Cycling Touring Blog
Bicycle Lights | Ay Up Lights Review
With dark mornings and nights closing in fast, this makes it a perfect time for me to write few paragraphs about my bicycle lights of choice.
Bicycle lights are subjective. It is all about your needs, surroundings and ultimately your budget. Ask yourself some questions before making a choice and spending your hard earned cash. How long do they need to stay on for? Are my cycling routes in well lit/dark areas? How will I charge the battery?
Let me start with my riding habits and where I ride to give you an insight into why I made my choice. I live on the small island of Jersey. An island that is made up of miles of country lanes, with the majority not having any form of street lighting. It is fair to say it gets pretty dark! I do like riding at night in the pitch black that though :-) My weekly cycling routine is a commute into work Monday to Friday; during winter this means leaving and arriving at home in the dark. I fit in other cycle rides over the weekend and evenings to keep my sanity levels in check! These rides are often late the evening and early morning when it is dark of starting to get light. I would say I'm a fairly heavy bicycle light user.
Over the years I have used all kinds of lights. Many of them cheap and lacking the power needed. I call them 'to be seen lights' as that is all they are good for. They quite often don't last a year and drive me nuts when they suddenly lose power and fade! To be fair, I always tried to get too much out of them.
A couple of years ago, with a little bit of cash to spend, I went on the lookout for a front light that could power a lighthouse and get me home through the dark country lanes. And after my usual weeks of deliberating, Ay-up lighting is what I found. A small company based in Australia, this successful brand has been developing powerful and reliable lights for 8 years. Used by professional sports men and women the world over, and many of us consumers too, these lights have great reviews for both quality, performance and after care. With this in mind I went ahead. 1 week later they arrived.
Opening the package you are greeted with a large carry case with the Ay Up logo across the front. Once inside it is hard not to be impressed with the sheer amount of accessories included. Velcro straps, cable ties, mounts, Velcro pads and much more. You don't just get a set of lights and battery, you get a lifestyle :-) They take care of all the places you might want to mount them. Along with a car charger, red caps to convert to rear lights and a head torch harness. Below is a picture taken from their website, which is near enough what I purchased.
The key components are the light and the battery (obviously!). I like that they are separate for two reasons. Firstly, you can take spare batteries with you on longer trips. Secondly, an issue with battery or vice versa, doesn't mean replacing or repairing the whole unit.
The light (700+ lumen's) is solid, waterproof and looks like it will last a lifetime. The main body has two lights that can be adjusted independently, giving you choices in where to direct the beams. This is great for pointing one beam slightly down to see the terrain, with the other pointing down the road. That is generally what I do and find it works really well. Both lights are that powerful that if one ever failed, it wouldn't mean end of ride and go home. The battery (2600MAH) is small and pretty light considering the power and pops into a case that Velcro tight around your bike frame. A simple design that works really well in all conditions. The battery provides you options to run in full, low and flashing modes.
Obviously my first test was to wait for darkness and power it on. This wasn't on my bike as you would expect. It was a walk along the country lane I live on. Wow! I wasn't expecting the results. Even using the lowest setting this light lit up the whole lane in the immediate area and what seemed to be a few hundred metres ahead. Switching to full beam and it just got better.
My next job was to attach the light to my bicycle. As I touched on earlier, Ay-Up lights come with all kinds of mounts (handlebar, helmet, etc…) For me, I just wanted it on my handlebars on all three bicycles; touring, single speed (commute) and road. I never ride the same bicycle for long, so had to be all of them. Mounting them was pretty easy. Some anti-slip pieces of rubber go under the mounting and a couple of zip ties to secure it. The light then sits in the mount and is secured by a wrap over piece of rubber. I have been using this set-up for a couple of years now and dare I say it, but no issues so far.
Setting the position of the beams for cycling is easy. Once you place the light into the mount, you can simply move each light up and down to your desired position. You can also simply adjust as you ride along. The lights stay secure in the mount and are not really affected by going off road or down bumpy roads. They are pretty solid once in place.
A key part of any light set-up is the battery. How long does it last and how heavy/bulky is it? With the Ay-Up there is a choice of batteries. See this link. http://www.ayup-lights.com/faq All different shapes and sizes, and with varying running times. I went for the 'epic' battery, because I'm not over obsessed by weight and I need maximum running time for the rides I do. With the epic battery I have never ran out of power. My longest ride has been around 5 hours at night and it's stood up to the test using mostly low power mode. For the interest of this article, I did a little test at home. Running in low power mode I got just under 11 hours and at full power 5 hours. That is using a battery that is a couple of years old and been used pretty regularly during the darker months. I think those are pretty good stats for an old battery and highlights the quality. I do make sure the battery is left fully charged over summer when it isn't used as much. That helps prolong it's life.
The main optics for these lights have also stood up well and the quality of the beam is as new. I did have a minor issue with a connector of the lights that made the lights flicker occasionally. Not wanting the lights to ever cut on me, I contacted Ay-Up and they offered to do a warranty fix or replace. And this was after 2 years! Sent them back and before I knew it my light have arrived and no more flickering. As new lights that serve me well to this day.
I have used these lights for just about all kinds of riding. Not just bicycle touring as you would expect. They commute with me to and from work all through the winter. Get me out on late night rides. And they have been out with me on tour when I know I'll be covering prolong miles in darkness. If I'm not touring in much darkness, then I take my lightweight, dinky lights. I have also used these for mountain biking through the woods.
To finish up. If you are looking around for new lights that will seriously light up the road, be of great quality, simple to use and perform time and time again, then do check out Ay-Up.
I have extensively used these time and time again and they are still great today. In my experience, the after care service is excellent. They are a premium product, but you do get what you pay for.
Here are some specifications for Ay Up taken from their website. http://www.ayup-lights.com/
- 700+ lumen high powered LED light in any of our 12 colours with intermediate optics giving a broad beam with plenty of throw
- B2000 multi-mode battery with 3 power levels, flashing and fuel gauge. The batteries are waterproof and can be charged with any Ay Up branded charger, new or old
- Dual charger (charge two batteries at once) with 110-240V AC power adaptor for your country
- Light harness that is minimalist and very sturdy with an extremely comfortable padded, air mesh vented rear battery holder. Exposed rubber strapping grips the battery pack and the reflective paracord secures the battery through a D-ring toggle. Elasticated retainers secure the battery wire. There are also 2 large reflective panels sewn into the rear of the head strap to ensure you are highly visible at night
- 2 x handlebar mounts and packers, enough for 2 bikes
- 2 x extra rubber mounting bands
- Zip ties for handlebar mounting
- Large battery pouch and stem strap
- Gecko helmet mounting system for both light and battery
- Extension lead with S clip (allows battery to be placed in backpack or jersey pocket, length 1.2m)
- 12v car charger adaptor
- Pair of red Saxon caps
- Large padded zippered case
- Charging instructions and battery safety document
- Ay Up branded silicone wrist band
- System weight is 230 grams
See you next time.
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