Just got back into trail riding after a long absence. I want to keep the momentum going but with daylight savings coming to an end soon, my ride time will start creeping into night.
I want to get a set of lights but need to keep the budget under $200, preferebly under $100. I understand I'm not gonna get the best setup for this but that's the budget and I want to keep riding.
I've been checking out a few kits by CREE, usualy a 1200 lumen, and there's even one on ebay right with 2x CREE 900 lumen lights and all the mounting accessories for the handlebars. Has anyone had any experience with these?
I like to spend my money locally, so would there be anything worth looking at in the shops around Adelaide?
Nothing within your budget available locally through bricks and mortar storefront retail that is even remotely up to the task, unfortunately.
You can get something acceptable from Deal Extreme for approx $80 per unit, and I would recommend getting one for helmet and one for bars. Besides being a significant improvement on either by themselves, you want the redundancy. Flying down a fire road at 40km/hr and then having your sole light source go out and dump you into inky blackness would not end well! For a little bit more money you can source similar locally through Cell Bikes web store.
The head units seem to be reasonably robust, the issue with these cheap lights is the battery quality, judging by reports.
Here are some other options to give you an idea of what's out there:
Gold Standard: MyTinySun 2700x:
Good for bar light (needs a helmet light to go with it for off-road) - Ferei BL200:
No longer cuts the mustard - AyUp V4 Adventure Kit (combined effect of helmet and bar lights shown):
The Ay-Ups are really only good for fire trail riding IMO. Performance of the narrow beam with pronounced hotspot let me down in technical singletrack and downhill switchbacks at last year's Mont 24. Still great commuter lights, though.
Good to know there's a couple different price points. The TinySun and Ferei look good.
Still got a bit of time to save the dosh, but might have to get something cheap for a month or two just to keep me going.
2700 lumens, 3 hour battery, and 300-ish grams. Pretty impressive. But not cheap.
No flash mode except for SOS, and perhaps too much punch for commuting across the Sydney Harbour Bridge even on medium beam - I get enough complaints from unlit ninjas with the Ay-Ups as it is! Although low beam would be a viable option for "look-at-me" mode.
But as a trail light, frikken awesome! And easy to use. I love that you don't have to cycle through "off" to get back to high beam. :big thumbs up:
Yeah I know.
Sad, mad, bad part about is that I can get a much the same light puck for it with the three same Cree LEDs on it for less than $35...from an Oz supplier. Plus another $5 for the optic...the rest is just fancy German engineering!
Ours is not to reason why...merely to point and giggle
Would you mind sharing where you can get it? Even better if they are a Oz supplier...
I don't know that I would share TG's dimissal of Ay-Ups as trail lights. True, they are being increasingly outgunned these days by ever more powerful lighting systems, but Ay-Ups still perform well (including on single track for me just last Monday morning). They are built to a very high standard, are well supported by the company that makes them and are as tough as nails. I'm not saying you should necessarily buy them, but don't write them off either and if they suit your budget you should include them in any comparison you want to make. FWIW.
Happy to share http://www.cutter.com.au/index.php specifically http://www.cutter.com.au/products.php?c ... 32mm+MCPCB
They do a few bike kits http://www.cutter.com.au/products.php?c ... Light+Kits but nothing yet with the Cree XM-L though they 'might' fit their MR11 housing - worth asking by email or phone - I've found them to be very very helpful.
Ours is not to reason why...merely to point and giggle
I'd agree with nearly all you say, although on the value for money front they are getting a lot of competition these days. Mine are getting a bit long in the tooth, I think they're circa 2008, so more current, efficient emitters would certainly freshen them up. I will probably send them in for an upgrade before the Mont.
My issue with them was the intense hotspot and the rest of the beam being relatively dim, with rings in the pattern, and the fact that a large share of the riders around you have you outgunned, forcing your eyes to adapt quickly to the brighter light and then face a bit of delay while they become reaccustomed to your own dimmer output again.
The narrow beam is more of an issue, though. it was a particular issue at last year's Mont 24 on the tight bermed (fast) switchbacks on Kowalski's Sideshow and Kowalski's Beer Garden sections of Kowen Forest, and a number of other sections of Kowen trails.
Around the berms, your bar light would just point off towards the other side of the valley, and the comparatively very dim spill off to the sides was not enough to give you any idea where you were heading with your front wheel using your peripheral vision. So you'd have no choice but to point your helmet light down directly in front to fill in the gap. So then you'd have no idea what was furhter around the corner because your helmet beam is so narrow.
Consequently, instead of flowing and popping through those sections using visual scanning and peripheral vision like you do during the day, it was ride by memory thanks to the tunnel vision, ride the brakes, manhandle over obstacles, keep the speed down, concentrate hard and survive. Took it from being fun and "how good was that!?" to being a cold, mentally tiring slog. I was glad my night lap was over.
Riding by yourself, though, on more open trails where the narrowness of the beam causes less issues, they'd be fine. And they are well built. Effectively 12 seasons' trouble free operation over 4 years (don't use much in summer) is pretty darn slick.
That's just for the emitters.
