Light and Motion Vis 360+ ReviewPrice: $150 List Pros: Helmet mount allows you to point light where you want it, front side light, built-in tail light, long battery life, fast attachment, very convenient.
Cons: Beam is not as bright/wide/even as some handlebar lights, some people do not like the helmet mount, can't turn off side lights.
Battery Life (hours): 3.3 hr
Battery Type: USB rechargable
Manufacturer: Light and Motion
The Light and Motion Vis 360+ is a paradigm-shifting bike light that makes commuting easier and safer than any of the other 19 lights we tested. As a bonus, this light also works very well for mountain biking. The Vis 360+ is one of our highest overall rated bike lights and is the single light that made our testers feel safest while commuting. Its design features a front spotlight, two amber sidelights, and a rear red tail light that make you visible from all sides. Additionally, this is the lightest and most compact high powered commuter light we've tested, and its battery lasts nearly twice as long as the similar handlebar mounted commuter lights. If you're looking for one bike light to do everything, we highly recommend the Vis 360+.
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Helmet lights: the 'safest' and most versatile
As a helmet light, the Vis 360+ shines wherever you point your head. This is much better than a handlebar light because you can: (1) see around corners as your turn, (2) find street signs and house numbers without turning your bike and (3) point the light at oncoming and/or turning cars and pedestrians that are about to turn or step out in front of you.
When riding in cities our testers felt the safest with a helmet light. Also, due to the ability to control where it shines, mountain bikers often use a helmet light in combination with a handlebar light. For these reasons the consensus among our testers was that a helmet light is the single most versatile type of bike light and by far the safest type of light for commuting.
The graphics below show that lights with bright and/or wide beams can reduce the probability of accident. Helmet mounted lights are the safest because you can point them at turning vehicles.
But they're not for everyone
Despite their performance advantages over handlebar lights, several of our testers despised having a light on their helmet. These testers complained that helmet lights blinded pedestrians (the light shines wherever you point your head) and made them feel uncomfortable, partly because they were more visible to others, i.e. people looked at them! Thus, you may or may not prefer a helmet light.
With this disclaimer out of the way, we now present our test results and describe why the Light and Motion Vis 360+ is one of our highest scoring bike lights and arguably the best light for commuting.
The Vis 360+'s beam has a concentrated spotlight in the center and a less bright, mostly even outer area. The beam diameter is 4.1 ft. (measured one meter away), which is above average for the lights tested. Though not as even as other lights, we feel the Vis 360+'s beam works very well because you can shine the light where you want. Increasing brightness around the outer area, like Light and Motion does on their Urban 550, would significantly decrease battery life.
Left: Vis 360+, Right: Light and Motion Urban 550
This light has a maximum beam distance of 240 ft., which is 10 ft. below the average of all lights tested and significantly less than the most powerful mountain bike light, which reaches nearly 600 ft. However, though the Vis 360+ may look relatively dim in our specs, the ability to point the light where you want makes it very bright in the sense that, unlike handlebar lights, everything you want to look at is lit up.
The photos below compare the beam distance of the Vis 360+ to a budget safety light and the best handlebar mounted commuter light we've tested.
The Vis 360+ has two additional light elements that increase its brightness but are not accounted for in our tests. First, it has amber sidelights that make you more visible from the sides. Cars have these, shouldn't bikes, too? The photos below show these lights when off, on, and on the street.
Second, the Vis 360+ has a built-in red tail light on the battery pack! This can be turned on and off with the flip of a switch to save battery. (There's no need for the tail light while mountain biking.)
The combination of the ability to point the light where you want to, its amber sidelights, its red tail light, and the fact that the light is mounted higher up from the road on your head, make this by far the "safest" bike light we've tested. By safest we mean that our testers felt safer with this light than any other commuter light we tested.
Our portability score assesses the weight and volume of each light. The Vis 360+ weighs a total of 4.5 oz. with the front and rear mounts and a mere 3.8 ounces without the mount. This is the lightest and most compact light of our highest seven scoring lights. The small size and low weight is a tremendous advantage for commuters that carry the light around in their bag when it's not in use.
Does the light make your helmet feel awkward?
No. Although your helmet is 4.5 oz. heavier with the light attached, the weight is balanced such that it does not feel burdensome or awkward. This is partly due to the fact that the front of the light (which houses the white beam and amber sidelights) weighs a mere 0.8 oz. Keeping the majority of the weight on the back of your head maintains a helmet's balanced feeling. We much prefer the Vis 360+'s helmet mount to any other helmet mount we've tested; others mount the light high up on top of your head, which feels heavier and wobbly.
This light is extremely easy to use. The main features that make the light nearly effortless to use are: (1) its mount type; both parts of the light can be attached or removed in less than 10 seconds and (2) a helmet mount allows you to keep the light attached if you carry your helmet into your work, school or home… you don't need to spend any time removing the light. Yes, this also allows you to charge the light when it's attached to your helmet.
Additionally, the Vis 360+'s main button is located on top of the front lamp, serves as a battery life indicator (green = high, yellow = medium, red = low), and is easy to feel and press on the go, even with gloves on.
This is the second highest scoring light in this category. The USB rechargeable battery lasts for 3.3 hours on high, approximately 6 hours on low, and 16 hours when flashing. This is twice as long as other top commuter lights like the NiteRider Lumina 550 and Light and Motion Urban 550. Longer battery life means less frequent charging and it also allows you to take the light on relatively long mountain bike rides.
The chart below illustrates that the Vis 360+ lasts roughly twice as long as the average high-powered commuter style handlebar light we've tested.
This is the most expensive compact commuter light we've tested, but it's also by far the best commuter light we've tested. We feel the light is worth every penny if you do a lot of commuting or just want the safest or most versatile light.
This is the best commuter light we've tested and also the most versatile light tested. We highly recommend it.
Other Versions and Accessories
Light and Motion also offers the 360 (no "+"), which is less than half as bright, has approximately 33 percent shorter battery life, and loses the ability to turn off the rear red light. Given the dramatic decrease in brightness and battery life, we strongly believe that it's worth spending the extra $60 to get the Vis 360+.
— Chris McNamara and Max Neale
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