Lupine Lighting Systems sent me an evaluation unit*** of Betty, their just-released über light that blows away all other bike lights both in terms of exceptional build quality as well as incredible beam uniformity and brightness. Lupine Lighting Systems is the creator of the outstanding Wilma LED headlamp (see Headlamps and Flashlights and my review of Wilma). If Fred is ever forthcoming, the local S.W.A.T. team members will cower in their boots.
The build quality far exceeds anything else available; this is one well-made and beautiful light with a black anodized aluminum housing and titanium front cover. It employs a custom-designed lens system for optimal beam quality, the most efficient electronics in the business, and top-grade LEDs (7 of them). Drawing 22 watts, total output is an astonishing 1400 lumens (real lumens, not the loosy-goosy ones claimed by some bike-light vendors whose products I’ve used). Betty can be programmed for various light levels (including SOS), and can run for two weeks at the 0.25 watt setting.
Few people have seen such a lamp at night in action—it’s stunning, something to experience (but not looking directly into the beam!). More than once with little sister Wilma, I’ve had cars back up on narrow roads, apparently thinking I’m a large truck with one blown headlight. The Betty seems twice as bright, so aiming it will be even more important than with Wilma. (I do take care to avoid aiming the light directly at oncoming traffic, but on narrow and twisty roads that’s life—and no different than headlights on a car).
Betty arrived after I returned from my crepuscular bike ride, so I did not have a chance to evaluate her at dusk. But upon my return, night had fallen (Wilma having guided me home), and virginal Betty was turned on for the first of many times. So what does Betty look like in action?
In a word (I can’t count): unbelievably good. I thought that Wilma was an exceptional light. Betty not only seems twice as bright, the beam pattern is even better, with a spotless moderately-wide core beam of 16° and a pleasing gradient around it. Color rendition is definitely superior to my Wilma, with a color temperature that seems very close to daylight and renders startlingly-natural colors.
I’ll be writing more about Betty once I have more experience with her. See my Recommended page for details on where you can buy Wilma or Betty. (Betty will likely be in short supply for a few months here in the USA).
*** The Betty lamphead was sent to me at no charge directly from Germany for my feedback (I’ve provided Lupine with extensive feedback on their other offerings in the past, no compensation involved). Diglloyd.com maintains a strict policy on photographic equipment: “special” discounts are not accepted, and this really stung recently (see Sept 6 note on the Zeiss lenses). But bike lights are not photographic equipment (excepting incidental use). Also, I have previously purchased multiple Lupine lights with personal funds from Asutsitrail (now AustinsTrail.com) and Gretna Bikes— a “vote with one’s wallet” endorsement that needs no explaining. I’m still thinking through the diglloyd.com policy on non-photographic equipment; applying the same “no discounts” rule to every single personal item that I find interesting might persuade me to avoid writing about them at all, a situation that would deprive readers of otherwise valuable insights. If you have an opinion, let me know. UPDATE (Sept 11): I’ve agreed with Lupine that the Betty lamphead I received will be treated as an exchange for an Edison HID lamphead in need of warranty service. While the Betty costs more, time, effort and mailing costs were incurred, and so the exchange of value is a reasonably close one. This doesn’t address the overall policy issue (in general), I'm still thinking on that one and will formulate and publish a policy on “off topic” non-photographic items such as the Lupine bike lights.