Thursday, November 7, 2013

Hara/The Center

Okay, first things first. Go out to this site and watch the Rosetta videos. These guys blow my mind in so many ways. First off, they all are like regular guys. The singer is an AP Psych teacher in a Philly HS. The Guitarist builds custom amplification modules and repairs electronics. The bassist is a Judo instructor. And the drummer. Well. He's a drummer, so he works at a coffee shop and runs a really awesome podcast, which you should also check out provided you are not easily offended by cussing. Just a bunch of real guys doing awesome things. Love it.

Winter. In Alaska. Time of eternal darkness. Or so it seems, anyway. As a bike commuter, when the time changes each fall, I have to seriously consider my lighting options. In one day I go from needing lights only on one portion of the commute to needing them for both commutes. Further, the closer we get to the solstice, the more likely it is that I will need lights during the course of the day as well.

Say I need to run to my other office at 10:30 in the morning? Yup, I'll need lights. Want to leave a touch early and go to REI on the way home, at 3? Lights.

In the past I've repurposed other lights for my need - cheap flashlights and general camping headlamps. They work, but the challenge I've always faced is keeping them in batteries. That and the lights not being quite bright enough.

Last winter I used a combination of a Princeton Tec Apex headlamp strapped to my helmet and an LED flashlight hose clamped to an old bike light mount. The problem that I kept running into so far this fall was that my batteries in one of the lights would inevitably die mid ride. Of course, I don't want to charge batteries every night, but only when they are dead because they have a set number of charges in them before they go poof. Also, who wants to carry an extra set of batteries or a charge with to work every day? Not I.

Couple this with the greater level of darkness in the Valley and I realized that I might need a better light solution. After some research, I ended up deciding on a middle of the road light - not too bright, but bright enough - the Cygo Lite Expillion 680. 

I've only gotten two rides in with the new light, but I thought I'd share first impressions.

The light appears bright enough for my needs and has a ton of options for output, from 680 lumens to SOS flash. What I like about the light is that it throws a nice white light with a wide enough beam that the periphery is viewable. I'm still using the helmet mounted Apex because I want to be able to have a beam of light wherever I point my eyes and the 680 does not come with a helmet mount. Though I don't know that I would use it even if it did.

There are some things I don't like about the light, though. Overall the build quality seems solid on the light itself. However, the handlebar mount - not so much. It rotates left and right, as if the screw holding the pieces of the mount together was lose. I tried to tighten it and it was not lose at all. I would say this is meant as a feature, but the rotation is not to the same degree each way. The second big issue I have with the mount is that the light itself doesn't seem to click in as securely as it should. On the road it doesn't seem to rattle much, but I'm afraid that when I start riding trails in the dark (Saturday anyone?) that it will wobble and make the light not as functional as I'd like. Another issue for me is the rubber cover for the USB port - try as I might, I can't seem to get the damned thing to close and stay closed. Slight issue there with the amount of rain we get here most times. I need something that is going to remain water tight.

We'll see how it goes. I like the quality of the light, but there are some quirks.

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