Several people mentioned that either they don't have a Costco near them or their Costco doesn't have the light that received such high praise. I don't see it on the Costco website either, but a helpful reader from the Internet BOB list found what appears to be the same light with slightly different cosmetics. I can't say for sure if it's the same, and I can't vouch for the site, but there you have it. And, to sprinkle some link juice on that helpful reader, he's the brains behind the Bicycle Geometry Project, a database of road bike geometries over the years. Had a bike you loved and want to compare it to a different bike? The BGP might be able to help. Just want to geek out on bike geometries? The BGP can definitely help.
It seems like everyone has a favorite light, and as the suggestions rolled in, it dawned on me that I hadn't really put down my criteria for these tests before I started. So in no particular order, here's what I find important in a light:
- Self-containment: I've done the "lamp on bars, long wire to separate battery pack the size of a cinderblock" thing. Not going back to that.
- Replaceable batteries: No rechargeable battery lasts forever. When it's finally used up its charge cycles, I want to be able to buy a replacement at a regular old store and pop it in there without firing up the soldering iron.
- Common battery size: This goes along with "regular old store" above. No weird cell sizes, please. If the corner convenience store doesn't have it, I don't want it in my light (a lesson I recently re-learned... more later).
- As long as I'm griping about batteries, use an even number please: So many lights use three cells (usually AAAs). It's not a deal-breaker, but my charger holds four. Add in two for my tail light, and I have to run two cycles to get everything juiced up. It's why I keep trying to love the 2 AA-powered offerings from Planet Bike.
- Less than $100... much less, if possible: The emitters in these things seem to be leapfrogging each other in output every few years. Unless you're going to offer me an LED upgrade at a reduced price (and I know some companies do), I don't want to drop large coin on almost certain obsolescence. Even my test lights have to be cheap since I'm buying them with my own bucks (though any manufacturer who wants to ship a megabuck, megalumen kit my way for a test is more than welcome).
- Reliability: No connections that jiggle loose, switches that fail, mounting brackets that crack, seals that let in water and short-circuit the electronics, etc. A metal case is preferred, since I ride in temps that aren't always plastic-friendly. Bottom line, I want to know that as long as I have juice, I have light.
- Decent run time: I don't ride all night, and I don't intend to start. Just give me a few predictable days of commuting (2-3 hours of darkness) at full oomph and we'll do fine.
I did manage to bring the vehicle to a stop without becoming an unintentional duathlete, and I was able to ride very gingerly to a convenience store just a couple blocks off the trail for some fresh AAAs (see "common battery size" above) -- and in the light's defense, those rechargeables had been running on high for just under two hours total when they gave out. Still, the "low battery light" that I was so happy to have? Not much of a feature, really. It would be like a low fuel light in your car that came on right when the engine started to sputter on fumes.
This little hiccup gave me pause, but it hasn't changed my overall assessment of the FP2F20L all that much. It still beats all challengers in my stash for brightness and beam pattern. It would be nice to get more time on a charge, and I'd rather run 2 AAs instead of 3 AAAs, but I'll manage... and not just because I don't want to futz with those hose clamps again.