Product Reviews February 4, 2012

Terra 2 EVO Li-Ion rechargeable front LED lights

In November of last year I bought a Genesis Day One. As you all know, buying a bike is just the prelude to purchasing additional paraphernalia. Sorry, I mean equipment. The initial equipment list included new pump, saddle bag and peddles. I already owned enough rear lights to deck this one out like a Christmas tree, so no worries there. I had also previously bought a couple of Cateye front light brackets so I could just switch my existing EL-135s around from the other bikes. I left the shop almost road-worthy!

I bought the bike at M's Cycles in Shoreham and at the time, John (the owner), showed me a pair of front lights by terra and told me he swore by them. Lights, as recommended by the bike shop people? Probably going to be quite good, I reasoned. Not for now, but I put them in the metaphorical 'pending purchases' tray. Besides, Christmas was coming and these were not cheap. I could wait until then.

Father Christmas duly turned up on the allotted day and I was lucky enough to amass most of the funds needed to buy the lights. With a spare hour last Friday afternoon, I bought them. You get a choice of buying one light or two and for £25 difference it was a simple decision to make. Open the box and you find a pair of lights, battery pack plus velcro frame 'cuff', lots and lots (12) of assorted sized diameter 'o' ring to attach the light units to the handlebars, the mains plug and its attachment. The lights themselves are made of aluminium and produce 160 lumens each. In English, that means there are pretty bright. In fact, blindly so. Put your hand in front of the beam and it gets very hot, very quickly, (although that's not a feature). 

In terms of functionality, the terra 2's have 3 operating modes; high, low and flashing. One lamp has a wide beam pattern, the other spot. They will last approximately 35 hours on the flashing pattern and 5 hours on continuous. A full charge takes about 5 hours hours. The battery itself is made by Sanyo, is fully waterproof and lightweight. It also indicates when power is running down. The reflector behind the LEDs has been specifically developed to throw out as much light as possible, making the most of the source and the battery power. I have tended to use the wide angle beam on continuous and the spot beam on flashing to get the best of both worlds; visibility and presence! The lamps themselves are relatively easy to fit, the only comment I would make is that the rubber o rings are extremely tight fitting, so be prepared to see them flying off somewhere should you fail to get them properly in place. It's ok, you just need to sacrifice the tips of your fingers! What this does mean is that you'll be less inclined to switch these about between your bikes, if that's what your thinking. Case in point; I'm not thinking of doing that anymore. 

So what does all this mean? I decided I would provide a more scientific answer to the issue of the comparative measurement of light intensity, thinking it might be useful to you. It transpires, however, that this is actually rather complicated, mainly because candlepower and lumens are not the same unit. Why is this an important? Well Cateye measure their lights in candlepower and terra measure their products effectiveness in lumens. Moreover I discovered that candlepower has no standard reference, it's not an SI unit as such. No like for like comparison here. What lumens measures is 'total illumination'. Even more confusing is that the origin factor for candlepower is 8%; basically 1 'unit' of candlepower is equivalent to 12.57 lumens. Put this altogether and what you get are the terra 2's producing about 13 candlepower, compared to the 150 cited by Cateye. I can assure you though that the Terra 2's are significantly brighter. (Maybe this should be the subject of a video, to demonstrate the difference this space). 

From a commuting perspective, the previously mentioned (and reviewed, see EL-135s provide good value for money. For reference, they cost around £20-£25 and can be bought from all the usual places including I have been using a pair of them for some time now. They provide good overall awareness to other road users that you are present, however compared to the terra 2's they lack the visibility (to the cyclist) offered by a more powerful light source. The combination dual beam pattern, wide angle and spot, helps provide the terra 2's excellent illumination. 

£125 is a significant amount of money to spend on a pair of lights. When I attached all four Cateyes onto the handlebars of my MTB for some night time forest riding, (see, one person tweeted back to me saying "Why didn't I by some decent lights?" At the time I thought that was a bit harsh; I was making the best of what I had available. However I now see their point.

To summarise, my advice would be this; if you are riding your bike a significant amount during the Winter months a pair of these lights would be a sound investment. With these lights on your handlebars not only will you be visible, you will clearly see the road ahead.

Terra 2 evo lights can be purchased from all good local bike shops. I bought mine from M's-Cycles in Shoreham. Find them on Shoreham High Street or at and ask for John, Marie or James. RRP £125.

Technical Specifications:

High power Philips luxeon rebel LED

3 modes – hi/lo/flashing

320 lumens constant beam

Up to 35 hours runtime

Alloy/composite construction

Water resistant design

Advanced li-ion 6600 mah battery

Battery/charger included


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