ICON Intelligent Lights Review

ICONIntelligent Lights

Established in 2013, a Northern-Irish based start up company called See.Sense, Kickstarter funded ICON intelligent lights.

I tested the rear ICON light which has two 95 lumen CREE LEDs and retails at £64.99.

The box contained 2 x rubber mounts, USB cable, the light and a simple, clear user guide.

The set of front and rear is £119.99 and the 30% brighter ICON+ is also available at £149.99 for the set.

ICON is primarily designed as a ‘to be seen’ light, giving up to 270 degrees of side visibility.  This is ideal in urban environments. The front ICON has twin LED’s, one with a focused beam, and one with a dispersed beam. According to See.Sense 80% of accidents happen in daylight and the ICON is certainly bright enough to be visible in daylight.

ICONStreet

So what is so clever about it…..?

Within 2 minutes of opening the package I had downloaded the app and connected the light with my iphone via Bluetooth. The app allows you to:

  • Check your battery level
  • ICONImage-3Change from flashing light to constant
  • Customise your lights to optimise your brightness/run-time using a simple slider
  • Control multiple lights at once
  • Set auto-on/off, which automatically turns off your light after 3 minutes of inactivity, or if you walk more than 3 metres from your light
  • Turn on theft alert, the light will then send you an alert if anything or anyone disturbs your bike to a range of up to 15 metres
  • Turn on crash alert, if you have a crash, ICON knows and will send a text to your nominated contact for help, which you can cancel if you are ok
  • Download firmware and application updates as new features become available

The battery life is up to 15 hours (5hr charge) on flashing mode and on the light itself there is a mini LED to indicate battery level, green for 75%+ and red for less than 25%. The app gives a more accurate battery level and you can adjust the brightness of your light using the app, so it’s easy to maximise your battery life if you’re running low.

I am not sure I would ever adjust brightness/flashing with app myself, but it was fun initially dazzling the family!

See.Sense say the theft detection is ideal for the coffee stop, but would I leave my bike locked outside cafe with a £120 of lights still attached? And perhaps the alarm should be on the light, not the phone to scare away the thief? Having said that it worked and I did indeed get the alert when the light was moved.

I like the crash alert feature as I often ride alone, but the most impressive thing about the light is that it adapts to its environment, increasing its brightness and flash rate to keep you more visible in riskier situations such as junctions, roundabouts, filtering in traffic and to approaching car headlights. If you are in an urban setting, where there is a higher level of ambient lighting from street lighting and approaching cars at night, ICON will automatically adjust to be less bright. It is the only light in the world that can react to road junctions, filtering traffic, roundabouts and car headlights.

Even more intelligent is the fact that ICON will soon monitor your environment. It can monitor road surfaces, crashes, near-miss events, light levels, temperature levels and routes taken. With your permission data will be uploaded to the cloud and aggregated data can then be shared with councils to provide information for cycling infrastructure provision, pothole repairs and identify hot spot areas where there are a high frequency of  ‘near-miss’ events and crashes.

Philip McAleese, CEO of See.Sense said, “It is our hope that ICON will help to ignite a cycling revolution. Not only does ICON enhance the cycling experience through improved safety and convenience, it also has the potential to empower cyclists to influence their cities through the use of highly accurate, crowd-sourced data. This can create smarter and better cities for everyone.”

It comes with a 12 month warranty and is weather sealed, the website actually shows it being dropped in a jug of water and mine has been soaked several times in winter rain and road spray with no adverse effects.

However after about 6 rides the on/off button became somewhat intermittent requiring a really hard press at an angle to switch the light on as if something is perhaps loose or out of alignment behind it.

The light itself is bulky and doesn’t have the aesthetic appeal of some of the other lights on the market; one rider even went so far as to call it ‘ugly’.

Overall it is bright, functional and easy to fit. It is certainly visible and I even received a couple of complaints about how bright it is! Gadget lovers will like the app and although I hope I never need it, I feel reassured by the crash alert. It will be interesting to see how much data See.Sense is able to collect in the future and how this is used, anything that improves the cycling infrastructure and safety must be a good thing.

Watch this space… Visit seesense.cc website.

