Philips SafeRide LED Bike Light – 2012 Mtbr Lights Shootout

Lights Shootout Video
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There’s a lot of new bike lights out there but with few radical innovations. That’s why we were extremely excited to try the new Philips SafeRide. This light is completely unique from the crop of available bike lights because it attempts to completely control the beam pattern. The beam pattern is not round like a flashlight. Rather, it is wide and rectangular like a car headlight.

The problem that it tries to solve is a lot of a traditional bike light’s beam pattern is pointed towards the eyes of oncoming drivers. In Europe, there are laws against this. In the US there is no law about this but common sense dictates that it is not ideal to shine bright lights on to oncoming drivers’ eyes. As LED lights become more, and more powerful (exceeding 2000 lumens), bike lights now can distract drivers and create dangerous conditions for the cyclist and other road users.

Philips SafeRide controls the beam pattern by carefully controlling its reflectors. One look at the light head and it is clear that the main trick is the LED emitters are not even visible from the front. This means that the light from the LED is reflected and directed only. It is not allowed to throw directly to the front. This design allows the SafeRide to have a very wide and flat beam pattern.

Does it work? Indeed it does. As you can see in the beam pattern photo below, there is a clear cut-off between light and no light. You can aim the light high enough to see far ahead but never hitting a motorists’s eyes.

The other bonus of such a design is more of the light is hitting the ground. Thus this light is more efficient at directing light and it appears brighter than it is. Typically, 20+% of a round beam pattern is wasted as it just goes to thin air. The SafeRide minimizes this waste.

The downside of this design is the light is not appropriate for mountain biking use on its own.  If there is a canopy, low hanging obstacles on the trail, those objects will not be visible  with this light and may strike the rider on the head if not seen.  On wide open fire roads, this is not an issue.  But when complemented with a helmet light, it actually is a great mountain biking setup. The Philips SafeRide can light up the trail and the sides while the helmet light can light up the upper area where low hanging obstacles may exist.

Specifications:

  • Price: $199
  • Claimed Lumens: 400 Lumens
  • Light Head Weight: 306 grams
  • Installed Weight: 334 grams
  • Run Time: 2 Hours
  • Measured MTBR Lux: 39 Lux

Light Meter Measurements:

This light measured 40 lux on our light meter setup. This puts it at around the range of a 550 lumen light compared to our other lights measured with this light meter.  Last year, the Lupine Piko claimed 550 lumens and measured 45 lux on our light meter. The Exposure Strada claimed 600 lumens 40 lux.

Light Meter Charts and Comparison Table »

Strengths:

  • Groundbreaking light beam pattern puts the all available light to the ground
  • Beam pattern will not  blind/distract drivers
  • Uses standard ‘AA’ batteries sot it’s easy to replace and carry spares
  • Excellent materials and construction. The housing is all aluminum with a brushed surface. It looks good and dissipates heat
  • USB charging
  • Optimized for commuting
  • Self-contained with no wires
  • Excellent switch and fuel guage
  • Created and backed by the Philips, the largest lighting company in the world.
  • 2 High powered Luxeon Rebel LED
  • Light says cool even at full power and low airflow

Weaknesses:

  • Targeted for commuting so not ideal for mountain biking unless paired with a helmet light
  • Form factor is a bit big and wide for a flashlight style
  • There’s some artifacts at the periphery of the beam pattern.
  • Uses standard ’4 AA 2,450ma NiMH rechargeable batteries so heavy and bulky compared to lithium batteries.
  • No flash mode. This is key in the US and when running in daylight.

Bottom Line:

It’s about the beam pattern when it comes to this light. The ability to control the light output is what the SafeRide is all about. The light is directed low and wide to the ground and not to the eyes of oncoming drivers. In the end, this light seems brighter than it is since more of the light is directed to the ground. And because of the beam pattern that is cut off at the top, it is a safer light. It truly is the ideal commuter light.

Beam Pattern Photos:

Backyard Beam Pattern Comparison Page »

Trail Beam Pattern Comparison Page »

Value Rating:

4 out of 5 Stars

Overall Rating:

4.75 out of 5 Stars

For commuting, this is such an excellent light. Our only wish is it was a bit brighter and had more run time. For mountain biking. It works well when used with a helmet light.

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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  • Shaniac says:

    I like the concept of this light but would like to see a model that is bi/powered; mostly powered by kinetic energy but has a battery back up that is on a constant charge system so you have light should you have to stop for any reason.
    Also, I’d like to know where I can purchase one…

    • Simon says:

      There is also a version of this light for hub dynamos. I don’t know where it is available outside of Germany, this light was developed to be according to German standards.

  • Squarebomb says:

    I like the concept too. I just hope there is still enough light above the handle bar for low hanging branches and the like. Even in city driving, there is still a chance of encountering these things.

  • Pingback: Roadbikereview Contest – Win a Philips light worth $220. | Road Bike News, Reviews, and Photos

  • Scott Gamble says:

    Big light is big. Also heavy. Puts down a tremendous amount of light. Battery life seemed alright but I wasn’t out long enough to max it. Wish the battery case didn’t require a multi-tool to take off, but it does. I have a dynamo hub on a 29er – Dynamo runs to a USB charger – I wish the light didn’t cut off when I put the charger on it, but it does. Light pattern was good, nearfield was useful without being too bright to wash out night vision. I was concerned about artifacts along the top edge of the beam pattern initially, but you don’t pay attention to them while riding. I think these artifacts actually serve a purpose by throwing a little sparkle in the eyes of oncoming motorists without submitting them to the entire blinding effects of the lamp, thereby increasing visibility among motorists. This is critical in USA where drivers are less considerate or less aware of cyclists in general.

    I can’t imagine this lamp on a commuter bike. It’s just so hurkin big. It’s ridiculously big. Almost clownish. I have it on my big 29er monster fire-road bike but I couldn’t imagine putting it on a commuter – it’d look completely stupid.

  • Robin says:

    I have one of the Saferide lights that takes 4AA batteries. I planning to make some modifications to power it from an external battery, so after initial testing I haven’t used it much. Nice bright light with a wider beam than a Cyo but I have to agree with the above comments about the size of this light.

  • Lars says:

    Where can I get the ActiveRide battery driven Dual Beam800lm in the USA? This is their newest and puts out 800 lumens on high.

  • jrr says:

    If you want a shaped beam dyno powered, go look at B&M lights. I want battery power and there have been no good choices until this one.
    I’ve been using a spot beam light modified with a wide angle lens to try to recreate this sort of wide beam but this is better as it has a real cutoff.

    This is not that big for a commuter really. I already ride with multiple lights, this could take the place of more than one, and is self contained too (my current lights are not)

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