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Lights - Lupine?

Mick's picture

By Mick - Posted on 27 July 2010

A topic covered a thousand times before, I’m sure, so apologies.

I am looking at purchasing lights, both for commuting and off road. To date I have been using the Exposure lighting system ($600 +) which I have had all sorts of troubles with (eg, chargers faulty, lights not even water resistant let alone water proof, main light has stopped working altogether and now the helmet light is on the blink). Needless to say, I won’t be purchasing Exposure lights.

I am looking at 2 systems – Lupine and Ay Ups. My preference is Lupine as I need insanely bright lights and they seem to be the beez kneez of lighting systems. I’m prepared to put up with the extra weight and dollars if it means that (a) the lights are reliable and (b) I can stay upright on my bike.

My question is this. Do I need a handlebar light if I have a very strong helmet light (eg, Lupine Betty 7)? I have received advice that a handlebar light AND a helmet light really improves perspective. Would be good to hear from anyone who has had experience with Lupine, in particular the Betty 7.



[Mod. moved to geek gear]

Flynny's picture

I don't think you do with anything over about 600 lumins. Under that a bar mount will offer more depth projection and cut through the shadows.

I've been finding 1 K-lite on the helmet is more than enough unless it's misty or very dusty in which case the bar light is less likely to through the reflection straight back at eye level

daveh's picture

I do not have experience with Lupine but the principals behind why you have a handle bar light and why you have a helmet light don't change. I want people heading towards me to be able to see me coming no matter which direction my head is pointing. When I glance down but keep my head straight, I want to see what is in front of me. Conversely, when I want to let a car know that I am here I want to be able to direct some light their way regardless of where my handlebars are pointed and I also want to be able to see in places on the trail where my handle bars are not pointed.

I think that both lights have slightly different purposes and so I decided to get both. As for brands, I have just purchased a set of Ay Ups, since I have invested my money in them obviously I would say that they are the go!

Rob's picture

I have 2 home made lights in current use. When I commute use just one on the helmet which is fine. It's nice on there as when you see a driver in a side street looking the other way a quick look directly their way seems to get their attention.

When racing off road I use the brighter of the lights on the helmet and a second on the bars. The lumen output of this setup is 1000+ on the head, maybe 3-400 on the bars. This works well as the bar light doesn't have to have much throw as it's there to light up what's directly under the front wheel and as Flynny says, help with shadows close up. The bar light let's you see what's going on close to the wheel in your peripheral vision even when you are looking straight ahead, round a corner or up a bank.

Two lights is also good as some races insist on a backup, so you might as well use something good for that.

FWIW, I'd be looking at this over the options you mention, or building my own of course Eye-wink

philberesford's picture

I had exactly the same requirements. And after much research and going backwards and forwards I ended up going for a set of Ayups. They're great for both commuting and trail riding. I love them. Very happy with the final decision.

I commute with the bar light ahead and the helmet light reversed with the red Saxon caps attached. It has to be the brightest rear light out there. When I hit the trails I simply switch the rear light to the front, remove the caps and voila! Twin light setup. Best of both worlds.

Night riding is supposed to be fun and if your intention is to light up the trail turning night into day then you may as well ride during the day. Personally I like to have more darkness and the element of surprise to keep me on my toes when I'm out at night. IMHO The Ayups get this balance just right. You don't need the power of the sun to ride at night.

The Ayups are not the brightest lights on the market, but the cost+weight+burntime+versatility makes them a very excellent package. Highly recommended

My 2¢

Mick's picture

Guys, thanks for the tips and the interesting and differing points of view. Phil, your comment that you like to have more darkness and the element of surprise to keep you on your toes is an interesting concept. I must admit, my goal is to turn night into day because the only reason that I will be riding on a trail at night is to participate in the Scott 24 (a friend convinced me to join his team). My previous experience with trail riding at night with poor lights ended with unfortunate results. Too old for that s^&t. I'll look into Rob's suggestion also. Would still welcome any comments from Lupine users. Cheers, Mick

philberesford's picture

Don't get me wrong, the Ayups are definitely not poor lights. They still throw plenty of light out there enough to blind even the toughest motorist. They're just not as 'nuclear' as other more brighter lights.

