Trail LED: World’s Brightest Lights Get Brighter, Last Longer

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Trail LED, makers of the industry leading 6000 lumen Halo light, has upgraded their entire line with a new generation of LEDs, promising an increase in brightness, better clarity, and longer run times. Handmade in Plano, Texas, Trail LED’s unique design and cutting edge technology promises commuters and solo 24-hour racers alike better visibility and more comfort than their competitors. We are going to put their claims to the test, but first we have a quick look at the ten-lamp Halo, five-lamp DS, and three-lamp XXX models, as well as a sneak peak of their soon to be released bar mount.

Get blinded by the light after the break.

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Top to bottom: Halo, DS, and XXX Trail LED lights

You know a helmet light is serious if the instructions start out like this:

!!!WARNING!!!!

Do not look at the light when plugging it in or turning it on.

Do not shine it into other people’s eyes.

Trail LED claims a cornea-burning 6000 lumens for their top-of-the-line Halo, 3000 for the DS model, and 1800 for the XXX, numbers that were generally borne out in MTBR’s extremely thorough 2013 shootout.  According to company founder Grady Pace, the use of the new Cree XLamp XP-L LEDs will result in  a 10 percent boost in those brightness levels,  as well as a better quality light. The new LEDs have a higher color rendering index, meaning they produce light that is more like daylight, making objects on the trail look the way your brain expects them to. This, according to Pace, means less eye strain and less required concentration, meaning that you can ride faster with less effort.

Trail LED Halo

The Halo will not sit flush against every helmet, but it is still much lower than most other lights

What sets Trail LED apart from other products is their helmet hugging designs. The curved profile on the Halo and DS models allow the lights to follow the contour of your noggin, and attach via a pair of very sturdy elastic bands that Trail LED claims are ozone, UV, and abrasion resistant. You simply hook the bands around the cooling fins and through the helmet vents – an included tire lever helps you grab the band to pull it through. If you have a completely smooth helmet adhesive pads are also included, but Pace claims this is really for moto riders, as they have been able to use the bands on the entire spectrum of city, enduro, and DH helmets. 

Trail LED DS

Trail LED DS fits perfectly on a Bell Sweep

The use of multiple lamps across a curved structure is also supposed to improve visibility, as it will generate shadows from multiple points. Pace states that, “this results in you being able to see rocks, roots, ruts, and drops without two lights. With the DS and Halo, you actually see better than in daylight.” We will test these claims in the coming weeks.

The immediate advantage of the design and mounting system is clear: you don’t feel the weight. While the BikeRumor scale is en route to Eurobike, I can attest that I can barely tell when the 800+ gram Halo is attached to my helmet. This is all the more impressive, as I am extra sensitive after spearing the ground and almost breaking my neck two days ago. The low profile will also make the system less likely to caught on low branches – a problem I faced regularly when navigating the cedar trees of Austin and the rhododendron tunnels of Asheville.

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The bodies are CNC’d and the lights are assembled in Texas and the quality looks solid. I was particularly taken by the subtle white line in the seal between the fore and aft body sections. The single power/mode button, common to all the units, sticks up just enough to be obvious to heavily gloved fingers, and it makes a satisfying click when depressed. The power cord attaches via a small bayonet mount, which does appear to sacrifice some strength for a svelte interface. Each unit offers a high and low power mode, six flash patterns, and a super-low emergency mode. The lights are shockingly bright, even in flash mode, which borders on being seizure-inducing. We will have comparison shots and testing data in the complete product review.

The XXX and DS include a 75 x 60 x 45 mm battery, the Halo measures 140 x 50 x 50mm. It is wrapped in a heavy rubber seal, which should insulate well, and be easy to grasp with semi-conscious, frozen fingers. The two batteries are cross compatible between all three units. Advertised burn times on high prior to the LED upgrade are two hours for the Halo and XXX, and 90 minutes for the DS. Both batteries charge at a 1:1 ratio; for every hour burning on high, it is one hour to recharge the battery, however, the claim is slightly off for the DS, which has a 3:4 burn/charge ratio. “Pro” kits include a second battery, or they can be purchased for $45 for the smaller XXX/DS battery and $75 for the Halo battery.

Power does not come cheaply: the rapture-like Halo will set you back $1,119.00, the DS is $499.99, and the XXX is $299.99 – all unchanged from the previous models.

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The new handlebar mounting bracket is rather ingenious. Shaped like the letter C, the polycarbonate piece clips over a stem face plate, the XXX (shown) or DS light sits on top, with the elastic straps wrapped around the bar to hold it all together. Its an elegant solution to address bars and stems crowded by computers, dropper switches, and a bazillion other doohickeys, but it requires a four bolt face plate design so the clamp can get some purchase on the gap between the stem and face plate.  The light can also be mounted below the stem, which is a good option for road (or XTR Di2) applications without cables cutting through the beam. To attach the battery to the frame, Trail LED includes the same sort of Velcro strap used by most light companies.

As soon as my neck heals, I will put the bracket though the paces to see how well it works, and we should have pricing and availability info by then as well.

TrailLED.com

Comments

Von Kruiser - 08/25/14 - 5:31pm

just ride in the day time

Von Kruiser - 08/25/14 - 5:31pm

if you need that much light.

