SEVEN DAY CYCLIST
CYCLING, BUT NOT USUALLY RACING
LATEST UPDATE: MAY 30th
RAVEMEN PR1600 FRONT LIGHT
235g (including bracket) £139.99
The Ravemen PR1600 front light is a powerful dual-lens light. Coming with a remote control and offering its services as a power source for other devices as well as allowing top-ups from a power-bank, it also features Ravemen’s DuaLens anti-glare technology. In other words, it is a top-grade bit of kit. I have enjoyed speeding up the road commute, doing some very early morning country miles, and have been trying hard to think of something not to like about it.
Pros: powerful, sensible range of modes, reasonable price.
Cons: a 100lumens flash may prove useful.
Ravemen suggest both road and mountain bike applications for the PR1600. I’d not doubt this, but I’d rate it more highly as a road light with strong off-road potential, rather than the MTB or gravel riders dream night-time companion. Mind you, that opinion may not be shared by all: such judgements can be marginal.
An anodised aluminium casing and lens block is by no means unusual, but on powerful lights such as this one acts as a heat sink. Inside each lens are two Cree LEDs with as suggested lifespan of 50000 hours. Ravemen don’t suggest a lifespan for the Lithium-ion battery, but it is unlikely to owe you anything by the time it pops its clogs.
100x48x27mm make the PR1600 bulkier than some very good road front lights, then again, it has some very useful features in addition. One large and one small manual operating button and a digital display showing run time and – just in case you aren’t sure – how many lenses you are using, occupy the space.
At the rear is the charging port and the output port. Both are sealed tightly by small flaps. On that front, an IPX8 rating hits the waterproof heights of immersion in one metre of water. I have not tested this, but pouring rain has had no impact. Needless to say. There’s a USB charging cable. This is not compatible with smaller siblings, such as the urban orientated Ravemen CR300.
Up front are two lenses. One gives the equivalent of a dipped automotive head-light. Get the light level on the handlebar and you should not offend on-comers: the other lens gives a higher beam. Both max at 800lumens, and you can toggle between one or both lenses as well as different power levels. Adjustment can be via the remote control or manually.
Bracket and mounting 4/5
The plastic bracket fits 31.8 to 35mm bars, so should suit most modern set ups, so long as they are round in profile. Those with older bars on retro road bikes who like the odd speedy night-time jaunt can, with quite limited initiative, add strips of old inner tube, or such like, to get things sitting tight.
When mounting the bracket, have a bit of care not to lose the screw. Maybe I’m just clumsy.
Conveniently, smaller siblings in the Ravemen range seem to fit neatly onto the same bracket: dead handy for porting between bikes.
The wireless remote control is attached by a simple ‘O’ ring. Initially I mounted ours around the hood, close to the STI changers, aiming to keep all controls close to hand. Equally, we’ve fitted it to flat bars, close to the grips. In fact, being wireless, you can stick it where you please – within reason. Happily, I’ve not noticed any interference with or from other devices.
Switches and remote control 4.25/5
I like the way Ravemen have gone for different sized control buttons. Easy to spot when riding in the dark – they glow a transluscent green - or powering on or off. The larger powers on and off and toggles between lenses, the smaller between modes. The remote control mimics this, with one large pad and one small pad.
All need a firm push. Easy enough in mitts or light, even knitted, gloves such as DexShells Ultralite, and heavier weight ones, such as Proviz Sportive Gloves. The buttons on the light remain easy enough, but the smaller pad, in particular, on the remote is harder to locate. That’s partly down to the fact that I’m seeking things out with the pad of my thumb rather than the end of my index finger. A bit of practice helped, and the important task of dipping or raising the lights with the larger button became quite straight-forward.
There are five modes, designated by Ravemen as road, and three, designated as MTB. All in all, this makes the light pretty tuneable whilst remaining intuitive. Needless to say, real life gets in the way, but add it all together, and you’ve got a range of options wherever you may be riding. There are lights with more sophisticated tuning, but you can have too much of a good thing: I think the PR1600 has plenty.
So, here goes. Road biking (single lens); high offers 800lumens, mid 400, low 200, eco 100, flash 400. MTB (both lenses); high 1600, mid 800, low 400. The last setting is memorised for the next switch on.
Generally, I’ve found the single high (800) comfortable for 17-25mph on unlit country lanes – dropping to 400 at slower speeds. Spotting pot-holes has been reassuringly easy. Equally, on really fast descents, very dark nights, and unfamiliar routes, the ability to ratchet things up to 1600 has been welcome.
I’ve tended to hit the lower modes on suburban, lit roads, or when first light has crept over the horizon and I’m more concerned about being seen than seeing the way. I’ve reserved the 400 flash for busy city riding, although it would do well as a day-runner.
Whacking things up with both lenses has been handy on the road – and certainly gets you seen by oncoming drivers, even before they’ve rounded the corner. Lights dip rapidly – mind you, the High (800) has similar effect on straighter roads and saves you having to dip your lights.
