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  1. #1
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    BR Lights C2 – Pro Review

    [SIZE=3]BR Lights C2 – Pro Review[/SIZE]
    Author: Scott Schlachter and Francis Cebedo
    Date: Nov 28, 2006

    Introduction:
    I've been doing night-rides since about 1990 when I borrowed one of the very first Nightsun dual beams and my buddy took me for a ride at Rockville. I've owned many lights since then, including multiple lights from Nightsun, Nightrider, and Light and Motion. I've recently converted to the camp that would choose a helmet-mount over a bar-mount unit if I were to only have one unit. (yes, I know that most folks would choose the opposite). But The C2 light from BR Lights would make that decision tough for me... Fortunately, I'm no longer in college eating top ramen every way you can possibly cook it, so I night ride with a bar and helmet mount.



    Specs and Features:
    Weight: 415 g (.9 lbs) - All inclusive
    Head Size: 3.5 x 2.63x 1.9 inches (89x67x48mm)
    Burn Time:
    3.8 hrs (High)
    9.0 hrs (low)
    Charge Time: <1.2 hrs (0% to 100%)
    Modes: High: 185 lumens, Low: 78 lumens
    Battery: Integrated Li-Polymer, 22.2 V @1400 mAh
    Battery Indicator: Single-point Digital 6 stage indicator
    Mounting: 22-32 mm Bar Mount

    Features:
    Dual Emitter Technology
    Integrated Batteries
    6-Stage, Single-point-of-focus Battery Indicator
    Aerospace Grade Aluminum Case
    Dual Axis Mount
    Convenient Carrying Case

    Review:
    Our test night ride was about 2.5 hours, totally in the dark, and most of it on single track - sometimes tight and twisty, sometimes fast and flowy. I did experiment with turning it down to the dim setting on a few sections of singletrack, just to get a feel for the how it would do if ran it like that, but other than that I pretty much left the C2 on the high setting the whole time. Before we go any further, it should be noted that on high, this thing has a 3.8 hour run time (!), and on low it's 9 (!!) hours.

    So, OK, how do you get that kind of runtime: huge battery? Nope. Dim lights? Nope. The answer is by having a Li-Polymer battery (compact and lightweight), and 2 solid state white LEDs for the lamps (almost as energy efficient as HID, and sans the annoying blue color). How bright canthose LEDs get? BR Lights web page says "High: 185 lumens, Low: 78 lumens". I'll just say that in high-beam mode, it seemed as bright or brighter then any other light that I've owned or used (except a DH buddy of mine's Home-Depot-Special-100-Watter). It was MUCH MORE pleasing to the eye compared to my HID because it's a nice white light. In fact, I'd almost say it's a more pleasing color then most halogens, which tend to have a yellowish color - especially when in their dim modes. The two LEDs are mounted vertically, and one is set up narrow-beam like a spot light, and the other is wide, like a flood. On the trail, you can't tell that it's two separate beams. You end up getting about the perfect spread.


    (click on image to enlarge)

    So, killer battery life, killer light output, killer light color, check-check-check. What's next? Ease of use... The light is turned on by holding down the nickel-sized button located on the top of the light on the top for a second or two. The button can then be used to alternate between high and low outputs. Hold it down for another second or two and it turns off. On the trail I found it easy to get to and to use. What more do you want? Nuff said. Check. Indicator? A bi-color LED (red/green) mounted right in front of the button can be used affectively to indicate 6 different stages of charging. On the trail, I saw it transition from 100-83% (it wasn't fully charged, so only a little ways into the ride it went to 82-67%), down to 49-33% by the end. On the trail, I thought that the indicator and color scheme was easy to read and understand. Check.


    Mounting? Pretty much killer, but I have to admit that I struggled just a little bit trying to do put it on in the dark. After I stupidly unscrewed the thumbscrew all the way, I finally decided to turn a light on (my helmet mount light) and realized that one of my brake lines kept getting in the way. Once I shed some light on the subject, the light was mounted within seconds. One of the brilliant things about this mount is it fits both standard and oversized handlebars. This is the first mount I've seen that can do this effectively.Check.

    What's left? Wiring? There is none. Check. Durability? As much as it pains me to admit it, I crash sometimes. Last night I crashed. It was shortly before we ran into C & B on the trail (hey dudes), in a seriously windy section of singletrack that had a ton of fall leaves, and a BIG 'ol rock appeared from around a corner. I leaned too much to try to take the turn on the inside of the rock, and the leaves were kind and helped me go into a two wheel slide. I'm pretty sure I ran the light right into that bolder. What happened? Nothing. I just twisted it back into place on my bars. No marks on the aluminum box that I could even tell. The light was still on, illuminating that damn big bolder. Crash test? Check.

