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  1. #1
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    Light & Motion Urban 500 (review)

    There are several new self-contained LED bike lights on the market that are very powerful but relatively inexpensive and light weight -- including the Lezyne Super Drive, Niterider MiNewt 600 and Light & Motion Urban 500. After comparing features, I opted for the Urban 500 because it was the lightest and I already owned an L&M light that I like very much. My new Urban 500 arrived in the mail over the holidays, so I am posting a review with my initial impressions. I will post a more detailed review after using it some more.

    LIGHT & MOTION || URBAN 500

    The light is very compact and light weight (110 g), about the size of a candy bar. It attaches snugly to the handlebar (or helmet) with a simple elastic strap that is easy to use and will fit any size bar -- making it very simple to install or remove. This is important for commuting because you don't want to leave an expensive light strapped to your bars during the day. It is much lighter than even the small L&M Stella 300 I had been using, mainly due to lack of separate battery pack.

    The light is rated at 500 lumens on high, and also has medium, low and flash settings. L&M tends to be very accurate with the lumen ratings, and the Urban 500 seems to put out an honest 500 lumens. It is definitely much brighter than my Stella 300 as well as my old Magicshine. The beam has a useful pattern with good throw, a brighter central portion and a fair amount of spread around the edges. It also has amber sidelights that provide an additional level of visibility for traffic approaching on side streets. A battery indicator light on the rear is clearly visible without being a distraction.

    The Urban 500 charges using a USB cable that connects to a computer, but L&M also sells an optional charger that will plug into the wall socket. The battery was already partially charged, so I'm not sure how long it will take to fully charge from empty. However, after my 1 hour commute this morning it only took about 1 hour to recharge.

    The only problem I've encountered so far is that the light interfered with the wireless computer on my bike, basically canceling the readout. Once I realized this was happening, I moved the light about 1" to the left on my handlebar and then the computer worked fine.

    BTW, the light retails for $159, but you can buy it on line for less than $130 with free shipping if you shop around. The MiNewt 600 is about the same price, but the Lezyne is only $110 retail and less than $100 if you shop around.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Light & Motion Urban 500 (review)-urban-500.jpg  
    Last edited by tarwheel2; 11-28-2011 at 09:12 AM.

  2. #2
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    Great review...I'm in the market for a new light.... I have a seperate battery pack with my current light and I want a self contained unit...
    Dave Hickey/ Fort Worth

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  3. #3
    KWL
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    Thanks for the review. My LBS still has the L&M Urban 300 which the 500 replaces. I've been waiting for their stock to burn down so I can look at and hold the 500.
    Ken
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  4. #4
    DBT
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    Great Light

    I have mine on it's first charge now. I did commute one day last week with the charge that was on it out of the box. I found the low setting was plenty for most of my ride. I have one section of bike path that is dark and often populated with deer. I switched to the high setting for more notice. The light switched itself down to the low setting on it's own after a short while. As stated, the low setting still puts out plenty of light. The light does not come with an owners manual, so I emailed L&M. I received a quick response explaining that a manual would be available from the website soon. The light switches to the lower output when the battery is low or the light is too hot.

    I am conflicted on the amber side lights. This is one of the features that steered me to this model. As I was riding, I noticed that my hands seemed to be blocking the light. How much is actually seen by others?

    I like the simplicity of the strap mounting, but I think I would prefer a more traditional "quick disconnect" type. I work in the elelctronics industry and am sensitive to stress/tension on connectors. I pull the strap tight and this seems to eliminate the problem of stress on the mini-USB connection.

  5. #5
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    life?

    Sorry if I missed it, but how long a run time on high?

    One concern, too, is that all batteries have a limited life span. They will eventually hold less and less charge. Can you replace the battery when that happens, or are you willing to live with reduced run time or buy a whole new light?
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  6. #6
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    The run time is 1:30 hours on high, 3:00 on medium and 6:00 on low. Lumens are 500 on high, 250 medium and 125 low.

    The battery is replaceable but you have to send it back to Light & Motion. Not sure what they charge, but it should last a long time.

