I had never heard of Ituo lights before the XP3 arrived, but with a claimed 2300 lumens and a 2hr run time, for the first time in a long time I was excited about it getting dark. Night riding is awesome, it makes the easiest of known trails all the more exciting and, living in Scotland, if I didn’t night ride then the bikes would not get used much between September and April! A good light makes the difference though, not necessarily turning night into day, but one that provides enough so you not only can see where you are going but also allows some peripheral vision so it helps to process a bit of what is going on either side of the trail which then helps in understanding the terrain. At night your eyes primarily use the rods (more sensitive than cones but don’t see colour) of which there are none in the fovea (the very sensitive central part of your vision) and are most densely found in the peripheral so, having a spread of light, and moving your head constantly rather than staring directly ahead, allows the rods to provide a better image to be formed for your brain to process.
The very first impression of the XP3 was one of robust quality. The hard metal anodized finish with deep cut fins is very similar to that of other, more expensive, lights on the market and helped shrug off a few branch strikes and knocks with no scratches. Three Cree XM-L2 U3 LEDs provide a neutral light in three preset steady modes and three flashing modes; these are also programmable to suit user requirements. Attachment to the helmet, or handlebar, is via a system akin to that used by a large action camera brand and works very well, albeit the aesthetic quality of the plastic is not the same as the lamp unit. A nice added touch is the inclusion of a (wired) remote control which certainly makes handlebar mounted operation a bit slicker. Finally, the bundle includes a compact rubberised Panasonic battery pack in a neoprene cover with a wide Velcro strap making it easy to securely attach to the bike.
So, does it work? Outstandingly so. According to their website, Ituo ‘listen VERY CLOSELY to what riders want’ and, with the XP3, it is clear they actually do. If I were to design a light this would pretty much be it. If I am only using a single light I am a fan of having it on my helmet due to the steep, twisty nature of the local trails and I want light where I am looking. The lamp unit is nice and compact at 68.5mm x 38mm x 26mm, not standing too proud from the helmet so reducing the risk of catching a branch, and only weighs 145g with the mount. Being a wired light, there is the quandary of where to put the 310g battery pack and I would not want to attach it to the helmet so, if you are a minimalist rider out for a quick blast, an all-in-one light might still be better suited if going on the helmet. However, putting the battery in the top of my backpack the cable was long enough to not restrict head movement and attaches robustly, with a waterproof O-ring seal, to the lamp unit. Mounting to the handle bar was easy and again gives a decent spread of light illuminating the trail well; the included handlebar mount caters for 25.4-35mm sized bars. The advantage of having a light on the bars is it increases the shadows thrown by obstacles which can aid in depth perception, however on full whack it almost created too bright a spot if aimed too close in front.
Turning it on is easy with the simple single button on top, and pronounced enough to feel through gloves. The light also remembers the last mode you were in which is a helpful touch. The three preset modes I found a great starting point:
- Low power gives 600 lumens, a claimed massive 9hrs run time and was sufficient for the long singletrack climbs of Glentress.
- Medium power gives 1200 lumens, 4.5hr run time and was good for non-technical trails and forest road descents. The step change from low to medium is very apparent.
- High power boots out the full 2300 lumens, over a fantastic beam spread that provides outstanding lighting in the centre of beam (almost too much) but also enough towards the edges that it is actually still useful, for 2hrs and was more than enough for all the steep tight trails at Innerleithen.
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The ability to programme the light is also another useful function rarely found at this price. In increments of 10% the lamp can be adjusted to your needs; I found increasing the low and medium settings slightly to approximately 850 and 1450 lumens respectively (an extra 10% from preset) meant only on the most technical trails did I want to switch to high power so helping to increase run time and reduce heat build-up. Battery power tell back is done via the power button, indicating blue when more than 20% and red when below. Unfortunately, when the light is mounted on top of the helmet there is no quick way when out on the trail to check, but that is pretty normal for all helmet lights, and is easy to see (but not distracting) when on the bars.
The wired remote I found of no use when used as a helmet light. The wire is not long enough to place the remote anywhere but on the helmet so rather than search for a small remote I found it far easier to just locate the lamp and find the power button – I could still make changes when moving. When used as a handlebar mounted light however, placing the remote immediately inboard of my grip meant that I could make changes to the light power setting without removing my hand from the grip, brilliantly simplistic. Yes, it’s wired, but for the sake of 12g I am more than happy not to pay for the expense of being able to do it wirelessly.
It was pouring down the first night I used this light and there was no quiver from the XP3, an important aspect in the UK! The lamp and connections are well sealed with thought to operation in the wet. One word of warning: I would not recommend touching the lamp unit when it’s been on a while. After a 20 minute descent running on full power (15°C and raining) the unit was hot, very hot. Part of the clever internals is an ‘active thermal management program that uses a remotely located temperature sensor to gain real time readings from the LEDs and casing to ensure safe optimum performance’. Whether it does or not is hard to say, all I can say is that it was hot, another reason why being able to adjust the power settings is useful so you only use full power if it’s really needed; 20 minutes is a long time to run continuously on that output.
The XP3 worked very well whether mounted on the helmet or on the handlebars. In a perfect world having this on the bars and a small, self-contained light on the helmet would make for a fantastic set up. If you are looking for a single light then the mounting options, all included in the box, and the light spread make this a superb option.
Overall: A quality, robust, compact and versatile light at a reassuring price that provides great lighting over a nice beam spread. The fact that it’s available from a UK retailer and has a branded battery pack also gives me more confidence in buying over the myriad of cheap lights/batteries available on eBay. Although it’s not been a long term test, every ride I have done with this light I have been uber impressed. Recommended.
|Tested:||by Tom Nash for 5 Weeks|