Latest LEDs (2009 ASO)
LED technology continues to march forward, and with it we have yet another batch of brand new lights to review!
AyUp V4 Adventure Kit $500
AyUp Lighting Systems (07) 3869 1251 / www.ayup.com.au
AyUp lights have taken the MTB world by storm, both inAustraliaand overseas. Their combination of minimal weight, simplicity and value has won many fans but AyUp hasn’t rested on their laurels.
While they may look the same, the review lights are part of the brand new 09 AyUp range that has just been launched. All of the new kits come in a robust waterproof plastic case with a carry handle. There are three kits on offer, ranging from the single light ‘V-Twin Sports’ at $290, to the $930 ‘V-8 Explorer’ which contains enough gear to fully equip two people.
We tested the mid-range ‘V-4 Adventure’ kit. It roughly compares with the ‘08 MTB’ kit that we reviewed last year but at $500 it costs around $100 more. The price hike isn’t hard to justify when you see the extra gear that comes inside the plastic hard case. As with the 08 kit you get two light units, three batteries, twin battery charger, a car charger and an assortment of spares. In addition to this you now get a neat headband that converts a light into a hands free head torch. A lighter and simpler ‘Gecko’ helmet mount now comes as standard and you get two red ‘Saxon’ light covers that allow you to convert one unit into a super-bright tail light for commuting.
The big news is that AyUp has boosted their light output and added a low beam to extend their runtimes. In a side-by-side comparison, the new lights are clearly brighter than before—around 25% more light at a guess. This additional brightness hasn’t compromised the runtimes and you’ll still get three hours on high beam with the small battery and six hours with the larger one. The new low beam isn’t as bright as the old single mode version but it bumps the battery life up to six and 12 hours respectively. AyUp has also added a flashing commuter mode which works well when mounted as a tail light with the Saxon covers in place.
As always, I like the minimalist weight of the AyUp lights. One helmet mounted unit weighs only 156g with the Gecko mount and battery, or you can put the tiny battery in your pocket and just have the 66g light on your head. While this is great, I’m still not a fan of the mounting hardware—the cable tie mounted handlebar bracket is a semi-permanent affair unless you want to continuously eat your way thought cable ties. The Gecko mount may be removable but you’ll need to have around eight Velcro tabs permanently stuck to your helmet. It may be a little anal but I don’t like having light brackets and bits dangling from my bike when I’m not out on a night ride.
Even with the increased light output, there are still plenty of lights out there that pump out more light with cleaner and tidier beam patterns. The real key with the AyUp is that the light is split between your handlebars and helmet. Neither puts out a massive amount of light but the combined spread, along with the ability to independently direct the beams, means that one $500 kit is all you really need to hit the trail with confidence. There’s a lot to be said for running both bar and helmet lights and AyUp delivers this for a price that’s hard to beat. With the additional features they’re likely to be more popular than ever.
Ay-up: A narrow light spread with a few rings around the edges but the handlebar/helmet-mounted combination helps it outperform individual lights with better beam patterns.
HID Technologies Lumen8r Pygmy $320
Distributed by HID Technologies 0432 922 603 / www.hidtechnologies.com.au
When I first saw the Pygmy light, I questioned the need for it within the HID Technologies range. Yes, it may be compact but their 1,000 lumen Quad is already light enough for helmet mounting, quite affordable and offers excellent runtimes. I was also sceptical of the claimed 600 lumen output; how could such a tiny 75g light unit put out that much light—it had to be wrong.
In use the Pygmy proved to be a fantastic addition. Most lights of this size are single LED units that put out around 100-200 lumens. Amazingly, the cluster of three tiny LEDs puts out more light than many bigger units that claim to be 600 lumens. It’s not a narrow pencil beam either—it throws a surprisingly broad spread of light across the trail. Most compact LEDs focus the light into a narrow beam to boost their apparent intensity and give enough distance throw. While this beam may sacrifice a little distance sight on super fast fire trails, it gives much better peripheral vision. In addition to making it a viable option for handlebar mounting, it also leads to less neck twisting in singletrack when helmet mounted.
At 75g, you’ll barely notice the light mounted to your head. Another advantage over their bigger Lumen8r Quad is the battery size. At 157g with a relatively flat profile, it will sit comfortably in a jersey pocket without bouncing around. Rather than placing it in a backpack, I took to putting the battery in my side pocket and wearing my pack over the top. That way I could take the backpack off mid ride without having my helmet pulled off by the light cable. The only possible criticism is that the battery is too heavy to be helmet mounted like the AyUp, but you do get a full three hours on high beam with 600 lumens from the one tiny light unit—even the eight hour low beam is very bright.
The other cool thing about the Pygmy is its price. At $320 it would have to be the most affordable 600 lumen light on the Aussie market. The price may be low but it is far from a disposable item; in fact the machined alloy housing can be updated with newer LEDs as technology improves. On its own the light pumps out enough light to inspire reasonably confident off road riding—especially when helmet mounted. Its affordability also makes it a great second unit to supplement an existing handlebar mounted light. You could even buy a Pygmy for your head and a Lumen8r Quad for your bars to get an amazing 1,600 lumens of light for around $850—there are many sub-1,000 lumen lights that cost more than that!
I found that the switch had a nice light touch making it very easy to use. Just make sure that you always unplug the battery when not in use as it can easily get bumped and switch on accidentally. Initially the strong coiled up cable was a little short and tended to pull slightly on my helmet. HID Technologies suggested heating and stretching the coil cable in boiling water. This proved to be an effective solution—better too short than too long in some ways as excess cable can be equally annoying. Finally the o-ring mounted handlebar mount may allow easy swaps between helmet and bar mounting positions but it was a little fiddly to use and agricultural in its appearance. In contrast, straight helmet mounting was a breeze and the milled out alloy bracket allows for easy angle adjustment whilst riding.
Beyond the minor nitpicks, it is hard to fault the Pygmy for the price. It makes an excellent helmet light and gives far more expensive lights a good boot up the backside.
HID Pygmy: Whilst not completely clean around the edges, the tiny Pygmy punches out a surprisingly broad swathe of light that puts many bigger units to shame.