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Archives for the day Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

Cygolite 350/680 review

cygolite 680

I bought the Cygolite 350 for my 20 mile commute to work after daylight savings time ended.  Eight of the 20 miles are on coastal trails that are really dark.  They would not be dark miles if the sun was up but my work schedule dictates when I make the commute.

I tried a lot of different lights before I decided to spend $70 on the Cyoglite.  It was and is worth every dollar that I spent.  I think the brightest mode is brighter than the head lights on an old Volkswagen.  When I first bought the light, I had to read the instructions to figure out how to turn the thing on.  You have to hold the power button down for about 3 seconds to get it to turn on or off.  I never realized how bright 350 Lumens could be!  Now that the Cygolite Expilion 350 has been replaced by the 680, I am looking for an excuse to buy the 680.

Here are some specifications about the 350 that I copied from Cygolite and reworded for my convenience while keeping the original intent.
•    One LED bulb with 350 lumens
•    Five-hour charge time
•    130-gram weight
•    Run times:

o    Two hours on “boost” – I love this setting.  It is great for the dark trails.  I can even see people who are out walking on dark trails dressed in black.
o    Three hours on high – I usually skip this level and run on either medium or boost.
o    Six hours on medium
o    13.5 hours on low
o    24 hours on flash – Flash can be a life saver when the battery is dying.
•    Quick-release lithium ion battery stick for swapping out the battery on the fly – I did not understand this option so I did not buy a spare battery when I purchased the light.  It is a great idea and I recommend carrying a spare battery and a spare light when riding on dark roads.

•    Control button with built-in power indicators – The control button does more than expected and it is nice to have some type of indicator to let you know when the battery is charged.  It says there is a low battery indicator but my experience is that the indicator may indicate something; it did not indicate a low battery to me.  The battery died on me once because I did not charge it properly and went out for a ride without checking the battery.  When the battery was just about dead it went into flash mode and survived for about an hour on flash.  It was not the best option but it got me home.

•    Precision optics – the beam spread is incredible.

•    USB charging – It has a USB charger but the instructions tell you to use the wall charger.
•    The USB charging port has a water tight rubber cover that is a bit tight to keep the water out of the electronic charging circuitry.  The cover is tight for people like me who commute along the water front.  The cover for my Garmin broke and I have clean the USB contacts regularly.  It is quite challenging and it is nerve wracking to think about the eminent demise of an expensive piece of equipment.

When I bought my light, I could not find one at the local bike shops so I bought from Amazon.  You can still find them on Amazon for about $55.00.  You can also find the 680 for about $85.00.  I want a 680.  If you want to save the $30.00, there is nothing wrong with the 350.  It is a great light.  It is such a good light that I have no regrets about buying it after and a better light came out for about the same price.

Note: the picture is an image of the 680 from the Cygolite website because I did not feel like taking a picture of the 350.


Braaap nutrition bars

Braaap is another entry into an already crowded market for sports nutrition.  I believe that every new entry into the sports nutrition market helps raise the bar for all of us.  The Braaap is certified gluten free but they do not advertise as certified organic.  I am more concerned about the organic nature of things than I am about Gluten but the bars are organic enough to make me happy.  The bars go for about $3.00 per bar on amazon when purchased in boxes of 12.

The bars go down really well.  The name of the game is digestion so this is a big deal for me.  I prefer mine with chocolate milk or coffee.  If you read my articles, you know I am big on balance.  When I stop at a coffee shop, during a long bike ride, I am apt to eat just about anything that looks good.  The Braaap bar is a healthy alternative.  Anything that I carry has to be able to compete with the Bovine bakery.  It does not have compete outright, it just has to be good enough for me to accept.

On to the bar; as I mentioned, they are certified gluten free.  I don’t care about gluten.  I think we are just switching our flour types from one type of empty calories to another.  I may be wrong but I feel that people who are going gluten free to lose weight have to worry about gluten free calories just as much as people who are watching regular calories.  A calorie is an energy measurement after all.  I digress!  The bar is nice and simple with about 10 ingredients.  It is tough to make a simple product that has a long shelf life.

The good:

  • The Braap bars taste pretty good.  I like the blueberry and cranberry ones the best.
  • They do not upset my stomach

The bad:

  • The marketing – Are the Braaap bars for athletes or sick people?
  • The price – $3.00 per bar is a bit steep for something that does not advertise the vanilla extract as pure.
  • The wrapper is not environmentally friendly.

The Braaap bar gets an okay rating from me.  The marketing moves the Braaap bar from good to okay.  When I see a product with “gluten free” and “natural ingredients” on the front of a package, I am cautious.