Urban Velo

Light and Motion Urban 550 Review

Once you cross the threshold of using a headlight for seeing the road rather than just being seen, brighter is better and rechargeable is the only way to go. The top end Light and Motion Urban 550 lights the way ahead with a measured 550 lumen output, rivaling the bulky waterbottle battery light systems I cut my nightriding teeth on and all in a 112 g rechargeable package smaller than a bicycle grip.

The Urban 550 features three beam settings and flash, with a claimed runtime of 1.5/3/6 hours on high/medium/low and a whole week worth of riding at 18 hours on flash. Amber cutouts along each side of the lens lend some added visibility, and are just enough for me to read my cyclocomputer or cuesheet. The single Li-ion battery cell takes approximately 6 hours for a full recharge via the mini-USB interface. The swivel mount is easy to fasten to and remove from the bars, with $10 replacements available in the event that you break the mounting band.

I’ve spent the fall and winter using the Urban 550 as my primary light for night rides both in town and ducking into the woods. Weekly night ‘cross rides help keep my sanity, and the Urban 550 has proven fit to light the way along riverfront trails and dirt roads, though a more powerful light would be better suited for full on singletrack. Along city streets I’ve yet to ask for a more powerful beam, primarily using the medium and low beam settings on all but the darkest alleyways. By paying attention to the green/amber/red/blinking red battery indicator I’ve been able to avoid getting left in the dark, even when ride plans switch midstream from one hour to three. The Urban 550 has proven weatherproof in my use, expected given the company’s experience making bona fide scuba diving lights, though this one is not rated for full submersion. The unit feels solid and has survived my abuse unscathed, with a previous generation Urban 180 using the same construction still going strong with the scars to prove it hasn’t been babied.

If there is any criticism of the Light and Motion Urban 550 is that it might be overkill for some commuters, even if there is little reason not to have more light. At $159 you certainly don’t want to have it stolen, and if your commute is on well-lit city streets you may not need the light output on a daily basis. That said, the mount can’t make it easier to take with you and the extra light may help you to discover new routes and enable new rides. Light and Motion lights are designed and assembled in the United States from as many domestically sourced components as possible, so service for a damaged light is but a few dollars postage away. If the Urban 550 has too much light, is too much coin or doesn’t have enough runtime check out the $129 Urban 400 or the $99 Urban 200. See more at www.lightandmotion.com

2 Comments

  1. JugomugoMarch 29, 2013 at 11:42 am

    I’ve had the Light and Motion Urban 500 for over a year now and it has been a great light with great customer support! I also have the NiteRider 650 and I feel like the 500 gives the 650 a good run for its money. I also appreciate that the 500 was pretty light and I could wear it on my helmet very easily.

  2. RogelioMarch 29, 2013 at 2:02 pm

    I’m not sure about the older models, but I think the new lights, including the 550, charge with USB micro, not mini.

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