Busch & Muller Ixon Core – Review

August 24, 2014

I bicycle commute to work basically every day now. Well, sorta commute – I actually live a good 45+ miles from work. To commute that would take a few hours in the morning and then again in the evening. If I commuted THAT I’d be doing nothing but working plus riding to and from.

Instead, I drive in part way, park the car, and ride in. TYPICALLY the ride is 11 miles, but I vary it up. Some mornings it’s 8, some mornings 15, some 20.

I hadn’t previously mentioned this commuting on this blog mostly due to my dead silence for some 4 months, recently broken ūüôā I’ve been commuting in this manner to some extent for a couple months, but VERY regularly for the past few weeks.

Anyway – sadly, June 21 (longest day of year) has come and long gone. Days are getting shorter and shorter. My preferred morning commute start time is already too dark to ride on the paved trail that I commonly take, which has forced me to either start later, start on the road for a few miles & transition to trail, or just go all-road. This, plus the fact that I intend to ride as much as I can in winter (when there’s darn-near no serviceable daylight on weekdays), and also resume randonneuring very shortly (which will entail some evening riding), means that it was time to bite the bullet & get a better bike headlight.

What I had previously is scarcely worth mentioning. Bike headlights serve one or both of two purposes: See, and be seen. What I had previously was fine for the latter, but for the former, it left much to be desired. I could safely see ahead of me, but peripheral visibility was very poor.

So, I sprang for a nicer light. There are oodles of choices out there; I put a premium, for now, on something low maintenance, low barrier to entry (easy to get up & running) and easily rechargeable. What I settled on among these considerations, plus price and quality of light, was Busch & Muller’s Ixon Core. Lithium Ion integrated battery, rechargeable via USB.

I ordered mine from Peter White Cycles in the US.

Here’s a side shot of the Core:

Core_side

It arrived a week ago or so. Very simple to use. Two intensities. 3 hours on high power, 15 hours on low. High power mode kicks out 50 Lux.  Intuitive-to-understand flashing of lighted top button conveys how much battery life remains.

Super simple to attach to bike. Came with two sizes of included rubber straps, which stay mounted to handlebar. The light itself is easily enough removed from and clicked back into this strap. The light can pivot slightly from side to side, and while the band is firm and holds its position on the bar, you can easily enough pivot the light forward or back to direct the light more down or up.

Below, looking directly at the light.

Core_front

Finally I got the opportunity late last week to use it on the paved trail in truly dark conditions. The local system of paved trails, a wonderful commuters’ resource, is however darn-near pitch black until the sky is fairly light. Patches of it, of course, run along decently-lit streets; but there are stretches of it that are basically pitch black. Great testing ground.

Verdict: I was underwhelmed for specifically pre-dawn trail riding. Make no mistake – the light is great in its own right, as a directional light. Light is focused on the road ahead, with not much spillover on the sides. This has its place; but on a pitch black trail that curves, dips, dives and climbs, being able to get a full sense of what is ahead of you is very important. I have ridden this trail now dozens of times, and am quite familiar with it; yet, what is familiar in the light looks totally alien in the dark, and even as familiar as I was with the terrain, I found myself wondering exactly where the next bend was coming up or going. If I were unfamiliar with the trail, or if I needed to do some technical descending – I do not feel like this light alone is sufficient.

Beam picture of the light on high in darkened room:

Core_light

Again, for road riding it is a very good light. I have ridden a few times with it now on the road, neither time in absolute darkness, but each case was WELL before sunrise. The road ahead is lit up very well, cars certainly see you so the safety factor is fine, and visibility is generally good. I have yet to take it on pitch-black country roads and am guessing it’ll light up the road ahead just fine; but, if there is need to see street signs off to the side, I suspect it will be lacking.

Therefore, after some more research and talking with a couple friends, I have ordered a second light – this time the Light & Motion Urban 550 light. 550 lumens (on high mode), more “side lighting” than the Core. Looks like similar mounting although most people seem a little dissatisfied with that aspect of the light. Also, its duration isn’t as good: 1.5 hours on high.

The plan is to run both lights as handlebar headlights when commuting on trail in dark. Turn both out to the sides about as far as they will go. This SHOULD provide me with a very big center swath of light plus plenty out to both sides.

For normal road riding after nightfall or pre-dawn — and that includes randonneuring¬†– I feel pretty good that EITHER of the two lights is sufficient. ¬†I will still go with both on bike, for a backup, but just run one or the other. ¬†In places where peripheral vision is key (searching for a road sign or just the correct turn in the dark), I’ll switch both on for short stretches. ¬†Should be more than sufficient.

The new¬†light should arrive later this week or so; I’ll try it out as soon as I get it and post a review after a couple uses.

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