Choosing Your Headlight

lighting_edelux_II_studio

We just got our first shipment of the new Schmidt Edelux II headlights.

The Edelux II and the B&M IQ Cyo Premium really have raised the bar in headlight design. Their wide, even beams make night riding at any speed even more pleasant. At the same time, older versions of these and other lights continue to be available, some on close-out at enticing prices. For many riders, they offer a great light at an affordable price. All these headlights provide exceptional illumination as a part of a generator-powered system.

A full review of the new Edelux II, the B&M Luxos U and the B&M Eyc headlights is in the Winter 2013 Bicycle Quarterly. Here is a brief overview over the headlights that Compass Bicycles sells. Click on the links for more information or to order:

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Schmidt Edelux II: You cannot do better than this. It uses the best optics in a sturdy and beautifully machined housing. The LED is placed with precision, so every light is perfect. (With plastic lights, you get a little variability from one light to the next.) The glass lens is scratch-proof and has an anti-glare coating on the inside to reduce light absorption. If you  do a lot of night riding, the Edelux II is definitely a worthwhile investment.

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B&M IQ Cyo Premium: With the same beam as the Edelux II, the IQ Cyo Premium offers 90% of the performance at 60% of the price. The plastic housing isn’t as pretty, and you have to be careful not to overtighten the mounting bolt. (The plastic mounting eye can split.) It’s a great light for serious night-time riding.

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Schmidt Edelux I: The original Edelux offers the same appearance and quality as the new model at a closeout price. The beam has been good enough for fast night-time descents on gravel roads. Especially in urban settings with light pollution, you’ll be hard pressed to notice the difference to the new lights. If this appeals to you, get one while they last! The Edelux I also is available for “hanging attachment” (shown above), which is useful is you want to mount your headlight underneath the handlebars or underneath a front rack.

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B&M IQ Cyo: The original IQ Cyo still is available at an unbeatable price. You get what was a state-of-the-art light just a few months ago for the price of a budget light. Just like the Edelux I, it remains a smart choice for riders who don’t often descent mountain passes at night.

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B&M Eyc: They Eyc is the lightest real headlight available today. It offers a very good beam – very similar to the original IQ Cyo/Edelux – at a very competitive price. I would have no qualms doing Paris-Brest-Paris with this light, and for a bike that sees only occasional night-time use, it offers amazing performance for its weight and price.

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B&M Lyt: The Lyt is a good light for around-town riding. It’s the least expensive light we sell, so if you are on a budget, it’s a great choice. Even this basic LED light offers much more light and a better beam shape than the best halogen lights of old.

At Compass Bicycles, we only sell what we consider the best products, based on our own on-the-road experience. I believe that our program features a headlight for almost every application. If you still use battery-powered headlights with poorly shaped beams and questionable reliability, now is a great time to upgrade to a generator-powered system. You won’t regret it!

Click here for more information on these headlights and the generator hubs that power them.

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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18 Responses to Choosing Your Headlight

  1. Fred Blasdel says:

    I’m looking forward to your review of the Luxos U, and your reasoning for why you don’t sell it!

    There are definitely plenty of reasons — it’s a physically enormous carbuncle, the extra beam width vs IQ-TEC P lights normally just lights up fences, the USB charging feature does not produce enough amperage to be useful in normal circumstances, and the original design behaves erratically when moisture gets in the minijack for the remote. That last problem is fixed in the latest batch by making the remote hardwired, but now you don’t get to enjoy it’s true ultimate feature without mounting the remote somewhere.

    That true ultimate feature is the standlight!

    By having a small lithium polymer battery contained within, it will sustain full 90 lux output almost indefinitely while riding even at very low speeds, and for 15 minutes while stopped before beginning to diminish. I have ridden across town at night with my hub unplugged and not noticed.

    It behaves more like a battery light that never runs out. The majesty of this is hard to understate.

  2. David Pearce says:

    You’re like the L.L. Bean of bicycle equipment! I feel I can trust you (and I know others do to) because you’ve done it, put in the time to ride product, and then thoughtfully write about your impressions. And we thank you.

  3. Christoph S says:

    There is a good comparison of illumination patterns of the headlights reviewed here available on the page on a local bike shop here:

    http://www.baslerbikes.de/index.php/baslerbikes-2-lampenvergleich-2013-november.html

    • Thank you for the informative link. One thing it shows is that the brightest lights often don’t offer the best illumination. For example, the Bikelight Akku and the Airstream Akku put too much light into the nearfield, and the distance looks washed out… The E3 Triple 2 is even worse.

      On the road, I find this effect even more pronounced, because my eyes adjust to the bright foreground and I have a very hard time seeing anything beyond that bright spot.

      I do wonder why so many lights in that test have a bright spot in the distance. At least with the Edelux II, I haven’t experienced that.

  4. Honor says:

    Will there be a hanging version of the Edelux II as well?

