MTB Lights for Night Riding – $300 vs $18

MTB Lights for Night Riding – $300 vs $18


This high end $300 bike light was sent to
me by Sigma, a German manufacturer. This light, was $18 on Amazon, we’ll call
it the Amazon light. We’re going to test these today, but first
I should explain that the brightness of these lights is measured in lumens. According to Sigma the Buster 2000 produces
2000 lumens, which should be brighter than the headlights on an average car. That’s pretty bright, but not according to
this Amazon seller who claims 5000 lumens on their light. To give you a frame of reference that’s
like the headlight on a Boeing 737. “Output bright can come to max 5000 lumen”
“Internal wiring applies high efficient booster circuit utilize batteries in the largest
extent” “Waterproofing design,Easy to install and
use” I think Google translate would have done a
better job with this listing, but still I understand their claims. They say this light produces 5000 lumens and
that it’s waterproof. If not, most people aren’t going to care. Even if it’s 10% what they say it’s probably
worth $18. Still we haven’t tested this light yet. As for the Sigma, it’s particularly German. Everything on it is bulletproof, sealed precisely,
and serious looking. The power pack has a USB port to charge your
phone with, there’s an LED indicator for battery life, and there’s even a wireless
remote which I guess you could mount near your thumb. As I said before Sigma rates this at 2000
lumens, and it’s supposed to run for 2.5 hours at that setting. At $300 I expect it to do exactly that and
nothing less. The first thing we’re going to test is battery
life. It’s about 65 degrees out, and both lights
are fully charged. You could say that these are ideal conditions. I’m leaving them both on high and letting
them run out. On the box, the Sigma promises 2.5 hours on
the high setting, while the Amazon light doesn’t even have a rating for run time. With this dinky battery powering a 5000 lumen
light, I would expect it to go out rather quickly. Time will tell. Big surprise, the Amazon light lasted almost
2.5 hours. That’s enough for most night rides, and
more than enough if you could get away with running it at half power. By now the Sigma should be at the end of its
battery life, but the meter is still showing tons of juice. Maybe Sigma was being conservative about the
run time. 4 hours, and it’s still going. Alright, the Sigma lasted about 4 hours and
15 minutes. It’s worth noting that this time could change
in colder weather, and definitely after the battery degrades from heavy use. Still, even in the worst conditions I would
expect the Sigma to hold up to its promise. As for the Amazon light, we don’t care,
it’s $18. It’s time to see how these perform at night. If you’re familiar with bike lights you
know that both of these are flood lights, in that they illuminate wide areas. A great way to ride at night is with a flood
light on your handlebars, and a spot light on your helmet. This way your whole path is illuminated as
well as wherever your head is turned. We’ll be testing these lights with and without
a small 200 lumen helmet light. You’ve got to admit, the Amazon light is
not bad. No the beam isn’t clean or uniform, and
this battery might even explode 4 inches from my crotch, but that’s a chance I’m willing
to take for $18. Let’s try turning on the 200 Lumen helmet
light to supplement it, like a lot of riders would. With the helmet light my visibility has improved
significantly. Still when I turn the Amazon light off, it
seems like one on my helmet is almost as bright. This is not even close to 5000 lumens. Assuming Sigma’s ratings are accurate, it’s
time to see what 2000 lumens really looks like. Whoah. Out in the street I didn’t realize how bright
this light was. Having the helmet light on is kind of nice,
but definitely not necessary. The Sigma is brighter than the Amazon light
even at half power, and at that level it’s rated for 5 hours. Considering the results of the battery test,
