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Product review - Solar Storm twin XML bike light

supersonicsupersonic Posts: 82,708 Lives Here
edited November 2014 in MTB general
http://www.dx.com/p/y-002-2-x-cree-xm-l ... supersonic

The first thing you notice is the no frills packaging - it comes loose in a plain cardboard box, no instructions, just a collection of parts. Not that you need instructions, it's not exactly nuclear physics trying to get the thing to work. A simple O ring (two sizes are included) secure the head unit to the bars, a well sealed battery pack velcros to your frame, clip the wires together and you're off. And charging is a similar affair, simply unplug the wires and swap them into the supplied charger (though you will need a plug adapter in the uk).

And what a head unit! The diminutive size comes as bit of a shock, it really is tiny! But it looks to be well made, it being machined from aluminium with pronounced cooling fins and some effective looking sealing around the back panel. A three stage run time meter sits alongside the power switch which toggles between four modes, high, medium, low and a fast strobe. Inside are two CREE XM-L2 T6 LED emitters and, whilst not the very latest in the range, are still high powered and efficient units. Using two in this arrangement for the claimed 1200 lumens, rather than driving one really hard, has theoretical runtime and further efficiency advantages.

But all this means nothing if it doesn't perform, so once fully charged (it takes about 4 hours) it was strapped to the bike and thrown into the dark wilderness... At first the output seemed slightly underwhelming. After using a cheap generic single CREE XML T6 for a few weeks, the twin Solar Storm did not seem as bright at all, and it certainly doesn't have the outright punch. But the reasons soon became obvious - rather than having a piercing central spot and fainter peripheral, the beam spread is much more uniform. To most people this a more useful spread of light, and it soon became apparent on the trail when you realise you can simply see much more of the trail. With no halos nor beam artifacts the whole results is very pleasing on the eye, further enhanced by the mount which stayed rock solid throughout the testing period. A bit of rain caused no problems, but the unit runs very, very hot at full whack. This is one light you are going to have to keep moving with (or turn down when stopped) as those sort of temps cannot be good for the LEDs. Runtime wasn't as good as claimed - somewhere near two hours, but that's fair going and extra battery packs are easily available. The power meter jumps quick from full to empty too, so be on your guard when the first green LED goes out. Also these power LEDs slowly drain the battery, so is wise to disconnect when not in use.

So far the unit has been reliable, but further testing and an internal examination of the heat sinking is in order to see how it will perform in the long run. But let's cut to the chase though. This thing is twenty two quid delivered!. Compare that to other similarly specced lights and you'll wonder just how do they do it?

VERDICT: For the money nothing comes close. Runtime could be a little better, and if you want more of a spot look elsewhere, but this is splitting hairs - for 99% of us the performance of this light is all you'll ever need.

9/10

Beam shots to follow.
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Posts

  • punkatron1punkatron1 Posts: 134
    Excellent write up supersonic. I have one of these too and its brilliant. I've used it in driving rain on a few winters nights and there were no problems with water ingress. Agreed that it goes from full to empty quickly, but i'm getting 3 hours out of it so not really a problem. A true bargain.
    Too many bikes, not all fully built.
  • nick-gtinick-gti Posts: 131
    I too have one of these lights as do two of my mates I'm very happy with it. I did find on mine that the light can read its empty (one flashing LED) but if you unplugged it for 20 seconds and plugged it back in the battery level returned to two lit LED's which was more realistic considering it was fully charged and only had an hours use.

    I much prefer having mine mounted to my helmet rather than the bars.
  • ricardo_smoothricardo_smooth Posts: 1,281
    I've one of these too. great VFM and spare batteries are cheap enough too
  • JMcP92JMcP92 Posts: 339
    How is the mounting on this light if you don't mind my asking?
    I had a similar cheap-ish bike light off Amazon not long ago, and it worked fine but the light body disconnected from the mounting, essentially meaning it would only work at a very certain position, which as is to be predicted, it didn't stay there with MTB-ing, making for some very dark sketchy sections :P

    In short, mounting seem solid and reliable? Tempted to get one now :D
  • ricardo_smoothricardo_smooth Posts: 1,281
    Yes it's solid and reliable
  • supersonicsupersonic Posts: 82,708 Lives Here
    So far so good, as it has been with others of similar ilk. I'm going to get more extensive testing done and keep this thread updated. But honestly... at that price... get one. Get three!
  • brucie45brucie45 Posts: 279
    Well I don't normally ride in the dark due to having no lights and I have never wanted to get some due to cost and getting a decent set with good VFM. After seeing your review and recommendation I have ordered some today. Cheer SuperSonic
    Commencal Ramones Cromo 13 - viewtopic.php?f=10017&t=12926938
  • JodyPJodyP Posts: 193
    Bought one of these at Christmas and it really is a great light, especially for the money. Decided to buy a hope quick release mount bracket which works a treat.
  • Chunkers1980Chunkers1980 Posts: 8,035
    Can anyone provide a direct link to this exact light - I'm not sure which it is - I'd like to get the one as reviewed to be safe. Thanks
  • paulboxpaulbox Posts: 1,203
    I have a couple of similar lights, one of which came from DX and they have been awesome.

    But after hearing a few stories I've always been a bit worried about the batteries overheating when being charged. This means that I won't leave them charging overnight or when I'm out. Any thoughts on this SS?

    One other thought, a bit left field... I feel that these amazing lights have actually taken away some of the fun of night-riding. I.e. they are so good that it's almost like riding in daylight.

