by Wil Barrett
February 2, 2017
Chinese brand ITUO is aiming to bring high performance LED lights to a more accessible price point. So, how did the XP2 and XP3 go in our group test?
Read the ITUO XP2 & XP3 light review as part of our Combo Lights Group Test.
ITUO lights aren’t a hugely well known name in the off-road lighting scene, but the Chinese company has been spreading its wings in recent years thanks to a wide range of user-generated input and global distribution channels across the US, Canada and Australia. In the UK, ITUO is distributed by Bright Bike Lights, which handles backup service and warranty support – reassuring compared to buying off an unknown eBay seller.
As such, ITUO lights are designed to slot into the mid-range and mid-budget area of the market, with a number of key design features that elevate the product quality over the bargain-basement stuff. Robust alloy casings, quality Panasonic battery cells, and GoPro compatible mounting makes the ITUO light range very appealing for the price. Previously, we’ve tested the WIZ-20 handlebar light, and the XP3 light.
On review here for the Combo Lights Group Test is the ITUO XP2 for the helmet, and the XP3 for the handlebar.
- RRP: £134
- Claimed power: 1500 Lumens
- 2 x Cree XM-L2 U3 neutral white LEDs
- Weight: 430 grams total = 120 grams (head unit w/helmet bracket) + 310 grams (battery).
- Mounting: Handlebar & helmet
- Actual run time: 4 hours 42 minutes on High
- Charge time: 5 hours
- Includes: Light, 4-cell battery, handlebar mount, helmet mount, remote switch
- Pros: Compact head unit, GoPro compatible mounting, natural yellowed light colour, sturdy threaded cable attachment
- Cons: Narrow beam pattern, concentrated hot spot, cable is too short to run in jersey pocket, head unit gets hot in use
While we don’t normally concentrate heavily on price as a selling feature, there’s no doubt that your £134 gets a lot with the ITUO XP2 light. Included in the box are both helmet and handlebar mounts, the head unit itself, a 4-cell Panasonic battery pack, and a remote switch that can be added to the light head. With a claimed power output of 1500 Lumens and a 4-hour runtime, the XP2 light certainly has plenty of appeal.
Compared to the XP3, the XP2 is built with two LEDs in its compact light body. It’s a lightweight little unit that lends itself well to helmet mounting, though we did encounter a glaring issue from day one. The cable is unfortunately too short to run the battery pack comfortably in your jersey pocket. As such, we had to ride with a backpack everytime we were testing the XP2 light on the helmet. That might not be an issue for all riders, but it’s a big problem for me when I don’t always want to ride with a backpack. If it’s likely to bother you, you’ll only need to spend £6 to get an extension cord from Bright Bike Lights, so make sure you add that to your order.
Like the XP3, the XP2 light uses a GoPro style mount underneath the light head that allows you to use ITUO’s own helmet and handlebar brackets, or your own existing GoPro mounts. The helmet mount that comes supplied with the XP2 light is quite good though. Using a wide plastic base and a Velcro strap, it seems to fit a variety of helmets thanks to the multiple slots that allow you to change the anchor points for the strap.
On top of the light head is a small rubber button, which glows a different colour depending on the charge left inside the battery pack. However, it’s either blue (20-100% charge) or red (less than 20% charge). The button is a little tricky to find with thick winter gloves on, and occasionally you can click it and nothing happens. A larger and more well defined button would be appreciated.
Compared to the other lights we have on test, the ITUO XP2 and XP3 deliver a light output that is more yellow in its colour. This is quite soft, and it works well on the trail as oppose to a harshly white light colour. In terms of power output, the XP2 was sufficiently bright on top of the helmet, but it concentrates its Lumens in a much tighter hotspot. You can kind of see the effect in the above photo, but it’s much more visible in the video footage below. A hotspot isn’t necessarily a bad thing for a helmet light, where you want to direct a spot of light wherever you’re looking, but it isn’t great when the light steps down so quickly outside of that hotspot. That causes additional strain on your eyes, as they have to constantly adjust between looking at the really bright spot in the centre of the beam, and the darker patches around it. Compared to the light output from the Hope R2 and the Exposure Diablo that deliver a much ‘fuller’ beam pattern with softer edges, the ITUO XP2 is without doubt less refined in its beam pattern.
On the note of the beam pattern, ITUO does offer a wider 40° lens option, which can be included at the point of purchase. A wider optic could help alleviate the hotspot issue, but then you’re essentially spreading the same number of Lumens over a much, much larger surface area compared to the stock 10° lens. While we don’t have experience with the wider 40° lens, our expectation is that the overall perceived brightness of the XP2 light will drop significantly when paired with a broader beam pattern.
On paper, the ITUO XP2 light certainly offers a lot of bang for your buck. It’s a lightweight and compact light set that works well for helmet mounting, but the short battery cable is an issue for those who prefer to ride with a bumbag or without a backpack at all. Compared to the other lights on test, the XP2 does deliver quite a narrow beam pattern that suffers from a noticeable hotspot. However, until you ride with those more refined lights, it’s not something that you’ll be entirely aware of. So as a light to get you into off-road night riding, the XP2 does well to straddle the gap between the disposable eBay lights and the boutique options.
