Wilma 6 x L&M ARC Li-ion - tested!
Does the world need another LED x HID or another Wilma 6 X ARC comparative? I dunno, but since this is a lighting forum I decided to post my first impressions after riding with these two lights together. First, a short background:
Iīve been riding offroad in the dark since I got into mountain biking (back in ī86). In the 90īs we had a small group that would ride in the streets during weekdays then hit the trails on the saturdays. We used flashlights and DIYs for the most part, since the NightRiders, Turbocats and other structured lightsets cost a fortune to import and werenīt widely available. Weīd put together heavy lead-acid batteries and camera headlights and hit the trails. Needless to say, after only 1 or 2 hours we were in total darkness, crawling our way back to the trailhead But it was as fun back then as it is today. Then I got serious about it and started to bring bike lights from my trips to US: a Turbocat, a NightSun, lots of small Cateye Halogens,Cygolites, even a Moon Unit from Canada, a handmade piece of art comprised of 12W+20W in alu heads and a Ni-MH battery. It was teh best money could afford at the time (early 90īs I guess).
I was so much into night riding that I decided to put together the 1st relay race of South America, the MTB 12 Hours of SP in ī96. That came after my taking part in the 24 Hours of Canaan and some other night races. I wanted to bring people to ride the trails at night. Today the MTB 12 Hours is one of the biggest races in Brazil and we have racers from Europe, US and many other places. Kelly Emmet, Tinker Juarez and others raced here and still do (yes they both kicked a$$ big time here ).
Anyway, back to the ligh test...
Last year I decided to try an HID and a LED. I got a Topeak MoonShine HID and a Cygolite HiFlux 100 LED. The Topeak worked fine for like 1 month then failed. I then took a Planet Bike Alias HID to test for a couple of months, and bought a Petzl MyoXP to use as a backup and helmet light. After returning the Alias HID to the importer, I finally decided for a L&M ARC Li-ion. Itīs super, I love this light. Last month when I bought me a Wilma 6 from Geoman, I was thinking about selling the ARC but even before getting the Wilma I decided to keep it. This past weekend I finally rode the two, side by side, comparing beams, ease of use, toughness, etc. Hereīs my opinion on both (and other aspects of bike lights as well), hoping that it serves as a rough guide to those looking for info on either lightsets. Please excuse my weak english...
HEADLAMP AND BATTERY + ACCESSORIES:
Well... the ARC is one nice light, very lightweight and compact. Itīs easy to setup, easy to use. Itīs stable, reliable: fast to charge, long lasting (Iīve scored 5hrs+ and arrived home with it burning bright on high). You have high (13.5W) and low (10W) and thatīs it. Mine took heavy rain, mud, the nasty, the bumpy, the fast, and yet when I get wipe it clean it is like new, zero. I just wish L&M would come up with a better wiring solution (itīs annoyingly long!) and a lower-sitting, centered assembly. But the way you can direct the light is very functional, with indepedent tilt and side-to-side adjustments. Simple yet effective.
The Wilma is a jewell. Its quality and built have been endlessly praised by owners but I just have to say it myself: from the moment you get the nice Lupine casing you get filled with joy. Maybe itīs the Lupine myth but itīs certainly built on their impecable reputation. Itīs small, I was amazed at the size and (low) weight of the battery. I had to open the nylon casing to check if it was indeed the 6.8Ah battery of the Wilma 6 and not the 4! It is smaller than it looks at Lupineīs site pics. No other light is faster to assemble than this: 15 seconds and youīre set.
I wasnīt thrilled upon reading the voltage display and fancy charging-discharging tricks of the PCV and smart charger untill I got it. The capability of knowing the battery condition is handy and usefull, and I have come to like it after only 2 rides. It adds to the feeling of realiablity and inspires confidence before leaving for the trail.
COLOR OF LIGHT:
The color of light is different and itīs noticeable. The LED is whiter, the HID is bluer. They say itīs a matter of luck whether you get an HID more or less blue, so I guess I was blessed with one white, bright, almost non-flickering ARC. Still, the Wilmaīs LED light is noticeably whiter, and also more consistent. They donīt clash but rather complement each other. My car has an HID low beam and a halogen high (although white halogen), so I know how they compare. I know many disagree but IMO itīs not bothering to have incandescent + HID or LED. But Iīd say that LEDs and HIDs complement each other much better. I was using a Petzl MyoXP LED on my helmet and I had noticed the difference of light before. But the Myo is focused and weak as compared to either the ARC and Wilma.
I have come to understand that brightness is not the final measurement of a bike light. I for myself would place beam pattern above pure light output. The Wilma looks brighter than the ARC but not by much. Itīs more focused and thereīs another important distinction: the nature of light. Iīm no expert in physics, but intuitivelly I notice something very important distinction between the light that comes from a LED, a halogen and a HID lamp. Iīll try to explain:
Despite the reflectors used, or beam pattern, the light emmited from a HID just seems to go everywhere. When I turn my ARC on, the light coming out of it seems to brighten up anything thatīs "clear" (as in white or with a white tint, or as oposed to dark). The whiter the light, the stronger this effect. Everything in its range, and even out of it to some extent, seems to "lit up" or "come alive" to my eyes. Itīs more detectable with LEDs than with halogens, and IMO itīs more detectable with HIDs than with any other light. That gives a nice sensation, because I get more and better contrast and reflection. When Iīm on a road, the signs and raod marks get really bright, I can see everything within a nice range, and that happens even where the light doesnīt seem to be reaching. Itīs like the photons are exploding everywhere, sticking to anything that has the least ammount of reflection.
In that sense, the wide beam of the ARC is unbeatable: it throws "that" kind of light everywhere. So although the Wilma seems brighter side-by-side, and the light emmited from the LEDs is also very white and smooth, on the trail the ARC seems brighter. Iīve never seen an Edison but IMHO the 13.5W of the ARCīs high beam is a killer. OK, I admit the beam patterns are different and all... but Iīm talking the very nature of the light emmited here. Itīs hard to put on words this feeling, and it sure doesnīt show on beam pics, but it comes clear once you use both lights at the same time or even alternating between them on a trail.
Both the ARC and the Wilma have smooth beams, courtesy of the high quality of the lenses (Wilma) and the reflector (ARC). I got used to the ARC wide beam, itīs the best Iīve ever used or seen (but then Iīve never used an Edison or a 30W HID). I do mostly fast, open roads (dirt) and some technical stuff on occasion, like some twisty technical singletracks in the woods. I am a lights-on-HB type. I just canīt get used to a helmet only light, regardless of how powerfull. My helmet light is only a backup, so I prefer to run a LED on my helmet (allowing me to turn it on and off anytime without concern to bulb and/or battery damage). Thus, the MyoXP - compact, lightweight, simple and reliable.
The Wilma has a more focused beam. Itīs OK and more than fine for most of my rides, especially considering the extreme output. It throws light pretty far down the trail, inspiring confidence in fast downhill as long as itīs not too tight or twisty. I ran it on the bars and the helmet, in duo with the ARC and solo. As expected, the ARC on the bars and the Wilma on the helmet proved the best combination. Some would call it overkill, but both lights are so light and compact you just canīt get overkill. I reached 60kph on a DH feeling super-safe and confident. Thatīs not overkill, maybe "overthrill" at most!
I got really busy having a ton of fun with the lights this weekend, so I wasnīt able to take decent pics of them on the trail. I wanted to give a first impression but Iīm taking some beam shots and all this week to post here. Those interested in seeing it, keep tuned!
I am quite used to good lights, being one happy owner of a L&M ARC HID light. I canīt stress enough its quality and built, its output and beam, for the price itīs a killer. I wonīt be selling it anytime soon. Not only for its quality or beam shape, but for its overall value. Besides, we donīt have this kind of light avaliable at shops around here, itīs imported one by one.
As for the Wilma.. itīs a Lupine, itīs LED and itīs for real. Serious stuff for night bikers of all kinds. Being a LED, itīs dimmable, itīs reliable, itīs tough and itīs sweet. No compromises here. Iīll be using it for road riding as well, since it has a more focused beam and dimming capabilities. Plus, itīs compact and lightweight, perfect for a road bike. I plan on purchasing a Betty early next yr, or maybe also an iBlaast.
Iīll be adding impressions to this topic as I take the Wilma for more rides as well. Flyer, you got that right: teh ARC on the hbars and the Wilma on the helmet is the way to go. You better get yourself another ARC soon!
Thanks for taking the time to write the report, and your English is fine. A good read. It really seems that the ARC is a very good relatively low cost HID.
I look forward to seeing the beam shots.
