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Photo by Duncan Hurd
Light and Motion Urban 550Light and Motion Urban 550 headlight.
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Photo by Duncan Hurd
Light and Motion Taz 1200Light and Motion Taz 1200 Crossover headlight.
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Photo by Duncan Hurd
Light and Motion Vis 180Light and Motion Vis 180 Taillight.
For more than 20 years, Light and Motion has been designing and building powerful and reliable lights in Monterey, CA.
The company has focused on keeping much of the creation process in the United States, a good percentage of it all under the roof of a historic cannery. Depending on the product, between 50 and 80 percent of the content, including electronics, are domestic. This ensures better product quality control as all levels during production can work together closely. In addition, Light and Motion certifies their lights to the ANSI FL1 standard intended to help consumers better understand what they are buying.
A standout feature of all Light and Motion lights is the careful design of the beam pattern; the actual distribution of light from the LEDs. Each light purposely focuses and spreads light in a way that is effective in providing functional illumination on even the most poorly lit street or path.
For the past few months, I have been testing out several Light and Motion products to see how they function in a dense urban area.
Name: Urban 550
Price: $159 USD
Brief product description: A single LED supplies up to 550 lumens, powered by a regulated lithium-ion battery. Four settings: high, medium, low, and flashing with side lights. A small battery life indicator light on the rear of the body. Tool-less mount, micro-USB charging, and compact size.
Tell your friends: A relatively small package for such a powerful light. Run time on high is approximately 1.5 hours but you can significantly increase battery life by using the medium or low settings and still get enough light for most urban streets.
Wish list: With such a bright light, I'd like to see a pulsing, rather than flashing, setting. When set to flashing you will turn any dark urban street into an intense disco light show. Use the flashing setting for daytime visibility.
Ideal rider: An urban commuter who rides in the early morning or late at night and wants a light that is powerful enough to illuminate the road or path ahead while still being compact enough to easily carry in a bag or jacket pocket.
Overall: 550 lumens, especially powered by a regulated battery that doesn't start to fade as soon as it is turned on, is an intense amount of light for dense urban areas. I find myself often using the low setting and still having enough light to keep me seen by other riders and drivers while providing an excellent view of potholes and sewer grates ahead. The strap provides a surprisingly secure fit that keeps the light in the right place even when bouncing up curbs or over potholes. While not submersible, the construction of the light keeps water out, even when caught in a downpour. Fully charging the light takes about 6 hours using a USB cable and 2A wall outlet adapter.
Name: Taz 1200
Brief product description: A versatile light intended for daily commuting as well as competitive night racing. 1200 lumens from three LEDs in a wide and far-reaching beam pattern. Side lights are controlled by a separate button. Five settings: high, medium, low, flash, and pulse with a power indicator light built into the power button. A race mode toggles the light between high and medium only. Micro-USB rechargeable. 1.5 hour run time on high setting.
Tell your friends: No street, path, or tunnel is too dark for the Taz. While 1200 lumens is far too much light for busy urban streets, this light has the power to brighten your trip on a midnight ride through unlit paths.
Wish list: A permanent mount, dynamo powered version of this beam pattern would put most car headlights to shame.
Ideal rider: A competitive rider who wants to compete in 24-hour endurance races and ride to the office without needing a separate lighting system. Riders in rural or much less dense suburban areas will benefit from the feeling of security that such a powerful light can bring.
Overall: Having a light that lets you see and be seen can provide a feeling of safety that cannot be matched by many other bicycle accessories. While the Taz 1200 provides much more light than any urban rider will ever need, it is reassuring to know that I could light up a city block if an unexpected power out ever happened. The side lights, most visible when used on swept-back handlebars, are a great addition that provides an increased feeling of safety while riding at night due to the added side visibility.
Name: Vis 180
Brief product description: 50 lumens from a single LED on high setting. Tool-less mount fits a wide range of seatposts and rack sizes. Four settings: high pulse, low pulse, solid, and side flash only; side flash lights are on for all settings. Micro-USB rechargeable. 4 hour run time on solid and up to 20 hours on flash.
Tell your friends: A powerful rear light with a wide beam pattern and side lights that increase your nighttime visibility. Rear-facing red light pulses rather than flashes for less distracting visibility.
Wish list: A permanent on setting for the yellow sidelights.
Ideal rider: A rider looking for a reliable, high-quality, rear light and doesn't want to always keep a set of batteries on them.
Overall: The pulsing setting really sets this light apart from other brands. While a flashing light helps attract attention when you're the only rider on the road, no one wants to be behind one in the bike lane. The stretchy rubber strap, if used properly by first threading it through a slot and then pulling tight away from the light, kept the Vis 180 secure. The light works best when mounted to a seatpost though a rack mount can be purchased for an additional $10.
Find these lights at lightandmotion.com