Category: Lights

The past few weeks have been absolutely crazy for me. Lots of really early-morning commutes, some late days at the office.

Combined with the shorter days, I’ve had some of the best testing conditions imaginable for a helmet-mounted lighting system that was purpose-built for bike commuters!

Let’s take a look at the gear. The rear part houses the battery, two amber side-facing LEDs, three bright red rear LEDs with a combined output that matches some of the most popular rear blinkies on the market, and a generous-sized swath of engineering-grade prismatic reflective material, all inside a water-resistant case. A rubber flap covers the Micro-USB charging port.

There’s also a small window on the under-side of the unit that displays a multi-color LED which functions as a battery gauge and charging indicator. I was able to fully charge the Vis 360º in about 5 hours, meaning that a full recharge at home or in the office is easily achievable.

The rear part of the Vis 360º snaps onto a plastic base that attaches to the helmet with velcro. I found that getting this part mounted securely was somewhat difficult on all of my helmets. This was the most frustrating part of getting the Vis 360º installed. I eventually found a position that worked well enough with a little bit of tinkering. The headlight snaps into a plastic base that attaches to the helmet with a notched rubber strap. This part was easy to mount on several different helmets. The ability to remove the lighting hardware from the helmet while leaving the mounting hardware attached is a nice touch.

The headlight itself features one bright white LED and two amber pieces to scatter light to the side with a rubber-covered power button on the top, all packed into a small, light and attractive metal shell. The light has three modes: Full power, half power and flashing. The front LED flashes quite rapidly. The rear LEDs always flash twice per second (250ms on, 250ms off) regardless which mode the front light is in. You must hold the power switch for two seconds to shut the unit off.

The whole package looks a bit bulky on the helmet, but it’s surprisingly light at 130 grams. I notice the extra weight on my helmet, but it’s not unwieldy or uncomfortable.

The proving grounds:
A very dark section of walking trail around the community pond where I live. All photos were taken using the exact same exposure settings on my digital camera.

The competition:
Bell Orion. This 3 LED helmet-mounted lamp is powered by two CR2032 batteries. It’s on par with any cheap department store bicycle headlight I’ve ever seen. When blinking, it might draw some attention to you, but it won’t help you see much on a dark road even at a very low speed. What this light (seriously) lacks in output, it gains in run-time. It will go dozens of hours on a pair of CR2032 batteries. Good thing, too, because CR2032s aren’t rechargeable, and they’re not usually cost-effective to replace. MSRP: About $15

Blackburn Flea. This rechargeable light is a decent headlight to use if you want to be seen on a budget. If you keep it slow, the high output setting (used in this photo) is bright enough to alert you to potholes or obvious road hazards in a pinch and run for about 3 hours. Really, though, they’re best suited for riders who ride near dusk or dawn, or spend time riding under streetlights. MSRP: About $25

NiteRider Evolution Halogen (Upgraded to 15W). This was my first serious commuting light, and it features a bulky NiMH battery pack that can be strapped to the bike’s frame. The OEM bulb was 10 Watts, and when it burned out, my LBS only had the 5W and 15W bulbs in stock. With the 15W bulb shown here, this system runs for about an hour. As you can see, it provides a very high intensity spot without much side visibility. This model isn’t made anymore, but you can expect to pay between $100 and $200 for a quality halogen system.

Vis 360º lights up the path more evenly and plenty bright. I have to admit, when I saw 115 lumens listed for the specification, I was concerned that this might not light the way far ahead enough for some of the faster sections of my commute. I usually average about 15 MPH, and never had any problems seeing the road surface far enough ahead for my own comfort. On the high setting, I was getting a little more than 2 hours of total use before the low battery indicator kicked in, but it was still on regulated battery power, with no obvious fade in brightness. Advertised run time on high is 2:30. MSRP: $169

On normal mornings when I leave as the sun is peeking over the horizon, I used the Vis 360º in flashing mode. A whole week of commuting (about 6 hours on the road) without a recharge didn’t even put a dent in the battery with flashing mode. It still registered as “fully charged” this evening when I got home.