You did a great job with your descriptions and explanations. i agree with your observations about the ARC lighting up all sorts of stuff. I think it has the best beam pattern around. If L&M can replicate that beam pattern in the new LED lamp they are working on, it will be another amazing light by them. I still have the ARC as my bar option but I will try out the Betty as a bar light first. I'll utilize this expensive option to keep my batteries/chargers consistent. If it doesn't work out, I'm giving up and going back to the tried-and-true ARC on the bar.
Enjoy your night riding. I know I'll be doing much more of it very soon. I'm looking forward to your pictures though I know both lights quite well. I'll provide my Betty versus ARC versus Wilma impressions in a few weeks- hopefully not too long.
Looking forward to that review as I'll only be able to play with my lights in my garage until I get released back to the bike in Feb.
Originally Posted by Flyer
Betty better be worth it for the amount we're spending
Yeah, I know what you mean. I'm hoping the landlord will not miss this month's rent. I decided to invest it in the light.
The Betty better deliver
Judging from the Wilma, Iīd say that Betty must be a champ. Like, if you canīt go wrong with the lil sis, thereīs no way someone would be disappointed with the Betty. This stuff is addictive. Iīll be investing in one as soon as this "waiting list" shrinks, maybe even b4 next year... like, giving myself a nice Xmas present, for instance Flyer, going for another Lupine seems the best option to us Wilma owners, since itīll match the Wilma light best IMHO (not to mention the multiple battery and lightheads combinations it would allow).
I just took the Wilma for a quick road training ride (1:40hr total) in the streets, to see how good it is on pavement. Not as impressive as on the trail but very efficient still. I forgot to mention the dazzle factor: it draws a lot of attention and makes riding in the traffic that much safer too. Drivers see you, pedestrians see you, everyone just get curious about the light, but the effect is the same: you get noticed and respected.
Joe Dirt Status
Thanks for that. I too have a Wilma 6 (helmet mount) and will be asking Santa for the Betty for a bar mount.
Even if it's a nice day, I still enjoy riding at night better.
I have noticed that the evenness of the beam pattern is done very well by Lupine. I hear this about the 600L but have no experience with it. The even nature of the beam creates no distracting focus point for the eyes and the color and contrast is perceived well.
One light that seems to be at the opposite end is the Niteflux Photon. It has incredible throw but the bright hotspot, according to reviewers, is very distracting and almost forces your eyes to focus only on it. I don't know if it would be distracting/annoying to me but like car headlights, I prefer lights that throw out a very even beam. Lupine does have a very even pattern. They may use some sort of "diffuser" to attain this but I'm just guessing. Anyway, I like that a lot. Past a certain pricepoint, it's attention to details that makes a light stand out.
Part II - Another ride, different test this time...
Iīm just back from a ride (2h total) with the Wilma and the ARC. This time I had some friends riding with me, and one of them was using my ARC. I had the Wilma, most of the time anyway. We swaped lights a couple times so I could take a different perspective on both, on and out of my bike. Another friend was using a Topeak MoonShine HID; other had a Cateye Halogen 10W X 2 and the other had a Dinotte 200 (sweeet light!) and a small Cateye LED flashlight.
1) I noticed how the Wilma is much brighter than the ARC. I dunno if that comes at the expense of the width of the beam, or if itīs due to the kind of light... could be either or both, or none... I wonder what would be if the lamp used in the ARC could generate the same 830 lumens of the Wilma, or even the 1400 of the Betty... with that reflector, and being HID, how the beams would compare...
2) The ARC is sensibly brighter than the MoonShine, but then it reaches 13.5W whereas the Topeakīs high burns at 10W max (I wonīt mention the others since they donīt compare, except for the Dinotte which impressed me with the built and the nice beam - it must make an excellent LED to use on the helmet and complement a stronger HB light). I have owned a Topeak previously but it was my first chance to put both side-to-side. The beams donīt compare either - every time I put the ARC against another light I get wowed by its width and throw. Quite a punch, but then thatīs been stressed enough by me, Flyer and many others so Iīll stop the praising right here
3) It was my first time using only the Wilma on the bars. Itīs mighty fine. I already love it (I better, it cost me the left kidney ) but I feel Iīm gonna love it even more with the time. We did a lot of fast singletracks in the woods, not too many sharp turns but the speed + the overall conditions of the trail made it all very technical. I never felt I was in need for more light with the Wilma running on max. Its clearly more focused than the ARC. Everyone was amazed at the light it puts out, the low weight, the eveness of the beam and all its other features.
