ULTRA BUDGET bike light review- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    ULTRA BUDGET bike light review

    Review of ultra budget bike light available here

    Introduction

    Since the fountain of affordable quality bike lights is quickly drying up with manufacturers either opting out of the segment of bike lights or offering lower quality of a previous item, I was wondering about the low end of the market. I previously tested a SolarStorm X2 from TinyDeal. The light didnot come with XML-2 Leds and the QC was bad as only one led was working when I received it. However, at the price of $24 it was still quite a steal considering you got the light head, head strap, battery pack and the charger!
    I wanted to test another low end light and see if at the incredible low price of $15.68, we could get a functional, multipurpose and reliable bike light! Let’s get on with the review!!
    The light was provided free of charge upon my request to Gearbest for review.

    Packaging and contents:
    Click image for larger version. 

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    - Decently thick cardboard box
    1 x 3 XML-T6 LED Bicycle Headlamp Bike Light
    1 x Head strap
    1 x Charger (Us adapter type)
    1 x Power Bank, (4X 18650 cells)
    2 x O Style Circle Function
    Luminous Flux 3600LM
    Mode 4 (High > Mid > Low > Strobe).

    Unpacking, Impression and review:
    Light head: Click image for larger version. 

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    Diameter: 43.5MM
    Lenght: 55.6MM
    I did not have weight measurements but it was in the 100 gram ball park would be my guess. I will try to update this information. The head light wire measures approximately 65CM and the battery wire is about 35CM.

    The build quality of the light head looks impeccable. Seriously.
    It has nice fins that will help with cooling when riding. The 3 emitters are perfectly centered.
    The lens is made of glass which should help in reducing lumens loss and the reflector is dust and finger print free. So impressive, I might be tempted to say I got a hand picked unit :P. The base of the head light, which is an all aluminium construction by the way comes with a protective, semi grippy layer of ‘hard sponge’. This was not present in the SolarStormX2 and would prevent bar scratches and enhance grip.

    The switch is very responsive and feels quality. It had a nice ‘click’ to it when pressed. Upon connecting the light with the battery pack, a switch turned green. I was pleasantly surprised that it was not too bright to be an annoyance when cycling at night. The green light is a led that can be seen when unscrewing the back of the light. A visual close inspection makes me believe these are genuine XML Cree leds (not L2) but still, triple Cree leds at this price point is pretty much unheard of.

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ID:	1053018Screwing and unscrewing
    he tail of the bike lamp was butter smooth. I am having a hard time to fault this unit. The only complaint I have here is that the oring looks a bit too thin to my liking. Build quality is excellent and the driver is firmly glued to the unit. I would have broken this light head and its driver open but since I am finding it to be a quality usable product, I think it will be better I refrain from doing so as it will be useful to some people I know.
    Yeps the pics below are the guts/internals of a $15 bike light.


    Operating the unit:

    The light ramps from low (1 led lit), medium (2 leds lit) and high (all 3 leds lit) and finally to strobe which ‘strobes’ all the leds. The right led is activated on low, the right and left led on medium and all 3 leds on high. This mode spacing basically translates into 33%, 66% and 100%. Here are wallshots and beamshots of the light in operation. I would estimate the lumens to be 300-00 and 1000 lumens approximately.
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    Mode cycling: (GIF Image)
    https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/...%20cycling.gif

    To switch off the unit, you must cycle through all the modes to get it to power down. A nice little hack to turn it off immediately would be to pull off the connector of the battery since it is non screwable but rather of a click in type. I find this design awesome since it is less of a hassle to unconnect the battery to the head to either remove the head or leave your bike unattended (no glowing light is less likely to attract peoples attention).
    I turned on the bike light and let it tail stand on low for 10 minutes. It was as cool as I left it. I ramped it up to medium for 10 more minutes. It was on the very warm side after 10 minutes. Without any pause, I fired the high mode for 15 minutes. It became hot to hold but definetely not uncomfortable. I can thus report great heatsinking/heat dissipation. At this point, this is starting to sound like a commercial but from my other reviews, you will see that I do not sugar coat crap items.
    While testing, I noticed the green led (button) turned red as the battery started to get depleted! The light was still working perfectly in all modes. No clue how much juice left in it but you do get a warning when it starts to lose power.
    ULTRA BUDGET bike light review-012-green-led.jpg ULTRA BUDGET bike light review-013-red-led.jpg

    What is nice is that the hotspot stays the same on either of the modes, meaning that the light will have a brighter hotspot at the location while getting better and brighter spill while you ramp up the modes. The low and medium modes are well spaced and useful. Only caveat is there is not enough visual distinction with the medium and high modes. This makes the high mode quite a battery burner for marginal lighting gains. My ‘visual’ non scientific inspection would rate the modes to be about 250/300 lumens on low, 600/700 on medium and about 900-1100 on high. It is also important to mention that the low mode is PWM controlled. However, it is fast enough to go undetected by me during use.
    I am no wire expert and they are labelled as 24AWG. Also, the retaining o ring for the head unit could be of better quality. I feel it is ok but not that great. It is also on the shorter side and Ifeel it think it would be a very tight fit on some big bars/centre of bars.


