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Back Issue | Turn Your Lights On – Group Test: 8 Bike Lamps

There’s something quite eerie about riding around the woods at night surrounded by complete darkness. The frozen ground crackles under the knobs of your tyres, you hear a sound from the undergrowth next to the trail, and your instincts kick in: get out of here! Good thing you’re equipped with a high-powered helmet lamp so you can leave the trail behind you at high speed and escape back to civilisation.

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We put eight bike lamps through a lab and field test. A time lapse test gave accurate information about the battery capacity of the individual models, and tripod images allow us to analyse the light output.

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We were impressed that every lamp fulfilled the manufacturer’s quoted burn time and that during our practical testing there were no failures. After all, it isn’t just unpleasant if a light suddenly extinguishes during a ride, but also extremely dangerous, especially if you happen to be riding at high speed down a trail. From own experience we can certainly advise against using the cheap lights from China which are currently very popular.

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Cateye Volt 700

The newest sibling from Cateye answers to the name Volt 700. With a light output of 700 lumens, a very narrow beam angle, and the included helmet mount, the light is very suitable for wearing on your head. For fast descents you should definitely fit a second lamp to your bars. At 135g it’s no lightweight and in spite of the flat, long profile, you can clearly feel it on your helmet.

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The power can be varied with three levels with two additional blink modes which we never used. The removeable battery can be charged either directly in the lamp via a USB cable or using an optionally available docking station.

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Hope R4 LED

Hope describes the R4 LED as a “lamp for all activities“ and underscores this with supplied accessory pack that leave no wishes unanswered. Whether on your bars, helmet, or head, all fitting adapters are supplied along with an extension cable allowing you to store the battery in your backpack.

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The lamp head switch accesses six light modes. On the trail the Hope is convincing thanks to its even light pattern and good light output (1,400 lumens) to weight ratio – it never felt intrusive mounted to a helmet. This well-executed overall package in combination with a fair price make the Hope R4 our best buy.

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Hope R8 LED

The R8 is the flagship light from Hope. In total, eight LEDs in a classy housing deliver 3,000 lumens of power. Thanks to multiple lenses, the lamp offers a widely spread beam which can convince in terms of range, sideways illumination, and the brightly illuminated field directly in front of the bike.

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The coloured LED on the top of the housing informs you of the current mode, and the remaining capacity can be checked directly on the battery. Due to the high overall weight, wide beam, and big battery the R8 is recommended for mounting on the bars. Once the quick release adapter has been fixed to the bars via two bolts the lamp can be easily attached in seconds.

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Lupine Neo 2

The German company Lupine presented their newest creation,the Neo, at EUROBIKE 2014. The 700 lumen light output is generated from one LED integrated into an exceptionally small and light housing. Thanks to clever control electronics, five different light programs with up to four different light modes can be chosen.

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Lupine has managed to distribute the light output extremely evenly with a high quality lens and thus the Neo offers an optimal illumination of close and long range. Thanks to the very low weight of the housing, you hardly notice the Neo on your helmet. As we expected, the manufacturing quality of the “Made in Germany” lamp is beyond all reproach.

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Lupine Wilma 7

The Lupine Wilma 7 has four LEDs which jointly offer an enormous output of 2,800 lumens. Fitting the German-manufactured light is via a rubber band installed on the lamp housing. The four light levels of the Wilma can be easily individually configured, while coloured LEDs on the top inform you of the selected mode.

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Whether mounted on your bars or helmet, the beam is impressive. The Wilma delivers tons of light to the relevant part of the trail without cutting out the surroundings. The exceptional workmanship, enormous output, and ease of use secure the test win!

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MyTinySun Folkslight

The MyTinySun Folkslight makes fitting the light much easier by including a bracket which fits a GoPro mount. This makes attaching it to diverse helmets childsplay. Thanks to the integrated battery it is almost always ready to use, but this makes the lamp much heavier (which you can immediately feel).

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Experienced users can customise the light output to their wishes by activating the expert mode. Both LEDs can be individually controlled and with two different lenses create a very good, extensive beam pattern. On longer rides the duration can be extended by attaching an additional battery pack.

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MyTinySun PRO 3600X

What a floodlight! No other lamp in the group test makes more light than the MyTinySun Pro 3600X. In total, six LEDs create an enormous 4,500 lumens and turn the night into day. In spite of the huge amount of close range and side area lighting, the distance of the beam is beyond any doubt. /p>

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The LEDs are packed into a high quality aluminium housing which can be fitted directly to a GoPro mount on either your helmet or bars. You can vary the output via an external switch and check the remaining battery duration. Unfortunately, the light is difficult to mount on either your bars or helmet. If you want to customise the lamp this can be done in the expert mode.

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SIGMA POWERLED EVO

The name suffix EVO usually stands for more performance and fun. No surprise then that the re-engineered SIGMA POWERLED EVO offers much more power than its predecessor. The new version boasts 900 lumens which can be varied with four different levels. Fitting is quick and easy with the supplied accessories.

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With the very focussed beam, the lamp is best suited to fitting on your helmet. For fast descending more power would be nice in order to really let rip in the dark. Those riding at a more moderate pace will profit from the high battery capacity and resulting three hour burn time, even at full power.

Conclusion:

„You get what you paid for!“ As is often the case, that’s the conclusion of this test. You can set off on a night ride without any worries using any of the tested lights. With the increased expense, so the light power also increases. The perfect compromise of price and performance is managed by the compact Hope R4 LED, which thanks to its light weight can be fitted to either helmets or bars. The great range of included accessories make the lamp’s range of use almost limitless. The test victory goes to the Lupine Wilma 7. Its enormous power, compact design, and intuitive operation make it the perfect light for your night-time adventures.

Words & Pictures: Christoph Bayer