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 850, 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.
Light and Motion Urban 550 Review
Cons: Expensive, short battery life, not as bright as competition.
Manufacturer: Light and Motion
Our Analysis and Test Results
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.
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.
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.
Below you can see how the Urban 550 compares to a real powerhouse bike light.
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.
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 1500 and Urban 800 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 the 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.
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.
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.
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