- Overall Rating: 9/10
- Value for money: 10/10
- Brightness: 10/10
- Battery life: 7/10
- Cost: 308 euros – $404 USD at the time of purchase – Nov 2006
I wanted a decent bike light for a while now, for winter commutes, evening trail riding, and for a couple of long distance day-trips so I can start early and continue late.
After a lot of review reading on bikeforums.net and looking at different options, I decided that the best value vs cost vs brightness vs time proposition was HID (High Intensity Discharge), and more specifically a Light and Motion Arc – the original one with the NiMH battery. The price of the NiMH dropped down because L&M have new Lithium-Ion batteries on the market, the Li-Ion and the Li-Ion Ultra, but it’s the same head unit, so the Arc NiMH version is a steal at $379. The batteries are purchasable seperately and are all compatible with the head unit so I can upgrade to the longer lasting Li-Ion Ultra in a few months time, but the NiMH will keep me going for the moment.
Ok, enough about why the NiMH battery is good value, lets look at why the HID Light and Motion Arc is such a good headlight. It’s bright – really damn bright. It can light up a spot hundreds of feet ahead no problem. You can bomb along at 20-30mph without outrunning your light. This is invaluable in night riding. On my first trip out with this light I descended 3-5km of hills at 30-35km/h and I wasn’t slowed by poor visibility but by a headwind. I am pretty sure that I could spin out my 110+ gear inches without having to slow because of lighting factors.
What about the light thrown out by the reflector? Well, it’s really bright! You’d never have guessed, eh? One of the things I notice about the non-direct light thrown out by this light is how much it lights up things like hi-vis vests and street signs that are right on the very edge of the enormous beam. Not convinced? How about some photos? This is from over 80 feet away and the beam is not pointed directly at the camera:
I should clarify here – in the picture above the camera was pointed directly at the Arc. The Arc was not pointed directly at the camera, but to the left of the lens position.
This is showing how well the Arc lights up my vest even though it’s pointing way over to the right of the vest (it’s pointed at the right end of the wall in the distance). Note that this was taken without flash, which is why the wall doesn’t appear very bright. I need to learn how to take photos which show true brightness levels!
Here’s my current setup with the Arc on my Cross Check. The NiMH battery is velcroed to the top-tube. I need to do something about the extra cable length – for the moment I have it temporarily tied up.
This one just shows how the head can rotate. It’s only at about 45 degrees in this picture but it can do the entire 360.
What about batteries? Ok, well I went for the cheaper Light & Motion Arc NiMH option. This gets me 3.5 to 4 hours of battery life at full 13W power, and a bit more in the slightly lower 10W mode. It takes 2 hours to charge completely with the Multi-Chemistry Charger which supports all the different battery packs from Light and Motion. For those of use with non-US-like power supplies, e.g. 240v 13a BS1363 – have no fear if you order the US style plug, just borrow a standard industrial power cable from your work-mates monitor, it’ll fit the 110-250v charger without issue.
Specs? The Arc NiMH version weighs in at 845g and 70-80% of that is battery. The Arc HID head unit is less than 200g. Light output is 675 lumens at 13W and 550 lumens at 10W.
Anything else? Well it comes with both bar and helmet mounts so I must try out the helmet mount sometime! I probably will try it off-road as that’s where beam direction becomes vastly more important.
Back to basics…
It’s bright. It’s really bright. It’s so bright, people stop you in the street to compliment you! The very first time I was out with this light a car pulled over and the guy asked me about it – he wanted one. His wife thought it was great too. I asked if it was too bright, a concern of mine. They assured me that no, it’s just perfect.
It’s expensive. If you’re comparing it to commuters LED blinkies, you’re talking over 10 times the price. But this light doesn’t compare to commuters blinkies.
The Light and Motion Arc NiMH is a really superb headlight. Buying here in Ireland just isn’t worthwhile, the €485 price is ridiculous. But online, even including a 25% customs fee, it’s a bargain.
This is not a sponsored review<, and does not contain any affiliate links.