If you're going into The Scott then I'd be more concerned about burntime than overall brightness. The brighter they are the more power they consume. The more power you need the bigger the battery. The bigger the battery the heavier the setup etc etc. More power = more money. This is where Ayups come into their own. Don't be surprised if the largest majority of riders at The Scott are all running Ayups. There's a very good reason for this Smiling

On longer night rides I often run my Ayups on half power - they're still plenty of light being thrown around to see perfectly well. In doing so it turns my 3hr batteries into 6hrs and my 6hr battery into a 12 hour one. This also helps on the commute too and I can go all week on a single charge which of course helps battery life too.

Damien's picture

I have been running a two lupine set up for a few years now and honestly they are fantastic extremly reliable and after 3 years still have a bucket load of output and easy to use the bottom line is if you can afford them get them you won't regret it.

As for ayup yea well there a good value kit but not in the same league as the lupine lights.

CharlieB's picture

I run ayup’s and do not feel as though there is an element of 'surprise' in my night riding. Plenty of light. I also strongly recommend the double set up.

Off road that ability to look round corners, and not lose the peripheral light in front of the bike is great. Plus the depth perception, etc.

Commuting, everyday in all weathers, I see having both as an almost essential safety feature… The ability for the oncoming traffic to see you from the bars, and for you to look directly at that driver taking the ‘casual glance’ as they sweep in from the side road has saved me on a number of occasions.

I say go for a system with split lights. Once at that point it is hard not to go past ayup’s, but there are other solutions, even mix and matching. I am also looking to upgrade at least one battery as my set are pre their batteries having flashing mode. Once done, I will ride flashing on the bars and constant beam on the head. No missing me at night, and that’s the way I like it!

Winco's picture

...and I evaluated AyUps, Lupine, many others and eventually opted for the 7Up from Troute Lights in the UK (His new website, currently being populated). Chris Hadaway builds to order. I have to say the light is awesome. Solid build. Waterproof. Very very bright. 7 LED - 2,000lm bright. Easily compares with Lupine Betty for both build quality and brightness. LED's can be easily upgraded when needed later. Sits on my handlebar currently. Light cost $300 inc postage from UK. The same light can be purchased in kit form in Australia from Cutter Electronics if you are game to use a soldering iron. I'm not.

I had a 14.8v bottle battery made up here in Australia and was supplied with a smart charger from Kerry at K-Lite He also makes an awesome light that can be mounted on the helmet or handlebar. Also very bright. 1,000lm bright. Both Chris of Troute Lights and Kerry were excellent communicators and ensured I received the correct cables/connectors, etc and the service was great. All up, my light set up cost me $640. I may later purchase a helmet light from Kerry to compliment my 7UP. So in summary, Lupine are very good lights but you pay a hefty price. AyUp are good value but are nowhere near as bright or good value as the 7UP or K-Lite. So there you go. If you are around my neck of the woods or visa versa, I'm happy to show you the 7UP. Hope this helps. - Winco

hawkeye's picture

Having gone through the build-your-own phase, I really like the buy it-use it simplicity and weatherproof qualities of Ay-Ups.

There are times when I would like more light (eg, wet roads at night) but they are few and I find I get enough complaints from peds, drivers and other cyclists for now about the brightness of my lights. Sticking out tongue I find I get LOTS more room from drivers when they're blazing - so much so I feel safer on a winter's night commute than any other time on the road.

I don't do a whole lot of night trail riding. Mostly it has been confined to fire trail. The performance was excellent.

Some side comments:
I did find with singletrack that it was sometimes difficult to pick out the trail junctions if the trailside grass was long - the bounceback from the foreground made it difficult to see past what was immediately in front of you. Stronger bar lights would make this more pronounced I reckon. Shifting the balance to stronger helmet lights might help mitigate it.

