REVIEW: Specialized Flux Expert Bicycle Headlight - Photo Intensive

abvgdee

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Thanks for the "sand beach road" front wheel shot. Yes, it looks great.

Derek Dean said:
By the way, I worked hard to make sure these images came very close to matching what I was seeing.

Good job.
 

mechBgon

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Thanks for the review! :twothumbs

Ironically, I was talking with a great guy I know, who designs for another light company. We were discussing lights, and I said there could be a market for a light with a cutoff beam, like what's legal in Germany, but at "American-style" output levels like 1000+ lumens. And then I log into CPF, and see that Specialized has already been at work on it. I was thinking more of high-output dynamo, rather than battery-powered. On that note, if it can charge from USB, then it could conceivably be paired up with a dynamo USB-power accessory to charge it during daylight hours, for those few who wanted to do so.

Since at least some of my Li-ion lights have had runtime problems in the cold, I wonder if the waste heat from the LEDs helps keep the batteries warmer, so they're not so affected by moderate below-freezing temperatures.

Anyway, that's a strong contender if I end up shopping for a battery-powered light this year. For highway training, including very fast descents in deer-infested territory, the cutoff beam plus a high-beam is fitting. I'd probably keep my dynamo-driven lights as my bail-out baseline, though :) I'd need to come up with some shims to fit it to a 22.2mm bar diameter, since I use a bar that's straight 22.2mm all the way across, with a shim at the stem (old Bontrager/Titec titanium bar).
 
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Derek Dean

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I've had some folks ask about the possibility of taking the Flux Expert HL apart to replace the batteries and/or upgrade the LEDs, so I gave it shot. It turns out it's not hard at all. There are 4 hex screw holding on the front bezel, and then 3 hex screws holding on each end cap, plus, Specialized made it easy to remove the end cap with the USB plug by not wiring it directly to the board, but rather having pins in the end cap that plug into the board, a nice touch.

Also, they've made it VERY easy to remove the battery pack by having it wired so that you simply unplug it from the board. Neat!

The clear acrylic front cover has a rubber gasket permanently attached, and that fits inside the front bezel to provide a very good seal. If you look closely at the shot of the inside of the end cap, you can see the O-ring groove around the edge. I had removed the O-ring before the shot, but will say that it seems kind of small and flimsy to me, but it does work, so I guess that's what counts.

The two 18650 batteries are wrapped in a flexible plastic cover. I didn't want to unwrap them, but it looks like it wouldn't be much trouble to get in there and replace them with larger cells in you wanted to. I'm also not quite sure how the main board is attached, whether it's press fit or what, so I'm not sure how much effort it would take to get at it, but over all, this light seems pretty mod friendly.

Anyway, there you go. I hope the photos help:

Flux Expert HL - Apart
Flux-Expert-HL-Apart-1.jpg


Bezel and Front Clear Acrylic Cover with Rubber Gasket Attached Around Edge
Flux-Expert-HL-Apart-4.jpg


Left Side - Battery Connection
Flux-Expert-HL-Apart-2.jpg


Left Side - Battery Disconnected and Slid Half-Way Out
Flux-Expert-HL-Apart-3.jpg


2x18650 Wrapped Battery Pack
Flux-Expert-HL-Apart-6.jpg


Left Side
Flux-Expert-HL-Apart-7.jpg
\

Right Side
Flux-Expert-HL-Apart-8.jpg


Ride Side End Cap Showing O-ring groove (O-ring removed), USB Connection, and Pin Connection to the Main Board
Flux-Expert-HL-Apart-9.jpg


Happy Trails!~
 
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Steve K

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Nice tear-down, and great photos! I do like the fact that Specialized is using aluminum housings, which ought to provide good heatsinking for the LEDs. Extrusions such as this one do allow certain features to be built in at relatively low cost. For example, the channels that hold the batteries, the slot that the circuit board fits into, the groove that the screws attach to, etc. The o-rings are a good touch too.
I wonder how hard it will be to upgrade the LEDs in 5 years or so?? ;)
 

NeilP

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Tha ti s great. makes me want to get one now I know it can be stripped non destructively.

I'd run mine direct from an e-bike battery pack via a DC=Dc convertor. It is really the reflector mech that interests me.

