2011 Bike Lights Shootout

Lights Shootout

 

2011 Bike Lights Shootout

exposure2011 is definitely the year of the LED. Even the last holdout with HID, Jet Lites has joined the fray with LED technology.  With the arrival of the latest emitter, the Cree XPG, LED lights are even brighter and more efficient than ever.

The Magicshine factor has infected the industry as well. Companies have scrambled to deliver great lights at around $200.  Customers have come to expect that. If the light manufacturers can deliver a great value light with good reliability and service, they feel they can compete.

And the great value light, Magicshine has stumbled. With thousands sold and a year of use or sitting on the shelf, many batteries and chargers are failing. The shortcuts in testing, quality and materials seem to be surfacing with battery problems. A ‘stop use immediately’ has been issued by the largest distributor as they mobilize to issue a recall and a resolution to buyers.

There are many stand outs in this year’s shootout.  Our favorites are:

IMG_0360Lupine Piko - At 190 grams complete, the two Cree XPGs deliver a light that is incredibly useable. And at $310, it is a great value for a german light with the best quality and the best technology. It claims to to be 550 lumens but it measured a surprisingly bright 45 lux on our meter. This is almost as bright as the Lupine Tesla and brigher than the Magicshine MJ-808 at 37 lux.

Exposure Diablo – Our favorite light from last year switched from one Seoul P7 emitter to three Cree XPGs. The result is a doubling in our measured output from 33 lux to 66 lux. It is still ridiculously light at 110 grams and it has the best helmet mount system around.

Jet Lites A-51 - At $199, this light delivers a 720 lumen light that measured 40 lux on our test bed. The head unit is extremely high quality and features a CNC’d aluminum case. The helmet or handlebar mounts are some of the highest quality we’ve ever seen. And the battery and charger technology seem to be of reputable quality backed by a 1 year warranty. This is a great option by those burned by cheap lights before.

Light and Motion Seca 1400 - at $699, this 1400 lumen light measured in at 110 lux on our meter. The standout here is how efficiently that light is utilized. It has the widest beam from close to mid range. And with 110 lux, it throws just about as far as most riders will need. And it still chops off the top of the beam pattern to avoid waste.

IMG_0371Lupine Betty 7 II with 22 degree beam – This showcase of light intensity has been improved to have a wider beam and an inboard switch. The result is light that is much, much more useable than  its predecessor. The beam pattern has been increased to 22 degrees (from 16) and the measured 158 lux offers much more peripheral light but still throws very far. Though not cheap, this is the best in terms of output, quality, weight and charger technology.

Here is the summary data for the lights we have so far. We will publish our data and photos of each beam pattern in this article. In the coming weeks, we will produce a review and a video of each of the lights mentioned.

‘Claimed Lumens’ is the manufacturer’s claimed lumen brightness of their lights. It is usually not measured and is based on the best case scenario of the LEDs they are using. Measured Lux is mtbr’s light output measurement of the light. It is performed by bouncing the light off a white ceiling in a controlled environment. The measurements are consistent and are quite accurate in quantifying the light output. Our lux measurement setup is described here in detail http://reviews.mtbr.com/blog/bike-light-meter-setup-for-measuring-output/. Please note that our Lux Measurement is only relevant to mtbr for the basis of comparing light to each other. The number has no relevance to the measurement of others.

Beam pattern comparison page is here: http://reviews.mtbr.com/blog/2011-bike-lights-shootout-beam-pattern-photos/


 

Brand/Model


 

Price


 

Claimed Lumens


 

Mtbr Measured Lux

Ayup V4 Adventure (full review here)

$425

400 each

33 each

Baja Designs Stryker (full review here)

$299

700

52

Baja Designs Stryker Pro (full review here)

$345

700

40

Dinotte 800l (video)

$439

800

62

Exposure Diablo Mk.2 (full review here)

$250

900

63

Exposure Joystick Mk.5

$225

300

17

Exposure MaxxD Mk.3

$450

1200

90

Exposure Six Pack (full review here)

$600

1800

146

Exposure Spark

$140

220

10

Exposure Strada Mk.2

$350

600

40

Exposure Toro Mk.2 (full review here)

$400

900

72

Jet Lites A-51 (full review here)

$199

700

40

Light and Motion Seca 700

$

700

65

Light and Motion Seca 1400 (full review here)

$699

1400

110

Light and Motion Vis360

$169

110

11

Lupine Betty II 7 (video)

$930

1850

158

Lupine Piko 3 (full review here)

$310

550

45

Lupine Tesla (video)

$475

700

51

Lupine Wilma 7 (video)

$595

1100

103

Magicshine MJ-808 (full review here) – UNDER RECALL!

