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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Just wanted to let everyone know that I will be reviewing the much talked about Bikeray IV.
I just got the light yesterday in the mail. Usually when I do review stuff I tend to get a little over exuberant. That's not going to happen this time. This time I'm going to take my time and muse somewhat on my own observations before I start going into details. That means you'll have to be patient. I intend to compare this light to others that I already own and that means I have to take the time to see how the lights work in various situation/terrains. Some of the issues I will be commenting on: Beam pattern, light intensity, design, bang for buck, battery and battery runtime and of course over-all usability. I will comment on the things I like most about it and the things I like least about it. I will try to be as fair about it as I can. In order to do that I will need to take some time to do some careful observations. Heck, I'll probably even need to take notes..;)

I will be taking beam shots as well. Beam shots are hard to do. If they are to be done right it will take time so please be patient. Where I live has gotten a lot of rainfall lately so getting those outside beam shots might take some time.

I did take a quick ride this morning around 2:00AM and I did compare a couple other lights. Being careful not to jump the gun ( so to speak ) much of what I saw was expected. No startling revelations as yet but to keep the naysayers at bay I feel obligated to throw out a quick bone so here goes.....initial observations from my first ride ( 20 min. ): Most of what I saw I liked....but details my friends will follow. Details are everything...;) ~ ~ ~
 

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znomit said:
You could start by telling us what you paid for it :D
I paid $179.99 plus $10.50 shipping. www.bikerayusa.com

And I might add that I found out about the BikeRay IV on the 12th, placed my order on the 17th after some reflection, and got it on the 19th. As far as I'm concerned, BikeRay's customer service has been great. Oh, and the light kicks ass. ;)
 

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Run Time

I went riding all over creation to test the run time of the BikeRay IV.

Condition: Brand new battery from BikeRay, arrived a few days ago, never used. All I did to it is charge it and go ride. No conditioning of any sort, no cycling, nothing.

Temperature: In the low 70s.

Light head temperature: It stayed barely lukewarm.

Claimed run time: 3.5 hr on high, 14hr on low. (I was using it in high mode for this test.)

Results:

After 2 hr and 45 min I noticed that the battery indicator had gone from green to blue.

After 3 hr and 8 min the battery indicator went from blue to red.

A few seconds later the light cut off.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Azra said:
....Claimed run time: 3.5 hr on high, 14hr on low. (I was using it in high mode for this test.)

Results:

After 2 hr and 45 min I noticed that the battery indicator had gone from green to blue.

After 3 hr and 8 min the battery indicator went from blue to red.

A few seconds later the light cut off.
Actually I didn't know the claimed run time was 3.5 hrs on high. I think over 3 hrs is surprising considering that this light is using 4 leds. Don't be surprised if the run time increases a little after a couple cycles. Right now I am doing my own run time test. I'll update my post when it's done.

I'm still waiting to do some more outdoor tests. I was really tempted to go out tonight but radar shows a storm front moving in and I really didn't want to get caught in the rain with my camera and such. Since I can't get the pictures I want right now I'll talk a little more about the light and how I think it compares to the stuff I had with me last night. Just keep in mind these are still just initial impressions.

Now about the light head optics and light output: Claimed output is 1500 lumen. 1500 is more than a little over the top in my opinion. In discussions with BikerayUSA they have agreed that the actual output is somewhat less. The optics on the BR IV are supposed to be in the 15 degree range. They look a lot like the Carclo optics in my 20mm triple XPG but I don't think they are Carclo. Compared to the throw with my 3-up using the Carclo clear narrow optics...Well, still not sure about about which has better throw. Total output though favors the BR IV.

