New Lights!

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It’s not often that we get excited about new technology around here. Whether it’s 11-speed cassettes or 31.8 mm-diameter handlebars, we often fail to see the need to improve upon what works perfectly well. So when Busch & Müller announced new LED headlights, we wondered how much better than our current favorites they could be. After all, with the current lights, we often descend curving mountain roads in the middle of the night at 40 mph or more, and even ride gravel descents at speed.

We tested the B&M Luxos and Eyc models, as well as the Schmidt Edelux II for the Winter issue of Bicycle Quarterly. Without giving too much away, I can tell you that we were impressed. The old lights are perfectly fine, but the new ones are really a big step up.

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Here is the beam pattern of the Edelux II, courtesy of Andreas Oehler from Schmidt Maschinenbau. Not only is it much wider than the previous version, but the illumination is incredibly uniform. There is just light on the road, no bright and dark spots. And that is how it feels – most of the limitations of riding at night no longer apply.

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The Edelux II will be available at the end of this month. The B&M IQ Cyo Premium uses the same optics, and we just received the first shipment, so it’s available now.

The new IQ Cyo looks like the old one, but you can spot the “P” for Premium in the photo above. This means it has the new optics and a brighter LED that produces more light for the same power consumption.

In addition to the new beam, the IQ Cyo Premium has “daytime running lights.” This features two smaller LEDs that shine slightly upward. During daytime, the main LED is dimmed, and the two small LEDs make the cyclist more conspicuous to other traffic. At night, the main beam shines at full brightness. The two daytime LEDs continue to shine, which may be useful for riders who like to set their beam so it illuminates the road right in front of their bikes, making them hard to see from a distance. A light sensor switches between the daytime and nighttime setting.

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Another new light is the B&M Eyc. This tiny headlight packs an amazingly powerful beam. In fact, the beam resembles that of the old IQ Cyo/Edelux. It’s a bit narrower than the new lights, and it has a few bright and dark spots, but it’s very affordable and at just 44 g, it is the lightest headlight I have used. I would have no qualms doing Paris-Brest-Paris with this light, it’s really that good.

It’s amazing how far lights have come in recent years, but it’s also sad that many headlights of other manufacturers still use symmetric beams that put too much light in the nearfield, not enough in the distance, and then waste half the light output by shining upward, into the eyes of oncoming traffic.

So if you have one of those other kinds and are waiting for deep discounts, now could be a good time for you to change to a generator light: we’ve reduced the prices of the remaining stock of first-generation Edelux and IQ Cyo headlights. At these prices, they provide an amazing value. Remember, these are the lights that we use on our own bikes, lights that until a few weeks ago were state of the art and seemed hard to improve.

To facilitate installation of these great lights, we now install connectors for SON generator hubs for a small fee. We use state-of-the-art crimping tools to create a connection that is durable for many years to come.

Click here for more information on the headlights and accompanying generator hubs that Compass Bicycles sells.

About Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

I love cycling and bicycles, especially those that take us off the beaten path. I edit Bicycle Quarterly magazine, and occasionally write for other publications. One of our companies, Bicycle Quarterly Press publishes cycling books, while Compass Bicycles Ltd. makes and distributes high-quality bicycle components for real-world riders.
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33 Responses to New Lights!

  1. Andy says:

    Any news on the Luxos versions? I was eager to hear more about those, but it sounds like they had trouble getting them ready for market. With more people wanting to power devices on their rides, the USB port seemed appealing.

    • We tested the Luxos for the Winter 2013 Bicycle Quarterly, together with the new Schmidt Edelux II and the B&M Eyc. From what I understand, there have been some technical troubles (now hopefully resolved), but the main reason why they are not available is that demand was higher than anticipated.

  2. Chandra says:

    Good information. I am intrigued by the daytime running lights.

    • Many of us run our lights even during daytime, at least in urban settings where being seen is important. The daytime running lights use less power (thus slightly less resistance), and they direct the light into the eyes of other traffic (without being so bright that they are blinding), rather than onto the road surface.

      • Geoff C says:

        When you say “During daytime, the main LED is dimmed” does that mean it is completely off? I personally like to have full brightness when riding around the city during the day, but it sounds like the new Senso option (and no forced ON option) will not allow that.