Is this unit worth the price? I’d say it is. The system is competently designed and can fulfill all the basic lighting needs of a bicycle commuter with the additional bonus that you don’t need to leave any hardware on your bike while it sits vulnerable and unattended throughout the work day. It has ample run-time for even the most die-hard long-distance commuters and shines far enough ahead that most average cyclists shouldn’t need to seek supplemental light.

I’m giving this one two thumbs up.

Please click here to read our review disclaimer as required by the Federal Trade Commission.

Now that the sun is going down earlier in the day, having a good light system can help you see and be seen on the roads. ThePrinceton Tec PUSH was sent to us to see if it was up to par with bike commuters’ needs.

Princetontec Push

POWER 100 Lumens
LAMP Maxbright LED
BURN TIME 63 Hours- 4/14/63 hour run times
LIGHT MODE High, Low, and Flash mode- Side-view windows create 260 deg of visibility
BATTERIES 3 AAA Alkaline or Rechargeable
WEIGHT 115 Grams
MSRP: $50, but can be found online for as low as $34 (Google it)

One of the things I liked about the PUSH is the fact it is self-contained. I don’t have to mess with battery packs and wires.

Princetontec Push

Here’s a neat little feature: a side-view window with a flashing red LED light for added visibility. Does it work? It does; when I asked people if they could see the red light from the side as I was riding by, they all agreed that it does pop out. I like the idea of the side view because we pay close attention to front and rear lights, but not enough on side markers. The red LED gives drivers an additional way of seeing you.

Princetontec Push

100 lumens is pretty bright in my opinion. But it’s hard to capture that on the camera. However, 100 lumens is bright enough to see with and when you switch to flash mode, cars will certainly see you from a distance. I would like to point out that since the light was mounted on my cyclocross bike, I rode the local mountain bike trail system using the PUSH as my primary light. The PUSH lit up the trail with enough light where I could safely see and travel at the speed that I normally ride the trail with.


Overall, the Princeton Tec PUSH, is a pretty good light. It serves as both a BE SEEN and TO SEE light system for your bicycle. As I mentioned, it is bright enough to use for mountain biking. Battery life on it is pretty spot on with what the specs show. The MSRP is around $50, but after Googling it, I found it for about $34! I would definitely recommend this light to anyone who is in the market for a decent light system at a great price.


Please click here to read our review disclaimer as required by the Federal Trade Commission.

At Interbike last month, Light & Motion introduced the Vis 180º and Vis 360º commuter lights. They were kind enough to send us a Vis 360 to review. I’ll save the all-lit-up photos and beam shots for the final review. The Vis 360 comes as a headlight and combination battery pack, reflector and tail light held together with a coiled wire. It’s designed to be helmet-mounted and comes with all the hardware you’d need to mount it to pretty much any helmet. The light is charged via USB, and it charges fully in about five hours.
L&M Vis 360

L&M Vis 360

The days are getting shorter, so I’ll be putting this light through its paces in the coming weeks. The headlight is rated at 115 Lumens, which is very bright for a “to be seen” light but probably not bright enough for high speed road riding after dark. We’ll be back in a few weeks with the final results.

Please click here to read our review disclaimer as required by the Federal Trade Commission.

A few weeks ago, the good folks from Portland Design Works (PDW) sent us a courtesy set of their Spaceship headlight and Radbot 500 rear blinkie for testing and to hang onto when we’re done putting them through their paces.


Upon opening the box, there is a startling similarity between the Radbot blinkie and the perennial favorite — the Planet Bike “Superflash” — the LED lens looks identical to the main one on the Superflash. There are some similiarities in the attachment hardware, too, and I’ll get to that in a minute. The LED in the Radbot is rated at 1/2 watt, and it is as bright as anyone could ever need in a blinkie.


