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Tag Archive: bike lights

Bike Brightz

I just received these nifty lights as a test sample from a fairly new company called Bike Brightz.

If you visit their website, you’ll notice that they have a glow very similar to a neon light, but in fact Bike Brightz are LEDs, and they don’t cost as much as the neon light company’s products. When you order, the package comes with a few zip ties, velcro, rubber gasket/grommet, batteries and the LED unit. The LED unit has 4 modes: constant, flashing-slow, medium, fast.

Price per unit is $19.99
Available in 4 colors – Red,Green,Blue,Yellow

I mounted the blue and red lights on my bike, and you can see that it’s pretty bright and it will get you some attention and will definitely be seen by motorists.
bike brights LED bicycle lights

I installed one on the chainstay and one on the down tube.

The Bike Brightz do not get in the way at all. I’ll be testing these lights out on both off and on-road conditions to see how well they do.

FTC Disclaimer

Review: Fenix PD30 Flashlight

A couple of months ago, Michelle Lei, the marketing supervisor for Fenix Lights, sent me a courtesy sample of their new PD30 flashlight to test. While this isn’t a bike-specific headlight, it can easily be pressed into service as one.

pd30

Here’s some of the information from Fenix:

• Cree Premium (Q5) 7090 XR-E LED with lifespan of 50,000 hours
• 2 modes with 6 types of output
• General Mode: 9 lumens (65hrs) -> 70 lumens (8hrs) -> 117lumens (4hrs) -> SOS
• Turbo Mode: 220 lumens (1.5hrs) -> Strobe
• Digitally regulated output – maintains constant brightness
• Low Battery Indication
• Uses two 3V CR123A batteries (Lithium)
• 118mm (Length) x 21.5mm (Diameter)
• Made of aircraft-grade aluminum
• durable Type III hard-anodized anti-abrasive finish
• 49-gram weight (excluding batteries)
• Waterproof to IPX-8 Standard
• Toughened ultra-clear glass lens with anti-reflective coating
• Push-button tail cap switch
• Capable of standing up securely on a flat surface to serve as a candle
• Included accessories: holster, lanyard, two spare o-rings, and a rubber switch boot

The light itself is solidly-made and feels like it…quality materials and finishing. All parts are sealed with o-rings, so it is weatherproof (I tested that by being caught in a couple of late-season downpours…no problems with the light). The light is compact, so it is easy to stow away in a pocket or bag when not in use.

compact

I especially like the recessed lens — since the lens is glass, it could use some protection, and the light head has a built-in “lip” that keeps the lens away from scratches and other potential damages. The only drawback to the recessed lens is that there is ZERO side-visibility of the light. Since this light isn’t specifically marketed as a bicycle light, it’s probably no big deal, but many municipalities require front headlights on a bike to be visible from the sides as well as the front. Something to think about, in any case…

recessed lens

Let’s talk about the light modes…while there are six different settings, we’ll concern ourselves with the two settings in “turbo mode”. The first is the full-strength steady setting — a full 220 lumens (the Fenix website now shows that the lumen rating has gone up to 235). This intensity completely outpaces all but the expensive bike light systems on the market, and that light is easily enough to see clearly on dark streets. The beam itself has a fairly wide spread with a good “hotspot” in the middle for distance illumination. Here’s a shot of that pool of light (hotspot at top center of photo):

pool

I’m concerned that the wide spread of light may shine into oncoming motorists’/cyclists’ eyes — some of the more expensive bicycle lighting systems have lenses and vertical cutoffs that help eliminate that possibility, and again the Fenix really can’t be compared to them. No matter…I haven’t received any complaints from anyone yet!

Here’s another shot of the light pattern — the bicycle is about 25 feet away from the camera:
light

The other “turbo mode” setting is the flashing strobe…and this is the setting I use most often. The Fenix PD30 flashes at somewhere upwards of 120 flashes per minute (probably closer to 200), and it flashes with the full 220 lumen wallop. The flash is so bright that it will illuminate a reflective street sign from two blocks away in DAYLIGHT. I use this setting in the mornings on my way to work and it definitely gets motorists’ attentions…nobody is turning in front of me! At night, the intensity and speed of the flashing can be disorienting as it lights up everything around me in stark relief. I used the light during a recent Critical Mass ride, and one of my fellow riders said, “wow, that light is obnoxious!” It gets attention, that’s for sure.

