1/15/2014

Light & Motion Rechargeable LED Lighting That Lights Up the Night

Taz 1000 headlight and Vis 180 Micro taillight

Light & Motion has been developing high quality lighting for cycling at their Monterey, California factory for over 20 years.  When it came time to choose what lighting I would like to test and use regularly, testimonials from other cyclists, Light & Motion's reputation and the fact they are designed and assembled here in the USA made their products a clear choice for me.

Stella 500 headlight

I wanted to go with a three light set-up; a powerful headlight with a wide beam, a small and lightweight helmet-mounted headlight and a compact brightly lit taillight, all with Li-ion rechargeable batteries for convenience.  This combination would suit me for whatever type of riding I would be doing, whether it be on gravel roads, singletrack and in town after dark or daytime use in traffic and on snowmobile trails.  After some research, the Taz 1000, Stella 500 and Vis 180 Micro became my selections for testing, review and everyday use.

Taz 1000


The Light & Motion Taz 1000 is a compact light that is bright as a motorcycle headlamp. It's an ideal lighting choice for just about any cyclist whether you're a commuter or mountain biker.  There are two modes that include seven lumen output settings to give you the light and run times needed for all types of ride conditions.  These include Cruise Mode:  High-1000 (1:40), Medium-500 (3:00), Low-200 (6:00), Pulse-200 (9:00), Flash-200 (18:00) and Race Mode:  Race Hi-800 (2:00), Race Lo-350 (4:00).  In addition to the flexibility of  light output, the Taz 1000 also has amber lights on each side that gets your profile seen.  These side lights can be turned on or off with a second power button.  The light beam is powered by three high power LED's configured to throw a pattern out ahead and down in front of  the the rider.


After using the Taz 1000 in many different lighting conditions I have come to really like having many choices of lumen output.  I can use the Pulse or Flash mode for daytime use, Medium or Low for urban riding, High for shorter rides at night on singletrack or gravel and Race Mode for longer run times that allows me to switch back and forth between Hi and Low.  After using it for some time, I have a come to learn how much battery life is remaining during a ride by the indicator light (lights up green, amber or red) on the main power button.   It also has a low battery warning and automatic shut off that prevents damage to the battery.  Its sealed, waterproof  to 1 meter design is one feature I like, riding in rain, freezing drizzle or snow is not a problem. 

Taz 1000-Low
Taz 1000-Medium
Taz 1000-High

I have never had a problem over driving the High beam on the Taz 1000, even when riding fast downhills.  This light really throws a beam far out ahead, even on the Race Hi and  Medium settings.

The tool free mount held very secure when I took it out on singletrack mountain bike trails and gravel roads so no adjustment was necessary due to bumps.  The Taz also swivels left and right so can be aimed properly with just about any bar set up.  Charging it can take some significant time using a .5 Amp USB slot (13 hours) so I recommend using a 1 Amp (7 hours) or 2 Amp (3.5 hours) adapter for a quicker charge rate.  I really like using High on Cruise Mode for gravel road rides out in the country at night, only problem is the battery gets run down pretty fast (1½ to 1¾ hours).  To extend ride time, I have to switch to a lower mode or use it in tandem with the helmet-mounted Stella 500.  I'm pretty impressed with this light and take it with me on all of my rides to see and be seen during day or night.

The Taz 1000 has a two-year warranty against manufacturer defects and is available from Light & Motion, Penn Cycle and other fine bike shops for $249.99.

Stella 500


The Light & Motion Stella 500 is a very compact headlight that has the versatility of being mounted on handlebars or a helmet.  It is very light weight with a focused beam and like the Taz 1000 there are two modes, Cruise Mode and Race Mode.  Long run times are what the Stella 500 is known for making it a good choice for longer rides.  Lumen output and run times are as follows:  Cruise Mode:  High-500 (2:45), Medium-275 (6:00), Low-140 (12:00), Pulse-140 (24:00) and Race Mode:  Race Hi-500 (2:45), Race Lo-275 (6:00).

