Dawn - Sometimes An Ultrarunner

Dawn - Sometimes An Ultrarunner

November 23, 2011

Night Biking and Lighting Test

Finally got to try out my new lights for nighttime adventure racing.  The last couple of weeks it's been very foggy and quite dangerous for biking at all, much less at night.   Luckily, last night was perfectly clear with great visibility.   Even the stars were out!  And the wind was almost nil.

The mountain bike is in the shop for some repairs, so the test became a true road ride.  I tried to select quiet roads that wouldn't have much traffic on them, as pitch blackness and high speed vehicles, even with headlights, don't make a good combination with bicycles.   My time-trial road bike wasn't great for a light test either, with the aerobars in front, but I made it work!

I had two new lights to test, the Inova T2 and the  SSC-P7 LED Bike Light.  Both of these lights have regulated outputs, so the light will continue to have constant brightness until the batteries go completely dead (or close to, anyway).  I also used a an old headlamp mounted to my helmet for seeing the sides of the road, digging in my pack, etc.  At about $50 each, these lights are MUCH cheaper than some lighting options, which is how I ended up with a couple to experiment with, at that price I can afford to have a backup!

Photo courtesy of Spyder Tactical Supply

The Inova T2 looks like a heavy-duty flashlight, but yet weighs just over 4 ounces.  It runs on CR123 Batteries, which are small and cheap (when purchased wholesale).  With 155 Lumen output on high, it was quite bright, more than enough for road riding.  I attached it to my bike via a Fenix flashlight mount, which would have work great on a regular bike but on my TT bike there weren't a lot of mounting options, so it did bounce around a bit more than normal.  The mount could also be fastened to a helmet and worn while running, although I haven't tried that yet. 

Run time is 4 hours on high and 32 hours on low.

Photo courtesy of Deal Extreme
(as if that isn't obvious)!

The SSC-P7 is waterproof and has a rechargable battery, which is great for a single ride but a bummer for a multiple night adventure race.  This also weighs 4 ounces (not sure if that includes the battery pack), but at 900 Lumens it really lights up the night.   In fact I wasn't sure if it would blind oncoming drivers, so I only turned it on when there weren't any cars around!  

Run time is 3-4 hours on high on a full charge,  low and strobelight functions will last much longer.

At first I thought that the Inova was a bit dim for biking, but then I realized I had been riding with it on the low setting (19 lumens) rather than on high (155 lumens)!  Doh! Big difference!  In an adventure race, I would ideally want two bike-mounted lights, with one as a backup.  That's in addition to the helmet-mounted light and blinking red rear light.  

I think the Inova T2 and P7 compliment each other well, in that I could run the T2 continuously, replace the batteries as needed, and only turn on the P7 when I need some serious light, as in a fast descent or technical off-road section.  I'm not sure how the P7 will hold up to wear and tear, it seems pretty delicate, only time will tell.  The T2 is a solid flashlight and I suspect it could bounce off the ground and continue working just fine.

Thanks to Ron Eaglin for his suggestions on lighting for adventure racing.

No comments:

Post a Comment