Thursday, May 1, 2014

Buyer's Guide - Bike Lights

With multiple options available in bike shops these days, picking up a bike light is far from easy. Most new rider make the mistake of judging an headlight by how bright the beam is, but they ignore very important other factors like runtime, mount quality etc. We strongly suggest you go through our tips on selecting the right headlight before going ahead.
In this article we  review some of the headlight options available in the local bike stores, and hope this helps you to make an informed choice. We have 2 broad categories for these lightsBattery Powered and USB Rechargeable.

A comparison of all the available headlight options:

Max Light Output Battery Charge Time Run Time Suitable for Price USB Rechargeable or Battery Powered TBA Tested?
Akslen HB 112 1000 candella/10 lux(at 10 metres)/100 lumen NA NA Full Power: 10 hrs (1000 cd)
City Eco : 20 hrs (500 cd)
Flash: 40 hrs
Urban Riders , Commuters, Casual, Cross Country Riders and Randonneurs Rs 1650 Battery Powered Yes
Akslen HB 122 1500 candella/15 lux(at 10 metres)/150 lumen NA NA Full Power: 5 hrs (1500 cd)
City Eco: 18 hrs (550 cd)
Flash: 54 hours
Urban Riders , Commuters, Casual, Cross Country Riders and Randonneurs Rs 2150 Battery Powered Yes
Niterider Mako 200 200 lumen NA NA Full Power: 5 hrs (1500 cd)
City Eco: 18 hrs (550 cd)
Flash: 54 hours
Urban Riders, Commuters and Randonneurs Rs 2300 Battery Powered Yes
CatEye Volt 300 300 Lumen Li-ion rechargeable battery (3.7V-2200mAh) Approx  6 hrs  (USB 2.0 recharge),  3 hrs via  optional fast-charging cradle High: 3 hrs
Med: 8 hrs
Low: 18 hrs
Hyper Constant: 11 hrs
Flashing: 16 hrs
Roadies, Urban Riders, Commuters and Cross Country
Riders and Randonneurs
Rs 3390 for the stand alone light;
Rs 4590 for the complete set with extra battery cartridge and quick charging cradle.
USB Rechargeable Yes
Niterider Lumina Micro 220 220 Lumen 1300 m/Ah x 1 3.5 hrs High: 1.30 hrs (220 lumen)
Med: 2:45 hrs (120 lumen)
Low: 4 hrs
(80 lumen)
Walk: 14 hrs
(15 lumen)
Roadies, Urban Riders, Commuters , Cross Country
Riders and mountain bikers.
Rs. 4800/- USB Rechargeable No
Niterider Lumina 700 700 Lumen 1X Li-ion 6 hrs High: 1.3 hrs (700 lumen)
Med: 3 hrs (350 lumen)
Low: 5.5 hrs (200 lumen)
Walk: 18 hrs
(40 lumen)
Roadies, Urban Riders, Commuters , Cross Country
Riders and mountain bikers and randonneurs
Rs 7800/- USB Rechargeable No
Cateye Nano Shot Plus 600 Lumen Li-Ion rechargeable battery  (3.7V-2800mAh) Approx 8 hrs  (USB2.0 recharge)   80% full recharge in 5hrs High: 1.3 hrs
Low: 4 hrs
Hyperconstant: 2 hrs
Roadies, Urban Riders, Commuters , Cross Country
Riders and mountain bikers and randonneurs
Rs 7490/- USB Rechargeable No

Battery powered

Akslen HB112

The light is powered by 2 AA cells and is a good option for commuters and starters. You can find the specs of the light here -

  • The beam pattern is wider than most other light in the category. This of great help when you are riding through rural potholed streets and need to change your line every now and then.
  • The Akslen clamps are rock solidthe light doesn't move at all when you are riding through dirt trail or bad roads at high speed.
  • The light can be panned as well, meaning you don't always need to mount it close to the stem, making it easier if you have other gadgets on your handle bar.
  • The light comes with a steady state circuit. This means, unlike several other lights, it remains equally bright until the prescribed run time is reached. Beyond it, the light intensity fades away very quickly
  • The light is also compatible to the Akslens Fork Mount(CF 10) giving you additional mount options.

Akslen HB 122

This shares the same features as Hb112, but is 50% brighter in full power mode! The full specs can be found here -

Nightrider Mako 200

This one is a popular commuter light from Niterider.

  • Powered by 2 AA cells, it has 3 modesHigh, Medium & Low.
  • This headlight has side “gills” that emit red light, making it more visible at intersections
  • Compared to the Akslen HB 122, the light has a narrower beam pattern with a central bright spot.
  • This is good for riding fast on good roads, but a wider beam pattern does help on suburb or country roads where road conditions may not be great.
  • The new lights come with a better clamp design and the light can be panned partially .

USB rechargeable :

Cateye Volt 300

This is an interesting light from CatEye. It runs on a USB battery cartridge that is swappable. This means if you have an extra cartridge, you can swap it middle of your ride. You can buy the light stand alone or buy the bundle which comes with an extra cartridge and a quick charging USB cradle.

We tested this light over a couple of weeks. The test consisted of a few long night rides as well as a short but technical trail ride.

  • The light throws an impressive amount of light on the High Mode. The beam is neither too wide, nor too focussed. In fact, the beam pattern is perfect for road riding.
  • Since the beam pattern is optimised for road riding, this may not be your perfect trail light where you would expect a wider beam.
  • The Medium Mode is much lower in intensity than the High Mode. On country roads, even where the surface was good, we had to switch from Med to High.
  • The Flextight bracket (mount) is equally impressive, and even on a hardcore trail ride, it felt rock solid. The bracket allows panning the light on the go as well.
  • The light has a conventional Flash Mode and a Hyperconstant Mode. The Flash Mode is the regular one that you see in most lights. The Hyperconstant Mode is a continuous low power illumination punctuated with flash. The idea is to be able to see the road while getting noticed by the oncoming traffic. However, in our limited amount of testing, we were not comfortable using this mode more than a few minutes at a stretch as it puts some strain on the rider's eye.

Niterider Lumina Micro 220 

Niterider describes the Lumina series as 'SmallerLighterBrighter'. The Lumina Micro 220 runs on Lithium ion USB rechargeable cell. There is no separate battery pack and the battery is integrated with the light.

  • The Light comes with a handlebar mount.
  • Though on paper it is only 20 lumen more than the Mako 200, it is actually twice as bright as the Mako, plus has an excellent wide beam pattern.
  • The mount is pretty solid and the light can be partially panned.
  • One downside is the relatively low run time because of a smallish battery.

Niterider Lumina 700 : 


Like the Lumina Micro 220, the Lumina 700 also runs on a lithium ion USB rechargeable cell. The battery is integrated in the light.

  • The light comes with a handlebar and a helmet mount. This makes it a very good trail ready light.
  • The beam is wider than the Micro 220, again making it a better trail riding light. It is also much brighter, but thats understandable with the increase of lumen
  • It has a bigger battery than the Micro 220 making the runtime also better.
  • The handlebar mount is same as the Micro 220.

Cateye Nano Shot Plus

  • The CatEye Nano Shot Plus emits 600 lumens of light and has 3 different modes: High, Low and Hyper Constant (Flashing).
  • It uses the same flextight bracket that is used by Volt 300, and is pretty solid.
  • Like the Niterider rechargeable lights, this also comes with a battery which is part of the light unit.
  • The beam pattern is circular like the Volt 300, but wider and brighter. 
  • The beam is slightly narrower than the Lumina 750, but very bright neverthless.

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