Trail LED sent us their new lights and it comes with all new packaging and an upgraded version of the LEDs used, which is now the Cree XPL v6 LED. It’s now slightly brighter than last year but the big improvement is a an increase of 30 minutes of run time to 2 hours at full brightness of a measured 2700 lumens.
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. There’s also a bar mount included in the kit. It’s essentially a plastic mold mounted on the stem that gives the light a perch to sit on.
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:
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.
Charging is done by a huge external charger that will fully charge this powerful battery in two hours.
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 2700 measured Lumens. 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.
Video: Test loop with the Trail LED DS. Camera is on a locked ISO setting and is set to Wide Angle mode.
The beam pattern has a nice rectangular shape. It’s fairly wide for peripheral vision and it’s got a nice spot to see far ahead.
The battery is separate of course and it is a very well-insulated ‘brick’ style with a system weight of 380 grams. It can power the light at full brightness for 2.5 hours and the battery can be charged to full capacity in just two hours. It is intended to be carried in a hydration pack.
Beam Pattern Photo
We photographed the lights in the same location setting with the same camera settings. The photos were taken in the back yard that is approximately 25 yards long. These photos feature many objects and a distinct background to analyze detail and beam pattern. Compare all Beam Patterns here »
Integrating Sphere Measured Lumens
This light measured 2700 Lumens in an integrating sphere. Claimed Lumens by the manufacturer is 3000 Lumens. Compare all Lumen Tests here »
- Excellent brightness and beam pattern
- Power and run time compared to weight is very good
- This can be used by itself as an ultimate helmet light
- Excellent construction and very versatile light for $500
- Charging is very fast
- Mounting is simple once learned but up and down aiming cannot be done on the fly
- Very bright helmet mount can cause glare in foggy or dusty conditions
- Price: $550
- Claimed Lumens: 3000 Lumens
- Measured Lumens: 2700 Lumens
- Lumens per $: 4.91 Lumens
- Lumens per gram: 6.47 Lumens
- Time on High: 2:00 Hours
- Charge Time: 2:00 Hours
- Mounted Weight: 417 grams
- Category: High End
4.5 out of 5 Flamin’ Chili Peppers
Trail LED has quite a range of lights, all the way to the ridiculously bright Trail LED Halo model. This one is a good balance of quality, size and good old American ingenuity.
For more information visit www.trailled.com.
This article is part of Mtbr and RoadBikeReview’s 2015 Lights Shootout. To see all the bike lights tested CLICK HERE.