I tend to have a heavy favoritism towards bar lights that can throw. That means my opinion might not agree with what other users might find appropriate for Mountain biking. That be as it may, like a lot of people I like a light on my bars that can provide both good throw and a decent amount of flood/spill. The Bikeray IV provides more of a flood/Spill beam pattern but on high it does have some reach albeit a bit dispersed beyond 100ft. Personally I would of preferred to have had a more tighter center spot for a little further reach. Unfortunately as others have already found out trying to get good throw from available optics is a tough nut to crack. Distance throw with the Bikeray IV was very close to my 3up which does have a more narrow beam pattern. Left with just that I would have been very disappointed. Fortunately the BR IV provides it's own brand of usefulness in the form of *wall-like flood. ( *sorry, would of said "massive" but I have to leave that for when the XM-L stuff comes out. :thumbsup: )

This is not to say that the BR IV doesn't have a center hot spot. It does ( as wall beams shots will show ) but you really can't notice any kind of hot spot when riding. As a result what you see is a very bright/smooth wall of light without any noticeable transition areas.
Before getting the BR IV I thought my 3up was floody! The Bikeray IV excels in the wide illumination category. Unlike my other lights this light really lights up the trees as well as right in front. A beam pattern like this can be real useful particularly if you ride in areas that have tight open switch backs or wide fire roads. Besides, for a bar light, flood can be more important at times especially if you are using a helmet lamp that already gives you your throw.

Because I'm picky, I like flood and throw on the bars. Still, I have no problem with using this light. For me the issue is trade-offs. Not the throw I want but more smooth/even peripheral light for dodging those nasty obstacles when they get close. I can still get throw just by adding a helmet light.

And speaking of helmet lights, on most of my ride I didn't use my helmet light as I primarily wanted to judge the IV. However I did turn it on a couple times just to see how the combo would work. I was only using my single XP-E drop-in torch. When I turned it on I was amazed. I say amazed because the combo worked very well together. It seems there is a cumulative effect from the Ray IV when added to the throw of the torch. I'm sure if using a brighter helmet light the effect would be even more impressive.

Enough said for now. More to come next week including ( hopefully ) beamshots. So far the run time test is still going strong @ 2hrs with the green light still on. More on that in another hour of so.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
Continued from my last post above:

Update on the run time test; After 2.5 hrs I got the blue light. The red came on after 3:13. Two minutes later the light went out.

My take on this: When you see the red light you are minutes from being done. Once the light goes out it does not come back on....at all. I thought maybe you might be able to use the low level after turning it off a while while the battery rebounds but such is not the case. The reason for this is that once the light shuts itself down it must trigger the battery PCB to totally shut down.

Because I was home I was able to reset the battery and I got another 10 minutes on low. Interestingly, the light began to strobe after that. I figure that is a good way to warn the rider he is about to lose his light. The strobing lasted a minute or so and then the light went out again.

I think it best if when you reach the 3hr mark that you start using the low mode as much as possible. Doing so will get you nearer to the 4hr mark and give you a bit more warning as the strobing doesn't happen when in high mode. If you wait for the red light before powering down don't expect to get more than 15 more minutes in low before the warning strobe. ( IMO, automatic power-down after red light would have been a nice feature to have )

Oh, I almost forgot, the whole time I was using the high mode I did not notice any diminishing light level the whole time, a big plus.
 

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Cat-man-do said:
I think over 3 hrs is surprising considering that this light is using 4 leds.
I was actually expecting just 2 hours at the most given how bright this light is. So getting a little over 3 hours is kick ass as far as I'm concerned.

BTW, I got an email from BikeRay this morning asking me if I'm disappointed to get only 3:08 and if I'm an unhappy customer now and what they can do about it? Are you guys kidding me? I'm trilled with this light!!

Cat-man-do said:
The Bikeray IV provides more of a flood/Spill beam pattern but on high it does have some reach albeit a bit dispersed beyond 100ft
Barreling down a straight dark road last night at over 30 mph, I did find myself wishing for a little bit more throw. But then again, flood/spill is absolutely great and most of the time I do not ride 30+ mph at night. On paved bike trail I found the flood/spill fantastic when going around twisty bits. I'm a roadie and for me I think they pretty much nailed the throw vs flood/spill combination with this light.

Cat-man-do said:
This is not to say that the BR IV doesn't have a center hot spot. It does ( as wall beams shots will show ) but you really can't notice any kind of hot spot when riding.
Same observation here.