    BTW, I just ordered a L&M Vis 360 head/tail-light combo for my helmet and will report on that after using it.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by tarwheel2 View Post
    The run time is 1:30 hours on high, 3:00 on medium and 6:00 on low. Lumens are 500 on high, 250 medium and 125 low.

    The battery is replaceable but you have to send it back to Light & Motion. Not sure what they charge, but it should last a long time.

    BTW, I just ordered a L&M Vis 360 head/tail-light combo for my helmet and will report on that after using it.
    I you keep a USB charger at work, also, that would allow you to charge it before heading home. I like to have at least twice the run time I think I need.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

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  8. #8
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    I have been very happy with my urban 500 so far after 5 days. Med or low setting seems to be bright enough for the riding I do at night. I use the flash mode in the day which is bright enough to see on road signs. When the battery is almost dead it will go to flash and then shut off. Recharge time on my computer is about 5 hours.

    If you go to light & motions website and look at some of there other products they talk about the charge light, colors (red amber & green), and flashing, indicating how much time you have on your charge. I can't say for sure that it pertains to this light but I assume it is close.

  9. #9
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    Bizman and DBT (or others with the Urban 500) -- What sort of run times are you getting with your light? Mine are way less than advertised so far, less than half of what they are supposed to be. I fully charged my light at work yesterday, yet the red low-battery indicator came on after 30 minutes of riding home in the afternoon with the light beam on low the entire time. I was afraid to turn on medium or high until almost home for fear that it would shut off. This morning the red light was still on, so I kept it on low beam and the light shut down after 20 minutes of riding on low. So, I got a total of 1:30 hours of run time with the light on low most of the time. It is supposed to last 1:30 on high, 3 on medium and 6 on low. Fortunately I have a second light on my helmet.

  10. #10
    DBT
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    Quote Originally Posted by tarwheel2 View Post
    Bizman and DBT (or others with the Urban 500) -- What sort of run times are you getting with your light? Mine are way less than advertised so far, less than half of what they are supposed to be. I fully charged my light at work yesterday, yet the red low-battery indicator came on after 30 minutes of riding home in the afternoon with the light beam on low the entire time. I was afraid to turn on medium or high until almost home for fear that it would shut off. This morning the red light was still on, so I kept it on low beam and the light shut down after 20 minutes of riding on low. So, I got a total of 1:30 hours of run time with the light on low most of the time. It is supposed to last 1:30 on high, 3 on medium and 6 on low. Fortunately I have a second light on my helmet.

    My times have been short also. It may be a defective battery in my case. When fully charged, the indicator light is suppsed to be solid green. Even after 7+ hours, the light only flashed green.

    As far as actual time, my commute is 45-50 minutes each way. After the 7 hour charge to (mostly?) full, I was also down to the red light indicator on my morning ride in. I made it home that night and it was still red. This was in low output mode. I have not commuted in the last 2 days (because of a windstorm that wasn't), but crossing my fingers for the ride in tomorrow.

    I plan to stop by the shop I purchased it from this weekend to see if they have had any similar experiences, though they were pretty hyped about it.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by tarwheel2 View Post
    Bizman and DBT (or others with the Urban 500) -- What sort of run times are you getting with your light? Mine are way less than advertised so far, less than half of what they are supposed to be. I fully charged my light at work yesterday, yet the red low-battery indicator came on after 30 minutes of riding home in the afternoon with the light beam on low the entire time. I was afraid to turn on medium or high until almost home for fear that it would shut off. This morning the red light was still on, so I kept it on low beam and the light shut down after 20 minutes of riding on low. So, I got a total of 1:30 hours of run time with the light on low most of the time. It is supposed to last 1:30 on high, 3 on medium and 6 on low. Fortunately I have a second light on my helmet.
    I have only had the light 7 days now and tested it at night one time around a local street for a ride time of 2 miles (10minutes or so), this was on the first day I got the light. I tried the different brightness settings on that ride for comparison. Before leaving the LBS where I got it that it they said it was charged as it was a demo. I got the impression they only charged it once for demo purposes (although I really don't know for sure) and it was then sold to me as it was the last one.

