I heart my Dinotte lights!

3 12 2011

Helmet mounted Dinotte 200L...

I have been pretty harsh in my criticism of the Dinotte 200L lights I own. Mostly due to the symmetric optics which blind oncoming traffic/cyclists/pedestrians. I stand by those opinions and I still have to either apologize as I ride past someone on a dark MUP/side street or partially cover the top part of the light with my hand. I was unhappy enough I made a couple attempts to sell the two Dinotte lights that I have since I felt bad using them. I still wouldn’t recommend them for an urban cyclist.

However – I’m glad I didn’t sell them!

Handlebar mounted Dinotte 200L...

Why you might ask?

Well I’ve rediscovered the joys of nocturnal mountain biking. Back in Alberta dark winter nights were so cold that my desire to ride a mountain bike in the PM was very limited and only during the last couple winters did I have a bike [my Surly Pugsley] that was even capable of trail riding on snow. In spring/summer in Canada it’s light so late that it’s virtually impossible to night ride a mountain bike without staying out after midnight. I did one 24hr race in Canmore Alberta and I really enjoyed the night riding if not the actual racing.

A typical winter morning in Victoria...

Here in Victoria it’s dark by 4pm at the moment and the temperatures are quite mild so not only is nocturnal trail riding possible it’s almost mandatory on a weekday if I want to get any work done before I ride. I can’t explain why I didn’t mountain bike last winter. I guess I was just so well trained by 15yrs in Alberta that it didn’t occur to me. I’m glad that this winter I have been more sensible and realized that winter may actually be my preferred riding season here. The trails are empty, the temperatures are still comfortable in shorts and a long sleeve top and there always seems to be 2 or 3 dry riding days each week.

Scott and Aaron heading uphill as the sun sets...

It’s Aaron’s birthday today [Happy Birthday!] so Scott and I took him out recently for a He-Man style birthday night ride to celebrate. We armed ourselves with bike lights [I used both my Dinotte 200L’s] and started the long climb up Partridge Hills as the sun was setting. Ironically everything that I complain about Dinotte lights for city riding makes them ideal for mountain biking at night. The symmetrical beam throws light up which is nice as the trail often dips sharply so you want to illuminate the next rise. That upper part of the beam that normally blinds on coming traffic lets you see low hanging branches and since there is nobody dumb enough to be out in the dark mountain biking in winter the bright beams are not anti-social like they are in the city. I figured that it was only fair to point out where my Dinottes rock so my reviews were balanced.

Dinottes are powerful, well made and rugged. If you mountain bike at night they are definitely worth a look. I should also note they are made the in the USA if that matters to you.

My lame attempt at a wheelie...

We had such a good time night riding we all concluded it was actually more fun than riding the same trails in the daylight. I’m not 100% sure why, but I suspect it is because all you can see is what your lights illuminate so you stay really focused on a few feet on trail and the ride seems so much more intense. As usual we got totally lost at Partridge Hills. At one point Scott asked me if we could ride a particularly fun bit of singletrack we can barely find in the daylight. I just laughed as we hit another random trail. There was zero chance we were finding anything in particular. We just bombed whatever was in front of us.

Scott doing a much better Pugsley wheelie...

I rode my Surly Pugsley. For an 8 speed rigid 29er mountain bike it did really well. I could have used a slightly lower gear, more powerful brakes and a set of more aggressive Nate fat tires, but all in all it impressed me by monster trucking over everything in its path. It’s not the fastest way to get around the trails, but it quite possibly is the most fun way!…=-)

Scott & Aaron illuminated by my Dinotte 200L's...

We had such a good time and days are so short at the moment I see a lot of night riding in my future. I see that Dinotte has much more powerful lights now compared to my 4yr old 200L’s. I may have to upgrade…=-)



4 responses

4 12 2011

I put up a few pictures of the 200L, 400L, and 800L here (along with a cheapo 900-lumen light, and a 3000 lumen torch):

The new line-up looks awesome! I don’t like that they don’t have a AA option, though. The 200L-AA is a great rando light because you can buy new batteries at a gas station if necessary. The newer ones are nice MTB lights, but not so nice for rando.

4 12 2011

Aaaand never mind. I see there is a AA variant of the XML-1. That’s awesome. Battery life appears to be a little worse than the 200L-AA; probably two sets needed to get through a night.

4 12 2011


I get about 2hrs on high with the 200L and the XML-1 AA is the same. the XML-1 on medium is approximately as bright as the 200L on high so in fact you get better run times.

I think these make poor rando lights because of the symmetric beam patterns that are unpleasant for other riders and traffic. You also cannot use standard alkaline batteries [they last for a fraction of the normal run time] in them you might find at a gas station. You either need charged NMiH rechargeables from home or lithium disposables. Not sure how readily lithium disposables fall to hand at a gas station??

6 12 2011

i have the xml1-aa. love it.
have 2 sets of batteries for it.
impressed with the run time with a high quality rechargeable, and a high quality charger.

i’ve also been really impressed with the fenix ld20 as a helmet light.

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