Thursday, August 27, 2009

GamJams Reviews: Headlights - Light and Motion Stella 200N

I haven't done one of these for a while since the topics are either something I don't use or something I don't really have experience with or an opinion on. This week I feel like I have a little bit to put out on the table.

For last year's Leesburg Baker's Dozen and 24 Hours of Big Bear I had a pretty horrendous lighting situation (in retrospect). I was using a cheap 10 watt Performance brand light taped to my helmet along with a big clunky NightRider road rat on the handle bars. Neither light was particularly bright or long lasting, adjustability was nonexistent and generally these lights served simply to get me home safely but quite slowly. For general commuting purposes these lights worked just fine, enough light to see and be seen and with both at under $100, relatively affordable.

This year I knew I needed more for the racing since I was likely to be racing quite a bit harder then last season. I ended up getting the Light and Motion Stella 200N a small but powerful little light. The retail price was about $180 so it was more then my other two lights but still way less then a lot of the other big time lights that are available out there. Turned out I made the right choice.

The light output is substantially better then the other two combined and allows me to easily run just the one light on my helmet with plenty of light to see what I need to see. In the future I may pick up another to mount to the handlebars for the dual light setup but for now I never really felt held back with the one. The Stella comes with a helmet mount and a simple clasp closure that makes it easy to throw on with bars with no tools or additional mounting pieces necessary. That also means it'd be easy to switch between the commuter and the mountain bike (or whatever other bike you want it on) without having to move any mounting brackets or anything.

One of the most impressive things about this light is the run time. At the highest output the stated run time is 5 hours! So far I have not ridden through the battery including a few rides of 1-2 hours without a charge in between. So, unless you'll be out for a full night of riding the Stella should be able to light your way with no problems.

My single complaint about this light goes right along with my praises for it. While the mounting clasp is great with it's ease of use and overall accessibility, it can also cause problems in certain situations. Since it essentially uses a rubber strip wrapped around a bar the light can rotate up or down around the bar fairly easily. This was never a problem on it's own, even over the extremely rough terrain at the 24 Hours of Big Bear. Low hanging branches however can cause a serious scare.

I believe it was a night ride at Rosaryville wear I found this out. In one corner of the inner loop there is some overhanging vegetation you generally have to duck under. On one of the MORE night rides The branches caught the light and whipped it straight up and I was suddenly without a light in a near 180 degree turn with who knows what coming up. I made it out of it that time ok but I could see how that could have turned out pretty nasty.

A second bar mount light could probably save me there and with the brightness, longevity and ease of use I get with the Stella I'm more then satisfied with what I've got.

For another enlightening post on "lights" go see Jim's review for today.


Tom said...

I've picked up a cheap Chinese light for $90. Its got the newest p7 LED and is advertised as 900lumen. No, it doesn't put that out, I've heard 5-600. As comparison your light is advertised as 200 lumen.
I'm going to test it out at the Rose tonight.
I'm excited as this could get more people started with night riding.
Mines only 3 hours though on high.

GamJams said...

I'm glad to see you review this one - it was on the top of my list for a real headlight if my current setup isn't enough. Love the idea of the helmet-only approach too. I's a lot easier to dedicate a helmet to night riding than a full bike.

KMAX said...

Tom, I'd seen that you picked those up a while back and was interested to hear what you thought. Saw your post the other day about them, sounds like you got a great deal! I'll be keeping an eye out for your further experiences with that light. I may look into that if I decide to get another light, though i really do like the versatility of my Stella. Now if only I can figure out how to rig it for trail running...

GJ, It is an excellent choice for a quality light from (from what I know of them) a dependable and well established company.