SEVEN DAY CYCLIST
CYCLING, BUT NOT USUALLY RACING
LATEST UPDATE: MARCH 18th
Ravemen LR1600 USB Rechargeable Curved Lens Front Light
The Ravemen LR1600 USB Rechargeable Curved Lens Front Light is a solidly made, potent and yet highly tuneable model that is practical for the darkest nights and town centre alike, thanks to high quality optics, intelligent sensors and a genuinely wireless remote. Being fussy, it would’ve been nice for the upside-down mount to be included as standard but that’s a very minor point.
Pros: Robust, Excellent optics, powerful but tuneable output, wireless remote, run times can be extended by power bank, USB C charging.
Cons: Non replaceable lithium-Ion battery, moderate run times in the highest setting.
Not a con as such but upside mount would be nice, as standard.
Materials and build quality are of an extremely high standard. Ravemen seem particularly solid, especially at this end of the market. My long-term experience with the LR series lights suggests output quality and therefore useable light is superior to others of comparable ability. Their LR500 being a case in point, it’s a lot brighter than I’d come to expect from a 500lumen light and using the same lens technology, the LR1600 continues this narrative. It employs a similar polycarbonate lens with the “Total internal reflection” and “refraction” technology. As for the diode, it’s a “high efficiency white LED” with a suggested lifespan of 50,000 hours.
The lens is designed to combine a pin sharp spot, the latter a similarly pure flood for a broad sweep of surfaces, while supplying plenty of peripheral presence, so you’ll stay conspicuous at junctions, roundabouts, etc. This technology also means (under normal circumstances) you won’t be dazzling oncoming traffic, which was traditionally the case with uber lumen lights-at least at the lower end of the price spectrum.
It’s fuelled by a sensible fit 'n’ forget 3.7V 4000 mAh lithium-Ion battery. Reckoned good for (charges) in keeping with others in the series, it can be used to charge other tech, such as phones and the option of plugging in a power bank extends run times, meaning getting plunged into darkness is very unlikely. Meeting IPX6 for weatherproofing (which is all bar immersion) and it is also designed to withstand a drop of one metre. Like most lights of similar output, it employs a thermal cut out, automatically powering down, saving the battery, diode and switchgear, should the unit get too hot.
With this kind of specification, I wasn’t surprised the body is made from hard anodised aluminium alloy. Aside from strength and corrosion resistance, this also dissipates heat very effectively, meaning diodes, battery and switchgear stand a sporting chance of reaching their true potential. Measuring 106.5x34x37mm, the LR1600 is relatively compact for a “master blaster” too, so shouldn’t pose problems for those with busy cockpits, or indeed clutter-phobic best bikes.
There are two. One designed for mounting beneath the bars and the standard composite model here. A minor moan, but the former is only available as an aftermarket option. I’d pay a couple of quid extra for its inclusion within the bundle. The OEM mount is made from a sturdy composite and seems compatible with the PR series and other LR models. (I’ve mounted ours to Ursula’s bars with the LR 500 mount, with no issues, although it was very much at the upper end of the mount’s carrying capabilities).
It’s a hinged type design intended for bars between 31.8 and 35mm. However, I’m pleased to report, secure tenure was readily achieved on smaller diameters-accessory mounts, using thicker rubber shims from the bodge box. The Allen screw is less convenient than a Q/R type thumbwheel fastener but is more secure, in every respect, so gets my vote.
The main switch is a firm centre mounted type incorporating a “traffic-light” style charge life indicator, so you can see how the battery’s doing at a glance. It’s a little crude, but effective.
Green denotes 100-30% charge, then it dips to red. The switch is just the right side of responsive. ½ second powers up and subsequent presses scroll through the six modes (more about these in a moment).
Remotes are nothing new for Ravemen, but until now, they’ve been on the wired type. =
The LR1600 features a wireless design, powered by a single CR2032 cell. In many respects, very similar to the Sigma Buster 2000’s in design and operation. Before you get too carried away, take a few minutes to pair light and remote. This is simply a matter of installing the cell, placing the remote close to the light.
