Doing it all the hard way...

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Light & Motion Stella 300 Review

While some my opt for the bar mount, I prefer the light on my helmet. I will explain later.
A year and a half ago I received a Light & Motion Stella 300 bike light for a holiday a couple days after the winter solstice. Prior to that, I had used a number of lights powered by two to four AA batteries.  Some were better than others, but I always longed for something stronger. I have backpacked for decades and have used a variety of headlamps and my perspectives and understanding of what does and doesn't matter is based therein.

Commuter lights have TWO functions. The first objective is so others can see you, the second is to help you see. A headlight has the burden of both.
The light comes with a plethora of mounting options. Handlebars, helmet, your naked head; all are covered.  Once in place a single switch mounted on top of the light is all you need.  I stow the battery pack in a jersey pocket and I forget about it.  Light & Motion started by making lights for scuba, so they know a thing or two about how to do waterproof.

The beam is not adjustable and at first this bugged me. Most backpacking headlamps can be adjusted so I figured this should do the same. When I talked to the L&M rep at a race in Oregon he said the beam is "engineered."  Since I work with customers myself, I translated that phrase to mean, "It is what it is."  Well, what the beam just excellent.  It has the proper amount of diffusion and the beam isn't too wide, isn't too narrow, the center is brighter than the sides, but there is no hot spot that hides things.  In short, the beam is perfect.

Charging the battery pack is easy enough. The cord disconnects from the battery pack with a "pop."  The pop is actually more of a burp and it tells you this seal is water tight.
Battery pack connected to the light.
If you don't want to carry the battery pack in your jersey, you can hook it to your helmet or your bike frame. The hardware to do so is included in the box.
This is my set up. Light, battery pack, and charger. 
How does it work in the dark ?
The beam is great and is plenty bright. I love the fact that I can turn my head to flash my light at a car pulling out of a driveway. Since it is dark, we can't make eye contact, so blinding the driver is the next best thing.  I am able to see the road and to see stuff on the road like potholes or nails. This distinction is key. If the beam is too dim, or has a hot spot; you might miss a pothole and get a pinch flat or worse.

You can toggle through two beam intensities as well as flashing, so you can determine your battery life.  The battery life is excellent and it there is some battery life management so the beam is full power right up until it goes black. Which brings me to the only downside of the light. You have no warning before it goes black. And once you go black, you never go back. So until you charge it, you're dark. Because I use it for bike commutes on a pretty regular schedule, I am able to simply adjust my charging plans accordingly.  The downside is if I forget, there is no warning, and it goes dark.

When you plug in the charger, you get a red light and when it is charged it goes green.  If you complete your charge and unhook everything and then plug it right back in, it will show red (though not for too long) so you can't use the charger as an indication of battery level.

Customer service isn't stellar as I have sent in emails with questions that remain unanswered. Not even the, "we received your question," email.  This is amazing to me.

If you can live with these constraints, and I can, this is an awesome light. I no longer hanker for more lumens, this has all I need. The light is rugged and weatherproof. I don't even look at new offerings. Kind of like the idea that once you're married, you stop looking.  As far as lights go, I'm taken.

Four of five Evos.

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