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  1. #1
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    Finally made a decision - PT Switchback 3 on closeout at Colorado Cyclist

    I have been looking at lights for about a year. The Fenix flashlights were an interesting option. I saw a thread on Roadbikereview.com that a guy was using a Black Diamond Icon and also recommended the Princeton Tec Apex headband. He was supplementing his Light and Motion Vega which I also have.

    I was still trying to decide between the Princeton Tec Apex or to with a cycling specific. Cateye Tripleshot or Light and Motion Solo MV - Li-ion were heavily discounted at Nashbar and there was also an additional 20% coupon that would have brought these lights into the $165 to $180 range delivered.

    But for some reason I kept looking. I found the Princeton Tec Switchback 3 on closeout at Colorado Cyclist for $219.99. They also have the Switchback 1 for $119.99. The thread today compared the Fenix to the Switchback 3 and it appeared the Fenix is close to the Switchback but I think I will like the superiority and convenience of the Switchback. It is scheduled to arrive on Wednesday. I will test it and give my humble opinion sometime next week.
    What is better than getting your heart rate up and saddle time?

  2. #2
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    I received my PT SW3 in good order and had a chance to use it last night. I am pleased with everything about this light except the on/off button. It is taking me many tries to get it to turn on, switch between the levels, and turn off. Hopefully I will get the feel of it with more use, but I am anticipating it is going to be a problem trying to use it with gloves on this winter.

    On high it puts out plenty of light for unlit country roads. It is supposed to run for 5 hours on high. I used it for 1.5 hours last night, mostly on high. When I put it on the charger it was still indicating at least an 80% charge. Medium is plenty bright enough for riding in groups or riding alone in conjunction with a bar light. I do not ride off-road so I cannot comment on this.

    You can go to the website and see everything that is included. It pretty much comes with everything. An allen wrench was not included to adjust the helmet mount. This is not a problem since any well-equipped rider will have one, but as comprehensive as this package is I am surprised they did not throw one in.

    At $214.99 on closeout at Colorado Cyclist, IMHO there is not a better deal to be had right now. And I have researched a lot of lights.
    What is better than getting your heart rate up and saddle time?

  3. #3
    The Fenix Shillboy varuscelli's Avatar
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    Wow, that looks like quite a buy. Sounds like you did well!

    If you can, you ought to post a photo of it on your bike. (I'd like to see it as mounted on your bike, in any case.) And if you can get someone else to take the photo, maybe you can squeeze yourself into the shot as well.

  4. #4
    Hanging On
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    I did the same thing and ordered a PT SB3. I have not had the trouble you have with your switch, but that may be a function of finger size or something like that. I squeeze mine with my fingers on the bottom and my thumb tip on the button. I've used it once already and it throws out a lot of light but is is somewhat focused. I think I will try using the helmet mount so that I can see more parts of the road. I am quite pleased with my purchase.

    -soma5

  5. #5
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    Any chance of beamshots? I strongly considered these lights but when I got the deal I did
    on my HID system I sprung for that, about $20 cheaper.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by aliensporebomb View Post
    Any chance of beamshots? I strongly considered these lights but when I got the deal I did
    on my HID system I sprung for that, about $20 cheaper.
    http://www.gearreview.com/images/led...m/PT%20SB3.jpg

    There are beam shots of the PT3 & PT2 in this light review along with a lot of other lights.

    The BR and Exposure light brands are interesting but a lot more money than I want to spend right now, especially since I already had the Light and Motion Vega for my bars.
    What is better than getting your heart rate up and saddle time?

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by varuscelli View Post
    Wow, that looks like quite a buy. Sounds like you did well!

    If you can, you ought to post a photo of it on your bike. (I'd like to see it as mounted on your bike, in any case.) And if you can get someone else to take the photo, maybe you can squeeze yourself into the shot as well.
    All I have is a Fuji Finepix A330 digital camera. If it is possible to take a good beam shot with it and you can give me instructions then I could try tomorrow evening possible.
    What is better than getting your heart rate up and saddle time?

