This posting is an owner review of two Fenix L2D Black Premium Q5 torches and of three TwoFish Lockblocks mounts which I have used as bicycle lights.Â My initial impressions are that the L2Ds are well made, the finish of the product is good, their functionality is reasonable and the level of light output appears good for my purposes.
I purchased in May 2008 two Fenix Digital L2D Black Premium Q5 torches from FenixStore.com along with a pack of three TwoFish Lockblocks to mount the torches to my bikes. Total cost of the order was ~AU$135.00 delivered. I found the FenixStore’s ordering process straight forward and I liked that they provided a tracking number even though I never used it. The torches arrived within a week of ordering and were well packaged. There was no invoice or other purchase documentation other than a warranty card.
Manufacturers’ L2D Details
- Premium (Q5) Cree 7090 XR-E LED with a rated life of 50,000 hours;
- Range in brightness from 12 lumens to 180 lumens;
- Digitally regulated for constant brightness;
- Waterproof to IPX-8 Standards;
- Used two 1.5V AA batteries.
Output Specifications (Manufacturer)
- General mode: 12 lumens (55 hours ) -> 53 lumens (10.5 hours) -> 107 lumens (4 hours) -> SOS
- Turbo mode: 180 lumens (2.4 hours) -> Strobe
Mode is selected by turning the bezel and within a mode, the output is changed by a soft-press of the button at the end of the torch.
The L2D is a light weight torch (~ 55 g without batteries) and appears to be well made. The battery screw cap fits well and appears to have a good seal. Overall I am impressed with the workmanship and finish of the lights and have no concerns.
Functioning and Mounting
Update â€“ May 6, 2010 â€“ The L2D which hit the road (see April 15, 2010 update) has now died. It seems that the LED was damaged when it hit the road as it has now gone yellow and only puts out a rather pale yellow light.Â The second unit however continues to function satisfactorily. I have decided to not replace with another L2D as I am looking to upgrade my lightening system to a Dinotte system for Audax riding later in the year, so will get a relatively cheap UltraFire WF-606A as an interim replacement.
Update â€“ April 23, 2010 â€“ Not really a Fenix L2D issue, but I have now discovered it interferes with the operation of my Sigma Sports ROX 9 computer. It seems to be disrupting the heart rate and cadence sensor signals, causing both functions to operate intermittently.
Update â€“ April 15, 2010 â€“ After a years use the Universal Bicycle Swivel Mounts, both of them have retired. The first one failed dumping one Fenix L2D on the road. I missed this happening, but lucky on a return ride a couple of days later, found the broken mount and my missing Fenix L2D.Â The L2D survived the fall quite well with some surface damage to the barrel and the end cap (switch) is broken.Â I tested the torch with the end cap from the other L2D and it came alive, so will order a replacement end cap from the Fenix Store.
The mount however has fallen apart. On the same ride that I found my missing L2D my second mount failed as well (strap that secures the mount to the handlebars has broken). Time to go back to wrist straps I think.
With DealExtreme now stocking these universal bicycle mounts I decided to take the plunge and purchase four of them. Two are installed on the Surly Long Haul Trucker and two on my Look 555.Â Whilst my first impressions of the mounts are positive I have found that the Fenix L2D torch bodies narrow diameter body not ideal for these mounts, hence I have had to pad out the body at the mounting point.Â I did this by wrapping 15 cm of mountain bike inner tube around the torch body.Â This makes the diameter of the body at the mount point approximately 28 mm. Close enough for me, but 30 mm would be ideal I suspect.Â That gets the torches fitted okay.
The mounts themselves fit nicely to the Look 555’s oversized bars.Â However, the smaller diameter handlebars on the Surly LHT required a little attention.Â Where the bar is wrapped the mount fits snugly, however, if one fits the mount to the unwrapped portion of the bar, the fit is not as snug.Â I have overcome this by wrapping one layer of mountain bike inner tube around the bar.
Finally the mounting method allows for the easy tilting of the lights up or down. In addition the mounts are designed to swivel 360 degrees on the horizontal.
So first impressions are good, the mounts appear to be a good fit with the modifications. Further photos of the mounts can be found in the Surly Long Haul Trucker album.
Initial Mounting Set-up –TwoFish Lockblocks followed by Wrist Straps
I initially mounted the two torches on the bar of my bike using two TwoFish Lockblocks.
In respect to the mounts, the TwoFish Lockblocks are a pretty straight forward mounting system, utilising a rubber block with one end going over the bar and the toher holding the torch. The mount is held to the bar with a Velcro or similar similar strap and the same goes for the torch. My initial impression was that these straps hold the mount and the torch securely.Â However, experience over winter show this not to be the case and I have now dumped the TwoFish Lockblocks.Â They are just hopeless in the wet.Â The hook and loop fasteners loose their tension when they get wet which can result in a torch hitting the road.