    They said it was getting low on charge when I left the LBS. Using the flash setting for my 12 1/2 mile ride home (about an hour). After getting home I hooked it up to check out the USB charging and charge light operation, it was flashing green after hooking it up. Before this night test ride I only charged the light to the point of the green light blinking because I wanted to check out the light and it was getting late.

    I then charged the light for about 5 hours and the charge light was steady green. The next day I went for a 1 1/2 hour ride and then the same ride the following day using the flash mode. Note: I didn't charge the light before going out second day. Seeing how I only used it in the flash mode for 3 hours between the 2 rides I didn't see the sense of charging it as it is to have an 18 hour run time on flash.

    I was going to do another night ride (the other night) and didn't charge it since this would be the 3rd ride since I charged it originaly figuring it should have some time left. Just before leaving I turned the light on and a few seconds later it went to strobe and then shut off. I hooked it up to the USB cable and the charge light was flashing red. I have recharged it and took it out for another 1 1/2 hour day ride on the flash mode but will charge it between all night rides for pice of mind. In a nutshell it appears to have alot shorter times than what are stated.

  12. #12
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    Well, I've used the Urban 500 four days this week commuting about 2:15 hours each day. I love the light in every respect except the run times. Mine is only lasting about 1:15 hours on a charge, running on low most of the time with about 15 minutes on medium. That is well less than half of its purported run times. I sent Light & Motion and email inquiring about the issue, but will probably return the light for a refund unless they can provide an explanation and a replacement that meets advertised run times. I'm commuting 30 miles a day -- much of that distance in the dark -- and need a light that I can rely on. Fortunately I have a good light (L&M Stella 300) that the Urban was going to replace, so I'll go back to using that one. My main reasons for switching were to free up a water bottle cage (where I store the Stella's battery) and lighten the weight of my bike.

    A few other comments about Urban 500. The amber side lights are neat idea but don't really serve any purpose unless you ride in the drops all the time -- and how many commuters do that? With your hands on the hoods or the bar tops, the side lights are blocked. I ride along a large store front window during part of my commute and the side lights are not visible at all in the reflection. Another comment is that the light swivels side-to-side a little too easily. It's nice having the ability to direct the beam to the left or right, but it moves if you barely touch the light, which is hard to avoid while riding in traffic.

  13. #13
    DBT
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    You know, I never thought to check windows as I passed to check the effectiveness of the side lights. At least my suspicions are confirmed.

    I rode in this morning. I had light the entire ride. I have only used the low setting. This get me to about 2:15 to 2:30 of run time. The indicator light is orange. According to the graphics on the box, this should mean I have roughly 75% remaining. I thought I saw red on Tuesday, but could be mistaken.

    I am still concerned that I do not get the solid green when charging.

  14. #14
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    Tarwheel, please keep us posted about the reply you get from L&M, thanks! Although the side lights may not seem to do much, it can't hurt to have them (IMHO) unless of course it contributes to battery drain.

    They do seem to illuminate the handlebar area and your gloves which still may help be seen some in the dark when approching side streets (although not directly in front on the street). I really like this light and bought it because of no external battery pack. The low run time for me has not been a problem but I have not had the chance to be out riding for hours in the dark. Also, I have not had a problem with the light moving side to side on me while riding, but it just may be my style of riding?

    DBT, my light goes to steady green when it is fully charged and I would think if yours doesn't there may be a problem. My light after running on flash for an hour and a half takes about and hour or two to get back to full charge by USB.

    If I have some time I will try and do some testing here at home so I will know what to expect.

  15. #15
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    Light & Motion responded and told me to mail the light back to them for repair. If I had bought it at REI or other nearby store, I would simply return it for a refund. However, since I bought it on-line, I guess that I'll have to send it back to L&M. That kind of sucks because I will be without the light for a while. I have other lights I can use in the meantime, but at this point I would rather just have my money back and get something else. It doesn't inspire a lot of confidence when a product is faulty right out of the box.

