SO WHAT MAKES THIS BETTER THAN THE ZILLION OTHER BIKE LIGHTS OUT THERE?
Short answer? Actual optical engineering to develop a real beam pattern instead of a typical flashlight spot optic. Not easy to do! Combined with solid engineering to support the rest of the light.
Long answer? When we started this journey we noticed that every bike light out there was essentially a high powered flashlight. They all featured typical off-the-shelf bowl reflectors or TIR (total internal reflection) optics that can be purchased out of a catalog and dropped into a housing. This ranged from the cheap $10 lights on Amazon all the way up to setups costing nearly $1000! What these optics do is create a circular beam pattern, which is great for a flashlight, but not so great for a bike!
So what approach did we take? Well take a look at your car, these are headlights much like your bike light, however you’ll never see a car headlight with a beam pattern like you find on bikes. Why? Because they need to effectively use the lumens they are provided as well as meet regulations and a host of other things, however those regulations were born out of decades of research on what makes a good headlight. Things such as a foreground that isn’t too bright, a cutoff line as to not blind oncoming traffic, and a smooth gradual falloff of light that when projected on the road looks like a continuous wall of illumination, which makes your eye adapt to night driving (or riding) much easier.
So using advanced optical software, we set out to use the knowledge we have in designing automotive headlight solutions, and apply it to bike lights. We developed both the road reflector and trail reflector, each with different goals.
TRAIL REFLECTOR DESIGN:
This is focused on homogeneity and width. What do we mean by that? We mean that we sacrifice high intensity illumination and bright hotspots to have a beam pattern that fills your binocular vision with an even field of light. When you put this light side-by-side with a high power spot optic it may seem like you can see further with the high power spot, and you will! However you will only see further if you are standing still…. Which is something I don’t think many of us do on the trail! You move around, your bike moves around, your handlebar moves around, your head moves around, everything is constantly moving!
So that really bright spot light that lets you see a quarter of a mile away is constantly moving and lighting up things that are 5’ in front of you, really brightly, and then immediately lighting up something 150’ away from you, not so brightly. This constant shift from high intensity brightness to far field illumination wrecks havoc on your night vision and actually decreases your brains ability to take in more light, because like a camera the “exposure” is constantly being recalibrated. Not to mention that when you have a narrow beam of light, you lose your depth perception because your eye can’t take in enough information about your surroundings (because it’s not illuminated), which makes for some sketchy riding!
How does the trail reflector differ? Well like we mentioned, we focused on width and no hotspots. So that means when you turn it on, it may not “seem” like a mega super bright light, however once you start riding and actually using the light as intended you’ll never want to go back to a spot light again. The feeling is an interesting one if you have never ridden with a wide field of vision light like this. You feel far more comfortable riding because your eye can take in so much more information. Pictures only tell half the story because a lot of low-level illumination is designed to be thrown past 180* thanks to the silicone optic, so light that doesn’t register on camera, registers in your eyes and really do feel like you have total illumination around you. Video is even worse unless we get our hands on some cinematic camera that can shoot in low light. J We really encourage you to try this light out in person, as soon as you do, you won’t want to go back!
ROAD REFLECTOR DESIGN:
We know that you are a courteous rider, you don’t like blinding oncoming riders or pedestrians (okay maybe the occasional car seems okay to glare), but you still want to safely ride at a good pace and beat everyone to the bar for taco night. That is why the road reflector was based off the same principles as a car. All vehicles are designed with a cutoff line which means very little light goes above the horizontal, but that below it is a very high intensity light. Next time you go outside to your car, turn on the headlights and notice how if you stand in front of it you can look at the car without getting blinded. Then lower your head below the horizontal and the light will literally be painful enough that you can’t even look at it….. and if you can…. Well better upgrade your car lights!
This high intensity light is a result of compressing the light that normally would be scattered above the cutoff and instead redirecting it downwards. This means there is a very bright field of illumination that helps overcome the ambient light typically found during road riding, things such as street lights, other cars, buildings and more. Some lights advertise as having a cutoff, but all they’ve done is put a small shield on the optic that blocks the light, meaning half those lumens are wasted and your battery is discharging power for no reason. With the engineered reflector, the efficiency of the optic is over 94%, meaning that nearly all the light coming from the Lumiled Altilon chip is going on the road or in some useful direction.
THAT’S GOOD TO KNOW, BUT WHY IS THIS STILL SO MUCH MORE EXPENSIVE THAN MY $10 AMAZON LIGHT?