    Since these units have been known to come with low quality batteries and charger, I cannot vouch on their quality. It is a 1A charger and the model is HND058. Hopefully, someone can chime if they are safe to use or these cells should be charged outside the house or in a confined space with this charger.
    With the battery indicator red, I charged the pack. It took exactly 4 hours to fully charge. The charger has a led indicator which is red while charging and turns green once the battery is recharged. I suspect it would take about 6-8 hours to fully charge a depleted pack and that the red indicator is a 30-50% battery capacity indicator. I should run down the pack to confirm this.

    Summary:
    This light is a keeper but might not suit people who need a neutral beam as it comes in only cool white. It is a perfect commute cheap light that you will not fear of leaving on your bike.

    Pros:
    Awesomely incredible low price. Seriously.
    Insanely bright for the price. I’d rate it about 1100-1200 lumens on max.
    LONG runtimes. Tested on medium and at 3hours the battery indicator was still green.
    Triple emitters and nice white tint.
    XML leds. These do not appear to be lattice bright leds.
    Nice features to the head unit such as finned head which will help in cooling, rubber type material at base to help grip/prevent scratches, Non aggressive light battery indicator
    No memory Mode ramping from Low to High
    3 modes with the low and medium modes being great.
    Top heatsinking
    Battery indicator. Goes from green to red when battery starts to run low.
    Cons:
    Retaining oring could be of better quality. Also quite short and will have problems fitting on the centre of some bars.
    The visual gains when stepping from 2 leds (mid) to 3 leds (high) is marginal.
    Some sensitive people might find the PWM at low a bit annoying but I could not notice it during use.

    Relative:
    Switching off the unit requires going through all the modes. However, just pull off the plug also works since it is of a non screwing type.
    Only US type battery charger.
    Not 3600 lumens...Really. But hella bright.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails ULTRA BUDGET bike light review-bike-light-mode-cycling.jpg  

    Last edited by Mountainking7; 03-01-2016 at 11:45 AM.

  2. #2
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    To do:
    Proof read tomorrow.
    Comparison with Fenix BC30, Quark X AA2 Tactical
    Runtimes

  3. #3
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    Standard old tri-clone that's been around for quite a long time.

    Beam has really bad rings as well. Pretty standard cool white tint.

    No way for a light kit that price I would say the battery or charger is safe to use. One can only hope the charger isn't running too high of voltage and batteries are actually 18650.

    That said the light heads themselves used to be popular till the quality of them went to total crap.

    Sent from my XT1565 using Tapatalk

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by tigris99 View Post
    Beam has really bad rings as well. Pretty standard cool white tint.

    No way for a light kit that price I would say the battery or charger is safe to use. One can only hope the charger isn't running too high of voltage and batteries are actually 18650.

    Sent from my XT1565 using Tapatalk
    I only noticed the ringy beam on while wall hunting. As you can see in the beamshots outside, it is not noticeable.

    About the batteries, if they are not 18650, what else could they be? Maybe you mean cheap 18650 cells which I am sure they are.

  5. #5
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    No, we have seen batteries that have small, crappy rechargeable cells in casings to make them look like 18650.

    The Chinese will go to extreme lengths to make a buck and screw people over.

    Sent from my XT1565 using Tapatalk

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    Quote Originally Posted by tigris99 View Post
    No, we have seen batteries that have small, crappy rechargeable cells in casings to make them look like 18650.

    The Chinese will go to extreme lengths to make a buck and screw people over.

    Sent from my XT1565 using Tapatalk

    Excellent point and one which I was not aware of. I will test the runtime on medium (2 leds) tonight and if they are effectively 4 cells, they should at least last 3-4 hours

  7. #7
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    If the cells are "real" still have to know current draw of the light. It may get a long run time simply because it's not drawing that much.

    It's hard to do some of this stuff without at least a decent DMM. Have no way of telling much of anything.

    Though in this case for that price, not much to worry about. Just be thankful it works and hasn't started a fire yet

    Sent from my XT1565 using Tapatalk

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mountainking7 View Post
    Excellent point and one which I was not aware of. I will test the runtime on medium (2 leds) tonight and if they are effectively 4 cells, they should at least last 3-4 hours
    If it lasts 2-2.5hrs on medium you got your monies worth. Anymore and you've made out like a bandit.

    Nice review BTW. These tri-clone lamps have been around for a long time though so I'm surprised Gearbest didn't give you something newer / better to review.