    When I heard and saw from his web page that this is a self-contained unit, I though it might be big and bulky. It's fairly small and it is incredibly light at 405 grams complete


    (click on image to enlarge)

    OK, so what's left to talk about? Price... At $375, it ain't cheap. But, this is not a cheap light. This is a totally sweet, high-end, rugged night light with state-of-the art everything. The packaging, the weight, the run-time and the brilliant white, bright beam pattern is a combination that's hard to beat. Here's the kicker: as far as I can tell, none of them have anything that even competes.

    Although I didn't even see it, this thing comes with a hard case - not a cheap nylon pouch. Nice touch...

    Finally: bar vs. helmet. Ok, that's really the only knock that I can think of. You can't mount this thing to your helmet. Well, unless you want to get all McGuiver with some duct tape and zip ties, and don't mind being all bobble-headed. Actually, at 405g, it probably wouldn't even be that bad.


    (click on image to enlarge)


    Strengths:
    - brilliant light, nice color, great beam pattern
    - self contained unit at 405 grams
    - incredible run-time at 4 hours full power and 9 hours low
    - accurate fuel guage using indicator lights
    - very fast charging
    - nice carrying case

    Weaknesses:
    - no helmet mount option
    - not the most attractive exterior design
    - this is not the brightest light for the money
    - charging cap cover is easy to lose

    Beam Pattern Comparison:
    BR Lights C2 on the left vs. Light and Motion Vega (right)


    (click on image to enlarge)
    Conclusion:
    In the exciting arena of LED lights, this is the finest effort so far. It is a self-contained unit that is insanely light, yet fully trail-worthy. It is easy to mount, easy to aim and has brilliant light with a great beam pattern. At less than 1 pound, it's the type of light you can leave on your bike all the time. If you get caught in the dark, no problem. If you get lost overnight for nine hours, no problem. If they guys want to bomb down crazy singletrack for four hours, no problem.

    Overall Rating:
    I give the BR Lights C2 4.5 chilis out of 5


    Retail Price:
    $375
    Website
    http://www.brlights.com
    User Reviews
    http://www.mtbr.com/reviews/Lights/product_128943.shtml
    Last edited by francois; 11-28-2006 at 07:10 PM.
    IPA will save America

  2. #2
    Surly OG
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    Very nice review, Very nice concept and definitely viable....

    My only gripe is the styling.... just doesn't quite look moto (Salsa parlance) and we all know how image concious MTBers are.....

    As a former Adventure racer - burn times are a concern, as is light weight. LED headlamps reign as Illumination for the climbs with HID's for the descents. In Expedition races, sometimes the bike legs are 100's of miles, some with assisted CP's and others unsupported legs. Expedition AR's vary in length from 300-600+ miles, non-stop, some self supported, some full support, ALL PAIN and SUFFERING, this may be an awesome tool for AR racers for early adoption of the product.

    Then the capital will be there to do a revamp of the styling for the MTBers.
    Earn your turns. )'(

  3. #3
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    yeah, its true, its not the most beautiful light in the world. that was my first reservation as well, but sometimes i just have to get over my own damn vanity and realize that nothing i put on my bike is gonna make me any cooler or better looking- i've already reached those pinacles ok, seriously, this light is so good at doing what a light should do- light the trail on night rides and the road on my long commutes with hassle free ease, i can overlook the big hips..errrrr...i mean, boxy styling, or should be call it retro?. it charges insanely fast and comes with its own carry case. although, i just leave it on the bike all the time. i do know a couple people who are using it for endurance stuff and its is the cat's meow for those things. its a light for riders, not posers. maybe once it gets some new styling it can be a light for riders and posers.

  4. #4
    Surly OG
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    yeah form follows function but aesthetics are important, otherwise we would all still be driving Model A's and wearing gunny sacks. I don't look good, and I can't ride but I like for my bike to please the eye when I place it on the altar.

    I'm sure the circuitry layout can be manipulated to provide a more streamlined product. This is Silicon Valley.... you could probably find someone at the 'bucks at the Mercado to do it for a cup of coffee.

    I already spent $400.00 on Jet Lites 3yrs ago.... Still rocking strong.... can't justify a new set up.
    Earn your turns. )'(

  5. #5
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    Great review, Francis.

    The only issue I have is that I can't believe that it would be beter than an L&M HID that you can get for around $270 and will burn for 3.5 hours on high.

    I think that the light color would be more pleasing than a HID.

    I think that LEDs are almost there.... just not quite yet.

    I'd be happy to try one and I'll post a truthful review... even if I am totally wrong about the light.

  6. #6
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    Very nice review, how are lumens measured?

    I really like the review. Thanks for including the photos of the beam pattern and the comparison to the Vega. This is useful information. Too many light reviews are so subjective that I can't really take any useful information away.

    How can I measure lumens? It seems like publishing lumens for each light would be a start in helping us compare them. I realize there is much more to how well a light works, but that would help.