Short Answer? We didn’t cheap out on the electronics, you know, the important stuff! This means you have one heck of a durable and long-lasting light.
Long Answer? Fair question! The first reason is that we did not cheap out on the electronic components at all. The electronics themselves make up 2/3 of the cost of the light! The chip is an automotive grade Lumiled Alitilon which is commonly found in many high end headlights such as Mercedes Benz, the new Jeep Wrangler, McLaren, and most recently the new LED headlights on the highest trim levels of the Dodge Rams. You will never find a CREE LED chip in an automotive headlight because they do not meet the strict qualifications for life, longevity, color, real output, and source size. CREE chips are often used because they are cheap and readily available in overseas markets.
Our processor, regulators, PCB boards, and other components are chosen not for cost, but for reliability and hitting design targets. The driver is incredibly efficient, one of the best out there, and it shows with the excellent battery life and extremely stable output. Because of the higher voltage LED chip, we had to employ a boost driver circuit which means the voltage is boosted up from 7.4V from the battery to an operating voltage of 12-13V. Most CREE chips operate at 3.0V or lower, which means that driver circuits have to “buck down” the voltage, bleeding off energy in the form of heat in order to step the voltage down to a usable level. This results in much shorter battery life, increased case temperature and reduced reliability.
The other higher expense is our unique silicone lens. It is a flexible lens which not only shapes light in unique ways but also takes impacts without any issues. You can crash this bike on pavement, into a tree, straight off a cliff, and the lens will just bounce back. It is a new material that is seeing some use in the automotive space, and we thought it was a great place to try it in the bike market! When you pick up your light, be sure to give that lens a squeeze.
Lastly, the tooling cost of the magnesium housing and the precision reflector is far higher than a typical bike light that is put into an extruded aluminum housing. The magnesium is yet another new material introduced to bike lights. The thermal properties are as good as aluminum when proper thermal design techniques are applied such as the deep fins, the proper orientation to airflow, and more. The great thing is that it is half the weight of aluminum, and we can run with a thinner die cast wall. This means the lighthead is one of the bigger ones on the market so we could cram as big of a reflector in there as we could, but the weight is surprisingly light.
OKAY, IS IT EASY TO INSTALL?
Short Answer: Yes.
Long Answer: Couldn’t be easier if we tried. We had lots of experience with every kind of mounting system. The complex hard mounts, the gummy rubbery o-rings, the clip on ones that eject a light the first time you do a front flip over the bars and send the light into a creek making you walk back to the trailhead with your phone light…. Okay so maybe the last one is a little bit personal, but we did try out every mount out there and settled on something dead simple. A big fat silicone strap with a honkin’ huge hook to grab. It is grippy, it takes seconds to install, it handles the toughest downhill jack hammering, it’s easy to adjust on the fly, and it comes off in seconds.
The battery pack is the same way. No hard packs with slippery Velcro straps, no tiny little straps that are impossible to thread with your gloves on, no canvas pouch that also slides up and down your bar…. Just a well designed neoprene covered pouch with a huge stretchy strap that again, installs in seconds, stays on your bike in any position, and can take any kind of abuse. It is a beautifully designed and really cool piece that we believe will really stand out for you. Also has the added benefit of acting as an insulator for the battery on those cold rides!
I’M RUNNING OUT OF QUESTIONS! WHAT ELSE IS NEAT ABOUT IT?
Short Answer: It is one of the best cohesively designed lights, that’ll last you for a very, very long time.
Long Answer: Lots of other small features were built into this light. Things that you might not even notice right away!
- The bar mount has an integrated air scoop to force air up and into the back of the housing, further improving thermal efficiency.
- The status lights give you an easy to read indicator of what light level you are on, and your battery life. No cycling through the modes trying to figure out of that last click was “really” high mode, or if there was one more setting to go.
- The bar mount is easily changed to an included GoPro adapter with a small 4mm hex.
- The battery is a high quality LG unit with a built in protection circuit.
- Each light comes with an awesome carrying case.
- The fins and overall design was optimized using thermal simulations.
- It took us five tries to get the reflector just right.
- It is IP65 rated (and real IP65 rated, none of this fake IP69 stuff that is on every Amazon listing).
- The electronics are conformal coated for further water protection, something no other bike light does.
- We stand behind the quality engineering with a 3 year no-questions-asked warranty. After those 3-years we might ask some questions.
I THINK I STILL HAVE SOME MORE QUESTIONS?