Did you manage to identify the emitters?




Oh, BTW, when it switches from low dip to high beam, do the low beam emitters stay on and the high is just supplemented by the High beam emitter ? or do they switch emitters like a car high low beam unit would do ?
 

Derek Dean

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Howdy Neil,
The specs. list the emitters as:
LEDs: 3 x Cree XP-G2 cool white LEDs (R5 bin)

When you are on Low Beam, the two outside LEDs are on, when you switch on the High Beam, it lights up the center LED in addition to the two outer LEDs, so at that point it is using all 3 LEDs.

So basically, you have the options of running either the two outer LEDs (Low Beam) or all 3 LEDs (High Beam), and in either of those modes you have a further option of running Low Power (200 lumens per active LED) or High Power (400 Lumens per active LED), so 400 or 800 total lumens in Low Beam Mode (200 x 2 or 400 x 2), and 600 or 1200 total lumens in High Beam mode (200 x 3 or 400 x 3).

Hope that helps. Let me know if you have any further questions.
 

NeilP

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That helps a lot, thanks.

If I were to keep battery power I'd imagine a way to improve run time would also be to do an emitter upgrade to XM-L2 U3's, run with different driver to give same lumen output but with reduced current.



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Derek Dean

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The thing to remember, Neil, is that these reflectors were specifically designed for this smaller emitter, and the smaller emitters were specifically used because of their ability to more easily be focused. So, yes, you could put XM-L2 LEDs in, but I'm sure it would change the look of the beam pattern. Just something to consider.

Of course, who knows, maybe it would change it for the better :).

Do keep in mind, as far as batteries go, it's possible to plug an external battery pack into the light through the existing micro USB port, giving runtime only limited by the size of your battery pack.
 
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NeilP

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Any idea what the driver board voltage input range might be ?

Wonder if 3 series (12 volt ) is do-able. I have DeNoitte bike lights with nominal input of 8.4, but their actual input range is higher. Been running mine for 4 years now , daily at 12 volts




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Derek Dean

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Well, my understanding is that they have it optimized for around 4.2 volts, running those two 18650 batteries in parallel I suppose, but I remember Eric saying the USB port could take up to 5 volts. However, to be safe, that's probably a better question for the guys at Specialized.
 

NeilP

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Oh, 4.2...damn I only scanned on the iPhone. I was thinking 8.4 volt. Well actually that is better. Can run from a Meanwell DC-DC convertor they do 5 volt output devices as well as 12 volt..

Yes, I had seen the Mini usb port.

but from what i have been seeing over the past few days, i'd say that is a big weak point. A friend of a friend popped down to mine shed yesterday ,as he had heard I had started messing with lights. He brought me a selection of dead and dying bike lamps. He is a 7 day a week cyclist, rain or shine, like myself, and the bike lives outside with his lights permanently bolted down. Yes covered , but always outside.
Every single one of these lights has failed due to water ingress through poor sealing around either rubber switches to electronic switch style driver boards....or micro USB charge ports.

I was thinking something like model NSD15-48S5

http://www.meanwell.com/webapp/product/search.aspx?prod=nsd15-s



The emitter size is something I had not considered, this light light/LED stuff begin new to me.

Looking at the figures it is probably more than bright enough as it is any way, ..dont need too bright on the road, even if it is well directed.

Thanks for letting me know about the 4.2v. I guess 5 volt as you already mentioned could week be within tty board spec. Would need to trace the wiring after the micr
 

MichaelW

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Overall I like the dedicated reflex design.
I don't like: cool-white, modes, interface.
A nice 4500K neutral-white would be better.
Low should be 200 lumens x 2. Extra power low should be 400 lumens x 2 (wet black asphalt can really suck up the photons). DRL mode should be 100 lumens x 2.
High beam should be 400 lumens central LED, 200 lumens x 2 (flanking, low beams) If you oversaturate your near field, you won't have any distance vision.
Optical horn is a nice function to have, but should be a mechanical switch that puts the high beam to an extra special high output mode ~600 lumens, and lowers your lows to DRL (100 lumen mode), and stays there as long as you keep your finger on the switch.
 

