Trek Commuter Pro RT Light NSMB Andrew Major (4)
REVIEW

From Streets To Trails - Trek's Commuter Pro RT Front Light

Photos Andrew Major
Reading time

Motivational Trifecta

I was most stoked to get my hands on Trek's newest integrated light system because of a feature that deals with an issue that's come up in reader comments under articles about lights and night riding. Trek calls it Kindbeam and it's a setting that keeps light on the path ahead of you but won't blind oncoming riders or drivers.

It works and it's immediately noticeable. Kindbeam throws plenty of light for pedaling up single-track, unlit gravel or paved paths, and anywhere I ride my commuter, other than the darkest alleyways or fastest descents where I cycle up to 'high.' Trek says it pumps out 500 lumens - and that holds up when I've compared it to other systems. In Kindbeam setting, it'll run for three honest hours.

For trail use, the light pumps out 1000 lumens for an hour and a half. It uses the same mounting system as the Bontrager lights I've been running for years.

Trek Commuter Pro RT Light NSMB Andrew Major (5)

On the trail.

Trek Commuter Pro RT Light NSMB Andrew Major (6)

On the street.

I was also motivated by the excellent track record of the Bontrager Ion Pro RT lights I've been riding since 2018. I have a pair of them that have been used and abused off-road in every kind of weather. Recently I started noticing the run time on the older unit is starting to get closer to an hour than the original hour-and-a-half.

It's a magical time in the world of night riding. If you're chasing the daylight experience, check out NiteRider's line of Pro Systems or Light And Motion's SECA for examples. For the less ambitious, there is a plethora of mainstream options between 1000 and 1500 lumens of output that don't require a massive investment.

Having ridden all sorts of systems, I'm an advocate for going into the woods with a pair of self-contained light-and-battery units with at least that much output. I can see the whole trail, even on very technical lines, and on the dankest nights, but it remains a slower than daytime riding.

Trail Riding

In addition to commuting, I've used the Commuter Pro extensively in the forest. I've worn it as both a helmet and bar light, but mainly on my handlebar with a lighter unit on my helmet.

It has survived some biblical rain and even a dunking. My daughter managed to submerge the light, crashing into a decently deep, and I'm told "very cold," puddle. The IPX4 waterproof rating doesn't cover submersion, but the light was dry inside the charging port and I'm already very cautious with charging lights (only when I'm home, etc.) and I've continued using it without concern.

Trek Commuter Pro RT Light NSMB Andrew Major (12)

My grom managed to write off two bar mounts in one ride - that's mountain biking. The lights themselves were undamaged.

Trek Commuter Pro RT Light NSMB Andrew Major (13)

The LED fuel gauge isn't really useful on the helmet mount, but it's a great tool on the bar. I find it especially helpful for teaching someone about light management.

Trek Commuter Pro RT Light NSMB Andrew Major (11)

The combination of an Ion Pro for the lid and a Commuter Pro for the bar works well on the trail and pedaling home (when the lid light is off). This setup is 400 CAD.

Earlier in our review period, my daughter snapped two handlebar mounts in the same ride. The light however, was fine. We hadn't broken a Bontrager mount going back to 2018, despite plenty of crashes. I wondered if this was a reflection of leverage from the visibly larger Commuter Pro body, or maybe a running change in mount material, but as it turns out it was just a fluke. Trek covered the mounts and we've had no issues since, so I've written the episode off to, "that's mountain biking."

The LED fuel gauge is the winning feature of this light. It really helps with light management as a visual cue to remember to cycle down modes for longer climbs and to turn it off when stopped.

Trek Commuter Pro RT Light NSMB Andrew Major (14)

If you don't like the orange light windows on the side there is an easy fix - two small pieces of electrical tape.

Trek Commuter Pro RT Light NSMB Andrew Major (4)

I've never noticed them on the trail, but I assume they're beneficial when I'm pedaling home for work or a ride.

Bontrager Ion Pro RT

I think Kindbeam is nifty, and I'm quite enamoured with the LED fuel gauge. I'd love to have the fuel gauge on the Pro RT. But there's also a story here about how little light technology has progressed over the last five years.