$85

900

37

Niterider Minewt.250 Cordless

$129

250

 

Niterider Minewt.350 (video)

$199

350

19

Niterider Pro 600 (full review here)

$499

600

46

Niterider Pro 1200 (full review here)

$649

1200

82

TrailLED Darkstar (full review here)

$420

1200

81

Mtbr Lux Measurement Setup Here.

Chart of claimed Lumens to Mtbr measured Lux

graph provided by our member g3rG

mtbr_illuminance_correlation2

 

Beam pattern comparison page is here: Short range beam pattern
Long Range Beam Pattern Photos: Long Range Beam Pattern

First light photos are of the Baja Designs lights

About the author: Francis Cebedo

The founder of mtbr and roadbikereview, Francis Cebedo believes that every cyclist has a lot to teach and a lot to learn. "Our websites are communal hubs for sharing cycling experiences, trading adventure stories, and passing along product information and opinions." Francis' favorite bike is the last bike he rode, whether it's a dirt jumper, singlespeed, trail bike, lugged commuter or ultralight carbon road steed. Indeed, Francis loves cycling in all its forms and is happiest when infecting others with that same passion. Francis also believes that IPA will save America.


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  • Francois says:

    Other lights coming are:
    Gemini Lights
    Light and Go
    Serfas
    Ayup
    Jet Lites – new fan powered model

    Dinotte – still on the fence

    Amoeba – No since there are backlog/production problems this season

  • Greg says:

    Most of these lights are out of the budget users prices range. I would love to see that “budget” winner for something like this, considering “budget” to be less than $200. I am sure there is no such thing as a “good, budget” light but I would love to be able to get something that will perform well, light up my world for me at night (at least enough to see the errant cat or coyote) but not break the bank should I not see that errant rock and thrash the light.

  • Francois says:

    >>I would love to see that “budget” winner

    We will definitely be building an under $200 catgory and comparison! This is coming as we get more lights.

  • Scott says:

    Great comparo! What I’d love to see is some sort of “bottom line” numbers. For example, you could divide the cost by the Lux to a get a “cost per lux” figure which *might* help determine a “best lux for the buck” order. Obviously there are other factors in each light…but I think this would still be a useful measure.

  • Vienna1 says:

    2010 Mtbr Bike Lights Shootout is not found.
    It seemed to be “LED Bike Lights Shootout3″ on November 2009.
    I fortunately added to my bookmarks.
    But also many contents of “LED Bike Lights Shootout3″ are not found now. Are they deleted deliberately?

  • RUSTYDOG says:

    Will you be listing the NR 700 & 1200?

  • Ben says:

    How about http://www.cygolite.com ?

    They get great reviews from customers on Amazon. Look well made and are reasonably priced. In addition, the newer models seem to have an extremely broad and evenly lit beam. I had my eye on them so was hoping to see them included in your review.

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001JSWTN8

  • Ben says:

    I know your emphasis is on mountain biking where presumably you don’t have to share the trail with anyone (and perhaps you care about low-hanging branches), but you still have to get to the trailhead, and for many of us that means riding in traffic. Do any of the lights you review have beams suitable for use on roads? i.e. Do they put light on the road rather than into oncoming drivers’ eyes? See e.g. http://peterwhitecycles.com/headlights.asp

    It seems that my options for lights suitable for on-road riding are limited to around 300 lumens (e.g. Supernova e3 asymmetrical). I’d love to be wrong. I’d love even more find an on-road light that runs off a generator hub and that can hold a candle to the brightnesses of the lights you review here.

  • Would like to see comparison of HID to the best LED light systems. says:

    I’d like to see a comparison of HID systems to the best LED light systems.

  • jared says:

    Now they need to back and do lux measurements on all the previous lights….

