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.
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.
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.