Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Lumotec Fly review

I went out for my first good ride with the new Lumotec Fly headlight and the SON dynamo hub. I should preface this review by stating that my night vision is really pretty poor. I say that because I was a little disappointed in the light output and I think someone with better night vision would be more impressed than I was.

Before it got truly dark the light wasn't much help. It got better as it got darker but I still found myself unable to differentiate between the asphalt path and the grass on either side. It would probably help if the grass were green instead of brown right now, but anyhow. Things got a lot better once I got to the section of the path with a yellow line down the middle. Then I had no trouble keeping it on the path. Aside from that though I came dangerously close to riding into the canal and I even missed a familiar turn because I couldn't see it.

About the light unit itself - It's really just a typical plastic light. It's made in Germany but if I didn't know better I would guess that it had been made in China. I say that with great regret because I love German stuff. Being of Dutch and German heritage I always go for the German product, if there is one. Maybe it was made in Germany using Chinese equipment, I don't know. But it's lightweight and it seems sturdy enough so I guess I can't really complain about the construction quality.

I was surprised to see that it didn't come with any kind of paperwork. There is some information on the outside of the package, but no instructions of any kind. I guess it's more or less straight-forward, but it's not entirely clear what the four connections on the back are for. Which reminds me that I was less than thrilled to see that the main hook-up wires are attached inside the unit. That will make it more difficult if they need to be replaced.

The beam pattern is a little unusual. I was prepared for it to be less focused than that of an E6, but it takes on kind of an eagle type shape. It's difficult to describe and I haven't tried to photograph it yet. I think it's fine though. I was a little put off by the stray light that made its way to the ground directly below the bike and up into the trees, but then I realized that the light that's leaking on the sides probably makes me a little more visible in traffic. I guess that can't be bad.

The standlight seems very useful. It's bright enough that I would feel pretty confident that drivers would see me from across an intersection. Another nice thing about the standlight is that it's separate from the halogen unit. You can remove the halogen unit to replace the bulb and the standlight will provide a little bit of light so you can see what you are doing. There's some of that German goodness.

All in all I guess it will do the job. I'm happy knowing that I have parts on order to build a couple of Cree headlights though. I'm expecting them to be noticeably brighter. I think I should experiment with mounting the light on the fork too. Having the light on the frame didn't bother me when I was using a 20 watt halogen, but with this light there isn't enough light on the sides to help me see when I'm turning.

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