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Light and Motion Urban 550 Review

Light And Motion Urban 650
Price:   $139 List | $64.99 at Competitive Cyclist
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Wide, even beam, quick installation/removal, tool-less attached mount, 2 amber sidelights.
Cons:  Expensive, short battery life, not as bright as competition.
Editors' Rating:   
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
 
Max Beam Distance (m):  116 m
Battery Life (hours):  1.1 hr
Battery Type:  USB rechargable
Manufacturer:   Light and Motion

Our Verdict

The Light and Motion Urban is a quality all-purpose handlebar light. It has a very wide, even beam pattern, is bright enough to light up streets and trails, and is the most compact and lightest high-powered handlebar light we've tested. The Urban's main competitors are the NiteRider Lumina 550 and the Cygolite Expilion 800, which performed even better in our tests and is generally available for less. In addition, both the Lumina 550 and the Expilion 800 scored higher for brightness.

Product Update
The Urban 550 is discontinued and replaced by the totally redesigned Urban 650, which you can see in the photo above. Keep reading to check out the updates!


RELATED REVIEW: The Best Bike Light Review


Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

Review by:
Chris McNamara

Last Updated:
Tuesday
November 15, 2016

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The Urban 650 vs the Urban 550


With the Urban 650, Light and Motion has replaced the Urban 550 with a very different product. Some features to look for: a new mount, a higher waterproof rating, a new battery indicator, and a new reflector. Check out a side-by-side comparison here, with the new Urban 650 on the left and the original 550 we tested on the right.
Light And Motion Urban 650
Light and Motion Urban 550
 

Here's a summary of key updates:
  • Mount — Light and Motion is marketing their new mount as "quick release," though we haven't put this to the test yet.
  • Waterproof — The waterproof rating has been upgraded to IP67, meaning it can withstand depths of 1 meter for up to 30 minutes.
  • Battery indicator — The updated version now has a button to indicate battery life.

Hands-On Review of the Urban 550


Beam Quality


We give the light a score of 8 out of 10 in this category because it has an even and bright beam. The quality is great, but still behind our Editors' Choice, the Expilion 800, which has a broader and brighter beam.

Beam Diameter and Pattern

Light and Motion Urban 550Cygolite Expilion 800

Brightness


The Urban 550 has a maximum beam distance of 116 meters compared to the Expilion 800 that shined 160 meters. More importantly, as you can see in the comparison below, it didn't throw nearly as powerful and broad of a beam as the 800. The 550 scored a 6 out of 10 for brightness, which held it back from winning an award.

Beam Distance Photos

Cygolite Expilion 800Light and Motion Urban 550

The photo shows how the NiteRider Lumina has a slightly narrower beam but is much brighter as you can see by the distant sign and fence posts.

Beam Distance Photos

NiteRider Lumina 550Light and Motion Urban 550

Below you can see how the Urban 550 compares to a real powerhouse bike light.
Beam Distance Photos

NiteRider Pro 1800Light and Motion Urban 550

Additionally, the Urban 550 has amber sidelights. Some people enjoy this feature and others found it distracting. How much safety do the sidelights provide? This is debatable, as most accidents occur from not being visible head on, which the amber lights help little with. The photos below show these lights when off, on, and on the street.

Light and Motion Urban 550
 


72% of bike accidents occur at intersections. Front  side  and rear lights make it easier for cars to see you from the side and rear (left graphic). A helmet mounted spotlight allows you to signal your presence to oncoming and turning vehicles (right graphic).
72% of bike accidents occur at intersections. Front, side, and rear lights make it easier for cars to see you from the side and rear (left graphic). A helmet mounted spotlight allows you to signal your presence to oncoming and turning vehicles (right graphic).

Portability


The Urban 550 is one of the lightest lights with high beam quality and brightness score. It's not burdensome to carry around when not in use. For example, if you go out at night without a bag, the Urban 550 is small enough to fit in a jacket pocket.

The Urban 550 along with the Light and Motion Taz 1200 and Urban 700 are the fastest lights to install and the easiest to move between different bikes. That said, the 550 is not as easy to get on and off the handlebar as lights with fixed mounts like the NiteRider Lumina series. Once installed, the Lumina series offers easy one-handed operation, whereas the Light and Motion requires two hands and a little more time to adjust just right. If, like most commuters, you generally use one bike, lights that slide on and off with one hand are preferable.

The light swivels 360 degrees to allow mounting in atypical positions and, while riding, can help you shine light at objects (e.g. street signs, house numbers) without turning your handlebar. It's easiest to rotate the light 90 degrees on the mount before installation and removal.

The NiteRider Lumina 650 and 500 (left) are 22% larger and 23% heavier (35% heavier including the mount) than the Light and Motion Urban 550 (right)  which has a built in mount. The smaller and lighter the better.
The NiteRider Lumina 650 and 500 (left) are 22% larger and 23% heavier (35% heavier including the mount) than the Light and Motion Urban 550 (right), which has a built in mount. The smaller and lighter the better.

Battery Life


We measured 1.1 hours of battery life on high mode, which is below average for lights in its category and earns it a 2/10 score. The Lumina 550 lasted 1.8 hours on high beam mode and the Expilion 800 lasted 1.4 hours.

The Blinder has an impressive run time for its size and price  but other larger lights (light the Light and Motion Urban 550) have longer run times.
The Blinder has an impressive run time for its size and price, but other larger lights (light the Light and Motion Urban 550) have longer run times.

Value


This is a premium priced light and its score was not high enough to land it a very high position in our Price vs. Value comparison chart. Its closest competition scored higher and was less expensive.

Conclusion


This is a great light with a high-quality beam. It's brightness and battery scores compared to the Lumina 550 and the Expilion 800 held it back from winning an award. That said, it has some unique features such as a great swivel, very fast mounting and transfer time between bikes, and side lights. If these features are important and you are willing to pay a premium, then this is a light to consider.
Chris McNamara


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Most recent review: November 15, 2016
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
  • 1
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  • 5
 (4.0)
Average Customer Rating:     (0.0)
Rating Distribution
1 Total Ratings
5 star: 0%  (0)
4 star: 100%  (1)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)


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