4) The dimming options of the Wilma make it a very, very flexible light in every situation. I programmed it to high (15W)/ mid (60%) and low (12%) and those covered 100% of situations: a low uphill grind, a fast cruise on a fireroad or a full-on dh in a singletrack. It beats other lights in "the ease of control" department too: having the PCV at reach is simply marvelous. This is where Lupines leave most competitors behind: itīs complete, a very well designed light. On the other hand... Iīm accustomed ("addicted"?) to riding with a lot of light (certainly from riding a HID for long). Since I donīt ever turn my ARC off once I start riding, I found myself using the Wilma on high most of the time. A bit of that was to compensate for the more focused beam as opposed to the ARCīs wide. Fine, itīs rated at 4hrs on high (Iīd guess it might hit 5hrs or even 6 with some time on low or 60% beam thrown in).
4) When I switched back to the ARC, I had the same feeling of safety (but then Iīm quite used to it), though it took me a few minutes to get used again to the bluish tint of the light. I could point the light further ahead compared to the Wilma and it would light it all up. I guess LEDs may be more powerfull than HIDs in terms of lumens or something, but these gas-charged lamps have some PUNCH!!! Maybe itīs just me (quite possibly) but LEDs seem to throw a somehow "weaker" beam, although "brighter". Itīs hard to tell for sure.. I need to elaborate more on this to come to a final conclusion. I could be well BSing heavily here.
5) My friends could ride on our lights: the Topeak, the ARC and the Wilma in such a small peloton offered plenty of light for everyone. Average speed was high, fun was ene higher. I donīt want to become overkill about this light thing but itīs addicitve. Ive got plenty of light to ride anywhere, anytime, in any situation or speed, but Iīm still drooling over the Bettys, iBlaasts, etc. Iīm even back to my DYI mood again... The Dinotte impressed me quite a bit too. Aaargh!
Iīm trying to post the indoor pics I took yesterday but Iīm new to this forum so Iīm still trying to figure this out
Good job with this. I also think the ARC has a bit more throw than the Wilma. I have to think that the Wilma uses some sort of diffuser to even out the beam and that may end the effective throw shorter than the ARC. I am adjusting to that too. However, the overall quality and potential to upgrade makes it a fantastic light. In two years, the Wilma could have a brighter beam, longer throw, and a wider pattern and we could simply upgrade it ourselves.
I like how you are making mental notes while riding and looking at peripheral light, comfort level, etc. It's similar to how I would review the light instead of simply snapping beamshots and comparing brightness. I really like your descriptions and details. Try to get a 600L sometime by asking in your local forum. That is an impressive light as well though nowhere near as fancy and well-designed as the Lupines.
Thanks for the review.
Wow. I agree that your reviews are thoughtful and thorough in a most useful and helpful way. I think your English is excellent too. I'm looking forward to the beam shots.
I was not even thinking of getting a HID, but now I'm thinking I might look into the ARC a little further...
L&M will discontinue the ARC probably by the end of 2008 so it's a good option for another year or two max. After that, parts like spare bulbs may be hard to get. As much as I like the ARC and HID beams, they are heading to the grave eventually. Classics like the Edison are already gone, I think.
Eventually there will be halogens and LEDs. Halogens are still a really good option, as unpopular as some may think they are. They sell quite well and I see many on the trails. The lights are inexpensive, bulbs are inexpensive, and the light color is actually my favorite. The amber color is warm and contrast is nice as long as there ins't a bouncing bright orb. Lupine and Jet Lites make the best halogens. I would personally use lights like the Phantom, Passubio, or Nightmare. Well, Turbocat stuff is amazing but they never got the batteries to last long enough nor the chargers to work fast enough. They are getting better but not fast enough.
Here's to the good old halogens- nobody ever talks about them. I'm old fashioned but I still like them. Okay, enough of that...where the heck is my Betty?
Loved my Turbocats circa 2000. Light pattern was great and CNC machinery was first-class.
Originally Posted by Flyer
But, unfortunately, they choose not to change with the times and their product today is essentially the same as it was back then. I see they finally evolved from Ni-Cad to NiMh batteries. But their website still says HID are unreliable. Nice.
12 hour charge times and 2hour run times just don't cut it anymore.
But the combo of their bar mounted flood and helmet mounted spot was dynomite and in some ways I preferred it to my dual ARC HID setup.
I looked up the ARC at Speedgoat, and for that price I'd rather get another Jetlite. But I really like the idea of the LED's so I might not go that route.
