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DiNotte Lighting 400L Dual Headlight Owner Review

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I purchased a DiNotte Lighting 400L Dual headlight set in September 2010 from DiNotte Lighting for a landed cost of AU$389. My purchase consisted of the 400L Dual headlight (two light engines), a two cell and a four cell battery and a helmet mount. There are other configuration options available which will reduce/increase the purchase price. Check the DiNotte website. This review reflects my usage of the 400L Headlight set over a four month period, aka the BackpackGearTest.org approach.

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

Ordering Process

I placed the order on September 17, 2007 and was advised that it was shipped on the same day. Delivery was attempted (carded) on September 22, 20101 and I picked up the order on September 23, 2010. So five days to ship from the US. Outstanding service in my view. More so considering I paid AU$10.00 for shipping but the order was shipped USPS Express Mail International at a cost of US$26.63. Thanks for the fast shipping at a reasonable price.

In terms of the DiNotte Lighting website I found that it provides pricing in Australian dollars helpful as was the ability to configure the lightening systems to suit (e.g., add/change batteries, mounts etc). The only thing to watch for is that specials such as the 400L Dual are not obvious. You need to go click on the “online store” button not the products button to spot the special. That said, all up a good buying experience so far.

What is in the box

The box! no fancy packaging here. Plain and simple!

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Opening up the box, one finds a lot of zip lock bags and other bits and pieces making up the kit. Hidden in there somewhere are a couple of 400L light engines.

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The contents of the box:

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Within the box my order consisted of:

  • Two 400 lumen light engines. One came with the helmet mount attached;
  • Two mounting kits for mounting the light engines on the bars. Each kit includes a mount for standard sized bars and oversized bars;
  • Extension cable;
  • Y-cable to allow running of both light engines from the one battery;
  • Two 40 cm hook and loop battery mount straps;
  • One two cell battery;
  • One four cell battery;
  • One smart charger which came with an Australian plug;
  • Two spare lenses.

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The handlebar mounts are pretty standard mounts that often come with tail lights.  They consist of two bar mounts and two styles of mounts which are fitted to the rear of the light engines.  The mounts allow for a number of positioning options including horizontal or vertical mount. Scroll down to see the two different ways I have mounted the engines to my Look 555 and Giant CRX 1 to get some ideas.

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In my case I have gone with two batteries, a two cell battery and a four cell battery.  Hopefully from the photo you can get an idea of the size of them.  The batteries offer a number of options and hence run times. The run times and other information as quoted by the manufacturer follow:

Lighting Mode 2 Cell Li-ion battery 4 Cell Li-ion battery
100% 400 Lumens 2.5 hours 5 hours
50% 200 Lumens 5 hours 10 hours
10% 40 Lumens 24 hours 48 hours
Slow Pulse 12 hours 24 hours
Rapid Pulse 6 hours 12 hours
Strobe 12 hours 4 hours
Charge Time 2 hours 4 hours
Weight (Manufacturer) 120 g 140 g

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The light engines. The photo here is of one light engine attached to the helmet mount.  My kit came with two light engines and a spare set of lenses as shown above. DiNotte Lightening indicate that the

400L lens kit allows the user to mix and match standard, medium and wide lenses on the 2 LEDs to find the best combination for the application. The lens kit is only available on the 400L.

According to the material supplied in the kit there are three beam angles: 10 degree standard, 25 degrees medium and 40 degrees wide. There is no information as to what lenses are fitted standard nor what the two spares are.

Update September 25, 2010: I contacted DiNotte Lighting to seek clarity on the type of lens fitted and what the spares are and received this prompt response.

The easiest way to think of it is the rougher the surface of the lens, the more diffused.. so the polished one (clear) is the standard, the one that looks etched or sandblasted is the medium and the one that looks like a bug’s eye is the wide. I’d stick with the two standard and move up incrementally one at a time if you want to experiment most of the time the other lenses are used for sports where you are not traveling so fast.

The manufacture has put out a video on changing the lenses:

The light engines have a claimed weight of 120 grams.

As indicated above the light engines operate in steady mode (high, medium or low) and in three flashing modes.  The flashing modes are:

  • Slow pulse where the light is pulsing at a slow steady pace;
  • Steady light with a strobe where the light is always on ultra-low power setting with a high intensity pulse;
  • Strobe and pause where the light is always on an ultra-low power setting with a repeated pattern of five high intensity strobes followed by a short pause.

Operation is pretty straight forward.  Turning on the light engine requires a double press of the power button which is mounted on the front of the light. The default on mode is steady. Turning off is a simple matter of holding the power button for two seconds.

Changing modes is a simple press of the power button to scroll through settings. If in steady mode, the light intensity goes from high to medium to low back to high.

To change from steady to flash mode, just hold the power button for six seconds. Pressing the power button then scrolls through the flashing modes.

Low battery indication is a brief strobe (not sure how this works effectively in flashing mode but) indicating approximately 20% battery charge left, about 1/2 hour on high with the two cell battery and about an hour with the four cell battery on high assuming the quoted run times are valid.