Derek Dean

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Yes, I had seen the Mini usb port.

but from what i have been seeing over the past few days, i'd say that is a big weak point. A friend of a friend popped down to mine shed yesterday ,as he had heard I had started messing with lights. He brought me a selection of dead and dying bike lamps. He is a 7 day a week cyclist, rain or shine, like myself, and the bike lives outside with his lights permanently bolted down. Yes covered , but always outside.
Every single one of these lights has failed due to water ingress through poor sealing around either rubber switches to electronic switch style driver boards....or micro USB charge ports.
Yes, my bike lives outside as well, always covered (except when I'm riding :)). I've heard other folks mention the micro USB port as a possible weak link, however, Eric specifically mentioned that the port has been weather sealed, and when looking at the interior shot of the end cap where that port is located, it looks like they've added some silicon sealer to the area, so I think this light is reasonably well sealed. Of course it does come with a 2 year warranty, just in case.

Overall I like the dedicated reflex design.
I don't like: cool-white, modes, interface.
A nice 4500K neutral-white would be better.
Low should be 200 lumens x 2. Extra power low should be 400 lumens x 2 (wet black asphalt can really suck up the photons). DRL mode should be 100 lumens x 2.
High beam should be 400 lumens central LED, 200 lumens x 2 (flanking, low beams) If you oversaturate your near field, you won't have any distance vision.
Optical horn is a nice function to have, but should be a mechanical switch that puts the high beam to an extra special high output mode ~600 lumens, and lowers your lows to DRL (100 lumen mode), and stays there as long as you keep your finger on the switch.

Of course the low IS 200 lumens x 2 and extra power low IS 400 x 2. As far as the rest of it goes, I think you should contact Specialized and let them know what you'd like to see in their next version. Those sound like some good ideas. I think for a first version, they got a lot right.
 

MichaelW

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I concur that it is a good first effort. The extrusion-housing-heatsink design looks scalable and production friendly.
If they want to sell this toward the mountain bike type crowd, they need two mounts to the handlebars.
 

spinningmagnets

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Derek Dean, thank you for posting this. I was wondering if you would mind if I used the pictures and data you posted to add to an article on bicycle headlights for electricbike.com. I would of course credit you and candlepowerforums.com. If y\ou'd rather not, it no problem. Thanks in advance.
 

Derek Dean

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Howdy spinningmagnets, and welcome to CPF,
I'd rather not discuss this on the open forum, and being a brand spanking new member, you don't have enough posts to PM yet. After your 2nd post you'll be able to PM me, and we can discuss this further.
 

PaulRivers

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Wow, nice thorough review. The beamshots convinced me to buy one for my dad for his birthday.

LOL, I know it sounds weird, but it’s MUCH easier than it reads. It only took me a few minutes to become comfortable with using the big blue HIGHBEAM button to quickly access any of those neat features.

LOL, I gotta disagree with this though. Appreciate the mentions of how it works, but I couldn't find any description of that in the instruction manual that came with the light or online. I had meant to take pics of the beamshots, unfortunately my camera started having a "lens error" last week and I don't have it at the moment, and I gave the light to my dad earlier today for his birthday. I'll probably write up more trying it out this summer.

My quick thoughts:
1. The color temperature of the light is nice. I have an Ixon Iq Premium, and the Specialized Flux color temperature is far more natural, much like the color temperature of the latest saferide.
2. I'll need to actually be able to ride it to have an opinion on the amount of light it puts out and beam pattern - it wasn't as "obviously this puts out a lot of light" as I had thought it would be in my apartment.
3. I really find the modes setting on the remote to be confusing. It was unpredictable to me why the "light horn" would come on sometimes, and it's gotta be annoying as heck on the bike trail. I really think it needs more buttons, or something, so you're not accidentally cycling through it.
4. Don't like that they put a mini sub plug on it when everything is micro usb.
5. It's certainly a sturdy, well polished light. But it's kinda heavy.
6. It does definitely have a distinct low beam vs high beam mode. I just wish trying to get to the mode I wanted was more predictable. I would never have known there was a low beam low and a low beam high mode had I not read through this thread.
 

Derek Dean

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Howdy Paul,
That's funny, because I too have the Ixon IQ Premium. Yes the color temp of the Specialized, while still cool, is much more neutral, more of a clean white. The main difference I notice between the two beam patterns is that the IQ Premium is wider, but with a sharper cut-off, while the Specialized light has a bit narrower beam pattern, but has more of a gradual fade at the edges.

