Friday, March 27, 2015

Bookman Curve Front Light

Bicycle lights can be a tricky item. Riding roads in the dark without lights isn't the best option, but finding ways to attach a headlight or taillight can be challenging if a bike is not equipped with some type of mounting device. If you don't want to have to fuss with a location for lights there are some options on the market of varying quality and cost.

I've used Bookman lights on my bikes for some time now. I own several sets and they're easy to transport, carry off the bag, and mount without much effort to the bike when needed. I've often wished that I had the funds to buy such a supply that when I run into others on bicycles at night who haven't donned lights, I could simply give them away. While these lights work well in regard to ease of use and to allow motorists and others to see a person on a bike, I was pleased to see a newer product on the market from Bookman that allows for a more illuminated path for the individual riding.
Unmounted view of Curve front light
Their latest headlight is the Curve front light and is a bit different than the prior model. This model has a maximum brightness of 80 lumens, and is shaped differently than the standard Bookman light. Instead of one small LED, the headlight has a curved shape that wraps around handlebars.

Additionally, this front light can be charged via USB, rather than needing to replace the batteries when they run out of power (I am aware that there is a version of the original model that can be charged via USB, they are just not what I currently own).

The newest addition to the Bookman line up of lights is larger than the prior model, and it's almost as convenient and easy to carry. Attaching and removing the light is slightly more complicated than the rubber band-like attachment device on the older style, but it's still fairly simple.
*Image from Bookman
When the light arrived I'd taken a quick look at the instructions and attempted to replicate the diagram shown, but my first attempt only resulted in me turning the light on and off. I didn't want to break the light, so I wasn't quite sure what to do, but after scanning it a bit more, I decided that what I'd been doing must be the way to release the strap. With a bit more force, it did come loose.

To date, I've used this Curve light on several evening/dark rides. I've used it alone and as a supplement to the prior Bookman model already owned. Here are a few highlights I've noted while riding thus far with the front light:

- The Curve front light is far better at illuminating a path in front of the bike than the original version. I travel a couple of dark roads that have no street lights and I can see several feet in front of me.

- The light attaches and removes fairly easily, though not quite as easily as the rubber band-like version.

- Motorists seem to spot the light even better because of the extra illumination.

- While the light is bright, it is not blindingly so (as some bike lights can be). Still, I accidentally looked at it when messing around with attachment and it was enough to send me off blinking my eyes and trying to recover for a few seconds.

- If your bicycle has handlebars larger than 32 mm in diameter, you will struggle to attach this particular light. The silicone attachment is stronger than the former design, and is also less elastic.
Mounted, top view of Curve front light
I appreciate the ease of use of all Bookman lights. While this version still isn't as bright as other headlights I own, for the price, it is plenty useful and I don't need to worry about an attachment in order to get it affixed to the bike. Because of the simple attachment strap, it makes it easy to use on any bike (which is not always the case with lights).

This particular light has two strengths of illumination that can be changed between 40 and 80 lumens, and between steady and flashing. The changes are easy to do: a single click turns the light on/off, while double clicking changes between all the modes available.
Mounted, front view of Curve light
The claimed run time is up to 35 hours on a single charge. Keep in mind that this is using the light on its lowest settings, so if the rider prefers a brighter/steady light, it will not run for this stated time. If the brightest setting is used (80 lumens), the run time is about 3 hours (a USB cable is included with the light). Since my late night regular ride is a total of about 25 minutes, it takes approximately 7 rides on the brightest, steady setting to run through the battery.

Since I am not the most aware of how long I've been running a light, it would be nice if there was some kind of indicator to let the user know when the battery is running low (say at 20%). I'd hate to get stuck somewhere and have no illumination to get me home. As an added feature though, it takes only 2 hours to charge completely. *Edited:  Bookman has stated that there is a flashing red indicator at the top of the light that blinks to let the user know when 30 minutes of time remains. Excellent news for people like me.

The front light currently comes in three colors: red, black, or white and is available for purchase through a variety of sources, such as Bookman directly (linked above), Amazon, and other bicycle retailers (and perhaps even your local bike shop). As of the date of this post, the light retails for just over $40 USD (€ 39.00).
Curve light in use
I am happy with the function of this front light and continue to ride with it regularly because of the ease of use. I am curious if there will be a coordinating and just as useful taillight in the future. It would be great to have a rear light with the same amount of power provided, though I understand that attachment strategies can be even trickier on the back side of a bicycle due to different setups such as saddlebags, racks, and so on.

If you've tried the newer version of Bookman's front light, I'd love to hear your thoughts and whether you think this is an improved version of the original.

4 comments:

  1. Very helpful review. I'm partial to dynamo lighting, but this would be great as a back up for my fun bike, which doesn't normally go out at night. I loved the video. It's really fun to hear your voice.

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    1. {giggle} Ah, my annoying, nasal voice! It felt strange to do a video... I had to try to keep myself under (some amount of) control. Sam listened to it and was just shaking his head. Oh well. What can I say?

      Glad that the post is helpful. I think dynamo lighting is fantastic - though a much more involved process for initial setup. I appreciate when my movement is powering the lights too (and then I don't worry about batteries). I think these are a great way to have a back up system handy too.

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  2. Um...I should clarify. Both of my bikes are fun, but one of them is a much lighter just-for-recreational purposes bike and the other is my big old pick-up-truck of a bike used for commuting.

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