  16. #16
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    I have two Urban 500s, two Vis180s and one Vis360. All are fairly recent purchases. I can't run the Urban 500 on high because it interferes with my Cateye computer. So I run it on medium which is sufficiently bright enough for me. I get about 2 hours and 45 minutes on medium. The other 500 is on my wife's bike and she runs it on high because her Garmin Edge works fine with the Urban 500. We rode for 1 hour 5 minutes this morning and her charge light was on orange when we returned. I can't recall if it was fully charged at the start. I am charging both now and will keep track of how long they last this time and report back.

    A couple of comments about the Urban 500. I love the control button on the 500. It's easier to use even with lobster gloves. (I had a MiNewt600 I returned, in part, because I couldn't push the button with the gloves on. It was even difficult with my lighter weight full finger gloves.) I really like that you can remove the 500 so easily and there's no bracket left on the bike. I do have some concern on durability of the rubber attachment as I wonder how many times you can stretch it without it breaking. I like that it uses a micro USB instead of a mini like so many other lights. I have at least 10 chargers (including chargers to use in the car which is convenient if needed) because my cell phones use mini USB.

    A couple of issues though which aren't deal breakers but are inconvenient. I wish the plug to charge was more accessible on the bike. I liked the charging port arrangement on the MiNewt which was on the rear of the light. It was easy to charge on the bike. The Urban 500 charging port is underneath next to the attachment bracket. I can charge it on the bike but it's cumbersome to do. Yes, it's easy to remove the light, but as I mentioned above, I have concern about how long the attachment strap will last without breaking from use if I remove it every time I charge it.

    The other issue is agreement with a previous post about how easily it swivels. It can be lightly bumped and knocked off your chosen directional alignment.

    A comment about the side amber lights being blocked by your hands. It's true that in the most used riding positions, the hands or forearms block the view of them from exactly perpendicular to the bike. However, if you are hoping someone sees them who is perpendicular to you, it's probably too late because if they’re close enough that it makes a difference they can’t see the side lights and moving at even a slow speed, they're going to hit you. The amber lights are visible from off angles from perpendicular which is what I think is beneficial from a safety standpoint.

    As for the Vis180. The light is great. The two drawbacks are the button to change settings is very difficult to press even without gloves. The other drawback is that it's the design of its latch makes it very difficult to secure on a seat back tab if the tab is too thick. My Topeak bag tab is fairly thick and it wasn't as securely fastened as I thought it was and the light flew off the bag this morning going over railroad tracks. The light was fine which is a good test of durability that you shouldn't try. I was able to finally get it the bracket to latch in place by pushing very hard. You have to make sure the red release button pops back out with the light in the fully recessed position to know it has latched securely in place. The Vis180 on my wife's Topeak back worked fine as its tab is a bit thinner. This is not an issue at all using the seat post bracket.

    The Vis360 is awesome. I use it in flashing mode most of the time while using the 500 for seeing purposes. The weight is negligible as the headlight is super light with the battery as part of the rear light at the back of the helmet. Placing the weight there over the neck makes it hardly noticeable even when first putting the helmet on the head. I was surprised at the brightness of the headlight for its low lumen rating compared to the Urban 500.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by tarwheel2 View Post
    Light & Motion responded and told me to mail the light back to them for repair. If I had bought it at REI or other nearby store, I would simply return it for a refund. However, since I bought it on-line, I guess that I'll have to send it back to L&M. That kind of sucks because I will be without the light for a while. I have other lights I can use in the meantime, but at this point I would rather just have my money back and get something else. It doesn't inspire a lot of confidence when a product is faulty right out of the box.
    I had to send a brand new L&M light back for repair, which they replaced with a newer model. While I waited I bought the L&M Vis 360 light, which also needed repair after I bought it. The replaced light had a faulty charger, so they had to send me a new one. Then the Vis 360 wasn't fixed properly, so I had to send it back for a second time. This time it was replaced. It took about 8 weeks before all this got sorted out.

