Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Review - Dinotte 200L

ITEM: Dinotte 200L lights
PURCAHSED online from Dinotte in 2007
PRICE: About $300 (was a gift)
RATING: Excellent

I got a couple of the 200Ls. One 200L flood for my handlebars to light the ground immediately ahead and another 200L spot for my head to shine some light wherever my eyes are pointing. I got the 4 cell lithium ion battery pack for the flood and the 2 cell pack for the spot.

I've been using these lights for three seasons now. They throw a lot of light and the beam patterns are good. This was a huge step up from my NightRider halogen setup. I have friends with HID and they definitely throw more light, but they are so expensive they just have one unit. I think I am better off with the two units for the money, even if they are not quite as bright as HID.

The dual setup is great - the bar mount throws a wide beam directly in front of me and the shadows help in depth perception. And the helmet mount is always pointed where I am looking, which is more than I can say for my handlebars. The dual setup is also great for redundancy - in my case when a friend forgot to fully charge his light, I was able to loan him one of mine so we could ride back home safely.

The mounts are elegant in their simplicity (this translates to reliable), but the bar mount could be difficult to align if your bars have any sweep to them. This was easy to fix by taking off the bars and dropping one of the rubber bands around the steerer, then putting the bars back on (see photo).

The cable connections are solid and weatherproof. One of the cables on my setup can be tough to disconnect but this is a minor inconvenience. After 3 years of riding, one of the wires began to fray where it enters the light housing. This was because I was mounting the light on the bar and the battery on my top tube, so the wire was constantly flexing as a rode. I fixed it with a dab of epoxy and I now fasten the batter to the stem so the wire is no longer being stressed.

The batteries are extremely light, especially after the NiMH I had with the NiteRider. Dinotte does say that battery performance may vary, but I am seeing way less run time than advertised. My run times are closer to 2 hours than the 8 hours they advertised. Not sure if this is how I am charging / discharging the batteries, but Lithium Ion are not supposed to be as finicky as NiMH, so this is a disappointment.

I had a bad cable in the original shipment so called Dinotte. They were extremely pleasant and dropped a new cable in the mail that same day, no questions asked. When you are spending this kind of money on mail order equipment, it is good to know they will stand behind their product.

STRENGTHS: Construction, Service, Versatility of dual setup
WEAKNESSES: Cable can be difficult to disconnect, battery life not what I expected

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