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£249 is a lot of money to pay for a set of lights but if that's the kind of money you're thinking of spending then the Nuke Proof Reactor is a serious contender for your cash. It's a well constructed, capable and versatile light with great stamina that'll be a fine companion on after-dark excursions.
In the box you'll find the light unit, helmet and bar mounts, battery, two leads (that you can fit together to make a long one), three diffusers and a charger. Everything feels well made and sturdy, and the battery connections at either end are well sealed to combat the winter elements.
The 'extreme' simply refers here to the battery capacity: at 900 lumens claimed output the Reactor is pretty extreme no matter what size battery you're running it from. The LED is a Seoul Semiconductors P7 Emitter, and Nuke Proof are keen to point out that it's the higher output 'D' rated unit. It's certainly plenty bright, even in the two low power modes that kick out 25% and 60% of maximum power respectively. You can have it flashing too if you like, though it's difficult to see why you'd pay £249 for a flashing LED light when you can have one for a tenner. The Reactor is about seeing, not being seen.
On full power it's simply too bright to look at, and on dark lanes it's fantastic, kicking out enough light for you to ride at daylight speeds on everything except fast downhills. In terms of output and beam pattern It's among the best lights I've tried; okay it's not quite the equal of something like Supernova's X7 Ultimate set, but then you're paying less than a third of the price. The battery and bar clamp are easy to fit and stay put without any fuss.
The mount has a pivot so that you can angle the beam up or down, and I was worried that potholes would have the light either illuminating my front wheel or the trees overhread, but so far the light hasn't budged, either on or off road. The head unit isn't heavy but it is bulky so it feels a bit odd attaching it to your helmet. However, once it's there it's fine, and you can run a long lead and keep the battery in the top pocket of a rucksack or Camelbak if you wear one
The battery life is just as Nuke Proof claim, and as such is pretty impressive, especially for a light system that weighs in at under a pound: this kind of performance was the stuff of dreams only a couple of years ago. I took the Reactor light out on an hour's off-road excursion on full beam, and then left it in the shed on low power overnight; come the morning it was still blazing brightly, fully 10 hours after I'd turned it on, and it wasn't even warm. The 60% setting will give you seven hours of illumination; on full beam you'll be plunged into darkness after four.
The Reactor lights use a simple diffuser system to alter the beam pattern and there's three included: spot, standard and wide. The standard diffuser is pretty much spot on for road riding, when I took the lights to the trails I ended up using the wide beam, which gives better peripheral vision on twisty sections and still provides plenty of reach to pick your line. The fact that you can chop and change - even when out on a ride - is another big plus, and probably the main benefit of these lights over their most direct competitor, the Lumicycle Series 3 – especially if you ride both on and off roads, where your needs differ.
We don't have any fancy beam-power-testing equipment here at road.cc so I can't tell you whether the Reactor lives up to its 900 lumen rating. Subjectively I wouldn't say that it kicks out eight times as much light as the Niterider Mi-Newt light I've also been testing (110 lumens) but it's certainly comparable to other high-output units I've tried and I doubt you'd be disappointed. Any light that has drivers flashing you when it's only on 25% power is, well, bright enough.
The light doesn't have any side visibility from the main beam but the raised, illuminated on/off button does give it a little bit of all-round visibility, more by luck than judgement I'd guess. You'll still want a cheap flasher on the bars as well. All the light would need is a Lumicycle-esque translucent plastic front ring as an option to the metal one to be perfect for the roads: can we have one next year please?
Overall the Reactor gets a big thumbs up for its awesome output, solid construction, swappable beam patterns, battery life and weight. If you like a bit of after-dark riding, either on the tarmac or in the woods, then you'll not be disappointed. If you need a really good light, this is a really good light.
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Make and model: Nuke Proof Reactor Extreme lights
Size tested: n/a
Did you enjoy using the product? Very much
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Age: 36 Height: 190cm Weight: 98kg
I usually ride: whatever I\'m testing... My best bike is: Trek 1.5 with Ultegra 6700
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling, track
Dave is a founding father of road.cc, having previously worked on Cycling Plus and What Mountain Bike magazines back in the day. He also writes about e-bikes for our sister publication ebiketips. He's won three mountain bike bog snorkelling World Championships, and races at the back of the third cats.