    As much as I love the design and features of the Vis 360, I wouldn't buy a Light and Motion product again because of poor quality control. In the end I had three different lights and they all had problems out of the box. That said my back up light was a Nite Rider Mi-Newt that was also faulty, which I had to send back for repair.

    Somehow I have very bad luck with lights.

  18. #18
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    I also bought a Vis-360 light that arrived in the mail today. While trying to attach it to my helmet I realized that they had enclosed the wrong clip for mounting the taillight. The enclosed clip looks nothing like the diagram on the box and won't attach to the taillight. So it looks like I will have to send that back to L&M as well unless they will just agree to mail me the missing clip. Meanwhile I won't be able to use either light.

    Honestly, I thought L&M was supposed to be one of the better lighting companies. This is all very frustrating because my commute recently increased from 22 to 30 miles roundtrip with 2+ hours of riding time each day, much of that in the dark. So I am not able to use the new lights that I bought during the darkest days of winter when I need them the most. There are other products I could have bought for comparable prices and functionality.

    With the economy so bad, you would think companies would go the extra mile to ensure good quality control for the customers they do have. The irony is that I have an inexpensive Fenix flashlight that I've been using for commuting the past 4.5 years with no problems whatsoever. It only cost $60 and runs on AA rechargeable batteries. I moved it to my helmet a while back when I got a new bar-mount light. The Fenix always works and I carry spare batteries in case they go dead while riding. I've had to replace the batteries a few times while riding, but it always gets me home.

  19. #19
    jd3
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    I have a Urban 500 and have timed a full charge on high at 1 hour 52 minutes. I work in a shop and L&M called us about a bad batch of 500's that were not getting proper run time. So far, all the current crop of L&M's we have had have been fine.
    “You can't control the wind, but you can adjust your sails.” – Albert Einstein

  20. #20
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    After 11 days of owning my light (not using everyday) I will unfortunalty have to return it for a refund as it won't run on high more than about 3 -4 minutes berore shutting off, won't run on flash mode for 2 hours then flip to low beam and run for more than a minute or so. This is after a full charging with green light on steady. I like the look of the light and the way it works when it worked but it is unreliable. Any suggestions on another light similar to this 500 lumens in the $100-$125 range? Thanks!

  21. #21
    KWL
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bizman View Post
    Any suggestions on another light similar to this 500 lumens in the $100-$125 range? Thanks!
    Does anyone have experience with the NiteRider MiNewt 600 cordless? It's been very interesting hearing from the Urban 500 owners.
    Ken
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  22. #22
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    From full charge I have one hour and 35 minutes today on high with the battery indicator on solid red upon return. Decided not to take a chance on not having enough battery for tomorrow's ride, so am charging it back to full.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by KWL View Post
    Does anyone have experience with the NiteRider MiNewt 600 cordless? It's been very interesting hearing from the Urban 500 owners.
    There are a couple of threads that have discussion about the Minewt600. In one of them I wrote about my experience with it. It's a powerful light with lots of lighting options and seems solidly built. Complaints by many are about the handlebar mount and lack of battery life (ala some in this thread about the L&M 500). Some mentioned overheating issues and automatic protective shutdown. My complaints were about the handlebar mount, the extreme difficult about changing settings with winter gloves and interference with my Cateye computer on all but the high setting. I returned it and bought the Urban500 which my wife already had and I found to be a better light for me. I also tried the Cygolite Expilion 400 at the same time.

  24. #24
    pmf
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    Quote Originally Posted by tarwheel2 View Post
    The Urban 500 charges using a USB cable that connects to a computer, but L&M also sells an optional charger that will plug into the wall socket. .
    Another Apple product?

    What is this trend of optional wall chargers for extra $$? Pretty annoying.

  25. #25
    DBT
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    A little update

    I spoke with my LBS about my concerns. They are going to also contact L&M about my charging issue (no solid green at full charge). They are willing to exchange the unit.

    I have not been keeping accurate track of the run time. I have ridden 3.5-4 hours with the light on low. The indicator light turned orange during my commute in this morning. I am going to keep better track of the run time after my next charge. Based on what I have seen so far, I think it may be OK.

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