Cat-man-do said:
My take on this: When you see the red light you are minutes from being done
Yes, I was kind of a little disappointed at how little warning of an impeding shut down I got. It would have been nice if the red warning lasted 10-15 min. In a $600 light I would have found that to be a flaw. In a $180 light, I can perfectly live with a few little issues like that.

Cat-man-do said:
IMO, automatic power-down after red light would have been a nice feature to have
You mean the beam automatically switching from high to low when the red warning comes on (with option for user to switch it back to high if they want to)? Yes, agreed. It would have been a nice feature. My old Light and Motion did that.

PS - BikeRay: I am happy, I promise you. Don't send me another panicked email. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Azra said:
....I'm a roadie and for me I think they pretty much nailed the throw vs flood/spill combination with this light.
Well I can agree with everything you said except the above statement. For the road I would definitely want more throw if going faster than 30mph. I will say though if you're a roadie and want some daytime visibility from a front light, Dudes, this light rocks in flash mode! It is blinding!

When I got this light I was hoping for maybe 2.5hrs on high considering it is only a 4 cell battery. I consider anything over 3hr to be the proverbial icing on the cake. I think the 24hr event people will like this light. If it runs 3hrs plus on high it should last a looooong time when using the lower mode. I'll let someone else do the run time test on low. I don't have 8-10 hrs ( or whatever ) to sit around and babysit..:smilewinkgrin:

I'll do more comments on the lower mode after I ride again. The last ride I really didn't use it much.

Quick update: It took about 5hrs for the battery to recharge. Not bad as it was thoroughly drained!
 

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Cat-man-do said:
Continued from my last post above:

Update on the run time test; After 2.5 hrs I got the blue light. The red came on after 3:13. Two minutes later the light went out.

My take on this: When you see the red light you are minutes from being done. Once the light goes out it does not come back on....at all. I thought maybe you might be able to use the low level after turning it off a while while the battery rebounds but such is not the case. The reason for this is that once the light shuts itself down it must trigger the battery PCB to totally shut down.

Because I was home I was able to reset the battery and I got another 10 minutes on low. Interestingly, the light began to strobe after that. I figure that is a good way to warn the rider he is about to lose his light. The strobing lasted a minute or so and then the light went out again.

I think it best if when you reach the 3hr mark that you start using the low mode as much as possible. Doing so will get you nearer to the 4hr mark and give you a bit more warning as the strobing doesn't happen when in high mode. If you wait for the red light before powering down don't expect to get more than 15 more minutes in low before the warning strobe. ( IMO, automatic power-down after red light would have been a nice feature to have )

Oh, I almost forgot, the whole time I was using the high mode I did not notice any diminishing light level the whole time, a big plus.
I suspect you would get the blinking warning on high if the battery protection PCB wasn't shutting the pack down. That usually indicates that voltage sensing in the light head is being fooled because of voltage drops in the cables at the higher current. That can be due to the wiring between the battery pack and light head being a light grade and is dropping too much voltage. Or it can be because the battery pack isn't very well balanced and and the PCB is cutting if off sooner than it should. In either case, it's not really a good thing for a couple of different reasons.

Can you test the light head and battery pack independently and give the voltage levels for the various status light / blink changes at each brightness level? It would be really interesting to see the voltage level of each bank of the battery pack during the discharge.
 

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Cat-man-do said:
Well I can agree with everything you said except the above statement.
Well, gee, if somebody would give me the same luxurious spill/flood and super deep throw for speed fests and 2000 lumens for good measure and the same run time from a small battery and the same $180 price tag, I'd take it gladly. ;) I just wasn't expecting it all from one light... at least not yet. Can't wait to see what BikeRay will do with model V.

Cat-man-do said:
Dudes, this light rocks in flash mode! It is blinding!
Agreed. In fact I do have the light on my bike and will try the flash mode on my way home this afternoon.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
MtbMacgyver said:
I suspect you would get the blinking warning on high if the battery protection PCB wasn't shutting the pack down. That usually indicates that voltage sensing in the light head is being fooled because of voltage drops in the cables at the higher current. That can be due to the wiring between the battery pack and light head being a light grade and is dropping too much voltage. Or it can be because the battery pack isn't very well balanced and and the PCB is cutting if off sooner than it should. In either case, it's not really a good thing for a couple of different reasons.