 

The Unexpected Randonneur

The Unexpected Randonneur

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I quite often like to jump on my bike after work and pootle about town. Working in a bike shop, there’s not much time to actually ride the damn things. So on a nice day I’ll take my road bike into work, make sure she’s good to go and head straight out after locking up the shop. Head east, maybe do a few laps of Regent’s Park, an unspecified number of ascents up Swain’s Lane (aka the Alp d’Highgate), a ride south into Soho for a coffee and cake.
It’s the times when I think to myself that ‘I should head north’ that the world becomes more interesting and infinity more painful.

Cycling is an odd hobby. Some rides will be utterly unmemorable, others will burn themselves into ones neurons for life. The sights, the smells! See the magnificent Ikea, the glorious Tottenham substation, the enormous Matalan at Brimsdown! Experience the heady aromas of Hackney municipal dump!
Sometimes, this is all I see: London in all its disgusting, but very beautifully human, glory.

But there are times, the odd time, when a small alley or lane catches ones eye and I am pulled towards it, intrigued by the promise of the unknown. Without warning, I find myself tumbling down the rabbit hole and being sucked into the magnificent world of *le rouleur*.

I took one such turn earlier, and as the busy main road fell away, the landscape melted almost instantly into the kind of scene that would make Nigel Farage shed a single tear and salute a pint of warm bitter.
The willows formed an arch across the road, a single track that wound it’s way west from Enfield. The few houses are collecting moss and fallen twigs on their roofs. the owner carrying in firewood for the evening.

I push on, finding my legs in this novel summer evening sun. Short hedges enclose the road, half concealing the miles of rolling fields on either side. A line of electricity pylons snakes across the landscape, disappearing far into the distance on my right.

That such sights can be found within the m25 astounds me, it leads me to explore and discover more and more. It draws me in, pushes me to ride further and further.

Before I know it, it’s 9pm, the sun is setting and, most disturbingly, my ipod is showing signs that it’s not been charged in a while. My front light cuts a path in the badly potholed near-dirt tracks, the rising full moon, almost orange in the sky, casts a warm glow over the rollings fields either side of the road.
The thrill of discovery is beginning to be offset by a cold wind.

I roll into Potters Bar with numb fingers. I should eat something, I’ve not had anything since lunch. A BLT and a packet of fruit pastilles from the Co-Op, and a lucozade to refill my energy bottle – having consulted the gps, I’m ready to go again.

Now this is a race. The cold is setting in, I’m in short bibs and  short sleeve jersey. My feet are numbing from the wind. I need to move fast, to build heat and to get home before the worst of the night takes hold. Cadence must be high, speed must be high, effort must be high. I smack up a few gears and start working my quads. Knees out, sweeping through arcing turns, illuminated by the light of the moon my legs pump in time with the symphony in my ears (Elgar’s Planets, for the interested). A fork in the road. Stop, check Google maps. Go.
Cut through little hamlets, houses solitary with wood fires burning, visible through the front windows as I power past, a red and white streak in the night.

It’s hard to explain why or when I started to panic. I knew where I was going, but the cold and the tiredness and the fact that I’m 20 miles minimum from home took its toll. While I was skirting the m25, this village world around me felt like I was riding hundreds of miles from home with nowhere to stay and no way to get back. Stop, check gps. No, I took a wrong turn a while back there. Turn around or find another route?

When I finally find myself in Radlett, which while far from home, is at least on an old training route of mine, and therefore familiar, it’s the boost I needed. Turning south, I know I’m on the home straight. I can ride to Stanmore and jump the tube back to Kilburn from there.
Hills that used to have me panting in the granny ring are now stomped at 21mph. I have conquered, and everything will be ok. Then, without warning, my front light turns off. The cold has shorted the switch and it’s now flicking through the settings, cycling between 100 and 500 lumens. I power onwards into the night.

The transformation from gentle rise to powerful sprint is not something I resent (especially now I’ve had a chance to warm up!). There are many sides to cycling. Relaxing in the warm evening sun and belting through the freezing night air are two completely different angles on an activity that seems to have as many faces as it does riders.

