Thursday, May 24, 2012

Review - Sigma Lightster

The Lightser is Sigma's latest entry in the India market among battery powered LED lights. With a bright beam, thoughtful design and sub 3k price tag, it  bridges the gap between price and performance to a great extent .

Sigma Lightster  ,Photo credit - Dipesh Pradhan
Appearance: The Sigma Lightster takes 4 AA cells. This makes the light a little bulky, but it has been designed well to distribute the weight equally. One of the previous lights that we used - the Sigma Pava - we thought was front-heavy (the light would slip down when you hit a pothole and you needed to pull it back up again). This one, on the other hand is nicely balanced.

Sigma Lightster - Position on handlebar  ,Photo credit - Dipesh Pradhan

Build Quality: Plastic body with a rubberized coating, but feels solid. The clamping mechanism needs special mention. Like most Sigma lights, this one comes with a 'tool-free mounting clamp and removable bracket. It is a nice feature if you are sharing the light with your buddies. Taking it off from one bike and installing it on another bike is a breeze. 

Sigma Lightster - detachable clamp  ,Photo credit - Dipesh Pradhan

Sigma Lightster - fitting the clamp  ,Photo credit - Dipesh Pradhan

However, there are two limitations of this clamping system that one should be aware of.

a) The light needs to be installed as close to the stem (on the handlebar) as possible. This is because it can't be panned horizontally, unlike some of the higher end Sigma lights like the Karma Pro. This means, it would be really tricky to use this light if you have a handlebar bag, or for that matter, anything else on your handlebar.

b) While testing the light on rough and un-tarred roads, the light slipped down on one or two occasions, but we could adjust the angle again without having to stop the bike. Also, to keep it really secure (so it doesn't slip) you need to press the clamp very hard. And if you do so, taking the light off  needs some force.

Brightness/Illumination: The Lightster has been rated at 20 Lux  by Sigma. It has a focused and powerful beam with a squarish beam pattern. We felt the beam pattern is great if riding on decent or good roads where it gives you confidence to ride at a higher speed. When we tried the light on broken and  un-tarred roads, we wished it had a broader beam pattern, which would have made tackling potholes or choosing a line easier.

Sigma Lightster - Beam Shot ,Photo credit - Dipesh Pradhan
Details : Time : 11.30 pm, Location : Hyderbad, Focussed 20 metres away from source

Modes: The light has just the On/Off modes. No intermediate brightness or blinking modes.

Burn time:  Although the website says that the burn time is 20 hours, in our test, the intensity went down after 10 hours of continuous usage. And after 15 hours, it is unusable (tested with brand new Duracell AA Alkaline batteries).  But a 10 hours burn time can definitely be tagged as 'very impressive' for a light which is as powerful as this one.We had also tested the brightness for a continuous period of 5 hours and didn't notice any significant drop in brightness.

Other features:
a) There is a charging socket inbuilt in the unit. This means  if you are using rechargeable cells in the unit, you would be able to charge them without taking them out. The charger and rechargeable Sigma batteries  will be available in India in very near future at additional cost. We were told by Sigma India that the charger is recommended to be  used only with Sigma rechargeable AA batteries.

Sigma Lightster - charging socket  ,Photo credit - Dipesh Pradhan

b) There is a battery status indicator, which glows red when running low on battery.
c) The 2 openings on the side of the light which Sigma refers as 'side windows' are very thoughtful. They make the rider more visible at road intersections where the light is seen from a 90 degree angle.

Cost: Rs. 2700

Summary: There aren't many sub 3k battery powered lights in the Indian Market which are suited for road bikers, and this is what makes the Sigma Lightster an interesting proposition to riders. The bright beam lets you ride without sacrificing your speed. However, if you ride on mud roads and badly broken roads,this may not be the best option. 

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