- RRP: £157
- Claimed power: 2300 Lumens
- 3 x Cree XM-L2 U3 neutral white LEDs
- Weight: 444 grams = 141 grams (head unit w/handlebar bracket) + 303 grams (battery)
- Mounting: Handlebar & helmet
- Actual run time: 2 hours on high
- Charge time: 5 hours
- Included in the box: Light, 4-cell battery, handlebar mount, helmet mount, remote switch
- Pros: Good power output, GoPro compatible mounting,
- Cons: Handlebar bracket broke, light has randomly turned off on really rough sections of trail
This ITUO XP3 light should look familiar. If it does, it’s because you’ve already seen a separate review on the ITUO XP3 light that Tom wrote back in October. For our Combo Light Group Test, we decided to use the XP3 light and pair it with the smaller XP2 light to go up against the Exposure, Gloworm and Hope options. Given that we’ve already tested and rated the XP3 light, this would prove to be a good opportunity to continue durability testing, while directly comparing it with much pricier options.
Just like the XP2 light, the XP3 is built with an alloy head unit. In the XP3’s case however, there are three Cree XM-L2 U3 LEDs that help to deliver a claimed power output of 2300 Lumens. That’s quite a lot of punch for a small head unit, which can either be run on your helmet or on the handlebar.
One of the areas of the XP2 and XP3 lights that ITUO has focussed on is the battery pack. Using 18650 Lithium-Ion cells from Panasonic, ITUO has gone with a big name manufacturer to ensure quality and consistency. The cells are sealed inside a silicone rubber casing to keep them watertight, and that rubber blob tucks into a stretchy neoprene sleeve to shield the battery from impact forces. A single Velcro strap is used to keep the battery pack stuck to the frame, and the stretchy nature of the strap means you can really reef on it to keep it in place. Unlike the messy cable shown in the above photo, you can also tuck excess cable into the strap of the battery pack to tidy things up.
Crummy Bar Mount
Unfortunately, the bar mount doesn’t show the same attention to detail. Using a plastic hinge, the handlebar mount wraps around the bar, and is held in place by a threaded quick release lever. There’s lots of adjustability that means the mount is compatible with up to a 35mm diameter bar, but on both our XP2 and XP3 test lights, the bracket broke off in the same spot with very little stress. Apparently early prototype versions of the XP2 and XP3 lights were using alloy handlebar brackets, and we’d like to see that instead of the current plastic one. Like the Gloworm CX Trail light, the lack of quality in areas such as the handlebar mount doesn’t exactly fill you with confidence.
Because the XP2 and XP3 lights use a GoPro style mount, fortunately you can swap in any GoPro handlebar mount you’ve got – or you may need to go out and buy one. We used a K-Edge handlebar clamp, which is made from alloy and is much tougher.
An area that showed a much greater degree of attention to detail is the cable connector, which is an area that can often be a weak point of cheap LED lights. The connector itself uses an external threaded collar, which helps to join the two cables securely so that they can’t dislodge while riding on the trail. Having had that happen before with really cheap and nasty LED lights, it’s good to see ITUO using a much more robust connection.
With its three LEDs, the ITUO XP3 light achieves a good level of power. It has a slightly broader beam pattern compared to the XP2 light, but its extra power has been directed at throwing more light further down the trail. With the XP3 on the handlebar, you get noticeably better shadow definition behind obstacles on the trail, so you can more easily pick them out to either avoid or jump over the top of them.
Like the XP2 light however, the XP3 also exhibits a pronounced central hotspot, with a very quick drop in light output outside of that hotspot. Again, the video shows this beam pattern better than the above photo does. And like the XP2, this is quite noticeable when comparing the ITUO lights against its competitors. For a bar-mounted light, ideally you want a broader beam pattern to better illuminate the sides of the trail and to boost your peripheral vision. However, the XP3 doesn’t offer this beam pattern in its stock setting, so swapping in the wider lens optic could be a solution to help diffuse the beam pattern.
One other issue that both Tom and I experienced was the somewhat random occurrence of the XP3 light turning off altogether. This only ever happened on a really fast and very rough downhill section, but it was alarming for both of us nonetheless. After coming to a halt, the light could be turned back on again by the flick of the main button, and the cable connector was 100% tight, so it definitely wasn’t that. There’s a chance we may have just got a faulty unit with something loose inside, and needless to say, any issues like this would be sorted out by the distributor.
The ITUO XP3 light is a well featured light set that delivers good power output in a sturdy housing. It’s also very efficient too, with over two hours of runtime on full power. However, the handlebar bracket is poor, and directly compared to the Hope and Exposure lights on test, the XP3 is guilty of concentrating most of it’s Lumen-eggs into a hotspot-basket.
For riders getting into the sport of night riding though, the ITUO XP2 and XP3 combo is a good value proposition that works well as a partnership that is a step up from the cheaper throwaway lights you can find online elsewhere. And if you’ve been away from off-road night riding for a few years, you’ll be thoroughly impressed with the amount of power these lights deliver. Just bear in mind that you might want a different handlebar bracket, and consider some experimenting with lens options to get the right light spread.