we could probably expect at least 7 or 8 hours out of this thing at the second to highest
setting. Still, it’s $300. For that much we could mount ten Amazon lights
side by side, and keep an extra few as spares back in the car. That’s a pretty good solution if you don’t
mind your bike looking like the area behind your computer desk. Back at the trail head I wanted to have some
fun and light up the pump track with the Sigma. I might want to come back and do this again! So, our trail test revealed that the Sigma
was, big surprise, far superior to the Amazon light, but we also saw that for $18 you can’t
really complain about it. But what if you ride dark country roads every
day? What if you regularly get caught in the rain,
or the snow? What if you’re the raddest back country
bike commuter that ever lived? Maybe this is overkill, but I need to know. After a full minute submerged in water, the
Sigma showed no signs of any issues. The inside of the power connector and USB
port were bone dry. This might simulate the battery and light
being covered in melting snow, or being splashed constantly with mud or water from the road. And here we have a light which claims to have
“waterproofing design”. Part of this is constructed with paper, and
that looks like a circuit board right there. One full minute, and the Amazon light is still
on. Not a surprise actually, as this is just hose
water. Still i want to see how it was affected. The paper is clearly soaked, and there’s
a little water in the connector. Still, splashing through puddles probably
isn’t going to damage this light in the short term. Both lights are still working, but I mentioned
snow before. When I lived up North, snow also meant something
else. The truth is that most simple electronics
can survive a run in with fresh water as long as you let them dry out. Saltwater is not only corrosive in the long
term, but conductive in the short term. Exposure to saltwater could mean a quick death. First the Sigma, which I don’t expect anything
different from. Clearly it’s well sealed, and saltwater
should be no different. I’d rather not take any chances though and
rinse it off with freshwater. Now for the Amazon light. One minute, and it’s still on. There could be air bubbles in the battery
pack, or the circuitry could be too simple to be affected in the short term. Still, I don’t think riding down a snowy
road covered in salt is going to result in instant failure. I’m curious though. Is there something I’m not seeing? Nope, the cardboard squares are all that’s
covering the conductors, and these batteries are lookin’ kinda crusty. Chances are that some pretty serious corrosion
is next, and possibly even a dangerous situation. So, I don’t think any of us are surprised
right now. After all we can’t compare these lights
punch for punch. For some riders only the very best will do,
and for them it’s pretty normal to spend $300 on something that does everything it
promises. For others it’s hard to make a case for
a $300 light when they’re not doing anything demanding or crucial. For a casual night rider, the Amazon light
is pretty hard to pass up. Still you’ve gotta have some set of balls
to say this thing is 5000 lumens, and waterproof? You’ve gotta be kidding me! The circuit board was soaked. I’m not saying I expect a cheap light to
be perfectly sealed, but I do expect some level of honesty. After all this though, the real winner has
come out of left field: The Buster 200, which was the light on my helmet. This light is compact, really well built,
and priced very competitively with comparable lights. Anyway I want to know what you guys think. Are any of you guys really serious night riders? What are some long term considerations I left
out? Also, if any of you have been using cheap
lights for a long time I want to know too. Sigma was kind enough to supply these lights
so if you’re looking for something bulletproof check the link in the description. Thanks for riding with me today, and I’ll
see you next time.