    • Initially, Schmidt didn’t plan to offer a hanging version. They figured that with the wider beam, you wouldn’t want to block part of it with the front tire when mounting the light underneath a front rack. Our tests showed that the tire blocks only minimal light that is at an angle where you don’t need it anyhow. So we are talking about a hanging version to be made sometime next year.

      • Paavo Nurminen says:

        If you install the hanging version to the left side, the front wheel will cast a shadow to the right side where it is not wanted at all. I do not understand what is wrong about handle bar installation. It is the best possible place for front light.

      • The handlebars are an easy place to put a light. All you need is a bracket… and most riders already are used to having stuff there with computers, GPS, etc.

        That convenience is offset by a number of disadvantages. On top of the handlebars, the light gets in the way when you want to use the aero tuck. It also tends to reflect off any map holder you have, which is very uncomfortable at night. (I had a test bike where I put something over the top of the bag to get rid of the glare.) Underneath the handlebars, the light precludes the use of any handlebar bag. Furthermore, you don’t want the light to be in a different position from your eyes, so that potholes show up as shadows.

        The top of the fork crown is a better place, and the standard location for lights in most European countries. The one disadvantage there is that the light precludes the use of a handlebar bag. You can move the light further forward, to the front edges of the fender, but there, the light is somewhat vulnerable, and if the bag jumps around on bumpy terrain, it tends to bump into the light, moving out of adjustment.

        I once mounted the light on the front dropout when my light holder broke in Paris-Brest-Paris 1999. I liked this location for a while, and it caught on with randonneurs. The big disadvantage is that when you turn, you turn into the shadow of your front wheel. Another issue is that the light is very low. To get a good beam length, you need to orient the beam parallel to the road surface, and you are more blinding to oncoming traffic.

        With the light mounted underneath a front rack, it is well-protected, and the shadow of the front tire is sharply off to the side, at about 2 o’clock. That is in a place where you don’t need to see, nor be seen. As a result, the position underneath the front rack has become the default for randonneur bikes with handlebar bags.

      • Glenn Ammons says:

        I want to reply to Jan’s comment below but there is no “reply” link there.

        I like the front-of-the-fender position with the light mounted on an extra fender strut. The beam is unobstructed and running the wires up the fender strut is simple. It’s easy to make a mount from a stainless steel strap. Interference with the handlebar bag has not been an issue for me; I do have a long fender. The light is well-protected: it’s hard to bash the light against something without hitting the wheel or the bars first. I suppose that a crash could theoretically twist the bars and expose the light to harm but then lots of things can happen in a crash. And it looks nice!

      • I agree that mounting the light on the front fender can be nice, especially if you don’t use a handlebar bag.

        The vulnerability comes from two scenarios: 1) If the bike falls over, the headlight can hit the ground first, since the handlebars tend to turn. 2) Around here, many stores have windows that start about 50 cm above the ground. So the handlebars lean against the window, and the light scrapes against the (concrete) windowsill.

        Both are not theoretical concerns, but issues I encountered on test bikes.

  5. Greg says:

    Just got the Winter BQ – interesting to read about the Luxos and Edelux lights. One thing that I wonder about with the Luxos U is whether the lithium battery is used as a cache to make the light brighter during slow stretches (such as ascents)? If so vaguely how long does it last in that function?

    I’m considering using it with a Sondelux hub, which puts out less power at 6 or 7 mph than is ideal for a light…

    • According to the instructions, the lithium battery lasts for about 15 minutes. However, I find that the modern lights are quite bright at walking speeds already. When going slowly, you usually don’t need a beam that is as long and bright, since you don’t approach obstacles as quickly.

  6. Doug M. says:

    Mounting a light on the fork crown does not preclude the use of all handlebar bags. I have successfully used a fork crown mounted light with a handlebar bag on numerous long brevets.

    My handlebar bag is attached to the bike via velcro straps at 5 points: both brake/ shifter hoods, on both sides of the bar lateral to the stem, and on the vertical underside of the stem (fork stearer stack if using threadless). The bag I use is a custom model (based on an old Rivendell boxy bar bag design) that weighs about 12 ounces, does not require a rack, and can be used with SRAM and Shimano brifters as well downtube or bar-end shifters. However, the Mickey Mouse ears on Campy brifters are a no go. In essence, the bag is suspended from the handlebars rather than supported by an unnecessary, and heavy, alloy rack.

    This set up is very stable when compared to a traditional Berthoud bag supported by a rack – despite the traditional wisdom which claims otherwise. On my bike there is enough clearance below the bag to allow for an Edelux light to be mounted on the fork crown. This approach is not for everyone but it is a viable alternative that allows for optimal light placement.

    • You want the handlebar bag as low as possible. So while in theory, you could have a handlebar bag above the fork-crown-mounted headlight, it’s not ideal with respect to the bike’s handling. You also have the issue that over time, your bag might sag a bit and obscure the light.

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