Apart from some minor annoyances, I love riding at night. The light slowly fades, it’s quiet and you get to see more wildlife that normally hides away.
I’ve ridden behind owls flying, I’ve seen badgers and weasels, and of course too many rabbits to count.
If I could change one thing though, it’ll be other cyclists and their headlights. I’ve got a powerful front light as some of my local routes are pitch black with no lighting. However, when I see another cyclist, pedestrian or jogger, I put it down to the low setting. No one else seems too, making it hard to judge seperation on very narrow cycle paths.
But, there are issues. First off was battery life. Initially, it sucked. They would run out of juice just sitting there on the desk, meaning a charge every day. A firmware update went a long way to curing this, unless you are an Android user. The companion app took months to arrive from see.sense, they blamed the exit of their developer, and farmed it out to an external company. A release was made, but it lacked almost all the features, and was pretty much only able to turn the lights on an off. So if you wanted to update the firmware, you needed an iOS device, or at the very least a mate with an iOS device..
Now, in the latest Kickstarter news letter, they’ve stated an in-house android developer will soon be starting, so hopefully we shall have a passable android app soon(ish).
Other than the poor development and battery life issues, they really are quite a good set of lights for commuting with.
The mounting options for the lights are first class, you get a multitude of mounts as standard: including a seat-post mount, aero seat-post mount, and bag clip, which I use to mount to the back of my jacket as I’ve two rears, so one on the seat post, and one on my back. There have been reports of lights falling out of the cradle, but I assume this is due to not being clipped in correctly. My lights seem to be in solid when clipped in correctly. See.Sense, to my horror lobbed a poor innocent bike off a roof, and the lights stayed on, that was the icon2, however it uses the same mounting system.
The ACE lights feature the same intelligence of the previous lights, with a little more processing power. They can track changes in movement, g-force, and ambient lighting; tailoring the light output to the conditions and surroundings: for example, on a quiet road the light lets out just a gentle pulse, but if a car’s headlights are detected then the light lets out a sudden burst to increase awareness.
The reactivity both noticeably improves road presence, compared to a regular mid-power flasher. My only continued niggle with the reactive element of the See.Sense lights is that the sudden bursts of light from the front light can be a little distracting. This is because the light is designed to have good side visibility, which unfortunately includes the upper side too – upwards towards your eyes, should you have it mounted horizontal on the bars. To be fair, my favourite daytime lights also have this issue, the Exposure Trace. A sliver of electrical tape however remedies this.
The Smartphone integration allows you to tailor the output of the light to further improve battery life. It also allows you to use the movement sensor as a theft alert. Both useful features, if they ever get the android app to release.
I thought I’d just make a quick post about the difference in the rear lights in these two images.
The top image is the See.Sense Icon+, and the bottom one is the Exposure TraceR react. Both lights are Set to their maximum output, although the Icon may of limited its power as its stationary. However, the difference here is notable. The TraceR directs alot more light back, and spilling further out, whereas the Icon spits light out in almost every direction.
So, which light is better for visibility on the road? While they both do a superb job, the Icon is more eye-catching, and dispite not casting light as far back as the TraceR, it is just, if not more visible, than the TraceR.
I’d certainly feel safe with either light on the rear, but would nearly always reach for the Icon when heading out.
One bonus of the TraceR is that mount. It takes up alot less space on the post than the Icon, so if space is an issue, such as running with a saddle bag the TraceR fits better.
Pumping out 75 lumens, for its size is remarkable. Visible from a distance, and with its daybright settings very noticeable during the day, but unlike the icon, the flash pattern is the same, one long flash and two rapid, whereas the icon seems to be more random, with increased detection of the surroundings. The tracer is constantly lit however, which gives drivers the ability to judge distance in the dark.
Runtime is good, with 6 hours on the high flash, is more than enough to ride for a good week before recharge. Which brings me onto the only issue I have. The charging port is covered by a silicon band, and that is incredibly hard to move but does make for a very watertight seal.
The react built into the light works in a similar fashion to the see.sense, but I think the see.sense is more adaptable to the environment, and noticeable to those behind.