100 thoughts on “MTB Lights for Night Riding – $300 vs $18

  1. Q: Youth comes in & asks parts counter salesman "how bout a MTB Light for my bike?"

    A: Salesman looks outside at the bike up from the parts book & replies "Ok, sonny, sounds like a fair trade!"

  2. I really enjoyed your comparison. I have been using the nitecore br35. It is a 1800 Lumen headlight is amazing.

  3. Just put a small amount of ATV clear sliacone to seal the battery. But I don't plan on riding in rain.

  4. I have had a number of those Chinese lights and use them on a regular commute in rural Vietnam (dark and wet). I keep the battery dry in a saddlebag under my seat and the cable is long enough to string along the top tube to the handlebar. One light was broken in a crash and one battery was destroyed in a flood. The weak component of these lights is the charger. I have had 2 break just trying to unplug them from a wall socket. I now just keep the charger permanently plugged into an adapter and plug that into the wall when I want to charge. Other than that they have been great. Reliable and more than enough light.

  5. The more expensive lights are "worth" it. I myself just buy the cheap lights and mount the battery packs in a water proof case ($2-10) Or I make my own battery packs. Either way it's still better to buy the better lights if (if) you ride primarily in the dark.

  6. 5000 is nothing just been on ebay thought there might be a video showing the best light for the best price, just seen one for 17.99

    10,000 BLOODY Lumens are you mad

  7. I just added and Latin American Spanish translation. Current translation is very good though. I did't realize there was already one. You could make a nice hack for the Amazon Light in which you cover the batteries and circuits with a balloon. You are welcome!

  8. i've been using the cheap amazon lights for a while now–on my helmet, with a nightrider 950-something-or-other on the bar. the older ones, you could buy lenses for to make them spot or wide-angle. it seems like they last about a year and for the price, i'm not complaining.

  9. I have had one of those Amazon lights now for near ten years. The new ones are a bit more waterproof (one for each of my regular bikes), BUT in daily commuting, through Midwest winter's, it still has never failed. I still get at least five hours on the low setting and have never felt the need for anything more on city streets or rural MUPs. If I were mtn biking hard at night, I might want two.

  10. Lol now in 2019 you can get the same Amazon flashlight price, but this time with the same brighter lumens lights as the German one, man tech is just rapidly growing

  11. when i left home my bike headlight, and the night happend, i always buy some cheap lighters with led inside. some red tape always under my seat ๐Ÿ˜€ 2 lighters light up the road before me, and one to the back ๐Ÿ˜€ (some red tape to it and voila rear light ๐Ÿ˜€ ), not the best but u can survive a night cycle to home with it ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Also thatโ€™s not the type of salt in water thatโ€™s a different salt you need a special kind of salt

  13. I use the nestling bike light and it is really good, itโ€™s the same as the other amazon light, same price but is longer and better in my opinion, it says itโ€™s 2400 lumen but I donโ€™t think is as much as that. Itโ€™s rechargeable and battery lasts quite a while. And pretty waterproof

  14. If you ride a lot at night it's worth thinkig about a dynamo hub powered system. Yes granted the brightness isn't anywhere near 2000 lumen, but you will never ever need to worry about having no light at all. Great to combine with a small head mounted batter powered unit as shown here.

  15. Why does he jump away from the water after he put the lamp in??The voltage dont kills you,you wont even feel Anything

  16. I just picked up the Bright Eyes Helios 1600 Luman head light and I've been using it for a little over a week. 57 dollars from Amazon, oh, that does include shipping. So yeah, there are alternative too the 300 dollar lights.

  17. i didnt bother Looking whether you said it, but the magic word for bright n cheap Lights on Amazon/eBay is "cree led"

  18. I ride a bmx since I do city riding other than the regular trick session. I bought a $20 light from amazon a year ago and itโ€™s still holding up. I donโ€™t really ride in the rain so that could help. Seeing the cost of high end road bikes and mountain bikes tho, I can see how it will be pretty normal for someone to shell out $300 for that light. While in my application, $300 is almost the cost of the best frame in bmx. I think both lights are great when used in the proper situation.

  19. I attached a harbor freight 24 led flashlight which is free with any purchase ( with coupon) to my front handlebars and it works great and lasts for hours. When it gets dim i change the aaa alkaline batteries. My whole bike costed less than that german light.

  20. It's kind weird to see the comparison between an extremely expensive and a reasonably cheap lights under harsh conditions. Tbh, you can get a much brighter light under $100 if the brightness is what concerns you the most. If you care about the battery quality, I suggest you get a good 18650 battery pack housing and buy name brand 18650 batteries, and it will be much easier for you to maintain and replace the batteries if there is any problem. And, if you really want a 100% waterproof or even bulletproof bike light, I suggest you shouldn't go biking under such a harsh environment.

  21. MY FRIEND HAS HAD A CRASH WHEN HIS LIGHTS TURNED OFF AT NIGHT WHEN HIS LIGHTS WHERE "FULL CHARGED". THAT
    IN MY CASE MY OLD 20$US LIGHTS LITERALLY FIRED ON AND I*VE NEVER UNDERSTOOD HOW THIS HAPPENED BECAUS IT WAS TURNED OFF … THEN WHILE I WAS RIDING ON A BRIDGE I STARTED TO SMELL SMOKE AND THEN THE BATTERY FIRED ON.
    THESE ARE THE CONSEQUENCES OF BUYING A CHEAPER LIGHT.