Riding fixed, single speed, town riding, commuting, randonneuring, audax, touring, sportive, racing, polo, 4 cross, downhill, bmx – hundreds of ways of enjoying the simple sensations of riding a bike.

Needless to say I got home. My light switching off on the final descent into Stanmore was interesting. I was travelling at 40mph with no helmet, no goggles and now, no light. But it switched on at the bottom. The stop start all the way home (do you really think I’d have caught the tube?) was offset by the warm London air (heated by 7 million people’s bodily emissions). My iPod held on to the bitter end, finally running out as I rolled into my estate. Front light was on and off, but I survived with my 10 lumen backup. All in, 59 miles or 95 kilometres in 3 and a half hours. Not too shabby for a quick ride after work.

While great training for the long rides I have planned this year, something more profound hit me. The beauty of riding is dulled by working the shop, selling people the idea of what I’ve just done. The freedom, the sunshine, the exploration of nature’s wonder.
Unlike other professions where romanticised ideals are used to sell, in cycling I have a hobby that can take me out of my front door and show me that ideal – and make me fall in love with it all over again. For that, I am truly grateful!

MET Crossover, a helmet for everyone?

met crossover helmet review

As the name suggests, this is described by the Italian manufacturer as a unisex helmet suitable for both road bike and mountain bike use, and has some features that would appeal to commuters too, but is it a case of ‘Jack of all trades, Master of none’ ?

 

I have owned this helmet for 6 months, and wear it on my daily commute and on my longer weekend rides.

Features:

Light weight, it is the lightest helmet I have owned so far, weighing only 262 grams for the universal size (52-59cm). (MET state that the helmet weighs 270g)

Good ventilation, when riding on frosty/cold mornings I have to wear a warm cap underneath, I have never had to do this with any of my previous helmets.

Longevity, the box states that it comes with a three year warranty, and unusually its lifespan is between 8-10 years!

Price: Models vary from £30 to £60, click here to buy.

 

The advice given by most manufacturers is to replace a helmet after 2-3 years of use, depending on its exposure to UV and the damage that comes from handling. But MET have an initiative called Low Impact On Nature (L.I.O.N) that not only prolongs the life of the product but also reduces its ‘carbon footprint’ and waste during production. Surprisingly the helmet does not retail at a higher price compared with other shorter-life lids of a similar spec, so you save money too! (Also, last years models, as this is, are currently discounted in many outlets, for sale for only £29.99 instead of MRP £39.99, making it an even better deal).

MET offer a helmet crash replacement policy, which means that if your helmet is seriously damaged (due to a crash or serious fall) within three years of the purchase date they can offer an equivalent helmet at a discounted rate, providing you can supply proof of purchase, and the broken helmet.

Minimal exposed polystyrene, the outer shell which is moulded and bonded to the inner during manufacture (as most do nowadays, except for the very cheapest ones) covers the back of the helmet too. This feature adds to the look and feel of quality and must help to protect the inner from knocks and UV light.

met crossover helmet reviewmet crossover helmet review

From the picture above you will also see the integrated rear LED light, this contains four red LEDs and is operated by pressing the whole assembly, it has a flashing and constant mode.

This is also the ratchet tensioner which adjusts the frame that sits around the head:
From this internal view you can see the washable pads and see the insect net that is moulded into the helmets front vents, you will also notice that the whole helmet is an oval shape, so may not be completely comfortable with someone with a more rounded head shape, for me though it fits perfectly.

met crossover helmet reviewThe straps and quick release clip are easily adjustable; in fact I had my fit set up within seconds, as I hardly had to adjust anything straight from the box. The straps don’t rely on a thin rubber band to hold the excess in place, which can easily snap and leave a long piece of strap flapping in the breeze, the strap is a loop and is retained by a sturdy moulded piece of rectangular rubber, a much better design, also the strap itself is not so long as to have any free to stick out, it is also finished by a plastic end that is easy to pull even when your fingers are cold or when wearing gloves.

In the past I have often had trouble in getting the straps behind the ears to sit close to my head, but with this helmet these are tensioned properly, matching the front ones, so making it a secure fit.

