Monday, September 20, 2010

Planet Bike Blaze: My Two Watts' Worth

I just realized that I still owe my reader(s) a review of the Planet Bike 2w Blaze headlight. Sorry about that, lighting geeks -- and you know who you are.

Things I like about the 2w Blaze? It uses the same basic case design as all the other Blazes, so I was able to just plunk it on the same brackets I'd scattered around the fleet for my 1/2-watt Blaze. Also, the 2w still uses just two AA batteries -- a nice even number of an easy-to-find battery size. Between the Blaze and my rear Planet Bike Superflash (which uses two AAAs), I can recharge my entire lighting setup in one cycle of my charger. (Brief pause so dynohub users can be smug about their lack of batteries.)

In a darkened garage, the 2w on its low setting absolutely overwhelmed the 1/2w. High looked like more than enough light for trail riding after dark. The beam pattern is round and symmetrical (unlike a car headlight) so some of those lumens are scattering out in places where they aren't needed. Still, I was more than a little impressed by how much light the PB folks have eked out of the same basic platform. The only fail in the garage test is the strobe pattern. Bright? Sure. But I can't imagine a situation where it wouldn't be annoying to either me or anything approaching me. Imagine riding with a disco strobe on your bars (or worse yet, riding TOWARD someone with a disco strobe on their bars) -- not good. Maybe it's the "dense fog" setting.

Out on the road, I had some technical difficulties with my 2w, unfortunately. It seemed like the grooves in the case weren't cut correctly, which allowed the front section with the LED to jiggle loose over rough roads. Luckily, I had the light on at the time so I saw it cut out before there was any danger of losing the LED. Back in the garage, I tried the front half of the 2w with the back half of my old 1/2w (lighting Legos!) and got a much more satisfying click as they came together. Still, it looked a little dumb (yeah, I'm that vain) so I used a little bit of electrical tape to keep the front and back of the 2w case from jiggling apart. Not long after that fix, however, I got caught in a hard rain that shorted the light from (I presume) the not-entirely-sealed connection. Not enough tape, I guess.

I contacted Planet Bike with my concerns, and they sent a very prompt and friendly reply thanking me for my input and offering to replace the light under warranty. Well played. I'll be taking them up on that offer, and I'll report on the replacement light when it arrives.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

How's the light on a dark road? 3W seems to be the lower limit for me, but that can vary depending on the beam pattern, the performance of the LED used, etc.

Sorry to hear that the legendary PB leaky case is still a reality. This shouldn't be that hard to fix if they have their plastic injection tools properly designed. Unfortunately, that sort of tooling is amazingly expensive (I've seen similar tools cost $20k or so).

Don't forget to post photos of the beam, especially if you can compare it to the 1/2W PB at the same time.

btw, there is a bit of a review on the CandlePowerForums site:
The review is marginal.

confirmed bike & light geek,

Steve in Peoria