Ravemen might not have the brand recognition or maybe the prestige of some of British and American lights, but if you don’t mind that and you’re simply looking for a well designed unit that kicks out a lot of light, has a high level of functionality, is user friendly, well made and competitively priced, the Ravemen PR1600 is a great option.
Even beam pattern
Easy shortcut to full beam
Useful battery meter display
Long burn times
Good build quality
Lack of side visibility
No 26.0 bar mount included
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Ravemen says the PR1600, which is the most powerful in a range of four PR lights, is for trail riding, road cycling and bike travel. The Chinese company also says “it is the best bike light you could ever find in the market”. They’re biased so they would say that, but it's true that the PR1600 has an impressive array of useful, well executed features, loads of power and a perfectly judged beam pattern that’s evenly spread but at the same time punchy enough for potholed lane riding at high speed in the dead of night (if that’s your thing).
With its competitive pricing it undercuts the established light brands too.
The Ravemen PR1600 is a chunky little unit with a sturdy anodised aluminium casing and plastic ends. There are twin CREE LEDs that have a claimed lifespan of 50,000 hours. At 100 x 48 x 27mm its dimensions are much the same as any other front road light but at 215g it’s pretty solid, and that’s because it needs a decent battery (a 6,000mAh) to supply a reasonable run time at its maximum 1,600 lumens – a claimed 1.4 hours.
You get a fixed plastic handlebar mount that’s compatible with 35mm and 31.8mm bars (shim supplied and Allen key to tighten the bolt), plus the remote control switch and a USB-C charging cable.
The Ravemen PR1600 seems to take its inspiration from the Blackburn Countdown 1600, which also has a digital display letting you know how much burn time is left in each of its modes. The Ravemen’s retro-alarm clock display is a bit more basic looking than the Blackburn’s, but it does the same job, and either way gives much more information than the standard switch that changes colour.
However, the Ravemen outdoes the Blackburn by supplying a wireless remote control switch whose two buttons (one large, one small) work like those of the main unit. For road cycling it’s generally no problem to take one hand off the bars to change the setting, but this is useful if you want to ‘dip’ full beam for an approaching car and then power up again quickly.
That ability to toggle between full power (both LEDs) and the other modes (single LED) is one of the best things about the Ravemen. There’s nothing more boring than having to cycle through all the modes to get to full power, but the Ravemen actually supplies two options via its two buttons to cut straight to 1600 lumens and back again.
There are ‘road’ and ‘mountain’ settings, differentiated by an illuminated symbol below the display. The five road modes go from 800 lumens (2.5 hours) to daytime flash (24 hours), using a single LED, with the full 1600 (1.4 hours) 'turbo' using both LEDs.
There are three mountain modes, all of which use both LEDs for a broader spread of light going from four to 1.4 hours.
There are USB-C in and out ports at the rear: you can use the Ravemen as a power pack to charge a phone or Garmin, for example, useful for a bikepacking trip.
Although Ravemen doesn't specify commuting in the list of intended uses for the PR1600, and indeed on streetlit roads it would be overkill, it's still worth pointing out that it doesn't have any side visibility features – the LEDs are completely shrouded from the side with no opaque panels or cutaways.
Ravemen PR1600: the ride
Let’s start with the mount: it’s a pity there’s no 26.0mm version. Am I the only one who rides an old-school bar but still wants a decent light? I shimmed it no problem with some rubber and it stayed in place (it's on a bike with a 31.8mm bar in the pictures). I’m guessing that because it’s fairly heavy Ravemen decided to use a bolt rather than a QR – so that means it’s not quickly transferrable between bikes. It’s a thoughtful touch to supply a small Allen key to tighten the bolt, though. The light itself clicks into and out of the mount smoothly, and is held securely once in, with no rattling, vibrating or nosediving over rough terrain, even though the mounting point is towards the back of the light rather than in the middle.
The remote control switch uses a Velcro strap to mount to the bar or shifter. With repeated sticking and unsticking this will lose stickiness.
The Ravemen PR1600 is easy to learn. I won’t go through the manual but the only thing to actually ‘understand’ is the difference between road and mtb modes.
The beam pattern is a real, ahem, highlight. As a roadie and having mostly tested road lights, I was seriously impressed by its ability to turn night into day. The full beam mode with both LEDs is incredible. Not only that, it’s a very even distribution of the lumens with no bright centre and weak edges. It’s probably better than my car’s headlights for that.
In addition, the Ravemen LEDs supply a slightly warmer light than some – it's more yellow than that very stark blue.
The single LED of the road mode supplies a more focused beam while the twin blaze of the mountain bike mode illuminates verge to verge. For shorter road rides I preferred the twin beam – who doesn't want maximum brightness in a dark lane? – but for a longer night ride the 'mid' road mode (400 lumens, four hours) with a single LED is more than sufficient.
Ravemen has also done a great job of containing the glare so that oncoming traffic isn’t dazzled. It’s normal to get flashed by a driver who decrees that your bike light shouldn’t be as bright as his or her car headlights, but with the Ravemen I haven’t been flashed once.
It’s difficult to say whether the quoted burn times are accurate or not, because riding in the real world you tend to change modes, use full beam when necessary and generally mess with the settings. However, the counting down on the display seems in line with actual time.
When charge gets low, you get a flashing ‘LO’ on the display but, testing this in the safety of my own home, there’s a generous amount of reserve in there – a good few miles’ worth. It doesn’t automatically disable the brighter modes, as some much simpler lights do, but you hope most riders will use their common sense at this point and power down to the lowest mode.
The Blackburn Countdown 1600 has an RRP of £149.99 so the Ravemen undercuts that. There are lower-priced lights around that are still very good, such as the Exposure Sirius Mk9 that costs £100 and has a lumen count of 850. But the Exposure Strada Mk10, with 1500 lumens, costs £300 and weighs 10g more.
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