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The Outbound Lighting Detour is a very clever front light for road and gravel riding. It uses a pair of LEDs with custom reflectors to cast a wide beam with a distinct cut-off at the top so it doesn't shine straight into the eyes of oncoming riders or drivers. It has a great mounting system, charges quickly via USB-C cables, and has six modes that cover pretty much any situation you can imagine.
You can find more ideas – and lights to compare it with – in our guide to the best front bike lights.
Most bike lights have LED emitters nestled in the centre of round reflectors, sometimes with a lens over the top to shape the beam a bit. Not the Detour. Its LED emitters sit in the top of the lamp and point down into reflectors that spread and shape the beam.
The big advantage of this is that it creates a wide beam, with a brighter central portion and a hard line top edge so you can set it up to avoid shining right in the eyes of other road users. It's great for seeing where you're going as well as for being seen.
The Detour puts out light in six different ways. Apparently trying to avoid the silliness of the lumen wars (Exhibit A: a '5,000-lumen' light for under £20) Outbound doesn't specify exactly how much light the Detour puts out but rather gives a percentage of the maximum output, which it says is approximately 1,100-1,200 lumens.
All constant modes except 'low' drop down to just under 50% output for about 20 minutes when they get close to drained.
High mode pumps out the unit's full possible output. It's bright enough to see where you're going on completely unlit roads. For night-time gravel riding, it doesn't quite have the total-area-floodlight effect of most mountain bike systems. It illuminates the track ahead well enough but you can easily miss a turn-off if you're not paying attention.
Adaptive mode starts out at the same level as high mode, and gradually reduces output so your eyes can get dark-adapted. Clever.
Medium mode puts out about 70% of maximum, and low mode a little under 50%. Both are plenty bright enough for urban riding.
There are two commuter modes too, daytime strobe and nighttime pulse. The daytime mode keeps a very low-level constant output and adds a pair of flashes every couple of seconds. Nighttime mode pulses at about the level of medium mode with a strobe flash every two pulses.
It's impossible to definitively test the effect on drivers, but using daytime strobe on an early morning ride I felt very visible, with oncoming drivers moving all the way over on narrow roads.
My only gripe is that unlike many current lights, it doesn't remember the last mode you used; turning it on always brings up full beam, so if you want a less bright mode you have to cycle through them.
Most high-end bike lights have aluminium casings for durability and to act as heat sinks and cool the LED. Outbound uses what it describes as an 'engineered resin that is not only very durable, but also conducts heat'. That keeps the weight down, too; it's 70g or so lighter than a twin-LED Cateye Volt 1600 I have kicking around. (To be fair, the Volt's brighter and has a big twin-cell battery, but its beam is nowhere near as well managed.)
Outbound's original road bike light used a separate battery pack in the style of many mountain bike lighting systems. The Detour's battery is built into the lamp, which makes for less faff in handling it: you just pop it off your bike, plug in your charger and reverse the process when it's charged.
We have Exposure to thank for popularising the idea of high-power all-in-one lights, moving the battery from a separate case into the light unit itself. I do like how OUtbound has taken it a step further here, shaping the case around the needs of the LEDs and reflectors rather than wrapping a big torch around the battery.
The Detour's mounting system nicks an idea from the world of photography. It's basically a scaled-down Manfrotto RC2 quick release, as used to fit and remove cameras from tripods. When you push the mounting plate on the light into the bracket, a spring-loaded latch closes automatically and holds the light firmly in place. It is, ahem, brilliantly convenient.
The mount has a 35mm handlebar clamp, with a shim to fit 31.8mm bars. That's a bit of a tell that Outbound specialises in mountain bike lights as 35mm is far more common on mountain bikes than road bikes. Outbound says shims for smaller handlebars are available, but for the cost of this light they really should be included in the package. To its credit, customer feedback on its site has several examples of Outbound sending free shims to people who forgot to order them with their light.
