I hadn’t planned to post entries other than rides greater than 100-km as I chip away at various randonneur achievements. Then I remembered that part of my goal with this blog is to share my journey into randonneuring. Part of my journey includes the discovery of new ideas, skills and equipment. My first product review is of B&M’s Ixon IQ headlight. I’ve used plenty of inexpensive lights over the years. My most recent was a Cyglolite Expillion 300 (lumen). It’s a good light. However, battery life is short on high power and it casts a lot of wasted light into the air and trees above (as well as into the eyes of oncoming traffic). If I really commit myself to years of rando, my end goal is to get a dynamo-powered light with a focused, assymetrical beam. I’d love to have a B&M Luxos U. However, I’m not devoted enough to drop $1000 for lighting just yet (good wheels with dynamo hub plus the Luxos). Therefore, I needed to stick with battery powered lights to gauge my continued interest in night riding.
The Ixon IQ delivers 10-lux for 20 hours on low power or 40-lux on high power for five hours. It uses four AA batteries which means spare batteries can be purchased almost anywhere. The Ixon IQ is quite large compared to most battery powered bike lights found in the US. Focusing the light in an assymetrical pattern requires a larger lens. “It’s so big,” is a comment I’ve heard from club riders (dirty minds may wander for a moment). Four rechargeable AA NiMH batteries (included) make the unit a tad heavy. I consider it the price of endurance. I installed the batteries and charged them in a few hours. The batteries charge while installed, saving me the hassle of using a separate battery charger. I’m close to really dark, quiet roads. Therefore, testing the Ixon IQ and comparing it to the Cygolite was a snap. I left my house to ride over to my super-secret dark light-proving grounds. The first few miles was on lighted city roads. I had the Ixon IQ set to low power. I must admit I was a bit disappointed! I don’t understand how other reviewers can feel this is adequate on dark roads. So I switched to high power. MUCH BETTER! Later, I discovered the 10-lux setting is intended to meet the minimum visibility requirements under German law. Okay… got it: 10-lux is for being seen and 40-lux is for seeing.
I aimed the light to my liking once I was on the dark roads. Then I turned on the Cygolite (300-lumens) for a comparison. The Ixon IQ on low power was no match for the Cygolite. That was a given. However, each light on high power seemed comparable. Sure, the Cygolite was putting out more light overall and did a better job of illuminating higher signs due to its increased light scatter. But the amount of light actually projected onto the road was similar between the two despite the fact that the Cygolite puts out three times more light. Speaking of “comparable,” how can one compare 300 lumens to 40-lux? My understanding is “lumen” is a measure of total light output, no matter where it goes, while “lux” is a measure of how much light is illuminating a given area, particularly the area riders desire to have lighted. I found a non-B&M website that lists the Ixon IQ’s total output at 100-lumen. If this measurement is accurate, then my non-scientific test indicates that an Ixon IQ projects a similar amount of light onto the pavement using only 1/3 of the power of a 300-lumen light. Regardless of my lack of scientific accuracy, knowing that my Cygolite lasts about two hours on high power and my Ixon IQ lasts five, I’m happy to sacrifice some light coverage above eye level for a light that’ll take me longer into the night. I can only imagine the Ixon IQ will reflect less light in dense fog than my Cygolite did on my most recent permanent.
Still, I found myself wanting just a little more light, especially on a spirited section of the ride which took me to 25-mph. I’m sure many riders would find the Ixon IQ to be adequate for their needs. But I like more light. If one Ixon IQ is good, then two must be better! 😀 As a result, I opted to get a second Ixon IQ. I need a backup light for RUSA events, anyway. Right? 🙂 Using two at low power yields 20-lux for 20 hours. Twenty-lux is sufficient for lower speeds, particularly when climbing. Setting them both to high power makes a greater difference than I expected. Even better, I have my Ixon IQs mounted side-by-side and the alignment is “toe-out” for wider coverage. I think the road looks fantastic! See the photo below. Also, notice the photos above and you’ll see B&M’s “glare protectors” on the last photo. Without them, riders are subject to getting shined in the face when standing on the pedals. The glare protectors solve this issue. I think they should come with each Ixon. However, they’re extra. Click here to view a video description of how I mount my lights to clear the handlebar bag.
