Saturday, October 24, 2015

Another Pander to the Light Nerds

For reasons that mystify me, whenever I post about bike lights, my page views take off ("take off" being a relative term, which in this case means "go from zero to four"). So, since it is the time of year when days shorten, and since I'm never one to pass up an opportunity to sell out to my audience, it's time for another headlight review!

The new contender: A Serfas "True 155" LED headlight. I picked this up as a relatively inexpensive ($35 at my LBS) and easily available replacement when the Knog Boomer on our tandem developed the annoying tendency of turning off and on at random. Here's a shot of it on my Rockhopper instead, for reasons I'll explain later:

Points in this light's favor already: Fairly compact on the bars, runs on just two AA batteries, and (so far) doesn't jiggle itself open during a ride, unlike all the Planet Bike Blaze lights I've used. Oh, and a nice mounting bracket, too:

That top "horseshoe" piece can rotate about 90 degrees in either direction, through a series of fairly heavily indexed clicks. What you can't see is that most of the clamp is a thick rubber strap. It has a pin on one end (like a watch band) that fits in several corresponding slots for coarse adjustment, then the plastic lever closes to snug it up for good. Simple, stable, versatile... not too shabby.

But, I can hear the light nerds asking, where's the beam shot? Here you go, shot in our top-secret beam testing laboratory, a.k.a. a dark bathroom:

Pretty typical round, flashlight-style beam here, nowhere near as sophisticated as my Philips SafeRide. Bright enough, sure, but shoots a lot of that brightness off in directions that don't do the rider any good. It has three different settings and claims to have a flash setting, but (thankfully) I can't figure out how to make it flash. I hate flashing front lights with a passion, so this is a feature, not a bug.

As for how a light intended for the tandem ended up on my bike, we learned quite by accident that many inexpensive LED headlights (including both the Serfas and a couple Planet Bikes from my stash that I tested) interfere with the also-inexpensive Bontrager wireless computer on the tandem. While the sun was up, we were humming along at our usual (blistering) average speed, but as soon as things got dark and I turned on the Serfas, zero miles per hour. Score one more for the SafeRide, which does not interfere with the computer. Thanks to the versatility of the mounting bracket, however, I was able to mount it on a fork blade below and opposite the sender for the computer, which doesn't interfere at all, and will probably make better use of the simple round beam. Haven't ride-tested this yet, though.

Since we were down one Boomer, I decided to replace the rear one with another Serfas, their basic seat stay tail light. Of course, being a rebel, I defied the name and put it on the seatpost instead:

Nothing terribly exciting here... a bright LED in the middle flanked by six smaller LEDs, and a variety of seizure-inducing flash patterns. We needed something that mounts with rubber straps to fit on the non-round rear section of dear stoker's Thudbuster. Wish it ran on something other than little coin-shaped batteries, but I'll wait to see how long the batteries last before I bag on it for that.

Obligatory disclaimer: I bought these lights with my own grubby dollars and was not bribed to speak well or ill of them. Also, if you click a link in this post and find yourself at Amazon, a pittance from any resulting purchase might make its way to my pocket.

No comments: