Review of UniqueFire HD-016 bike light

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lagman
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Review of UniqueFire HD-016 bike light

Gearbest kindly sent me this bike light for review.
That doesn’t mean that my review is biased, I’ll be as objective as if I bought the light with my hard earned money.

Presentation

  • This is sold as a bike light as well a a head light. It does both well.
  • It is sold with a battery pack (2S2P) with a long wire.
  • There are two XM-L2 LEDS. One has a deep reflector, sending light far away (thrower) and the other has a shallow one, for close up lighting (flood).
  • There are 4 modes:
  1. Flood LED only
  2. Throw LED only
  3. Both LEDs
  4. Blinky
  • A long press will turn the light off.
  • There is no lower mode, but that’s OK IMO for a bike light.
  • There is no visible PWM.
  • The light setup as a headlight weighs about 360g. Most of the weight is in the battery pack (about 200g).

Summary

Pros:

  • Nice construction with decent water proofing
  • Good user interface with battery indicator
  • Decent runtime (2-4h)
  • Nice beam pattern
  • No visible PWM

Cons:

  • Battery capacity is on the low side for a 4 cell pack.
  • When used as a head light, the wire between the battery and the light is too long

A few pictures…

The light came in a nice box with a magnetic hatch.
The box contains:

  1. Light with its non removable cable and water resistant connector
  2. Head band
  3. Battery pack with water resistant connector and rubber coating
  4. Two rubber straps to fix the light to the headband or to your bike handlebar
  5. Nylon strap to fix the battery pack to the head band or to your bike frame
  6. Charger (8.4V 1A)


Connector between light and battery pack. Notice the Oring and screw.

The light

The body of the light is made out of aluminium. The anodizing is good and it arrived in perfectly good condition.
To make light, it uses two XM-L2. The tint is cool, if I had to guess I would say the bin is 1A. Each LED has a different reflector. One is deep which produces a tight spot (throw) while the other is very shallow and produces a very wide beam (flood).

  • There are 4 modes:
  1. Flood LED only

The beam pattern is very (very) floody. Almost like a bare LED without reflector. This mode is useless to light anything faraway. Runtime: ~4h.

  1. Throw LED only

The deep reflector has a standard beam pattern for this size. It is very similar to my convoy S2+. Runtime: ~4h.

  1. Both LEDs

In this mode the runtime is halved (~2h). It is a nice combination of flood and throw, perfect for a bike light.

  1. Blinky
    About 10Hz and uses both LEDs

A long press on the button in any mode will switch it off. When the light is switched on, it always starts in flood mode. There is no memory.
This is acceptable IMO as it’s much easier to develop memory of the click sequence to go in the mode you want. Also, if you don’t like blinky you almost never have to cycle through it as it is the last mode.

The guts

The light comes appart easily. Two screws on the front and two on the back. There are orings everywhere. The blue ring that can be seen above has an unusual shape. I wonder if it does a good job at stopping water… However the screws are not water tight. Adding some thread locker would probably solve the issue.

  • Driver

As you can see, there are two drivers on the same board, one for each LED. There is a controller that enables or disables each driver separately to create modes.

The drivers use a buck topology. (If you want to know more about this, I published a guide with more details here)
The input voltage varies between 8.4V and 6V because the battery pack has a two series (2S) configuration. I tried to feed the drivers with a lower voltage and they kept working fine even at 4V.
The light output is perfectly stable until the last moment where the battery pack protection kicks in. That’s a big plus for me.

Some current readings on the battery side:
1 LED: 0.6A at 8.4V
2 LEDs: 1.2A at 8.4V
I also measured the current at a very low voltage:
1 LED: 2.2A at 3.4V
This is not the normal operation so it is just to show that the driver will increase the input current when voltage decreases to maintain a constant light output.

  • Battery indicator
    There are three green LEDs next to the switch that indicate roughly the state of charge of the battery. The green LED starts blinking when there is about 5% left in the battery. This is also very useful IMO.

Heat Management


The body is hollow to host the driver.

The LED is properly glued down on a metal ring. I’m confident that the heat transfer is good on that part. However that metal ring is then simply placed on a notch in the body. Once the front part and reflectors are in place and screwed in there is some pressure that maintains a good contact between the metal ring and the body. I don’t know how good the heat transfer is at that point, but I don’t really like it. However I’ve seen much worse and the body heats up quite quickly so at least some heat is transfered. What I would like to see is the LED directly screwed or glued to a thick plate that is part of the aluminium body. For people who don’t care about this, I’ll just tell you that this is not perfect for LED longevity but will work fine.

Reflector and Oring. Nothing to say.

Head strap

The head strap is adjustable in every way possible and I have no complain about it.

Battery pack

When I received it, the battery pack was at 8V. I did a full charge and discharge test and got a capacity measurement of about 2500mAh. This is very bad for a 2S2P pack! That means that each cell has about 1250mAh… As of today a very good cell has about 3000mAh and a cheap one is around 2200mAh. This is a big con for me, they saved a few bucks (less than $4USD) on the batteries but that halved the runtime!!

The battery pack is enclosed in a nice rubber pouch that will probably protect it from rain.

There is no markings on the cells. There is a battery protection circuit board (PCB) under the black heatshrink. The light will run until the protection kicks in.
Once the protection is triggered, the pack won’t allow the light to turn on again until charged for a few seconds.
After the protection stopped the discharge, the battery pack was at 6.2V. This is a good value. The PCB also protects the pack from short circuits.
I measured the total pack resistance (batteries + PCB + cable) at around 0.15ohms. I’m surprised at this value, it is very good.

Charger

The charger came with a US plug. However it works fine with a EU adapter and 230V.
The open circuit voltage is 8.42V which is good for a 2S pack.I don’t know if the PCB inside the battery pack balances the cells.
The charger takes 2-3h to charge a pack.
The LED on the charger is red when charging and green when it’s done.

I’m no expert, but I’ve seen worse. The charger doesn’t get very hot which is a sign of good efficiency.

Final words

Overall I think that this is a very good bike light. It’s also a good headlight, specially with the flood mode which is very useful for close up work.
At a price of $30-35USD it’s a very good value. It’s perfectly usable as is.
For people who like to tinker, you can replace the battery pack to increase runtime (or decrease weight) and try to increase current (just make sure to improve heat transfer before doing that).

My English isn’t perfect but I’m trying to improve it. If you see something that doesn’t sound right or is just plain wrong, please feel free to point it out! Smile

Edited by: lagman on 10/04/2014 - 09:00
lagman
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Sorry for not having reduced the weight of the pictures… I’ll do it next time.

My English isn’t perfect but I’m trying to improve it. If you see something that doesn’t sound right or is just plain wrong, please feel free to point it out! Smile

lagman
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up. Smile

My English isn’t perfect but I’m trying to improve it. If you see something that doesn’t sound right or is just plain wrong, please feel free to point it out! Smile

garrybunk
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I just stumbled on this review.  Thanks!  I am very interested in this light and also very interested in your findings that this light will run on 4.2v input!  (I'm thinking a 1S4P battery arrangement with unprotected cells.) 

-Garry

My Bike Lights Thread, Optics (TIR) Comparison Beamshots, Diffusion Techniques

, MTBR’s Lights & Night Riding Forum
NOTE: Now hosting my photos from my Google account. Post up if you can’t see them. Older photos hosted on Photobucket or Flickr may disappear (PM me if you want access to them).
ImA4Wheelr
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I meant to read this review in more detail and then reply, but I lost track of it.  My apologies. 

Nice review and break down shots.  Looks like this light takes the X2 form factor to a new level in functionality.  Actually, I would like to have an X2 and this light as they have very different beam patterns.

Too bad these lights don't have modular battery packs so that half the pack could be used when using as a headlamp.  Those bike sized battery packs are just too chunky to wear on one's head.

eebowler
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Thanks for the review!

My gratitude to those who are willing and able to help others (in whatever way you can)! Being human is more than just existing for yourself. Smile

lagman
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Finally some exposure. Smile
I was disappointed to see no replies to my review that took so long to make.

My English isn’t perfect but I’m trying to improve it. If you see something that doesn’t sound right or is just plain wrong, please feel free to point it out! Smile

ImA4Wheelr
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^ That is common with reviews.  Lots of work and usually very little feedback.  They provide a good service and more people are probably benefiting from your review than you realize.

NightSpy
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I find the review very comprehensive and this is very much appreciated, lagman.

We may not always say it, but when someone takes the time to go this far in depth, it is something that will be referenced by many for a long time to come.

MountainKing
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Thank you for the comprehensive review. Merci Wink
Some questions.
1. What battery does this kit use?
18650 is appears to me from your pics

2. What is the weight of those batteries? (Weight is some issue for cyclists)
360 grams as headlamp. I assume its more for the bike setyup?

3. Can you check if the light is ‘blinding’ for upcoming traffic? (flood, throw, both)

4. How much lumens estimate do you think it outputs in the different modes?

5. As a con, you could say that it does not have modes for lumens selection (say 10%,30%,50% etc)

edit:

6. Have you tested the sturdiness of the light on a bike handle bar? ie no wobbling or moving out of placement on bumps etc

Never ever forget and forgive. Niwal**er new kid on the block trying to act tough.
http://budgetlightforum.com/node/24847
Do not support this brand.

DINODIRECTSCAM COMPANY. DO NOT BUY
http://budgetlightforum.com/node/11324?page=2#comment-254983

lagman
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MountainKing wrote:
Thank you for the comprehensive review. Merci Wink
Some questions.
1. What battery does this kit use?
18650 is appears to me from your pics

2. What is the weight of those batteries? (Weight is some issue for cyclists)
360 grams as headlamp. I assume its more for the bike setyup?

3. Can you check if the light is ‘blinding’ for upcoming traffic? (flood, throw, both)

4. How much lumens estimate do you think it outputs in the different modes?

5. As a con, you could say that it does not have modes for lumens selection (say 10%,30%,50% etc)

edit:

6. Have you tested the sturdiness of the light on a bike handle bar? ie no wobbling or moving out of placement on bumps etc

Thanks to all for the nice words. Smile
Sorry for the late reply MountainKing, I’ll try to answer my best.

1.Yes, the battery is made out of four 18650 cells in a 2S2P configuration. The batteries are really bad, each can only deliver about 1200mAh

2. Each 18650 is about 45g and these ones don’t feel any lighter. The pack should weight in about 200g. I don’t have a scale right now so it’s only an estimation.
As each cell only holds about 1200mAh, you could (if you like to tinker) replace this pack with a pair of good quality 18650 in a 2S1P configuration and get the same runtime. That would make the light about 100g lighter. In a bike setup, you just attach the light with a rubber ring (see pictures) so you don’t use the head band. The total weight is about the same though, as the headband is very light.

3. Yes, it can blind people very easily! However the throw LED on its own will not blind people if you point it slightly downwards IMO.

4. If I had to guess I would say about 400 lumens per LED (800 lumens total)

5. For a bike light I personally prefer to have only a few modes as it can be distracting to have to cycle through many modes while riding. I like the fact that it starts in the flood mode. Maybe that replacing the strobe mode with a 30% flood would make it better but it’s not a big issue.

6. The light is supplied with two rubber handlebar fixation (see pictures) with different sizes. You can use the small size one if your handlebar is small to get a tight fit and it won’t wobble. I haven’t tested it on a mountain bike though, only on a city bike.

One last note: I noticed a particularly high current drain when the light is left unused: a fully charged battery will be empty after 6 days if left unused but plugged. You have to remember to disconnect the cable when you stop using it and that’s annoying.

Don’t hesitate to ask for more infos. Smile

My English isn’t perfect but I’m trying to improve it. If you see something that doesn’t sound right or is just plain wrong, please feel free to point it out! Smile

MountainKing
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Thanks lagman. You answered all my questions Smile
I see some of the issues are really annoying. While it is good for the price, it still lacks stuffs I might need and that current drain is a killer.
I still believe lumens choosing ability is a MUST. Sometimes, you need full lumens, sometimes less. Might depend on speed, area riding or if you have little juice left on your battery etc.

Never ever forget and forgive. Niwal**er new kid on the block trying to act tough.
http://budgetlightforum.com/node/24847
Do not support this brand.

DINODIRECTSCAM COMPANY. DO NOT BUY
http://budgetlightforum.com/node/11324?page=2#comment-254983

siata94
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thanks lagman for the thorough review and pics.

I’m a mountain biker and def interested in learning more about lights. I’m just starting out w/
night riding as well as the world of BLF, I’ve decided to try the regular flashlight route first before
I try out bike-specific lights. The nice bonus is I could also use the flashlights as flashlights as well.

I’ve had hikers beam me w/ their flashlights. Just received my Jacob A60… :-).

lagman
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siata94 wrote:
thanks lagman for the thorough review and pics.

I’m a mountain biker and def interested in learning more about lights. I’m just starting out w/
night riding as well as the world of BLF, I’ve decided to try the regular flashlight route first before
I try out bike-specific lights. The nice bonus is I could also use the flashlights as flashlights as well.

I’ve had hikers beam me w/ their flashlights. Just received my Jacob A60… :-).


To be honest I also use regular flashlights on my city bike. The main reason being that it’s much easier to remove (it gets stolen if I don’t remove it).

My English isn’t perfect but I’m trying to improve it. If you see something that doesn’t sound right or is just plain wrong, please feel free to point it out! Smile

NightSpy
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I bolt my bike lights in place.

siata94
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as a bump and a minor hijack… Smile

Last night I did my first MTB ride w/ both bar and helmet flashlights. Strapped a modded 502b on the helmet w/
velcro and it was solidly locked in place, no jitter at all. Fortunately my Giro helmet has a center vent on top
that’s ideal for mounting, perfect weight distribution and almost perfect beam angle. My Fox, which is my preferred helmet, doesn’t so despite trying for 3 hours to McGyver it, couldn’t get a satisfactory setup. I guess the Giro will be my night ride helmet but something to look for when shopping for a new helmet.

1000 wide and floody (DC Fix) lumens on the bar, 800 throwy lumens on the helmet was quite usable but because I’m terrified of the dark, enough is never enough :-). My ride took 1’15”, 9.3 miles, 1400’ of elevation, but only about 50 mins was with the lights on. According to my Opus, used up 1500 mah on one, 750mah on the other. So still have decent run time left w/out needing to change batteries. Not too shabby. I’m not one to go for epic rides, prefer to go 4-5x a week instead if possible so for me this setup is more than workable. Each light w/ battery is about 175g, I carry a backup so that’s 175×3 total. I’ve discovered that if I ran out of battery on one light, it’d be preferable to run the helmet light instead of the bar light as my trails have lots of switchbacks.

Your modded HD should be awesome on the trails. I need to step up to multi-emitters!!! Hoping to get either more output/same run time or same output w/ longer run or both.

bombicri
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I am completely new to the bike lights.
I want to buy for me, my son and his wife as well as for my grandson some UniqueFire HD-016.
I saw on Ebay next advertising:
5000Lm 2*CREE XM-L2 LED Bicicleta Luz Frontal Faro Linterna LÁMPARA 8800 batería
(http://www.ebay.es/itm/5000Lm-2-CREE-XM-L2-LED-Bicicleta-Luz-Frontal-Faro-Linterna-LAMPARA-8800-bateria-/171386119980?ssPageName=ADME:X:RTQ:ES:1123)
I can not understand how is possible to get 5000lm from just 2 leds even they are XM-L2.
Is this a lye or is true?

NightSpy
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Those are Chinese lumens. The same as Chinese Mah ratings of batteries.
Haven’t you heard the saying “everything is bigger in Texas”…
well, in China, everything is HUGE! So what is 1-1/2 meters to use is 4 meters to the Chinese.

That is also how they can give an MSRP price of $90 for a C8 flashlight… discounted HUGE-ly at 90% to only $9.
When you see a Chinese add claiming a quantity of anything, remember to discount the value to 1/3.

bombicri
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I received my 4 pieces UniqueFire HD-016 dual beam Bicycle headlight from Gearbest, 2 pieces black and 2 pieces blue. Both colors are nice and anodisation of aluminium body is good.
They will be the Christmas gifts for me, my son, his wife and for my little grandson

  • Arrival time – arrived in Romania in expected time, about 3 weeks.
  • General aspect – The general aspect is good.
  • Battery strap – The strap for battery is too short to be able to go under the battery pack. I must manufacture other straps, longer.
  • Cables – The cables are too long. If the battery will be fixed on crossbar near the head tube and the light itself will be mounted on handlebar the extra cable length must be tighten with something on the crossbar near the battery. Would be nice if battery cover would have a little pocket for the extra cable length.
  • Head strap – Nothing to say, good enough.

I did not yet verified anything like autonomy or current absorbed by LEDs but first impression is good, the light is enough bright, mainly with both LEDs on. But I made the test in my garden which is only 16 m deep. In spring I shall see the trouth.
If I am looking to Fenix 30 bike light I can say yes, Fenix is more professional, light is nicer distributed in 2 zones, but the cost is something like 99 $/piece. Note that I bought 4 lights for this money. I think that these lights are doing enough good job for the purpose.
I shall try the autonomy but I need to get a fan. On total, till now, I am satisfied with this buy.