Light & Motion's Stella 120 Bike Light : A Biker's Beam Dream
As I was riding my bike home one night along my normal route, I made out a shape in the unlit path ahead that could have been a puddle or a plastic bag or a patch of ice.
I veered out of the way at the last second only to discover to my shock that some prankster had pulled onto the trail a concrete cylinder used to level playing fields. Had I even grazed it, it would have destroyed my front wheel and sent me flying. Three days later, I attached Light & Motion's tiny, but powerful Stella 120 light to my handle bar and left home confident that even the smallest hazards would not go unnoticed.
How does the diminutive Stella 120, measuring about two inches long and about an inch in diameter (imagine a slightly bloated C-cell battery) manage to light up the world so well that I can see both the skunk crossing my route thirty feet ahead and the patches of black ice about to pass under my front wheel? Well, Light & Motion, a company that started out in the demanding field of underwater lighting, uses two technological advances to make it possible.
First, instead of a regular halogen bulb, the Stella 120 (as well the rest of their line) employs an energy-sipping light emitting diode (LED). The output of lumens per watt is about four times that of a normal bulb. And, because LED is solid state (no moving parts), I won't be able to shake it into oblivion as I have so many other bike lights.
Second, Light & Motion has figured out that it's not only the power of the light that matters, but shape of the beam. According to their claims, they spend most of their R&D on their specialized reflectors. According to my experience, it's time and money well spent. I've got more than my fair share of headlamps and flashlights, and none of them cast the kind of clear beam that I get from the Stella 120. I really had to see it to believe it.
In addition to the fine light itself, the Stella 120 has an excellent tool-free mounting system that works both on handle bars and, as I've come to prefer, on my bike helmet. In about sixty seconds, I had the whole light and battery pack (four rechargeable NiMH AA batteries in their own weather-proof pouch), strapped onto my helmet, and I leave it there even when charging the batteries overnight. This mounting has proven to be extremely useful. When I've had to make mid-ride repairs (like freeing a derailleur cable from ice), I just tipped it down to make it into a work lamp. And when I've had to get the attention of drivers who were creeping into the intersection when I had the right of way, I just look over, and they notice me right away. If only everyone could see the light so easily.
Bottom LIne : This super small, lightweight (196 grams, including battery pack) lamp casts an amazingly bright and focused beam that easily overshadows larger lights. With a two-hour running time after an overnight charge, it's perfect for commuters and trail riders alike. I leave mine attached to my helmet so it's ready to light my way at the press of a button.--B.S. (Jan 09)
Price: $125.00 - $130.00 ,
BUY ONLINE : Click here to shop/purchase
Manufacturer's Site: www.bikelites.com
EDITOR'S note: You should know that our bike commuting reviewer, B.S., does this year-round -- and lives in Minnesota!!! How eco can you get?