Editor’s Note: This article is part of the Mtbr Ultimate Guide to winter mountain biking, fat bikes, gear, apparel, lights and trainers. We are taking a deep dive into all manner of cold weather mountain bike gear, with round-ups and reviews of fat bikes, tires, wheels, apparel, trainers and more. To see all the articles, head over to our Winter Guide Hub Page.
Riding at night is one of cycling’s great joys. And in winter, when days are short, it’s often a necessity. Here’s a look at some of this season’s best budget friendly lights.
The Blackburn 2′Fer weighs 29 grams and measured 65 Lumens in testing. It’s rechargeable, yet only costs $25 and the kicker is it has white and red LED lights built in. Thus, it can be used in the front or the back as a versatile ‘to be seen’ light. It’s not the brightest light, but it’s certainly the smallest and most versatile light we’ve tested to date.
The light comes with a built-in clip that can be attached to a backpack, saddlebag or article of clothing. But if one wants to attach it to the handlebars or seatpost, the clip can attach to an included strap mount. This brings the system weight to 29 grams. The rubber strap wraps around any tube on your bike. | Claimed Lumens: 60 | Measured Lumens: 65 | Mounted Weight: 29 grams | Run time (on high): 1:50 Hours | Price: $25 | More info at www.blackburndesign.com
NiteRider Lumina OLED 800
The NiteRider Lumina is the workhorse of the NiteRider line. This year, the output bumps up to 800 Lumens and the Lumina now features an optical LED display. The display is very handy in determining what brightness level the light is on and how much run time is left. Thus, one can accurately determine which light level to use to last the whole ride. The beam pattern is big and beautiful as usual. There is a large halo of light and a bright center spot to provide good throw. This light can be used on the bar or helmet, but it is most at home on the helmet with its light weight and lack of wires. The light dissipates heat to provide a consistent beam throughout its run time. Sealing is excellent, as this will take you through a season of wet weather without issue. The heat sink materials are nicely integrated with a shock absorbing rubberized material, so this light can take a few hard knocks. | Claimed Lumens: 800 | Measured Lumens: 797 | Mounted Weight: 131 grams | Run time (on high): 1:30 Hours | Price: $160 | More info at www.niterider.com
Blackburn Central 700 Front
The Blackburn Central 700 Front totally surprised us. It measured 710 lumens, which is higher than claimed. It also fares well against the competition in this crowded $100 price point. What made it truly stand apart, though, is the beam pattern. It employs nice optics to throw a bright, wide beam. Those optics and a big lens also throw the light under the rider, creating good spill for peripheral vision. This allows the rider to read the trail better and see the edges of singletrack. On switchbacks, it helps one see through tight corners as well before the light is pointed in the direction of the turn. Great construction and side lighting are highlights as well. And finally, it uses a GoPro style mount with up and down adjustability. This allows the light to be used with existing mount both on the bar and the helmet. | Claimed Lumens: 700 | Measured Lumens: 710 | Mounted Weight: 162 grams | Run time (on high): 1:15 Hours | Price: $100 | More info at www.blackburndesign.com
ITUO Wiz1 800
The ITUO Wiz1 and Wiz2 lights have been sitting in our offices for a few months now, waiting for lights season. Playing with this unfamiliar brand, we were pleasantly surprised to see well packaged and well crafted lights. They both share the same 800 Lumen output with the Wiz1 using a bigger battery and lasting 3 hours on high. The Wiz2 uses the standard 18650 cell that provides 2 hours of 800 Lumen output. Output is honest at 800 Lumens and beam pattern is excellent with a good spill and a well-defined spot for distance. The result is one of the more useable beam patterns we’ve tested. But the real kicker is the price, $80 for the Wiz2 and $90 for the Wiz1. This light measured 795 Lumens in an integrating sphere. Claimed Lumens by the manufacturer is 800 Lumens. | Claimed Lumens: 800 | Measured Lumens: 795 | Mounted Weight: 208 grams | Run time (on high): 2:00 Hours | Price: $120 | More info at www.ituoworld.com
The Fenix is a self-contained light from Fenix claiming 880 Lumens for an affordable $75. It features a field replaceable battery, thus allowing the rider as much run time as needed by carrying spare 18650 lithium batteries. There is red side lighting available and there are cut-outs in the lens cap to give it good side visibility. Additionally, Fenix prides itself in controlling the beam pattern well with a fairly distinct cut-off on the top and a secondary beam that illuminates the trail directly in front of the rider. The beam pattern has a nice warm color that’s not too white so it’s easy to see shadows and trail contours. More importantly, the beam is very well controlled. It has two spots, one that lights up the trail immediately ahead and one that reaches far ahead. Periphery is also well lit, with good spill at close range. Finally, the top is chopped off a little bit to conserve light from being wasted at the very top of the beam. It also allows the rider to avoid shining the top of the beam into drivers’ eyes when commuting on the road. | Claimed Lumens: 880 | Measured Lumens: 750 | Mounted Weight: 155 grams | Run time (on high): 1:20 Hours | Price: $75 | More info at www.fenix-store.com
Lezyne Power Drive 900XL
The highlights of this Lezyne light are wide optics and excellent form factor. The beam has a wide swath and fairly oval spot. It’s also smaller than before, and is much more handy as a helmet light or even a pocket flashlight. The mount is now a rubber strap that has a molded base to ensure it stays in place. And its output puts it at one of the lower priced lights at around the 850 Lumen level. One negative is that output out of the box is much lower than the claimed 900 lumens. The user has to realize they are in ‘Blast’ mode of 600 Lumens and that they have to go to Overdrive mode using a special sequence. Our fear is some buyers will never realize that they are not using the highest mode that they were expecting when they purchased the light. It’s just too difficult to tell with the naked eye whether the output is 600 Lumens or 900. | Claimed Lumens: 900 | Measured Lumens: 1044 | Mounted Weight: 154 grams | Run time (on high): 1:20 Hours | Price: $100 | More info at www.lezyne.com