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Lupine Betty R Lamphead (4500 Lumens, late 2013)
Available at Gretna Bikes in the USA.
Lupine describes the 4500-lumen model this way:
We usually try to avoid over sensationalizing but our new Betty R has us very excited.
The system of lamp head with remote control in the Betty R is unique and a World first because it’s specially designed for the requirements of a 45W lamp.
At the push of a button our Betty switches through up to four individually customisable light levels with a maximum output of 4500 lumens. As a direct comparison, 4500 Lumens is brighter than any common Xenon car light! The transmitter allows wireless control of the light.
While 4500 lumens is far too bright for most riding conditions, there is real value comes in having that peak power output when it is needed: that 2-minute section of sketchy singletrack, a very high speed downhill on the road, web black asphalt, etc. Also, more light over a broader area for better peripheral vision.
There is a caveat to the 4500-lumen peak output: this requires cold temperatures and/or a lot of airflow; the light has protective circuitry and will reduce output if the lamphead becomes too hot in order to protect the life of the LEDS. This is a critical feature for any high performance lamphead.
In short, 4500 lumens is really about peak power for brief use. Moreover, older lower capacity Lupine batteries cannot drive the lamphead at 4500 lumens (45 watts); the latest higher capacity batteries are required for that. Older batteries work fine at somewhat lower power draw.
Photographers, take note of uses for night-time photography: “Colour temperature 6000° K (5% tolerance)”, though some magenta filtration is needed to offset the green cast.
The 3600 lumen model can be upgraded to the new model at reasonable cost: your author had both of his upgraded. The difference between 3600 and 4500 lumens is quite modest; human vision is not linear in its response so the perceptual difference is small. The reasons to upgrade include:
- A noticeable but modest increase in perceived brightness (25% higher wattage will not be perceived as 25 brighter).
- Slightly longer runtime and/or higher lumens for the same wattage draw.
- For those who have more than one lamphead: the same programming and behavioral characteristics.
These are all worthwhile benefits, and given the total system cost of a Betty R unit in total, the upgrade cost makes sense for those regularly using the light at high output and for longer periods of time.
Age and eyes
Younger riders can see better at night (pupil diameter), by a factor of 2X or more: in photography terms, younger riders have ƒ/1.4 eyes; older ones have ƒ/2 or ƒ/2.8 eyes! The light gathering power of human eyesight decreases steadily with age.
So while younger riders might find 4500 lumens excessive for some situations, older riders of age ~50 or more literally cannot see as well in the dark, and do need more brightness, for the same reason ultra-bright binoculars are of no value for older eyes. Moreover, color perception has a threshold, and so a bit more brightness can aid both depth perception and color perception.
Also, wet asphalt at night soaks up 95% or more of the light. At higher speed, even 4500 lumens can seem dim, so there are conditions under which any increase is very welcome.
Anyone who rides at night on black asphalt that is wet from rain knows that even the most powerful lights simply black-hole-vanish in such conditions. The Betty R delivers such an intense light that even wet black pavement can be ridden downhill at high speeds (30 mph or s0).
The bike lights some riders still use* cast a pitiful smear of pallid bluish light a few feet ahead of the bike. The Betty R provides a broad and generously deep brightness that makes speeds downhill up to 35 mph perfectly comfortable (so long as my night glasses are not beaded with water droplets!).
* A multi-thousand dollar bike with an irreplaceable rider and a $50 AA-powered light = insanity. Observation suggests that most riders use lights that cost less than a set of good bike tires.
Runtimes are not directly comparable because the Betty R 4500 offers higher lumens (brighter light) for the same wattage draw.
The Betty R 4500 delivers an amazing burn time of well over 4 hours at 22W / 2400 lumens from a single 13.2 Ah battery. Such a battery straps on easily to the top tube. Moreover, ascents do not require anywhere near 2400 lumens, so a single battery could handle a very long ride when dimmed down for ascents.
Burn-test results at 22 watts, fan-cooled indoors at ~68° F. Betty R 4500 Lumen 13.2 Ah: 04:25 11.2 Ah: 03:58 (slightly older battery) Betty R 3600 Lumen (for reference) 17.5 Ah Big Ben: ~6.0 hours
The light can be programmed in many different ways.
Given the broad brightness range, I would have preferred five distinct levels, but the programming is limited to four discrete levels. However, the lamphead can be programmed in a few minutes right then and there to suit the conditions, so this is not a real limitation for varied rides.
Settings depend on the usage and depend on conditions; experiment for your own conditions. Examples:
- 4 / 12 / 22 / 45 watts
(road rides with fast descents)
- 4 / 8 / 16 / 28 watts
(tighter grouping when peak output not needed)
- 0.3 / 1 / 4 / 8 watts
(long backpacking trip on headband, where ultra long runtime is valued and even 0.3W is enough for eating and such)
There are also flash mode, alpine emergency, SOS, RVLR options available.
There are up to 4 brightness levels, in any sequence:
- Press and hold the button (for approx. 4 seconds) until one green LED lights up, then release the button.
- The range of brightness levels you can select will begin automatically to cycle, as shown below.
- Press the button at the brightness level you want; release.
- Upon releasing the button, the sequence of brightness levels automatically restarts, allowing you to set a second level in the same manner as the first click set-up.
This process can be repeated up to four times, but will stop when you quit making further selections, thus allowing your light to operate in 1-step, 2-step, 3-step,-or 4-step modes.
Brighter than a Xenon car headlight
Anyone who rides at night on black asphalt that is wet from rain knows that even the most powerful lights simply black-hole-vanish in such conditions.
The Betty R delivers such an intense light that even wet black pavement can be ridden downhill at high speeds (30 mph or s0). The photo below shows just how black the pavement becomes. The Betty R has quite usable light from the blackest pavement, but it’s the leaves, twigs and debris that become like airport landing lights.
The bike lights some riders use* cast a pitiful smear of pallid light a few feet ahead of the bike. The Betty R provides a broad and generously deep brightness that makes speeds downhill up to 35 mph perfectly comfortable (so long as my night glasses are not beaded with water droplets!).
* A multi-thousand dollar bike with an irreplaceable rider and a $50 AA-powered light = how much is your life worth, why not just skip the helmet too. Logic need not apply. From what I’ve observed, most riders are using lights that cost less than one good tire.
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The 4500 lumen version make high-speed night descents even more viable, particular with dual units for a very broad and bright and uniform beam*.
* One 4500 lumen light is spectacular, but a single beam has its limits; two beams helps fill in and broaden the beam and for aging eyes, more light is always better.
Click through to video page. This particular video uses dual Betty II 2100-lumen lampheads.
Click for larger image.