      • The main LED projects most of its beam onto the road. That doesn’t really help with being seen during daytime, so you could consider it wasted energy. Instead, the smaller LEDs shine forward, which makes you more visible. Basically, the seeing and being seen functions are decoupled and optimized individually.

        I am thinking about a situation where I would want to illuminate the road even though there is so much light that the light sensor doesn’t trigger the main beam’s full strength. I cannot come up with one.

        For me, the issue probably is the other way around where my light is mounted underneath the handlebar bag, and the sensor will be covered, so the the light will always be on its night-time setting, unless I turn it off manually. For that reason, I favor the manual control of the Edelux. On my own bike, I run an older prototype Edelux that doesn’t have any switches (always on), so I just run a remote On/Off switch that is operated by rotating the stem top cap.

      • Andy says:

        Seems like added complication without a new benefit. Ride towards someone with a properly angled dynamo light, and you will still very clearly see their light. Adding a few more LEDs that are dimmer is just redundancy and over engineering. Why turn one bulb off just to then power a few others?

    • Alex says:

      The daytime running lights were on some the first generation IQ Cyos as well, and they’re fantastic in any situation, and bright enough to be seen day or night. For brevets, I use them as long as possible before night falls, to avoid the light ‘blindness’ you get when you turn on the main beam. Absolutely recommended.

  3. Svenski says:

    While I agree that the new lights are a huge improvement, I still think there are two downsides of these technical improvements: One is the fact that now many bicycles have strong LED-lights, but these are misadjusted way too often. Being blinded by fellow cyclists has become a everyday experience. I only hope that people learn. Of course, it’ always the others who adjust their lights so badly…

    The other thing is the lighting at daytime. In a few years’ time we all might be obliged to have lights on all our bikes and use them all the time. I don’t think that would make cycling much safer but annoy us all and add loads of clutter to our racing bikes. By no means do I mind lights on my everydy bike, but that’s a different story…

    • The lights we sell all have a beam that is cut off at the top, so blinds oncoming traffic as little as possible. The new lights aren’t brighter, they just cast a wider, more even beam. Even when adjusted poorly, they will not be more blinding than the previous versions.

      As to the “arms race” in being seen, I share your concern. It seems incredibly selfish to mount the brightest, most flashing light on your bike, so that other drivers will see you from a mile away (yes, some of them really are that bright now), but not notice the cyclist who is right in front of them. It’s like the people who bought SUVs because they liked to see further ahead by looking over the cars in front of them (and blocked the view ahead for everybody following). I tried to imagine what would happen if we had these strobe lights on every vehicle and pedestrian, but it’s not a pleasant thought. Next, we might see fire engine sirens on bikes to be more noticeable…

      That said, when I ride on roads with many intersections and lots of traffic, I often do turn on my headlight (steady, not flashing, with a non-blinding beam) to increase my visibility to other traffic. It’s just a white dot on an object that is easily overlooked.

      • Andy says:

        I’ve never understood any reason to turn the lights off. In theory mine has a switch, but I don’t touch it. The claims of less resistance are lost on me, since I don’t notice any resistance when the light is on anyway.

        My single collision on a bike was caused by a driver that pulled out of a driveway suddenly. I didn’t have a generator light then, nor was I using other lights during the daytime. Of course I can’t say that the outcome would definitely be different if I had a light on, but I see no point to saving a fraction of a watt of my power if I can boost my safety in a meaningful way otherwise. It’s cheap insurance.

    • heather says:

      Yes, most people are using the rechargeable lights that mount on the handle bars and have symmetrical patterns, or are using lights meant for night time mountain biking and 24 hour races. I live in the country where few people bike, so would be tempted to use some of those super bright lights if I happened to have an endless pot of gold to try out lights. I always lower my light for oncoming cyclists and pedestrians, just good manners!
      But oh rear flashing lights can be very annoying! The planet bike one is positively chaotic and is distressing to look at during long rides. I was hit from behind once even with that thing flashing, so I don’t believe chaotic flashing is such a good idea. I’ve read it can actually distract drivers. I have a much brighter light that I keep on solid or use the subdued flashing pattern. Vehicles are going by so fast that I am not sure they even notice super crazy rear lights.

