One of the most important components you can add to your bike is a headlight. If you get most of your riding in with your commute then a nice bright headlight is vital. If you can’t see then you can’t ride. With all the lights that are on the market, finding the right one for your needs can be overwhelming. I went through 5 or 6 lights before I came across this little torch.
Light and Motion makes lights for all types of activities and luckily a couple of those activities are of the two-wheeled variety. The Urban line by L&M is aimed towards road bikes and while they split up some lights between ‘commuter’ and ‘road’ the main difference is the lumens in each light. This particular light falls under their ‘commuter’ section, which works because I tend to use this while commuting – I don’t do nighttime rides if I’m not commuting. I don’t really understand or see the reason for separating road from commuter but what do I know.
On my commute I spend about half of my time on roads and the other half on trails. On the roads I have more of a concern of being seen versus seeing, all the streetlights help light the way. The time I spend on the trails is quite the opposite.
There are no lights and the trees canopy the trail blocking whatever light from the nearby roads. With all that in mind I tend to ride with the light on its highest setting so that I don’t have to toy with the button and switch settings during the ride. Changing the brightness is really easy to do with the rubberized button on the top, I just don’t want to fiddle with it while rolling.
I have to say, being on the very dark trails with can feel very claustrophobic when you don’t have a bright enough light. With a lower powered light you end up in a tunnel vision and little detail in the depth of the path ahead. Rolling through the trail with this torching the way fixes all those problems. Not only does the Urban 800 light up the way by casting out a wide stream it also provides an incredible depth detail. I feel comfortable to ride at speed with this light cutting through the darkness. And a little extra feature on this light also helps the dark rides, the side lights. These little guys help give a little more cockpit illumination. While it doesn’t light up what is in front of you it helps your eyes transition from the bright front when you look down. They also help you see your hands without blinding you. I don’t know about you but if I can see my hands I feel a little more comfortable in my environment.
The Urban 800 has three levels of brightness – High, Medium, low. Depending on which setting you choose will of course determine how long the light will last. The length of time doubles as you go down in brightness, so at the high level you will get approximately 1.5 hours of use, medium will get you 3 while low will deliver 6 hours of use. The battery length is the one thing that I wish was a little stronger. For example, during the winter months my morning and evening commute are both in the dark. I spend about an hour each way which means I have to remember to take the light off each morning and charge it during the day. Being able to get a full days worth of commuting on a single charge would really be helpful. Charging the battery is done by flipping out a tab and using a micro USB cable. It is easy to connect the charging cable and the cable stays locked in place and doesn’t fall out easily.
Aside from the different levels of brightness, the Urban 800 also has a pulse mode. What you will find in most lights is a flashing or strobe mode. This mode helps with being noticed while on the road and not really with lighting the way. Personally I have always hated approaching riders who had their light in a strobe mode, it really bugs my eyes. The Urban 800 has a pulsating mode that does act as an attention getter but it also does so in a pleasing way to other cyclists. I’ve seen online some people wishing it had strobe instead but I completely disagree with them.
The built-in handlebar mount makes it very easy to pop the light on and off – thankfully since you have to charge it all the time. Moving away from the screw connection mounts that most lights have, Light and Motion went with the rubber strap. I have had one other light that connected to the handlebar in the same way but the strap didn’t tighten up enough so the longer I rode the more the vibrations moved the light. Fortunately the Urban 800 ha a strap that keeps the light in place no matter how rough of a ride I have had.
At 800 Lumens this light will show you the way in the darkest of paths. The pocket-size of the light makes it incredibly portable and easy to grab and go. Even if you don’t feel like you need all 800 Lumens I say give this light a chance – just use the lower levels and you will have that extra boost ready to go when needed.
One last note. When you are out there and using this light, or any other light, when a fellow rider approaches in the dark go ahead and partially cover or lower the light a tad so you don’t blind them. Think of it as a way of saying ‘hi’ to others while on the trail.