  22. I've strapped a 12 v battery from a drill to my bike. From that I have some strip 12v LEDs and I've also tapped from the battery to give me a 3v output too for my back red flashes. All in all cost me nothing as the drill had died. Mountain bike hack o yeah.

  23. All Amazon lights are miss sold, no one has over 100 lumens I've tired alot. Best one I've found was a ronlry 30w work lamp I've zipped tied on

  24. The main 2 issues with cheap lights has always been overstating total lumens and battery dependability. I have seen a 20$ Amazon light battery literally catch on fire in someone's hydration pack pocket. The extra 40$ for a NiteRider is well worth not catching on fire mid ride.

  25. I have 2 of those 3x ebay lights same as the 2x in the video, lights up the trail good enough, both on are about as bright as my thrunite tn12 which is 1k lumens, so im assuming a single 3x is about 400-500 lumens. Good enough for the desert franklin mountain trails I ride out here,

  26. I bought a 400 lumen Light in Motion light about 15 years ago and I still use it today. I've replaced the battery pack and the LED lamps a couple of times. It's still just as reliable and bright as the day I bought it. I use it for all of my outdoor activities. Camping, canoeing, mountain biking, fishing, riding my 4-wheeler. I even mounted it to my shotgun for hunting feral hogs. Coon hunters are always asking me where they can get one. It may have been a little pricey but it's never left me in the dark.

  27. Overpriced crap, batteries are batteries, there's no such thing as better batteries, everyone uses the same sony vtc, samsung or whatever lithium batteries, the reason the cheap one runs out of juice fast is because it uses a single 18350 small battery.

  28. "Amazon light" = CHINESE light. I've bought some of these lights and what usually gives is what you wouldn't expect. Like the rubber strap that holds it in place, rips from heat/sunlight exposure. So now you have no way of keeping it mounted to the bike without a lot of ugly tape.

    I also tried using two of them to increase lumens but it only adds like 25% more light. You're not really "pushing" more light, the brightness is still the same, so you're just adding more "ambient" light which isn't useful. I need to push a large area of light in front of me, especially during heavy rain where the rain and water distort light and make it difficult to see details on the street. Especially nails and sharp objects that get pushed by the rain into the bike lane. That's where you really need a quality 2000 lumen light like the Buster 2000.

  29. Brightness cannot be summed up with just Lumens…you should he measuring in foot candles..that way you figure out exactly how much is actually shining in front of the bike…not just what the light is rated too

  30. I use the bontrigger 1300 lumins lasts for about 2 hours full on but I use them on 800 lumines and you can get 3 1/2 hours out of them
    Great buy for 140 each I highly recommended them

  31. My Chinese light has survived years of riding in the UK. All I did was unscrew it and put some silicone grease over the seals. Very durable unit, been through all kinds of storms. I also upgraded with a waterproof battery box with a couple of screws on top. Works very well. Oh and some Samsung 18650s which last ages. Although the higher-end ones have a lot more lumens – it's not as much as it seems due to the way the human eye works. You can double the lumins but it will nowhere near appear like double the brightness. 2000 Chinese lumens on the helmet and another on the bars is plenty.

  32. I bought the Amazon light a year ago. And is a good 20 dollar light. I do agree they should be honest and not say something they are not. I appreciate very much your video. I think we should share this video link to the amazon post for every one to see.

  33. I have been using a cheap light ocasionally (once a week or once 2 weeks)… Pretty much similar to that amazon light and it has worked FINE. Mine is brighter than that and never had a failure. So im fine! and honestly we almost never go night riding, we put them on our bikes and we go out end of the day and darkness might catch us up, so its mostly to return home safe!