Compared to the Trek Commuter RT, the Ion Pro RT is less expensive by 30 CAD and lighter by 25 grams, which matters on my head, or at least in my head. In a side-to-side test, on a nice night or in a shop, I would have boldly declared the 1000-lumen Commuter RT to be just as bright, or brighter than the Ion Pro RT 1300-lumen on high settings.

Bontrager Ion Pro Light AndrewM

The Ion Pro battery life indicator is much simpler. Green means go. Red means, go home. Flashing red means "WTF Are You Still Doing In The Forest?" The runtime does decrease over time.

Bontrager Ion Pro RT NSMB Andrew Major

On high, Trek lists the Commuter Pro at 1000 lumens vs. 1300 lumens for the Ion Pro. The Commuter actually appears brighter on a dry night but in the dank, the softer colour of the Ion Pro is better.

Out in the forest, I much prefer the warmer colour of the Pro RT when it comes to navigating dark greasy roots and distinguishing between the shine of ice, water and minerals in the rock-armoured trails that are good for riding in winter. For local year-round mountain biking, the Pro RT is better and cheaper.

Riding home from work I want to be the type of better person who would always choose Kindbeam. If you're the sort, I appreciate you. But I'm over it with cars; four ways flashers on, parked in bike lanes, or turning right too close in front of me, cutting me off in roundabouts, stopping half their wheelbase forward of any stop sign - if they stop at all. This happens every time I ride to or from work lately, and the majority of my commute isn't even on the street.

I very rarely see other folks on bikes on my route home at night so I'll choose the better offroad capabilities of the less expensive, and lighter-weight Pro RT light system for my own uses. I can charge my system at the shop, so on proper dank nights I'm running it on high the whole way; getting-doored-prevention mode.

Trek Commuter Pro RT Light NSMB Andrew Major (15)

Kindbeam.

Trek Commuter Pro RT Light NSMB Andrew Major (16)

High beam.

Options

In addition to core lighting brands and big bike and accessory companies, there are neat little concerns creating interesting lights, including the cool stuff happening at brands like Lynx OTG and Outbound. There are also some great customer service stories.

Lighting choices are almost overwhelming these days, whether you're leaning into best-on-a-budget or brightest daylight systems. I often end up recommending the Bontrager to friends as the lights are well-supported and readily available, and it's what I've mainly used personally for many years.

Trek Commuter Pro RT Light NSMB Andrew Major (17)

Battery life doesn't seem to be affected, at least not much, by what counts for 'cold' around here. As with any Li-Ion battery system your local situation may differ.

Trek Commuter Pro RT

If you're looking for an excellent commuting light with a proven track record for reliability, you can't go wrong with Trek's Commuter Pro RT. It'll happily do double-duty as your bar-mounted light in addition to a good beam from your helmet .

Kindbeam is a feature that plenty of folks are looking for, and it works as advertised. The 500-lumen fellow-traveler mode is plenty bright for commuting and runs for 3hrs. The lights should be in stock at pretty much every Trek Bicycles dealer and they're worth checking out in person.

The Commuter Pro RT system will set you back 215 CAD | 160 USD, pumps out 1000 lumens on high, takes 4hrs to charge, has an IPX4 Waterproof rating, and you can even use it to power your phone. There's plenty more information at Trek.

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Comments

Vikb
+1 Andrew Major

I'm happy to hear about the Kindbeam feature. That's one of the things missing from most lights I can easily buy here that makes them far less useful to me on the street. I had a nice German light with a vertical cutoff, like a car headlight, I used for city riding, but eventually my GF realized I had taken it and wanted it back!

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AndrewMajor
+2 BadNudes yardrec

“…but eventually my GF realized I had taken it and wanted it back!

I have had a few conversations this week about how families distribute lights - quite random. Sometimes funny.

Some folks have theirs/theirs, some folks have ours, some folks have lights assigned to specific bicycles. 

I think Kindbeam is a great feature for seeing and being seen without being obnoxious. But then sometimes it seems obnoxious is the only way to get noticed… flash the assholes glued to their cellphones while diving right in the face?!?!