Styling: This is of course a personal opinion, but the overall style is more generic than other helmet brands on the market, nothing about it stands out as being uniquely MET, unlike some others who seem to add peculiar shapes and designs in order to stand out, I like the look of the pointed rear protrusions as they look very strong and therefore more protective than bare polystyrene. I chose this colour combination because the turquoise is very reminiscent of the famous ‘Celeste’ used by Bianchi, as I have one of their bikes, thinking that the Italian made helmet might be purposely designed to match the Italian marquee. (All MET helmets are designed, developed and manufactured in Italy, at Talamona, in the heart of the Italian Alps).

My only (minor) criticism is that the switch on the light often needs pressing several times to either switch it on or off, especially when the temperature is low, I have noticed that in this years model it looks as if the light has been moulded in a red plastic rather than my clear one, so this issue may have been resolved already.

met crossover helmet review rating from Cycling Shorts.

 

Review – Visibly Better – Two Zero TZ-3 Super Bright Flexible LED Light

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TZ-3 Super Bright Flexible LED
I’ve opted for the Red rear LED Light. The LED light is a great addition to your high-vis set up. This little light has a recessed button so you can’t accidentally switch it on by dropping it or resting something on it, it has a large button that is easy to use with gloved or cold fingers. It comes housed in a solid body with a stretchy flexible silicone mount loop. Press the on off button once and you get a solid light, press it again and it will flash intermittently (don’t use in flashing mode if on a bicycle or motorbike), press once again and it switches off… simple. There are two small recessed screws on the underside of the body to allow you to replace the battery (CR2025) which the manufacturer says should last you 100 hours.
I’ve tried the light on my bike frame and handlebars and because the light has a shaped underbelly it sits comfortably on flat or curved surfaces and with the silicone stretch loop it won’t slip or move against metal, handlebar tape, carbon fibre or painted surfaces and fabric. The loop can be pulled up and fully over itself depending on the diameter of the item you’re wrapping it around, you can put the strap over the front of the light body or further back over the casing and it doesn’t press or restrict access to the button. It’s coped fine with the scrapes and drops it’s had so far. It really is ideal to attach to your helmet, it neatly slots through the helmet vents and is a real upgrade to just using a reflector, because it’s so lightweight you don’t notice it’s there. I’ve also attached it to bags and backpacks and it works a treat. When you pair it with the Verso High-Vis Gilet by TwoZero (read our review here) it sits neatly on your back just above your shoulder blades and when you have a backpack under your gilet it sits up and faces behind you without being obscured by your backpack, it takes over from your helmet reflectors if they become hidden behind the bulk of your bag. It comes in a choice of white or red LED light and both provide a strong bright light. A great addition to you cycling safety gear, it’s small, lightweight, flexible and it fits neatly into a pocket when it’s not in use.

Colour: Red LED or White LED
RRP £9.99 with free UK delivery
Available from: www.two-zero.co.uk for delivery worldwide
also available from other online and high street retailers

What TwoZero say about their product:
Easy fit silicone loop LED
Flashing or Solid State
Long Battery Life 100hrs (replaceable)
red and white LED version
easy to attach to TZ bags, Verso Gilet and rucksacks

 

Reviews: Visibly Better – Verso High-Vis Cycling Gilet

 

 

Visibly Better

It’s time to pull out the high vis winter cycling gear for the commute so we thought we’d take a look at a couple of products, these two items caught our eye as they work together or individually, the Verso High-Vis Gilet and the TZ-3 Super Bright LED Light (read LED review here). They’re a new addition to TwoZero’s range, the award winning company is already known for it’s range of cycling and motorcycling bags. I own one of the cycling bags which I’m mightily impressed with so I thought we’d try some of their other products. I enrolled the help of my hardcore commuter cycling pal to road test them.

Verso High-Vis Expandable & Reflecting Cycling Gilet
I’ve chosen the black gilet in size S/M, even the style conscious cyclist wants to be visible but not in your face and to be honest I can’t quite pull off the 1980’s neon rave look, maybe back in the day but not now… and to be honest the black doesn’t look too much like a high visibility jacket when you’re off the bike in daylight.