Concentration levels required off-road at night are in a different league. It's a little known scientific fact that your vision chemistry actually functions more slowly at night, reducing your ability to process visual information quickly and making things seem to happen much faster. So I would be reluctant to ride unfamiliar singletrack at night unless it had good sight lines and was non-technical.

Rob's picture

That's a good point about concentration levels Hawkeye.

At both 24 hour events there, I've ridden 2 laps of Sparrow back to back in the dark and remember finishing feeling smashed, mentally as well as physically. In that twisty single track you can't relax for a second.

There's not many (any) trails around here that would require that level of alertness though. The other big 24 hour venue is Stromlo, but there you get to relax on the climb. Yes, that's a strange thing to say, but the mind doesn't have to work so hard when you are traveling as slowly up that hill as I do Eye-wink

LadyToast's picture

Isn't it about time Ayup released an updated handbar mounted light? The nice race I did at Ourihmba the other day left me with serious lumin envy Smiling

That all said I used my ayups at Stromlo during last years 24 and found them to be good, just not compared with newer lights.

I do believe in certain conditions too much light can be a hinderance. You know how you can see spiders eyes (and crocs etc) in the grass at night by shining a touch from your head level? The same thing happens in the rain, dust etc. A light at handlebar height not only helps with this but also to fill in the shadows on rocks and other issues with depth of field not to mention the head turning advantage. For XC racing head and handle bars are where it's at.

For the road I have a cheapy from Deals-extreme and it's great. Mega bright, cheap and no fuss.

But to answer the OP question, never heard of Lupine, sorry Smiling

ps's picture

Just did a 24hr race on the weekend and ran my ayups on low without any drama's.

The two light setup works well for depth perception. You also need 2 lights on singletrack to work out where you need to be going so you can set up for the corner well in advance. With only one set of lights it would have been harder to know what was in front of me and where the next corner went.

philberesford's picture
The nice race I did at Ourihmba the other day left me with serious lumin envy

Buy another lightset and run it on top or below your existing set. You'll have an awesome 4-way multi-directional spread.

(Downhilling and need more light???? - now that is crazy business)

Pants's picture

Might as well get a 12v 4wd spot light like this:

Dicko's picture
Mick's picture

Thanks again for all the comments, tips, links and suggestions. The consensus seems to be that bar mounted AND helmet mounted helps with depth perception (and on-road safety) so I’ll go down that path. Ay Up and Lupine users seem very happy with their solution. I may mix and match in coming up with my solution. I’ll look into some of the other options you mentioned which I hadn’t come across previously. Thank you also for the offer to test your lights. May take you up on that one. In the meantime, further research it is……this MTB gear thing is endless…..and loads of fun (wife just doesn’t get it). Mick

Hans's picture

Hi Mick

Ayup + 1

Rocksteady, reliable, interchangeable. Keep in mind that most riders on the trail/in the race/your team may carry Ayups and spares, and you can therefore easily swap parts/batteries/chargers/mounts etc. Priceless when things get tight, lost or forgotten. They are also low profile, and their new velcro gecko helmet mount is safer than the larger Lupine etc, esp. when you go under low hanging branches. ( I learned the hard way). I also believe that they put out the "right" amount of light (and the right colour temperature) ...things get less defined when there is too much bright light.

Cheers, Hans
Happiness is a warm shock

muvro's picture

Ay-Ups for me too.

Tough as nails! Light-weight and plenty of light from a twin setup. I used to have a set on the frame (headset tube) that was pointed in the direction the frame was pointed, a set on the bars and a set on my helmet. This setup was perfect. No matter what you were doing you had light in the direction of travel, light where you were looking and light around corners. But since I lost a light on a day ride, I now just run bars and helmet and still have no problems. Free riding at night, doing drops and single I don't have any problem with.

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