Stella 500-High
Stella 500-Medium

Stella 500-Low

This is an excellent choice for commuters because of its long run times and chances are it will only need a charge once every day or two depending on the setting used.  The Stella 500 has a separate 2 cell Li-ion battery pack that is easily tucked into a jersey or jacket pocket when helmet-mounted or can be attached to a bike frame for handlebar use.  The included charger will charge the battery pack in around 2¾ hours and shuts off automatically when a full charge is achieved.  Pair this light helmet-mounted with the Taz 1000 and you really have great light setup for the darkest of nights.

I exclusively tested this light helmet-mounted and it's so lightweight that I didn't even notice it was there.  The mount for the light attaches easily using a Velcro fastener and holds tight keeping the light in place without shifting or moving.  Once the Stella 500 is attached to the mount it can be pointed up or down and swivels left and right to place the beam where you want it out in front of you.  The cord that connects to the battery pack is the perfect length for placement of the pack in my back jersey or jacket pocket.  Additional battery packs are available which is nice if I ever wanted to add a second one to bring along for those really long rides or to have an extra that is fully charged and ready to go.

Taz 1000 & Stella 500 on High
Taz 1000 & Stella 500 on High








The beam is very focused and lights up the path ahead nicely.  When riding singletrack it was easy to ride fast because the beam followed my line of sight as I rode through switchbacks and turns.  The combination of the Stella 500 and the Taz 1000 is the way to go if you do any night time off-road or gravel road riding.  It's like having car headlights on a bike.  It's tough to overdrive this set up on High in Cruise Mode.  Obstacles are seen well in advance allowing enough time to maneuver around or away from them.  With long run times, a powerful beam and helmet or bar mounting options, I would recommend the Stella 500 for commuters, road cyclists and mountain bikers alike.

The Stella 500 has a two-year warranty against manufacturer defects and is available from Light & Motion, Penn Cycle and other fine bike shops for $199.99.  Additional battery packs are available from Light & Motion and Penn Cycle for $99.99.

Taz 1000 & Stella 500 light output demonstration



Light output from Light & Motion handlebar-mounted Taz 1000 and helmet-mounted Stella 500 by themselves and in combination.  Taz 1000 (00:00-00:20) High, Medium, Low, Pulse, Flash, High.  Stella 500 (00:23-00:47) High, Medium, Low, Pulse, High.  Taz 1000/Stella 500 both on High (00:49-00:59).

Vis 180 Micro


The Light & Motion Vis 180 Micro is a bright and compact taillight that is designed to get a rider seen.  It has a 25 lumen main taillight and an amber light on each side giving it 180º of visibility.  With its locking clip it can be attached to a seat bag or backpack and a rubber mounting strap provides an option for adjustable seatpost mounting.  It has four light modes that have very long run times:  High Pulse-25 (6:00), Low Pulse-13 (12:00), High-25 (4:00) and Paceline-13 (eliminates top pulsing light) (20:00).   The Vis 180 micro is a good choice for the mountain biker, commuter and road cyclist because of its lightweight small size, bright 180º output and the convenience of a Micro USB rechargeable battery.  For road cyclists that participate in group rides, the Paceline setting is ideal because it's not blinding to following riders.


For only 25 lumens, the Vis 180 Micro emits brilliant light.  It's red LED can be seen from a long way and lights up the ground in a fan pattern behind the bike.  The side amber lights are also very bright giving me the confidence that I will be seen from all angles.  I like the versatility of mounting options it has allowing me to attach it to my seatpost, seatbag or trunk bag depending on my need.  The angle of the light can be adjusted for maximum visibility when seatpost mounting. 

Recharging the Vis 180 Micro is pretty quick at around 2 to 2½ hours and the Paceline light will go out to let me know it's done.  The long run times give me several rides out of this light on a single charge.  It has an automatic shut-off that prevents damage to the battery if I happen to run it down too far during use.  It's small size and Micro USB recharging are very convenient for me and never having to buy batteries is a big plus with this taillight.  

The Vis 180 Micro has a two-year warranty against manufacturer defects and is available from Light & Motion, Penn Cycle and other fine bike shops for $49.99.

Disclosure:  Light & Motion provided the Stella 500 and Vis 180 Micro review samples for this article, but offered no other form of compensation for this review.  Light & Motion did not supply the Taz 1000, it was purchased with my own money.

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