Of late, I have been lucky enough to have been testing the Bugatti of bike lights, the Cat Eye Volt 6000. It is genuinely something to behold and spoils you for pretty much every other light. However, given a supercar price to match, it’s well beyond the reach of most riders. So what if you aspire to top end performance without willing to risk a divorce when your spouse utters the words “How much? For a bloody bike torch?”? The light market is awash with products for every conceivable price point making for a dizzying array of choice. Undeterred by the intense level of competition, LED Lenser has entered the market with their XEO 19R rechargeable light system. The company has always been on the periphery of my radar and I had regarded it as just another manufacturer of good value torches. However, with the XEO 19R, my perceptions have been radically altered.
How many extras?
Taking the lights out of the rather natty padded storage case, I was met with a veritable cornucopia of wires, mounts, bits of Velcro and straps. LED Lenser has clearly taken seriously its design brief of developing a light for all manner of users, not just mountain bikers. Versatility is the order of the day here. For walkers, climbers and skiers, there is a three strap elasticated helmet mount (think old school Petzl design with the battery housing at the back).
For cyclists, there is a choice of either helmet mount which is secured by Velcro straps or bar mount which is operated by a twisting wheel arrangement. As such, fumbling with zip ties when swapping between bikes is avoided. The bar mount appears to be made of cheap looking plastic but in practice has proven to be rock solid. In addition, there is a stick on helmet mount should you wear a piss-pot helmet. As if this wasn’t enough, it has also thrown in a GoPro mount to allow the light to be used with a chest mount and even a camera tripod mount. I didn’t use either feature but I can almost guarantee that there will be a reader out there getting creative and thinking of ways of using these features. Still not finished, it also throws in a belt clip from which you can hang the battery unit as well as an extension cable.
More functions than a very functiony function thing!
As exhaustive as the accessories list is, it’s nothing compared to the various functions the light unit offers. Opening up the fold out instructions sheet, I was met with an almost bewildering range of functions. Each LED can be operated separately or together with the beam on each being independently adjustable. Depending on your planned usage, there are multiple options from single low beam, high beam and flash through to the fancily named Optisense option. This is really one for the walker where the beam dips as you dip your head, such as when reading a map. I didn’t have call to use this function but I appreciate that this is a great option should your find yourself out on the trails at night without your bike. I know – “why would you do that?” – but humour me!
On the bike, I found that I switched between high and low power depending on the terrain which gave me a burn time of five hours or more. On high power, the output is a claimed 2000 lumens while on low it is 300 lumens. Burn times are four hours and 20 hours respectively which I found to be on the money give or take a few mins on the high setting. Cooling is handled by air flow being directed beneath the lenses and through the unit.
Now that is cool!
Unique to this light is the ability to alter the focus of each LED between spot and flood. This is not something I have used before on a bike light but having used it, I am now reluctant to go back to my normal light set up. The light produced by the unit is crisp, bright and even while the ability to adjust between spot and flood meant that I could tune the light exactly the way I wanted it. On high, light penetration into the gloom is impressive while the low setting is more than adequate for climbing. Despite appearing to be bulky at first glance, the head unit is very light and doesn’t make for a heavy helmet feel when the battery unit is stowed in your bag.
On the bike, the light is just as impressive. What normally makes for a great helmet light does not always translate into a great bar light but with the adjustable lenses (which lend the light the look of a very cutesy WALL-E), LED Lenser has employed clever design to solve this. The mount for the battery looks a little Heath Robinson but as with the bar mount, holds the power unit securely in place even over the roughest of terrain. It’s not the lightest nor smallest battery pack I have ever used but then it does produce 2000 lumens of light for four hours so there has to be a trade off somewhere. If you have a Fancy Dan smart phone, you can charge it off the power unit. The connector cables click together with a reassuring “sneck” and as with the head and power unit, have proven to be entirely unaffected by even the heaviest of downpours. The designer has really thought of everything as they’ve even included a lens wipe and cleaning brush!
Despite having been completely and utterly spoiled by the Cat Eye Volt 6000, the XEO 19R is proof that it’s not all about top end power. Once you decide which power settings you want and play about with the focus switches, what you are left with is an extremely capable light that feels like it has been designed with mountain bikers in mind. At no time did I feel that I could outrun the light. The burn times are excellent while the mounts on both helmet and bars are reassuringly secure. Trying to find something to criticise isn’t easy. Being really picky, I could ask for a bar mount remote for when the unit is helmet mounted. I’d also be just as happy with a simple Velcro strap set up to secure the battery pack to the frame. But, er, that’s really it.
Overall: LED Lenser has come up with a great light package that hits that hard to reach sweet spot of burn time, power and beam quality. The ability to adjust the beam pattern to suit is a great feature. You may not have heard of it before but that looks set to change.Bloody brilliant at a price that isn’t astronomical with a range of mounting options that work brilliantly across multiple outdoor disciplines. Recommended.
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|Product:||XEO 19R Light|
|Tested:||by Sanny for 2 months|