You then need to add ~$150 for the Cutter "engine" to drive the emitters, say $60-$160 for the machined alloy head unit casing, $5 for lens, $20 for wiring and plugs, $100+ for Lithium battery, $50-$100 for specialised charger, say $20 for battery pouch, another $20 for carry case... starts getting quite close to the RRP without factoring in freight and labour charges.
Absolutely. It just goes to show that the actual 'light' is a rather tiny part of the whole lighting equation. There's a whole world of other jewellery that make it do what it does to the best of its ability. It also demonstrates why you shouldn't buy lights based purely on the specs of the emitter - even the XM=L emitters are not the latest and greatest these days.
Ours is not to reason why...merely to point and giggle
I've noticed Magic Shine Lights now have the Cree XM-L2 with a 6000mAh battery for $125 http://www.magicshineledlights.com.au/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=211, to think I used to race at night with 20 watt handlebar and 10 watt helmet mount halogen lights, if I get one of these I'd start riding at night again. You could have one of these as a cheap back-up light http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/Models.aspx?ModelID=86383
Last time I checked, 2015 Distance: 2158km Time:97hr Rides: 77
I like very much that they have these warnings on their site: responsible vendors.
I decided to stop using my 18650 Cree torches to supplement my Ay-ups and after some hunting round decided to get a set of these, the Fandyfire X2, to try out as bar lights (teehee, Fandyfire, what a name ). They seem to be a fairly new light.
I plan to use my intermediate Ay-ups on my helmet, which is not an ideal beam, but it is hard to go past the low-profile Ay-up helmet mounting system. I wanted some bar lights that would be bright, but not so strong that the Ay-ups would be completely washed out, and these seemed to fit the bill. They are more a 'flood' than a 'spot' beam so should be OK for the bars.
The light is here: https://www.fasttech.com/products/1285802
The Fasttech listing reckons they are 2000 lumens, but a DX listing claims 1200 lumens, which seems more like it, but I'm no light geek and I don't have the gear to test it, so won't worry about it too much. The one internet thread/review I could find on them noted that we are dealing with 'Chinese lumens' here, so what they really are is anyone's guess.
They have four modes (low-med-high-strobe), and I have yet to try them on the trail or in combination with the Ay-ups, but some preliminary run time tests in my office with a fan on them might be of interest:
Run time on high: 1h, 29min, so call it 80 minutes to be safe
Run time on med: c.2h, 25min, so again call it 140 minutes to be safe
Recharge time: just over 3 hours
The weak spot with these sorts of lights, particularly at this price, seems to be the battery and I doubt there's anything impressive or durable about this one, but good quality aftermarket ones are not hard to find, so if the light works out I'll probably look for something better to replace it with. I'll have a go at some product and beam shots sometime soon.
FWIW Fasttech, a DX like store, were fine to deal with. A bit slow to ship, but otherwise good.
Not a scientific shot by any means, but from the front in my very gloomy garage, with my late 2008 intermediate beam Ay-ups on the left (with a fullish battery) and the Fandyfire X2s on the right on medium setting:
On the bike:
From the driver's side with the battery below the stem. The battery band is bit long and it's not a snug fit around the stem:
There are three battery indicator lights on the back. The top one reckons fully charged and turns off almost the moment you turn the light on. The lowest light is supposed to blink when the charge starts to get low.
Despite the battery band being looser than I would like, it's a pretty neat installation and light. I hope to do a trail test later this week.
I gave the Fandyfire X2 (bar) and Ay-up intermediate beam (helmet) combo their first try out in early the morning. I'm pretty happy with it. The intermediate Ay-ups work well as helmet lights and the X2s complement them well. The Ay-ups have a warmer colour to them, but the difference doesn't cause any problems. Running X2s on high was fine, but medium was more than sufficient for single track. The X2s are definitely a flood type beam, so despite their compactness I would not consider them a helmet light. I was the only one out and about (not surprising as it was Saturday morning, dark and below zero ) so I cannot say how they would seem with other riders and their retina burners around you.
Here's some rough comparative beam shots over a bit of single track at O'Connor Ridge, Canberra.
I do have a DSLR, but not a tripod ATM, so there was no point trying for the 'MTBR standard' and I did these with my phone camera. They images don't do the beams much justice, but the camera took all the shots on the same setting, so there is some comparative value. FWIW the settings were: ISO 640, f2.8 and 1/8 sec exp
It came with a US plug, though Euro might have been available, I don't remember. I have a US adapter at home so if there was a choice I would have gone that way. If I look at a battery upgrade I'll get an Australian charger to go with it, though. Juggling adapters etc always makes me a bit nervous, particularly with chargers of unknown provenance. I won't be leaving this one charging by itself in the garage overnight .
I'm quite happy with the light though; a good option for a bar light. It just so happens I ordered a tripod for my camera yesterday, so I'll give the beam shots another go sometime soonish.
This is what I used to get the beam shots for the MTS 2700 review:
Would be handy if you could replicate a shot at those settings (camera excepted - not expecting you to go buy an EOS 600D just to satify my curiosity! )
If they get any brighter I'm thinking I might have to drop the exposure time to 10 seconds.
Camera was positioned directly above the saddle - tripod doubled as bike stand for the shots.
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