The Jet Lites F-1 is a late arrival to this year’s night riding season but that just means they’ve had time to evolve their design and wait for the best components available. What they sent us is a true work of art in terms of construction and design. In a field of exciting but crowded self-contained bike lights, the scientists at Jet Lites managed to come up with a light that is truly high end like Lupine and Exposure but is affordable at $179.
The most dramatic part of this light is the case. It’s a machined aluminum case that showcases the best American construction available with a sleek, curved body that hosts plenty of cooling fins. The top of the light screws off to expose the lens and electronics. The back screws off to access the battery. Threading on these parts is very fine to maximize heat transfer from the LED to the case of the light. This not only helps the LED operate at max power, it also helps the battery operate at good capacity in frigid conditions. We hear that lithium cells can lose as much as 50% of their run time when operating in very cold conditions. We ran this light at full power, static on our test bench with no air moving around it. Normally we avoid this and always run a fan but wanted to test the heat dissipation abilities of this light. After 20 minutes, the whole light was warm all the way to the switch at the back. The temperature was pretty even throughout the light and there was no flickering or stepping down of the light at all. It is not possible to do this with lights with separate batteries since there’s not enough heatsinking. And most other self-contained lights get very hot just near the LED.
The LED is the awesome Cree XM-L with excellent binning chosen by Jet Lites (quality batch of LED). And the battery is a Panasonic 3100 mah 18650 cell which is one of the best available today.
Run time is stated at 1.7 hours at full power. Although it seems short, that run time doubles at medium power. And it is better than the competition which mostly run 1.5 hours. And most important, the rider can carry an extra battery and quickly replace the cell during a ride to get another full battery run.
The switch is nice and big a the end of the unit and it is easy to operate. It is in a recessed cavity so the battery can be stood up on its end and used as a lamp. A plastic diffuser on the lens would make this an even better light source or light saber.
Scrolling through the light levels:
The switch on the F-1 is really cool. It is big and recessed so it’s out of the way but easily accessible. The action on the click is very positive with an audible click. And when on, it can be depressed half-way and it goes through the different light levels. This dual action of the switch is simple yet very novel as turning it on and off is isolated from the light level scrolling and going through flash modes.
The F-1 is a little different here from most self-contained lights where the battery here actually has to be removed to be charged. An external charger is supplied with the light and the charger has a 12 volt input as well if the user has a need to charge it in the car. The cigarette lighter plug is not included however.
This is an interesting diversion for Jet as they’re able to completely seal the light with no USB port hole. They’re also to charge the cell with a robust charger that can charge two cells at a time.
The downside is the battery has to be removed from the case and that is a minor inconvenience. The other downside is no USB charging is available even though that is becoming a popular alternative with the easy availability of USB ports at home or at work.
- Price: $179.00
- Claimed Lumens: 750 Lumens
- Light Head Weight: 122 grams
- Installed Weight: 169 grams
- Run Time: 1.7 hours
- Measured MTBR Lux: 71 Lux
Mounting is done with the classic Jet Lites helmet mount included in the kit. This mount straps on the the helmet and the light can be aimed up and down once installed. This features the safety mechanisms of Jet where the light can pop off in the event of a heavy impact to protect the rider’s neck from twisting.
The light can be mounted with the robust handlebar center-mounts from Jet. These mounts are extremely high quality and place the light right over the stem.
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