The powerful beam is even visible under a bright street light.

Review: Lupine’s first front light for City & Touring bikes

Mario 15. May 2017

Germany’s premium bicycle light manufacturer debuts a super bright, 900 lumen, glare-free light for city and touring bikes to boost rider safety in urban road traffic.

The new, battery powered Lupine Lighting Systems’ SL A is a handlebar-mounted front light that more than meets the needs of all those pedalling the city streets in the dark. Urban cyclists want to see and want to be seen, and most importantly are always trying to improve their own safety on the road. Here are my impressions of the new Lupine SL A light.

Specifications

Material aluminium (6061-T6)
Light Source 12 x Luxeon High Intensity LEDs
Brightness 900 lumens
Burn Time 3:00 (max: 900 lumens) - 32:00 (eco mode)
Illumination Modes daytime running light, automatic mode, eco modus
Power Source Li-Ion
Protection Racting IP68, IK 09
Dimensions (LxWxH) 40 x 50 x 48 mm

Note

Germany has special, strict regulations concerning bicycle lighting systems for street use, which impose high standards meant to ensure the safety of the rider’s and the surrounding traffic. While these regulations (called StVZO in German) have no implication on foreign markets, they certainly challenge manufacturers to produce better lights and that is to the benefit of the entire industry. The new SL A is the brightest battery powered light yet to meet the German rules, reason enough to give it a closer look.

Installation

Installing this front light is easy using the mount included in the package. You can use one or two clamps and either turn them facing inward or outward, depending on the width of your stem.

The Lupine SL A’s mount.

The Lupine SL A’s mount.

Little torx bolts (T6) ensure the clamp stays put. The SL A lamp body is then placed in the centre of your cockpit in front of the stem. It is held in place by bolts (T15).

Little T15 torx bolts attach the mount to the handlebars.

Little T15 torx bolts attach the mount to the handlebars.

The battery pack can be attached to the frame in various locations on the top or down tube as desired.

The light should be mounted in the centre of the handlebars.

The light should be mounted in the centre of the handlebars.

For heavy users who own more than one bicycle, there is a quick release clamp.

Lupine also offers a quick realse for the SL A light.

Lupine also offers a quick realse for the SL A light.

Adjusting the light to the correct angle

Before throwing yourself into the traffic of the urban jungle, you should adjust the light’s angle. Ideally, it is set in such a way that lets the light beam drop to half of its original height at 5 meters ahead of you. This way you enjoy perfect vision while the traffic is not blinded. This is a set-up that is also used for automobiles and creates a safe environment for everybody.

Adjusting the beam angle ensures you don't blind oncoming traffic.

Adjusting the beam angle ensures you don't blind oncoming traffic.

Seeing and being seen.

Seeing and being seen.

From dusk...

Now it was time to find out how the SL A performed on the street. I tested it for several nights on commutes and also on rides that took me away from brightly lit city streets and thoroughfares.

Already during my first outing at dusk, I noticed an important difference to other bicycle lights. I am talking about that time in the early evening when some riders still go without a light since its effect is usually not noticeable yet for one’s eye. It’s also the time when light conditions are constantly changing, it’s getting darker and darker every minute and being seen by other traffic participants, especially cars is so important in low light or maybe even against a setting sun. Here, the SL A’s 900 lumens of brightness were priceless as it already painted a clear light beam onto the pavement, drastically improving my visibility. And of course, not to mention that bump or pothole that I might have overlooked with a common light. The SL A gave me a feeling of safety and security.

The SL A shows outstanding performance during the twilight hours.

The SL A shows outstanding performance during the twilight hours.

...to darkness.

After the rest of daylight had completely vanished, the SL A demonstrated all its capabilities. Street signs reflected the lamp’s beam from very far away and I started to wonder if the traffic coming towards me was getting blinded after all.

Turning night into day!

Turning night into day!

Many hours of riding in the dark and in changing conditions proved me wrong though. Not once did a car flash its lights at me in anger or honk its horn to inform me that my light was too bright. At the end of the day, the SL A gives me a feeling of being on par with cars and trucks when it comes to lighting. I felt like I was getting noticed and not being overlooked, which is a very important safety feature.

The powerful beam is even visible under a bright street light.

The powerful beam is even visible under a bright street light.

Carpe Noctem

Not just on the country side, even urban settings have areas that are badly lit or not lit at all. I cycled through a park without streetlights where the SL A allowed me to detect broken glass and other obstacles in my way and manoeuvre around them. This was also where I noticed the clear difference to a helmet mounted light. The SL A has a clearly defined light beam whereas my helmet light is more homogenous and wide angled. However, this is also why it is non-blinding not unlike a car’s head light with reduced glare – hence the compliance with German traffic regulations.

Obstacles or the lack there of become visible even in pitch darkness.

Obstacles or the lack there of become visible even in pitch darkness.

Hands-off: the SL A is sensor controlled

There is another great feature in this bike lamp. Lupine equipped the SL A with a light sensor that perfectly determines the amount of light necessary for your ride. It switches automatically between daylight and night mode. The sensor’s sensitivity can be altered and adjusted and the light can be manually set to eco mode. This conserves battery power and reduces stress on the light itself. Depending on the type of battery you choose and the modes you run, expect between a minimum of 3 hours at full throttle and a maximum of 32 hours of burn time in eco mode. By the way, owners of other Lupine lights can purchase the lamp without the battery pack thanks to compatibility between the different models.

sensor controlled (left) vs. full power (right)

sensor controlled (left) vs. full power (right)

Is the Lupine SL A the right light for you?

In the end of the day, only you can answer this question. In my opinion, I do want the added extra security and safety as I can be seen from further away, not to mention the extra lumens to light up my own path. For people like me, who own several bicycles for city use, the SL A is an ideal companion as it can be switched from one bicycle to the next. I believe, one should never save on safety and this is possibly the best and brightest light for road traffic riding on the market. And apart from that, without the Lupine SL A, I might have missed the beauty below.

There are things to discover in the dark.

There are things to discover in the dark.