Review: Trail LED DS

American design and manufacturing at its best.

Lights Lights Shootout

2016 Lights Shootout

Trail LED DS has 5 laterally mounted LEDs for a good horizontal beam.

Trail LED DS has 5 laterally mounted LEDs for a good horizontal beam (click to enlarge).

Editor’s Note: This article is part of Mtbr and RoadBikeReview’s 2016 Bike Lights Shootout. See the 2016 Mtbr Headlights Index and the RoadBikeReview Commuter Lights Index.

The Lowdown: Trail LED DS

Trail LED certainly upped their game by exceeding Lumen claims and delivering a staggering 3150 Lumens against a claimed 3200. They also developed an elegant new mount that holds the finned light head on the the bar securely.

Quality and usability is still top notch as the head unit displays the finest machining we’ve ever seen in a light. The notches for the rubber mounting straps are making a lot of sense to us now in terms of their simplicity. The light can be used the helmet with its 108 gram head or mounted on the bars.

Trail LED DS with new bar mount.

Trail LED DS with new bar mount (click to enlarge).

One of the coolest things about this light is the form factor. It is not round or square, rather it’s a horizontal array of lights. This allows it to have the ideal wide beam pattern with a high center. It also allows room for plenty of cooling fins.

Trail LED is a bike light company similar to the great handmade bike builders like Moots and Chris King. It is run by craftsman Grady Pace who is meticulous about his work and craftsmanship. These lights are machined from billet aluminum and then assembled in Dallas, TX. All components except lenses, batteries, and chargers come from the USA.

They sent us three lights and they are illuminating in their design and innovation. The three in the line are:

Trail LED XXX: $300 – 2000 Lumens claimed
Trail LED Halo: $1,200 – 6000 Lumens claimed

This DS model is the workhorse of the line and achieves the happy medium between compact and exotic.

Stat Box
Claimed Lumens: 3200 Lumens Mtbr Lux: 315
Measured Lumens: 3150 Lumens Mounted weight: 496 grams
Lumens per $: 5.64 Lumens Category: Headlight
Lumens per gram: 6.25 Lumens Price: $550
Run time on high: 1:30 Hours Rating: 0 Flamin' Chili Peppers 5 Chilis-out-of-5

Pluses
Minuses
  • Matches Lumen claims with 3150 output
  • $550 for a single light is not for everyone
  • Excellent brightness and wide beam pattern
  • Big battery and long wires on
  • Awesome new bar mount
  • This can be used by itself as an ultimate helmet light
  • Excellent construction and very versatile light
  • All American made

Full Review: Trail LED DS

Mounting is done with a couple of heat proof bands that go through the vents of the helmet. Some helmet shapes don’t conform with the light shape, so uniform contact will not be achieved. Aiming the light is done by positioning the light along the curvature of the helmet. Mounting the DS model is easy on any helmet since it’s small and only slightly curved.

For bar mounting, there is a new mount that efficiently holds the fancy lighthead on the bars securely.

Charging is done by a huge external charger that will fully charge this powerful battery in two hours. The battery is now nicely padded and encased in a shock absorbing pouch to help protect it.

Trail LED DS is all made in Texas.

Trail LED DS is all made in Texas (click to enlarge).

They also put out ridiculous amounts of light on the helmet. Grady believes that the helmet is the best place for the light, as a wide beam beam pattern that can be pointed gives the best illumination for the fastest and most aggressive night rides.

The Trail LED DS is the happy medium light hitting 3150 measured Lumens. Although some might claim this amount of light as excessive, there is a 6000 Lumen model in the line that puts this light in perspective. If one wants to ride at very high speed and if one just wants to use one light, this DS is ideal.

The form factor and shape is just right with 6 LEDs in a curved row. This forms kind of a halo around the helmet and is shaped to follow the curvature of most helmets. This gives the light a low profile, as it is just a couple centimeters above the helmet. It just seems like a dialed solution for helmets for someone who wants a very bright light with long runtime.

Continue to page 2 for more on the Trail LED DS, the beam pattern and Lumen measurement »

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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  • liquidSpin says:

    $550 for a light that may break during a crash. A light that is a bit extreme. Yes I agree the higher the output of light the better for those who are blazing away but 3k lumens and another version at 6k? I guess if you live out in the boonies where there’s no city light pollution.

    I ride at night but not enough to justify this. Or any $500 light. This is definitely for a specific demographic of MTB riders with DEEP pockets.

  • A Johnson says:

    Any light may break during a crash. TrailLed has an excellent warranty return policy but even before you get to that, the higher lumens provides better visibility lowering the chance for a crash.

    I’ll keep the pair of Cree style in the pack for venturing within the city parks and road rides. After having ridden off-road with less lumens/less expensive lights while sharing the dirt with TrailLed users, I’m going to say they make a damn good excuse to spend the money.

    (The Halo is just for nutters though! If you’re the lead of a group of 20, everyone can see then!)

  • Jim says:

    How did such a large light fit in the port of such a small integrating sphere?

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