ULTRA budget Bike Light Review

Review of ultra budget bike light available here

Since the fountain of affordable quality bike lights is quickly drying up with manufacturers either opting out of the segment of bike lights or offering lower quality of a previous item, I was wondering about the low end of the market. I previously tested a SolarStorm X2 from TinyDeal. The light didnot come with XML-2 Leds and the QC was bad as only one led was working when I received it. However, at the price of $24 it was still quite a steal considering you got the light head, head strap, battery pack and the charger!
I wanted to test another low end light and see if at the incredible low price of $15.68, we could get a functional, multipurpose and reliable bike light! Let’s get on with the review!!
The light was provided free of charge upon my request to Gearbest for review.

Packaging and contents:

  • Decently thick cardboard box
    1 x 3 XML-T6 LED Bicycle Headlamp Bike Light
    1 x Head strap
    1 x Charger (Us adapter type)
    1 x Power Bank, (4X 18650 cells)
    2 x O Style Circle Function
    Luminous Flux 3600LM
    Mode 4 (High > Mid > Low > Strobe).

Unpacking, Impression and review:
Light head:
Diameter: 43.5MM
Lenght: 55.6MM
I did not have weight measurements but it was in the 100 gram ball park would be my guess. I will try to update this information. The head light wire measures approximately 65CM and the battery wire is about 35CM.

The build quality of the light head looks impeccable. Seriously. It has nice fins that will help with cooling when riding. The 3 emitters are perfectly centered. The lens is made of glass which should help in reducing lumens loss and the reflector is dust and finger print free. So impressive, I might be tempted to say I got a hand picked unit :P. The base of the head light, which is an all aluminium construction by the way comes with a protective, semi grippy layer of ‘hard sponge’. This was not present in the SolarStormX2 and would prevent bar scratches and enhance grip.

The switch is very responsive and feels quality. It had a nice ‘click’ to it when pressed. Upon connecting the light with the battery pack, a switch turned green. I was pleasantly surprised that it was not too bright to be an annoyance when cycling at night. The green light is a led that can be seen when unscrewing the back of the light. A visual close inspection makes me believe these are genuine XML Cree leds (not L2) but still, triple Cree leds at this price point is pretty much unheard of.

Screwing and unscrewing the tail of the bike lamp was butter smooth. I am having a hard time to fault this unit. The only complaint I have here is that the oring looks a bit too thin to my liking. Build quality is excellent and the driver is firmly glued to the unit. I would have broken this light head and its driver open but since I am finding it to be a quality usable product, I think it will be better I refrain from doing so as it will be useful to some people I know.
Yeps the pics below are the guts/internals of a $15 bike light.

Operating the unit:

The light ramps from low (1 led lit), medium (2 leds lit) and high (all 3 leds lit) and finally to strobe which ‘strobes’ all the leds. The right led is activated on low, the right and left led on medium and all 3 leds on high. This mode spacing basically translates into 33, 66 and 100%. Here are wallshots and beamshots of the light in operation. I would estimate the lumens to be 300, 700 and 1000 lumens approximately.

Modes cycling: (GIF IMAGE)

To switch off the unit, you must cycle through all the modes to get it to power down. A nice little hack to turn it off immediately would be to pull off the connector of the battery since it is non screwable but rather of a click in type. I find this design awesome since it is less of a hassle to unconnect the battery to the head to either remove the head or leave your bike unattended (no glowing light is less likely to attract peoples attention).
I turned on the bike light and let it tail stand on low for 10 minutes. It was as cool as I left it. I ramped it up to medium for 10 more minutes. It was on the very warm side after 10 minutes. Without any pause, I fired the high mode for 15 minutes. It became hot to hold but definetely not uncomfortable. I can thus report great heatsinking/heat dissipation. At this point, this is starting to sound like a commercial but from my other reviews, you will see that I do not sugar coat crap items.
While testing, I noticed the green led (button) turned red as the battery started to get depleted! The light was still working perfectly in all modes. No clue how much juice left in it but you do get a warning when it starts to lose power.

What is nice is that the hotspot stays the same on either of the modes, meaning that the light will have a brighter hotspot at the location while getting better and brighter spill while you ramp up the modes. The low and medium modes are well spaced and useful. Only caveat is there is not enough visual distinction with the medium and high modes. This makes the high mode quite a battery burner for marginal lighting gains. My ‘visual’ non scientific inspection would rate the modes to be about 250/300 lumens on low, 600/700 on medium and about 900-1100 on high. It is also important to mention that the low mode is PWM controlled. However, it is fast enough to go undetected by me during use.
I am no wire expert and they are labelled as 24AWG. Also, the retaining o ring for the head unit could be of better quality. I feel it is ok but not that great. It is also on the shorter side and Ifeel it think it would be a very tight fit on some big bars/centre of bars.

