If you want a light set that will not only get you seen from a full 360 degrees, but will also light up a dark road or path, then the Commuter Combo set from Light & Motion is just the ticket.
It consists of the URBAN 200 front light and the Vis 180 Micro taillight, and it’s clearly been designed with the commuter in mind. Easy to use settings, simple and quick attachment fixtures, and it’s USB rechargeable too.
The URBAN 200 front light has four settings; I don’t know the official terms so lets call them very bright, less bright and economy steady modes, and an economy flashing mode. It also has an orange LED light on each side, giving you loads of added visibility.
The Vis 180 Micro rear light is designed to be seen from 180 degrees, and it certainly does that! A bright red light at the top shines backwards as you’d expect. This light also has orange sidelights, and they’re even brighter than the ones in the front light.
There are several settings on the taillight too; one very bright setting where the red and orange lights pulse – but never go out, one slightly less bright pulse setting, a high setting with a steady red beam and pulsing orange, and finally one where just the orange lights are on and pulsing.
As I commute through urban areas, where I’m often crossing junctions and roundabouts, having illumination that can be seen from 360 degrees around me made me feel a lot safer on my bike, and a whole lot more visible.
I also found the lights really easy to use; the nice, big, obvious power button needed a quick press to change modes, and to turn it off you just held the button down ‘till the lights went out.
Brightness and battery life
These lights are bright! They may be several price points above run-of-the-mill commuter lights, but I found them far superior in their output.
My commute from mid-October onwards is in the dark for at least part of each journey, and some parts are unlit, so having something reliable and bright is essential.
I found the light was plenty bright enough to illuminate the road ahead on these unlit sections, even on the economy setting. This is particularly important for me, as there are a large number of potholes on my route, and hitting one unexpectedly could have disastrous consequences.
Even on lit roads, on the flashing setting, I could see it was lighting up road signs a good 100m ahead of me. Light and Motion say that the light has 200 lumens on its brightest setting, and down to 50 on its economy setting.
When the battery is running low on the front light, and you’re on the steady beam setting, the light will flash a few times to let you know it’s time to plug it in again. I found the battery life pretty much matched the durations listed on the Light and Motion website; 2hr30 on the highest beam, 24hrs on the lowest setting!
Attaching the light
The front light has a bracket built into the light itself, and it attaches with a rubber strap that wraps round the handlebars and locks onto a hook. It’s a good length of strap, so this will fit a lot of different bar sizes.
I was a little sceptical initially as to how secure this was going to be, but was pleasantly surprised. My commute route is not the smoothest – it sometimes feels more like a Cyclo-Cross track than the London suburbs. The light held in place, and didn’t slip round the bars at all.
The front light can also be angled from side to side, so you’ve got some adjustment. I like to make sure that my light isn’t shining directly onto oncoming traffic, or straight in the back of the car in front, so this feature was very handy.
The rear light has a secure plastic clip, and also comes with an optional rubber strap similar to the front light. You can hang it on light clips, or strap it to your seat post.
Both the front and back light charge with a USB cable, and what’s particularly nice about this set is that you get two cables with it – one for each light. Now, since both lights have the same sockets you can use the same cable to charge each. I keep one at work and one at home so I’m never stuck. Genius!
When you are charging the lights, there’s a little LED light that lets you know how full the battery is; green is 100%, amber is around 50% and red means it needs more juice. If you are stuck for time, I found 40 minutes charging got me about 70 minutes of light.
Each light has a little rubber cover for the power cord socket; it can be a little bit fiddly to fit this back in, particularly in the dark.
Both lights are also surprisingly lightweight, given how bright they are, and are clearly well thought out. That these are aimed at commuters is clear, and I love the details such as how easy they are to attach, and the bright side-visible lights. They’re weatherproof too. Although these aren’t cheap, if you regularly commute in the dark then this set is really worth thinking about as I reckon it represents pretty good value.
– Bright, clear illumination including side-visible lighting
– Excellent battery life and USB rechargeable
– Easy to fit
– On the pricy side of commuter lights
What Light and Motion say about the Commuter Combo:
The URBAN 200 light. We didn’t just make the smallest, most compact handlebar light – we conscientiously designed this light with features that would make the biggest difference for consumers. Side-lights for enhanced visibility, easy to read LED battery status indicator, simple tool-free mounting solution and it’s MicroUSB Rechargeable – charge anywhere and no more wasting batteries.
The Vis® 180 delivers an SUV sized output from a compact lightweight package. At 10 times the light of the most powerful AA taillights, combined with brilliant amber sidelights, the Vis® 180 lets the cars know you belong on the road too. With a tool-less mount, locking mount clip for frame or bag, and convenient cell phone micro USB charging, you will never go back to a blinkie again.