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TESTED: Light and Motion's Vega

RC

Ever thought, or perhaps that should be dreamt, of getting an extremely reliable commuter/training light? Well Light and Motion appear to have come up with the answer to all those rides in the dark this winter with their latest unit; the Vega. Named after one of the brightest starts in the universe, but is it aptly named?

Well naturally the first thing I did before buying was to go to my local bike shop and try it out – they let me briefly test it in an unlit room. Its robustness and quality was immediately noticeable – the casing is made from extremely tough aluminium and accounts for the majority of the 215g light unit weight. The yellow logos on the light were very eye catching and I was overwhelmed when I first saw the Vega switched on, the light emitted an incredible 10 foot circular beam of light with gradual fade from the beam centre outwards, thanks largely to the carefully designed lens.

For £125 you get the light unit itself, a smart turbo battery recharger and one handlebar mount. The light unit itself contains a 3.8 watt Luxeon star LED (Light and Motion round this to 4 watts according to their marketing literature). The claimed lifespan of the LED is 10,000 hours. This is housed centrally in the main battery unit. In the unit houses 4 AA size rechargeable NiMH 2000 mAh batteries which are hardwired (soldered) in place and at the rear of the unit is a standard switch which operates on/off, high, medium and low beam settings. Two quick presses of the switch fires the light up and holding the switch for a couple of seconds turns the unit off. The batteries have a minimum charge cycle of 500.

RC

The battery recharger is marginally bigger than a standard domestic plug and its main purpose is to regulate and be able to tell when the batteries are fully recharged. Once this is detected the charger stops charging so that no damage is done to the main unit itself. Clever stuff. Lastly the handlebar mount is designed similar to Cateye and other popular makes but the main differences are that Light and Motion have used a thumb screw to tighten the mount to handlebar and have also incorporated a ball bearing to hold the light in place, the light is simply slid onto the mount and a semi circular slot on the light engages with the ball bearing – this will prevent it vibrating free.

So we come to the ‘burning’ question. Does the light deserve to be named after the Vega? It certainly does. During testing, about 80% of my riding was on completely unlit rural roads. To give an idea of how bright the light is, I never used the high setting once (2 hour burn time) and found medium (4 hour) to be more than adequate. Drivers dipped their main beam about 100 metres away from me so absolutely no case of not being seen. Cat’s eyes lit up about 70 metres down the road as did road signs which were clearly readable at the same distance. For lit street roads, the low (8 hours) beam was comfortably sufficient to be seen by drivers.

RC

On several occasions due to heavy use, battery power went low. The large green lit switch at the rear of the light unit flashed about once a second to warn me about this, rather than just cutting out. I then pressed the switch until flashing mode was reached (24 hours). Thankfully it was sufficient to get me home without any problems. A very noticeable thing was that even though the battery was low, the quality of light was unaffected. Once home, I plugged the charger in and again, the green light switch illuminated once a second until full charge was reached. 1 hour and 43 minutes later and hey presto, back in business!

Conclusion
I really can’t fault the performance of this light in any way. I lost count of the number of times I hit potholes expecting the light to fall out of alignment. It never did.

Overall, the only disappointment was on the subject of warranty repairs. As there is no repair centre in Great Britain, any faults/repairs and the light must be sent back to Light and Motion in Monterey, California meaning that you could be without it for at least two weeks. However having seen first hand the build quality of the light and its components, its hard to see the light developing a fault. Editor’s foot note: Madison (Ultimate Pursuits) have just kindly told us that they will handle any warranty issues in the UK.

Also I would have liked to have the opportunity to change the already high capacity batteries to even more powerful ones so that burn time could be further increased but with the batteries soldered in, this is impossible. Perhaps this may be offered as a later upgrade?

If you are a heavy commuter and need a reliable light then this is the baby for you. Again, if you are doing serious training miles in the dark evening, I’d highly recommend buying this. If you can see beyond the price (I’ve seen them for sale at various mail order companies for £99.99), this light will last you for years.


RCUK VERDICT

Links:
Manufacturer’s website: Light & Motion

To order: Ultimate Pursuits



Small and simple and NO WIRES!

Looks neat and doen’t take up much bar room

Superbly made and well finished

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