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Hands-on Gear Review
Light and Motion Taz 1200 Review
Cons: Can get very hot, heavy, very short battery life, 14-hour full charge time, requires two hands to take on and off.
Battery Life (hours): 1.6 hr
Battery Type: USB rechargable
Manufacturer: Light and Motion
The Light and Motion Taz 1200 is a high-powered portable 'cross-over' bike light designed for mountain biking AND commuting. The light is approximately as bright as a single car headlight, yet it fits in the palm of your hand, weighs a modest 7.5 ounces, and can be attached to your handlebar in less than 10 seconds. Using the Taz on its high light level in a city is an empowering experience because you are quite visible. Our testers felt very safe riding on busy, crowded streets with this light. Unfortunately, the light maintains its high output for a mere 1.6 hours. According to our testers and reviewers elsewhere, this is not long enough for an evening mountain bike ride. Even when switching back and forth between the high and medium light levels the battery may not last long enough for some mountain bikers (and many trails require the high light level). Thus, though we love the light for city riding, we don't believe its battery life is long enough to make it a true 'crossover' light. Furthermore, other "similarly safe" commuter bike lights (like the Editors' Choice CygoLite Expilion 800 costs $160 less. Better performing mountain bike lights (like the NiteRider Pro 1800) cost only slightly more than the Taz 1200 and last 5 hours in high mode. Thus, we feel your money can go farther with other lights.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The Taz 1200 has an excellent beam pattern because it's very wide and even. Of the bright high-performance lights we've tested, only the NiteRider Pro 1800 has a wider beam (5.9 ft. as opposed to the Taz's 4.9 ft., when measured one meter away).
The photo below compares the beam pattern of the Taz 1200 and the Pro 1800.
The Taz is very bright, but did not cast a beam as far as many of the lights in our tests. Its 128-meter measured maximum beam distance was far less than the Expilion 800 (160 meters) or NiteRider Pro 1800 (172 meters). It is bright enough to light up a log sawing competition.
The Taz has the same amber side lights as the Urban 550, shown below.
The Taz is compact, but it's also heavier than commuter lights that are slightly less bright. Carrying 7.5 oz., nearly half a pound, in your bag is less than ideal. Like all Light and Motion lights, it does attach to handlebars quickly and is easy to transfer between bikes. However, it does not have the same easy one handed operation as the Lumina series and therefore scored relatively low in this category.
As you can see in the chart below (click here for more a detailed view), the Taz's high light level lasts for only 1.6 hours. This is very short for mountain biking, which often requires the high setting. Running the light on medium (3-hour run time) can save battery life while commuting.
Caution: This Baby Gets Hot!
This is the hottest bike light we tested. It is relatively poor at cooling itself down without the help of cold air rushing over your handlebars. The Taz 1200 drops from its high light level to medium when it gets very hot (150 degrees F according to Light and Motion). This is to prevent the light from burning you. But even so we found that it was too hot to touch immediately after mountain biking and commuting. The light accidentally turned in one our tester's bags and melted through a plastic bag and made a mess of a sandwich. (The light has a very good lock feature that prevents this from happening—if you use it.)
The Taz 1200 would be a good value if its battery life were longer, but it is more than twice as expensive as lights that are eithter half the cost or last three times as long.
This would be a fantastic crossover light if the battery would last longer on high—long enough for most people to go on an evening mountain bike ride. If you're looking for a dedicated mountain bike light we highly recommend the NiteRider Pro 1800 because it costs only slightly more and its battery lasts more than three times as long.
Other Versions and Accessories
Light and Motion also makes a Taz 1000, which costs $50 less and, according to Light and Motion, gets 10 extra minutes of battery life on high.
— Chris McNamara
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