  34. 5000 lumen must have been a typo which carried on to the packaging, and the product description on amazon. LOL! Take off one zero. I'm sure they meant 500 lumens.

  35. I AM THE NIGHT RIDER!!!!!! Watch till the end and you will hear the Mad Max quote. Mad Max Original in Australia. Still the best!!!

  36. I used bicycle for my main transportation that means I ride bicycle 365 days a year, The light that you call the Amazon like I purchased two of them about 10 years ago from Walmart for about $12 each. I have only used the lights on strobe, And over the years I have had no problems whatsoever with the light whether it be rain snow sleet hail whatever they worked faithfully and they last my full trip which lasts about 2 hours worth of riding, And yes even at night I only use the lights on stroke it is very bright and it flashes quick enough to keep my path illuminated where I can see exactly where I'm going and everything for a least a quarter mile ahead of me especially road signs it's lighting up a quarter mile ahead of me. The only problem that I have run into with these cheap lights is the fact that I am right now at this very moment or during my third battery charger, I have had no problems whatsoever with the lights or the battery. So I cannot complain at all about the lights especially since I only paid $12 a piece for them and they have lasted 10 years, Or the fact that I am now getting my third battery charger it seems that the charges do not last as long as the light or the batterys.

  37. too much light actually blinds other road users. please be careful guys consider other people as well when you turn your mountable flood lights on ๐Ÿ˜‰

  38. The Sigma is a really nice light, but for a lot of people that only do a night ride once in a while, the $18 Amazon light will work just fine. We do once per week night rides in the winter time, some people have expensive lights, some have cheap lights, I've seen the expensive lights have as many issues as the cheap ones. If you really want a better value for a bike light, don't go $18 cheap, step up to the MagicShine brand of lights. Much better made with a starting price of $59. For that price you get a sealed battery, and at least a true 1500 lumen light. Seth did a nice job testing both cheap and expensive lights here, but there are many choices in between. I think it comes down to your budget and how often you use you light. Regardless of brand, if you only charge the battery a couple times per year, the battery is only going to last 3-5 years or so. So, for your $300 light, a replacement battery is probably going to be $100, for the cheap bike light, a replacement battery will be less than $10. I personally own several cheap bike lights but the newest MagicShines are probably the best light you can get for not much money.

  39. ืžื™ืฉื”ื• ื™ื•ื“ืข ืœืžื” ืœืขื–ืื–ืœ ื”ืžืœื— ื›ืฉืจ?
    Why is the salt kosher? Nice to see Hebrew in the video…

  40. If you want reliable "system" and can't do your own analysis just read the reviews of the "experts" and then take the plunge with a good brand that backs its claims with warranties.

    If you're going to roll your own and you don't mind experimenting, first do the research on the emitters. Then make sure the emitters have enough theoretical efficiency to run at your expected max without stressing the LED's past 50% of the claimed maximums. Also, take a look at the manufacturer's claims for how much power is required for each level of output. You'll then have an idea about how much heat must be dissipated. Pay more for cooler running LEDs and don't worry about using clusters rather than finding "the best" single LED. For bike lamps you're usually buying a certain emitter or emitter array with a housing that has the (electronics interface) "driver" integrated.

    Now order your trial emitter package (LED array, housing and integrated driver) with a standard battery pack that you can use for testing. If you know how to configure and connect the emitters to the battery packs there is no need to waste money on a bundle just for testing. You can even easily make your own out of standard cells and seal it properly as you build it. If you later order a Super Duper German Ubermensch system you'll still have your home rolled system as reasonably reliable backup, unless you totally hosed it. But no matter what you do, you'll learn from these projects if you go slow and look for help understanding what happened when you run in to surprises that you can't figure out on your own.

    If you arrive at the "master class" you can then experiment with ordering raw emitters, drivers, and cells and make your own housing and connectors. Depending on how resourceful you are you can make a custom system suited perfectly for your own expectations with your own "industrial design" and look, and you'll save money and perhaps have a chance to sell your system to others for a reasonable profit. Other than the custom molded seals, just about everything can be built by hand with the help of a local machine shop. Use aluminum billets and so forth and go slowly, testing your doctrines and results at each stage. You don't need to spend $300 for a "night light" unless you want to.