As far as the light goes, the similarities end with that 1/2 watt LED and lens — in my opinion, the PDW Radbot is vastly superior to my old favorite in several ways. First, the case is held together with a screw…no more bouncing down the road only to hear batteries and case parts tinkling down behind me as the road bucks them off. An additional benefit is that the gasket seal between the two halves of the case is compressed better, giving it more resistance to water intrusion. I haven’t gotten to test this yet, but I’ve been dismayed at times by the ability of my old Superflash to let water past its gasket, and the PDW just seems more resistant to that. I hope I’m right!

Second, the body of the blinkie contains a largish DOT reflector rather than auxiliary LEDs. Having the reflector built in helps with legality issues — many municipalities require a rear-facing red reflector, and too many bikes don’t have ’em. Third, the light is actuated by a press on a real button, not a soft spot in the case. I like that…and that button has a built-in delay to prevent accidental turning on while the light is floating around in your pocket or backpack.

The Radbot 500 has three modes — an organic slow pulse (like a slow heartbeat), a slow pulse followed by three ultra-quick blasts, and steady-on. The pulsing with three blasts is my favorite mode…either flashing mode is different enough from other lights on the market that they should really stand out on dark streets. The light is powered by two AAA batteries.

The Spaceship front light has two modes — flashing and steady — and is powered by two AA batteries. As you can see from this photo, there is good side visibility and a neat feature…a lighted strip of blue along the top of the light’s body. What’s the purpose of this? Why, to look extra cool, that’s what!


The light itself is not strong enough for a “to see” light, but it serves admirably as a “to be seen” light. The light pattern is a very tight spotlight with a strong blue cast at the center of the beam, and it just doesn’t light up the road very well. But, in flashing mode, cars can’t ignore that flash…it’s bright enough to do the job of alerting motorists to your presence.

The light set comes with lots of hardware…a traditional seatpost mounting clamp, a nice adjustable handlebar clamp for the front light, a seatstay loop to hold the light bracket if your seatpost is too short or too obscured to mount the light there, a bracket for standard rear racks (thank you, PDW — not enough companies include these!!!) and the stainless mounting nuts and bolts for affixing the bracket to the rack. If you already own Planet Bike front and rear lights, you’re in luck; the clip interface is identical for both front and rear holders and you can just clip on your new PDW lights and get to ridin’ without any hassles.


The handlebar clamp is an improvement on the similar Planet Bike model…adjustable to fit 22 mm bars all the way up to 31.8mm “oversize” bars. It’s less likely to slip than the PB mount, too…although I had to add a wrap of friction tape under mine as my handlebars are an odd in-between size. Once the clamp is tightened down using the thumbscrew, it’s pretty solid.


Overall, I really like this light set — especially the Radbot blinkie. It’s my new favorite and I look forward to many miles with this light. The Spaceship makes a good “second light”, especially when coupled with something a bit more powerful for rider visibility. This set goes for about $45.00, so it’s a good deal too.

Check out PDW’s other smartly-designed and innovative parts — they’ve got a lot of good things going on — by visiting their website.

Please click here to read our review disclaimer as required by the Federal Trade Commission.

I just received these nifty lights as a test sample from a fairly new company called Bike Brightz.

If you visit their website, you’ll notice that they have a glow very similar to a neon light, but in fact Bike Brightz are LEDs, and they don’t cost as much as the neon light company’s products. When you order, the package comes with a few zip ties, velcro, rubber gasket/grommet, batteries and the LED unit. The LED unit has 4 modes: constant, flashing-slow, medium, fast.

Price per unit is $19.99
Available in 4 colors – Red,Green,Blue,Yellow

I mounted the blue and red lights on my bike, and you can see that it’s pretty bright and it will get you some attention and will definitely be seen by motorists.
bike brights LED bicycle lights

I installed one on the chainstay and one on the down tube.

The Bike Brightz do not get in the way at all. I’ll be testing these lights out on both off and on-road conditions to see how well they do.

FTC Disclaimer