The Ravemen CR900 comes close to being the perfect all-in-one bike light, particularly the excellent battery level management, but is let down by a lack of light where you need it and a few other niggles, hopefully addressed in the next iteration.
Pros: Anti-glare beam, excellent battery run-time monitoring, a remote, well-priced accessories
Cons: Lack of a defined spot restricts potential speed on dark roads, and the remote control function needs tweaking to be truly useful
Bright headlights: a cyclist's last shield against errant motorists distracted by iThings, or the mark of an antisocial cyclo-fascist? Whatever your view, there's no doubt most bike lights on sale in the UK would fail to meet the standards imposed in Germany, where strict beam cut-offs ensure oncoming traffic isn't subject to blinding rays likely to lead to a collision. The Ravemen CR900 seeks to address this issue through a carefully sculpted beam designed not to dazzle.
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We've reviewed a number of Ravemen lights recently: the 1200L twin-beam one from Dave, the smaller 600L version from Rob, and Shaun reviewed the same single-beam form factor but only 500-lumen version.
In the box
The CR900 packs a single Cree XM-L2 LED, and a 3000mAH Li-ion battery. The body is a quality bit of alloy kit, and comes with an equally nice compact handlebar mount, with about five degrees movement left or right to cater for adjustments to beam position. The locking mechanism is secure, and the rubber-ladder-type mount didn't move once on the bar.
There's a USB charging cable and a remote control button, as well as a decent instruction manual. The feel of the light and mount is of high build quality, and it's backed by a two-year warranty.
As the remote control connection isn't weatherproof, I'd not recommend use in heavy rain. The light itself is rated IPX6, or 'powerful water jets'. Suffice to say the CR900 without remote passed the road.cc Garden-Hose-Of-Death Test unscathed.
Not in the box are optional GoPro-compatible (£5) and helmet (£9) mounts. Extra handlebar mounts to suit 22-31.8mm bars are £6, in both clamp and rubber-ladder guise. If you buy the helmet mount it includes a GoPro-compatible mount that can be used on a handlebar GoPro mount as well as the helmet strap. Additional remotes are £5.
The Ravemen CR900 is a new generation of all-in-one battery light that seeks to provide sufficient lighting without sending precious photons skyward or into the retinas of other road users. Ravemen claims its 'DuaLens' is an 'optical design for road biking, providing anti-glare broad flood light'. The lens features both vertical and horizontal focusing elements to shape the beam into a broad, low spread in front of you. The idea is to focus the light where you need it most and not to blind oncoming traffic, even at the maximum 900-lumen output.
The other standout feature of the CR900 is the red two-digit LCD-style display set under the surface of the top of the light. This shows the remaining battery life in real-time decimal hours – full hour figures for 10 and above, or decimal hours (e.g. 8.4, 3.2) for below 10hrs. The time remaining figure adjusts after a second or two as you cycle through the five different lighting modes: High (900), Mid (450), Low (200), Eco (35), Pulse Flashing (350) and Rapid Flashing (100).
Charging the CR900 from flat took close to the suggested 3hrs, using an Ikea wall charger.
Changing the modes or brightness settings is decided by the briefest of taps on the top of the light in a touch zone that works well with thin gloves but is basically unusable in anything chunky, especially a lobster-style mitt.
The on-off switch at the rear also serves as the 'lock' button, to prevent raindrops from triggering the mode change on top, with a tiny orange 'x' signifying locked mode.
A long press on the top gets you into user-defined mode indicated by a blue LED just below the gauge display, where you press and hold to scale up or down through the whole 35-900 lumen range. This could be useful where you wanted to find the most lumens to get you home, assuming you knew how far time-wise you had left to run.
In the daytime Pulse Flashing mode (350 lumens), the manual claims a 16hr run-time if fully charged. At the start of my first ride the gauge said 14hrs remaining; 3hrs later, there were 11hrs remaining. I like this – there's zero chance of being caught out with a flat battery. Going from 9hrs to 7.5 was accurate too, pretty much to the minute. I saw similar accuracy with the high-power constant modes at night, the red LED gauge perfectly visible but not distractingly so. During the daytime it does need a hand shading the top to read, especially through sunglasses.
As you get to critical levels below 0.1hrs/6 minutes run-time, the display flashes 'Lo', remaining at full power for an impressive 10 minutes. It then drops to the Mid setting for another 7 minutes before turning off. I was able to turn the light back on and quickly jump to the most miserly fast flashing mode, whereon the CR900 ran for another 5 minutes before dying completely. I think it's fair to say that between the LED display and the drop in light output, you'll have had fair warning of the critical battery level.
On the button
The remote control button has a 33cm-long cable ending in a micro-USB connector that plugs into the charging socket at the rear of the light. You get an O-ring just large enough to fit around the hood of an Ultegra 6800 shifter, meaning you can place the remote within reach of your thumb when on the hoods. You could also mount it on the bar if desired.
There's enough cable to just reach the light from the hood, if you don't wrap the remote cable around the bar, which would mean you need to secure it with tape of some sort, or wrap it under your bar tape. This makes the remote semi-permanent, meaning if you aren't using the light or have removed it, say for cleaning the bike, you need to protect the cable end plug. It would have been nice to see Ravemen supply a wee retained micro-USB endcap for this purpose.
