Life at 700 Lumens
In sharing the childlike joy of riding bikes, I harbor some guilt and responsibility—most prominently, toward my brother-in-law, John.
Our first ride together was a few years ago, a casual spin around Austin during a Thanksgiving visit. We pedaled up to Mount Bonnell, and toasted the excursion with a pint of beer at a bar near my home. Then, we promptly crashed into each other. Undeterred, the following summer, when my family visited John and his family in the Boston area, John and I tried out Boston’s Hubway bike share system. He was hooked. He bought an annual bike share membership, and instead of driving to and from the train station for his work commute, he rode.
The next Thanksgiving, when John came back to Austin, he’d lost 20-pounds, his lightest weight since high school, and our casual spins morphed into full-fledged training rides. Instead of enduring his nearly two-hour train ride into the city for work, John had begun commuting by bike—a 40-mile ride from his suburban home in Upton, Massachusetts to his biotech job in Cambridge. To quicken his work journey, John eventually traded in the hybrid bike he’d been riding for a Trek Domane. He often leaves in the dark morning, and averages 17 mph on his ride into the city. Recently, my brother-in-law even shaved his legs.
Imagining John departing for his ride into work well before the sun rises, and feeling personally responsible for his well-being and safety on his bicycle, I recently gave him a Bontrager Ion 700 R headlight as a present. Knowing John would be riding with one of the brightest, most reliable, and easy to use bike lights available, well, it made me feel better—a lot better. I knew the wide and bright beam of the Ion 700 R headlight would more safely guide him on his journey to work, and he’d be well visible to other vehicles on the road.
I knew this because the Ion 700 R significantly changed my level of confidence riding in the early morning and late evening. The light is no burden to attach to your bike, with its diminutive size, and easy to mount and secure bracket (especially, the integrated computer/light mount on my 9 Series Trek Madone). I frequently use the Ion 700 R on my city bike while riding to social events in the evening. Upon arriving at my destination, I simply detach the light and slip it into a pants pocket.
The powerful light pumps out 700 lumens at its strongest setting, which is equivalent to the beam of a single car headlight and lasts for up to one and three quarters hours. This has made slipping out of the house for my own dawn patrol outings a regular part of my riding routine. I feel secure rolling from my driveway onto the darkened street, knowing that I have the equipment to effectively light the way in front of me. Plus, the light’s integrated USB rechargeable battery makes it an easy plug and play device.
During those times of day when the sun is just rising or is about to set, and a full light beam isn’t needed, the Ion 700 R can be switched to 3 lower light settings, or put on a flashing mode, which acts a super-powered alert to fellow road users.
A few weeks ago, John and his family came back to Austin, and we planned a ride out the South Walnut Creek Trail and around Decker Lake. With a family photo planned and toddlers and infant children to manage, we weren’t given much leash—a 9 a.m. deadline by which to return home. So we charged our Bontrager Ion 700 R lights, and aimed to be out the garage door by 6:30 a.m. We didn’t even bother to check whether the sun would have risen by then, or not.
By Ian Dille
Ian currently works as a freelance journalist and is a contributing writer for a variety of publications, including Outside magazine, Texas Monthly, and Bicycling. Ian is a founding member of Super Squadra and serves as the Team Manager.