Years ago I gave up buying cheap stuff and trying to believe it was as good as the best on the market. Based on my own experience and that of my friends, it either broke, or didn't perform as advertised.
Electronic items in particular have always been an issue for me simply because new releases are ridiculously expensive for what you get and support and parts seem to disappear long before I'm actually tired of the item.
So after talking to some of the suppliers at this year's ExpoCycle about lighting systems and looking over this year's offerings, I really felt I was looking at the same situation all over again.
Wrote to someone that seemed to be promoting a new product only to find out that on spite of all the apparent publicity - there wasn't actually a single item to ship. Not one. The guys at AyUp have about 500 units ready to go and I actually really like their system and service, but this was an opportunity to look at something entirely different.
So wrote the guys at Vision X who put me in touch with Twisted Throttle who sent me a set of lights that originally caught my attention a few years back.
Long story short - a pair of industrial grade 2x2 LEDs are already wired up and installed on a bike for testing. Power is sourced from a third party LiFePO4 paired battery pack that fits nicely in a water bottle and gives a projected run time of about 10 hours for the two lights.
Mounting them was a PITA because I wanted something that could be swapped between bikes in less than 60 seconds and the provided mounts were intended to be permanently installed. So I junked their mounting hardware and came up with an alternative that does the job nicely.
A series of interchangeable lenses varies the light throw from 10 degrees to 15 degrees to 35 degrees. Despite their small size, the light on the ground is whiter and gives better visibility than any car I've compared to in the street in a 3 hr period
These people don't make a bicycle helmet mount but I'm pretty sure I can have something put together within a few days.
Yeah - rather than trying to see how cheap I can get something, I do have a tendency to throw money at a project to achieve results. I also have a pretty good reputation for getting results.
What I'm personally looking for out of this isn't one light that does everything, but rather a mix of components that can be used separately or together depending on the conditions and end use - on or off road. Which means it should be nice to oncoming traffic but be capable of serious coverage off-road which is really where my interest is.
So far results aren't so outrageous that I expect to get stopped by the police, but impressive enough that I'm going to settle on and work with this set-up for at least the next few years. Weight? Like every other battery powered system out there - the battery weighs more than the light. From a practical point of view, I don't even know its there. What I'm personally more interested in is that these are specced for use on yachts so will handle any weather conditions - so I'll be checking that out by driving them in the winter.
So far I'm out about $400 between the battery and a pair of lights and ahead by about 1,600 lumens. Probably closer to 2,400 lumens once I get a helmet mount together. But useful lumens. They seem to be able to be directed where they'll actually be useful to me, without being a nuisance to traffic.
Have a camera mounted on the bike for still shots and video and will look into posting something in the next week or so.