Saturday, November 14, 2015

Light & Motion Urban 500 Lights Up My Commute

It's difficult to depict the true lighting capabilities of the Urban 500,
but at least the photo shows the unlit, forested bike path
which I ride on for 3 of my 5 miles.
I needed a decent bike light if I was serious about commuting this year in November and possibly into December. I hadn't meant to wait until the last week before Daylight Savings Time ended before I chose a light or, admittedly, even researched a few models, but somehow I had procrastinated until the last moment.

I think I had somehow expected that once November rolled around the temperature would plummet, the rains would set in, and I would contend with icy streets and darkness, two dangerous conditions that would mean the end of bike commuting for the year. But I had to remind myself that one of the perks of switching jobs last winter afforded me the opportunity to extend commuting as late into autumn as I felt comfortable riding.

An example of Light & Motion Urban 500 with orange side lights.
As a coworker noted, the case color is Bianchi green.
It could have been daunting research, but as time was of the essence I perused a local outdoor shop's website first for ideas as a means of limiting my choices. I loved Light & Motion's simple styling and color selection, but I also knew the NiteRider brand would make an excellent choice. My husband has a NiteRider and the beam it casts on unlit bike paths is exceptional. There are many other brands that would be adequate but I refused to get bogged down with too many choices. I read Amazon's reviews of Light & Motion's Urban series, decided on at least 500 lumens brightness, confirmed this choice at the local shop on Friday, went home and thought about it overnight and made my purchase locally on Saturday. As simple as that.

Since I store my bicycle at my workplace outside, easily connecting and removing the light was critical. A beam that would illuminate unlit bike paths was another prerequisite.

After riding for two weeks, I've discovered other handy features: battery charge indicator is green when fully charged, orange when half charged, and red when it needs to be plugged into a USB port. I haven't encountered the flashing red indicator, and don't plan to, as this apparently means only a few minutes of light is left before plunging yourself into darkness. An orange light glows laterally on the side of the case, casting light on the handle bars, handy for finding my bell and thumbshifters. Also, the light pivots 365 degrees, allowing me to fine tune the direction of light. It has a bungee-type strap that securely attaches to handle bars. The light will not shift when riding over bumps.

The best thing is, I can light up bike paths in woodlands in complete darkness on the lesser setting (225 lumens). What a revelation! The beam casts 20 feet into the woods on either side of the path making me feel secure. I observed a wild bunny zigzagging on the path's edge before finally darting into the forest. If I aim the beam approximately 15-20 feet ahead, it accommodates my blazing (ha!) 10 mph speeds. Interestingly, I've yet to utilize the brightest setting, but I know it's there should I need it. Having an adequate lighting system means cars see me and I finally feel liberated, joining the masses of nighttime commuters as we extend our riding season.

I'm loving the Light and Motion Urban 500.


  1. Good score!

    I've moved mostly to dynamo lighting, but I still have a Cygolite Metro 300 I bought about 3 years ago. Cygolite is USB rechargeable, a big plus, and made in the US! The drawback is there is no "warning colors" like the Light and Motion, which is definitely a plus in my book. But I'll put up with that for now, as it still works!

  2. I use dynamo lighting but have a Light and Motion Urban 350 for backup, and for riding in the woods (roots and rocks). In the latter case, I use both the dynamo light (60 lux) and the L&M on low (about 75 lumens) and that's plenty of light. The 500 seems great for your purpose. I'd ride an otherwise unlit path using that light any evening.

    BTW Light and motion says this about the colors: green = 100-75% power, orange = 74-50%, red = 49-25%, flashing red = < 25%.

    I have a Nite Rider MiNewt 600 that is much too bright for city streets, especially in flashing mode. The L&M has a flashing mode that doesn't blind drivers and other cyclists.

    1. Thanks for the L&M I know I need not be overly concerned when the light turns to red. I still have plenty of juice left to get where I'm going.

  3. I live in the south and can commute year round since we very rarely get snow or ice. I find that I actually enjoy dark commutes.I feel so much more visible when it is fully dark out than I do at dusk. In addition to the lights, very simple things pop out in the dark: The reflective side walls on tires, reflectors on pedals, reflective accents on clothing.

    Of course, reflective stuff is only so that others can se me. Lights are so that I can see. I use dynamo lighting on one of my bikes and love knowing that my batteries won't run out. It's a B&M Cyo Premium. The shaped beam is nice. I've recently started using an older bike for commuting a couple of days a week. I got a Cygolite 850 for it. It's a very good light. Like you, I find that I never use the brightest setting. On lit streets, the lowest setting is plenty. I also have an unlit forested section of my commute, and for that the medium setting seems just right.

    1. Bike lights have improved dramatically in the last ten years, certainly a huge benefit to all nighttime riders.


Due to increased Spam, I am moderating comments. Thank you for your patience.