The Cygolite Expilion 850 is a high performance bike light for commuting and occasional off-road riding. It has a relatively wide, even beam pattern and a long beam distance for its size. Competition was tough for the Editors' Choice award, but the Expilion 850 fell short of the award by just a few points for battery life and portability.This is a fantastic light, but if you're looking for a performer that exceeds expectations, check out our Editors' Choice winner, the NiteRider Lumina 750. For the ultimate mountain biking light, we recommend the NiteRider Pro 1800 and check out the Light and Motion Urban 350 if you're on a tighter budget.
Cygolite Expilion 850 Review
Cons: Minimal swivel, short battery life
Compare to Similar Products
Cygolite Expilion 850
|Price||$140 List||Check Price at REI|
Compare at 2 sellers
|$70 List||$57 List||$60 List|
$39.95 at Amazon
|Pros||Wide, even beam pattern, multiple blinking modes||Wide even beam pattern, bright, illuminated on/off button, swivel mount||Long battery life||Great value, bright beam||360-degree swivel, amber side lights add to visibility, easy on and off at the bike rack, excellent beam quality|
|Cons||Minimal swivel, short battery life||Beam could be more even/less narrow, battery life on the short side||Very poor beam quality, tricky to remove from mount||Beam is more narrowly concentrated than other similarly powered lights||Not an especially bright or long beam, short battery life|
|Bottom Line||Although it has a shorter battery life, it has a wide even beam with multiple blinking modes||This light is bright, swivels nicely and even has an illuminated on/off switch||Has a very poor beam quality, hard to remove from mount but it does have a long battery life||Great value with bright, narrow beam||Although this light has a 360 degree swivel, its not very bright and has a short battery life|
|Rating Categories||Cygolite Expilion 850||NiteRider Lumina 750||Cateye Volt 300||Cygolite Metro 400||Light and Motion Ur...|
|Beam Quality (25%)|
|Battery Life (20%)|
|Specs||Cygolite Expilion 850||NiteRider Lumina 750||Cateye Volt 300||Cygolite Metro 400||Light and Motion Ur...|
|Max Beam Distance (m)||147 m||180 m||130 m||120 m||110 m|
|Battery Life (hours)||1.4 hrs||1.7 hrs||2.9 hrs||1.7 hrs||1.5 hrs|
|Battery Type||USB Recharge||USB Recharge||USB Recharge||USB Recharge||USB Recharge|
|Weight||174 g, 6.1 oz||182 g, 6.4 oz||134 g, 4.7 oz||142 g, 5 oz||120 g, 4.2 oz|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Cygolite Expilion 850 is an excellent option for the urban commuter wanting to go on a quick trail ride after work. The Expilion 850 excels in several of our categories, but due to some seriously stiff competition, just narrowly missed earning our Editors' choice award.
We measured the light's maximum distance at around 147-meters, which excels as one of the brightest lights in its class. The Editors' Choice winner, the Lumina 750, was only one of the few lights to shine just a bit farther. Not only does it project a beam well into the distance, it also casts a very wide and even beam. As you can see in the photographs below, it floods into your peripheral vision much better than the Cygolite Metro 400, on the left.
The Expilion 850 has one of the best beam diameters and patterns of any standard bike light we tested, tying with the our other Editors' Choice competitors and scoring an 8 out of 10. The NiteRider Pro 1800 earns a slightly better score, but that light is really in a class all on its own.
There are only minuscule differences in the beam patterns between the Editors' Choice competitors. You can see how similar the patterns are between the Expilion 850, on the left below, and Lumina 750, that earns the award.
A major difference with the Light and Motion Taz 1500, below on the right, is the amount of flooded beam this light projects over the Expilion 850. The Taz earns a few more points that the Expilion in this category.
Unfortunately, this category is really where the Expilion slipped behind the NiteRider Lumina 750. As you can see in this chart which compares battery life versus beam distance over time, the Lumina 750 loses a little power early on, but it evens out to project around 160-meters of illumination before drastically tapering off; while the Expilion 850 maintains a beam distance near the 140-meter range for just over an hour and a half before it begins a gradually decline. Then, this light subsides almost to darkness nearly half an hour before the Lumina 750.
This light is about average size and weight for its brightness. It fits into a jacket pocket, but is not to be confused with a true ultralight and compact light. Installation on the handlebar is relatively easy. It takes less than a minute, and is similar to the NiteRider series. Removal from the mount seems to have improved drastically when compared to our last review. In quoting our previous review, "At first, it was downright awkward, frustrating and requires real finger strength." During our field testing portion of this review, we were pleased to find the light easily glides on and off the mount.
The Cygolite Expilion 850 is a high powered performer, and top contender for our Editors' Choice award. It excels on the streets during your daily commutes, and you'll be happy to have it along during short mountain bike rides. If you're looking for an exceptional mountain biking setup, and aren't concerned with spending some extra dough, you might consider adding the NiteRider Pro 1800 to your repertoire.
Though the Cygolite Expilion performs rather similarly to the Lumina 750, it retails around $140. This is a great light, however, you can pick up the Lumina 750, our Editors' Choice winner, for $40 less. If you're on a tight budget and still looking for a high performer, check out the NiteRider Lumina 550 or our Best Buy winner, the Light and Motion Urban 350.
The Expilion 850 ran a great race for the Editors' Choice Award, ranking close to the top as a high performance all-around light. However, for the price, we recommend you pick up the slightly less expensive award winner.
— Gentrye Houghton
Ad-free. Influence-free. Powered by Testing.
GearLab is founded on the principle of honest, objective, reviews. Our experts test thousands of products each year using thoughtful test plans that bring out key performance differences between competing products. And, to assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No cherry-picked units sent by manufacturers. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing and comparison.Learn More