You can buy better lights, but you won't find a better bargain
Weight: 148g Contact: www.dealextreme.com
The Ultrafire WF606A is a very good torch, for a very low price and it's got the power to shake up the world of cycle lighting.
If you're a commuter that has to face unlit roads, or you just like a bit of night riding, chances are you've either invested in (or lusted after) one of the many rechargeable systems on the market. Most will cost you at least £80, and you can spend up to a grand if you're really keen.
But two things have been happening in the last few years, mostly out in China and Taiwan. First, standard rechargeable cells have been getting better. Much better. A quick search through the e-shops today throws up 3000mAh cells for as little as about £2 each, and the same stores are basically giving away 2600mAh cells that two years ago would have cost you a tenner for four.
Second, bike lighting has made a wholesale move to LEDs as the light source. Gone are the days of the flashing green, bar mounted front 'light'. Luxeon emitters were the first to really have the power to mix it with the Halogens and Halides of this world, and the next generation are even better. LEDs have everything going for them: they're very efficient, they run fairly cool, and they're cheap to mass produce.
Top end rechargeable systems are dropping in price, but now you can bypass all that bike-specific stuff and just buy in a torch from the East and strap it to your bars. The Ultrafire WF606A is just such a torch. It's powered by a Cree emitter that pushes out about 100 lumens, and runs on 2 AA batteries that'll give about 2 hours of full beam. And it costs about £12 - a quarter of the price of even the cheapest comparably bright rechargeable system.
The beam is very focused (it's designed to be a torch, after all) so it works best as a helmet light. You can buy mounts online but we found a simple Velcro strap did the job just fine. The beam is plenty to see by, enough light to keep up a fair lick even on the darkest lanes, and when it's helmet mounted it's even better for being exactly where you need it. It's solidly constructed for its 148g all-in weight, with a waterproof switch, alloy body, glass lens and O-ring seals in all the threads. For the money, it's an unbelievable bargain.
Okay, it's not all good news. The circuitry doesn't handle loss of power very well, and there's a lot of flickering when the batteries start to die. And it isn't visible from the side, so, to be safe, you'll want a bar mounted light too. But these are minor quibbles. The word that's writ large in my mind whenever I think of the Ultrafire is Value.