Sunday, March 25, 2012

Light & Motion Stella 600 Review

I was very excited to learn that I would be reviewing this light because it is very similar to my own Nitrerider MiNewt Dual 700.  Both lights have similar lumen values (especially when one takes into account Light & Motion's "Integrated Sphere" lumen test chart featured in the Urban 300 reveiw).  Both lights are corded dual head lights.
To start, here are some facts and figures.  Light  Motion advertises their light at 313g.  Niterider lists their system at 490g.  Obviously, the Light & Motion system is lighter and in past calculations I found that Light & Motion always had the best lumen/gram scores on all of their lights.  However it was interesting to weigh the parts separately.  Niterider's battery was actually 10g lighter then the Light & Motion battery.  The difference was in the light heads.  Light & Motion was almost half the weight of the Niterider light heads which means less bar weight and better maneuverability.

Now, lets talk about mounting systems.  The MiNewt 700 uses rubber rings that stretch and hook into place on the front and back.  The issue I have with this system is  that it has three different ring sizes and if one switches the lights from bike to bike one may need to have all three sizes handy; not convenient.

The Stella 600 uses a notched rubber strap: simple, adjustable, easy to use, and locks on well at whatever size is needed.  Light & Motion's battery mount system is much better than Niterider's too. The mount is designed to hang under the top tube instead of on the top (the Niterider tends to rotate while riding and brush upon my leg) and it uses one strap instead of two. On the other hand, I do prefer the length of Niterider's cords. The stem on my commuter was a little to long to split the cables around my head tube with the Stella 600.

As far as the actual light lenses are concerned, the two light systems have very different approaches to a dual head system.  I believe, both are valid.

Night rider uses two identical 350 Lumen heads that can be disconnected from their Y-Conector. This means that the rider could also run just one of them if they wanted to conserve battery life or buy a second smaller battery and helmet mount one of the light heads.  One can also "stack" the light beams as Niterider demonstrates on this literature that they included with my light when I bought it.

Light & Motion has a defuser lens on one of the light heads so one side is designed to work as a flood light and the other can be used as a long range spotter.

Light & Motion also puts switch for their light on the head instead of the battery, a virtue afforded them by making their divider and light heads one piece.  Niterider has since also done this with their single head 700 lumen unit.  Cygolite has always put the switch for their lights on the head instead of the battery.

As I demonstrated,  the competition is much closer for the corded-duel head light systems.  Many companies are coming to similar conclusions on how to build their lights.  Light & Motion continues to make some of the best lights on the market.  The weight of their light heads makes them a great choice for riders concerned with weight on their handlebars.  Light & Motion's light systems consistently product light in the whitest part of the light spectrum . Here's an example...

Always a clear white light, not blue, not yellow.

For better pictures of the two lights compared Light & Motion does an awesome job on their website of showing you the difference in how their lights perform.  Check out the Beam Test section of their website.

I give this product a gold star.  Light & Motion may not be doing anything particularly unique with the product but they still maintain their best in class status among light manufacturers.

Thursday, March 15, 2012


I put on 70miles yesterday doing this loop.
Winter had a little visit from Summer yesterday.  High of 78.
Why was that turtle trying to cross the road?
A perfect Wanderday.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Light & Motion Urban 300 Review

Behold Light & Motion's Urban 300
This light has all kinds of great commuter friendly features.  The side lights might be the most valuable.  Unlike many other lights that try to give you side visibility by cutting holes in the side of the lens or other such cheap attempts  the Urban 300 actually puts a bright yellow LED on either side to make you easily visible from the sides as well as the front.

It really is very bright.
Light Motion really does their homework too.  There's a reason why they decided to put side lights on their bike light, and here's why.

They're also the only company who accurately tests their lights and posts the results.  Here is an example of Light & Motions Lumen testing data.

It was this particular graph that lead me to do my own testing of the lights.  Notice not only how inaccurate the lumen values are for the other lights compared to their posted lumen values as well as how quickly the values drop after initial start up.  I wanted to see if I could visualize a discernible difference in the output over time.

First, a few disclaimers to give you the level of inaccuracy in my experiment.  The light I have to compare the Urban 300 to is the Niterider MiNewt 250, not the 350 that Light Motion has on their graph.  Secondly, the human eye is a poor measuring device hence why Light Motion probably thought it was important to buy an incredibly expensive tool to measure their lumen output values.
A few seconds after initial start up.
30 minutes later...
As you can see there is very little discernible difference but, as stated the human eye (and a poor quality photograph) do not make very good measuring tools.  Still it is clear that the Light & Motion light is significantly brighter.  Most likely more than 50 lumens of difference.  Also you can see that the Light & Motion light has a much whiter light versus the Niterider is more yellow colored and more focused.  The Urban 300 gives a better spread while maintaining a strong beam.  To make matters better for the weight weenies out there the Niterider MiNewt is 190grams versus the Light Motion comes in at a measly 112grams!  That means the MiNewt weighs 70% more which is right in line with what Light & Motion claims.

They also do an interesting job with their packaging.  There is no instruction manual because all the instructions are printed on different panels of the box.  The light is still prominently displayed and accessible so people can play with it (Light & Motion lights come fully charged to start).  All this and there is no plastic involved, just corrugated cardboard with a glossy finish so it's completely recyclable.

Light & Motion's mount system is simple and elegant as well, a notched rubber strap.  It doesn't disconnect from the bar mount because the strap is easy to remove and reinstall on the handlebar or the helmet mount.
Simple and elegant, the light just straps to the helmet mount.
However, the helmet mount system does leave something to be desired.  Because of the thickness of wrapping two strips of velcro around the vents of the helmet to secure the mount it creates a bulge in the ceiling of the helmet.
It's very uncomfortable.
Some would also be disheartened by the built in battery versus Cygolite and others make their batteries removable so you could cary a spare fully charged.  However, I would argue that Light & Motion's system has long battery life and being non removable allows them to make a lighter weight light.

It's hard to go wrong with a company that can make a claim like this

Overall, I believe this is one of the best commuter light's on the market, only out-shined by it's new big brother the Urban 500.  A small issue with the helmet mount that Light & Motion could easily correct with a little more engineering; however, the other benefits of this system drastically out weigh this small flaw.  Though the price tag may be a bit higher ($129) than it's competitors, it's easy to see where the money goes.  I give this product a gold star.
Light & Motion also has a great website with lots of interesting things for you to explore such as side by side Beam Test photos with all of their lights versus competitors.  Visit them at,

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

First Ride With Light & Motion

  Yesterday I received some lights from Light & Motion to test out and review on this blog.  Here are some pictures from my first ride with them.
Stay tuned, in the next two weeks I'll be testing and reviewing Light & Motion's Urban 300, Stella 600, and my personal favorite, the Vis 360.  It should be very exciting.