2016 Light Roundup: Part-I

It’s no secret that bicycle light technology has improved by leaps and bounds. The current crop of lights have more power, run longer, and cost less than last year’s offerings. Whether you’re a hardcore commuter or avid recreational rider, there’s bound to be a light that fits your budget and requirements.

Lights generally fall into one of two categories–see by, and be seen lights. The former are brighter, and enable the rider ride safely in areas without ambient light sources (e.g streetlights). The latter, on the other hand, are mostly used for improving cyclists’ visibility in low-light conditions (think urban riding).

Manufacturers specify light output in lumens. Generally, the more lumens, the brighter the light. For my testing, I separated the lights by output. Those lights with a rating of less than 100 lumens were considered be seen lights, while lights rated over 100 lumens were classified as see by lights. This installment covers the lights with 100+ lumens, and Part-II will feature lights with outputs of less than 100 lumens.

Model Max Output
(lumens)
Weight
(grams)
Price
(USD)
Bontrager Ion 700 RT 700 142 $139.99
CatEye Volt 800 800 152 $130.00
CatEye Volt 1200 1200 235 $220.00
Knog Blinder Arc 640 640 150 $119.95
Knog Blinder Road 250 250 75 $79.95
Planet Bike Blaze 650 XLR 650 128 $94.99

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First Impressions: Speedplay SYZR Pedals

Speedplay‘s SYZR pedals were in development for so long that many riders–myself included–wondered if the unique pedals would ever make it to market. With claims of road-worthy power transfer and superior mud-clearing ability, the San Diego-based company’s pedals achieved a near-mythical status. Then, in 2015, the wait was finally over when the SYZRs officially hit the shelves.

SYZR pedals pair

The SYZR may look like your standard off-road clipless pedal, but the design is anything but ordinary. For starters, Speedplay reversed the pedals’ latch mechanisms–SYZRs utilize a pivoting front latch instead of pivoting rear latch. According to Speedplay, this new latch design reduces the likelihood of accidental release when pulling hard on the pedals (because you no longer pull up against the release mechanism). Then there are the cleats. Speedplay threw convention out the window, and moved the pivot mechanism directly inside the cleat, enabling micro-adjustable float adjustment.

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One-Year Review: Brancale Winter Gloves

If you were a bicycle racer in the early hardshell helmet days, you may remember Brancale‘s distinctive white-and-blue helmets. The Italian company’s products were a common sight in the pro peloton, but eventually the storied brand faded away. In 2014, Brancale relaunched as a US-based company, concentrating on high-end cycling apparel and accessories produced in Italy, England and the United States.

For their winter gloves, Brancale partnered with one of England’s finest glove makers. The gloves–meticulously cut and sewn by hand–are constructed from buttery-soft hair sheep leather. Fleece liners offer additional insulation, and thin, dense padding on the palm and thumb absorb vibration and road buzz. At a time when high-viz is the current rage, Brancale bucks trends by offering their gloves in a rich, warm brown they call cognac.

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First Impressions: SunRace Wide-Range Cassette

Until recently, riders seeking cassettes larger than 36 teeth had two options: aftermarket extender cogs or SRAM’s XD-based freehub/cassette system. Now, there’s a third option with SunRace‘s line of wide-range cassettes. The company’s cassettes fit standard Hyperglide-compatible freehubs, and are available in 10- and 11-speed versions.

My first exposure to SunRace‘s wide-range cassette coincided with the arrival of a Gestalt 2 demo bike from Marin. The aluminum-framed Beyond Road model featured an 11-42t SunRace cassette paired with SRAM’s X7 MTB rear derailleur controlled by Apex DoubleTap levers. That combination performed so well that I was inspired to install a SunRace wide-range cassette on one of my personal bikes.

SunRace offers their wide-range 10- and 11-speed cassettes in two versions: the all-steel CSMS3, and the CSMX3 which features an alloy 40t or 42t cog. The aluminum large cog saves approximately 60 grams, with my sample 11-42t MX3 cassette weighing 389 grams (two grams over the claimed 387-gram weight). SunRace doesn’t specify a retail price for the MX3 cassette, but they can usually be found online for less than $70.

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