OXFORD UT500 HEADLIGHT
136g (including mount/bracket) £39.99
The Oxford UT500 is a torch type front light, producing a surprisingly punchy beam. A maximum of 500 lumens is not a massive. Subconsciously placing it in the urban/semi urban commute and daytime running/auxiliary bracket, I’ve been pretty impressed, with only minor niggles.
Pros: strong day-time runner.
Cons: no kick down, limited low mode.
Out of the packet come the light, a rubber watch-strap type mount and a plastic bracket fixed around the light to hold it to the strap. There’s also the USB charging cable..
Five hundred lumens put it, in my mind, in the commute and auxiliary bracket. A single Cree LED and Li-ion battery are not unusual. The four modes run from 500 lumens to 250 to 50 and a 250 lumen flash. So, definite day-time running potential. All is encased in an anodised “aircraft” aluminium casing.
Battery status can be checked by holding the operating button for three seconds and waiting for flashes; each one represents 10% charge. The button, shows red when charging or below 20%; blue when operating and when charged. In action, there's an obvious 20% left warning.
You’ll be plunged into darkness before the battery is fully discharged. This prevents battery damage. Oxford suggest “disconnecting” the light when the indicator turns red. Preventing a reduction in the number of charges you’ll get from the battery is one thing, but it’s not always practical. Even so, recharging as soon as possible makes sense – and is not unusual in. On a similar note, charge to around 50% if putting into storage.
There’s nothing swanky on offer here, such as kick-downs and memory functions, but, at this price point you’d not expect too much in the way of frills.
An IP rating of 65 protects against “water projected from a nozzle” or, more likely, rain. Having said that, the battery and charging port are covered by a screw-cap, so tighten fully.
Charge and running times
Oxford suggest four to six hours for charging, but, on the mains, it has taken as little as three hours and thirty minutes to charge to full. Expect four hours or so on the mains and longer for PC.
Run times are specified as 90 minutes on full, 180 on 50%, 360 on 10%, and a hearty 720 (12 hours) on flash. These times are pretty much spot on in reality. I got three minutes more on 50%, but everything else was give or take a minute or two.
Mount and bracket
The watch-strap should fit bars from 24.5mm to 35mm. Simple to fit, and straight-forward to remove at the café, or even work. OK, some may prefer something more robust, but rattling along pot-holed country lanes and gravelly canal towpath hasn’t caused a slip.
The button switch is dead easy to operate, even gloved.
Full beam first; I was impressed by both the brightness and the area illuminated. Comparable to Level Three of Trelock’s 100 lux LS760, with a well-shaped, though less focussed, square of light. Getting the mounted angle right matters. We aren’t into dazzle territory here, but I’ve had some annoyed flashes from motorists. Fortunately, the mounting invites easy vertical manipulation of the beam.
Overall, the brightness of the UT500 was a pleasant surprise. 50% became my norm around town, with 500 saved for dingy cut-throughs and sections of unlit cycle track. Unlit country lanes have been tackled at 10-12mph, likewise familiar shared cycle track/surfaced canal towpath.
Five hundred lumens made an effective beam to around fifteen metres, but is visible from around two hundred in the right conditions. Mind you, dipping of car headlights came later.
50 lumens did better than I expected. Even so, we are very much on the slow road home. Not bad amongst the street-lights, but dead slow on unlit stretches – especially in fairness to unlit pedestrians, dogs and, dare I say, cyclists. On the whole I’d prefer am 80-120 lumens.
There’s good peripheral bleed through two slots; useful at junctions and roundabouts.
A feather in the UT500’s cap is daytime running. Flash mode made a strong impression at around 50-60 metres on bright days; in dull weather it attracted comment from fellow cyclists at 300 metres. In my opinion, flash is a tad fierce for night use, except in very bright urban environments. The Knog Blinder offer a more dispersed light, though seemingly as bright, whilst the Orp is softer but as effective at night – if not during the day.
Daytime running stands out for me, but this is a decent auxiliary/urban light. Run times are comparable to similar lights, but lack of kick-down is a minor drawback. Competitive at this price point, a few more quid buys you some frills. However, the Oxford UT500 very much does what it says – with some strong features.