The Vel 500 Lumen Front Light feels good quality and manages to squeeze an impressive number of lumens into (or out of) its compact alloy shell. With six modes to choose from and a wraparound lens to aid side-visibility, the Vel 500 is a strong contender for serious commuting or extending rides beyond dusk.
As the name suggests, on high beam the Vel boasts 500 lumens of lighting power from its 10-watt LED. I found that this was more than enough for the large majority of night-time riding, only limited by the 50-minute (supposed to be 1-hour) burn-time when on high beam. As the name doesn't suggest... the Vel is actually able to produce 650 lumens, this being reserved for the day flash mode to overcome bright sunlight and other distractions.
There are two other constant light modes, mid beam and low beam, lasting 2 hours and 4 hours respectively. These times also seemed a little overoptimistic but by a smaller margin, and they could all be accredited to the low temperatures that I was using the light in.
The beam shape offers a good balance of visibility for both seeing with and being seen.
Two flash modes give eye-catching options, and that's sufficient for my liking; having too much choice is my biggest bugbear with the Lezyne range.
The sixth and final mode is auto – a feature that not many lights at this price point include. Although I often opted to use a flash mode instead, auto could be an invaluable asset if your ride includes abrupt changes in lighting, varying between solid and flashing modes and lasting anywhere between 2 and 8 hours.
The light is designed to be 'fully water resistant' and has survived both a particularly soggy February and the shower test. However, it does only have an IPX4 rating, meaning it can 'resist water splashes from any direction' rather than the higher IPX6 rating that some competitor lights, such as the Ravemen LR500S, have achieved. IPX6 means 'can resist high-pressure, heavy sprays of water'.
The Vel uses a rubber strap as its clamping system, allowing it to fit a large range of handlebars from 18-48mm. I've had the lights attached to 31.8mm bars, 24mm bars and even a set of aero profile bars without any issues or slippage. Some will think the mounting system is ideal, and it certainly is quick and easy to use. However, I tend to prefer mounts that will allow the light to be removed while the strap remains on the bar, as I find it easier for charging and installation.
The Vel 500 is able to rotate on its mount, which does make it easier to attach and also means that it can be fitted to selected helmet vents. The downside of this is that the rubber seems a bit too flexible and there is a discernible wobble no matter the orientation of the light, resulting in vibration when travelling over particularly rough ground.
The switch and mode selection is intuitive, with the large button on the top of the light also acting as a battery indicator. The button is easy to use in gloves and when on the move, with a single press scrolling through the outputs, and automatic mode selected by a two-second hold of the button. A further positive is the light's memory mode, defaulting to whichever mode the light was in when it was turned off, reducing faff.
The battery indicator uses a traffic light system so even at a glance you can see how much charge is left: green is 100-50%; amber 49-25%; red 24-0% – but as with many lights, this doesn't tell you how much run-time you have left so it's worth remembering run-times for the modes you'll use regularly.
When the light runs flat it'll recharge in about 2.5 hours – on a par with competitors – and, as Vel says it can be charged and discharged at the same time, it can also be charged from a battery pack while in use.
There are many similar lights putting out roughly 500 lumens, but the Vel stacks up well. It may not be as cheap as some – for example, the slightly less bright 400-lumen Moon Meteor is only £24.99 – but I would have no problem spending the extra for this compact, well made and simple to use light, with sensible run-times and added functionality such as the 650-lumen day flash mode, as well as memory and auto functions.
Bright, compact and simple alloy front light, ideal for serious commuting or extending rides
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Vel 500 Lumen Front Light
Size tested: 71 x 32 x 23.5mm
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?
VEL's 500 Lumen Front Light emits a powerful beam as the manufacturers claim. It's not only simple and easy to use but the additional auto and day flash modes make it ideal for commuting or giving you the freedom to ride for longer.
Sigma Sports' website says: "The VEL Front Light is powerful and capable, emitting up to 500 lumens from a choice of six modes. Using the Auto mode, the light will adjust according to the surrounding environment, between flashing and solid modes, and putting out 150 - 650 lumens. There are five other manual modes to choose from including Dayflash - perfect for use even in the brightest sunshine to cut through the distractions of busy roads.
"The unit is constructed from a lightweight alloy and is water-resistant for reliable functioning no matter how bad the weather. If you use a portable powerbank, you can even recharge the light while it's in use giving you the freedom to ride for longer, late into the evening. It fits a range of handlebar widths using a rubber strap that can be removed and replaced."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the light?
Sigma Sports lists:
500-lumen front light
Lightweight alloy construction
Six modes including dayflash mode: High Beam - 500 lumens/1 hour | Mid Beam - 250 lumens/2 hours | Low Beam - 150 lumens/4.5 hours | Flash - 80 lumens/20 hours | Auto mode - 150-650 lumens/2-8 hours | Dayflash - 650 lumens/8 hours
Memory mode function
Programmable light mode
Automatic environment light sensor
Water-resistant to IPX4
Water-resistant USB port cover
Low battery indicator: 100-50% - green | 49-25% - amber | 24-0% - red
In-ride charge using a portable powerbank (purchased separately)
Adjustable strap allows for a 360° pivot so you can use the light on your handlebar or compatible vented helmet
Dimensions: 71 x 32 x 23.5mm
Weight: 62 grams
Included: Front light / adjustable rubber strap to fit handlebars with 18-48mm diameter and compatible vented helmets / micro-USB charging cable
Alloy body feels high quality and rubber covers and buttons seem rugged.
Easy to use in a wide range of environments, enough modes and functions without feeling cluttered.
It is quick, secure and allows for helmet mounting, but seems to wobble a bit on bumpy roads.
It has survived well and the charging port is well shielded by a thick rubber plug, but IPX4 rating is lower than some of its competitors.
It will take about 2.5 hours to recharge. Disappointing that the 1-hour burn-time on high beam was more like 50 minutes but it was cold... Other modes are acceptable and good considering its tiny dimensions.
650 lumens on day flash mode gives it a bit of an ace up its sleeve compared to other 500-lumen lights.
Very compact and only weighs an easy-to-forget 62g.
Stu reckoned the 40-quid Lezyne Hecto Drive 500XL that he tested was good value, and the Vel has a more powerful day flash mode. The Ravemen LR500S is a touch cheaper at £34.99 but a fair bit bulkier at 117g.
Tell us how the light performed overall when used for its designed purpose
A trustworthy addition to your handlebars. Impressive light output and good side-visibility.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the light
Its compact size and memory mode.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the light
Slight wobble on the bars over rough ground. Run-times slightly less than claimed.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
At rrp it's the same as the Lezyne Hecto Drive 500XL, and £6 more than the Ravemen LR500S.
Did you enjoy using the light? Yes, very simple.
Would you consider buying the light? Yes
Would you recommend the light to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
It performs well and is a solid little light. It's bright, easy to use and good value, just let down slightly by the wobbly mount and shorter burn-times than claimed.
About the tester
I usually ride: Specialized venge pro 2019 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb,