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I’ve gone through a lot of bike lights over the years, including mounting an actual car headlamp on my bars, powered by a true brick, a foot-long, 5-lb. lead-acid battery with the incredible output of 2.5 hours shine time. This was back in the late 1970s when I was commuting 20 miles to work each way, returning at midnight (swing shift). It was heavy and inconvenient, but cars got out of the way!
Now I’ve got a 3-LED Cygolite Trion 600 (referring to lumens) that is not only brighter than anything I’ve seen on a bike, but it runs longer — I’m getting 5 hours-plus to a charge; it’s rated 2.5 to 12 hours, depending on setting — and here’s the kicker: No wires. It’s completely self-contained, you can mount it on your helmet or your bars or, as I often do, just carry it around as a flashlight. I mean, the thing weighs all of 8.5 ounces. As light as it is, it takes a beating. You can’t use a bike light regularly without dropping it from time to time. Mine’s even rolled down some stairs. The metal collar and hard plastic case don’t even shown a nick yet.
It has so many different settings, including several flash modes, I’m still not sure I’ve tried them all (the specs list 8 altogether). I do like the variable interval flash (SOS mode) for commuter/road use where I can see where I’m going fine, but want to make sure I’m seen. Charge time is quick, three to four hours. There’s a very nice 5-dot battery life indicator on top of the unit, clearly visible at all times.
The light’s throw, or beam, is just right by my book. Throw is a personal preference thing, and too wide a field is just as frustrating as too little. You want a light to illuminate the stuff that’s important; too much light can rob depth of field, and put too much reflection back in your eyes.
Some considerations: It’s not cheap. Mine set me back $350. But for the use I get out of it, and figuring my life to be worth at least, say, $400, I haven’t felt a twinge of buyer’s remorse.
It lacks a helmet mount. It would be easy to jerryrig one using the quick-release handlebar mount, but I’m not a big helmet light fan anyway. The best system is a handlebar light and helmet light used to complement one another. But I get by fine with this thing mounted on the bars. (Helmet light phreaks say half a pound is a bit heavy for a light. It wouldn’t bother me.)
I keep thinking I’m going to snap off the tiny rubber covers for the auxiliary battery (that boosts run time to something like a claimed 6 hours) and recharger inputs. So far it hasn’t happened.
There are a lot of lights out there, but the wireless capability, featherweight heft and length of charge sold me on the Cygolight. I’ve had mine almost a year and so far no complaints.
- For further reading
Good discussion on MTBR.com forum, with comparative photos
MTBR “shootout” with several other lights, but not the Cygolite. See comments queue.