Light & Motion Urban 850 Trail front light review

The Urban 850 pushes out a lot of light. But where and how far will it take you?

Cycling Weekly Verdict

The Light & Motion Urban 850 is a great front light for mixed on and off road riding but beam pattern and limited side illumination mean this model is not the best commuter light.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Very bright on highest setting

  • +

    Good for unlit roads and off-road use

  • +

    Range of mounts included

  • +

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Limited side illumination

  • -

    Potential to dazzle other traffic

  • -

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Based in California, Light & Motion makes a wide range of lights, not just for cycling but for other outdoor and underwater activities as well as for photography. At £133.99 and with a peak output rated at 850 lumens the Light & Motion Urban 850 Trail is the most powerful and expensive light in the company's Urban range. Somewhat confusingly, it’s actually rather more geared to off-road use, with its high output and focussed beam.

Urban 850 Trail puts out a lot of light

Urban 850 Trail puts out a lot of light

The Urban light family all feature amber side lights to improve lateral visibility, but in the Urban 850 Trail these are a deeper red colour and less bright to avoid dazzling the rider on dark rides while still providing a limited amount of side illumination. Light & Motion also states that the Urban 850 Trail has a beam pattern designed for trail riding.

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The Light & Motion Urban 850 is packaged along with a helmet mount and a GoPro adapter as well as the standard rubberised bar mount, again emphasising its off-road credentials. With a weight of 124g, the light is quite heavy to carry on your head, but it’s nice to have the option.

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There are three brightness levels, with the lowest pushing out 185 lumens and having a claimed run time of six hours. There is also a pulsed mode where the light level fluctuates to gain attention from other road users without the disorienting effect which a strobe can have.

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On full beam we got 2.5 hours out of the Light & Motion Urban 850, which is respectable. The battery indicator flashes red once the battery level gets low, allowing you to switch to a lower light output mode. But when it does stop it just stops, potentially leaving you without illumination – there’s no in-built step-down as the battery level gets low.

Bar mount works well: there's also a GoPro and a helmet mount included

Bar mount works well: there's also a GoPro and a helmet mount included

At its highest setting it’s a very bright light and the beam pattern is circular, so unless you are careful how you position the light, you risk dazzling on-coming traffic. Its combination of high output and trail features do make this a good choice if your commute takes you onto unlit roads or bridlepaths though.

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If you want a more commute-oriented light, there are 12 other lights in the Urban family with lower outputs and prices ranging down to £45. For dedicated off road use Light & Motion makes light sets with separate battery packs providing up to 2200 lumens output.

>>> Light and Motion Urban 200 review

Charging via the included USB cable is pretty quick: Light & Motion claims 2.5 to 6 hours and I got up to full charge in around four hours using a standard computer USB port. The Light & Motion Urban 850 Trail is IP67 rated, meaning that it should survive immersion in 1m of water for 30 minutes. The light also has a two year warranty and Madison carries spare parts such as the mounting strap.

For more details visit the Madison website.

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