The light’s blue sensor light will flash five times and you’re good to go. Ravemen reckon the units will communicate well up to one metre apart, so helmet mounting is a more practical choice than some similarly priced competitors.
Up for more power, down to drop- intuitive. In common with the sigma, the buttons glow a ghostly green, so easy to spot. Time to discuss the modes. High is the full 1600lumens (1hr 30), medium is 800 (2hrs 30), low 400 (4 hours) and eco-150 lumens (13hrs). Then we have the 600lumen rapid flash (25 and emergency (pulsing) 1600 lumens for when the battery has almost bailed.
Sensored lights have been creeping in for a while now.
The LR 1600 has one that alternates between daylight flash and eco, depending on the light. Selected, it will also power down, if no movement is detected for two minutes and will then spring to life when it detects motion, or vibration. Same principle to those sensors employed in rear lights with “braking” functions. Oh, and before I forget, there’s a memory, so no fumbling for your favourite, or default settings.
As I intimated in my opening paragraph, output is greater than the large numbers might suggest-across the board, but surprisingly so at the mid and low range. Much of this I attribute to the LR family’s lens technology. The full 1600lumens feels closer to 2000 and more than sufficient for the darkest backroads.
A straw poll of friends and acquaintances suggests I was visible at 200 metres, further on very clear nights. The potent beam quality gives an excellent spread of flood and spot beam, so no problems navigating the darkest roads at 25 mph plus, faster if my legs could manage it.
Even at 32mph along a sweeping descent there was ample warning of potholes, mud, stray branches and similar hazards. Switched to Ursula I was also pleasantly surprised by the beam. As my only source of front light, I could comfortably navigate mild to moderate bridle path to around 16mph. But for all the flood’s favour, more spirited outings, or more technical trails called for a helmet mounted flood. Fine for dirt road exploration/escapes on a cyclo cross/gravel bike though.
Tractors and large HGVs also seemed to hold back at junctions and clearings, which was welcome, and reassuring. Dipping down, I was surprised to discover the medium (800) lumens still provided sufficient bite for the backroads. Output felt closer to 1100 lumens (comparing with my K-Lite Bike Packer Pro, run at 13mph) so, no issues with a steady 20-23mph. While the 1600 setting had a definite edge along the same descents, especially when I was weary, no issues with letting rip and worrying about holes, lumps and bumps (not to mention the odd hedgehog).
Wild rabbits seemed to get mesmerised, testing my powers of observation and bike handling skills in equal measure. However, in this and the highest setting, there’s been no need to dip for oncoming traffic and anecdotally, most registered me at around 150 metres (dipping to 80 on murkier mornings).
This isn’t my expectation of 800 lumen lights. Experience suggests there’s no issues with being seen, but navigational prowess along the darkest road is adequate, rather than amazing and has traditionally limited me to 15-16mph steady. This coupled with the improved battery life meant it quickly became my default for longer rides along country roads. Low is 400 and yep, feels much brighter. If I didn’t know better, I would say 600 lumens.
No issues with being seen by approaching traffic- 40-60 metres on pitch black roads (80-100 in semi-rural contexts) but under powered for these contexts- 14-15mph on clear runs, which is still practical, dare I say, respectable if you’ve needed to drop down and save some juice on a longer outing. Arguably the low’s sweet spot is semi-rural roads, or when dusk is starting to creep closer. On the rare occasions when I’ve forgotten to drop down to eco, the low stops short of being anti-social through the suburbs- a decent flood gives ample warning of your approach when passing junctions or tackling roundabouts.
That said; when tackling built up areas (where it's about staying conspicuous) I’ve tended to go for the 600lumens daylight flash, which has a nice tempo-more like a combination of steady and pulsing, allowing me to see and be seen from a good distance - easily 200 metres in town and on overcast days, allowing for competing light pollution. In common with other flashing/pulsing options, it also sips reserves. Eco is again, still brighter than I’ve come to expect from 150 lumens and the way forward for urban rides, if you wanted a steady beam.
