First a qualifier...
1. I don't ride mtn bike trails or single track much. Usually I'm on the road or a crushed cinder stone rails-to-trails path.
My previous background using lights consists of a light, the NightHawk Emittor (original), that uses the first generation Luxeon 1 watt emittors, probably rated about 35ish Lumens on high. I've had this light for two years now and, for the most part, I've gotten by. I wished for more light but only now are LEDs finally getting bright enough with long enough run times (run time is a major point of importance for me as I ride hours at a time) at the price level I can manage.
My ride tonight consisted mainly of city riding, aka commuter situation, followed by the rails-to-trails path and then the ride home from the trail. This is just a first general impression of the light.
I used to be seen pretty well with my NightHawk on high. Usually though it wasn't until I was fairly close to cars pulling out, turning, etc. Still, I was seen and I've had a number of jerky and quick stops of cars happen. I used the Stella on flashing mode and there were plenty of street lights so I didn't need a steady mode to see.
- I still had some of the jerky and quick stops happen but I also had, for the first time, cars wait, with me being, oh, maybe 10 or 20 seconds away.
- I had one driver yell at me to get off the road (four lane road with me in the right most lane and him in the farthest lane coming towards me). GOOD!
- Without I doubt I was being seen by cars and I had more than a few "wow, that's a light" comments from pedestrians. I even had one car who had started cutting me off, I was in the bike lane on the right most side of the road, as the driver was turning right brake sharply after I'm guessing he noticed the blinking light in a mirror. He kept going though and I was prepared for this to happen even though the driver didn't have a turn signal on. After commuting for awhile you really do see accidents happen before they happen!!!
- My perception, and this is only a perception, is that drivers weren't sure if I was some type of emergency vehicle or not and thus were waiting before pulling out and such just in case I was even though they probably doubted it. They also very well have realized I was a biker and were being courteous. Again, either way, I was seen and this is GOOD!
- I switched to steady a few times just to see what would happen and, although I wasn't getting quite as much courtesy from cars pulling out I was still getting seen. The flashing mode does seem to cause a little confusion in drivers thus my previous comment about being an emergency vehicle.
- When I had the beam on high (not flashing) I found that my light was not getting washed out by cars passing me from behind. The light blended in with cars for the most part but I could still make out my beam, although it was pretty faint but I didn't have to strain to make it out either.
NOTE: This occurred without street or other ambient lighting and with all cars that passed me.
- With cars coming towards me I had enough light to still see my path ahead of me. I had a few cars switch off their high beams while still being, oh I'd saaaay, 100ish yards, maybe 200ish yards, away. One thing I did note is that nobody flashed their brights at me so hopefully I had the light tilted just down enough, although I setup the light for my needs without worrying about how it affected drivers. If I were on a quiet country road with very little traffic I would probably have the light one power level down from high most of the time.
- Overall: this is an excellent commuter light coming from a "what a light should do for a commuter" point of view. I can only imagine how a more powerful HID or light such as the TriNewt would affect drivers.
- By the time I had ridden to the trail head there was a light misty rain.
- Never once did I need to run the light at full power. In fact, I was just fine with, not medium, not low, but the "read" power level which is 40 lumens. Now, I must point out that on a good moonlit night I usually turn my light off so keep this in mind.
- The beam pattern was excellent. I got plenty of light throw straight ahead and plenty of flood spill a few feet in front of the bike. I was not wanting for more flood at all.
- The only thing I didn't, kindof sorta, like was the light from the power switch. It really wasn't bad but covering it with my hand brought back a little better sense of the darkness around me. This wasn't a problem at all while commuting. I will be bringing a little piece of electrical tape to mostly cover the switch from now on.
A few things I didn't like overall but aren't really a problem
- The light head is fully positionable up and down and left to right. This is great especially as my old Emittor was 360 deg but with indented stops so it wasn't a true 360 deg postionability, the Stella is. The downside to this is that if you do need to switch power levels you will move the light head out of position. The upside to this, is that it is very easy and quick to reposition it. So not really a problem and this will probably stop being a problem all together as I won't be switching power levels anywhere near like I did tonight being that I was testing it out.
- My handlebar is only the 25.4 (.7?) diameter near the stem clamping area. A couple of times the handlebar mount slid down the taper and thus started swinging around. I will be adding some additional rubber inside the light's bar clamp to allow it to tighten down on the smaller diameter portion of the bar. With the high adjustability of the light head, where it is on the bar, won't be much of an issue.
So overall this is a great little light. And when I say little I mean the light is about the size of a AA mini maglight head. Nice. I doubt that I personally will ever use the helmet mount but hey, I do occasionally get some trails in at Ft. Custer. At least it's an option if I want it. Today I probably was around 18-20 mph on the road so true road riding speeds are yet to be tested. Maybe tomorrow night? I will try to get some beam shots soon. I arrived at the trail head, took out my camera, and what did I need, fresh batteries . Stupid me.
So I hope this little guide helps some riders out there.
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