The Urban 800 is the highest lumen output light in Light and Motion's Urban range. Each of the lights in the range have the same battery life, are the same size, the same weight and the same shape. The more you pay, the more lumens you get. At £120 RRP (or about £20 less if you shop around online), it's not a cheap light; but it's so good I reckon that's value for money.
Our man Jez recently reviewed the Urban 650, the 800's smaller sibling. In a shock-horror, one reviewer doesn't rate a very similar light the same kinda stylee, I'm going to go out and give it a higher rating than Jez did.
And that's not because of the extra lumens. It's because my night time riding is different to Jez's. Jez commutes in traffic, I commute on lanes. Being seen in traffic in daylight is not so much an issue for me, I hardly see any traffic at all, and I prefer relying on over-the-top hiviz-tastic clothing to be seen during the day. What I look for in a light, therefore, is a bit different. I don't care much about the pulse patterns; I'm interested in a light that stays put on rough surfaces, illuminates those rough surfaces so I can stay upright, gives me enough battery life to get to work and back (typically a couple of hours), and all in the lightest possible package please – it's a hilly commute, mine. Oh, and of course I want to be able to trust it - it needs to be reliable.
The Urban 800 pretty much does all of that for me. There aren't many lights that can compete with the Urban 800 when it comes to lumens/gram. If that even meant something, because it wouldn't be the first time we've compared lights where one light uses its lumens more effectively than a much higher lumen alternative. Happily, the Urban 800s beam pattern works very well, as Jez found too. I was very happy trucking along on completely unlit lanes on the low setting (175 lumens). I would only kick it up to the high setting for the full 800 lumens experience on steep descents, though in all honesty, even there the low setting is fine.
So, while on paper the 1.5-hour run time on high isn't that impressive (it's actually slightly longer in reality, even when it's cold out), I reckon the actual run-time in real world conditions is closer to four or five hours, depending on how often you want more lumens than are available in the low setting.
Charging takes about six hours, easily doable overnight or just plug it into your computer when you get to work if you're running a bit low. You'll know if you need to because the battery indicator on the light works reliably well: go past half battery life and it changes from green to orange, then to red with about 15-20 mins of battery life left. Then it starts blinking red when you've only got a few minutes before it stops (tested on the high setting, and kicked up to high again after it automatically changes itself to low when it starts blinking red). Like Jez, I liked the battery indicator position on the back, rather than integrated in the button.
This is one of the few USB-rechargeable lights I've tested that has a plug that actually keeps the charge hole plugged. It's made of a stiffer plastic than the usual rubber bung and has a rubber O-ring as well, helping achieve that IP67 rating. IP67 means that it's been tested to be fully waterproof submerged in a meter of water for 30 minutes. I take that to mean that you can pretty much throw any weather you like at it, and it's certainly stood up to what's come my way in the time I've tested it.
While we're talking about certification, it's also certified for impact resistance based on ANSI-NEMA testing. I think that means you can drop it from a one meter height without any problems, but I didn't try that. I'll just file away this bit of knowledge in the reliability section.
Like the Urban 650, the 800 has sidelights. Bright enough to be seen, and to light up the sides of the road on unlit lanes, but not so bright as to get in the way of the rider. I like.
Mounting the light on handlebars is super-easy, using a rubber strap with a number of holes. I found it helps to rotate the light 90 degrees on the mount (good feature that, I also use it to rotate the light to the left to avoid blinding the odd car encountered on the lanes) to get the hole in the strap over the hook. When I first saw it I expected the light to gradually droop down on bumpy roads, but this has not happened at all during testing.
Switching the light on (when it's not in lock mode which you enable and disable by holding the power button for four seconds) is a single push – no need to hold down. It always starts on high, pushing again cycles it through medium, low and pulse. Simple enough.
The Urban 800 is available in a couple of different colours creatively called 'anchor steam' (this one), 'steamroller' (white and yellow, where this one is black and blue respectively) and 'fast charge' (red where this one is blue) – the latter costs a little more and charges in 2.5 hrs with a 2 Amp charger.
So, in all, I really like this light. It's light, it gives me plenty of run time for the kind of riding I do, it's well designed and it feels reliable. It's the best light I've tried so far*, and while it's not the cheapest, I reckon it's worth the money, especially considering you get a helmet mount with it and it's manufactured in the USA.
* I haven't tried the CatEye Volt 700 which Jez reckoned would probably be a better light than the Urban 650 he reviewed, though I do know I don't like the Cateye brackets.
Light, bright and reliable; the perfect light for long-distance, unlit-lane commuting
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Make and model: Light and Motion Urban 800 front light
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?
Thoughtfully designed for the daily commute and powerful enough to satisfy the needs of singletrack addicts, simply the lightest, brightest, most compact light in its class.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the light?
* 800 Lumen output certified to the FL-1 Standard
* Engineered with the best CREE LED and enhanced firmware.
* Custom engineered micro-peened reflector optimizes the light to provide a smooth, even beam pattern that focuses the light exactly where you need it.
* Beam pattern was engineered to maximize riders' depth perception using optics that eliminates the snowball effect with a clean transition across the beam.
* Amber Side lighting for a full 180 degrees of visibility
* IP67 Rating - Tested to be fully waterproof in 1 meter of water for 30 minutes
* Impact resistance - FL-1 certification rating for impact resistance based on ANSI-NEMA testing.
* Advanced electronics design for optimizing the user experience
* Handlebar Mount, Helmet mount, & Micro USB Charging Cable included
* Lumens: high - 800, medium - 350, low - 175
* Run time: high - 1.5 hrs, medium - 3 hrs, low - 6 hrs
* Charge time 6 hrs
* System weight: 121 grams
* Size: 1.2" x 1.2" x 4"
Designed AND assembled in the US of A, baby.
Very easy to put on the bike, very easy to switch on and cycle to lights, even with big gloves on.
I had my doubts, but the light stays in place remarkably well.
This light is IP67 rated: fully waterproof in 1 meter of water for 30 minutes. A bit of weather will be fine.
It lasts longer than the manual says, recharges in about 6 hours.
The beam pattern works really well, and it'll easily do both sides of your commute if use one of the lower modes, which are plenty to illuminate dark lanes.
It's one of the lightest lights out there at 121 grams. Light and Motion claim THE lightest.
It's not the cheapest light you can get, but a helmet mount is included and it is made in the USA. It looks good and it's extremely well made. To me that represents value for money, but cheap it ain't.
Tell us how the light performed overall when used for its designed purpose
I really like this light: no tools needed, stays in place, easily enough light and obviously well made.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the light
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the light
Did you enjoy using the light? Yes.
Would you consider buying the light? Yes.
Would you recommend the light to a friend? Yes.
Anything further to say about the light in conclusion?
The Light and Motion Urban 800 is not the cheapest or longest-output light out there, but the combination of beam pattern, form factor and weight make it my favourite out of all the lights I've tried.
Age: 36 Height: 1.78m Weight: 76kg
I usually ride: All of them! My best bike is: Cannondale CAAD10
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, mtb,