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Light & Motion Urban 400 Review

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating


Light & Motion Urban 400 Review

Light & Motion Urban 400

©Light & Motion
There is little else that awakens the senses more than a night ride. It is perhaps the only reason I can find to leave my wonderfully warm woodstove on chilly nights. If you’ve never been mountain biking at night, I highly suggest you give it a go, right after you prime yourself on what to expect in those dark woods. Like me, you might find that even your favorite local singletrack looks and feels like a brand new trail after the sun has set. Shadows emerge that don’t exist during daytime hours and obstacles normally spotted a good distance away have a tendency to materialize right under your wheels.

A Light For All Environments

Clearly, biking at night requires some serious illumination, and if you are in possession of a powerful light, you’re in for a fun ride.

Enter Light & Motion’s Urban 400.

Small and seriously bright, this compact bike light puts out 400 lumens, as the name suggests. Unlike the suggestive moniker though, I used this light far, far away from an urban environment—on singletrack aplenty in the middle of a heavily wooded forest in New England, in case you’re curious. And it performed beautifully.

Portable Power

I was truly happy with how bright this little light was. It may have been designed to be used in densely-populated areas, but I found this portable “commuter” to be more than ample on the trail. It turns out 400 lumens of light is plenty bright enough to illuminate my section of trail (and that of any mountain biker in front of me). Obstacles are noticeable well before impact, allowing me to cruise through the woods at a nice clip while having enough time to react accordingly.

Secondary lighting comes in the form of yellow colored sidelights that keep you visible. This feature is vital for bike commuters who need to be seen in all directions by traffic. However, it’s important to note that when mounted on the handlebars, I found the side beams to be excessively bright and a bit annoying when trying to focus on the trail. An optional “off” switch would have fixed this problem for those of us using the light exclusively off road.

Self-Contained Set-Up

Noticeably brighter than most of the other lights in my weekly group mountain bike ride, and likely far less expensive, my 112 gram test light runs on a one cell lithium-ion battery. That’s right. There’s no external battery pack to mount to the frame of your bike, or stuff into your jersey pocket or hydration pack. Though I felt naked without my usual cord and battery pack set-up, the extra heft wasn't missed for one minute.

Run Time & Recharging

The Urban 400 claims to have a battery life of 1.5 hours on high and 6 hours on low. You'll get up to 18 hours in flash mode, but you won't be using that function off road. I only felt comfortable riding in the woods with my light on high, and I found that my test light didn't quite last the whole 1.5 hours in this setting. If you’re planning a longer trip into the woods, you’ll need to bring a back-up.

Charging the lithium ion battery is done via USB. Once the indicator tells you it’s time to recharge, simply plug the light into your computer and you’re good to go five hours later. I can see how this would be ideal for bike commuters, who can plug in during working hours and have a fully-charged light for their ride home. Since I was't using it for that purpose, I would have liked the option of recharging from a wall outlet. (Light & Motion sells a USB adapter separately for $30.)

Made in the U.S.A. MSRP $129. One-year warranty from the date of purchase.

Disclosure: A review sample was provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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