Best UK lights

I have been doing some research on light systems and I find myself in a bit of a dilemma. Which light system is the best value for money? In general, my impression is that HID is more effective than LED. So which HID?
Lumicycle is my favourite, but it comes at a price. Like MaXx Exposure, they are an English based company, I believe Lumicycle are in Dorset. This is a bonus for me and the simple elegant design of their units is really great. They seem robust and come with helpful backup from the company.
But the competition is steep. Nite Rider systems look very good. I have seen them first hand and they look very sturdy indeed. They are also UK based and promise full backup into the future like Lumicycle. They also feature a neat HID-LED feature to keep you running with a low battery.
Then you have BrightStar HID lights. Coming in at just over half the price of a Lumicycle unit, with all the bits and pieces which make it a complete system. These represent great value for money. They are based in Taiwan, but the Made in China thing doesn’t do it for me, whatever they assure me about their robust QA procedures. I could be persuaded otherwise if you know more.
In the middle you have HeadStrong HID lights. Based in Canada, they make lights for competition riding. The clamp design is very neat, the CNC aluminium casing is very slick and it comes with all the goodies for a complete system. All for the bargain price of £229. This model is very tempting indeed.
I need the light for both a road bike and MTB. I have a collection of machines for different purposes. So it needs to be swapped over without too much fuss. Bar diameters are also different between the machines.
Rob, email

Well, you certainly seem to have done lots of research already so let us try to help you narrow it down some more.
As you say, Lumicycle lights always do well in tests and their after-sales service is second to none. However, the light output suffers the same fate as anyone using standard Welch Alleyn HID bulbs. That is, the black rings that plague the middle distance of the beam. They are still massively bright and a revelation if you have never used anything with a proprietary reflector. Switches are also easily knocked by the knee, and given the nature of HID lights (they don’t like being switched on and off more than necessary as they have a finite number of ignition cycles).
As for bar sizes, an extender link (£9.99) is needed when swapping to oversize bars and this is fixed by pushing out a small metal pin and slotting in the extra part. Done regularly, this could become loose, so a better option may be a spare clamp. At around £30, this will be a factor.
Your inclusion of Niterider’s HID system threw us. With an RRP of £500, they are well over budget and have always been a little overpriced for the performance. They are in Light and Motion’s ARC territory and fall down when beam patterns are compared. One last thing, they are a Californian brand, not a UK one.
Moving onto the Canadians, The Headstrong lights look very interesting. A good price and ingenious clamp does solve swapping issues, but we have never subjected one to a full test.
Similarly, we have never handled a Brightstar unit. Imported direct by Superstar components, the low price is due to the lack of middlemen and very impressive. From beam pictures, the Levin bulb and reflector does not appear to suffer from the black rings of its only real competitor.
Quality claims are impressive and, as they’re sold by a UK based company, you actually get a two year warranty under the EU’s Product Warranty Directive of 2002, not just the six months claimed. A bulky bar clamp isn’t fantastic and you may lose the rubber grommets required for different bar sizes. They always seem to disappear for us but the inclusion of all the spares is impressive. Made in China doesn’t really bother us, pride in their work is something the Chinese have in spades.
It’s worth scouring the mail order sites as you may find some higher priced units come within budget, and if it is HID you’re after, see if you can find a Light and Motion for the money; quality is great and the beam is unsurpassed. Other than that, just decide if bar mounts or brightness are priorities and make your decision based on that. Enjoy the night riding!

Mini question

In last month’s magazine you had a picture of a Mini Cooper convertible with a bike rack. I have been looking for one everywhere, can you tell me the make of the one in the picture and where I can get one.
Dave, email

Our Mini came direct from Mini’s PR luvvies, and the bike rack is an optional extra, slotting into the rear bumper on proprietary fittings. For aftermarket prices, contact your local Mini dealer. It’s a solid little carrier, and the only real alternative that compares for security would be a towball mounted rack from the likes of Thule.


Why have Specialized decided to totally re-design the 2007 Stumpjumper after only one year? And why haven’t I seen any reviews of the comp version anywhere? I bought a 2007 model in October 2006 — is it that bad and did I waste my money?
Gary, email

The 2007 Stumpy is actually an updated and slightly tweaked version of a model first seen in 2005. Small changes gradually updated the old design but the designers felt that to improve the design any more, a whole new frame design was the only option. The 2007 model is no worse because of it and certainly no pup. We have yet to have a proper test of the 2008 model so cannot make direct comparisons, so rest easy, you love your bike because it’s a good ‘un.
As for the lack of specific models tested, there are only so many pages in a mag, and if we tested every model in Specialized’s range, we would have no room for anything else. That really would give the forum conspiracy theorists something to waffle on about.

Bigger distance readout

Every cycle computer I’ve looked at seems to have an enormous speed but a tiny distance travelled readout. I’m really not bothered about how fast I’m riding, I want to use my computer to aid navigation and to follow documented routes which frequently give distances to various points on a trail.
Unless I stop and press my face to the computer I can hardly see how far I’ve gone! Does anyone make a wireless computer with a large distance display that I might actually be able to see while moving at a speed I don’t care about?
Peter Astle, email

There must be plenty of people asking for the same thing as many cycle computers now come with larger displays.
Cateye’s Strada (£39.99), Trek’s 9i Wireless (£34.99) and Specialized’s Turbo 2 Elite (£29.99) all have the major part of their readouts in numbers at least 16mm tall. All use similar wireless transponders but the alternative mounts, and ingenious Click Tec interface (where you push the bottom of the head unit rather than a switch) on the more expensive Cateye makes it well worth considering.