Since these units have been known to come with low quality batteries and charger, I cannot vouch on their quality. It is a 1A charger and the model is HND058. Hopefully, someone can chime if they are safe to use or these cells should be charged outside the house or in a confined space with this charger.
With the battery indicator red, I charged the pack. It took exactly 4 hours to fully charge. The charger has a led indicator which is red while charging and turns green once the battery is recharged. I suspect it would take about 6-8 hours to fully charge a depleted pack and that the red indicator is a 30-50% battery capacity indicator. I should run down the pack to confirm this.

This light is a keeper but might not suit people who need a neutral beam as it comes in only cool white. It is a perfect commute cheap light that you will not fear of leaving on your bike.

Awesomely incredible low price. Seriously.
Insanely bright for the price. I’d rate it about 1100-1200 lumens on max.
Triple emitters and nice white tint.
Nice features to the head unit such as finned head which will help in cooling, rubber type material at base to help grip/prevent scratches, Non aggressive light battery indicator
No memory Mode ramping from Low to High
3 modes with the low and medium modes being great.
Top heatsinking
Battery indicator. Goes from green to red when battery starts to run low.

Retaining oring could be of better quality. Also quite short and will have problems fitting on the centre of some bars.
The visual gains when stepping from 2 leds (mid) to 3 leds (high) is marginal.
Some sensitive people might find the PWM at low a bit annoying but I could not notice it during use.

Switching off the unit requires going through all the modes. However, just pull off the plug also works since it is of a non screwing type.
Only US type battery charger.
Not 3600 lumens…Really. But hella bright
Came with Lattice Bright emitters instead of XML-L2

To do:
Proof read tomorrow.
Comparison with Fenix BC30, Quark X AA2 Tactical

Nice review.
How sturdy (and waterproof) is the plug? After all pulling it seems the best way to shut it down (and rain all bike riders encouter now and then)

Thanks for the review!
Just a couple of questions, can you measure currents as well? and is it only possible to get to the leds by removing the driver, or could it be opened from the front?
i do get tempted to get something like this and, as i’ve done quite often lately, change one or more leds to nichia 219A from fasttech

I would say it is very water proof. There is no way rain will get in there in my opinion. As for the light head, I found the oring at the back quite thin. It should keep rain out but I have no clue about heavy downpour.

I have no expertise to measure currents or the tool to do so. This is in my todo list (learn this skill this year :P). Judging from opening the back of the unit, there is some sort of aluminium wall pill between the driver and the leds. I think that the front head is either glued or something like that. I could not open it with my hands.
This would be the perfect toy to try this. I mean its so cheap.

If you compare it to say an Convoy S2 with one of those straps (I have a few and they hold all types of flashlights securely on the bikes from small zoomies to the heavy SRK)
What would you prefer?
I mean the UI on a normal tail clicky flashlight is decent and button easy to press, a S2+ is really resistant to water and when at destination easy to remove
Let me see if I can find a pic of the setup I mean…
Price is about the same.

Yes I found two old pics I made when the straps came in.

Now when I go to feed the cat of the late neighbour use two straps and that holds the SRK (a very nice flooder on the road without any lighting) very stable.
When I go into town I have the Thorfire VG10 and 1 strap, when it is darker, I need about 10 seconds to get it on and it sits also very stable.
Convoy S2+ (for sale at gearbest at ~14 ) and 2 of these straps at less then $1 would put t right at the same pricepoint.

First of all, I am a total Convoy S2+ Neutral tint fan. So, this will not really fare well here :).
Let’s say I am comparing the Convoy S2+ cool tint which more or less sells for $16. I have to add a cell + a charger which would add about $12 to the cost.

Cost wise: If you already have a charger and battery, the Convoy is a good deal also but the head gets scorching hot on high. If you don’t have any of those and want a bike light only, get the bike light. Cheaper.

The flood on both is about the same BUT with the Convoy you can choose the tint (IF you already have cells)

This light has great heat sinking and can be used as a head light too (It comes with the straps).
My take is that the bike light will fare better on bumpy roads with its strap. I have used the Convoy with a bike flashlight holder and I think it can be an issue on trails/very rough roads. I found it more than adequate and this unit will work too being given it puts out a hell of a lumens.

yes you are right, the cells and charger add up a lot to the total costs.

I bought this based on this review, and I think you either got a different quality or you are on wrong a few counts. The emitters are lattice bright, the small base is plastic.

There is a lack of strain relief on the cable, and the case is much larger than the pill, so the only contact is the end of 7 small points. The pill is surrounded by air.

If I knew that the emitters were fake I wouldn’t have bought it. But for $15 it does work. 3 levels and a strobe, battery and charger. With shipping. So it’s not a bad deal, it’s just not what I would’ve expected or wanted. Although now that I think about it maybe I should worry about the charger exploding and burning the house down. Probably should use my real charger :confused:

I haven’t tested the amperage or the battery capacity, but they are within reason I think for the price.

I bought this a month after your review, but never opened and examined it until I saw the fake emitters thread.

Always, for unknown chargers

Looking at the original review photos, I think MK got LB LEDs as well… }P

I got the emitters wrong and changed in on MTBR. I’ll edit my OP.