Tested: Latest LED ‘Light Cannon’ For Biking At Night

New from Light & Motion, the 850 Trail is designed for broad use from road cycling to mountain biking and can function as a hand-held flashlight.

Urban 8503_4

This past spring we reviewed Light & Motion’s Urban 800, a pocket-size light cannon that floods the night with 800 lumens. The company just released a “trail-ready” upgrade, the 850 Trail, which throws — you guessed it — 850 lumens of light on bright mode.

scale
The Urban 850 shines bright — from left to right: 850 lumens, 375 lumens, and, on the right, 185 lumens

Shed some light.

Like the 800 model, the 850 has four modes: high (850 lumens), medium (375), low (185), and a pulse mode that flexes at and below 185 lumens. And like its brethren, it’s identical in size, weight, and burn times (1.5 hours on high, 3 on medium, and 6 hours on low).

Power up.

To power it up, you press the top button. Press it again, and you can scroll through the four modes. To power down, you hold the power button for two seconds and the light turns off.

Once tapped, the light is quick to charge. Unstrap the light from the bars and plug it into your computer at work or home via the micro-USB cable (included) and the 850 will fully charge in 2.5 hours.

Urban850_profile

Too bright?

We’ve been using the 850 for a few weeks cycling on the road, trail and running (as a handheld) early morning trails. We found that 850 lumens were too bright on predawn group rides; other riders continually worried a car was approaching from behind. And we preferred to keep the beam on medium during trail runs, where 850 lumens reflected light back from the desert sage.

But while riding trails, the high beam saturated the landscape with light, readily revealing ruts, rocks, and trail debris.

Urban850_helmet_Profile

Mount ’em up.

The Urban 850’s rubber cinch strap mounts quickly and securely to either handlebars or a helmet. If you’ve already got a GoPro mount strapped to your helmet, it fits securely to it as well.

While not a dedicated trail running light, I found the 850 strapped nicely around the finger and cradled comfortably in the palm, making the 850 a nice lightweight option for those who prefer a hand-held over a headlamp.

Standardized specs.

Light & Motion is the first lighting company to test and certify its lights in accordance with the ANSI/NEMA FL-1 Standard, precisely measuring actual lumen output and run times. To support this, the brand published an interactive that compares models against competing brands.

We appreciated that the beam lasted two hours over the conservatively published 1.5 hours and four hours (over three) on medium. As the battery drains, a rear indicator light dims from green to orange to red, and finally to blinking red.

Unfortunately, two hours is on the short side of time for serious night rides after work. It cannot take a charge while turned on.

urban850_night

Significant investment.

Priced at $180 (at Backcountry.com), the 850 Trail isn’t cheap. But to the company’s credit, instead of introducing the 850 at a higher price than the 800, Light & Motion’s new light took the place of its older price tag and bumped down the price of last year’s 800.

The 850 Trail is a versatile little light, capable of everything from commuting to trail riding to trail running–and just as long as you keep the epic night rides under 2 hours, you should have happy trails ahead.

Light & Motion 850 Trail

  • 850 Lumen (certified to the FL-1 Standard)
  • Electronics designed for a rapid recharge using a 2A USB adapter
  • Made with the CREE LED and “enhanced firmware”
  • Reflector optimizes light to provide a smooth spot beam for trail riding
  • Beam pattern made to maximize riders’ depth perception using optics that “eliminate the snowball effect with a clean transition across the beam”
  • Tested to be waterproof in 1 meter of water for 30 minute

More Info // Buy Now

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Contributing Editor (and Gear Junkie Idaho Bureau Chief) Steve Graepel is allegedly a crook and a thief, conning his friends to steal away time from their families in pursuit of premeditated leisure, which typically involves a bike, a pack-raft, skis, running shoes, climbing rack, or all of the above.
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