      • Alex says:

        Flashing lights on bikes, front or rear, are technically illegal in Germany, where I live, because flashing lights are reserved for emergency vehicles/police. Studies have shown that it’s easier to judge distances of constant light sources. And in theory this makes the urban visual landscape slightly more restful for the eyes at night . . . but practically, the police are happy that cyclists have lights at all.
        I was, however, stopped by a policeman, in the daytime, for – apparently – having a double set of Reelights flashing away alternately on my front axle (one on each side). After an embarrassed delay, the policeman did admit that he stopped me for “having too many lights on my bike.” ! ! I never did hear back from them . . . maybe he just wanted to find out what company made the cool lights so he could buy a set for his kids :-)

      • Paul says:

        Considering the numbers of police vehicles that are hit with flashing blue lights, the amount and flashing of lights does not explain it all.

  4. We just received word that the new Edelux II headlights will be available by the end of November (not early next year as originally planned). I corrected the blog post…

  5. Jan, can you comment on how the new IQ Cyo P with daytime running lights deals with taillights? What I’m curious about is whether the daytime running lights consume the full 2.4W that a headlight normally consumes. Because if they use less, the taillight is going to receive too much power and may prematurely burn out (the same reason why you shouldn’t power a taillight without a headlight). Ideally the DRL would use 2.4W and then diminish consumption as the main headlight switches on, keeping a net 2.4W load.

    • We haven’t hooked up a taillight to these lights yet, but I asked Busch & Müller and will report back when I have an answer.

    • Bill Gobie says:

      Regarding power consumption, do LED headlights use the full 2.4 watts that halogen bulbs used? Since LED headlights come to full brightness at lower speeds than halogens did, it seems to me they probably require less power.

    • Back when Busch & Müller’s halogen headlights were the best available, they came with a 2.4 watt bulb in the headlight, and the taillight would have a .6 watt bulb. The over voltage protection was (and still is) built into the headlight, and it was designed for a total of 3 watts.

      In 1998 I started importing these lights along with the SON hubs and immediately had a problem. Many people riding brevets didn’t have fenders or a rear rack on their bikes, and were somewhat phobic about running a taillight wire. Plus they wanted blinking taillights, which weren’t made for dynamo power. So what to do? One solution was adding a resistor to the circuit when not attaching a taillight. That went over like a lead water bottle cage. So the search was on for a suitable 3 watt bulb. It was about a year later that Busch & Müller got me some 3 watt bulbs from Philips and that solved the problem.

      Then around 2004 Busch & Müller introduced the DLumotec headlights, which replaced the halogen bulb with an LED. These could work with or without a taillight, but would be slightly brighter with a taillight attached, since without a taillight the LED’s cooling wasn’t quite sufficient and as the LED’s temperature was a bit too high, it lost efficiency.

      With the IQ headlights a couple of years later, that all changed. These new lights were designed from the start to work with or without a taillight. The LED was happy either way. The DLumotecs are long gone, so if you’re buying a new B&M headlight, you can decide on a taillight based solely on other factors.

      PJW

  6. heather says:

    Bike lights are an ongoing issue in my house. I still have no experience with dynamos, but it is one of those things I wish I had just invested in years ago. I’ve had terrible luck with those battery pack lights and there is a drawer in the kitchen with several generations of one piece battery powered lights that barely light up the road. And all the money…. A few years ago I got a 650 lumen light which I liked until I had to commute in the dark and rural roads in the wintery pacific northwest endless months of rain, and I deemed the light not bright enough. Now there are 1200 lumen lights with rechargeable batteries inside! While I’m tempted to get one, the issue remains that they only last about an hour on the highest setting and prone to all kinds of problems. My husband has several fail on him. Plus they are just glorified flashlights with half the light disappearing into the air and possibly scorching retinas of oncoming cyclists and pedestrians(although always tilt my light down for them). The european dynamo lights are rated in Lux, which makes little sense to me, but also have asymmetrical beams which I imagine improve the light pattern. I do have a shimano dynamo hub in my well intentioned bike part box waiting for resurrection, would love to get one of the old stock Edelux or the IQ cyo on sale, but they will likely be sold out by the time I get around to it.
    So, anyone want to regift their ‘old’ dynamo lights? But goodness, if dynamo technology is advancing with LED technology, I might want the brighter lights anyway.

