Friday, September 12, 2008

A Review of the Cyglolite Pace 135

First, a little background. About two weeks ago I began having problems with my NiteRider Digital Evolution headlight. The positive and the negative terminals would make contact but not the data line for the "fuel gauge;" consequently, the fuel gauge would do the whole "KITT from NiteRider" routine. An annoying problem, but not a complete ride killer. As a consequence I had to consider a new light for when I send the NiteRider back to the shop.

My long-term lighting plan is to eventually go to Dynohubs and LED lighting (either DIY or B&M Lumotec); however, until my funds caught up to me my plan was to use the NiteRider Digital Evolution until I can get the Dyno wheels built for both my main commuter bikes. As part of my plan I intend to keep my original front wheels for the times that I don't want the additional drag of the generator so I am having to scrounge parts to do what I want to do. The Alpine Monitor Pass requires a silver ARAYA RM20 which has not been produced in over 10 years and I have not come across anything that comes close to matching. or at the worst I will have to rebuild its wheelset with different rims. The Specialized Sirrus 700c hybrid has a similar problem. It came from the factory with Alex R500 rims which is exclusive to the OEM market and I missed out on the only one I've ever seen on eBay (because at the time I thought that I could get one anywhere). So being the hardheaded Cuss that I am I found a wheelset based on Mavic CPX33 rims and Shimano Ultegra Hubs that I plan to use once I can get a cassette mounted and then get another CPX 33 rim to build up Shimano dynohub so at least one of my commuter bikes would be on its way to being fully converted.

Well, with so much work left to go Dynohub and a Niterider Digital Evolution starting to flake out I needed a light so that I could continue commuting by bike and a later be moved to one of my other bikes. I had two main criteria for this replacement light. It had to be cheap; however, good enough quality to last a while and it had to be equally bright as my Digital Evolution. being that I was let down by Niterider as my Digital evolution is just a little over a year and a half old I wanted to go with another company. I received a catalog from Performance Bicycle and saw that they had the Cyglolite Pace 135 for $69 which is extremely cheap. So I figured I would give it a try. Here's a picture of the complete set sans charger.

The Cyglolite Pace 135 utilizes third-generation LED technology and a 4.8 Volt nickel metal hydride battery with no charger regulation. Unfortunately, it is not clear which third generation LED emitter is using, In comparison the Digital Evolution is a halogen-based light and utilizes a 6 V digitally controlled charger. Both lights are rated for 3 1/2 hours of use and that is where the similarity ends.

The Pace 135 weighs 14.2 oz which is significantly lighter than the Digital Evolution. The Digital evolution weighs A heavy 54 ounces not including the 1 m extension cable. Both lights are rated for 3 1/2 hours of use


The Cyglolite Pace 135 charges completely in six hours using an unregulated "wall wart" type of charger which is not bad compared to some of the other budget units out there that require twice that. The one negative to charging the system as I mentioned is the charger is completely unregulated. There is no overcharge protection built into either the battery or the charger and the instructions stress that damage will occur to the battery with overcharging and complete discharging. So it is rather important to keep track of how long the battery unit has been charged and to not forget about it when it is plugged in. On its inaugural charge I turned on a kitchen timer set to six hours so that I knew exactly when to unplug it. It also requires that the power switch which is located on the battery to be in the on position for charging which is easily overlooked. I would like to say that this unit is "idiot proof" but it is not. In comparison the Digital Evolution recharges in 2.5 hours and has a built-in charging protection circuit which is a good thing for I have forgotten to unplug it quite a few times. The Digital Evolution is truly an "idiot proof" design.

The Hardware

The physical construction of the light head of the Pace unit is entirely acceptable and roughly equivalent to the same part of the Digital Evolution. There are two obvious physical differences. The Digital evolution utilizes a integrated pigtail with the proprietary connector on the end to plug into its battery. The Pace uses a barrel plug from the battery that plugs into a female receptacle on the light head. I point this out because it raises the possibility that the Pace could be "hacked" for use on a scratch built power pack or grafted onto a gen hub. The only thing i disliked about the lighthead itself is the mouting bracket is on the flimsy side.


I found the Pace to be roughly equivalent in performance to my Digital evolution. The only real difference that I could discern was that the Digital evolution was the equivalent of daylight florescent or a soft white incandescent bulb in the color spectrum and the Pace was a Cool White like a cool white florescent and to some degree splashed on the roadway looked like a florescent beam. By way of comparison this first picture is the beam pattern for the Digital evolution.

The shot over to the left is the beam shot of the Pace. Note the bluish cast of the light over on the door.

Over to the left is combined shot at both the Digital evolution and the pace 135. The actual light quality is equivalent; however, the color warmth of the two lights is different.

Here is a picture of both light heads running. The Pace is on the left and the Digital Evolution on the right. The bluish color warmth of the pace is evident.


For the money the Cyglolite Pace 135 is an acceptable light for commuting. It has three pluses to its favor. It is lighter in a weight and equally bright to older technology and it's extremely low-cost. It's only weakness is its charger and the fact that there is no protection circuits to protect the battery from overcharging so if you happen to be absent-minded this may not be the light for you.


Peter said...

Sadly, I had a NiteRider Digital Evolution around 2004 - 2005. What a piece of garbage. Failed after a year. Took it back to REI for a full refund. Now happily using "medium-end" Cateve lights... I have an EL530. Rechargeable AA NiMH cells, solar charged.

Sirrus Rider said...

For the most part my Digtal Evolution has worked well. The problem it has is more of a nuisance than a deal killer. If it wasn't for the fact I like the fuel gauge as an aid to measure remaining battery life I would keep using it in it's "Broken" state. I will agree that I have some issues with the company. I really didn't want to buy my Digital Evo, but seeing they changed connectors from a simple pop plug to a funky proprietary connector on their batteries it meant I could not use a new battery with my Digital Night Owl without a cheesy adapter that kept shorting out. So to reduce connections I needed the "new" light head.

PM Summer said...

I picked up one of these recently to replace my NiteRider Trail Rat, whose NiCad pack had started to die for the second time. I love it, especially for the price (got it on sale for $60)!