Thursday, April 26, 2012

Light & Motion Vis 360 Review


  When the rep for Light & Motion contacted me this was the light I wanted to review.  I was very excited to hear that I would be testing other Light & Motion lights as well, but this was the one I really was curious about.  From what I've seen no other light company is making a system quite like this one, and from what I saw; they all should.  Still I doubt anybody else could do it quite as well as Light & Motion.

What's special about Light & Motion's Vis 360 system is that it's designed specifically for helmet use.  This slide from the Light & Motion workbook explains it well.


As you can see there are some distinct advantages to having your light system mounted on your head.  Most other light companies offer helmet mount kits for their lights but they tend to make the helmet feel top heavy and unbalanced.  The beauty of this system is that it's not only light weight (130g) but also well balanced with the weight evenly distributed on the front and back of the helmet instead of on top and elevated by a bracket.  This picture of a helmet mounted NiteRider MiNewt is a perfect example.  The light is at least an inch above the helmet.

These type of designs make if feel like your waving a flag  on your head. 
The mounting system for the Vis 360 is really simple and easy to use as well.  The battery is contained in the tail light which has a removable velcro mount to make it easier to maneuver and strap on.  The headlight has a notched rubber strap just like the Urban 300.

Another advantage of having your lights mounted on your helmet is your lights can not be left on your bike. Often, especially in urban areas such as Milwaukee,  lights go missing, snatched by unknown (annoying) people. I find that having the lights on my helmet helps me run errands quicker; without having to remove lights at every stop or be able to ride another bike without switching my lights. On the trails, it is easier to find my way as I can pinpoint the light to what I need to see in front of me.




Also, there isn't an uncomfortable bunch up of material under the helmet like the Urban 300 helmet mount.  Instead the velcro is behind the cradle for the back of the head, and the rubber strap that connects the headlamp flexes and stretches to fit the shape of your head when you put on the helmet.

Now lets talk numbers.  The Light & Motion Vis 360 weighs in at 130g total.  The lights puts out 110 lumens from the headlight and 4 lumens from the rear.  This may not seam like a lot from the tail light but remember that it only needs to be seen; not put a beam on the road.  4 lumens is still more than any other tail light on the market is putting out as compared to other light systems.  The system also has amber side lights on both the head and tail light.  This is important because cyclists are most difficult to see and predict movement on when they are crossing intersections.  This is why all new bikes have reflectors on the wheels as well as front and back.  But I think we all know those reflectors aren't nearly enough.

The light has 3 settings: High, Low, and Flashing.  The battery life details are:
High-2:30
Low-5:00
Flash-20:00
The lights also has a battery life indicator on the bottom left of the tail light that tells you the charge level.  The lights use a standard cell phone charger port that you will find on most droid phones these days.  Best of all you can plug it into any USB or use your cell charger while it's still connected to the helmet and both lights fully charge in less than 5 hours.
As I've said before Light & Motion always has the best packaging.  All the packaging is made out of cardboard so it's completely recyclable and the directions are printed on the packaging panel faces; saving paper.
The light is completely accessible through the packaging and comes fully charged.  This allows customers to touch and see the unique features of the light system right away.

This is a great thing to see, but the truth behind it is better.  In order for a product to say that it is made in the USA it must be %100 made in the USA as dictated by the FTC.  Light & Motion does the best they can to meet this.  However, as Jack Gresmer (Sales Director at L&M) explained to me, some of the parts such as the Lithium Ion Battery have no manufacturers in the USA currently.  Here is a list of Light & Motion products and their percentage made in the USA by cost.

I think it's important to remember that these are percentages of the cost.  More of the parts being made in the USA means a higher price tag for consumers.

I've saved the best news for last.  When speaking with Jack Gresmer he informed me that the Vis 360 would be dropping in price soon from $169 to $149.  This is to make way for a new version, the Vis 360+ that will be premiering in May at $189.

For all of you who like mountain biking at night like I do the 110 lumens of the current Vis 360 might appear a little wimpy for use as a spotter.  The new version will feature a 250 lumen headlamp and a switch to turn off the tail light so not to blind your riding mates.

As I said from the beginning; I love this light.  It's a completely unique to the market and something sorely needed by bike commuters.  Everything about the the light system was fantastic from the simplicity and weight balance on my helmet to the packaging it comes in.  It functions beautifully; emitting a clear white beam from the front, a strong red flasher on the rear with a reflective background, and 4 amber side markers.  I find no fault in this system, I only wish it was brighter, and soon it will be.


I give this product a gold star rating.  If I could I'd give it a platinum star, but that would look too much like silver and be confusing.  Congratulations Light & Motion on a most exemplary product.  Keep up the good work.  Check it out on their website at http://www.bikelights.com/vis360.html, or "like" them on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/lmlightlife.

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