October 9, 2008

Half Moon, Half Jupiter, Dark Trail, more IQ Fly notes.

Shrugging to the 'after-dark' rule of the local bike trails, I decided it would be a good venue to see how well my new headlight worked under the trees and on the twisty path. So, after the bike shop closed up - quick side note, after a good visit and hub-fixit session with DCG - I clocked out and headed down the road. Instead of heading straight down the road, I took the little trail offramp and hit the forest. Dang.... it's dark back here.
The light performed quite well, but as expected it isn't much of an off-road ready trail light, say for a 24-hour offroad race or something. It would have to be augmented with a spot beam or a helmet light - which is something I've gotten into the practice of using on over-night brevets anyways, so that's not a big deal. The beam is wide, lighting up the grassy areas on both sodes of the trail itself, and of course the entire trail itself. The only issue I ran into was the sharp vertical cut-offs on each side of the beam -- not a lot of spill light to see around the sharper corners of a trail, that's for sure - but I never found myself slamming on the brakes in a panic or riding off into the grass, either. Partly, I know the trail, partly, there is a half moon helping matters. Some of it was my eyes watering so badly from allergies. Ugh. Still, despite the conditions the light did well -- although it's clear the Lumotec IQ Fly is defintely a ROAD headlight. For anything on regular roads it's brilliant - and after a couple weeks of use I'm very satisfied. Okay, there is only ONE thing I would change about the design: IMHO, I think the light sensor should be on the bottom surface of the light, instead of the back. The reason I mention this, I have taken notice to how the auto-senso feature behaves in certain situations:

Situation one: It's a dawn-lit morning, and I leave the house as the morning sun is stil below the horizon. The headlight, and wired taillight, are on -- nice! This is where the light performed magically. The headlight stayed illuminated almost all the way to work, and didn't switch off until I actually saw the sun itself with my own eyes, as it was rising about 5 degrees above the horizon. Only then did the sensor determine there was enough light to power down. For morining commutes, this is spectacular. It should also be noted, something that still has me giggling with glee, that a bit further on that same ride when I'd pass underneath a road overpass the light would come back on. VERY cool.

Situation two: While riding home on a straight stretch of road, at night, with the light burning perfectly, taillight also, I have noticed in areas where my speed is within a few MPH of cars approaching from the rear that their upcoming headlight beams - in that moment of hesitation before they pass me - produce enough light shining directly into the sensor that it causes the light to power off, then back on, then off again, then on again -- as the light levels vary, and until the car safely passes. While the headlight's standlight is STILL bright enough to safely light the way, it makes me wonder what the taillight is doing at that moment, as its standlight is considerably dimmer -- does the sudden flashing confuse the driver, wondering if I'm about to make a move and therefore causing the extra hesitation? Hard to tell, but it's there. Has only happened a couple times, and it's usually on a certain section of road: when the road curves to the left slightly, enough to put a car approaching from the rear directly in my path if he were going straight. That puts the headlight beams essentially shining directly into the sensor.
This is where my notion of hiding the sensor under the light body might help -- but it occured to me an interesting variable: These lights are made in Germany, and largely expected to be used in the European market where cycists and cars' positions on the roads are reversed! So, the light sensor being on the left-hand side of the light body makes perfect sense, and nobody would be approaching you from behind on the left side. If I were riding in England, Japan, or anywhere else for that matter, this situation would never occur.

Siuation 3: A rainy, overcast day. I mount up for my ride home, and at first the light is on while I'm in the parking garage. As soon as I exit into the rain, however, the light switches off. this is not a HUGE deal, as there is a manual override switch - but I guess I was hoping the light had a moisture sensor as well, or some such nonsense. There was plenty of light to see by, and since the cloud deck was beginning to thin and the rain abating, the sensor was probably right on the money. Wearing a hi-vis yellow rain jacket and ankle bands, its not as if the red LED on the rear or the bright headlight up front would have made a difference, but I like being lit during inclement weather. And, as I have adopted, that's what a battery taillight is for. Not a REAL complaint, but notable -- if you want to make sure you are seen in traffic, make sure the Senso feature agrees with you.

That's all I have for now, kids -- stay tuned!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

In Europe, only England and Ireland drive on the left. ;)

There's actually a very interesting Wiki article on left vs. right hand driving.