Can you test the light head and battery pack independently and give the voltage levels for the various status light / blink changes at each brightness level? It would be really interesting to see the voltage level of each bank of the battery pack during the discharge.
MtbMac you're good..;) ...and yes one or both of those scenarios are possible. The wires are indeed a much lighter gauge than any other light I own. It would make sense that when on low there would be less voltage drop on the wires but as you said perhaps the battery is not quite balanced as yet. No real way to know for sure without a tear down but if I had to guess I would think maybe the lighter wiring.

It is disturbing to think that no strobe warning occurred after the indicator change to red ( final level ) while still on high. Not good to have sudden darkness need I say. At least you do get the final red led but if you're riding you might not notice the red led. That's one of the reasons I never liked station level voltage indicators. So easy for these things to get fooled. At least I know enough to exercise caution when needed which is most important. Besides I didn't know it even had strobe warning until I saw the flashing when on low mode the second time round. I think you'd have to agree that some warning is better than no warning at all.
 

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As a daytime safety light...

... it seems to work OK.

While riding, as I had expected, I could see a flashing reflection on some traffic signs, but it was not distracting or a big deal by any stretch of the imagination. It's supposed to run for 10 hours in flashing mode.

When I got home I parked the bike and walked in front of it to see what the cars would see. From right in front of the bike the light is absolutely stunning! :eekster: Made my DiNotte 400R look like a toy. BUT as I moved to the side the effectiveness of it decreased very rapidly while the DiNotte did not. I guess that after all it is a pretty tightly focused beam and not designed as a daytime flashing safety light.

If I'm running around town during the day and I'm not too concerned about run time when it gets dark, I guess I will keep it on in flashing mode - it can't hurt and it is awesome from right in front of the bike,
 

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Hey Cat

"I did take a quick ride this morning around 2:00AM and I did compare a couple other lights".

When do you sleep? LOL

Thx for the test.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
mb323323 said:
Hey Cat

"I did take a quick ride this morning around 2:00AM and I did compare a couple other lights".

When do you sleep? LOL

Thx for the test.

It's a long story but I was off last week. As such my sleep cycles got all out of sync. Back to work yesterday only to find I've been saddled with task of training another employee for the next week... :rolleyes: That put a damper on my plans to sneak out to do some beam shots. Anyway I usually work late hours. Sometimes I survive by taking cat naps, no surprise there. ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 · (Edited)
Beam Shots

Okay so here goes. Before I post up I want to thank the Howard County Police for being so polite and understanding when seeing someone out in a football field at 5:00 in the morning shining a bunch of lights around. Hey what can I say :eek: Unfortunately having to explain what I was doing there did break my train of thought so to speak. Because of that I kind of lost the order of what pics were what. :rolleyes: That being the case I can only post the ones that I am sure of.

Anyway my same ol' Sony Cybershot Camera set on night ( one setting only ). First I don't like to do Beam shots on grass but it was only place I could use a tripod quickly. I should also note the grass was wet. Later I hope to get some decent shots on normal MTB type terrain. At least these photos help demonstrate the width of the beam. I was holding the light about the height of the bars. The two bottles in the front are both about 25ft. away. The other bottles around 50 and 100ft respectively. Sorry but I had to measure by eye and by pacing so likely a little off.

First Photo> Bikeray IV on high

Second Photo> sku 12060 P-7 torch on high

ATTENTION: UPDATE, THE OPTICS ON THE RAY IV USED FOR THESE PHOTOS WAS NOT PROPERLY SEATED. NEW PHOTOS ARE FORTHCOMING THAT WILL SHOW A BIG IMPROVEMENT. JUST AN FYI.
 

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I would have turned that thingy in flashing mode and told them I'm signaling the aliens. ROFL!

And those cones? Oh, that's the designated landing area, officer.
 
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