The remote lets you click through the five light modes, as well as hold for a second to jump to the full-power 900-lumen 'emergency mode' if you need a blast of light, say for a descent or unexpected road hazard. I would have liked the remote (and indeed the light itself) more if there was the ability to put the light into a simple Hi/Lo-beam mode, and toggle between the two.
In the dark
The diffuse 900-lumen High output is perfectly adequate for riding around town, but really not up to the job for fast riding on dark lanes. With an additional helmet-mounted pencil beam for picking out detail such as potholes, maybe – but the comparison with my go-to all-in-one Lezyne PowerDrive XL's 475 lumens shows up the CR900 as needing a tweak of the beam to be suited for country night rides. Assuming all is equal between the photography over the years, if you compare the two using the beam comparison engine up above, the CR900 looks the brighter light by a mile – but the real-world on-the-dark-road reality is that the light outside of the central area desensitises your eyes, effectively reducing your ability to pick out hazards and therefore reducing your confidence to ride faster.
> Buyer's Guide: The best 2017/2018 front lights for cycling
The Lezyne's more-focused spot can be angled perfectly to not annoy oncoming traffic while putting light exactly where you need it, in front of you within about a 10-degree arc so your night-attuned eyes can get enough information to happily barrel along at 15mph. The CR900, by comparison, throws a very wide, low beam – perfect for not annoying motorists or fellow cyclists, but also wasting a fair amount of power on either side of your path while not adding anything to your state-of-the-road information mix.
This leaves me somewhat conflicted over the CR900. For my use case – riding quickly-ish through a Scottish winter on dark lanes – it's just not quite focused enough. The lumens are there, they're just not as focused as they might be. If you're after a light for daytime visibility, or for commuting where you encounter other road users on a regular basis and want to retain visibility of the road in front to avoid hazards, the CR900 is well worth a look. The awareness of exact remaining run-time in any mode will mean you're never caught short.
A good choice for commuters with a number of useful features, but of limited use on dark lanes
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Make and model: Ravemen CR900 Front Light
Size tested: Dimensions (Headlight): 98 x 30 x 33mm
Tell us what the light is for
It's a commuter-centric light with some good features, but not quite a dark lanes blaster.
Ravemen CR900 Touch Dualens USB Rechargable Front Bike Light With Remote
DuaLens optical design for road biking, providing anti-glare broad flood light
LED runtime display and stepless output adjustment for full control in user-defined mode
Wired remote button to change brightness level safely without releasing the grip
3000mAh high capacity Li-ion USB rechargeable battery
Quick release design for easy daily use
Built-in mode memory function and thermal management circuit
DuaLens Optical Designed Low Beam
Through professional optical software modeling and simulation and using high efficent lens, we sucessfully created a light similar to automotive low beam headlight, providing broad closed range flood light with anti-glare cut-off line, no dazzle and glare for oncoming riders and pedestrians
LED Runtime Display
Display the remaining runtime of each brightness level and assist to plan your riding
Touch Control Operation
Sensitive touch pad to change brightness levels easily and promptly and no need to fumble with the button when in darkness
Long press the touch pad to enter user-defined mode. Stepless output adjustment and LED runtime display give user full customization and maximize the performance of the light
Wired Remote Button
Click to change brightness levels safely without releasing the grip and long press and hold for max output
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the light?
1. DuaLens optical design for road biking, providing anti-glare broad flood light
2. LED runtime display and stepless output adjustment for full control in user-defined mode
3. Wired remote button to change brightness level safely without releasing the grip
4. 3000mAh high capacity Li-ion USB rechargeable battery
5. Quick release design for easy daily use
6. Built-in mode memory function and thermal management circuit
LED: 1*CREE XM-L2 with a lifespan of 50000 hours
Battery: 3000mAh/3.75V rechargeable Lithium-ion battery
Dimensions (Headlight): 98 x 30 x 33mm; Weight (Headlight): 115g
Rate the light for quality of construction:
Solidly built from quality materials.
Rate the light for design and ease of use. How simple was the light to use?
The functions were intuitive and easy to use.
Rate the light for the design and usability of the clamping system/s
Rubber ladders are easy, and this one worked well.
Rate the light for waterproofing. How did it stand up to the elements?
Good, but the connected remote isn't rated.
Rate the light for battery life. How long did it last? How long did it take to recharge?
Spot-on stated run-times. Battery level management is the CR900's high point. Faultless.
Rate the light for performance:
The beam pattern is a bit disappointing for 900 lumens of output.
Rate the light for durability:
Rate the light for weight:
Rate the light for value:
£85 isn't cheap for 900 lumens, especially when you'll be needing another light for fast, dark riding.
Tell us how the light performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Well enough – assuming the designed purpose isn't riding quickly in the dark.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the light
Battery management. Can't fault it.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the light
The beam shape should be more focused.
Did you enjoy using the light? Yes
Would you consider buying the light? Yes, maybe, if more focused, or if I was only commuting/riding in a town.
Would you recommend the light to a friend? Yes, with the warning to try on a fast ride before committing.
Use this box to explain your overall score
If the beam were a tad more focused, and the remote did High/Low beam, I'd ramp up the score to 9. As it is it's a good light for the money.
Age: 43 Height: 183cm Weight: 72kg
I usually ride: Merida Ride 5000 Disc My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo-cross, club rides, general fitness riding, mountain biking, Dutch bike pootling
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