09 October 2009

Gear Review: BR Lights C2.1-H

Yet another gear review...

Some of the best bike rides I've ever been on have occurred in total darkness. I can recall one ride in particular in which a woman who was leading the ride declared that we simply hadn't ridden far enough that evening and "would anybody mind if we rode down to the beach?". The vote was unanimous -- so off to the beach we went. The ride had already been a ton of fun up until this point but this addition put the ride over the top. We made our way to the coastline and then started cruising down the beach at around 22mph. The moon was obscured by many clouds that evening and was definitely not full. I could dimly see the waves off to my left, and the air smelled of the sea. Because we were riding far after tourist season had ended, we were only interrupted by two cars for our entire journey down the shoreline. Except for the sounds of the waves crashing on the beach, the wind in my ears, and the occasional voices of my fellow riders, it was serenely quiet. This was a glorious ride.

Anyways, this is a long introduction to review the bike light that I purchased a few years ago: the BR Lights C2.1-H. This light seems to be the marriage of two recent developments in the technology world: decent white LED bulbs and lithium-ion batteries.

Before I tell you what I think of this light, I need to tell you something: the gentleman who owns and operates BR Lights is a very good friend of my brother-in-law. I paid full price for my light, and I guess one of the little things that went through my head before I bought this light was that if I ever ran into any problems that I would probably have a good customer experience because of my brother-in-law. I'd heard some complaints against other more-famous manufacturers of bike lights, and I wanted to avoid this. This I just wanted a reliable light that was bright and kept me safe at night. More about this at the end of the review...

So, anyways, I bought a C2.1-H and immediately put it to use for some rides with friends. This light easily attaches to a handlebar and the attachment is secure. The body of this thing is pretty much indestructible (see the video on the website of a car running over one of these lights). On top of unit itself is a very simple user-interface -- an indicator light that shows how much charge is left and a button for controlling the light. The button on top of the light is easy to use, even when wearing (I am not kidding...) three pairs of gloves. I found it to be very easy when riding in cold weather to put the light into "low output mode" when I was riding in the back of the pack and "high output mode" when I got near the front of the pack.

This unit comes with two bulbs -- one produces light in a wide, diffuse pattern and the other produces a more narrow beam. For the type of road biking that I do, this combination is perfect. I can see how somebody who mountain bikes at night would maybe want to augment all of this with something that is helmet-mounted.

As for light output, this unit is really really bright.

Basically, I have ridden with this light on many occasions....in rain, in cold weather, etc. The light has never failed me in these conditions, and I have had a lot of fun in the process.

Highly recommended.

One last thing in my review: this light turned out to be extremely handy during the ice storm last year. It was nice to be able to leave my wife at home with a very powerful, very long-running flashlight. The one problem that I experienced with this light was that the unit itself got damaged from being charged from my generator's (probably very noisy) power output after five days of charging. So, I sent the unit in for repair, and the gentleman who own's BR Lights (my brother-in-law's friend) fixed the light for a small fee.

If you are in the market for a really bright bike light, one that is bombproof and well-designed, I think that you should check out the lights from BR Lights.

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