Thanks to advances in bulb, reflector, lens and battery technology, ripping your favorite trails in the dead of night has never been better. More than anything, LED technology has been lighting the way, so we tested eight new LED trail lights to see what all the fuss is about.
Look below for an on-trail apples-to-apples comparison of our test lights' beams, and from there access individual light reviews to see how each one performed in the field. Just mouse over the light names to see the low and high-beam images.
The Cygolite and Sigma we featured in the December issue weren’t available to test right away so we substituted NiteRider’s new TriNewt and the Princeton Tec Switchback 1. We aim to catch up with the Cygolite and Sigma and others for their latest and greatest LEDs for our next light test installment.
Disclaimer: This test uses a sample size of one light per model. LEDs can vary as much as 10 percent from bulb to bulb. This is not super-duper scientific, but a good place to start understanding the latest technology.
[Some test notes: We charged all the batteries fully before heading out to a muddy trail to shoot this sequence of photos. The bike and tripod were fixed in place and the ISO, shutter speed and F-stop all were kept constant throughout the tests. Lights were shot at high and low settings and the obstacles (6 beach balls, Lyle the mannequin, a case of PBR and a Styrofoam cooler) you see are spaced in 15-foot increments out to 135 feet—and the last white dot in the distance (a Santa Claus mask hung in a tree) is 165 feet from the light source. Hopefully we can replicate this experiment as more lights become available on the market in the future. And yes, we blatantly ripped off this idea from planetbike.com, makers of a slew of mean commuter and rear LED blinker lights, which everyone who rides at night should use.]
*Light & Motion wanted to make it clear that the low setting shown on the light comparison page is in fact what they refer to as a “map setting,” meant for just that, reading maps, and not necessarily trail riding. This is also a good place to note that our methodology for all the lights was to test its highest and lowest setting, regardless of how many settings there are
available in between those two extremes.