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Gloworm X2 Review: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

I do my research okay. Probably too much. Buying lights for the MTB earlier this year, I did so much research I was starting to give myself the shits. Eventually I had to make a decision. So I bought the Gloworm X2 lights and was immediately a happy camper.

The Good: Gloworm X2 Performance

The X2 lights throw out an impressive amount of light but it’s not the overall amount of light that makes them so good. It’s the spread. There’s an even distribution of light pretty much everywhere where you need it. There are no-hot spots to draw the eye and there’s enough light on everything to allow you to ride almost as fast at night as you do during the day.  Or what feels like daytime speeds anyway.

The lights come with a helmet mount and a handlebar mount. I understand that some riders will prefer a handlebar mounted light but I wonder how on earth they get by like that. As good as the Gloworm X2 is, when the trail dips and turns the light can’t keep up. You find yourself staring into darkness. The same happens on hairpin bends. Riding at night with a bar mounted X2 is not nearly as much fun as riding during the day.

Riding with the X2 helmet mounted is a whole different ballgame. My first descent on Three Hills at Nerang was a total hoot. I wasn’t totally able to forget I was riding with lights, nor go quite as fast as I would during the day, but it was bloody close. In terms of returning enjoyment for dollars, the Gloworm X2 had been a bloody good purchase.

The light comes with three modes, bright, brighter, and really bloody bright. I used bloody bright pretty much all the time when on the trails. Riding at night I’ve got about a 30 minute ride each way to the trailhead, for which I use a lower setting, but once on the trails I like it bright. I sometimes use a lower setting for climbing fire trails. But to be honest, with only about 30-odd minutes of trail-time at my disposal on post-work rides, I’m not spending too much time on fire trails if I can help it.

The other handy feature of the Gloworm X2 is the bicycle path mode. This mode you get when you hold down the button for a second or two. It dips the lights so you can ride on bike paths and shared paths without blinding people. Good work Gloworm.

The Bad: Gloworm X2 Mounting

The bar mount is a pretty good piece of kit. Made from a solid piece of metal and retained by an o-ring, it’s a solid way to mount the light to your handlebars. If you’re into that sort of thing. As I said above, I don’t see how the light works as a bar mounted light. For me it had to be helmet mounted to be at all useful.

The helmet mount has a neat Go Pro type interface where it clicks into a mount on your helmet. The bit that stays on your helmet is discreet and light enough to mean it could probably stay there full time. I got a bit of a pressure spot from the strap but it was tolerable. The real problem for me was the way the helmet mount attached to the light.

I’d underestimated the winter chill one night and by the time I got to the trail I was only just warming up. Most of the ride to the trailhead had me in an internal dialogue where I questioned whether this was worth the bother or maybe I should go home and get warm clothes on. But I’d warmed up finally, I’d started down the first trail, and everything in the world was good again. The flow.

But then the light fell off my head.

I’d busted the helmet mount. Fair enough. I suspect I’d probably knocked it on something. It’s sitting on top of my helmet after all. No worries.

A helmet mounted light is always going to cop a few bruises. Yes? So why then did Gloworm use a fragile piece of plastic to mount it? Looking at the broken mount, I was less convinced this was fair play, and more convinced it was a huge bloody  glaring design fault. Thoughts of buying a replacement part quickly turned to buying three, so I could swap them each time they busted. But that doesn’t help you when you’ve braved the cold to get to the trails and you get there and the thing is busted. Thoughts of buying three turned to thoughts of how to redesign and remount this thing.

This is the little bit of plastic that mounts it to your helmet:

Gloworm x2 helmet mount

If mountain bike lights are going to be ridden on trails, and will cop some knocks, then why use a fragile piece of junk like this to mount it? And what the hell’s going on with those fingers? Is that guy a thousand?

To me, this is a design fault. I accept the fact that I probably cracked the light on something, a low-hanging branch on the trail, or the Hill’s hoist in my backyard. So I’m not upset with the fact that I had a failure. I’m upset with the fact that the failure was probably inevitable and I could easily have a dozen more if I persisted with the standard Gloworm helmet mount. Helmet mounts, by definition, sit on top of your helmet. You’re going to whack them on something at some time.

What I did was re-purpose the handlebar mount. I borrowed the helmet mount from some el-cheapo lights I own which you can see below.

cheap crap helmet mount

As I said before, the handlebar mount is a pretty good piece of kit. The cheap piece of rubbish you see crudely zip-tied to my helmet above allowed me to mount the handlebar mount on my helmet. The result looks like this:

gloworm x2 mounted to cheap piece of rubbish

The result looks like Wall-E on a bender but it works perfectly on the trail. So I’m back in action. (Sort of. I’m saving the worst till last.)

