TESTED: Princeton Tec Switchback 3

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


Princeton Tec Switchback 3
Price: $389
Contact: 609-298-9331
More Information: switchback321.com
Includes: Helmet and handlebar mounts, extension cord, wall charger, car charger, Euro adapter, sturdy storage box (basically everything)


Now in its 30th year of making lights for all kinds of outdoor activities, New Jersey-based Princeton Tec is a still a relative newcomer to the bike light game. That said, the company has hit a home run with its new 3-light family of Switchback LED lights.


The papa bear of the bunch is the Switchback 3, which uses three 3-watt Maxbright LED bulbs to put out a fairly confidence inspiring swath of light.


At 826 grams, the SB3 is the heaviest of the lights we tested, but most of that weight comes from its honkin’ 10-cell Li-Ion battery. Although it’s big in size the SB3 works equally well on its helmet mount as it does on the bars. Set on its high setting, the company says the light will run for 6 hours; while medium and low will get you 12 and 50 hours, respectively. The SB3 also has a blinking mode for you safety-conscious types.


The best part about the SB3 is its bang-for-your-buck quotient. Like the SB1, the SB3 comes with a well-designed, no-tools-required helmet mount and handlebar mount. It also comes with a 12-volt car charger in addition to the standard fare wall charger, which is crucial for the slacker who charges the lights en route to the trailhead.


Sturdy cables with locking quick-connectors and an extension cord for running a helmet mount come included. The light is activated by a single hard-to-miss yellow button, so wherever you run the light it’s easy to get on/off and through its four modes. Not once did I have problems with it.


The beam seemed a mite less than some other multi-bulb LEDs we tested. The TriNewt, for example, seemed noticeably brighter. But the TriNewt is 500 bucks and doesn’t come with a car charger.


This light makes perhaps the most sense if you use it in conjunction with other Princeton Tec lights, that way you can use the chargers and mounts interchangeably between the two.


Depending on what bike you’re running, hanging the SB3’s massive battery can be a pain in the ass. But once you get it mounted the vinyl coated Velcro strap kept the battery snug and secure. There is even a window built into the strap so you can see the battery indicator light, which also comes in handy when you have it on the charger.


By all accounts Princeton Tec has fielded a quality system for its first foray into bike lighting, and I can recommend any of its lights without reservation.


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

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