Getting the position of the Detour just right is tricky. There's a manual screw on the mount so you can loosen it to adjust the angle without having to mess with the main clamp, but it has teeth for grip so you can only change the angle in increments of a shade over eight degrees, which is the difference between it pointing mostly at the road in front of you and it lighting up roadside trees. I ended up carrying the included 2.5mm hex key so I could tweak the angle till I got it just so.
Outbound includes two USB-C cables to charge the unit, one with a USB-C plug at both ends and the other with good old USB-A.
As you charge the Detour, the four green LEDs on the top light up one at a time to animate 'filling' and show what's happening. When it's charged, all four glow. Outbound says it takes about two hours to reach 85%, then switches to trickle charge to protect the battery. I found all four LEDs came on after 2hrs 17mins using a three-amp USB-C PD power source. That's fast; high-power lights usually take three hours or more to take a full charge. Outbound cautions that it'll take a lot longer with power sources that don't put out as much current, so if you've got a drawer full of them, pick the highest-rated.
You can also charge the Detour from a 'power bank' battery pack while you ride, so if you need to extend the run-time for an all-nighter, you can. Again, go for a pack that can output three amps.
There aren't many lights easily available in the UK with a beam pattern that's tailored for road riding. Most simply put a big blob of light out front.
Exposure's Strada lights are the obvious competitor, but they start at £265, though that price does include a charger and a remote switch.
The Light & Motion Seca Comp 2000 is similarly spendy at £255, and despite a few feature shortfalls puts out a lot of very useful light without dazzling oncoming road users (read Mike's review for more details).
If you want a light that's friendly to other road users for urban use, take a look at the £50 Gemini Atlas, which meets the German StVZO standard for its beam shape. Lezyne makes probably the largest range of StVZO lights easily available in the UK.
If you love to ride at night and want a front light that reduces dazzle to other road users, this is a great light. Clever features like the mount, adaptive mode and the ability to run it off an external battery for longer life add to its appeal. The only major downside is that it's currently only available direct from the manufacturer, which adds £90 for shipping to the price.
Excellent front light with dazzle-reducing shaped beam
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Outbound Lighting Detour Bike Light
Size tested: One size
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?
Outbound says it's a "Wireless Bike Light with a cutoff beam pattern for Road/Gravel riding". And that's exactly what we find.
Outbound also says:
Our original Road Edition set the bar high for the last several years. So we were challenged on how to improve it.
Right away, we've ditched the large battery pack. This is all internal, self contained, USB-C rechargeable, and slim enough to fit in your pocket.
Then we fine tuned the heck out of the beam pattern. Extremely smooth and progressive light field from the front of your tire all the way to where you are looking. We also added sidemarker lights to help with visibility from the side, much like on cars.
We've incorporated our quick-release fiberglass-reinforced nylon mount that we, ahem, 'borrowed' from those clever camera guys to keep everything pointing in the right direction and easy to put on and take off with one hand.
We do have a custom mount solution to fit underneath most bike computers for that clean and tucked look: Quick Release Action Camera Adapter
Proudly and capably made just down the road in Chicago IL.
FOR YOUR BIKE
Bringing our automotive lighting experience to provide a clean cut-off beam pattern that evenly illuminates the road ahead. You wouldn't use a flashlight for your car, why use it for your bike?
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the light?
Also from Outbound:
This is the game changer. Not only did we bring the automotive grade cutoff beam pattern to your handlebars, we took it a step further by precisely controlling how much light leaves the light and hits the ground from the front of your tire all the way up to where you are looking. When you read "it's like riding in daylight" this is why.
We the only USA-based manufacture of cutoff (also referred to as STVzO) beam pattern bike lights, we also made sure the light has unreal width to light up the ditches and keep the spooky things away.