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One aspect that really impressed me is that the 7.2 volt Li-ion Smart Charger came standard with an Australian plug. No need for adapters.  The charger has a charge indicator which glows red when charging and green when the charge is complete. My only niggle with this is that the light is on the bottom of the charger. If you have low mounted wall sockets as I do, this makes it every hard to see the light.  Having the light on the top would be a simple but great fix.

Mounting to the bikes

One reason I went with the 400L is that it provided me with two light engines which means I can mount one on the Giant CRX 1 and one on the Look 555, the two bikes I use often and hence do not have to worry about swapping over the engines each time I want to use the other bike.

Mounted to the Giant CRX 1

The cockpit of the CRX 1 is pretty crowded (shifters, bell, aero-bars) so mounting options are limited. Still the design of the mounts provide a number of options and I was able to mount the light engine in a good position.

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The battery is mounted on the top tube using the 40 cm  hook and loop battery strap. In this photo I have the four cell battery mounted to the top tube. I notice that in the DiNotte photos that they mount the battery on the top of the tube so will give this idea a try.  Hanging to the bottom does not seem to affect the cables but.

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The battery is connected to the light engine by a pretty solid cable with what appears to be a waterproof connection. There is a real solid feel to the connection which makes a sucking sound when you disconnect. I am impressed for sure with this aspect.  A hook and loop strap is also provided to retain the connectors to the other cables/tubes as you see fit. Another nice touch.

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Mounted to the Look 555

With the Look 555 I was able to get a more central mounting position, positioning the light engine in front of the stem cap as you can see in the photos.

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As with the Giant CRX I I have mounted the battery (two cell in this instance) off the top tube but will also try this with the battery on the top rather than the bottom as shown in the photo.

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Other Resources

DiNotte Lighting have published on YouTube a series of videos which you may find useful as well as written instructions.  The videos and instructions are listed below:

Mounting the 400L to your handlebars

Mounting the batteries (video) – Helmet mounting instructions (PDF)

Attaching the 400L to a helmet

DiNotte 400L Operating Instructions (PDF)

 

FIELD TESTING (Two months on the bike – November 2010)

 

I have limited use of the lights over the past two months mainly as we are moving towards summer and hence there is more daylight hours. That said I have done a few rides either at twilight or at night in a suburban setting.  I have found that running the lights at their 50% (200 lumen) setting works well for me, both in terms of seeing where I am going and been seen.

The effect of lights is particularly noticeable from the be seen perspective. I have found that drivers tend to hold off in pulling out in front of me as the lights do get their attention. On the downside they are more often making a late judgement call that I am further away than they initially believed and then go for it.  This is not occurring at a dangerous point but it does show that the lights are having an effect on drivers.

In terms of wet weather riding I really haven’t experienced enough to draw any conclusions on how the lights handle these conditions.

The light engine themselves once set correctly hold their position well and I have had no need to re-adjust them on either bike. Similarly the batteries are held well, don’t move around and don’t bother me when I get out of the saddle.

I haven’t tried to run the batteries down flat but have had no issues with the batteries going flat on me and charging is a pretty simple process on the bike.

Operation of the lights has proven to be straight forward. Two pushes of the button switches the light engine on and it remembers its previous state which is handy. Turning off is a simple matter of holding the switch in until the light engines switches off.  I have found rotating through the three steady states is a simple exercise and it is easy to detect the brightness even in relatively bright conditions.

I haven’t bothered to switch over to blink mode so cannot comment on that aspect of the functionality.

LONG TESTING (Four months on the bike)

Due to summer here in Western Australia my actual use of the lights over the past two months has pretty much been zilch hence nothing more to add, other than the lights are still on bike all charged up ready for use.

Update: May 27, 2011

I have included below a one minute video showing the DiNotte 400L on medium setting in action on a suburban street. Hopefully this gives a realistic view of what the lights perform like. That said I do feel that the video down plays the brightness. The video was shot with a Contour HD 1080P mounted on my helmet whereas the DiNotte 400L is mounted on the bars.

7 Responses to DiNotte Lighting 400L Dual Headlight Owner Review

  1. Flash Harry October 10, 2010 at 3:05 PM #

    I have owned the Dinotte 200L dual front + 140R rear for over a year now which is essentially the same as what you have on your bars. I only have the two complaints: Everyone that rides with me says the rear is too bright and the front lights interfere with my Cateye Strada Wireless computer. Other than that, they’re brilliant (I couldn’t resist).

    Worth every penny.

  2. Phil Jack May 21, 2012 at 8:41 AM #

    So two years down the track would you still be buying the Dinottes?

    Fairly curious as I am looking to get some decent reliable (already had some DX lights die on me in the wet) lights for commuting. I have also started doing a few Audax rides so looking for something reliable, and good enough to see by on country roads (not that I go particularly quick -25-30kmh)

    • Aushiker May 21, 2012 at 10:03 PM #

      Thanks for the question Phil. If I was still looking again for a battery powered light, the DiNottes would be right up there on the shopping list for sure. I haven’t really kept up with the battery powered lights market but that said I haven’t come across anything that has really caught my attention.

      My preference now is for dynamo powered lights.

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