    Since you mentioned getting stiffed with your Solarstorm X2 purchase you might try another vendor. Lightmalls has the SS X2 with XP-L V5 emitters. I've always wanted to try one of those but never got around to it. You might want to contact Lightmalls and see if they would be willing to let you review one. I'm betting these are closet throwers. Should be worthy of a review. Not to mention that they are super cheap. ( so it they won't give you one just go ahead and buy one )

  9. #9
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    IMO, reviews like this end up being worthless for most folks. Year after year we've seen an initial great review of a light only to see subsequent production runs fall down in quality compared to the initial samples.
    GoPro adapters for bike lights http://www.pacifier.com/~kevinb/index.html

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cat-man-do View Post
    If it lasts 2-2.5hrs on medium you got your monies worth. Anymore and you've made out like a bandit.
    This will be tested tonight

    Quote Originally Posted by Cat-man-do View Post

    Nice review BTW. These tri-clone lamps have been around for a long time though so I'm surprised Gearbest didn't give you something newer / better to review.
    Thanks I specifically asked for it. I mean I'm looking at the ultra low end and seeing if there can be bike lights that will be usable at great prices. Too often you get burnt with crappy unusable stuff. This one is remarkably well made and inexpensive. I used my money to purchase 18650 cells, a Fenix BC30 and an XtarVP2.


    Quote Originally Posted by Vancbiker View Post
    IMO, reviews like this end up being worthless for most folks. Year after year we've seen an initial great review of a light only to see subsequent production runs fall down in quality compared to the initial samples.
    Well, this is why in the first place I pointed out it almost felt I got a hand picked sample...This could apply to many other budget deals out there with the quality falling after the initial run and something I pointed out in my intro....

  11. #11
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    Well thing what your reviewing isn't an initial run. It's obviously half way decent (surprisingly) but how many of their stock are actually decent vs junk.

    Sent from my XT1565 using Tapatalk

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    I will add this to my review:
    LONG runtime. I shut down the light at 3 hours before going to bed. The battery indicator is still on green meaning the low battery indicator has not yet kicked in......
    It was left on medium with no air flow in my room....

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    We'll see how it does after perhaps 10 rides. I had two twenty dollar 808 clones die mid-ride after only a few uses each a few years ago. The second time a light failed I had a back up but the first time was truly dangerous. Like others have said, batteries are the weak link here, they're often complete crap with the cheap lights.

    Having your light die unexpectedly is no good, this is one piece of gear you want to be reliable. I've given up on the ultra cheap route, spend just a bit more and ride with confidence. I still have a backup, though.

  14. #14
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    I've been using this type of light all winter.
    The Good
    On high the button is still green after 2.5 hours rides. It has been charging fine. In fact I forgot to unplug it last night. When I woke up this morning the charger and battery were room temp to the touch. Bright as hell. The light itself is a solid build. More of a spot beam. I like that in combo with my bar light which is flood (more on that later).
    Now some bad points.
    We've ridden a couple of 20 degree nights and the battery usage time on high is reduced. It happened to me twice where it went red after 1.5 hours. One night it kept cutting out intermittently. The battery bag strap broke while pulling it tight mounting to my frame one time. In fact I have two of these lights and both straps broke. I don't like the o-ring mount. It keeps slipping on my helmet mount and I have to keep readjusting. Charging time is longer than my other brands.

    In summary.
    I’ve been night riding since 98. I’ve been using Jet lites exclusively up until this year. My last set of them are the HID blast 1000 lumen lights. Shoot I even still have my 20w halogen light set up from them I bought in 98. Still holds two hour charge for night riding even! The jet lites will become my sons setup when he starts night riding with me. Now when I bought this light I also found a Dinotte xml3 1500 light and bought that used. It’s been my bar mount light while riding with this cheap one. Thank god I had it since a couple times my cheap light battery set up didn’t hold up in really cold temps. I do like these lights. I think there is a good used for them. They make an awesome auxiliary light set up if you want a helmet and bar mount. But with that being said. I won’t ride with just this light. My dinotte will always be attached to my bike. I’ve been spoiled by jet lite and now dinotte. When these lights stop working I just plan on buying the newest Dinotte. The mount on the Dinotte doesn’t slip and the mounts on my Jet lites are just rock solid. Considering my first jet lite was $180 and I can still use it perfectly 17 years later makes me just realized the initial cost of these better mfg lights are well worth their price.
    I hope this helps.

  15. #15
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    BTW it's not the batteries fault for diminished run time in the cold, ALL li-ion batteries have increased internal resistance at cold temps. So indicator LEDs will see that as battery is running low sooner. Dinotte batteries are no where near high end (not low end either but basic cells) and if tested you'd see the same thing. Loss in run time at cold temps. Just not as drastic.

    Sent from my XT1565 using Tapatalk

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    Well they certainly can make it on a 2-3 hour ride on high and the cheap ones I bought can't! Good enough for me.

    So what light system do you use and recommend?

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    Mountainking, can you make more closeup picture of the leds' Can't see very well, but it seems to me they are fake Cree ie. poor LatticeBright leds in this light. I'm shure they are runt at quite low current which leads to such long runtime.
    About modes, there is very small difference between Mid and Hi mode. To the eyes I would say only about 10%. OK. we have seen that before.

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    Heh, I missed that part. Ill get a close up and post soon.

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