Fenix indicated that they may develop a mounting system for this light for bicycle/sports use. Since it didn’t come with such a mount, I used a Twofish Unlimited “Lockblock” with great success. The light’s body is hexagonal, so it won’t slip in the rubber Twofish cradle. Using such a setup means that the light is quite portable and can go from bike to bike without a fuss. And, it doesn’t take up much handlebar real estate.

lockblock

My only real gripe with the PD30 is the battery situation…the light uses two CR123A batteries, and they’re not as cheap and as easy to find as AA/AAA sizes. Also, good-quality rechargeable batteries in the CR123A size can be hard to come by. Luckily, I found some great online deals on disposable batteries for this light. Battery life wasn’t an issue with the light, at least — I used the strobe setting every workday for 3 weeks (25 minutes per ride) without seeing any degradation in the strength of the light. I haven’t been able to test Fenix’s claims of other runtimes as I don’t ride so much at night anymore (no more late hours at the library!!).

Overall, I like the light — it does what I need it to do and it provides enough light to handle fast rides on dark streets. I don’t recommend the turbo-mode strobe setting at night, though — there’s another lower-intensity flashing setting built into the light that is a bit more friendly on the eyes.

The Fenix PD30 retails for around $60.00 USD…that’s a pretty good deal for a strong, well-made light that would be a valuable addition to the nighttime commuter’s arsenal. Check out Fenix’s full line of lights for every possible need by visiting their website.

BikeGlow Bicycle Lighting — Review

A few weeks ago, Chris Cobb of BikeGlow sent us a sample of their bicycle safety lighting to test. I’ve had a chance to install it, play with it and ride several nights with it.

bike glow

Powered by two AA batteries, this light kit is comprised of a ten-foot length of EL wire and quick-disconnect battery pack. The light functions in both steady and flashing modes. Included in the kit is a full roll of electrical tape. No mounting brackets are included…the electrical tape is meant to both seal the battery pack and to mount the light tube and battery pack to the bicycle. At very first, I was a bit taken aback by this mounting method, but quickly realized that it makes the light incredibly versatile…no brackets and a full roll of tape means that I can swap the BikeGlow from bike to bike as the mood strikes me!

I had some concerns about water resistance of the kit (I have an uncanny knack for getting caught in the rain), and asked Chris for his input:

One of the beauties of the tape, besides the ease of use and flexibility, is that you can literally wrap the whole battery unit and connector wire in tape. It then becomes completely weather resistant. The light [tube] itself is waterproof.

I haven’t tested the waterproofness of the light yet, but at some point I KNOW it’ll get soaked. I’ll report back if I have any problems with it.

Mounting is simple — simply wind the light tube around the bicycle’s frame, affixing it at a couple points with a strip of tape. Pick a place for the battery pack (the pack comes with a belt clip, too), tape it into place and plug the light tube into the pack. Done!

The flashing mode is more of a pulsing effect — and it catches the eye with a mesmerizing glow. The beauty of EL wire is that it can be used to outline pretty much any part of the bike you want…you could even use the BikeGlow tube to accent your body, your backpack, your panniers or whatever your heart desires. It is incredibly flexible stuff.

The light itself isn’t particularly bright — it doesn’t need eye-searing capabilities like rear blinkies or a headlight. However, it is amply bright enough to help motorists distinguish you as a bicycle in those crucial side-vision encounters nighttime cyclists face, where blinkies and headlights don’t offer much in the way of side visibility.

in action

BikeGlow comes in eight colors: aqua, blue, green, pink, purple, red, white and yellow, giving the color-coordinating cyclists among us the perfect color to accent our bikes. And, for the price of $24.95 for the kit, that’s a pretty good deal for adding some visibility to your night rides. I have been unable to test the battery life beyond running the light for about 8 30-minute nighttime commutes, but BikeGlow estimates that a pair of AA batteries will last 120 hours. Not bad at all!

For more information or to order your very own BikeGlow lighting system, please visit the BikeGlow website.