*** A.D.D. WARNING *** This is a long post so either grab yourself something cold to drink or just scroll down for pictures.
Background: I have always loved bicycle lights. Consumer self contained bikelights, amperage sucking 85W automotive motorsport halogens, MR11 household halogens... I've had them all from the hotwire world and all on my previous bikes. Then I recently got back into the biking world about a year and a half ago and schemed up a plan for the next system.
Idea: Utilize common parts that were readily available to civilian consumers but not often seen in the context of bicycle technology. Automotive Motorsports Auxilliary lighting has this incredible lighting niche market that seemed to have what I needed in terms of lighting qualities (ie. output, beam pattern, durable designs, modular replacements, etc). The issues surrounding this foray into this realm were cost, effort, time to implement, system complexity and safety.
Planning: Me and my buddy spent months going over how this would actually work out. Questions ranging from custom battery sizing to health damaging ballast magnetic fields to ballast noise abatement popped up to field battery swappage. All of these were all new things to me.
Bright Idea: To meet the lighting requirements, a pair of Hella DE Xenon Micro were utilized. They are small"ish" and the beam pattern is a rather amorphous blob of light. The great thing about motorsports lights is that they really are for off-road use only and that is perfect as I want light everywhere. No beam cutoffs here!
The bodies and reflectors are made out of magnesium meaning that they can be left on indefinitely with some semblance of cooling and through hot/cold cycles (ie. mud/water splashes) without worrying about warpage. Perfect for mountain biking. I was a little worried that the slower speed of my bicycle over say a 500ft-lb rallycar would lead to overheating but no guts no glory. The front lens portion is made of thick glass to ensure that small pebble strikes do not shatter the shield.
Powerhouse: A hacked up turnkey LiIon Batteryspace.com battery set. At full drain (70W), these guys will run for about 75 minutes as per the math but one light is usually plenty. The smart charger in the batteryspace kit charges this guy up in about three hours maybe? I never actually sat by its side to determine that.
Entourage: Battery was encased in a custom fabricated carbon fibre enclosure with rear snap-in lid that allows for all interior component (ie. Hella Gen3 ballasts, battery pack, automotive relays, automotive connectors, mounting hardware) removal
Catalyst: Microswitches were mounted upon a custom fabricated & anodized piece of alumiumium alloy which replaced the stem cap
Mounting: Lamps were hung from a custom fabricated & anodized piece of aluminium alloy which replaced the front stem mounting plate. Size was critical as I was not in a position to replace my crappy old
Deore brakes (weak point of the whole bike at the mo) in time to complement this project. Since the brake/shifting cable housings might have been in the way, we decided to make a bracket that would complement their current positioning.
Added Weight: Must be a good 5-6 lbs but I don't care, so long as it's not "excessive". Everyone's definition of excessive weight is different of course but let's just say my last light system added about 15 lbs to my bike! Besides, this is my resistance training bike. My other bike is the fun one.
First impressions: Holy cow Batman, these things are bright, these things run superhot and OMG, I can still hear the ballasts whining from the other side of the box! Beam pattern works great for me and the weight is not intrusive although she has definitely lost some legs.
Output: The advertised bulb lumen of a D2S capsule is 3200 lumens. In the Xenon DE reflector/housing (computer matched to D2S capsules), assuming just statistically significant 5% loss (dunno could be 1% or 30% but just a figure), we're seeing a frontside total torch lumens output of 6080 lumens.
Hot Restrike Ability: Amazingly enought, yup, can do simultaneous hot restrikes.
Safety Concerns: As this is my own bike, I have accepted the real risks of running this guy. I'm not talking about having an electrical fire (happened to me on my last bike system LOL) or burning my fingers on something hot... I'm talking death... or Darwinism for those of you reading this with morbid curiosity... I know you're out there!
The biggest risk is of course that of electrocution. The hazard sticker is not just for looks, it is a dire warning for firefighters/safety crews as they inspect the sooted out twisted wreckage that was your sweet Lancer Evolution rallycar after you struck Bessie the dairy cow doing 130 over a blind jump and dropped your car down a valley. The second biggest risk imo is that of the front glass shield shattering because the Phillips 85122 D2S capsule runs super hot and will expel the contents of its superheated mercury right into your bloodstream (or through?) your bloodstream. Oh yes, let's not forget about the superfine flying glass.
Peculiarity/Surprise bonus: This D2S lighting system does a colour shift at about the 10 second warming up point from its nominal luxury car 4300K colour to something along the lines of a 3500K winter beater (similar to tungsten halogen colour temp). For most of my riding (dirt), this colour shift works in my favour as browns are not as "whitewashed" and I can see greens nicely in the relative absence of blue.
In general, it doesn't seem as bright but makes big gains in terms of object recognition in that natural landscape. I would like to know why it's happening though and really cannot think of anything other than voltage sag but it is my understanding that Li-Ion systems are not really susceptible to voltage sag or maybe I should say voltage drop when faced with excessive current drain. My battery pack is rated at 7.2Ah and 2.0C so a steady sub 3A draw (meaning 14.4A max draw should be ok) means it should do it without a sweat. Weird. I may test one day using this battery pack against other HID systems to see how it fares.
Reactions: Some of the local guys who have seen this absolutely love it. Some asked us if we were going to be selling them to the public but it's just too dangerous... besides, who would want/pay for this much lighting anyway?
Night riding: I never use these on the road by the way as that would lead to a car speeding right into me. I do love using them on dedicated paved bicycle paths though where rollerbladers and sad multitude of clueless non-biking bike trail users that just don't get it! Using them in big open grass fields, people about 300 meters away from you try to gauge which way you're coming and try to get away from you because they have absolutely no idea what it coming at them. Out on the trails where I normally use these things, I find that there is so much light I can use ceiling bounce to almost act as a bit of a rolling illumination flare to light the way.
There is a hotspot that is bright enough to cause dazzling from even 30 meters away depending on the target's colour and/or reflexivity quotients but the sidespill is very useful and is more than enough to light up a trail. One of the lights has the hotspot currently pointed to about 50 feet in front of the bike and I have to change that as it is so bright, I can't see anything else when that light is on even when pointed at good ole brown dirt. Yeah I just said it... it is too bright at times!
Kudos: I'd like to thank my bud Syd for helping out with the blood, sweat and tears he put into this project (hey I helped with the milling machine too!) and I'd also like to thank the guys/girls over at hidplanet, CPF and batteryspace for their assistance in speccing this guy out. I would have posted this up at CPF but mtbr.com allows me to upload pics to the forum directly... and so it shall be.
What's next?: Possibly some stipling/orange peeling of the reflectors to smoothen out the beam pattern at the expense of torch lumens.
Beamshots!: Enjoy, I just took some daytime beam shots because my camera will probably not represent night time shots too well... it's just a point and shoot. Anyway, you get the idea, just look at any recent luxo car and think just a touch yellower and no horizontal cutoff!
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