  • Robert Anderson says:

    Ben, I’ve just installed a Planet Bike Blaze 1 watt dynamo light. It does not use a Cree XPG, it uses a Cree XRE-P3, but it is an excellent package. Pre-wired for dynamo, capacitor storage so that it works while stopped at a light, solid/blink modes, etc. It can be had on Amazon for less than 60 bucks:

    http://www.amazon.com/Planet-Bike-1-Watt-Generator-Bicycle/dp/B001G7Q258/ref=sr_1_1

    One of the things I really like about Planet Bike is that they sell replacement parts for all the stuff they sell.

  • Mark Richardson says:

    I don’t see anything measuring how many hours of output each light gets per battery charge, a critical measurement for adventure racers.

  • fpdave100 says:

    How about Hope lights. Plenty of UK night riders use them as they are pretty robust, good value and have excellent after sales service.

    see http://www.hopetech.com

  • Chris says:

    CYGOLITES???

    What about these.

  • DugB says:

    Only the older model MagicShine battery is under recall, and there’s already a new, better unit on the market. I recently bought a complete 1400 lumen set and an extra battery and taillight unit for under $200. Why not include the 1400 lumen model in your comparison? I think it’s because it’s the best deal out there right now ;-)

  • cb says:

    Please do include Cygolight in your next review, both their newer centauri as well as their smaller wireless helmet mount units . Did you ever test brlights, they stopped shipping but would still like to know comparison.

  • Francois says:

    Cygolite does NOT want to participate in our shootout. I believe they have been unfairly reviewed by other magazines in the past.

    • Sole says:

      I recently purecashd a Magcishine since I was on a very limited budget. It’s nice to see it included in this shootout. The Magicshine is such an amazing value, I mean it has higher lux values than 4 of the other lights on there yet it is by far the cheapest light of the bunch. The 2nd cheapest is over 2.5 times its price. Plus you can purchase a 2nd light doubling the brightness and run it off a single battery pack if you get an optional Y cable and it would still be cheaper than the price of any other light in the shootout. Granted, the quality isn’t the best but for $85 it’s still an amazing deal.

  • Ben says:

    I wish Exposure (or anyone) would produce a light with a replaceable emitter. It’s hard to take the plunge on a $300 light when next year your light will be out-produced by a $150 light. An upgrade option would be huge as I’m sure there’s no reason to replace the battery part.

  • radirpok says:

    Ben: get yourself acquainted with Lupine :-)

  • Ben says:

    “I wish Exposure (or anyone) would produce a light with a replaceable emitter.”

    Supernova does this. The catch is that you’ll have to send your light back to Germany for replacement; if you were tricked into believing that there’s an “off-season” (or have a spare lying around) that might not be too bad.

    http://www.supernova-lights.com/shop/index.php?cPath=56_74

  • verslowrdr says:

    Any chance of seeing a comparison of burn times? Thing could light up the Empire State building, but if it only lasts for 30 minutes I’m still stuck trying to ride/walk home by braille. :(

  • liz says:

    MiNewt 350

    I have NOT had good luck with NiteRider products.

    I had two Evolution Smart’s that failed and now the MiNewt 350. The MiNewt batteries do not hold a charge very long when stored, a few weeks at best.

    That’s the problem with push-button stuff. It is always on and if it is not designed right the drain on the battery will be high causing it to discharge rapidly even when OFF. If you discharge a LiIon battery to far it will never charge again. Again, if the electronics are not designed right the battery will be ruined.

    I DO NOT like the new NiteRider design where everything is in the battery pack. It was better when the controls were on the lite that way when you disconnect it there is absolutely no drain on the battery.

    My NiteRider experience:
    1) Evolution Smart – bad out of the box. Cable short somewhere. It would work sometimes and not other times.
    2) Evolution Smart – battery / charger problems. Never ran more than 10 – 20 minutes even on low.
    3) MiNewt 350 – bad battery packs. I have two packs and both have failed.

    My recommendation – DO NOT BUY NITERIDER!!!

  • Mike Mills says:

    I have a cygolite and it works really well and holds a charge for a long time. Too bad they won’t participate.