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AndrewMajor
+7 Jotegir Velocipedestrian Mbcracken BadNudes yardrec NealWood Grant Blankenship

On this note my wife just had a too-close call with a zombie who did a no-look stop & roll at a 4-way this morning and I’m all fired up about high-beams and helmet lights for commuting at the moment. 

I know I’m an asshole, but I’m drifting back to the idea that weaponizing a 1000+ lumen helmet mount is actually the best defence against getting smoked. 

Kindbeam is for bike paths, high beam tilted up is for cars.

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jt
+5 shenzhe Andrew Major Velocipedestrian Vik Banerjee Jon Hillström

Well and good, but can we create a cycle rec path etiquette manual where one doesn't use their light howitzers on multi use paths that are free of cars? Especially in strobe. That one chafes my chamois-less hide way more than it should, both as a commuter and dawg walker.

And you're not an ass. People operating 2+ ton vehicles carelessly are.

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AndrewMajor
0

I was thinking about this on my ride home Saturday, much of which is not shared with cars.

Signage starting a culture of dialing back lights when not in traffic? 

I don’t know what the answer is but it would be great if folks dialled back the lighting on paths and I think it’s just a question of how you create that culture.

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tashi
+1 Andrew Major

Ha, glad to hear I'm not the only one with an appreciation for this aspect of running a bunch of bikes.  Running about a dozen bikes for the family my light allocation system is always being refined but I think it's finally pretty sorted.  Only taken me about 30 years.

Around here all the commuters have the same mounts and each adult has their own set of lights that moves between commuter bikes.  The high performance bikes and helmets have GoPro mounts   and fancier lights.

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cooperquinn
0

Juggling them around between a fleet of family bikes is.... annoying at best, riding home without a front light at worst, because someone poached your light and you didn't notice. 

And the constant annoyance of which ones are Micro-USB, and which ones are USB-C.

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Jotegir
+1 Andrew Major

Try attempting to keep track of a shop set of Bontrager lights after two summers of somewhat boozy group night rides a couple times a month...

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AndrewMajor
0

Keeping track of cables is not my favourite thing. Probably should have noted that this Trek light uses USB-C, which is the only thing I have that does.

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cooperquinn
0

I'm in this annoying space now where >50% of my battery operated gizmos (including laptops and whatnot) are USB-C. 

I actively avoid things that are micro-usb at this point for compatibilities sake.

AndrewMajor
0

@Cooper, I guess once someone buys their first USB-C product that’s the point where they need to stop buying Micro-USB? After all switching standards but having some legacy stuff around is only 1/2 the crime of supporting two competing standards at the same time.

Hopefully Trek-Bontrager will update the Ion Pro with USB-C and the fuel gauge but leave off Kindbeam to keep the package smaller, lighter, and brighter. 

-

On that note, is this the first step in Keith joining Gary 1 & 2 as part of Trej’s history?!

velocipedestrian
+2 Cooper Quinn Andrew Major

No replies allowed below Cooper, so here instead.

There are little adapters that have a female micro / male C which help in the early stages of standard switching - when house is full of micro leads, but few C.

just6979
0

You need a couple multi-headed charging cables that have plugs for both, and maybe even Lightning too. I have a few that live with the bike lights and strewn about the house so I can charge my phone, my wife's phone, and various USB micro & C gadgets (headlamps, dog tracker, baby monitor, earbuds, etc).

But really C is the future. At least grab some converters to either (slowly) charge C devices on old micro cables, or the reverse since you should only ever buy C cables nowadays.

AndrewMajor
+1 GB

The idea of buying adapters for my adapters drives me crazy, but you're not wrong.

GB
0

I recently purchased a new android phone . No charging cord included.  

I instantly  went to Walmart  and picked up a double pack of USB C adaptor s and a USB C cable . 

You have to love new standards eh? 

Devices should be sold with the proper charging cord or in the least print in the front in large letters for my old eyes . USB C .  

I'm certain  just like mountainbikes a new and improved standard is just around the corner .

AndrewMajor
0

In our house now there are no fancy lights since my last system crapped out. It was amazingly brighter than the little lamps I use, but not worth buying a new battery for compared to the night ride experience I’m looking for now. 

