Tuesday, August 25, 2009

GamJams Reviews: Headlight

This was originally posted in January 08. It is reposted for the www.GamJams.net Lights Review.

With the warmer than usual weather experienced in the '757' lately, I've been able to get off the trainer at night and ride outside. Seeing the various lights (and having light envy) on other bikes and with the recent Roadbikereview.com light review, I decided to do my own review on my light setup. I hope this info will be helpful to those looking to ride at night.

Roadbikereview.com is doing their LED Lights Shootout again. They will review various lights that are suitable for both trail and road. The previous light shootout was about 2 years ago. Click here for the old review. You will notice some changes in technology from the previous review.
As you notice from the title they will be focusing on LED lights. LED has surpassed halogen and the latest technology has some LED lights as bright as HID lights. The advantages are listed in the new LED Lights Shootout article.
The latest review is on the Dinotte lights. As an owner of an older Dinotte light, I was excited to read their review of the 200L, 200L Dual and 600L lights.

My older Dinotte light is only rated at 120L (Lumens) on high and 80L on low. That's sufficient to ride on the road but lacks in the trails without the use of another light. The runtime averages about 1.5-2 hours on high and close to 3 on low. It attaches to either helmet or bar. With the longer battery extension, you can just mount the light on the helmet and the battery pack in your jersey pocket or camelback. Since the light is less than 80g, it's hardly noticeable on your helment. Besides the easy mounting feature (uses a rubber hoop), the best feature is the use of 4 AA batteries. I use rechargeable 2500mAh and carry spare AA as a backup. These batteries and charger can be bought in bulk at your local Sams, BJs or Priceclub for about $15.

I'm looking forward to picking up a newer 200L to run a dual on my bars alongside my existing Dinotte light.

Since my existing Dinotte light shot a wider beam but was not sufficient for some of the trails or unlit backroads in my area, I picked up a helmet light for a spotlight. After researching online and on various forums (www.candlepowerforums.com and www.bikeforums.com), I came across Fenix lights. These lights received high reviews by the forum members for inexpensive and bright light options.

I went with the Fenix L2D (pictured). It's the size of a small flashlight and puts out a tight spot up to 175L. With a "Twofish Bikeblock", it easily mounts to my helmet. This light also runs AA batteries which reduces the hassle of having various batteries for each light. The claimed runtime is 2.5 hours on the highest setting (175L).

To be seen from the back, Dinotte also offers a tail light but at 140L of red light, that may be overkill for my use and the guys behind me in the paceline would go blind. As a commuting light, that would be a great option but is also expensive at $170 for a tail light.
I use a Planet Bike Blinky Superflash tail light. It's brighter than my other tail lights (Cateye, Blackburn) and has a brighter main LED light supplemented with 2 smaller lights. It has various mounting options for seatpost or seatstay and also a clip for your jersey or hydration pack. This was also rated high by commuters in various online forums. The only downside is the need for a phillipshead screwdriver to install/remove the mounting bracket. Other lights have "tool-less" mounting brackets. The "tool-less" feature comes in handy when I'm running late for my night group training rides and need to switch over my light from another bike.

Remember, just because you can see a car coming doesn't necessarily mean they can see you. Please use lights (both front and back) and reflective clothing whenever you ride at night.

Editor's note: Since the original post, I have picked up the newer 200L Dinotte light. There's a big difference in burn time and brightness from the older model. This past winter, I used a dual Dinotte setup on my handlebar with the 120L pointed downward and the 200L beam straight ahead. This set up was utilized on our shop's Thursday night mountain/cross ride through light non-technical trails and pavement.