What both lights share, is pain for those riding behind you. Even on the lower settings they distract, and in some cases are quite painful to ride behind. At least with these lights you’ll be sent to the back, and never have to have a turn on the front.. Well, that’s my excuse anyway 🙂
Will it replace my icon+ as my favourite? It’s close, but no.
So, Ive gone and got myself a couple of new toys to play with. With doing more and more dark rides, I decided to up the lighting game and bought a diablo and tracer light. Neither of which I really need, but hey, why the hell not.
The tracer is to complement the see.sense rear, which having recently died a death is being replaced under warranty. I really didn’t want to be stuck with the cateye rapid x should things die again. Although it’s a good light, it isn’t the most powerful light.
The diablo will mostly be used mounted on the helmet to complement the Volt 800. Not on road, but definitely down the cycle paths. The diablo is certainly a beautiful piece of engineering, light and yet solid with its solid metal construction. Only issue is a short battery life on full blast. I don’t envisage running it on full much, if ever. So one of the lower power settings should do just fine,with occasional blasts of 1500 lumens.
This year, I’m planning to ride at least 2018 with my strava plan being set to 2500, which works out to 50 miles a week. But already the plans have been scuppered by the storm, and I’ve only got 19 miles down. Hopefully I’ll get a couple of 20 milers done before Monday. If not, it’ll be added onto next week’s totals. So long as I get more than 2018 miles or more this year I’ll be happy.
I tend to wimp out for heavy winds,rain and old I can deal with, but winds are my limit. With gusts approach 40mph and more, it would be stupidity on my part to ride, especially since most of the routes I ride this would equate into a side wind for most of it,and that dos’nt make good conditions to ride in.
As you know, I recently picked up a pair of See.Sense Icon+ lights, and have now ridden a couple of rides with them. Safe to say I love these lights.
They increase my visibility on the road, and give me a sense of safety. Seeing the front light I’ve sort of worked out the responses they have;
Senses decrease in speed
Senses drop in ambient light
Senses increase in ambient light
Senses tilt to react to hill climb
Senses lateral tilt for sharp cornering
Senses a sprint
And any combination of the above. They are ideal daytime running light, as they are bright enough to be seen from a fair distance.
Build wise, they are solid. No movement in the plastic face or back.
Mounting them onto the bike is easy with the supplied straps
, however I’ve noticed a tendency for them to move. While not a major issue, I find it annoying. I mount the rear on the saddle post, which unfortunately means no saddle bag will fit. And the front on the lower head tube. My one criticism would be the button on the units. They are a little tough to turn on. The cover over the button is significantly larger than the button, meaning you some times miss all together. Not a major gripe but it does get annoying.
It’s that time if year again. Time to dig out the lights, although some say you should always run lights. And there has been times I’ve not noticed a cyclist due to having a backdrop of dark.. Or dappled light.
So you get your lights out the cupboard, find a charging lead and hope their still holding a charge. Mine where, but the volt 300 just dos’nt really cut it for me now. I’ve got a Garmin varia system as well, but tend not to use it since switching over to the wahoo elemnt.
So off to buy a new front light. But as is always the case with me, I came back with two. I stayed with cateye, and decided on VOLT 800 for my main light, which I rely on too see, and a swanky set of See.Sense icon+ lights for my too be seen lights.
One thing I really like about the volt is a double click no longer sets the light to epileptic inducing strobe, instead it switches the output to high mode. This is much more sensible. The high mode is great for the unlit cycle paths, even the medium setting of 400 lumens will do on them, but it’s good to have the 800 lumens setting to fall back on.
These see.sense lights are something special, they have a certain level of intelligence being able to sense light and motion. So brighten in dark areas or car headlights, junctions and slowing down. They are my permanent lights, now the days are shorter and more gloomy. They pack one hell of a punch in the output. Some might say they are stupidly bright, but brighter the better too be seen in the day light.
My lighting system now features two front lights, a flashing light and a solid on the front, and a flashing and solid light on the back.