That said, lights do tend to be off-road primary and then commuter primary. This Trek light being the exception.

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Vikb
0

My take on it is if I want the guy/gal driving the multi-ton beast to be safe on the road blinding them with my light doesn't add to that in any way. If someone is looking at their cellphone it doesn't really matter what you have going on at your end. If I felt the need to have a "signaling" light I'd run the vertical cutoff light and then have a strobe as well I'd only use as needed.

For a while I got really annoyed with other cyclists and their fucking weapons grade uber strong LED strobe headlights. So I rode with my vertical cut off light to be kind, but I also had a strobe headlight I left off until needed to make a point. Not sure if they got the message, but hopefully when they experienced how unpleasant it was on the other end of a light like they were using they might reconsider? Probably not, but I got to work out some of my irritation. Cheaper than therapy. ;-)

We definitely have his and her lights. She upgraded from the German [vertical cut off lens] battery operated light to the same light-head powered with a dynohub on her commuter. So after seeing the battery light just gathering dust I adopted it. Worked great and I got to use it for a few years. Then she started riding other bikes at night and asked if I had seen the old battery powered light. So I "hunted" around the garage and found it...on my city bike! I'll eventually order one for myself. They are a bit painfully expensive and I don't ride at night a ton in the city these days so it's harder to motivate to pull the trigger.

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AndrewMajor
+1 BadNudes

I mean, first up some basic enforcement is desperately needed. Last evening there were eight traffic violations at the intersections where I was previously hit. 

-Four of them were cars parked in clearly marked 'No Stopping' spots which make it harder for them to see. 

-Two of them were cars doubling parking spots (with their 4-way flashers on, North Van style), which is a visibility issue and makes a semi-busy two-way road a single lane. 

-Two of them were blocking driveways to multi-family buildings (no drivers in cars), again with their 4-ways on). 

If Bylaw had an officer out it would have been revenue generating and it's like that almost every Saturday evening. Like shooting fish in a barrel as they say. 

-------

As to having a light that's not in a fixed position. I'm thinking I need to carry one walking too. It's not about passively making myself visible it's about having the ability to announce my presence. 

Walking up to see the local hockey team later, a parent in a Cadillac SUV (with children my kid's age in the car) came way too close to taking out my whole family as she hurtled off the main road to power through a parking lot, so she could bypass a red light, so she could get a parking spot up close at London Drugs. 

I'm certain she would have felt terrible for a few days if she killed us all but clearly, our clothing wasn't bright enough or our right-of-way on the sidewalk clear enough.

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qduffy
+1 Andrew Major

I agree about Bontrager. I have an Ion Pro for commuting/gravel/MTB.

Really interested in the helmet mounts - how are you setting that up?

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AndrewMajor
0

Trek tracer makes a Blendr mount that adapts their lights to any GoPro standard mount.

On my lid it’s Kali’s mount, on the Clairebarian’s lid it’s the stick Bell mount. But I’ve also run these lights on stick-on GoPro mounts. 

I’ll snap some photos for you later if you like.

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qduffy
+1 Andrew Major

Knowing they make an adapter is great. It'll work really well on my Bell Super (which has a nice light mount) but less good on the Troy Lee. I'll have to track something down for that.

Many thanks!

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GB
+1 Andrew Major

You finish work drive home . Get out of the metal cage and think . Wow I don't remember doing that whole trip. That's auto pilot . Had that experience? Then you had little or no attention to your surroundings.  

Zombie mode . Yes I see them when I'm commuting by bike . It's fun if you see them first . I yell really loud . Shakes them back into reality . Always with a sheepish I'm sorry look. 

Considered an air horn. You know who users horns? Assholes in a hurry lol. I'm not using a horn. Maybe  a flame thrower ....

My street has cars parked both sides . A two lane street is now parking lot with one lane . I see no choice but to use the entire road . Now I do most of the time . Curb riding is impossible.  It's now a parking lot . 

I'm literally  forced to take up an entire lane . 

The only thing that keeps me alive is careful  observation and taking up the whole road  On top of that carefully  watching every driver to see if they are zombies or crotch phone retards .  

