- Lupine Edison 5 light
The Cateye Stadium earned its place in bike accessory history by being the first metal halide light system to go on sale. It had its faults – heavy, bulky, occasionally unreliable, fiercely expensive – but it was awesomely powerful. Today, halide lights are widely available from a variety of sources, but they nearly all have one thing in common – the same 10W Welch-Allyn Solarc lamp/ballast assembly. One of those, a switch, a suitable housing and a battery and bingo – your halide system is ready for sale.
That’s not good enough for Lupine, though. The German light manufacturer has never been one to do things by halves, and for its Edison systems it goes at least the extra mile in the pursuit of performance. Rather than use the off-the-peg lamp/ballast assembly, Lupine chucks the ballast in the bin and substitutes its own custom-built circuity. This does a number of useful things. First, it starts up more quickly. Second, it stabilises the voltage from the battery so that the beam stays a more consistent colour as the battery discharges. Third, it’s more compact and lets Lupine fit everything inside a 50mm long, 41mm diameter aluminium housing. And fourth but perhaps most importantly, it gets more power from the lamp – at full wick you’re getting 16W out of it. Lupine claim a light output of 900 lumens at full power, compared to 500 for the standard item at 10W.
The downside of the custom bulb is that you have to send your Edison back to Lupine if you need a new one. It’s got a claimed lifespan of at least 700 hours, though, and the housing incorporates shock-absorbing material, so unless you drop it on your garage floor or have a major crash it probably won’t need changing for a while.
The lamp housing mounts to your bars by means of a simple cradle/O-ring arrangement that’s quick to use, fits all bars and leaves nothing on the bike when you remove it. It stayed put during our testing, undoubtedly helped by the compact size and low weight (130g for the light on its own) of the unit that means that the bar mount doesn’t have to work too hard.
A well-sealed fly lead has the PCS V4 switch unit at the end of it. This is much more than a mere switch. Plug the battery in and it goes through a brief period of flashing LEDs at you while it checks the battery voltage and lamp status. Then you can switch the light on. When its on, the switch has a blue backlight so that you can find it and a row of LEDs telling you useful things about battery status. The switch is attached to the bars with a slightly clumsy O-ring/Velcro strap – the presence of a rather sturdier aluminium switch bracket in the Lupine accessories line-up looks slightly like an admission that the standard setup isn’t perfect.
It also operates the other trick that the Edison has up its sleeve – a low-beam setting. This is unique in the world of halide lamps, and lets you run the Edison at 10W, making its low beam the same as everyone else’s only beam. The battery is a 334g 6.5Ah Li-ion unit in a soft frame-fitting case. Claimed run time is three hours in the 16W setting and over four in the 10W setting, which is pretty impressive. If you need more run time, the Edison 10 has a 12.8Ah bottle battery giving you six hours at 16W and a remarkable nine hours at 10W.
The charger is state of the art, too. Lupine’s Charger One has a two-line LCD display giving you charging current and voltage information. It can be reconfigured for Li-ion, NiMH and NiCad batteries or to attempt to revive old batteries with carefully-controlled charge/discharge cycles. As if all that wasn’t enough, it can charge from mains power at anywhere from 90 to 240V or from 12V car accessory sockets – you get a mains and a 12V lead in the box.
So it’s all clever stuff, but what’s it like to use? In a word, bonkers. It’s far and away the brightest light we’ve ever used. Time for some pictures:
The markers in the Edison pictures are 10 metres apart. The halogen picture is included just for a brightness comparison – the angle is different and the marker spacing not guaranteed to be the same either. But the camera settings are the same, so you get some idea of how bright and white the Lupine is. There’s more than ample light in the low setting, the high setting almost makes this night-riding lark too easy. The 18° beam gives plenty of distance and ample breadth. If you feel the need to see even further than that, there’s a 10° version available that, say Lupine, is best used with the optional helmet mount.