K LITE BIKEPACKER PRO V2 DYNAMO FRONT LIGHT
The K-Lite Bikepacker Pro V2 Front Dynamo Light is a super compact version that shares many of the characteristics of its Ultra siblings, but in a bijoux package. Arguably the best option, for clutter phobic Audax and posh winter/trainers, the lamp consumes minimal bar space. Its Ultra road sibling has a slight edge, at very slow speeds and standlight duration. Otherwise, the Pro V2 copes incredibly well with the darkest lanes.
Pros: Compact, lightweight, sensible output, beautifully made.
Cons: Standlight function less potent than its Ultra siblings.
Gold/Orange anodising might not be everyone's bag but it’s suitably unique and proved the perfect complement to my fixed gear winter/trainer's Acros Silicone Wrap Handlebar tape . Inside the precision machined aluminium shell (which is also completely sealed, and fully waterproof) we have 3 CREE XPG v3 LEDs projected through a round TIR (collimator lens).
Using an internal heatsink saves weight, while also reducing thermal junction. This improves cooling efficiency, while maximising output. Oh, and that's also reckoned 1300lumens, at 11.18mph. Being completely sealed means there's nothing user-serviceable but everything is built to last ten years. Then there's a two-year warranty, against manufacturing defects.
Some might grumble at the composite block and cable tie arrangement. From an aesthetically pure sense, maybe. In practical terms, there's two different sizes to accommodate 31.8 and 25.4/26.0. The bracket is an equally flush fit and cable ties, though utilitarian, are rugged and offer ample adjustment/fine tuning. Talking of which, it also presented an ideal opportunity to fine-tune my test rig's cockpit.
This meant plug ‘n' play - I could just change the lamp and get going. The only consideration is whether you're running a SON or Shimano pattern hub connector.
Arguably, if you were on a "to the penny" budget, you could opt for the basic switch but for the sake of £22 the toggle type offers the option of "dipping"; which is useful in town and suburban contexts. One version can be used to charge goodies while the light is running, one either/or. So, you would need to refuel gizmos, during the day.
I've also plugged in the double Decker USB charger and refuelled gizmos on the go. In the interests of tidiness, these could be slipped in a bar, or in my case-top tube mounted bag.
Overall performance dips slightly below its Bike Packer Ultra Road/Gravel cousin but isn’t far behind and still streets ahead of any other dynamo lamp I've used to date. The beam pattern is described as med (medium) so a closely woven blend of spot and flood, for speed and presence.
Power differential aside, beam pattern was very reminiscent of my long serving Revo. In common with these lamps, it took a little while before the system began creeping into life - 100 feet, fresh from the packet, 20 metres or so onward, assuming you'd been using it regularly.
Again, the Bike packer Ultra is more intense at this stage, so I'd definitely pair with a blinkie to rule out any stealth moments. Similarly, though the standlight function is generous (good for 12 minutes before incremental fade strikes) and I've never felt unduly vulnerable at junctions.
This is particularly apparent when running a 6W hub such as the SP SL9, which some weight conscious winter/Audax bikes may well prefer.
Otherwise, the power comes on tap very quickly. Kerry State, our manufacturer contact, reckons this comes in at 11.8mph, although I found it optimal around the 15-17mph (hub type allowing) mark and there's a small but noticeable dip, say when tackling a long, stealthy steep incline, or trickling along in traffic.
Talking of which, I've had no problems asserting right of way, with most drivers, and no-one has flashed me to dip (unlike the Ultra!) there have been a few who've ploughed ahead, regardless.
Wind things up along the open road and I've hustled along at 25+ with ample warning of holes, glass, toads and other potential hazards. I've had no problems at 33mph, down some long, sweeping descents either, although alternating between this and the Bike Packer Ultra Road/gravel unit confirmed the latter's spot is just that smidge sharper. Mind you, this was only discernible along the very darkest of roads.
Ported over to my Univega, the med beam proved quite capable off road, proper. Certainly, on par with the Exposure Revo MK1, giving a decent flood, with enough spot for tackling unmade roads between 15 and 18mph.
Much the same story with less challenging bridle path and taxing forest trails. That said, there have been one or two occasions when I've quite fancied a 600lumen helmet mounted flood, but this was also true, of the Bike packer Ultra road/gravel. Another common characteristic is excellent thermal control. The lamp housing has never become warm, let alone hot to touch. No matter how long I've been riding.
There's no side-stepping the fact that £193 is still a big investment and one requiring careful consideration. Nonetheless, it’s very competitive, given the specification. Exposure's much revered Revo comes in at £47 more.
While relatively compact, its barrel shape consumes far more real estate than the Bikepacker Pro V2. It’s also a "mere" 800 lumens. and the K-lite switch gear/wiring is also a good few notches higher (which is saying something). Compared with its siblings, for road biased tourists, Audax and sportive riders, the Bike packer Pro V2 represents even better value.
To some extent, when everything's factored into the equation, it’s a tie between the Bikepacker pro V2 and its Bikepacker Ultra Road/Gravel sibling. One which boils down to the old "horses for courses" gambit. The V2 is the most cost-effective way of getting uber lumens. In my experience, perfect for long steady miles, along unlit roads. Chances are, it will also work out cheaper still, in the long run.
That being said; if you're a hard-core mixed terrain aficionado, the Bikepacker Ultra, though more expensive, has a very slight edge. In these contexts, the Ultra might be the best, "future proof" choice.
Verdict: 4.25/5 Superb compact dynamo lamp ideally suited to clutter-phobic bikes with enough clout for country roads.
PUBLISHED NOVEMBER 2019