For the remainder of winter replaced the TwoFish Lockblocks with a simple rubber wrist band (e.g., the LiveStrong ones). I picked up a packet of these for a $1.00.Â Using a couple of them gives me a good firm mount and built in redundancy. Sure beats the TwoFish Lockblocks.
Last winter IÂ had one L2D set to turbo mode as I planned to use it as a strobe or flashing light. As the torch is in turbo mode, all I need to do is push on the switch at the battery end of the torch and then press it a second time with a soft touch to bring it into flashing mode. My initial impressions are that this is a bright strobe, but then it should be as the L2D is operating at a claimed 180 lumens.
The other L2D was used in non-flashing mode. I will either run it at 107 lumens or in turbo mode at 180 lumens. This really will depend on the ambient temperature as Fenix Lights warn against running in turbo mode for more than 10 minutes. That said, given this is mounted on a bike, I really don’t see this being an issue. I suspect from a functionality point of view, turbo mode will be better as when the L2D is turned on in general mode, it starts up at 12 lumens. A repeated soft touch is required to get the output to 107 lumens. This needs to be repeated each time the torch is turned on and if I am not careful I can go over into SOS mode, requiring a cycle repeat to get to 107 lumens. The other possible issue is the washing out of the light when the other torch is in strobe mode at 180 lumens. Further use will determine the best options I am sure.
April 15, 2010: I used the L2Ds through all of the 2009 winter and on odd occasions over the 2009 â€“ 2010 summer. As winter 2010 approaches the lights are still going strong and I expect them to see out this winter.
April 19, 2009: I have used the L2Ds a bit over the summer with some early morning starts. My usage has now changed to running on one L2D at a time. This has proved to work fine for me and also has the other advantaged of giving me approximately three hours running time. I plan to continue this operation mode into this winter to see how it works out.
November 20, 2008: Now that daylight saving has kicked in I have pretty much finished with the Fenix L2D’s for the year.Â They have proved to good commuting lights over the winter, coping with the rain and rough paths without any dramas.Â My only grips with them are the battery life (~ 1.5 hours on turbo) and the problems I had with the TwoFish Lockblocks mounts which I solved with a move to using wrist bands (see discussion above).
Based on my experience with the L2D and observation of other rider’s set-ups I changed my use of the torches during winter to running them both on continuous turbo.Â I found running one on turbo and one on strobe was pointless as the turbo torch effectively washed out the flashing one.Â I only now operate in flashing mode in low light conditions or when I am fast running out of battery.
July 13, 2008: I have had a chance to use the L2D now on a few wet rides (read in downpours) and I am happy with the lights performance with no evidence of water getting in and causing problems. However the TwoFish Lockblocks are a different story. The hook and loop strapping material used does not like the water at all. As soon as it gets wet it looses tension with the torches then slipping around, down etc. It is possible to re-tension the application of the fastener and this seems to solve the problem until the next rain. Not an ideal situation in my view and I am looking at swapping them out for other mounts.
June 29 – 30, 2008: I completed a battery life test this morning. The batteries used where Varta 2500 mAh rechargeables. The batteries where charged on Friday, June 27, 2008 and then used on a 50 minute night ride on Sunday June 29, 2008 and again on morning ride on June 30, 2008. They where used in turbo mode (180 lumens). Based on my observations I estimated I got full light beam for approximately 1.5 hours. At that point I started to notice a drop off in light out put with about another 10 minutes of useful output before the L2D whilst still working where really not providing any usable output. In summary I estimate that I can get around 100 minutes of useful light out of the rechargeable batteries at 180 lumens.
June 9, 2008: I have had a chance to use the L2D on three commutes now, all around 20 km (about 2.5 hours of night riding), and overall I am quite impressed with their performance. Whilst I have the two torches currently mounted on my Giant CRX 1 I found I have only used one L2D and that one mainly in flashing mode, only flicking over to a steady light on a couple of very dark sections of shared path.
My regular Fremantle commute is a mix of reasonably well lit local and commuter roads and shared path with variable quality lightening. With my old set up (Sigma Sport Mirage EVO + EVO X Pro halogen lights and Blackburn Quadrant LED) I would be running the LED in flash mode and both Mirage lights to get some sort of see and been seen lighting. With the L2D I am finding that I achieve the same outcome and more with one torch in flashing mode. In fact on a couple of sections of road, I measured the effect of the flash mode, determining it can light up signs up to 300 metres a head of me (measured with a Garmin Edge 305). Really quite impressive. Also the flash frequency is such that I find I can see pretty well by it, again reducing the need for a non-flashing light (ignoring WA legal requirements here for a non-broken front light beam but!).
In respect to battery life, the flashing torch is still running on the first set of rechargeable batteries without a recharge.
Overall I am quite impressed with the performance of the L2D after a winter of use.
Discussion of other lightening options can be found in my Bike Lights Review posting.