TESTED: Princeton Tec Switchback 1

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For an on-trail comparison between this light and seven other LED models click HERE.

Princeton Tec Switchback 1
Price: $199
Contact: 609-298-9331
More Information: princetontec.com or switchback321.com
Includes:Bar and helmet mounts, rapid smart charger with international outlet adaptors and a 12V car plug.


The Switchback 1 isn’t the brightest in our test; in fact it’s got one of the dimmest beams of the bunch. However, just because it isn’t going to melt a hole through the next hiker you encounter doesn’t mean it isn’t worth buying.


The Switchback 1 is small, light (436 grams), inexpensive compared to other lights in this test and comes as a complete package—helmet and handlebar mounts, car and wall chargers and even a euro adapter all come included. It’s light weight makes it ideal as an emergency light to take with you on long rides that might extend into darkness, just in case.


I often go on solo night rides. This isn’t always the smartest thing to do, but I enjoy the solitude that night riding offers and how a mellow trail can get downright freaky under the cover of darkness. In these situations I always bring two lights and lately the Switchback 1 has been my helmet light of choice, in addition to a powerful bar-mounted light. Its penetrating pencil beam helps me see whatever happens to be stalking me in the bushes, and its light weight and small size make it almost unnoticeable.


I primarily have been using the light in its brightest setting to get over four hours of burn time—plenty for any normal night jaunt. The lowest brightness setting is perfect for street commuting, giving you as much as ten one-hour commutes before a recharge. A medium setting yields 6 hours of burn time for fans of compromise.


Velcro straps hold a Lithium-Ion battery in place on most frames, usually hanging under the top tube, but some models with cables under the top tube require more awkward placement, just don’t put it under your down tube—your front wheel will probably hit it when the fork compresses. The light comes with one extension cable to aid in battery placement and uses some really smart cable connectors that prevent the cables from accidentally pulling out.


All in all Princeton Tec has done an excellent job designing the Switchback lights, their first venture into the land of mountain biking illumination. If you want some of these same features in a brighter model read our review of the Switchback 3 HERE.


For an on-trail comparison between this light and seven other LED models click HERE.

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