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by soma5 View Post
    I did the same thing and ordered a PT SB3. I have not had the trouble you have with your switch, but that may be a function of finger size or something like that. I squeeze mine with my fingers on the bottom and my thumb tip on the button. I've used it once already and it throws out a lot of light but is is somewhat focused. I think I will try using the helmet mount so that I can see more parts of the road. I am quite pleased with my purchase.

    -soma5

    The difficulty I was referring to is with it mounted on the helmet. It took many attempts to get it to change every time I tried. I only tested it for a few minutes on the bars but I also had difficulty with the switch while it was on the bars. I will try working with it some more and give a further update. But I agree, the gear review said it put out the most light for the money and that was referencing the full retail price. I think this is a gem at the closeout and a diamond in the rough yet to be discovered otherwise. It may not happen though since Princeton Tec has not developed a retail bicycle distribution network yet and it may be difficult to do.
    What is better than getting your heart rate up and saddle time?

  9. #9
    The Fenix Shillboy varuscelli's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dekindy View Post
    All I have is a Fuji Finepix A330 digital camera. If it is possible to take a good beam shot with it and you can give me instructions then I could try tomorrow evening possible.
    Beam shots are a pain in the booty (with final results often of questionable visual accuracy in photos). But if done, best results will be with a tripod and camera set in manual mode so that you can set a relatively slow shutter speed (neighborhood of one second exposure time, depending on the method).

    I just wanted to see how cool the light made the bike look (even if broad daylight).

    But if you DO some beam shots, I will force myself to look at them anyway. In fact, will not be able to help myself.

  10. #10
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    Arrrhghghghghgh ... I bought the PT SB 2 for $250 a month ago

    That's a wicked deal and these are very nice lights. Oh, and I've never had a problem with the switch, so you might want to talk to Colorado Cyclist.
    2008 Kona Dr. Dew
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by dekindy View Post
    The difficulty I was referring to is with it mounted on the helmet. It took many attempts to get it to change every time I tried. I only tested it for a few minutes on the bars but I also had difficulty with the switch while it was on the bars. I will try working with it some more and give a further update. But I agree, the gear review said it put out the most light for the money and that was referencing the full retail price. I think this is a gem at the closeout and a diamond in the rough yet to be discovered otherwise. It may not happen though since Princeton Tec has not developed a retail bicycle distribution network yet and it may be difficult to do.
    Switch works flawlessly now. I really like this light.
    What is better than getting your heart rate up and saddle time?

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by dekindy View Post
    Switch works flawlessly now. I really like this light.
    I had to send mine back for warranty today. The light returned to it's old ways and would not turn on and switch modes like it should. I tried pressing the switch lots of ways and could not get it to work consistently. Sometimes I could turn it on and switch between modes with a flick of the switch. Other times it did not matter how I pressed the switch it would not come on or switch modes unless I tried lots of times, as in my fingers got sore.

    I had it fully charged and spent about 30-40 minutes working with the switch trying to discover the magic touch. At the end of the session I noticed the battery indicator was red, meaning it had less than 25% capacity left. It had worked on full for my 2.5 ride the evening before. So now I know there is something major wrong. I had e-mailed Princeton Tec 15-20 minutes earlier about my difficulties but decided to call them. Robert said that he was reading my e-mail. This was about 4:00 this afternoon. He gave me a return authorization and the battery and head are on their way to the service dept. He said they could turn it around in a day or two so hopefully I will only miss using it a couple of rides next week. They responded to another forum member's problem quickly so I have every confidence I will have my light back soon.
    What is better than getting your heart rate up and saddle time?

  13. #13
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    E-mail from PT indicates the switch was defective. They received it late Monday afternoon and said it should be shipped out to me today. I don't know how fast I will get it. But I am certainly anxious to get it back because I do like the light and look forward to it working properly.
    What is better than getting your heart rate up and saddle time?

  14. #14
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    I'm hoping you get good customer service. I have not needed it, but it would be nice to know that the company is responsive.

    I've gone to a dual system with mine. I have my PT SB3 on my handlebar and I mounted a 1W Luxeon flashlight to my helmet for directional vision. I'm really tickled about this solution. The 1W flashlight beam disappears if I point it in the same direction as my SB3 but I get the benefit if I turn my head from side to side. I'm thinking of getting a brighter rear flasher to complement the little cheapie I've got now.

