The thing that comes to mind when picking Light & Motion's Urban 300 up for the first time is how small it is. Weighing in at just 114g it barely makes its presence felt at all, until it is switched on that is.
The Urban 300 is the middle light in Light and Motion's, new for this year, Urban lighting range, aimed at the road rider and commuter.
Drawing on their long experience of making lights for very harsh environments (Light And Motion started life as a dive-light manufacturer), the Urban range is impressively well made, giving an instant impression of quality and robustness. For convenience, and somewhat at odds with many of the brighter mountain biking derived lights on the market, the Urban range all have integrated light units and batteries, producing a small cigar tube format light with an LED on the front of a single-cell Lithium Ion battery.
Focussing on simplicity, the light comes with no charger, but can be charged from a computer USB socket with the cable supplied, or a standard charger for another USB charged device. As such the light is well suited to being re-charged at work for those of us slaved to a computer all day. Rated charge time to a full charge is five hours, I got it to nearly full in that time with it charging completely in just over six hours. There is a charge indicator on the rear of the unit which indicated the charge state during operation, and also on re-charging.
Running through four modes, high (the 300 lumen mode which gives the light its name), medium, low and flashing, the beam profile is clearly tuned to road riding, offering a bright central area with good 'throw', projecting a bright area well down the road, with a less bright periphery which is still quite narrow. On dark lanes, it is certainly bright enough to ride fast, and with confidence, and still see the road junctions as they approach - but you will not be distracted by detail picked out in the verge. The beam pattern is quite symmetrical, which is good for the rider, but may result in temporarily dazzling drivers on corners. The beam is too narrow for this to be a problem on straight roads though, and only really applies on corners. Personally, I am just glad to be visible.
To aid visibility from drivers approaching from the side, there are also two orange ports in the sides of the light to bleed some illumination out. As an aside, I found these bright enough to read a bike computer by, but that is probably dependent upon the geometry of the handlebars and the positions of the light relative to your computer.
Mounting of the light is very simple, with a robust rubber strap being used to hold the unit onto the bars. The mount swivels left and right on its own bracket. While this is a neat feature enabling very easy reposition of the light on different bikes, as well as making it a simple matter to remove the light for security, I found it unnecessarily awkward to adjust the strap without swivelling the light out of the way. A small complaint I know. Also, the strap needed to be very tight to avoid the light rotating around the bars when hitting a pot hole. This was quite disconcerting the first time it happened, though it was probably made significantly worse by the bars having been lubricated by a healthy coating of rain.
Run times are again tuned to the commuter, with the high setting getting a rated 2hours 12minutes (we managed to eek very slightly more, 2hrs 13), increasing to over 8 hours on low. I found the low setting perfectly decent for lit and urban roads, while the high setting was used only on really dark roads, and my short cycle-path section of the commute, meaning that one charge could last several days. For those with a longer commute though, 2hrs 12 could be a little short in the depths of winter where may be used both morning and evening.
With an RRP of £119.99, this is not a budget light, (you can of course pay a lot more) but for the serious road cyclist intent on a winter of training no matter what, or a commuter who wants to see as well as be seen, it is worth it.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Light & Motion Urban 300 Light System
Size tested: Bronze/Black
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?
This is a new generation, bright front light aimed squarely at the road rider, and commuter who wants to see and be seen on dark roads.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the light?
This is an LED driven front light, powered by a self-contained compact Lithium Ion (Li-Ion) battery.
Offering four modes, high (approximately 300 Lumens), medium, low and flashing, the Urban 300 runs for around 2hours 20minutes on high beam.
Well known for the solidity of their construction, with this light Light and Motion do not disappoint.
Hard to comment really on ease of use when there is one button, one socket and one clip, but while the operation was simple, the clip was a little fiddly at times, so it does not get full marks. However, if that is the worst that can be said.........
As a simple robust rubber strap, the clamp is simple and versatile, offering a universal fit to all handlebar diameters. However, the geometry of the strap in relation to the battery portion of the light body means it can be fiddly to fit it tightly. And it does need to be on tight to avoid rotating around the bars when riding over rougher lanes and pot-holes.
Used in heavy downpours, the light remained functional, as expected, with no signs of water ingress.
The manufacturer suggests about 2hrs12mins on high beam from a full charge - in testing it delivered almost exactly this at 2hrs13mins. Slightly frustratingly, the "red" low charge indicator lit after only 1hr 7 mins, and the flashing red low charge warning came on at 1hr41. While it is nice to have lots of warning, it is somewhat akin to crying wolf. The danger is the user would begin to pay no attention, and find themselves unexpectedly plunged into darkness.
Charging is claimed at around 5 hours. We found it charged to nearly full in this time, taking over 6 hours to reach full charge from empty.
The charge time is about 5 hours using the supplied mini-USB cable.
Considering this is a very small package, it is hard to fault the run times, but as a commuter light, that might be used twice a day, it is a little disappointing to see only 2 hours 20 on high. However, with a stated 4hours30mins on medium, there is still an option for those with a long commute who do not have the opportunity to recharge the light during the day. Still, I would pack some form of back-up light for safety.
Well suited to its intended application, it is small and light enough to be unobtrusive on the bars, but projected a good beam of light down the road. Quite narrow (suited to road use) the available light is projected where the rider needs it.
The light seemed exceptionally solid and robust.
At 119g it is light enough to be unobtrusive.
The only comment here is that it is small enough to stay out of the way.
For a road light, it isn't cheap, but its performance makes it well worth it. Shop around and you will find it for a lot less than list price too
Tell us how the light performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The light performed very well, letting me be seen on major roads, and see on quiet lanes and bike paths.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the light
The orange translucent ports on the side of the light that provide good visibility to drivers, and let me see my bike computer in the dark.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the light
The fiddly fitting to the handlebars with the rubber strap.
Did you enjoy using the light? Yes.
Would you consider buying the light? Yes.
Would you recommend the light to a friend? Yes.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Novice
I regularly do the following types of riding: