by Rick K. for webBikeWorld.com
in me was intrigued at the ad for a "CNC machined
aluminum LED flashlight", and I just had to have one.
The price was high at $24.95, and then there was the 5 buck shipping charge, but
hey -- what price quality?
A nice CNC-machined "billet"
flashlight would look great in a saddlebag, I thought,
and would be something to brag about around the rally
campfire. And I wouldn't have to worry about it
breaking or vibrating to death under a motorcycle seat.
The information provided on
the web page at
Bright LEDs and the product packaging doesn't say
where the flashlight is made, but for some reason, I
naively assumed that a little machine shop somewhere in
the U.S.A. was pumping these things out to make a buck.
Unfortunately, the package has no information whatsoever
on where the flashlight was made, so I guess we can
assume it's been pumped out of some generic factory in
the depths of the New World Order.
I've noticed this
trend recently -- with the rapid movement towards
globalization, you'd think the WTO or someone would at
least mandate that a product is labeled with the country
of origin. Is someone they ashamed? Or are they
trying to scam people into thinking it was made in
whatever country the purchaser resides in....
Anyway, the "Cynthia" (this
name alone is a clue that the flashlight surely isn't made in
U.S.A. or U.K.) model is a pretty decent LED flashlight
with average performance. I was expecting more for
30 bucks, but I guess the "billet"
aluminum body doesn't come cheap. My machinist eyes tell me that it is
indeed CNC machined, and it has good quality.
package claims that it's made "out of solid metal bars
(sic)", and this must be true, because the LED end is
obviously made from a solid piece of aluminum.
bar stock must have started out at about a 7/8" outside
diameter (O.D.). I don't see any machining
artifacts in the bore, so perhaps they used some type of
gun drill to hog out the interior, although the
tolerance is nice and tight for the two AA batteries.
milled longitudinal slots on the O.D. could be a bit nicer, because
the edges are rough, like the ball end mill's feed rate
was too high, but all in all, it's pretty
good quality. I'm not sure if a non-machinist would
appreciate the work though... I believe the
claims that the 146mm (5.75") long body can withstand 2000
kilos, which I assume means pressure per square inch?
The literature doesn't say.
The aluminum body is
slippery -- I think it would have been better if it had a
knurled or rubber coated surface. I'd hate to think
about how slippery this devil would be once it got covered
in shop grease.
It doesn't meet my
requirements for the "perfect" LED flashlight
configuration, because the
on/off switch isn't in the classic and most user-friendly
position, which would be right along the O.D. of the tube. The
flashlight is turned on and off via a pressure switch at
the butt-end of the body, opposite the LEDs.
It's a rubber
covered switch, and it has a quality feel that doesn't
take much pressure to engage, like it's
pushing some type of internal microswitch. The
rubber covering is slightly convex in shape, so it isn't
flush with the body. This means that if the flashlight is
dropped or bangs up against something in the toolbox, it
can be turned on unexpectedly.
The flashlight takes two AA
sized batteries, and you'd think for $30.00 they'd include
a couple of Energizers or something, but this isn't the
case. At least the five LEDs shouldn't take much
power; the anonymous company that manufactured it makes no claims for battery life,
but the packaging does claim that the LEDs will last 100,000 hours.
The only opening to the
flashlight is by screwing off the rear cap, which uses an
O-ring to help maintain water resistance.
The LEDs are claimed to be non-replaceable and are sealed in
the flashlight head.
The two AA batteries slide
smoothly down into the barrel; the tolerances are pretty
tight so the batteries don't rattle around inside.
The flashlight weighs 144g
(5-1/8oz.) with batteries. We compared it to a relatively inexpensive ($12.00)
Rayovac "Sportsman" LED flashlight that we
had on hand.
The Rayovac has a single LED "bulb", and it uses three AAA
batteries in its fat little body.
LEDs have low
power requirements, and we've used this one on and off
for short periods of time for almost two years, and the batteries show no sign of fading.
Rayovac claims 200 hours of battery life
in their Sportsman model with its single LED light.
The Rayovac has a plastic body, so our guess is that it
would be much less robust in a severe environment than
the billet aluminum body of the Cynthia model.
I'm disappointed that the
5-LED Cynthia LED flashlight doesn't throw a more powerful
beam than the cheaper single-LED Rayovac.
As you can
see from the photos below, the Rayovac is slightly
yellower, which could be due to the cheaper resin used to
form the LED and in actual use, the beam is slightly more
focused than the Cynthia. The aluminum LED flashlight's beam is
slightly wider and more even, but doesn't really throw as
This is surprising, because each LED on
the Cynthia is claimed to be 12,000 millicandela (mcd),
which is pretty powerful if true. The Dialight
Corporation website has an
interesting LED FAQ page, and their discussion of mcd
ratings for LED lights explains that a "millicandela rating is
determined by an on-axis measurement of peak intensity at
a specific current, not by measuring total light output.
Since the light emitted by a diffused LED is spread over a
wide viewing angle, the on-axis value may actually be less
than a non-diffused LED from which all light output is
concentrated in a narrow beam. Thus the total light
output of a 20 mcd LED may be greater than that of a 100
mcd LED though the on-axis reading is less."
We have no way of
verifying the mcd's of the LED lights. LEDs still
have a way to go before they're the equal of, for
example, a halogen bulb. Most LED flashlights that
we've tried are very dim when used during the day in the
typical garage where most motorcycle repair takes place.
Bright ambient light seems to wash out an LED faster
than an incandescent or halogen flashlight bulb.
The tradeoff is the battery life, especially if the LED
flashlight will live in a toolbox or saddlebag for long
periods of time without use. And if you're broke
down on the side of the road at night, you should be
able to expect much more life from an LED flashlight,
and the darkness of the night makes the LED light seem
The Model #MT2AA Machined Aluminum
Flashlight is a nice tool to have if you want to spend the
cash. It's a relative work of the machinist's art,
but our opinion is that if you purchase it, you should
understand that it's not going to put out a beam of
photo, Rayovac Sportsman single-LED
flashlight, 1 meter.
photo, Cynthia LED machined aluminum, 5 LED
flashlight, 1 meter.
CNC Machined Aluminum LED Flashlight
Retail Price: $24.95 + $5.00 S/H
Comments: Heavy-duty machined aluminum
body. Uses two AA batteries, not included. 5
LEDs in head. Good light output but not exceptional.
Unknown origin of manufacture. Model MT2AA.
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