It was 1:30a.m. on a Saturday this past July, and my mountain bike was moving faster than my brain waves. I was competing in a 24-hour mountain bike race, the Wausau24, an annual event in central Wisconsin, and fatigue had set in full and hard. In the darkness, I rolled over everything in my path, my world reduced only to the area illuminated by my bike lights.
Fortunately, I was well equipped. On my helmet, Velcro’d into the air vents I wore a small powerhouse from Light & Motion, the Stella 300 bike light, which bursts with its namesake 300 lumens of L.E.D. illumination. On my handlebars, for more visibility, I strapped on the night-conquering Light & Motion Seca 800, a bigger brother to the Stella and a torch that more resembles a car headlight than a beam made for biking.
During the dark hours in the Wausau24, the Light & Motion combo let me pedal the 9-mile race course in nearly the same time I could do it in the day. Without proper lighting, nighttime races in the past were a mix of good luck and guts as my speed usually out-paced the power of my lights. Not so this time!
While my double-light setup was crazy bright, don’t plan to buy the Stella light alone if you expect to rail your local off-road trail in the dark. The Stella alone is just not enough for full-out effort. With the aforementioned Seca 800, my race lights were more than adequate. The Seca served as my primary beam throwing a blaze on the trail ahead from its handlebar mount. On my head, swiveling when I turned to look on a trail curve, the helmet-attached Stella gave just enough extra oomph and clarity for the most technical parts of the course.
But beyond bike racing, the Stella 300, which retails for $229, is an excellent multi-sport tool that is more than adequate used alone. Night running, XC skiing, adventure racing, paddling, and city commuting are all candidates. The beam cuts through the dark clearly 100 feet or more ahead to light up the road or trail.
Beyond its bright light, the Stella has good battery life for its size. I had no problem getting 3+ hours of illumination on rides using several power levels depending on the terrain. It’s quoted to run on the high setting for 2hours, 45 minutes. Medium setting nets about 5 hours, and low up to 11 hours of burn time between charges.
The battery is low-profile and light. It weighs 216 grams and attaches to your bike frame or slips in a jersey pocket. Charging time is a reasonable 3.25 hours.
An included helmet mount helps this light be a versatile unit for multi-sport use. An optional headband ($50) converts the Stella to a super-powered headlamp. Also important to note, the system now has a shorter, much more manageable cord so you’re not dealing with unneeded cable in your way.
At $229 msrp, the Stella 300 package is not a budget choice. But a good lighting system is like switching from platform pedals to clipless — the advantage is so great that you’ll never go back. If more post-twilight riding is what you seek, the Stella 300 could be a great investment for better illuminating your adventures in the dark.