Shorter days, Brighter lights

If you looked at bright Harvest Moon last night, you might have noticed a brilliant star closer to the horizon. This is the planet Jupiter, which is at its closest and brightest in decades. Besides the moon, Jupiter is plainly visible at night for Northern Hemisphere viewers even in light polluted urban areas, and is the brightest object in the sky after the moon.

Uranus is impossible to see with the naked eye, but that planet was in alignment between Jupiter and the moon last night as well. And last night, this astronomical alignment happened to coincide with the autumn equinox.

As of today in the Northern Hemisphere, days are shorter than evenings so it’s time to think about bicycle lights!

Several lighting companies have announced new product at Interbike 2010. Among them are Knog with a new USB recharable light and Princeton Tec’s 100 lumen Push. Oh, and Princeton Tec has booth babes.

Internet 2010 booth babes: Princeton Tec

Light & Motion Vis 360 front and tail light

I really really really like Light & Motion‘s new commuter lights. The Vis 360 (shown to the right) combines a bright 110 lumen front light, 4 lumen tail light, and amber side markers with integral Li-Ion USB charing battery mounts to your bike helmet in a single $169 package.

Light & Motion balance the weight of the mounted light fore and aft to prevent the helmet tilt problem caused by some other lights I’ve tried, and at 130 grams, you won’t feel the Vis 360 compressing your skull. In their market research, they also learned that many people who otherwise might wear helmets think helmet mounted lights often look ‘dorky,’ so they worked to make the look of these helmet lights a little more streamlined.

Light & Motion Vis 180 Tail light

Light and Motion’s Vis 180 tail light ensures visibility to the rear with a brilliant 35 lumens of red light — compare that against under 4 lumens for Planet Bike’s popular Superflash or Princeton Tec Swerve tail lights. I think the only brighter tail lights currently on the market are DiNotte‘s 400L and 140L taillights. Like the other L&M commuter lights, the Li-Ion batteries charge through a standard cell phone micro USB cable.

Light & Motion CEO Dan Emerson likes to show this photo comparing the Vis 180’s beam against Planet Bike’s Superflash. The bright red lighting in this photo, including the illuminated wheel and rider on the other bike, comes from the Vis 180 tail light.

Light & Motion Vis 360 vs Planet Bike Superflash tail light comparison

The key new product from Nite Rider are “cordless” versions of their LED headlights. The MiNewt 150 and MiNewt 250 (the model numbers indicate lumens) are each a single piece of hardware with no battery cable — the LiIon recharchable batteries are contained within the light itself. NiteRider has also increased the brightness of their headlights.

If you need more light than that, Cygolite introduced their new top of the line Centauri 1000 headlight. This dual beam LED headline shines a brilliant 1,000 lumens, which is roughly the same brightness as your standard 55 watt car halogen low beam. Rechargeable Li-Ion battery mounts to the bike frame and will drive those beams for 2 hours 45 minutes at high power. The light has four power modes and four different flashing patterns. Centauri-1000 will be available in mid-October with $499 MSRP.

17 Comments

  • PP
    September 23, 2010 - 8:04 pm | Permalink

    The L&M Vis 360 site reads: “The new Vis 360 throws a nice spot on the road while its rear flasher pumps out a solid 4 lumens of rear light, more that the best selling tail lights on the market. The amber side markers on the head light are also visible from this rear angle.”

    Where did you read the 35 lumens number for the rear?

  • September 23, 2010 - 8:12 pm | Permalink

    @PP — that’s the Vis 180 w/ 35 lumens. Different light.

  • September 23, 2010 - 9:03 pm | Permalink

    Lovely lead in to the post

  • Wuss912
    September 23, 2010 - 9:54 pm | Permalink

    the magicshines from geoman gear are still your best $ per lumen lights…

  • Wuss912
    September 23, 2010 - 9:54 pm | Permalink

    the magicshines from geoman gear are still your best $ per lumen lights…

  • Ghostrider
    September 24, 2010 - 2:43 am | Permalink

    Sorry, those were the Canari Booth Babes, not Princeton Tec. They were just visiting.

  • September 24, 2010 - 2:54 am | Permalink

    Ah!

  • September 24, 2010 - 2:54 am | Permalink

    Ah!

  • September 24, 2010 - 2:54 am | Permalink

    Ah!

  • September 24, 2010 - 2:54 am | Permalink

    Ah!

  • September 24, 2010 - 2:54 am | Permalink

    Ah!

  • Rapid Robert
    September 24, 2010 - 2:45 pm | Permalink

    I agree. Best lumens/$ on the market, although I measured their output to be more like 400lm than the 900lm claimed (which is the rated output of the LED in it). Poor heat sinking, reflector losses, drive current and modulation all reduce the output, but still the brightest light by far on all the SJBP rides I’ve been on for the past 18 months. And 3 hours run time on “high”. In fact, the “high” setting is really only necessary when the street is wet.

  • Rapid Robert
    September 24, 2010 - 2:45 pm | Permalink

    I agree. Best lumens/$ on the market, although I measured their output to be more like 400lm than the 900lm claimed (which is the rated output of the LED in it). Poor heat sinking, reflector losses, drive current and modulation all reduce the output, but still the brightest light by far on all the SJBP rides I’ve been on for the past 18 months. And 3 hours run time on “high”. In fact, the “high” setting is really only necessary when the street is wet.

  • September 24, 2010 - 3:50 pm | Permalink

    It looks like the price is right. I might have to try those Magicshines!

  • October 18, 2010 - 2:13 am | Permalink

    Check out the exposure lights from the UK. I just got the 2011 Strada and its pretty sweet and no battery packs to mess with. Their lights go up to 1800 lumens. Even their Flare taillight is 75 lumens, and its about $50. They have a US distributor, IBEXX Sports. Of course they are more $$ than that cheap Chinese stuff but I think they look way better, seem to be made out of better material, and have a 2 year warranty.

  • Andy
    October 24, 2010 - 3:16 pm | Permalink

    Seems like Performance and Nashbar aren’t stocking it for another few weeks. There’s one review on Amazon, and while they say it is a bright light, the overall design doesn’t sound solid (at least in their opinion). I got really excited by the lumen output and side lights, but for 5x the price of a superflash, I don’t think a rubber bracket is going to be worth the price. We all know those things fall apart.

  • Pingback: Shorter Days has many Re-thinking their Outdoor Lighting Needs | ArticleZ

  • Leave a Reply