Thursday, November 5, 2009

Testing - Trail Tech SCMR-16 Bicycle Light

Every once in a while a product comes along that redefines your standards. It transforms you into a rolling salesman much to the annoyance of anyone caught in your path. The Trail Tech my friends is one of those products. Let me summarize it like this for you; it is more than twice as bright and half the price of anything else worth comparing to it.
Now this is not a flavour of the month thing for me. I used to night ride a ton in the winter when I lived in a town that didn't get so much white stuff. I have owned this light for 4 years now and put a ton of mileage on it. The SCMR-16 was conceived by the company Trail Tech for motorcycles and ATV's. Some riders have even used it in the prestigious and insane Paris-Dakar rally. It was designed to be hardwired right to your motorized vehicles power supply. Enter BatterySpace, sort of a slightly sketchy 3rd party battery company that offered a Lithium Ion battery solution to power this beast.
Though I had my concerns about the reliability of the battery I forged ahead and went through with the order.
After a lot of use I must say I have no complaints about my BatterySpace experience but I have still heard bad reviews so I don't give them a full recommendation. Trail Tech now offers complete cycling kits with LiIon batteries so I would suggest buying straight from them which my friend did.

Out of the Box

First thing that struck me was the bulk of the headlamp. Actually it came with a cheap useless bar mount and was never really designed to be used as a helmet light but that wasn't going to stop me. I jimmy rigged it with some strapping, a cut apart NiteRider mount, and half of a scotch tape roll core. The light got its own designated helmet courtesy of my old Giro Monza that didn't match my new kit (no one can tell in the dark). Soon to be moved to my Bell Sweep, going with the new Volt next year.
The battery is contained in a large-ish waterbottle but is surprisingly light. Everything connects together nicely with one way plugs which have a screw collar to keep them secure. A simple on/off switch which mounts on the helmet is easy to operate. All wiring was done by BatterySpace and I have no complaints.

The Details
The battery is a powerhouse and gets me about 3 hours of light, even after 4 years. It takes about 7 hours to charge, roughly twice as long as others but you gotta remember it is powering a 30 watt HID which is 2x the wattage.
Like I mentioned the bulb is a 30 watt HID which produces a ridiculous 1850 lumens. To put that into perspective, the $900 top of the line NiteRider is 900 lumens. There are two beam patterns to chose from, spot and flood. I chose flood which is perfect for singletrack. My friend has the spot which throws insanely far and is a newer slightly slimmer design.
The light can get hot, especially in warmer summer nights. It has an auto shutoff to prevent meltdown which can be abrupt and terrifying as day instantly turns to night. It turns itself back on when it cools down which is pretty cool.

Out on Trail
The good part about the extra power is that there is no real hot spot. I don't even need to point the light, it is just bright everywhere. It is a warm white light, not blue, and creates very little shadow effect giving great depth perception. Crazy though I still feel like I could use more light. I can out ride the reach of the flood on doubletrack so I was toying with the idea of running the flood on the bar and a spot on the head. This is just me being picky though. Ride this light on the road or around town at night and laugh as cars stop and flash their highbeams, drunk teenagers scream and run (no joke). Me and my friend also had a city bus stop to take a closer look fearing the apocalypse. This light is all business and does its job very well. I would buy another one in a heartbeat and probably will.

30 watt HID
1850 lumens
11.1 volt 10400mAh battery
$379 USD

Bright is an understatement
Very good value
Auto heat switch prevents melting

Big and heavy
Gets hot

Value - 1800 lumens out of 1850 lumens
Performance - 9000 mAh out of 10400 mAh

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