Visiblity Tests: Headlights w/ Tinted Zzipper Front Fairing

Background Reading

Summary

Karl Abbe asked if we could provide a bit of information regarding the efficacy of using a tinted front Zzipper fairing on a bike that was fitted with an eDelux II headlight driven by a SON hub generator. Having used a fairing since our very first Easy Racers bikes I decided to attempt a rather unscientific video of what the lights look like from behind the fairing.

The fairings are made of Lexan material and have a tint that helps to minimize the scratches that often result from normal use. Karl gets questions about his product from recumbent riders who want to know whether the tinting affects the visibility of the headlights that are mounted behind them.

My estimation is that the tinting plays very little havoc (if any) with the visibility of the lights. It should be pointed out that these lights are the third versions purchased from SON. The first sets were E6 halogen lamps:

E6-polished

E6-polished halogen bulb lamps for SON hub generator

These were pretty sweet! But as you probably know halogen bulbs (like any incandescent bulb) has a slow ramp up to full brightness. What this means in practical terms is that you have to get the bike going at perhaps 15 ΜΡΗ to have it before it is ‘completely lit‘. Below that speed it burns redder and is not as white and is dimmer.

Schmidt Edelux Lamp © Peter White Cycles

Schmidt Edelux Lamp
© Peter White Cycles

With the advent of the first LED based lamps from SON we found a light that was lit at full brightness at walking speeds! What is more you did not have to carry around replacement bulbs in the event of a ‘burnout‘. And even more impressive was the fact that these LED lamps were much brighter than their halogen cousins and had a switch which allowed the lamp to turn itself on when the ambient light was dark enough.

In practice this means that when you ride during the daytime and hit an underpass the lamps turn on automatically. In fact riding down a very shady city street or riding close to sunset means that your headlight turns itself on at just the moment when motorists are least likely to see you without its brilliance.

Edelux II

Edelux II

The most recent iteration of the LED lamp is the eDelux II. These lamps are rated at 90 lumens at very slow riding speeds. In fact they seem brighter at walking speeds than the halogen E6s did when riding hard. And what is more they have all the features of their earlier cousins plus the added advantage of a much wider beam. You might think that the width of the beam would dissipate the light a bit, but it does not.

Here's a photo of the Edelux II beam from the rider's viewpoint.

Here’s a photo of the Edelux II beam from the rider’s viewpoint.

Here then is a rather sketchy video of the lights in action. The fairing is shown after the second ride up and down the street. You will note that in both cases the camera was literally overwhelmed by the brilliance of the beam.