If you have a day job like most people do, chances are, your only time to ride during the work week is either during the morning before dragging your ass to the office, or after work when you’re free from the evil talons of corporate America.
In either case, a good set of trail lights are in order to make sure you make it out of the woods alive. They’re also a good addition to the road bike if you ride in rural areas with little or no artificial light.
On top of being a cheap ass, I also have terrible night vision. I’m the guy who gets up to piss in the middle of the night and ends up busting his head open on the door frame–true story.
So, when shopping for trail lights, I spent hours scouring the interwebs, innerwebs, outerwebs and spider webs reading reviews on sub-$200 light sets.
Total out the door price: $160.
I’ve always had decent luck with Serfas products, and the TSL-1800’s build quality did not disappoint.
The lights come in a sweet looking semi-rigid case containing lights, wall charger with 3 feet of power cable, battery pack, as well as mounts for your helmet and handlebars. In all honesty, at a little over 1lb. weight I think these are a bit too bulky to mount on your helmet, but hey, they’re your neck muscles.
Do whatchoo like.
The Serfas TSL-1800 features four LED bulbs that cast a light whiter than Napolean Dynamite with his shirt off. Which is nice and bright, but makes the shadows somewhat flat looking. The big push button control lies smack in the middle of light and is easy to operate with gloved hands. The handlbar mount is made from mostly thick plastic, with metal where it counts. Rubber pads on the under side of the mount help isolate the lights from vibration and movement. The power cable that plugs the light into the metal encased battery pack is long enough to give you slack to turn the bars a full 90 degrees in each direction, but not so long you’ll need Banksy-like creativity to route the excess so it doesn’t interfere with your ride. Speaking of the battery pack, Serfas put enough thought into the design with it’s cloverleaf shaped lithium ion enclosure, that it nestles nicely against frame tubes due to the curved shapes between the 4 batteries themselves. Coupled with the thick Velcro strap to fasten it down, I can honestly say that I’ve eaten shit a number of times with this setup strapped to my top tube and it hasn’t worked loose yet.
Serfas specs the run times as follows: Overdrive – 1800 Lumens – 1 hours 45 minutes, High – 1300 Lumens – 2 hours 25 minutes, Standard – 800 Lumens – 4 hours, Low – 450 Lumens – 7 hours with a charge time of 4 hours.
In my experience, the run times on the Overdrive and High settings are conservative. I’ve run in Overdrive mode a number of times for over 2 hours without any issues or concerns. Since I’m fucking blind, I have yet to make much use of the lower power settings.
At full MSRP of $325, the Serfas TSL-1800 is a decent deal. But if you can score a set for less than that, these are a solid buy and have quickly become an essential piece of equipment that gets used regularly in my bike stable in all kinds of weather.
So far, these things have worked flawlessly. But if you should break part of the set, or if the mounts or straps wear out, Serfas does offer replacement parts.
My only “complaint,” if you can call it that, is even with built in the heat sinks, the body of the light gets pretty damn hot after running full bore for a couple of hours. But now I’m just getting nitpicky.