Up front I point the lights low just in front of the tire . 

Out back 200 lumens right in the face of drivers . 

Considering  how much bikes cost these lights are an absolute  bargain.   

The power gauge is excellent.   If you can't change up to a fresh battery  like my Fenix .

It's been mentioned  that you can force a sealed unit open and replace the battery when it begins to loose its vigor . 

Andrew it's your life your protecting take up the whole lane . Smile and wave at the people in automobiles.  At stop sighns turn around and get eye contact with driver . Give him the stink eye if needed .

In North van and Vancouver  most people accept  bikes now and are courteous.  I always smile and give thanks to courteous drivers .  

The selfish assholes endanger people's lives . For some reason that's acceptable to them. 

Getting your daughter to embrace the cold and go nite riding . Awesome !

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AndrewMajor
+3 bishopsmike GB BadNudes

Crotch gazers were my biggest grumble this side of zombies flinging their doors open - RIP Mike McIntosh - but the last few weeks walking to grocery store I’ve seen three people watching f***ing YouTok or TikTube on their phone mounted on their dash. If we can’t enforce basic driving laws on the biggest & busiest pedestrian corridor in North Vancouver (which is also where I was hit from behind on my bike in December) then how can we be surprised folks are driving around feeling like they have immunity (they basically do).

I drive a car way, way more than I wish I did - that’s life. I’m beyond anxious of what my multi-ton death machine could do to someone who’s not in their own metal box. Why aren’t more people? Even for selfish reasons, imagine learning to live with yourself after wiping out a kid on a bike or in a crosswalk?

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just6979
+1 Andrew Major

Thanks for sharing LinkOTG! I've been looking for a good light that takes standard cells and makes them easily replacable. (Well, most everything in the mtb world actually uses standard cells, they're just locked away because it's easier to seal, I guess?) I also just lost my best non-bike headlamp when moving house, so perfect timing, even though this one is going to end up on my bike immediately!

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AndrewMajor
+2 JT Justin White

I love that it’s designed for easy replacement of cells. Wish every self contained light was the same.

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skooks
0

The Lynx lights are great. I really like how easy they are to move between helmet mounted and headlamp mode. It makes them super versatile. I love mine for commuting but it's not quite enough for off road night riding.

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AndrewMajor
0

What are you using as a head lamp for trail riding? Just curious for a comparison.

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skooks
+1 Andrew Major

Glow worm X2. Brighter, lighter, and longer run time at full power. The Lynx is fine for slower trail riding, but I really prefer the X2 for anything steeper or faster at night.

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AndrewMajor
0

I like to ride slower tech stuff at night - or with my kid. How's the colour of the Lynx comparatively when it comes to the darkest, dankest nights? 

Cheers!

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skooks
+1 Andrew Major

I run a Lynx on my helmet for commuting. Its very easy to dial down the brightness to avoid blinding oncoming cyclists. I have no problem blasting it at a driver who doesn't appear to notice or care that they're about to run over me. This happens at least once per ride, and so far has been pretty effective at getting driver's attention.

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AndrewMajor
+1 BadNudes

Yeah, I think I'm going to start riding with a helmet light as a form of active communication with drivers.

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yardrec
+1 Andrew Major

Lynx Raven is a great light for everything from trail riding to night hiking to trying to find missing items at the back of drawers. I think the bar/helmet mount is a little light weight, but it holds the light very well. The mount for the bars just broke on a big crash... even 2 fingers couldn't survive without breaking, so no shade being thrown on Lynx. They're a great company to work with.

I really like Serfas MTB lights. Field replaceable batteries and super bright directional light. The old Tru-750 even had interchangeable lenses for wide/narrow beam patterns. 

The Outbound Hangover has good wide pattern, but wish the battery lasted longer.

The Seca Endura is the best light I've used and it's on full blast on the bars for the entire ride. I stick the battery in a Revelate Gas Tank bag. Still working to find a good pairing for my helmet. For the dark dank nights this winter, it's nice to have some atomic brightness.

