High power portable lighting, as many of you know, isn’t just the realm of flashlights. There are times that you need illumination when you don’t have your hands free for the use of your personal pocketlight. I can’t think of a more appropriate time than when you’re speeding down a bike trail (or blazing your own) during the dead of night.
Meat and Potatoes
The Lumintrek TB-1000 is the first (and so far only) dedicated bike light I have tested. I’ve tried out a few flashlights that happen to have a bike mount, but nothing quite like this yet. This is a very purpose built machine, and that generally scores points with this author. Compared to the units that try to be everything to everyone, I generally give the dedicated “do one thing and do it well” products the best reviews.
The TB-1000 is a fairly typical flashlight head connected directly to an integrated mount. The battery pack is only connected via remote and is not at all part of the same physical unit. Like most bike lights I have seen, Lumintrek uses an uber-thick o-ring to actually grip the handlebar where it will likely be attached. This ingenious design provides quick attachment/detachment if necessary and allows for inequalities between various mounting locations. My personal bike handlebar appeared to be a little thin for even the smaller o-ring attachment, causing the light to droop a little during rougher riding, but I really suspect that most bikes will not really have a problem with this. It wasn’t particularly bad even for me.
The venerable Cree XM-L powerhouse is the order of the day once again. This tiny terror seems to have become the real go-to LED on nearly every illumination product being currently released. And no wonder, with a top end rating of 1,000 lumens, it’s not hard to see what the allure is. However without documentation specifying the adherence to ANSI FL1 standards, I tend to wonder whether these are out the front numbers, or simply calculated potential maximums. Either way though, the end result is one crazy bright light.
As I have seen before, the UI of a light designed for the bike trail apparently tends to differ quite significantly from what one generally experiences with a flashlight. Press-for-on is natural enough, but this one, like others, then moves to press-to-change-modes. I guess I can understand the concept, seeing as it would be easier to simply press a button to alter the output, than it would to press and hold it, while riding that is. Turning it off is a simple matter of hold the button for a few seconds. If you hold it long enough though, you will end up with a slow flashing mode to signal your whereabouts while still preserving runtime. I believe in some parts of the world, this might even be some kind of regulation that needs to be followed for riding on-road.
Build quality seems appropriately adequate, especially considering that this is something designed to be mounted rather than carried. The battery pack is simply what appears to be a quartet of 18650 cells packaged together and contained in a nylon and velcro enclosure. The light head itself however is well machined Aluminum with an apparently thick anodized finish.
The TB-1000 comes with a pretty standard H-M-L mode sequence with decently usable spacing between the modes. Lumintrek however uses a relatively high frequency PWM to create these lower modes. To be honest, it wasn’t something that was very blatantly noticeable, but those who are particularly sensitive to it may find it potentially distracting. I just think that a large capacity light designed for a moving platform such as this would definitely have benefited from a current regulated setup.
More noticeable by far is the poor quality of the beam itself. The overall shape is decent, providing a moderately throwy / midrange shape that does an acceptable job of spreading the light both across the path, and down range. The problem comes from the incredibly ringy nature of the beam. It honestly has the most artifacts I have yet seen, including besting all of my old Cree XR-E lights. Normally this would be the point where I would suggest the simple inclusion of a textured reflector, but the TB-1000 already has one. I believe that the only thing that could correct this problem is actually a major revision of reflector geometry. Don’t get me wrong, the light is still usable (I braved a bike ride in Michigan in January to ensure that), but the bulls-eye beam definitely ranks as distracting.
A fairly well thought through light, with a definite purpose-built mentality. It’s incredibly bright and well manufactured. The biggest drawback is the less than stellar beam quality, but on the whole a very usable product.
Provided for review by the kind folks at Light Junction.