For years I’ve been on a quest to find the best front bike light for a particular type of riding. I look for lights that will help me ride through the night on unlit roads. There are tons of options for great front lights that will get you across town; but if you want to ride through the night, the options are less plentiful.
After having tested a lot of options I’ve settled on three lights. My plan was to share a buyer’s guide similar to what I wrote about children’s bike helmets. Unfortunately, one of the lights has been hard to come by. While I wait for that light, I want to talk about the other lights one-by-one. The first one is an option that those in the U.S. probably aren’t familiar with. The Lifeline Pavo Motion 2400 sells through Wiggle or Chain Reaction Cycles (major UK retailers) with huge max lumens at a relatively budget-friendly price of $169.99.
What does it offer?
The way I like to think of the Lifeline Pavo Motion 2400 is that it answers the kind of question you might see pop up in the comments. “Why won’t they get rid of all the features I don’t need and just make a simple, bright, light?” Someone did, and here it is.
There are only two modes: “motion control” and “constant”. When in motion control mode the full 2400 lumens is available and an onboard gyroscope halves power when it senses the bike has stopped. Constant mode just shines at the set power.
The shape is a simple cylinder built almost entirely from anodized 6061 aluminum (more images below). Tip to tail it’s a monochromatic gunmetal grey that’s only broken up by a few small details that keep it from rolling on a flat surface and help dissipate heat. The rear panel holds the micro-usb charging port behind a rubber cover. The front panel houses seven Cree LED units behind a glass lens.
At the base of the light is the mounting hardware. Attached to the light you’ll find a small plastic circle with two tabs. The tabs fit into a matching void in the mount then a quarter turn locks the light in place. The part of the mount that circles the handlebars is aluminum and secures with two hex head screws that tighten in opposite directions. Tighten one from below and one from above and alternate between the two for even pressure.
Cycling through the power output modes requires a single press of the button. Whatever power and mode you’ve selected will remain selected through a power cycle.
Power options are: Motion control Mode 1 = 2400 L / 1200 L, Mode 2 = 1200 L / 600 L, Mode 3 = 600 L / 300 L then two flashing modes which differ only in the length of the flashes. Constant Mode High = 100% / 2000 L, Medium = 50% / 1000 L, Low = 25% / 500 L, and Saving Mode = 10% / 250 L.
Why do you need so much power?
Riding at speed on an unlit road I like to have around 800 lumens available. I find it uncomfortable to be at a lower power than that but I don’t need more. There’s a ton of quality lights that have a max lumen rating right about there. The reason you want more is because a more powerful light will be a bigger light with a bigger battery. When you power it down to half you get a nice long burn time.
Burn times: 2000 lumens = 1hr 50 mins, 1000 lumens = 3hrs 30 mins, 500 lumens = 6 hrs 30 mins, 250 lumens = 12hrs+, flashing = 16hrs+
Take a minute to glance back and forth between the power modes and the burn times and think about how many lumens you need for riding at night. A lot of people commute with 500 hundred or even 250. All that burn time means less charging, or if you need more power you can drop to half-power and get 3 hours 30 minutes with more power than a lot of lights even offer.
3 hours and 30 minutes won’t get you through the night though. It’s a very good spec but to get through the night you are looking for 8+ hours. To do that you need to charge while you ride and there are very few lights on the market that will work while charging. This one does. You lose any kind of weather protection, a big deal in Portland, but as long as it’s dry this light will shine, at half power or less, until your battery pack is dead. The charging port is conveniently located for mid-ride charging too.
What is it like to use?
There’s good and bad in this section. In terms of the good stuff, it’s got great power and you will have no issue seeing where you are going. Like every light on the market, it’s not bothered by rain. Holding down the button to turn it on is easy and it’s not complicated to cycle through the power levels.
Changing modes does present a problem though. This might be an edge case but it was something I ran into while testing it. If there’s any reason you can’t see the button, and can’t see the light shining, you can’t turn off the Lifeline Pavo without stopping. I ran into this riding on a stormy day. As I transitioned from Forest Park to Germantown road I wanted a flashing front light. We took a quick break and I turned on the light. I left it flashing for a while but the sun came out and I decided to turn it off. I had the light mounted upside down and I couldn’t see the button or the light shining. Holding down the button for a while switches the modes but won’t turn it off. It’s not the end of the world to just stop but also, it was something that caught my attention as an issue.
It also brings us neatly to the other thing about the Lifeline Pavo that’s not great. The mount doesn’t allow much creativity in mounting. The reason I had the light mounted upside down is that the light is big and the mount requires a clear space on the bars. There’s no room to mount it above the bars without shortening the bar tape. I’d prefer to see any number of clamp options, or straps, other brands use so that you could place it over the bar tape.
There are three things I don’t love about this light. I mentioned the mount and the control scheme and I’d like it to be USB-C instead of mini-USB. Given those shortcomings though, it’s a great light. It’s priced at $169.99 or about the same price as other lights on the market that have much lower burn times and power outputs. It also has the ability to charge while shining so that as long as it’s not raining you could use it to ride through an entire night.