  41. Hy guys . Setgs guide is great but i found a reealy cheap light alternative. Its the solarstorm x3. At a flat surface its rang is around 2-300m which is amazing for 30 bucks . I hope i held you

  42. You get what you pay for. The cheaper Chinese lights are poorly built with overrated claims. Some well known manufacturers offer decent lights at lower prices.

  43. I only use Chinese lights. I buy straight from Aliexpress. It's a pity the number's aren't always well…… correct/true lol, but they are such a great bang for your buck. I have now realised that a lot of western products are just rebranded chinese goods these days. Check out Chinese sites and be patients, you will be amazed what you can find there.

  44. I'm from Germany. This Sigma Light is indeed a great one – but obviously way too powerful to mount it on your handlebar, at least when it comes to traffic regulations. However, you can purchase it and mount it on your helmet. Thank you Seth for the detailed and informative review!

  45. Dude, do a video on mountain bike light mounts. I have a Blackburn 80 dollar light thatโ€™s awesome however even when I stretch the rubber band mounting thingy it still ends up pointing at the ground. Frustrated to the max

  46. Seth, yeah, I agree with you: Having a great quality, expensive light from a reputable company is ideal, but the cheapo Amazon lights also have their place in one's arsenal, too. You can almost be certain that bike lights sold via Amazon (unless a reputable company) are going to have exaggerated lumens ratings.

  47. Good comparison of the 2 extremes, but there are brighter, more robust lights available for just a little more than your Amazon light. The $300 light is deemed overpriced by the vast majority of us cyclists aware of tand e nemerous better alternatives. How about doing a future comparison representing numerous lights within a more realistic price range for the vast majority of us cyclists, from $30 to $80 or $100, for example. Include lights already identified by the cycling community, via numerous forums, as providing standout quality for the price, and please be forthcoming about any lights sent to you for free or including other perks exchanged for reviewing them. Did you really spend $300 of your own money – no strings attached (such as future compensation for promoting or favorably reviewing) – for the Sigma light? There are superior lights to the Sigma that are not nearly that expensive. Please avoid letting the marketing/hyping/propoganda/greed-driven capitalistic vultures out there from buying your integrity. This will ensure you remas in at peace with yourself, as well as retain the trust of us cycling enthusiasts who follow you & are influenced by you.

  48. Vegas summer, really no option but to ride at night, unless you like dawn patrol. We used to surf at dawn, when the water was glassy, and the sharks were hungry.

  49. I bought two of the Amazon lights, first one lasted 30 minutes on full charge. Second one just under two hours. Lasted about a year

  50. lol 5000 lumens hahaha.
    I just ordered a 15โ‚ฌ bike light on Aliexpress, cant wait to get it. its 800lumen, should be ok for what i need.

  51. Hi! I have a Velotech 750 lumen light. Is 5 hours on maximum and 12 in minimum. I a bike curier and it's working 2 night shift 5 hours and 30 minute!
    And this okay!

  52. The background music sounds like it's from "Pee-Wee's Big Adventure" movie. Oh – And don't forget to order an extra Amazon light for Drama – and mount it on his head so we can see the world through his eyes.

  53. If you plan on riding your bike once or twice at night, then get the cheap shit, but if you are an avid bike rider who enjoys riding in the cool nights and wants to do it for months and years, then buy quality shit. And btw German shit is ridiculously expensive. You can buy quality brands for under $50.

  54. I recently bought a used hardtail MTB from Corratec from around 2000 for like 20 bucks and it also included a sigma light and an abus chain. Great deal.

    Anyway on my citybike I use really cheap dollar store lights and they are pretty bad but do the job. Then I tried the Sigma Light while nightdriving and it blew me away. Afterwards I realised that I didn't even use the highest setting.

    Wouldn't want to pay retail though xD

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