  7. #7
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    doesnt look like much, but that 1.2 hour charge time is pretty awsome.

  8. #8
    CHOCOLATE NASTIES Baker
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    Safety?

    My only concern would be the safety of the Li-Po battery (especially attached to your head). As shown in these two videos, if the batteries are overcharged or sustain an impact that ruptures the cell the batteries can spontaneously ignite!

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?do...60570423705609
    http://video.google.com/videoplay?do...60570423705609
    Master of the unintentional track stand.

  9. #9
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    It is very difficult and expensive to measure lumen output, which is why most companies don't specify it. You need a very expensive piece of test equipment, I think called, an integrating sphere in order to do it.

    It appears that this light uses Li-Po batteries, which are known for being a lot more stable that standard Li-Ion "wet" cells. I believe those "wet" ones are the ones that are exploding, not the polymer type. Could be wrong though...

    Nice review. Looks very promising for LED technology.

  10. #10
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    Does the cable cap screw on so it won't get lost?

  11. #11
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    I generally don't charge my battery whilst it's on my head but my house would not like it too much. I worked in the utiltiy market selling NiCad and NiMH battery operated splicing and cutting tools and there is alot of confusion ( brought forth by the manufacturers ) about charge time, burn time, life expenctancy and memory( can't hold a charge over time ) and the what causes memory.

    I go for two things: Burn time and warranty. These batteries are notorious for starting out great and after 2 seasons deteriorating rapidly. NiCad batteries can be rebuilt since they are generally just a series of batteries tied together, but no one seems to offer more than 2 years on the warranty. Theres a company called Batteries Plus and they can rebuilt most NiCads. The think the NiMH are probably the best but I have had issues below 30 degrees and above 90. They will not work at all at 30 and won't allow you to charge them above 90.

    I would guess that the manufacturers that make the LiPoly batteries have a by-pass to prevent overcharging and the 2 guys in the video disabled it. OR they completely over looked this issue. Where these the same batteries that Dell had to recall????Mmmmmmmm...........

  12. #12
    Hoops - Big and Small
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    New Year End Price!

    Quote Originally Posted by francois
    Price... At $375, it ain't cheap. But, this is not a cheap light. This is a totally sweet, high-end, rugged night light with state-of-the art everything
    $295 according to their website

    http://www.brlights.com/_mgxroot/page_10758.html

    The ONE light Head V Bar mount debate - comes down to trail type

    Tight Twisty Singletrack - no choice but helmet mount.

    Fire Roads or Flowy Singletrack - bar mount works here.

  13. #13
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    The cap does screw on. i've riddin with it for over 50 hours in the woods so far and hasn't come loose yet.

  14. #14
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    Battery concerns addressed

    Let me try to arrest some of the safety concerns about this light as I’ve got some insider info on the engineering behind it.

    When it comes to the batteries it has all the safety features built in. Its smart battery charger protects against overcharging as well as detects to see if the battery is fit for charging before it begins. The lights internal electronics also have built in low voltage shutdown to protect the cells from over-discharge. These features together fully protect against battery damage. Even though the pack charges faster than anything on the market (almost 2x faster), the battery doesn’t get warm while charging. You can’t say that about other NiMH or Li-Ion batteries.

    For those concerned with the videos posted earlier. Those cells are super high discharge cells used by the RC industry, which do require special care. The batteries in this light are not capable of combustion when over-charged or shorted. They are of a lower discharge rate capability similar to those used in cell phones.

    The one remaining safety concern would be puncturing the battery pack. If you’re worried about that you’ll have to want to do it because it won’t be easy. They’re encased in the light’s solid aluminum hosing, 0.08 inches thick on all sides. You can run a car over the light and it doesn’t even flinch.

  15. #15
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    Battery concerns answered

    Let me try to arrest some of the safety concerns about this light as I’ve got some insider info on the engineering behind it.

    The Li-Poly batteries in this light have all the safety features built in. Its smart battery charger protects against overcharging as well as detects to see if the battery is fit for charging before it begins. The lights internal electronics also have built in low voltage shutdown to protect the cells from over-discharge. These features together fully protect against battery damage. Even though the pack charges faster than anything on the market (almost 2x faster), the battery doesn’t get warm while charging. You can’t say that about other NiMH or Li-Ion batteries.

    For those concerned with the videos posted earlier. Those cells are super high discharge cells used by the RC industry, which do require special care. The batteries in this light are not capable of combustion when over-charged or shorted. They are of a lower discharge rate capability similar to those used in cell phones.

    The one remaining safety concern would be puncturing the battery pack. If you’re worried about that you’ll have to want to do it because it won’t be easy. They’re encased in the light’s solid aluminum hosing, 0.08 inches thick on all sides. You can run a car over the light and it doesn’t even flinch.


  16. #16
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    Sort of looks like they took this concept:

    http://www.solidlights.co.uk/

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