Part of the reason Wall-E looks like he’s been hitting the sauce is because the stickers provider by Gloworm are a bit shit. I’ve had stickers from other stuff. I’ve got a Go Pro clone camera mounted to a helmet by nothing other than a bit of 3M sticky. And that thing aint moving nowhere no-how. I’m feeling like Gloworm didn’t go to 3M for their sticky stuff. Because it just aint sticky. Here’s what it looks like after a month of usage:

gloworm sticky shit

The little velco dots that stick the on-off button to the side of the helmet use the same useless sticky stuff. I learned to velcro one small corner of the button, maybe 10% of the actual surface, or otherwise the velcro would rip the sticker off the side of the helmet. Never mind really, I can live with these disappointing details. The light, after all, is still terrific on the trails.

But unfortunately, this is where it gets ugly.

The Ugly: Pushys Customer Service

The problem started when I opened the box. There was universal charger in the box but no Australian adapter to go with it. As it stood, I couldn’t charge my lights. I informed Pushys of my problem and they responded that they’d checked with Gloworm and Gloworm checked every box and that they didn’t make a mistake with my box. Of course not, no-one’s ever made a mistake.

Except me. I make mistakes. I may be of advancing years but on arrival I did tear open my box of lights like an eight year-old on Christmas day. It was possible I’d mislaid the adapter. Not likely. But possible. There were two other people with me that day and they swore that they saw me open the pack and that there was definitely no adapter. That didn’t stop me pulling apart the workshop and looking behind everything. Just in case. There is no adapter here. Of that I’m super bloody sure. So I got back to Pushys and let them know.

They told me that Gloworm didn’t have any of the adapters on hand and it would be a couple weeks before they were available. It was still summer at this stage and I wasn’t using the lights. But the days were getting shorter…I waited.

When I didn’t get a reply from Pushys I sent them another polite email. Like this:

Hi guys,

I was exchanging emails a few weeks back about the Gloworm X2 I purchased through Pushys. It was delivered without the Aus adapter for the power pack. In this discussion it was promised that I would get the adapter when they came back into stock, which would be a couple of weeks. I just wanted to check progress on this because it’s been more than a couple weeks and I’m anxious to use my lights again.

Here is their reply:

Hi James,

I have been onto the suppliers, unfortunately they are not getting stock now for quite a bit of time.

Can you source an adapter from Dick Smith, they are very reasonable.

I’m still having trouble processing that one. Could I what? Could I go down the shops and buy my own adapter? Maybe. Or perhaps it’d be easier just to go to the relevant fair trade body at this stage. Because that answer is nothing short of insulting.

What’s more, the Gloworm comes with a “smart charger”. Says so here in black and white:

WP_20150717_07_55_47_Pro

Would the very reasonable charger from Dick Smith be a smart charger?

And what of the instructions that clearly tell me to only use the supplied Gloworm charger?

gloworm battery bit

And let’s just say, there was someone somewhere who wanted to honor a warranty of these things. Wouldn’t I be in trouble if I’d used the wrong charger? Would the very reasonable charger from Dick Smith fall within proper battery care guidelines?

WP_20150717_07_55_47_Pro

I doubt it.

It’s hard for me to say who is at fault here. Pushys tell me they’ve been talking to the supplier. It seems barely credible to me that a supplier would refuse them such a trivial part in order to make a happy client. But who am I to doubt Pushys? What’s not at doubt is that I bought the lights from Pushys, not from their supplier, so I don’t give a toss what their supplier said or did not say. The good people at Gloworm might get around on Friday’s with their underwear on their heads and it’d mean nothing to me. I haven’t done any transactions with Gloworm, just Pushies. How about ripping open a box and giving me the adapter you owe me Pushies? Then you can sort it out with your supplier later on. That way I can get on the trails and start using the otherwise totally useless lights I paid nearly $300 for. Wouldn’t that be reasonable?

The question is, since the lights themselves are pretty good but with a few quirks, would I recommend them to a friend? Given the hassles I’ve had, I’d say maybe. But unlikely. And I’d probably steer clear of Pushys in the future.

UPDATE: I bought myself a helmet mount from another supplier, a metal one this one. And now finally the lights worked…for a very short time. Then the piece of shit plastic buckle on the Go Pro helmet strap snapped. 

UPDATE II: I got myself another helmet strap and now the spot globe on the lights has died. I’ve sent an email to Gloworm begging them for help. I don’t see much point in talking to the shitheads at Pushies. I’ll keep you posted.

UPDATE III: Got the light fixed by the Australian supplier, who are really nice by the way. Lights are working even though I dropped the battery and cracked the case the same day the light came back. I think I’m cursed.

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