My plan for using both lights on overnight rides is to run one light at dusk and then turn on the other light later. That method should stagger the run times and leave me with light on the road when the batteries in the first light die as well as plenty of time to safely stop and replace them. That’s the plan, anyway. Better yet, I’m told a set of Lithium AA batteries will last all night on high power. I’ll test that on the 400-km and 600-km rides in May and June. Until then, I’ll leave you with this animated GIF showing the difference between the various settings I have with two Ixon IQs. The sequence is one Ixon on low power, then two on low power, then one on high power, and then two on high power. The images show the beam cut-off to be much sharper than actual. There is plenty of light on either side of the beam that’s not shown in the photo. Here’s the Cygolite vs. Ixon IQ GIF. This photo shows that the Cygolite shines more light into the air (see the tree branches?) while the Ixons keep the light on the road. Overall, I’m VERY pleased with my setup! Feel free to post questions if you have them.
Ride into the Light, <!–Tangina Barrons voice> 😉
Great review Scott; the Ixon is the go to battery light for night riding. Much more efficient than other lights. I can confirm that they will last all night on high with one set of batteries (lithiums). I did this on a 600 last summer. Thanks again.
Thanks, Tom. Do you recall if they also burn a tad brighter since NiMH are 1.2V while lithiums are 1.5V? Just curious.
Thanks for this review. I am in need of more substantial lighting for rural brevets this summer. This seems to be a good compromise for someone who doesn’t want to drop a ton of cash on a new generator hub/headlight/wheel rebuild, and wouldn’t need much ‘to see’ light in day-to-day urban city riding.
Jim – The light is great! BTW, take another look at the animated GIF as well as the last photo. I took new photos with a little more exposure time to present a more realistic image of what I see.
We have very similar setups and I am actaully adding the same lights. Where did you get the light mount?
Barry – The lights are mounted to a pair of Topeak BarXtenders. I cut up one of them to make it shorter and glued them together with a piece of PVC. It’s a little crude. But it holds both lights just slightly higher than a proper fork crown mount. My album at http://www.stealthtdi.com/Albums/BicycleStuff/ has more photos. Here’s a good side view: http://www.stealthtdi.com/Albums/BicycleStuff/sideview.jpg
I think I follow, but may need more explanation. Like me, you use an Arkel handlebar bag and I need the light to go under the bag. Did you use another bar to extend it?
I thought I might see you at the Urbana 200 to check it out and talk to you, but I don’t think you rode that brevet. I also would be interested in hearing about you experience with the Randonneer Rack. I have one along with the Arkel trunk bag, but find it gives too much sway when I stand on the climbs (which I do frequently). I tried using the extender to lower the rack, but my seat post is too short.
Barry – I originally used two BarXtenders in tandem. The second bar was set to lower the light and push it forward/down at 45-degrees to clear the head tube. Here’s the only photo I have of this older setup: http://www.stealthtdi.com/Albums/BicycleStuff/ixoniq.jpg
Later, I opted to cut and glue the second bar to bring it closer to the head tube to reduce vibration. That’s what’s in the other photo I shared… it shows the grey plumbing union.
I did not ride the Urbana event. I’m only budgeting for one out of town ride per month. Plus, my knees just aren’t ready for the hills yet (12-32T cassette coming soon). I don’t know if you’ll be down here for the 200k and 300k out of Suffolk. But those are my next rides. I’m unable to do the northern rides on April 20th (Tour de Cure) and May 4th (22nd wedding anniversary). So we may not meet in person until the 400k from Warrenton.
Regarding the Arkel Randonneur Rack and bag, I understand the sway. In fact, I even get a tiny handlebar shimmy while riding seated (barely perceivable); and a tad more when I stand. The Madone is a fine bike. But I’m sure loading it outside of the “rider compartment” makes it less stable. It’s not a dangerous thing. It’s just something I keep in mind. The handlebar bag does it to a lesser extent. I prefer the handlebar bag since it gives me a cue sheet holder and quick access to food/jackets. I may use the rear rack/bag during the summer if I can find a good solution for my cue sheet (no exposed cables to clamp to). -Scott
Good info. I will try mine without the PVC fix and see what happens. Was the vibration something you felt on the bike, or was your concern the vibration to the lighiting units and bar? I am a little concerend that it might rattle itself loose on long rides. Not sure if it will help, but I plan to hang only one light on the bar and carry the other one in my bag. At someone’s suggestion, I bought aftermarket batteries and a quick charger from another source and they seem to work well. The guys at my shop were very impressed with your blog.
The vibration is not a physical problem to the bike or to the lights. Instead, it presents a jiggley beam on the road. It’s not awful. But I’m a bit of a perfectionist and wanted it gone or reduced. I’m constantly brainstorming new ideas to try. 🙂
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