Edison 5 RRP £550
Edison 5 is one of the new breed of ultra high performance bike
lights aimed at the serious biker looking for some nocturnal off
road fun. This review explains a bit about HID lights, introduces
the Edison 5 and explains just how good it is and finally compares it with a
cheaper alternative HID light, the Lumicycle HID.
are three things which matter: brightness, battery life and size /
weight (in order of importance). If it's not bright enough it will
compromise your ability to ride off road at night. If it's bright
enough but has a one hour burn time, then you're not going to get
very far off road before being plunged into darkness in the middle
of no-where. Lastly, it's nice if the light and battery are small
and compact so it doesn't weigh you down and the pack can sit in the bottom
of your camelback as opposed to filling your camelback.
Lupine Edison 5
Halogen bulb can produce 22 lumen (light output) per watt
(electricity input) whereas a HID light can manage up to 60 lumen
per watt. So HID lights are 270% more efficient than Halogen i.e.
for the same light and battery capacity, they'll last 2.7 times
longer. So you can get an obscenely bright light, which is small,
compact and has a decent run time. Excluding HID lights, for long
run times you're looking at LEDs or dim Halogens and for bright
lights you can get very bright Halogen set ups, but they'll only
last an hour or so on a 4Ah battery (typical size for a bike).
going to compare the Edison 5 with Lumicycle's HID light for a
good reason. They both use the same 'Solarc' bulb from Welch
Allyn (in fact all MTB HID lights use this bulb). The key
differentiator is that Lupine have developed their own ballast (the
bit which generates the 6000 Volts necessary to get the bulb to
start arcing), whereas most of the other manufacturers use a basic
ballast from Welch Allyn. With the standard ballast the Welch bulb
can produce 500 lumen whereas with the Lupine ballast the same bulb
produces 900 lumen (equivalent to a 65 Watt Halogen bulb or a car
headlight). So basically the Edison 5 produces 180% more light than
the Lumicycle (& Hope etc) HID lights.
see what this means look at the picture below:
advantage of Lupine's custom ballast design, is that their light
is a lot more compact than Lumicycle's (in fact they also use a
modified bulb housing to keep the complete unit really small). Yet
another technical advantage is the ability to dim the HID unit from
16W to 10W, so far the only HID system on the market with this
feature. This allows you to eek more life out of the battery by
dimming on the climbs and then using 'full beam' for the
descents / flat sections where you're going faster and want more
visibility. NB A dimmed Lupine is still significantly brighter than
the Lumicycle HID.
Edison 5 is so packed full of features it's hard to know where to
start, so I'll briefly cover a few nice touches: Charging is fast
(so you can ping-pong two lights on a 24 hour race as it can charge
quicker than you can discharge it). The Charger is a work of
brilliance in its own right (OK at this point I confess to being an
Engineer), it's small, sleek and has an LCD display which tells
you how much charge has gone into the battery and what state the
battery is in.
charger comes with a mains adaptor and 12v car adaptor (very useful
for 24 hour races). The on/off switch lights up so you can find it
and also has LEDs to tell you battery status and which beam you're
using (16W or 10W). It also auto dims to 10W as the battery empties
and then auto shuts off before the battery is fully flat, BUT has a 10 minute reserve capacity you can engage to get you
out of trouble if you've cut you're ride a bit fine (read long).
handle bar mount is super simple, a single thick elastic band which
fits 25.4mm and 31.8mm bars but doesn't allow for lateral
alignment so on riser bars it can end up pointing a bit off centre.
This would be a problem if it weren't for the fact that it's so
bright it doesn't need to be accurately pointed straight ahead.
comparison: Edison 5 vs Lumicycle HID
Edison 5 costs £550 whereas the Lumicycle HID costs £300.
Edison 5 is on paper 1.8 times brighter but in reality it seems
more like 3-5 times brighter.
burn times are 3 hours at 16 watt (950 lumen, eqv 65W halogen)
& 4 hours 20 min at 10 Watt (500 lumen, eqv 20W halogen).
Lumicycle burn time 5 hours at 10 Watts (claimed equivalence of
- Edison battery
charge time 3 hours. Lumicycle charge time 4 hours.
- The Edison 5
light & battery weigh 450g vs 655g form the Lumicycle.
and Lumicycle HID
disadvantage of Lupine lights is that they are not available mail
order in the UK i.e. you have to buy them from your local bike shop
(I assume because Lupine have banned this as you used to be able to
buy them at a significant discount online from Wiggle, etc). So, not
wishing to pay full price at my LBS, I bought mine mail order from
the USA for £450.
first decent light set up was the Lumicycle NiMH Halogen system with
a 10W spot and 20W flood and this worked fine except that the
battery life was only just over an hour. When Lumicycle brought out
their HID bulb I bought it straight away to get a 4 hour + burn time
out of the same NiMH battery pack. One disadvantage of the Lumicycle
HID vs Halogen was that the colour of the light was different and it
didn't show detail anywhere near as well as the Halogens did. So
even though technically I'd gone from 30W Halogen to 40W HID
equivalent, it felt like a downgrade to say 25W, but I still got the
better burn time. On my first MTBB Forum night ride I was behind
Matt (with the Edison 5) and I was amazed to discover that the
Edison 5 was so bright that turning my Lumicycle HID on or off made
no difference to how well I could see the trail (even riding behind
Matt) as the Edison 5 was just so bright it blew it away (this was
in Gwydyr forest at night). At that point I knew I had to get an
Edison 5 and I haven't looked back since. I cannot fault the Edison
5 in anyway (except maybe the bar clamp rubber band), it is simply
the best light out there.
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