Originally Posted by Flyer
Yeah, it's really too bad that Tom and his crew at Turbocat are only focusing on the halogen niche. The lights are just outstanding and the beam pattern of the S47 is the best I have seen from any light. They have refused to change with the times or cannot afford to do so. At the least, they should get those lights to run longer.
If anyone is curious, check out the older light shootout here on mtbr. Pull up the non-HID pics and look at the Turbocat S47 beamshot. It is stunning. I may have posted that link here somewhere a couple of weeks ago.
Maybe I should "encourage" Tom to get with the times
Thanks everyone for reading and sharing your opinions too. I find these light and beam matters to be quite intriguing and rather "intuitive" or better viewed by "perception" as compared to absolute numbers (burntimes, lumens, etc., better suited to compare batteries and stuff). Sometimes itīs easier to try and describe those feelings instead of just comparing pics. For instance, I noticed how the ARC halo doesnīt show on pics, not to the point of really giving an idea of how efficient it is on a real trail, so I try to describe it in words. But still, Iīll post the pics here, itīs good to illustrate and maybe even draw some conclusions wit the help of everyone
Yeah the S47 is one amazing light. I remember it was the best we could find, even better than the Nightsuns and Nightriders, and itīs still one fine halogen. Back in the 90īs I managed to get me a Moon Unit, from Canada (does anyone here know about these?). I still have it, though the bulbs both burned and the battery most certainly died long ago from lack of use. A friend of mine has one too and his is still working fine, though burning times are really SHORT now - from 1 to 2 hours max depending on beams (it has a 12w flood low + a 20w spot, making for 32w total and a nice beam. You need to somehow "manage" closely the whole charging/discharging so not to harm the battery, itīs a hassle. And bulb life is also poor. All things considered Iīd say halogens are not nearly as reliable as HIDs (which despite being quite reliable IMHO, come a close second to LEDs.
I have to agree with Squeaky Wheel here: "12 hour charge times and 2hour run times just don't cut it anymore". Not in the super-long burntimes era afforded by LEDs and even HIDs. Now itīs the opposite: 2hr charge, 12+hr run times
Beamshots - Part I
Here are some pics taken from my balcony. I directed the beams to the wall of a building in construction right next to mine. It is about 9 to 12ft away and itīs not perfectly regular (you can see itīs not finished yet), but I found that to be good since it shows the light on a different, rough and "real" surface (whatever that means hehehe ). The cam is very basic (from my Nokia phone, 3.2mp and no specific setups or anything - I just disabled the flash and hit the click). My bro is a photographer and weīll be doing a session with the lights this weekend (on the trail and in the garage). Hopefully better images will come out this time.
ARC: itīs hard to see the spill in the pics, but thereīs a nice spill around that center "hot spot". The light in this "halo" is visible but it is also "brightening", as I said it reflects nicely onto the stuff in its range. Somehow it increses the overall "illuminating effect" of the light. Thatīs the beauty of the ARC. The spot goes a long way into the trail without affecting the light closer to the bike.
Wilma: WHOA! one huge, bright, even spot but thatīs it, it has almost no light out of that bright area. But itīs incredibly powerfull and as such, excellent for 99% of off road situations. That spot reaches pretty far too, one must be really (I mean really!) fast to outrun this beam. Itīs like riding in daylight if youīre not going on a very technical trail.
ARC (left) + Wilma (right) - both running on max: although the pic sucks in quality, itīs possible to notice the difference in the color of light. And like I said, my ARC is in fact quite "white" compared to some other similar 10w HIDs (the Topeak had an even bluer tint and rings and halos in its uneven beam).
ARC projecting to a farther wall (thatīs the building in constrution): notice how the wall at the front (just bellow the beam) gets some spill and is slightly brighter, as compared to the Wilmaīs (pic bellow). That effect is enhanced in "real life", and the darker the trail, the more evident it becomes.
Now, the Wilma projeting on exactly same spot: itīll wash ARCīs beam even on 60% (9w), the center spot anyway, at any distance. I know, that alone (lumen count) doesnīt tell the whole story, but itīs impressive all the same.
Bellow is an older pic taken on a dirt road with the ARC. As with all pics, it doesnīt quite reflect the real beam, but it is possible to have an idea of the spill īcos the bikeīs laying on the trailside. I didnīt have the Wilma by then, but it was taken using the same cam and technique as above. Iīm posting it just to give an idea. Furthermore, everybody seem to appreciate beam pics so here it is (we canīt have too much of it can we )
Last edited by Alex SP; 11-08-2007 at 02:56 PM.
Nice job! Great input and terrific observations.