I’ve used the Mid (400) mode for steady paced commuting along the unlit canal tow path. 1600 allows some speedy gravel work-outs, and the mixed HiLo beam has fared well on some forest track and single-track – 800 for slower speeds. However, many MTB riders will go higher, and combine specific spot/flood, bar/helmet lights, such as the Sigma 2000 or Xeccon Zeta 5000. For more modest off-roaders, such as I, the Ravemen PR1600 has plenty of potential for off-road fun. Of course, the big blasting off-road beams are not so applicable to road riding: indeed, in some countries they’d be illegal on the road.
Run and charge time 3.75/5
Charge time seems to be around the 2.30-3 hour mark – pretty decent. Keep an eye on the charge indicator on the display screen. As ever, batteries live longer if they are not completely run down. The display screen helps here, making it simple to kick down to eke out reserves.
Run times are dependent on whether you are on one or two beams. The 1.4 hours at 1600lumens max, is just enough for some backwoods frolics, but (without a power bank of some kind) is a bit limited for longer expeditions. Likewise, two-and-a-half hours run time on 800lumens single beam, will suffice for a training run. Don’t let that undermine the light’s credentials compared to others. And don’t forget that you can extend longevity. Even if the clock says that your time is up, I got and additional 25 minutes on full whack before plunging into darkness. Stated run times seem pretty much spot on.
External power may well come in handy for longer rides. I’ve hooked up to the power pack of the Sigma Buster 2000. A realistic combination; Buster’s lamp for the forest trails and PR1600 for the roads home. Best get the power boost going before things run right down, as getting the PR1600 from zero to hero will take a lot of the battery’s capacity. You’ll know your own power-bank best.
I’ve added charge to the PR1600 via the hub-dynamo driven Sinewave Beacon Front Light. Whilst that’s nice to know, I’m not sure what scenario in my cycling life such a combination would address.
Charging your phone or boosting a GPS in an emergency is a boon, but I’d tend to use the PR1600 as a power source with care. It added 10% to my iPhone in around ten minutes. You can charge at the same time as using the light, but progress is commensurately slower and battery life reduced; the screen does not display battery life in this context. That’s not a deal-breaker, I see charging capacity as a useful bonus.
I have been mightily impressed, overall. Frankly there’s nothing not to like about this as a road light for all but overnight rides. 800lumens is plenty of light for fast paced riding, with the 1600 coming into its own in short bursts – on speedy descents or on badly surfaced country lanes. Generally, I’ve been happy with 400 for steadier roadwork.
Off-road prowess is not quite as strong, largely because of the more limited run times. Mind you, the 800lumens option is enough for a lot of forest tracks, taken at a steady pace. There should be plenty of juice for mixed surface night-time ventures for mere mortals, such as I.
Ravemen suggest a maximum beam distance of 150 metres. Well, I’ve not really checked that out. The beam is clear and; on 800lumens single giving a very clear view of the road. No problem picking up potholes and broken surfaces at 20mph plus. Even on 400 single the way ahead is plain enough at around 15mph. Needless to say, top whack lights up the entire road and hedgerows splendidly.
On that front, 1600 or 800 lumens has been enough to get motorists dipping headlights before appearing round corners on unlit roads. Eco gets you seen in urban settings, too, with the other modes fitting neatly between. Flashing at 400 may be overkill as a day time runner. I’ve found it handy on a thickly misty morning and in heavy urban traffic.
The Xeccon 1300 Front Light gives performs very well on both road and trail, although the external battery pack may be a turn-off for some. Equally, it is a single lens light, and generally less sophisticated, but it can be mounted on a helmet. For pure road work, it smaller sibling, the Xeccon Spear 900, may suit, especially if you are on a budget. However, neither of these have the sophistication or outright power of the Ravemen PR1600.
Moon’s Meteor Storm Pro has some similar features, and can be found for a good deal less than its rrp. Fundamentally road-orientated with its relatively narrow beam, it has been updated to give a boost close to the PR1600’s max; but that is a boost. In my opinion, it lacks the lens sophistication of the PR1600, and the new model’s mass of modes seems a trifle unnecessary.
I’ve used Lezyne’s Super Drive 1600 XXL, and been generally impressed. Different technology, but some similar results. Price is similar to the PR1600, but both, as well as the others above can be found discounted.
You can of course find budget master blasters on-line. Approaching alien craft, let alone fellow road or trail users, may find these distressing
Overall, the PR1600 offers pretty good value for money, in my book. Equivalent sophistication doesn’t come cheap, and can be significantly more expensive.
The PR1600 is a sophisticated front light that will give great service to road riders, especially those who like to dabble in gravel manoeuvres in the dark. MTB riders may find it handy, too, especially on the ride home. Hard-core off-roaders may look for more discipline specific illumination.
Regular endure or all-night riders may well go the hub-dynamo option. We were impressed by the K-Lite Bikepacker Ultra – best part of £400 for the complete set up – or its more road-orientated, bijoux, brother, the Bikepacker Pro V2.
Equally, the PR1600 offers very good all-round performance at a decent price for mixed surface ventures.
Verdict 4.5/5 really good, sophisticated light at a not unreasonable price.
PUBLISHED OCTOBER 2020
BUILDER OF STEEL CYCLE FRAMES
Ryton On Dunsmore
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