Best Mountain Bike Lights & Brightest Lighting Systems

Core Principles

In designing the Focal Series Trail Edition we thought long and hard about what makes for a great mountain bike light, and determined it came down to a few core principles.

1. Reliability
2. Durability
3. Wide Field of Vision
4. Long Lasting Battery Life
5. Simple

Read on for an in-depth analysis of each principle!

Reliability

We think this speaks for itself, however it seems to be a function not everyone always thinks about. There is nothing worse, or more dangerous, than finding yourself with a dead light in the middle of nowhere at night or a light suddenly turning off on a fast downhill descent. It is common issue plagued with cheap lights. LED drivers overheat, solder joints break, cheap components fail, or battery connections become loose. Mountain biking is unique in that it is an unforgiving environment for electronics. High frequency vibrations, big impulse forces from jumps, dust, dirt, water, heat and cold all put major stress on electronics.

This is why the Focal Series put the reliability of the product as the number one goal. There are no soldered joints from the power input to fail. Electrical components with tight tolerances that were selected not for cost, but for reliability. Large thermal mass for the heat of the LED to sink directly into with the help of thermal interface material (TIM) to enhance the heat dissipation. Lastly there is always a reserve amount of power to get you back home safely in the event your ride goes on longer than planned.

Durability

While reliable and durable could arguably be considered one and the same, we believe that the rigors of MTB lend itself to the need for heavy duty mounting, durable coatings, and scratch resistant lenses. That is why the Focal Series is surrounded by a magnesium die cast housing that doubles as a lightweight heatsink, but also an extremely durable case. It may feel as light as plastic, but it is anything but.

The mounting system is overbuilt with long term durability in mind. A very thick silicone strap allows for tight mounting without over-stressing and without marring the very expensive carbon bars everyone loves! Even though it is a silicone strap, it is very sturdy even in the biggest bumps and jumps, and only moves in the event of a big crash. That way your light is not going to go flying when you smack that tree, leaving you not only hurting, but also blind.

The unique silicone lens is a first for the biking industry. It is actually clearer than even the highest grade plastics. Nearly as clear as glass. Yet you cannot scratch it, it is UV stable, and will absorb any major impact. Not only is it incredibly durable, it is incredibly lightweight while acting as a seal for the entire light adding waterproofness to the impressive list of features

Wide Field of Vision

This is a core principle that we believe is often very overlooked not only by light manufactures but riders as well. Mountain biking is a very dynamic type of riding. Direction changes constantly, lots of leaning, going up hills and down jumps. Yet most bike lights are using a focused spot beam that shows an impressive viewing distance at a standstill. There is no reason to be able to spot something 200 yards away since very rarely will there be a straight line of 200 yards on a proper mountain bike trail.

This is why we shifted the focus of the beam pattern on the Trail Edition from one of piercing brightness to a wide homogeneous fill of light that fills your binocular vision with an even blend of illumination. Binocular vision is the core portion of your vision that enables depth perception. It is roughly 110° wide and the Trail Edition uses very bit of it. It creates a very secure feeling of confidence at night because it feels similar to riding in the daylight.

Combine the wide field of vision of the revolutionary carpet of light that floods the front of the bike and creates an even illumination from the front of the tire to where you are looking, along with the wide field of vision and you are left with a bike light that redefines the standard for mountain bike lighting.

Long Lasting Battery Life

Long lasting rides was the key from the get-go, and the properly design optics allows for a lower lumen level than competitors, yet still be brighter with a wider field of vision. This is achieved because of how optically efficient the light is. It utilizes 96% of the available light from the chip and puts it right on target thanks to the incredibly well designed reflector.

Typical bike lights have an off-the-shelf optic or a bowl type reflector that just creates the standard circular beam pattern that everyone knows very well. This pattern leaves points that are too bright, and others that are throwing light where it isn’t needed. All of this adds up to wasted energy, and shorter battery life.

The Focal Series also uses genuine high capacity LG battery cells, not cheap knockoffs that have overstated amp hour claims. This results in a more expensive battery compared to cheap eBay or Amazon listings, but a stable, reliable, safe, and high performing pack that we stand behind.

Dead Simple

We know there are lots of nifty features out there on todays lights. Bluetooth, LCD screens with readouts, motion control, iPhone and Android apps, programable user modes, dozens of buttons, and many more. While those features are cool to use occasionally, they detract from the core mission of a great light. Light up the night. We focused strongly on a single large button for operation, a high quality LED chip, reliable electronics, and most importantly an incredibly well designed beam pattern which is the result of hundreds of hours of simulation and analysis.

Dead simple operation means less things to go wrong, less things to worry about on the trail, and more time to focus on the ride ahead.

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