  • Greg says:

    I have to agree with the above comment by “liz”. I had the same issues with a Niterider Trinewt. After just a few weeks of ownership, the connection failed, causing me to send it back to Niterider for repair. Of course, it was during the winter time when lights are most needed, so I was without a light for some time. After the light was returned, it worked but only for a short time. Suddenly, it just wouldnt charge. I think the battery discharged itself (battery suicide). It was still relatively new and had little use. Its currently at Niterider now and I’m waiting for it to come back and see how they handled it cuz it was right at the 2 year warranty expiration. Judging by reviews and asthetics, I think the Lupine is a well made light. A little costly but rippin it down the luge in pitch dark is worth it.

  • Mark says:

    They are going to have to get a whole lot cheaper before I give up my trusty HID. Its served me well for three years, still with its original battery pack and charger.

  • Jason says:

    I seen that Turbo Cat was not included. That’s unfortunate. Myself, and 5 of my riding friends have been running Turbo cats for the past 5 years, with 0 issues. And our set ups are still going stong.

    http://turbocatusa.com/

  • Herb says:

    What about TrailTech?

  • Maz says:

    Any chance of reviewing the February 2011 updated AY-UP’s? Specifically looking at the 40% brighter lights, and the new “All-Rounder” optic?

  • Brian Mullin says:

    According to Ay-Up, Francois tested the newer, brighter version (I can’t verify this), while I tested the older one (last years), refer to http://reviews.mtbr.com/blog/ay-up-v4-adventure-light-review/, I asked for a new set to test, but they didn’t respond (assuming no interest?)

    Per Ay-Up info (not verified):
    LED Upgrade – we remove your LED’s and replace with the latest and greatest from CREE.

    * 2007 – 2008 models, nearly 2 times the light output
    * 2008 – 2009 models, nearly 50% brighter
    * 2009 – 2010 models, nearly 30% brighter
    * 2010 – June 2010 models, 10% brighter

    More Power – Upgrade your lights to run at a higher current, this will increase your light output by 40% (if no upgrades to LED’s were made). Couple this upgrade with an LED upgrade and the improvements are massive.

    Optic Swap Out – we have a new optic to replace our old Medium. The new All Rounder is an awesome beam and can be used for helmet, handlebar and Head Torch. The improvement in swapping just the Medium to this optic is double the light output.

    • George Kreuter says:

      I would like to have my planet bike blaze 1 w light upgraded. How much candle power can I get? Cost?

  • Jeff Arasmith says:

    NiteRider – I like the operation, run-time, and light output of my TriNewt a lot. It has had to go for factory service about once per year. It’s always been covered by the warranty. I simply have to pay the shipping costs one way. My coworker has a similar experience with another of their products. I recommend NiteRider with the caveat, have a back-up light to use when it is being fixed under warranty. I use the MagicShine as my backup.

  • Jeff Arasmith says:

    Have you considered adding the products from Light On! lights to your review?
    http://lightonlights.com/

  • JimInSF says:

    Would love to see comparisons of some of the dynamo lights light the Schmidt Edelux and Supernova E3.

  • DaVe says:

    very useful review, would be nice to be able to get the raw data or at least cost vs measured lux?

  • Frank says:

    Have a Cygolite TridenX and love it! Great beam, great performance, very light.

  • keith says:

    Why are the nightsun systems not tested? I had a team version and was happy with it, even though the company has a reputation of unfriendly service. But the people at Nightsun will not specify the lumens. They argue it is not a good measure and insist on using Watts, which is power before it is converted to lumens, which is a measure of light.

  • Miguel says:

    Agree on Cygolite. Have a TridenX and love it! Bright, very light, good value.

  • Charlene says:

    Francois,

    Can you publish some kind of review on the suitability of a LED Engin
    LS17-001D55 (Daylight White 5500K- 560 lumen) LuxSpot 12˚downlight
    as a bicycle light? [You'll need a 24 Vdc power supply.] Thank you.

  • Quality, longevity and customer service is big to me also. says:

    I only got one season out of my Dinotte lights and when I called about it they wanted to charge me what at the time seemed a lot of money to me.
    My Niterider experience has been poor also.

  • Jake invic says:

    Got my Magicshine with the new American built battery(encased in black plastic) and am very happy, super value. Even if it isn’t the claimed 900 lumens, it is a very bright light and I get big respect from cars now! I mostly use it for semi urban cycling trails and roads at night and actualy wait for it to get dark just to enjoy the ability to go full speed anywhere at night.

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