Jet Lites F-1 – 2012 Mtbr Lights Shootout

Lights Lights Shootout Pro Reviews

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.

Charging:

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.

Specifications:

  • 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:

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.

Related Links
Mtbr Lights Shootout Main Page »
2012 Bike Lights Shootout »
Backyard Beam Pattern Comparisons »
Trail Beam Pattern Comparisons »
Light Meter Measurements »
Mtbr Lights Reviews »
Mtbr Lights Forum »

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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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  • Jeff says:

    that is still way too much money, you are much better off getting the magic shine from amazon, now at 85$, it is damn near 1000 lumens and has three output levels. I use the 30% for the slow climbs up the mountain the bomb down with the 70% or100% depending my my familiarity with the trail. At that price, I can easily have and either run one as back up or put one on helmet and one on handlebars. If you don’t mind a separate batt pack, it is nice light output for your $$

  • oriel says:

    question to MTBR: you reveiwed the light with 550 lumens, Jet Lites advertises 750 on their site. Can you confirm if this discrepancy is due to an update by Jet lites or a type-o/misunderstanding during the review process? Thanks!

    If Jet’s updated the light output w/o upping the price, that’s just perfect!

  • Brian says:

    Francis, did you do a lumen hour test on this, as you did with a few of the other lights in the shootout? I see where the Serfas 500 did so much better than the Lezyne superdrive and was wondering how the F-1 holds up for the duration of the battery life.

    • Walt says:

      Magicshines are fine. You however get what you pay for. I have a jetlights halogen that has never failed does what was claimed, and they have awesome customer service. I know alot of people here in Boulder CO, who have Magicshines and they are super bright for the dollar price but they have had multiple issues. First off there was the battery issue that was handle by Geomangear and not magicshine. Second there is the cord problem ( they are not durable). Third cheap lights use inferior parts and don’t last long( think more wasted garbage). The third point I guess could be a plus as light technology is still evolving at a very quick pace.
      All I can say is you get what you pay for.
      Walt

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