Urban Velo

Trelock LS 950 Headlight Review

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Lights are a vital part of even the sometimes-night rider, let alone the daily commuter or lifestyle rider. The past few years have seen some incredible jumps in lighting technology, ushering in a new era of compact high powered rechargeable units to safely extend your ride time well after dark. The days of questionable be seen button cell powered blinkies are behind us, it’s time to light up the road ahead. Trelock is one of the oldest cycling accessory brands in Germany (the company began in 1854) and the LS 950 is their top of the line commuter headlight.

trelock_ls950-4The Trelock LS 950 is what I would term a super-commuter light, with enough output for riding in complete darkness and battery power for up to 45 hours of riding between recharges. That’s a week’s worth of 2 hour morning and evening commutes without a recharge, in the lowest power mode at least. Trelock sacrifices absolute maximum power and minimum weight for long runtimes, optimizing light output through reflector technology rather than with higher and higher powered LEDs. In much of Western Europe transportation cycling is far more ingrained in the culture than it is in the United States, and Germany is no exception with commuter paths crisscrossing the cities and bicycle specific law in many cases far ahead of our own. One such regulation is the StVZO laws that regulate all lighting used in public traffic, including bicycle lighting. StVZO laws are at the heart of the LS 950 reflector, and that reflector is the basis for the entire light.

trelock_ls950-7The reflector and lens in the LS 950 squeezes the most light possible from the LED inside. Placed next to other lights with 1W LEDs and it can be surprising to find out that the power consumption of each is the same — the LS 950 has a bright beam focussed on the road surface ahead rather than a floodlight effect. The aforementioned StVZO laws require that lights not blind other road users, forcing manufacturers to engineer reflectors that direct light down and onto the roadway rather than straight forward. Imagine cars with bare bulbs rather than headlights focussed on the road and such light laws start making perfect sense. The lens of the LS 950 isn’t perfect, there are some stray beams refracted through the front surface of the lens heading off to the sides, but the bulk of the light is focussed into a box, lighting up what is ahead without “wasting” much light on places your wheels will never touch. It’s really an impressive amount of light, one hard to justly photograph.

trelock_ls950-5The quoted output ranges from 6 – 70 lux, a unit that measured focussed light rather than raw light output, with five power levels to choose from. Along with multiple levels, the LS 950 has an excellent power meter displaying hours and minutes remaining in a given light level. With the larger than usual 4300 mAh lithium ion battery and excellent power management the light offers unparalleled runtimes, 6 – 45 hours. This is the light I would choose for a multi-day tour where recharging isn’t a solid option. The plus and minus light buttons are easy to use even with winter gloves, requiring an extended button push for on/off with a tap to move between levels. With a subtle backlight so you can always see the remaining battery life this is easily the best light meter I’ve ever used, with no glitches or jumps in the estimated time remaining that I’ve noticed. If only the buttons were also backlit, that would make it much easier to adjust light levels throughout the ride.

trelock_ls950-2The LS 950 body is plastic and while sturdy feeling, perhaps not what I’d look for in a $230 light unit given the build quality of some of the competitors. It is not rated as waterproof but passes the faucet test of not shorting out under running water, I’d just make sure the plug for the USB recharging port is securely in place before heading into the eye of the storm. The bar mount uses a cam and strap similar to some seatpost fender mounts, fitting most any bar out there with enough side to side adjustment to keep the light straight ahead no matter the backsweep of the bars. I did find that the strap mount could slip forward over rough patches of trail — if you experience the same there is a more conventional bolt-on mount available. The same battery that gives the light the amazing runtimes unfortunately also gives the LS 950 some pudge around the middle, making the light a tight fit on some of my handlebar configurations — something to consider if you you run narrow bars or have a dashboard of accessories on your bike.

Overall the Trelock LS 950 is a pretty great commuter light, especially for those with plans to ride deep into the night a couple of evenings in a row. It is really all about the runtime and power management of this light, and the lens that maximizes the light output in just the right place. At 214 grams the LS 950 isn’t a lightweight addition to your race bike, but neither is it meant to be. For people replacing significant car trips the $230 retail price is easier to swallow than for sometimes riders, but this is a light that really appeals to people looking to maximize runtime and minimize recharging. If that is your goal, this might be your light. See more and order direct at the US distributor, Cantitoe Road.

One Comment

  1. S. MolnarJanuary 23, 2014 at 8:35 pm

    I haven’t tried the Trelock, but my solution to the slippage over bumps problem with other headlights using strap mounts is to put a ring of cloth handlebar tape on the bars beneath the strap. Of course, the fact that I even have cloth handlebar tape shows my age, but it’s still my favorite, as are webbed cotton gloves (I’ve abandoned wool shorts, but not wool jerseys).

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