Home
Verdict: 
A powerful and compact light for off-road riding that's easy and secure to mount on bars or helmet
Weight: 
183g
Gemini Xera 950
8 10

The Gemini Xera 950 LED Light Set is a super-compact package that is easily adapted to fit on either handlebar or helmet and throws out a lot of useful light for its size.

It's basically a revamp of the unit tested a couple of years ago by Caven O'Hara. The main difference is a redesign of the machined aluminium head unit, introducing some much more pronounced cooling fins to disperse the heat accumulated in such a small, bright lamp. Even so, Gemini warns that the light is only for use in the outdoors and it's best to keep moving when you are using it on full power, and switch to low power when stationary. The light has a built in heat-protector which will automatically dim the light if it gets too hot, but in use I never had a problem.

> Find your nearest dealer here

The compact battery pack is housed in a sturdy casing, which has a slightly curved profile to allow it to be strapped snugly to a top tube or stem. I thought the hard shell might be a little harsh against the paintwork of my frame (maybe some silicone protectors would help here) so I confined it to the underside of my stem. There's around a foot of cabling to join the battery to the head unit, but in the box you will find an extension lead, should you need it.

All the mounting is by means of sturdy rubber bands and Velcro straps. Gemini recommends fitting the battery to the back of the helmet when using the Xera as a helmet lamp and I found this worked well, counterbalancing the weight of the head unit so my helmet wasn't inclined to tilt forward. My helmet has some unconventional venting patterns so I was pleased to find that it all went on securely with a little thought. Once in place, neither the lamp nor the battery moved from where I put them.

Even with 2k units becoming commonplace (at a price), the Xera's 900 lumens still throws out plenty of light for the darkest of moonless railway path commutes and the like. It's not really a light I would choose as a main source of illumination on the road because the beam is fairly directional and the side visibility is limited. Even so, as a helmet lamp it would be a useful secondary source, though the flashing or low power settings would be plenty in traffic.

Away from the roads, I preferred to use it as a helmet lamp, where the directional beam could be pointed where you are going. Peripheral illumination is also pretty useful, only a little blotchy towards the edges, and the main spot is clear with no dark or bright patches.

> Read our guide to the best front lights for cycling

I like to conserve my battery power on night rides, switching between modes as the conditions require, and this is logically achieved, with each press of the large button increasing the brightness before returning it to Low. Pressing and holding turns the light off. Pressing and holding again turns on the flash mode. In this way, I got through a three-hour night ride with battery to spare. Gemini claims two hours on full power, which proved correct, and two hours to recharge. You can also upgrade to a double battery pack if you need more.

The wiring and sealing look good and robust and I had no trouble in the muck and grit of November. Long-term users of the previous model have reported high reliability.

The unit comes in a handsome black box so this will make a nice prezzie.

Verdict

A powerful and compact light for off-road riding that's easy and secure to mount on bars or helmet

road.cc test report

Make and model: Gemini Xera 950

Size tested: n/a

Tell us what the light is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

From Gemini:

At 950 lumens, the Gemini XERA LED Bike Light means serious business in the high-power light category. Driving this powerhouse is a single CREE XM-L2 U4 LED emitter - the most efficient, high power LED on the market.

Adjustable beyond low, medium, high modes.

There are ten brightness levels between 10-100% for your Low, Med, High and Flash modes. Each mode is programmable so you can to adjust your Low, Med, High and Flash modes to your own liking. Fine tuning your power levels allows you to take full control of your runtime.

Handlebar and helmet mount included. A head strap is also available as an optional extra.

The optional head strap takes your Gemini XERA beyond cycling and into other night activities like camping, night fishing, skiing or longboarding.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the light?

Brightness 950 Lumens

Weight 55g Light Head

122g 2-Cell Battery

Modes Low / Med / High. Flash.

All programmable between 10-100%.

Material Hard Anodized Aluminum

Safety Charging and Thermal Protection

Low Battery Warning

In the Box XERA LED Light Head

High Capacity 2-Cell / 4-Cell Battery

Smart Charger

Built-in Handlebar Mount

Helmet Mount

Silicone O-Rings

Extension Cable

Brightness Level Lumen OutputRun Time

High 950 2 hours

Med 600 3 hours

Low 200 8 hours 30 mins

Rate the light for quality of construction:
 
9/10

Solid for its small size. The machined aluminium casing is well finished, The cables are chunky and well secured, with anti-split casing at the plug ends and battery holder. The on/off button is coverd by a large silicone seal. The hard plastic casing should prove tough but I would be wary of dropping it on a hard floor.

Rate the light for design and ease of use. How simple was the light to use?
 
9/10

One push-button for on, then push again for medium or high power. Press and hold for off. The push button's action is a little soft, especially when you are wearing gloves. Attaching the light to bar or helmet is very simple and secure.

By default, the XERA is set at Low 20%, Medium 60%, High 100% and Flash 60%. To reset back to these factory settings, hold down the button for 10 seconds.

Rate the light for the design and usability of the clamping system/s
 
9/10

Simple plastic mounts that fasten with Velcro or a rubber band. No flimsy parts here.

Rate the light for waterproofing. How did it stand up to the elements?
 
8/10

So far no trouble at all. Both the battery case and head unit look well sealed and I've heard of no reliability issues with the previous model of Xera lamp.

Rate the light for battery life. How long did it last? How long did it take to recharge?
 
8/10

Just as claimed by Gemini – two hours on full power; with recharge taking about the same. There's an option for a double battery pack.

Rate the light for performance:
 
9/10

It's a very good, bright light with a medium spread spot; the peripheral light is useful – a little blotchy at the edges but that's less noticeable when you are out amid the pathside vegetation.

Rate the light for durability:
 
8/10

Most lights that have given me trouble have failed in the wiring and plug joints so any light with a separate battery/head unit is more vulnerable to this than a one-piece torch. However, the Gemini has good, thick cables that don't look like they will split or perish in a hurry.

Rate the light for weight:
 
8/10

The battery pack is neatly designed to be strapped to the back of your helmet, thereby balancing the weight of the head unit at the front.

Rate the light for value:
 
6/10

£120 is a bit expensive compared to, say, a Magicshine MJ858, which has a longer claimed battery life and retails at under £60. However, it comes in a handsome package with lots of extra bits and pieces.

Tell us how the light performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Very good and well up to some dark night riding. Functionality was better when used as a helmet lamp, I thought, as the beam spread was less well suited to floodlighting duties from the handlebar.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the light

Compact and lightweight, seems well made, usefully bright with a good beam pattern.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the light

Not much. Maybe a little on the expensive side.

Did you enjoy using the light? Yes

Would you consider buying the light? Yes

Would you recommend the light to a friend? Yes

Use this box to explain your score

It's a compact unit with plenty of illumination for its size. The beam pattern is good for lighting the darkest ride along disused railway lines or a little solo off-road venturing. Versatile fitting for helmet or bar mounting. The reliability record is good, but it's a little on the pricey side.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 51  Height: 6'2  Weight: 73kg and rising

I usually ride: Cannondale CAAD10   My best bike is:

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: A few times a week  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mountain biking