27 September 2011 - 10:20Turn on the Lights!
Yup, it’s that time of year. Darkness comes quickly, and not everybody has the time or capacity for a daytime ride. This is where owning a set of lights can be a real benefit.
In 2007, I purchased a Niterider Fire Storm, which had a decent burn time and a ton of light. In fact, the light still works well but it is heavy, and the HID bulb burns with a blue light that washes the trail clean of any shadows, making everything look flat. Not too bad, unless you happen to be hurteling down a hurgy gurgly rooty descent, where misjudging the terrain can mean trouble.
Light technology has changed a lot in the last few years. Lights have gotten lighter, batteries have gotten smaller and most importantly, less expensive. LEDs have all but replaced incandescent bulbs, and the brightness that these little bulbs can produce is getting better. Best of all, these lights are getting cheaper.
I just picked up a new light system, the PowerLED EVO from SIGMA, rated at 900 lumens. I have no idea what a lumen actually means, but it is a unit of measure pertaining to the brightness of a light. 900 seemed like a good number, it was more than some of the other lights available to me at tha price, but not too far away from the much more expensive 12-1900 lumen lights. This light system retails for $250, weighs less than a pound, and can be mounted on a helmet without being too cumbersome.
On Sunday night I got a chance to see how the LEDs stacked up against my old turbo bright HID, and was pleasantly surprised to see that they did a fine job of illuminating the trail. The light quality is whiter, and it didn’t seem to eliminate every shadow, meaning I still had some depth perception. This was on the low setting too. The SIGMA has 4 settings, low/med/high and flashing, and I found that even on low, there was ample light for my needs. Burn times are rated at 5.5/2.5/1.5, which I find to be pretty satisfactory for a light that works so well on the low setting. I have yet to go on a social ride that lasted any longer than 2 hours, and let’s face it, night time is also time for beer drinking and football watching.
Now, if you were going to a 24hr race, you would probably want to get a more expensive system, but for an average Joe, this light gets the job done for post work weeknight rides without breaking the bank. I’m going to be trying out a few more lights this season, with the cap at $250. I feel that that is the absolute most anyone should pay for a system that might only get 5 or 6 rides a year. I’ll report back with my findings, or, see for yourself at the ongoing Thursday Night shop rides.
Meet at 6!