18 January 2008

bikefix Exclusive Review: Lupine Betty 12 lights

Night riding is an experience everyone who rides should try. Most people night-ride in the winter because it gets dark so early and they have to do it if they want to get some riding in (I like night-riding in the summer because it is so much more pleasant). Night-riding (of course) requires the use of some sort of light. There are a lot of companies offering riding lights and most of them are very capable. Then there is the Lupine Betty 12.

Lupine has decided that HID lights are a thing of the past and their marketing shows it- “R.I.P. HID” is written on an image of a tombstone in their advertisements. The Betty 12 is Lupine’s top-level riding light and has seven 3+ watt LED lights on the lamp head. It looks like something you buy at a jewelry store. They are secured in a weather-proof (no underwater use) lamp head with rows of heat sinks on the back, and a thick rubber-band type mounting attachment.

Multi-sport types rejoice - Lupine is special in that ALL of its batteries and lamp heads are interchangeable. It makes their high price seem a bit more manageable if you might use it with other Lupine lamps/batteries for many different activities. Because of this, the title and number of Lupine LED lights is really just a way of telling the customer which combination of lamp head and battery they are getting. For instance, in the “Betty 12” the Betty means the big powerful lamp with 7 LED’s. The 12 refers to the most powerful battery which is their bottle-mount lithium-ion 13.8 Amp. There is a Betty 6 too, which as you can guess, is the Betty lamp head with a smaller battery.

The Betty 12 can really light up the night. Lupine claims a brightness of 1400 lumens and a British magazine review tested it and said it was slightly more. I believe it. It was so bright your friends can ride without lights (and you could vaporize a Vampire on the spot). The Betty 12 at half power is still one of the brightest lights on the market. At full power (22watts) Lupine claims it will last 6hrs, at 9watts it should last 13 hours, and at 1watt (which you can actually ride with – slowly) it should last for 84 hours. I have not tested these times but Lupine has always been accurate with their estimates in the past (I have owned two others).
The Rubber-band type mount seems sketchy when you first see it, but it works perfectly, with no problems over even the roughest trails. The caveat is that you need different size rubber bands depending on whether you run oversize bars or not. No big deal, just throw on the right band and you’re off.
I mentioned the different power settings above and one of the truly professional features of the Lupine is that it comes with a programmable lamp-head. The light can be programmed for different power, brightness, and capacity levels, depending on your needs. The programming sequence takes some time to grasp but is not that bad once you read the manual carefully (more than once). This model also comes with a smart charger, which can charge any type of Lupine battery from NiMi to Lithium Ion.

All this comes at a price of course, and it is huge. The Betty 12 retails for [an alarming] $1,185.00. The kit comes with a bunch of other do-dads like a car-charger and various straps and bands (pictured). You can make your own determinations of value but I think it is worth it now that I have used it. Other companies lighting systems have been getting much more expensive as of late and Lupine has a variety of lights at different performance/price levels if the Betty 12 is more than you can justify. Check them out at gretnabikes.com.



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