    Paul.
    XC: Giant Anthem X
    Fun: Yeti SB66
    Road: Litespeed C1, Cannondale Supersix Evo, Cervelo R5
    Trainer: Bianchi via Nirone
    Hack: GT hardtail with Schwalbe City Jets
  • JodyPJodyP Posts: 193
    Can anyone provide a direct link to this exact light - I'm not sure which it is - I'd like to get the one as reviewed to be safe. Thanks

    This is which one I bought. Paid a little extra as it was from a UK supplier and it was the U2 version. Supersonic put a link to the light he reviewed on the first post.

    http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/SolarStorm-Ho ... 99b5ee9984
  • Angus YoungAngus Young Posts: 3,063
    Looks like astonishing value. Must be made by children.
    All the gear, no idea and loving the smell of jealousy in the morning.
    Kona Process 134 viewtopic.php?f=10017&t=12994607
  • Are the lights not too close together to give a decent/consistent flood?

    Similar to on a car, I find it best to have the torches on my bars as far away from each other as possible (ie at either end of the bars) to give a really good flood of light across the whole the trail.
  • ricardo_smoothricardo_smooth Posts: 1,281
    They work well is all I know. I have one of these in huge bars and a different light on my helmet
  • mcnultycopmcnultycop Posts: 2,143
    How is the light performing in the longer term (appreciating nights have been getting lighter since the original review was posted)?

    I've had a few evening rides cut short lately on the MTB so need something more than my 501b torches.
  • RockmonkeySCRockmonkeySC Posts: 15,247
    I have one of these.
    It's ok. Run time isn't great, 2 hours max but used as a second light for technical sections and turned off for climbs and fire roads it's ideal.
    The charger can get quite hot, I wouldn't leave it on overnight or while I'm out.
  • supersonicsupersonic Posts: 82,708 Lives Here
    As above really, more like two hours, but for the money, again - unbeatable.

    I have another on test soon - the 9 LED version! WTS.
  • RockmonkeySCRockmonkeySC Posts: 15,247
    Lights have come down in price massively over the last five years.
    In 2010 I bought a 180 lumen Light and Motion Stella for £200 it's still going great and the 5 hour battery life is brilliant but the battery is more than twice the size and weight of these Solar Storm twin lights and not in the same league for brightness.
  • mcnultycopmcnultycop Posts: 2,143
    2 hours is plenty for me on a post work evening ride. I'll look into one come payday (depending on the 9 LED review)..
  • supersonicsupersonic Posts: 82,708 Lives Here
    A tenth the output, should be longer! but yes, the march forwards with tech and price is staggering. Except for the censored tech we don't need.
  • RockmonkeySCRockmonkeySC Posts: 15,247
    I bought my Solar Storm on ebay direct from China. Cost me £30 but took four months to arrive! I got a refund after two months and forgot about it.
  • Come down a lot in price now:

    http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/200959831751? ... 1439.l2649

    £15.99 + £1.99 P&P and that's a UK seller.
    Cannondale Synapse 105 Disc
  • Craig24Craig24 Posts: 150
    Is this the newer version of the light? Claims to be, with new "Waterproof battery with silicon Jacket from UniqueFire"


    http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/New-Generatio ... 2591f84f0b
  • supersonicsupersonic Posts: 82,708 Lives Here
    So many slight variations - no doubt prices are coming down fast.
  • FishFishFishFish Posts: 2,152
    supersonic wrote:

    ...actually it is. The generation of electrical current does depend in part on an atomic nucleus.

    but your review is good - is this the one that a company canvassed this site for reviewers?
    ...take your pickelf on your holibobs.... :D

    jeez :roll:
  • supersonicsupersonic Posts: 82,708 Lives Here
    I'll keep an eye on those electrons and charge transfer ;-)

    Yes, they asked for product reviewers, and a few of the people that replied were chosen. Is unpaid - but something I've enjoyed doing as a rider, rather than an out and out tester.
  • itboffinitboffin Posts: 19,847
    I think there's generally a lack of rider kit reviews on this forum, I tried to kick a thread off a few years back but as is usually the case over on the darkside of the forum it went rapidly OT

    Nice review, i'm in the market for an upgrade to my original magicshine units
    Rule #5 // Harden The censored Up.
    Rule #9 // If you are out riding in bad weather, it means you are a badass. Period.
    Rule #12 // The correct number of bikes to own is n+1.
    Rule #42 // A bike race shall never be preceded with a swim and/or followed by a run.
  • supersonicsupersonic Posts: 82,708 Lives Here
    I'm all for more reviews, I've started general review threads off before. If they do start to get out of hand I can always wield my secret mod hammer ;-)

    So yeah, feel free to he start them!
  • Im on my second Solarstorm now, the first lasted a year before dying (cant complain for £20) so ordered the same again without hesitation, these are brillliant little lights!
    Paracyclist
    @Bigmitch_racing
    2010 Specialized Tricross (commuter)
    2014 Whyte T129-S
    2016 Specialized Tarmac Ultegra Di2
    Big Mitch - YouTube
  • bigmitch41 wrote:
    Im on my second Solarstorm now, the first lasted a year before dying (cant complain for £20) so ordered the same again without hesitation, these are brillliant little lights!

    I'm giving them a go based on the comments in this thread!! Arrived in the post this morning - can't wait to try it out!! :D
    "I look pretty young, but I'm just back-dated"
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