notable exceptions: Pickup trucks (must be 3/4 ton or more), top-tube hitch mounts (Only large SUVs can handle this. H2s are okay, but not H3s.), and apparently Yakima King Cobra roof mounts (with the wheel size set to 29").
Pugsleys make you feel bigger
As tempting as it may be, even with a Pugsley it still isn't okay to run over your neighbors' pets. Not that you'd notice while running the super-low PSI possible in Endomorph tires, but it's best to keep an eye out for them to avoid further neighborhood squabbles.
Remember, just as owning a large SUV doesn't make you any larger or tougher yourself, owning a Pugsley also doesn't make you any stronger or tougher.
Actually, if you have to lift it onto the roof of your car for transport, it might make you a little tougher.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
The last of the lights have arrived in the form of the Exposure Joystick. I had received, and have been riding, the Enduro and Race versions for a little while. If you are not familiar with them, the Exposure lights are made by the UK company USE. They are all-in-one designs, meaning that the battery and light head are integrated.
There are three lights; the Enduro Maxx has three emitters, the Race Maxx has two and the Joystick Maxx has a single emitter. The Maxx designation is to indicate that these versions use the latest LED technology, as opposed to the previous generation Enduro, Race and Joystick.
The Enduro Maxx:
The Enduro and Race models use the same handlebar mount. This mount is bolted to the bar and has a quick-release to remove the light itself.
The little red knob is the release to remove the light. The C-shaped piece in the clamp is the reducer that adapts the clamp to 26.0/25.4 handlebars. Removing the reducer allows the clamp to work with the larger 31.8 bar diameter.
The Race Maxx:
And finally, the Joystick:
The mount shown in the picture is the helmet mount. The light is attached via ball mount that allows for angle -- both horizontal and vertical -- adjustment. The helmet is sandwiched between the two wider "washers". It's very light.
Now that all of the lights are here, it's time to compile the data, opinions, beam shots, run times, etc. It's GO TIME!
Friday, December 07, 2007
Every time I do one of these big light comparison reviews -- this is number three -- I do things a little differently. The first one used a deserted road for the beam shots. I set up my home office to do the run time graphs and let the lights run overnight. For the second review -- this was turning into an annual thing, it appeared -- I moved my run time logger to my work office. Our family had grown by one in during the preceding year, so my home office was now a bedroom, and therefore, unsuitable to the task. I also relocated my beam shots to the park, where -- I think, anyway -- the shape of the beam is more apparent.
This year -- see, it is annual -- I am still doing my run time graphs in my office, but I've made changes to the equipment that allows me to do the test any time, day or night. I still use the same data acquisition terminal panel as before, but I've changed my photovoltaic cell to be larger, so it picks up more of the beams. I've also placed everything into a very large cardboard tube that I obtained from a flooring store. I fashioned a pvc "handlebar" to hold the lights and am using a fan to keep things cool.
Looking down the tube, you can see the photo cell at the end.
All of this gets logged by a simple program I wrote using LabView. The screen looks like this:
Once the data is collected, I use MS Excel to make the pretty graphs that get posted to GearReview.com in the reviews.
And that's just for the run times. If everything works out, I've got a new trick up my sleeve -- a new tool for looking at the beams themselves since beam shots are of dubious benefit.
Also, I am waiting for one more light from Exposure, then I'll preview all three of them, and all of the lights for the review will be in house. It's getting close to crunch time.
Thursday, December 06, 2007
Due to the vast amount of comment spam we used to get--and by "vast", I mean even one is too much--we have limited comments to those with blogger accounts only. It occurs to me that this might limit those who might otherwise want to comment. So, in an effort to give everyone a chance, to enter the contest announced yesterday, you can also email us with your contest entry.
jon at gearreview dot com
james at gearreview dot com
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
Okay, at the risk of posting three entries in a row about the same review, here are some pictures of the Pugsley in about a foot of snow. I'm having a blast on this bike.
In other news, I have also received for review the new Hayes brake, the Stroker. I'll soon have it mounted so I can give you my first impressions. I love fresh hydraulics!
And, finally, a contest.
I've mentioned previously how specialized a front derailleur is, so first let me tell you the prize. A 31.8mm SRAM X-9 Low-clamp, bottom-pull front derailleur.
Now, how to win it? Easy?
Post a comment (of course) with the reason why you need this derailleur. You can make it long or short, but it needs to be good. For now, I'm limiting this contest to the continental U.S., though I reserve the right to send it elsewhere if I like the comment enough. It's my contest, so I get to decide. I'll leave this open for a week, so get your comment in soon. If you know someone who could use this derailleur, tell them to post a comment.
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
I've been using the new '08 XT group for a while now, but since we recently received the X.9 group I'll be holding off publishing a full review of the group until our comparative XT/X.9 review. That being said, we have some Shimano components that don't have SRAM counterparts -- namely wheels and pedals. There is no point in delaying those reviews, so we're not. Yesterday, the review of the XT wheels went live.
Go on, click the link, but come right back.
You're back? Good.
Later this week, Jon will be announcing our first Lactic Acid Threshold contest and it is closely related to the XT/X.9 review. I'll say no more; I don't want to steal his thunder.
Monday, December 03, 2007
Though I live in Utah, I don't really like snow. I mean, it's pretty. Also, we need it here to have water in the summer. But, for cycling, snow consistently gets in the way. If you have a road bike you ride, that you also happen to like, you should stay off the pavement after a snowfall--no, not because of the slick conditions so much as the layers and layers of salt applied to melt the snow/ice. Bikes don't like salt. Also, unless you like getting stuck a lot, mountain biking in the snow can be arduous at best.
However, on Saturday, when we got our first big snowfall of the year, I welcomed the snow. You see, I'm reviewing a Surly Pugsley and, as you may or may not know, the Pugsley was made for conditions where a normal bike would flounder. The tires are around 4" wide and can be run with pressure's as low as 5psi.
So, with delight I force-fed the Pugsley to my over-burdened roof-rack and headed up into the mountains. I've taken the Pugsley out before (on dry ground, of course), and was excited to try it in the real-deal.
I rode around the snowy, slushy parking lot a bit and adjusted my pressure before heading up the gravel road I started on. I was running around 10psi front and rear. Though most bikes can go forward through snow just fine, I noticed immediately that the Pugsley excels in keeping you from sliding around on corners or a poorly planned line--something easy to fall victim to when you can't read the trail under 6" of fresh snow.
While out, I ran into a local racer who was thrilled to see someone riding a Pugsley. He actually saw the tracks in the parking lot and made the climb behind me so he could take a look. I let him throw a leg over it and, after about 2 miles of riding, he was convinced he needed to buy one. Do I get a kick-back if he does?
Not one to settle with the status quo, I headed out later that night onto the, now icy, roads. Once again, I was amazed at the difference a huge contact patch can make. Granted, I wasn't crazy out there, but I didn't slip once around corners or accelerating during my conservative test ride.
I hope the snow is here to stay. I can't wait to get back out there!