Lupine Wilma Upgrade
By James Sharp
Earlier this year, we wrote our second annual LED light round up. Unlike the previous year, however, things haven't stopped there. The proverbial ink wasn't dry on the review when Lupine announced that they had not one, but two new offerings to supplant the then-latest Wilma 4 in the form of an upgrade to the existing lights, and a totally new light built around the current housing. The former gets 750 lumens -- an increase of 330 lumens -- while the totally new light gets a whopping 830 lumens.
Not long after it was announced, we received the upgrade kit here at GearReview.com and have been putting it through its paces for a few months. Make no mistake, this is the real deal.
First, though, lets take a look at the upgrade process. The necessary hex wrench is included, and other than that, all you'll need is a pair of needle-nose pliers. Also, make sure that the battery is unplugged. You don't want to fry anything. In order to access the screws that take the lens and emitter assembly apart, you'll need to remove the front cap. It just unscews.
Next, with the supplied hex wrench, undo the four cap screws and remove the lens.
Now that the lens is off, you'll see two small posts in the center of the board -- I circled them in RED below. This is where you grab with the pliers to pull the board out of the light head. Also, note that the little circle above the posts is on top. If you get the new board in backwards -- upside down -- it won't turn on.
Once, the old board is removed, drop the new board in place.
At this point, Lupine's instructions say to plug the battery in just long enough to power on the LEDs, but not more than 5 seconds. Contact with the heat sink isn't that great until everything is bolted back together. The LEDs should light up, if they don't, make sure that you don't have the emitter board upside down.
Once you've made sure that everything works, put the new lens on, making sure to align the screw holes and screw everything back together. The front cap uses very, very fine threads, so take care not to cross thread it. And that's it!
Now, how well does it work? Is it worth the $150 and 10 minutes of time? What will it do to the run time? These are all very good questions.
As you can see from the beam shots, it works very well indeed. There is very nearly twice the light and the beam shape is better, giving the rider more fill light up close, and projecting the light further down the trail or road. The run time, as seen in the graph, is essentially the same as it was. The real gain is in the middle, 60% setting. 60% is 450 lumens, or an increase of 30 lumens over the non-upgraded light on high, but the run time is increased substantially -- and there is that fire starting 750 lumens available at the push of a button.
Everything else we said previously is still true. The light is still customizable, and the flash is now seizure inducing. The O-ring mount remains as does the microprocessor in the remote. We have not seen any condensation under the lens this time around, so our one problem was alleviated.
Summary: If you have a Wilma and are feeling left behind, for a mere $150 you get brought up to the latest and greatest in LED technology. The upgrade can be done by anyone -- no special skills are required. Are you a 24-hour racer? Are you a serious year-round bicycle commuter? Do you crave the bleeding edge of technology? This is for you.
James Sharp is a contributing editor for GearReview.com; more of his ramblings and a look at upcoming reviews can be found at his blog -- Lactic Acid Threshold.
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