First impressions upon unpacking it… looks well made, lightweight, quality stitching and fabric, with good finishing, piped edges in both normal and stretch fabrics. It has a slight tailored shape to it, it’s not just a box shape, it also has stretchy lycra side panels these stretch a further 3cms on each side. The bottom edge of the gilet is elasticated to stop it flapping around. The yellow version has black stretch fabric vents with reflectors and black stretch side panels. It will pack away into the sort of space a pair of below the knee socks would take up…. no idea why I used that comparison but it’s what sprung to mind, so I’m going with it!

The full length zip down the front has a fabric pull loop for when gloved or cold fingers can’t quite manage fiddly fastenings. The high vis panels on the gilet are well designed, there are two soft reflector fabric stripes across the front and back of the shoulders, below that on the front and back of the gilet there’s a bonded or possibly screen printed abstract triangular design in reflecting flexible ink, it’s very well applied and I’ve not seen any signs of wear yet, it doesn’t look like it will flake off over time as I’ve found with similar products, I’ve had a good old pick at the edges of the ink and it’s tough. The collar edge isn’t rough against your skin unlike other high-vis wear I’ve purchased in the past, once out in the cold damp night air you often find collars chafe but the piped edging stops this.


Click on the images above to view them in detail.

The back of the gilet scoops down over your rear like a regular cycling jersey but the main feature which makes it perfect for commuting by bike is the ability to unzip the two concealed back vents, these vents are also elasticated and covered in even more reflectors, they allow you to put the gilet over a backpack, this means you don’t have to trundle around town during the day with a particularly neon or reflector spattered bag just to be prepared for your dark journeys to and from the office or trip into town. The vents really do give plenty of room and because it’s stretchy you don’t find it rides up as you move, nor does it flap around behind you like a cape in bad weather even with a bag underneath. The extra reflectors in the vents do also mean you’re more visible side on at junction as the reflectors continue all around you.

If you put your hand behind the none elasticated areas you can see through it, it’s certainly breathable something that generally is a problem with high-vis winter products, they tend to be a bit industrial, bulky and make you look like you’ve walked off a building site. The Verso is designed to be worn over your winter clothing it’s only to provide you with visibility with the option of putting your bag underneath. It allows you a full range of movement thanks to the lycra side panels. It’s also easy to wash but I’ve found running it under the tap and wiping and mud spatters off is just as easy and quicker than using the washing machine, because it’s such a fine fabric leave it to dry overnight and it’s ready for your next commute.

Verso & light Combination:
On the back of the gilet there is a loop just below the shoulder reflector stripes, this is for you to attach the other product in the TwoZero range, the Super Bright Flexible LED Light, you loop it through and back over itself and then set it to the desired mode. If you don’t have the Super Bright you could use other lights and reflectors but the way the light is designed combined with the position of the loop means the light sits perfectly. Read the full TZ-3 Super Bright LED review here.

I’m my opinion the Verso Gilet is perfect for commuters and with a choice of colours (hopefully more colours and designs will be added to the range) there’s a limit to what you can do with high vis, it can never be minimal because that would make it pointless. It’s certainly been designed with cyclists and motorcyclists in mind but if you run with a rucksack (if you’re mad enough) then it would work for you too.
From a safety point of view the side reflectors in the vents when expanded do really give you a better profile when pulling out of a junction. The Verso Gilet is endorsed by IAM (institute of Advanced Motorists).

It’s in the mid to high end price bracket of the market but it’s certainly better made and better quality than others I’ve seen and it has the added zipped vents to allow a backpack which I’ve struggled to find on other products, it also has the ability to add the LED light for extra visibility, it’s well worth the money.

Available in black or yellow
Sizes: S/M or L/XL
RRP £34.99 with free UK delivery
Available from: www.two-zero.co.uk for delivery worldwide
also available from other online and highstreet retailers

What TwoZero say about their product:

Dual purpose expandable high visibility vest
integrated rucksack cover
unique expanding back will unzip to fit over your backpack
stylish high visibility graphics for increased safety
tailored to hug the body
elasticated panels for comfort
lightweight fabric allowing your skin to breath
back panel loop to attach TwoZero LED flasher (sold separately)

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