    • It’s not how much light you have, but where it goes, that is important. We recently tested the brightest light I have seen on the Calfee Adventure 650B, and it was a disaster. Too much light in the nearfield made your eyes adjust for bright lights, yet not enough was projected into the distance, so everything 20 m (60 ft) in front of the bike was washed out. And of course, half the light went upward. It was cute to see the tree tops of the forest I was riding through, but not really efficient. In the end, even though I probably had 2-3 times as much brightness in lumen than my normal Edelux, the illumination was much, much worse.

    • Bill Gobie says:

      The older LED lights are plenty good so hurry up and get one and build that dynamo wheel! You will be glad to have the setup this winter and the next and many more, with no additional costs or battery charging chores. There will probably be a surge of 2nd-hand lights on Ebay and Craigslist as people upgrade.

      Expensive lights with non-replaceable batteries have never made sense to me. Rechargeable batteries unavoidably decay. They deteriorate particularly quickly in consumer-grade equipment that allows batteries to be over-discharged and over-charged.

  7. Lee says:

    One issue that I have with these new ‘super bright’ headlights is related to having an Edelux equipped bike behind you in a pace line. If you have a weaker headlight, your own shadow, created by the bright light behind you, overpowers your headlight. so you can’t really see! To get away from the shadow, you end up jinking to the left or right, thereby upsetting the rear rider, looking for a draft.

    I had this problem on a couple of longer brevets when I was still using my IQ Fly, which was not quite as bright as my companions’ Edeluxes. I ended up riding slightly to one side of them when leading the pace line (and incurring a bit of wrath until I explained why). I upgraded to an IQ Cyo, which helped, but did not eliminate, the problem.

    Anecdotally I have heard of similar complaints from PBP participants.

    • I agree that it’s best if all riders in a group have similar equipment. I guess that is why I enjoy riding with friends so much – we know each other, ride similar bikes, and thus there aren’t any surprises.

      The new lights don’t make a brighter beam, just a wider one. So riding in front of one shouldn’t be different from riding in front of a previous-generation Edelux or IQ Cyo.

  8. Dustin G says:

    Jan – have you used any of the AXA lights? I’ll be building up my first dynamo wheel and lighting system over the weekend, using an AXA Luxx 70 Plus head light. Looking forward to finally ditching the batteries on my commuter!

    • No, we haven’t used them. Let me know what you think – if it’s promising, it may be worth a test for Bicycle Quarterly.

    • Erik says:

      This guy (http://swhs.home.xs4all.nl/fiets/tests/verlichting/index_en.html) has reviewed the AXA light, as well as several others.

      • Dustin G says:

        Thanks for the link.

        I did my first ride with the light this morning. I don’t like it at all. My NiteRider Minewt 600 is better in every way, except that it has to be recharged. The Luxx70 Plus just isn’t bright enough, and the beam pattern sucks.

        So now I need to decide between the Edelux II and the IQ Cyo Premium. Jan – what are the considerations when choosing between these two lights? They have the same optics (meaning the same beam shape), so what’s the difference? Just the daytime running lights on the IQ? Does the IQ have a standlight? Thanks!

      • The difference is mostly that the Edelux is sturdier and prettier. The mounting eyelet on the IQ is plastic, and if you tighten the bolt enough to prevent the light from moving during long, fast rides on rough roads, it may eventually crack. Beyond that, the Edelux has a glass lens with an anti-glare coating, so less light is lost there. Both have standlights. The IQ Cyo Premium has the daytime running lights, but they don’t reduce power consumption, and it’s hard to say whether they are more visible than just keeping your light on.

  9. Paavo Nurminen says:

    Edelux I is best front light I have had so far. There is only one situation which annoys me: Riding at night you see a road sign at distance. When you come to it, you can’t see what it tells to you. Jan, will Edelux II’s wide beam cure this problem?

    • It all depends where the sign is and whether it is reflective. If it’s very tall, then it will be hard to see with any light unless you aim it very high. The Edelux II is designed to put a little light above the cutoff, so if the sign is reflective, it will show clearly.

      If the sign is too far to the side of the road, then the wider beam obviously will help.

      • Paavo Nurminen says:

        Thank you jan! Sounds promising. The signs I had in my mind are not very tall, signs for distances at the side of road or those at ordinary crossroads, also showing distances.

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