As far as the mode switching, it's like anything that offers a lot of options, it simply takes playing with it for a while to understand the reasoning behind the setup, but once you do, it's actually fairly logical and easy to get to the mode you want. The first few times I took it out for a ride I was all over the place, but by the 3rd or 4th ride I had it down pat, and by that time I had come to appreciate not only the level of control I had, but how easy it was to make the light quickly do what I wanted.

I've got a feeling your Dad is going to love his new light, but beware, the Specialzed light's low power beam is brighter than even the IQ Premium's highest power setting, so you just might have to get another IXON to keep up with your Dad.

I'll look forward to hearing more of your thoughts as the two of you become acquainted with the new light.
 

PaulRivers

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Howdy Paul,
That's funny, because I too have the Ixon IQ Premium. Yes the color temp of the Specialized, while still cool, is much more neutral, more of a clean white. The main difference I notice between the two beam patterns is that the IQ Premium is wider, but with a sharper cut-off, while the Specialized light has a bit narrower beam pattern, but has more of a gradual fade at the edges.

Unfortunately, I haven't had a chance to test them side by side and probably won't bother until spring here in Minnesota.

That's interesting, I'll keep a look out for that.

The more I used the Ixon Premium, the more I felt that the biggest problem was it's LED color output. I was relieved the specialized was pretty good. So are the Phillips Saferides.

As far as the mode switching, it's like anything that offers a lot of options, it simply takes playing with it for a while to understand the reasoning behind the setup, but once you do, it's actually fairly logical and easy to get to the mode you want. The first few times I took it out for a ride I was all over the place, but by the 3rd or 4th ride I had it down pat, and by that time I had come to appreciate not only the level of control I had, but how easy it was to make the light quickly do what I wanted.

We'll see I suppose...

I'll say this though, I looked through everything that came with the light, and online, and could not find any reference to why the [email protected]#@ light would just suddenly start doing that "light horn" thing for no apparent reason sometimes when I pushed a button. Your post was the first thing I've run across that gave a description of how it worked. How did you find it? Or did you just figure it out?

I've got a feeling your Dad is going to love his new light, but beware, the Specialzed light's low power beam is brighter than even the IQ Premium's highest power setting, so you just might have to get another IXON to keep up with your Dad.

I'll look forward to hearing more of your thoughts as the two of you become acquainted with the new light.

Ha, if it's that good, I think I'll just buy a second specialized light.

It will be a bit before I have a chance to compare I'm afraid - it's winter here in Minnesota and I don't want to go through the hassle of mounting the light on my winter bike (one nice thing about winter is you need a lot less light because the snow reflects more light around, the Cyo (non-premium) is all I need on my winter bike). My dad is going to Arizona for a month or two at the end of the week, I'm travelling to Florida tomorrow...I'll probably write more back when there's no more snow on the ground up here though. :)

I know I ran across several people who felt the Ixon Iq Premium was to dim for them, and it seemed like it wasn't just the "hardcore" crowd. Would love to have a light to recommend that puts out as much light on the ground as one could possibly need, but with a cutoff.
 

Derek Dean

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I'll say this though, I looked through everything that came with the light, and online, and could not find any reference to why the [email protected]#@ light would just suddenly start doing that "light horn" thing for no apparent reason sometimes when I pushed a button. Your post was the first thing I've run across that gave a description of how it worked. How did you find it? Or did you just figure it out?
Well, the instruction manual, which I admire, was an attempt to convey the workings of the light without words, so that somebody from any country could understand them, and to be fair, if you spend enough time deciphering all the symbols, they do actually get that information across in an elegant manner. However, I'll admit, the instructions can be a bit cryptic.

I had the advantage of having the engineer who designed the light give me a quick run through to show me the features, and from there, with light in hand, I was able to decipher the instruction manual and get it all figured out, which was why I tried to explain things as best as I could in the review, and I'm happy to here it helped.

Again, and I can't stress this enough, I found that it really is a nicely thought out system, and I'll bet that after you and your Dad have a chance to ride with it a few times that you'll begin to see how easy it is to switch quickly to what you want.
 
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