    The only thing I don't like about the SB3 is the spread of the beam. It is quite focused and I think if it spread more I would not even need the flashlight on my helmet. Of course, there are the style points that come with the "coal miner" look... My son tells me that he can't believe I'd go around looking like that. I tell him that at my age there is no such thing as peer pressure.

    -soma5

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by dekindy View Post
    E-mail from PT indicates the switch was defective. They received it late Monday afternoon and said it should be shipped out to me today. I don't know how fast I will get it. But I am certainly anxious to get it back because I do like the light and look forward to it working properly.
    They sent me a whole new box that arrived today. I was expecting my light head repaired and returned with the battery pack they also asked me to send in. That is good service but now I have duplicate everything except the head unit and battery pack. I guess I don't have to worry about spare parts!
    What is better than getting your heart rate up and saddle time?

  16. #16
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    The battery pack frame mount strap in the new box ripped near the buckle. I am beginning to wonder if I am going to need 2 of everything. Hopefully this is the end of my problems. The new battery and charger seemed to work okay and the new head unit's switch works flawlessly. I guess I will know after tonight's ride.

    This is the first time mounting the light on the bars and the battery on the frame. I hope this works because I think I will like the combination of the Princeton Tec on the bar and the Fenix L2D CE Premium Q5 & Bikeblock on the helmet the best.

    Next I will have to figure out whether to keep my Light and Motion Vega in case I can get my wife riding or sell the thing to a friend. The Vega is bar only and worked well with the PT SW3 on my helmet. Maybe I will just mount them both on the bar and have double redundancy. If I do that, will I have to find a place for a third tail light?

    Do you think the 4 Knog Frog's on my bike and the 1 on my helmet are overkill?

    They don't now call me "Dwight the Light" for nothing! I am glad that I am improving my visibility though, because the Light and Motion Vega bar only light last year was just not cutting it.
    What is better than getting your heart rate up and saddle time?

  17. #17
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    The unit worked flawlessly on a 2hr+ ride last night. I mounted it on the bar and used my Fenix L2D CE Premium Q5 on the helmet. Great combination and light output.

    If I had found the Fenix flashlight option I would probably not purchased the PT SW3. The Fenix supplementing my Light & Motion Vega would have been adequate. But I have more light with the PT SW3, which we all agree is good, and hours of run time. So I am not complaining.
    What is better than getting your heart rate up and saddle time?

  18. #18
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    I wonder if some of the Switchbacks have a design problem with the switch. I have two Switchback 2's. Purchased one from LBS for full price. It came with a bar code label on the box and instructional CD. Purchased second one from Colorado Cyclist at discounted price last August. It had no bar code label on the box and no instructions on CD or printed. The switch on the unit purchased from Colorado Cyclist failed yesterday after a day or two of pressing it in just the right place and direction to get it to work. The battery level indicators are very flaky. Princeton Tec told me to completely discharge the battery and then charge for at least 12 hours to reset the circuitry. This works for 1 or 2 discharge cycles but then reverts to its old ways. The charge level indicator always indicates lower when attached to the light than the charger. It will be red (<25%) with the light on, but blinking or solid green when placed on the charger. I like the design and output of the system, but am not satisfied with the quality of the products or instructional materials.

  19. #19
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    I have not heard of any other switch problems except yours and mine. But it appears that the batch CC had may have had switch problems. This could be the reason they are closing them out or it could be they just did not sell. 2 is not a large enough sample to tell. But it does make you wonder.

    The charge level indicators work like that on all batteries, not just Princeton Tec. They all become unreliable after several partial discharge/recharge cycles. With the long battery run time it is not much of an issue unless you are riding a lot of short rides consecutively that vary in time. But since Li-ion likes being recharged, just recharge when in doubt.
    http://batteryuniversity.com/partone-18.htm

    BTW, my first unit that had switch failure was packaged like the one from your LBS. The warranty replacement unit that I received directly from Princeton Tec had no CD, but had written instructions and bar coding.
    What is better than getting your heart rate up and saddle time?

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