Editor’s Note: Most of us in the United States are enjoying a day off from work as we celebrate Independence Day. I decided to take the day off as well and am happy to provide you with an excellent product review from triathlete and fellow-blogger David Clancy. I am a frequent visitor to his blog, College Tri, and hope you can visit it as well.
All fifty states require that cyclists have at least a headlight and a rear reflector on their bike (please note—this is the minimum, there are states that require more). And quite honestly, common sense says that as a cyclist at night, it is very important to be seen by drivers! Many car-bike accidents happen in the evening and the chances of fatality sky-rocket at night. In fact, according to the City of New York’s website, while most riding occurs during the day, 45% of bike fatalities occur at night! Although you may not live in New York (I sure don’t), chances are the statistics tell a similar story in your area. Lights are essential to nighttime riding and your options are many and varied.
LED technology continues to evolve and the result is lights with good power that are lightweight and affordable. I don’t do much night riding at all because, in general, I don’t need to. But I knew that I needed a good light for instances where I’d be out during the evening or even early in the morning. So, at Performance Bicycle I found the Axiom Ultra Spark LED Headlight. The light is a 5 LED USB rechargeable headlight. It has 4 modes: low, high, strobe, and flashing. The highest setting is 70 lumens. The battery life is decent with 3 hours (high), 6 hours (low), and 8.5 hours (flash and strobe) run time.
This light, in my opinion, falls under the safety light category. Don’t expect to take this light on the trails or lengths of poorly lit well. This light is made for you to be seen but it still does a pretty decent job for lighting your path. This is a lightweight, extremely compact light that is very easy to take on and off of your bike. If you are a roadie who rides at night occasionally on fairly well-lit roads, this is a great choice for you. Heck if you are one of those weight weenies, check this stat out… This light weighs 36 grams! That’s right, this light is light! Even if you’re worried about aerodynamics, this light can easily fit into a wedge saddlebag or your jersey pocket when you aren’t using it.
One thing that is great on this light is the side visibility. The way the light is designed it really shines to the sides so you are visible from all angles, not just head-on! I must point out something though. If you do a lot of night riding, you should really consider splurging on a high power headlight that is more useful. This is not a product I’d recommend for every night use or trail riding! This is a safety light which gives a decent beam for when you need it.
The Ultra Spark has a list price of $49.99 at Performance Bicycle (don’t bother shopping around, Axiom is a house brand of Performance) but I’ve never seen it being sold for more than $40.00. This light can fit into any budget because, let’s be honest, your life is worth it. This is a safety light and a great value at that. There are a lot of competitors in the safety light world including some names like the Blackburn Flea, but in my opinion, the Ultra Spark has to be one of the best values on the market. Ease of use, battery life, visibility, and size make this a great light for a roadie who rides in the evening on occasion!