ROCK SOLID MOUNTING
A good light isn't so good if
it's bouncing up and down on the bars all the time. That's why we made a bolt-on clamp mount for Detour so it's solidly locked to the bar, With a simple shim it adapts from 35mm to 31.8mm handlebars (25.4 and 22mm shims available) and the beam won't shake around like lights with rubber strap mounts do.
KEEP LIFE SIMPLE
Few people read instruction manuals, even fewer want to, we keep our lights dead simple so that you don't need an advanced degree to remember some complicated sequence of button presses to get to the mode you want.
USB-C PASS-THRU CHARGING
We were one of the first to offer USB-C charging as standard, except we took it a step further by offering pass-through charging as well. This lets you plug in any USB power bank and charge the light while in use,
in any mode. Game changer for 24 hour races and extra long night rides!
When you pick up this light you might be surprised to not feel any metal. Plastic?! Must be something we used to be cheap isn't it? Far from it. This material we use is an incredibly cool (ha) engineered resin that is not only very durable, but also conducts heat. The result is a lightweight, durable, and thermally balanced light housing.
Lumens ~ 1100-1200 lumens
Battery Capacity: 5500mAH
150g Detour Lighthead
36g Quick Release Handlebar Mount
Adaptive - High - Medium - Low
Daytime Flash/Nighttime Flash
Thermally Conductive Nylon (CoolPoly) upper shell
GF30 Nylon for mount
High Strength polycarbonate lower substrate
Soft touch TPU overmold
PMMA aluminized reflector
Thermal protection circuit
Constant current step-down converter
Battery management system
QC3.0 USB-C charging
Low Battery warning
20 minute "get-home" buffer in every mode
What's in the box
Quick Release Mount for 35mm Handlebars
31.8mm Shim (25.4mm and 22.2mm available)
USB-C to USB-A charging cable (USB-C to USB-C available)
M2.5 Allen Key
The whole unit and its mount feels beefy and well made.
Cycling through modes is obvious. Turning the unit on always defaults to 'adaptive' mode. I prefer lights that remember the last-used mode, but it's a minor quibble.
The mount's a clever take on the quick-release camera mounts photographers have been using for years. It's rock-solid stable when mounted on the bar, and it's easy to get the light on and off. The only real problem is that the built-in angle adjustment, via a thumbscrew, is too coarse to fine-tune the beam direction so you have to do that by tweaking the position of the clamp itself, which is fiddly AF.
No issues, it's very well sealed.
Reasonable run-times; extremely fast charging; easy to extend run-time with an external battery thanks to pass-through charging.
The only thing that pulls the Detour down from a perfect 10 is that it doesn't remember the mode you were previously using.
Sturdy construction suggests it'll cope with anything short of using it for hackysack practice.
At under 200g, it's lighter than many high-power lights that don't have the charging speed or beam shaping.
It's decent value at the base price (currently £150, it changes with the exchange rate) but shipping from the US is £90 which, great though this light is, pulls down the value proposition.
Tell us how the light performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Tell us what you particularly liked about the light
Cut-off beam pattern; mount design; overall ease of use.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the light
Too-coarse angle adjustment.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
The base price is very fair, but getting it here from the US is a bit pricey. A reasonable comparison is with the Exposure Strada Mk 11 RS Aktiv, which has a road-specific beam and top-quality construction for an RRP of £285, for which you get a few features the Detour lacks, like a remote switch and auto-dimming.
The Light & Motion Seca Comp 2000 has a road-specific beam pattern too, but is brighter and more expensive at £255.
For a lot less money, the £115 Ravemen LR1600 https://road.cc/297437 has an excellent set of features, a good beam shape and long run-times, but it's rather more conventional than the Detour.
Did you enjoy using the light? Yes
Would you consider buying the light? Yes
Would you recommend the light to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
An excellent front light despite a couple of minor flaws.
About the tester
I usually ride: Scapin Style My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, general fitness riding, mtb,
John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.
He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.
Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc founder Tony Farrelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.
John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.
He joined road.cc in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.