Tiny 'Commuter Cannon' Bike Light Blasts 500 Lumens

As a dweller of the high latitudes and the dark winter months (Minnesota, to be precise), how do I combat S.A.D–ness (seasonal affective disorder) over the long, cold months? I shed some light on the scene and keep playing after dark! Lately, that’s been easier than ever thanks to a tiny, powerful new light, the Urban 500 from Light & Motion, which is about as big as a nuun hydration tablet container but can blast out up to 500 lumens of path-illuminating awesomeness.


Ready for the night: Handlebar-mounted Urban 500

At $150, the tiny wonder has become my favorite bike light on several fronts. In addition to its brightness, it weighs almost nothing (3.9 ounces), and it can run for 1.5 hours set on high (much longer on lower settings). Further, the unit’s internal battery is rechargeable via a micro-USB cord and a laptop port, no AAAs required.

Side-mounted lights on the barrel of the unit allow drivers to see you from the side. Rolling through intersections, I have never felt so visible. Construction is tough, including aluminum and plastic housing and a rubber strap to keep the light in place. The single button operation is great, too — easy to use even with gloves on.


Small but mighty: The Urban 500

One warning: With so much light power in a small case the Urban 500 can get hot. Early reviews of the light complain about this, noting an automatic power-down feature that could be triggered to prevent damage if the unit got too hot. In the winter, I have not experienced this issue. Further, Light & Motion informed us of a firmware update to correct malfunctions seen on first-release units.

Another slight bummer: Charging is not super fast. When fully depleted, charging takes up to 7 hours of laptop-plug or wall-outlet time. This is pretty normal for a light of this brightness and power, but we wish it was faster.

For its $150 price tag, you can have a townie light bright enough to see singletrack action. For moderate night-time trail riding it will work great. In a racing scenario, or for spirited rides, a second, helmet-mounted light would be ideal. The Urban 500 ships with a helmet attachment, making it useful for multi-sport adventures beyond the bike as well.

Overall, big thumbs up. With its size, power and ease of use the Urban 500 literally outshines the competition.

T.C. Worley

Posted by Juan Altitude - 12/21/2011 01:35 PM

I’m glad to see more and more bike lights coming out with USB-rechargeable batteries. It makes my life so much easier. In fact, I’m charging mine as I write this.

Also, did you find it stayed on pretty good? I’ve had models of that type pop off their holder.

Altitude Blog

Posted by T.C. Worley - 12/21/2011 02:04 PM

Juan, Yes, it stays put quite well. With the rubber strap, you can tighten it as much as you see fit. I like this mounting much better than others I’ve used.

Posted by mark - 12/23/2011 11:12 PM

I read in another review that the USB port on the light is not a standard depth (or some other measurement, I don’t recall) so an ordinary USB cable will not work on this light & you need to use the one that ships with it. Can you confirm (or refute) this?

Posted by T.C. Worley - 12/26/2011 05:58 PM

There are several versions of USB cords. This one accepts the MICRO-USB. It one of the standard types, but not the MOST standard. You could easily find a spare at any electronic store.

As for depth: I’ll try to confirm with the company as soon as they are back in the office.

Posted by Gale Teschendorf - 12/28/2011 01:52 PM

Now if they would just invent an efficient bike alternator so I could ride more than 1.5 hours.

Posted by T.C. Worley - 12/29/2011 10:12 AM

Light n’ Motion confirmed that the standard Micro-USB cords should work fine. I had a spare lying around and was able to use it to charge my light without issue. Thanks for the question.

Posted by Scott - 01/04/2012 09:39 PM

Gale, not sure how this would work exactly (I doubt the light can be charged and emit light simultaneously) but it would be ideal to use a Generator Hub to keep the light’s power level up while you ride, and even charge it up during the daytime. 3W isn’t a lot but it could definitely extend the runtime and these hubs are virtually without drag.

Anyone know if any companies are supporting this kind of setup?

Posted by David - 01/16/2012 11:51 AM

I did find someone who has taken the Hub Generator and made it into a USB charger for iPhones and other devices, which I’m sure would work for the Urban series lights.


Posted by Paul Ahart - 02/16/2012 02:53 PM

Great bright light, but like just about everything available in the US, it’s just a bright spotlight, blinding oncoming drivers. Better are the German Busch & Muller IXON lights, with engineered reflectors like quality auto headlights. Bright, but they don’t blind.
And, for about the same $150 price.

Posted by vp - 10/18/2012 10:02 AM

The German Busch & Muller IXON IQ is 5 years old. Shame on you bumm.de

The Trelock Ls950 is the better lamp. Or the Philips Active Ride. Or all the new Single and Multi Led Lamps (Niteye B20, Fenix BT20, Superdrive XL etc.)

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