Psi Squared - 08/25/14 - 5:46pm

I think these might be handicapped by the apparent difficulty in aiming them properly.

Andrew - 08/25/14 - 5:47pm

…cutting edge technology promises commuters and solo 24-hour racers…

Then

…Do not shine it into other people’s eyes…

Like other commuters and other traffic?
This is not a commuter light! Especially on strobe.

Jay - 08/25/14 - 5:50pm

There is no way I’d go riding with someone who had that. They would inevitably look at you and blind you. Even riding, if they were behind you the shadows cast would be distracting.

Al Boneta - 08/25/14 - 6:17pm

I always wanted to be the creature from the movie “The Thing” for Halloween

Chris - 08/25/14 - 6:51pm

Will this rig not melt the helmet??

Greg - 08/25/14 - 6:54pm

@andrew
It comes with a seizure salad.

JBikes - 08/25/14 - 7:32pm

Texas must be a dark dark place indeed.

Joe - 08/25/14 - 8:05pm

At the wonderful price of only $1200.

Stampers - 08/25/14 - 9:14pm

If I ran into that on the trail at night I’d see spots for long time…

Dan Smith - 08/25/14 - 9:49pm

These lights are amazing. He rents these lights at local races for anyone to try out. My wife used one and talked about how amazing it was. I doubted her, so I had to try it for myself. This light is unmatched. I’ve used a number of different brands, but this is by far the best without a doubt. The XXX is super bright and once it’s mounted on the helmet, your bar light isn’t even needed. Don’t worry about aiming this, because it doesn’t need to be. GO TRAIL LED or GO HOME

SGK - 08/25/14 - 9:58pm

Reminds me of the ship from Close Encounters. Does it play tones?

Mortimer - 08/25/14 - 11:28pm

“did not feel the 800gm”. Yeah right. 800grams extra on one’s head would feel like 800grams.

bertie - 08/26/14 - 1:02am

Overkill. Pass.

Kristi - 08/26/14 - 3:24am

Helmet light is Ok. But IMHO it is not smart to have just one light and on the helmet. When it is clear it is OK. But try to ride with it when foggy or drizzling. No Lumens will help you to see any ground. I use bar mount 1800lm light plus 1200lm helmet light from Lupine.

Matt - 08/26/14 - 3:26am

Helmet lights are fantastic but you really need handlebar lights as well, on technical terrain, using just a helmet light flattens all the lumps and bumps. A lower mounted light as least throws shadows to help you spot rocks

HiddenDeer - 08/26/14 - 4:05am

DO YOU SEE ME NOW

JonB - 08/26/14 - 9:15am

Man, those larger lights are terribly inefficiently made. For the cost of one of the large “halo” lights, they could get an extrusion tool for the backside made that would incorporate the fins. Even better, this same extrusion could be used for the middle size. The center body would then be the same between the two.

This would add 2 seals and a small amount of assembly, but save at LEAST half the machining cost – those fins don’t machine easy… And the curvature of the part means a LOT of material to hog out for making multiple parts.

Matt M - 08/26/14 - 3:46pm

The HALO is obviously the show piece and not meant for every rider. I checked these out at 24hr Nationals and the DS is amazing so I bought one. I used to be dead set on a bar light, but after using the DS I realized it was because I didn’t have enough light before and strained my eyes to stay focused even with two separate 1500+ lumen lights.

Now, I have ridden with the DS on my helmet and an MJ-808 on my bars and can honestly say that whether the bar light is on or off does not impact my riding.

As far as complaining about weight or anything else. I checked the stats to every other comparable light (mtbr shootout and mfr info) and the DS is lighter, brighter, and mounted lower. Can’t say enough good things about mine.

craigsj - 08/28/14 - 8:48am

“This, according to Pace, means less eye strain and less required concentration, meaning that you can ride faster with less effort.”

How ridiculous.

Ritchie - 08/28/14 - 10:49am

1gm of Dilantin stat!

Ethan - 08/29/14 - 8:27pm

I own the XXX. It’s a fantastic light. First time out it survived a crash and a thunderstorm. Brightness never varied over four hours of use at any of the three settings. You get what you pay for and it’s rock solid. The battery for the XXX even rode well in my jersey pocket. Kind of surprised at the negative comments here.

Scott Buchholtz - 09/10/14 - 11:09am

I have used them all, Night Rider, Serfas, you name it. The Trail LED is by far the best light I have ever user. I put the sucker on high and fly down the trail. I put it on low and commute to work. Simply put, these are the best.

muf - 09/13/14 - 2:53pm

if you ride at night such lights are needed.
i use an ebay 3xCREE lamp on the top of my helmet. its totally overkill on the road and dangerous as you can blind car drivers. Its as powerfull as a car headlight but unlike cars the beam goes in the direction you look (hence the ease of blinding ppl/drivers)

on the road, a small 50-100lumen fixed light works even on totally dark roads..

on the trail its perfect and i wouldnt want any less, as you need to spot each rock, etc. very clearly

muf - 09/13/14 - 2:54pm

oh also on the other hand the 550usd price for the light is a joke at best.
my 3x CREE is nearly as good and cost 40 bucks with li-on batt..

NCXC - 10/24/14 - 9:57am

How does the Trail LED XXX compare to the Gloworm X2 and XS?

Would love to support a USA company but their mounting and versatility is making me hesitant on the purchase.

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