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AndrewMajor
+1 yardrec

Yeah, the SECA is more of a bring-day-to-night light. I just retired my last system (NiteRider) as the battery stopped holding a charge. It's quite a few years old and it's still impressive how much brighter it is than the self-contained units I run now (even with the battery ~toast). 

I guess I'm just chasing a different night riding experience now, because, for me, the max brightness matters a lot less than it used to.

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yardrec
+1 Andrew Major

For slower solo rides, less brightness is fine. Riding with a crew going fast I like being able to see more.

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AndrewMajor
+1 Justin White

That's an interesting point. I often night ride by myself or with my kid, and when I do ride with other folks they tend to have similarly powered lights to myself. If I was very regularly trying to keep up to folks with super-bright lights I may get pulled into the arms race. 

------

Counterpoint. Maybe. How many folks have a wicked light system sitting at home that's been used thrice and would have been just as well served with a couple of Ion Pro lamps that would double for the cycle commuting they're thinking about doing when the weather gets nicer?

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yardrec
0

We've been playing the brightness arms race as the cheap Chinese lights die randomly in the woods. That being said, everyone is moving to brighter lights, and everyone seems more happy.

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just6979
+1 Andrew Major

I think max brightness only mattered when the optics weren't as optimized. I actually do NOT want a 2000-3000 lumen night-to-day light, way too much glare & reflection. It sucks when you go near some foliage, or even just close to a light colored rock, and your hyper-bright light suddenly gets it's full beam reflected right back into your face by something just a few feet away. And that's just with a 1200ish lumen light, I can't imagine how destroyed my vision would be with 2-3 times as much light bouncing back.

At some point, no matter the optics, more lumens isn't going to add useful brightness to the area you need to see in order to ride. 4000 lumens might be able to light up trees a half mile away, but that's literally useless for riding.

I chase the exact same experience riding at night as during the day, and a Bontrager Ion Pro on my helmet and a Gloworm CX (self-contained X2-ish) on the bars, I can and do ride the exact same things. Too much more and the trail just ahead becomes "over-exposed" and blown-out color-wise, way harder to gauge traction when you can only see shapes.

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AndrewMajor
+1 Justin White

My follow-up question is around the weather. I love the Ion Pro up top until it's a really, really dank, damp night and then I feel like more juice would be helpful. Do you night ride much in rain or overcast?

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just6979
+1 Andrew Major

Well, just last night it was overcast and precip was frozen mist, and I had the usual kit and it was awesome. My one fellow rider that night is running full Outbound, so he's got a bit more bright but most importantly a huge spread, but neither of us were really looking for a ton more. I think with rain or mist I still don't want more than that, again for that reflection factor. It's like why you don't want high beams when driving in fog.

Something like Outbound's adaptive mode could probably be nice for the dankest darkest nights, but I think their current iteration on the headlamp is too conservative with the ramping. The one complaint that friend has is that adaptive doesn't line up time-wise: the head light on adaptive lasts about an hour less runtime than even non-adaptive high on the bar light. Better off running medium head and high/adaptive on bars since we always manage to spend close to 3 hours on night rides since the lights are great and we end up sessioning and trying new stuff despite it being night.

(3 hours is pretty usual for CX at 90%, with 1 Ion at medium or 2 Ions in sequence on high depending on how I feel.)

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AndrewMajor
+1 Justin White

Cheers Justin!

I need to replace one of our headlamps - the Ion Pro with reduced runtime can become a spare - and after weighing pros and cons I think we'll just get another Ion Pro.

just6979
0

Hell yeah, I certainly wouldn't pass up another Ion, but I'm def going to try a Lynx Otus: because I need a strap-mountable headlamp anyway, and the CAD to USD exchange rate is pretty decent in my direction right now, hehe.

AndrewMajor
+1 Justin White

@Justin, post up once you hav me it with a comparison v. Ion?

Cheers!

yardrec
+1 Andrew Major

I'm all for full atomic brightness when riding at night around cars. Especially during the dusk/rushhours. I take back streets mostly and if cars can readily see you from 3-4 blocks away and take note somewhere in the middle of posting a video, scrolling their social media and buying something from amazon all while operating a multi-ton tank, the earlier the better!

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