Having cross referenced it with other lights and tested it for short distances along the backroads, I’d say optical prowess was closer to that I’ve expected from a 200-lumen mode. Genuinely useable through the concrete jungle, not simply for dual use cycle paths. That said I’ve gone for the daylight running flash at rush hour, or when tackling areas with lots of roundabouts, for example.
This brings me on to the sensor. Sensored lights have been a thing for several seasons now, but this technology is becoming increasingly popular on front lights. The Ravemen LR 1600’s isn’t a panacea. For example, it won’t recognise you’re on a dark road and whack you up from eco to medium, or high. It’s designed to conserve power, so when engaged will turn off when it detects the bike’s stopped for two minutes. It will start up again, when it senses movement, or vibration.
It also senses changes in lighting and will switch the daylight running mode to another setting. For the most part, it responds very predictably and reliably, and being top mounted, its unlikely to get obscured by wet, mucky stuff and easily wiped clean, if it does. Not essential but a nice feature, given its well-executed and very accurate.
Run/Charge Times 3.75/5
These are similarly accurate and within a few minutes of those cited- at least in the test period’s temperature range (Between 4 and 18 degrees). Zero to hero, mains charging will get you there is just over three hours. Tack on another 15-20minutes from tablets, or laptops. Obviously, you can give it extra juice on a long ride using a plug-in power bank and bike packers could also charge it during the day, from a dynamo USB charger.
Ours has scored some direct hits from stray stones, acorns and similar projectiles with no trace. The anodising is beautifully executed, the charge port covers fit precisely, and I’ve had no issues with water ingress- it passed my garden hose torture test with flying colours. Lithium-Ion batteries of this capacity are hardy beasts but for best results, don’t run them too low between charges and if you are going for seasonal hibernation, charge to 50% before putting them to bed.
This level of specification and performance is impressive for just shy of £115. However, there are a few contenders boasting similar and indeed more power Magicshine Ray 2600 being a prime example. 2600lumens maximum output but uses two (one flood, one spot) and is closer in size to the bigger Ravemen PR models, which may be a deal-breaker for some. Nonetheless, it features an extremely effective ambient light mode, accurately switching to the best mode for conditions.
A little dearer at £119.99 Giant HL1800 is another solid choice with an ambient light sensor and 1800 lumens.
Bit steep? Moon Rigel Max is £89.99 another six-mode model producing a maximum of 1500 lumens. At 48x92x27mm is more compact than the LR1600 and features an intelligent brightness mode (so you can tune the light’s modes to suit your needs/riding contexts) and stop/start sensors.
It also meets IPX7 for weatherproofing and a Garmin type mount may also curry favours. However, there’s no remote and the anti-dazzling lens lacks the performance of others.
Blackburn Day Blazer 1500 is also £89.99. It also offers 1500 lumens, a lifetime warrantee against manufacturing defects. Modes are closer in output to the Ravemen (1500, 750, 400 and 270). However, pulsing and flashing modes are comparatively low, it employs a rubber strap mount and there’s no remote switch.
The Ravemen LR1600 is a very competent, solid light with intelligent design. Traditionally this genre of light was best for suburban riders who wanted to let their hair down along the backroads after work, or those whose commutes/training runs took in different riding environments. However, the sophisticated optics means the lower settings are practical for dark roads and extend rides beyond quick blasts. The lower modes and frugal daylight flash keep it super practical for other riding contexts, too and ability to plug in an additional power source, is another definite plus. Being picky I’d like to see the upside-down mount as standard, even if it added a couple of quid to the price.
Vedict 4.25/5 Powerful and tuneable light with solid build and nice features.
Bob Elliot Co Ltd - Suppliers of high quality bicycle supplies to registered traders (bob-elliot.co.uk)
PUBLISHED NOVEMBER 2022
BUILDER OF STEEL CYCLE FRAMES
Ryton On Dunsmore
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