Monday, May 05, 2008

Lighting up the night

I've used a dynohub for about four years, a Shimano at first before graduating to the lovely and super-efficient Son a couple of months ago. Teamed with the Schmidt E6 headlight they're a great choice for commuting after dark or for audax night riding.

I ride a fair bit at night, on some pretty dark roads during winter commutes and I love dynohubs. There's no need to remember batteries so you're very unlikely to be left stranded without lights and the beam from the headlight lights up a whole lot of road. The only disadvantage is the need to change bulbs every hundred hours or so.

For some reason among people who ride at night, lighting is a topic which obsesses. Everyone is keen to find that solution of perfect reliability, light weight and sun-like illumination with no blind spots, with which to light their noctournal pedallings. The advent of cheap LED lights has meant that in recent years the lighting arms race has tipped in favour of lights like the Ayup battery-powered models or similar. Those who have come to love their dynohubs have been waiting patiently.

The news is good. There are two superb new lights on the market. The Supernova E3 is so bright it's illegal in Germany. So too is the very sexy little taillight. Imagine that. Illegal in Germany. It must melt oncoming cars. People who have used it say it lights up the night. I must have one. But then, the Edelux light is also about to be released. For about the same price it's a toss up, especially when the carefully worded marketing blurbs don't allow easy direct comparison. I suspect they're both fairly similar 3-watt LED setups, but as the E6 has demonstrated, the optics in these lights can make a stunning difference for the same amount of light. As they say over at the Research Trailer Park, it's a good problem to have.

At the moment, the choice is academic. At several hundred bucks each, I'll be using the E6 for a while to come yet, reading the breathless reviews from lucky owners as they light up the byways of the night.

4 comments:

Peter said...

G'day Dave,

I'd be interested to see where you come down on the light usability question. As you know, I'm a keen AY-UP user but my overall experience is that it takes a fair bit more light from an LED to give the same amount of useful road/track navigational information I get from the warmer light of a halogen.

All this makes the comment at Research Trailer Park about the Edelux interesting. "Three times the total light output and a beam twice as wide as the E6." My maths is a bit rusty but... The area of a beam (lets assume it's close to a circle) is Pi * r squared. If the radius of the circle list by your E6 is 1 then the radius of a beam twice as wide will be 2. 3.14(etc)*1 squared = 9.87ish. 3.14 *2 squared = 39.48ish. 4 times the area being lit by 3 times the total light output. Light which I believe is generally regarded as not as useful for lighting the path ahead as the warm light from your E6.

I await the reality with baited breath and I wouldn't be shelling out the duckets yet....

PS. I prefer the light from your E6 but opt for the ease of use and simplicity of my AYUP's at this point....

Surly Dave said...

Yeah, I'm with you. There's some outlandish claims being made at the moment, but all the same it seems there's some good kit out there.

I like the E6, but after seeing your Ayups I reckon the best setup is a generator light for most purposes, but a narrow beam helmet-mounted Ayup for picking out detail on the long fast downhills on my commute and for spotlighting drivers to make sure they see you.

For now I'll be holding onto my dollars, but even compared to a few years ago, we've got such a stunning choice for lights.

Hope you're well. Today was my first day back on the bike after the Oppy. Lazy bugger I am.

Snakebite said...

Thanks for providing the lighting information.

Mike Dayton said...

Morning, Dave. Nice post. I've been enjoying my E3, but I plan to get the edelux when it comes out for a side-by-side test. I'll keep you posted.

Keep the good stuff coming.

Mike / Raleigh