On the very periphery of the outdoors genus, there exists a group of bike heads and gear junkies who will not think twice about putting down $500 on a high-power bike light system. Granted, the light cannons manufactured by companies like NiteRider and Light & Motion — which create virtual windows of daylight blasted off a bike handlebar — do allow the serious cyclist to ride technical singletrack at three in the morning. Still, though, $500 for a bike light?
Now, to be honest, I do keep a second-tier, $215 Light & Motion model at the ready for night use on my mountain bike. Its long-burning, 13-watt beam has pushed me through the wee hours on more than one long and painful adventure race.
For most bikers, however, the big guns will be complete overkill. The new Bike Series lights from Princeton Tec, which start at $39, have brightness modes for city riding and moderate off-trail venues.
The Yukon Bike ($39) and Yukon HL Bike ($60) are incarnations of high-end Princeton Tec headlamp models, tweaked and redesigned to accommodate the pedal-turning crowd. Except for a different bulb configuration, these models are identical, each weighing about 8 ounces and consisting of a dual-mode lamp on a five-foot cord. The battery pack, which takes three AAs, comes in a zippered nylon case that connects to the bike frame with Velcro straps.
Both models come with a handlebar mount as well as a mount that can be attached to a bike helmet. Riders that prefer the light on their helmet can stash the battery pouch in a pocket or inside a hydration pack. The lamp is released from the mount with a simple slide out of the bracket, letting riders easily switch from handlebar to helmet while out and about.
The Yukon Bike model has a focusable high-output Xenon bulb and three small LEDs. Switched to the Xenon mode, I was able to bike on dirt trails with little worry. Even moderate singletrack was not a problem, as the Xenon bulb shot a solid beam onto the ground 15 – 25 feet ahead of my front tire. The Yukon Bike’s LED mode provides a hazy blue cloud of light that is adequate for city biking.
Battery burn times vary widely with this model, as the company specs the Xenon mode to last only three to five hours and the LED mode to keep on illuminating for up to 120 hours.
The more-expensive Yukon HL Bike model has a longer-lasting high-output mode, in the form of a large 1-watt LED. This high-brightness mode will burn for about 25 hours on three AA batteries, according to the company.
On the trail, the Yukon HL Bike performed at about the same level as the regular Yukon Bike model, letting me comfortably ride through the woods at night. However, I actually came to prefer the sharper, yellow beam of the lower-cost Yukon Bike over the Yukon HL Bike’s ultra-white/hazy blue 1-watt LED.
Like its sister model, the Yukon HL Bike has a long-lasting, dimmer LED mode. The three small ancillary LEDs on this model have the luminosity to light up a sidewalk and make you visible during a commute or city ride. With fresh batteries, these small LEDs, according to Princeton, will also burn for up to 120 hours or literally five days straight in a row.
Contact: Princeton Tec, 1-800-257-9080, www.princetontec.com.