RAVEMEN LR500S FRONT LIGHT
The Ravemen LR500S USB Rechargeable Curved Lens Front Light is a compact torch type, pumping out a maximum of 500 lumens. Designed not to dazzle other road users, the lens still projects a very usable mix of flood and spot. Navigational prowess is excellent for semi-rural hustling and it'll deliver the full Monty for 1hr54, from a full charge.
Pros: Sensible modes, great beam quality and sensible run times.
Cons: Would pay a few quid more for a bundle i.e. wired remote and G0-Pro style mount.
For £34.99, its impressive. A single Cree XP-G2 diode, reckoned good for 50,000 hours service. However, its lenses and reflectors that play a crucial role. In this instance, the lens is poly carbonate and employs some clever technology. One combining, "Total internal reflection" and "refraction". Simply put, the former provides a very focused spot beam, the latter a similarly pure flood.
Theoretically at least, this makes the very best use of those 500lumens. The 2200mAH/3.7V rechargeable lithium ion can also be recharged in a variety of ways. Obviously, there's mains/5 V 2A accessory ports but you can also do so via "power bank" type accessories.
Word to the wise, a 1A power source will only give enough charge for flashing. Since we're here, those 4 modes. We have three steady - high (500) medium (300) and low (100), which seem a good spread catering for semi-rural, suburbs and town. Then of course, there's a 200lumen rapid flash. Hero to zero, run times are quoted as 1.6, 2.8, 7.5 and 15hours respectively.
Build is solid throughout, not only is the sturdy aluminium shell well finished, it serves as a heat sink and the light is reckoned shock proof to 1metre. If that wasn't enough, there's a thermal cut-out, meaning diodes, circuitry and switch gear should lead long and very productive lives. IPX6 weather resistance should also prove adequate, for road biased riding in any case.
This is a small, side mounted affair, which incorporates a simple, though serviceable battery life indicator. It requires a definite, sustained press to engage and definite prods to change modes. I've not experienced any unwelcome engagements in luggage, or jersey pockets.
A memory function is welcome and convenient. Not that the switch is tricky to operate per se, even wearing full-finger gloves, but I've been pleased to discover the Ravemen PR1200's remote worked just fine.
Talking of which, the standard model is very similar to the bigger light and mutually compatible, don't you know. Mind you, this one's a "watch strap" type, which is more convenient when porting between bikes, or locking up in the streets.
There's also scope for helmet mounting, should you feel so inclined. Sleek profiles ensure both consume minimal bar-space. However, tidy freaks should be wary of parking it bang next to wireless tech, such as computers and HRM.
For some reason, the LR500S can block their signals. I'd wondered whether it was something specific to mine, but Bob Elliot and Co confirmed this is quite common.
Thanks to the optics, this is a more powerful light than numbers would suggest. As I've said in my first paragraph, 500 has enough navigational bite for semi-rural contexts and to 23mph. The big flood ensured I was easily spotted by oncoming traffic too, even along pitch black lanes. However, in the latter scenarios, 17mph was pretty much optimal navigationally. The low battery indicator kicked in at 1hr 20 and I've managed 1hr 45-50 consistently since.
Fine if it’s playing a backup to a dynamo, or for shorter, pitch black stretches. if you're primarily tackling unlit backroads, I'd be looking toward its PR1200 and 1600 relatives. 500 lumens is overkill for most suburban stuff but 300 is nearer the mark, in the power-to-economy stakes. I've gone for the full 500 when I've really wanted to hammer, without dazzling and it did make jaywalking pedestrians and dozy drivers think twice before stepping/pulling out.
Back to 300, the beam combination meant I could hustle along as fast as conditions allowed. 23-25mph being top end. 2 hrs 41 from a full charge. It’s also great for tending roadside mechanicals, pannier rummaging, un/locking in the street etc.
As for the 100, well better than I was expecting and up to the job around well-lit town centres, although I've felt a little inconspicuous without a blinky. I've had 7hrs 33 minutes from a full charge. On balance, as town's more about being seen, rather than seeing per se, I've found the 200lumen fast a better default.
Brilliant paired with my dynamo lamps, too. Fast Flash blends a constant and flashing component, so its usable in the see-by sense. Good news, if you need to nudge down and save some juice in built-up areas.
It’s also been my default, fitted to my Holdsworth during day blasts. I initially got the full 15 hours, but this has levelled out (as we'd expect to 14hrs 53). Other traffic seemed to register at 65. maybe 70 metres too.
Though there are competitor 500 lumen models around this price point, although I reckon the LR500S wins by a nose and in several respects. I'd pay a few pounds more, if the box contained the aftermarket "Garmin" style mount and wired remote. The Oxford Ultratorch 500 is the closest comparative, at this price. The Oxford offers decent spec but has a 50 lumen, compared with the LR500S 100lumen bottom mode. The Ravemen's optics and aftermarket options also give it an edge.
Then there's its CR500 Ravemen sibling - read the review here.
For commuting and general riding, the Ravemen LR500S offers a lot of bang, for very modest buck. Run times in the highest setting might limit the appeal for longer, darker commutes. Nonetheless, they're still competitive. Size and functions mean it’s also an excellent companion for a dynamo, or extended autumn fun on the best bike(s).
Verdict: 4.25/5 Well engineered, wallet-friendly compact light with decent output.
PUBLISHED SEPTEMBER 2019