Lights

CREE lights reviewed – XML T6 and SolarStorm XML U2

We’ve just taken delivery of two sets of Cree LED lights to get us out training over the winter. The first thing to note is that this whole cold-dark-winter training thing is new to Mombee, so I didn’t want to spend a small fortune on lights and then find out that I didn’t:
a – like it.
b – have the time for it… the 05.15 alarm and commutes does take it’s toll.

As a result, I chose to go down the ‘cheap’ Chinese light route, on the basis that these would be dispoable if the night-riding theory didn’t work.
Initially I ordered some Cree SolarStorms XML U2 lights from China (about £20 and similar to the set listed here)

Unfortunately the SolarStorm didn’t arrive, so having chased for refund, I ordered a Cree XML T6 from a UK supplier for £20, which arrived safely a few days later.

To my surprise, the SolarStorm then arrived at our local Post Office two weeks later… so I have two lights to compare.

First impression in the garden showed the SolarStorm outgunning the XML T6, but the reality on the trail was slightly different.
Skyray Solarstorm Cree XML U2 versus Cree XML T6 versus Cateye Singleshot
I took Louis out for a spin last Wedensday night (4th Dec 2013 – under an almost perfect pitch-black new moon) and it was the Cree XML T6, the single lens light, that seemed to work better. The SolarStorm has a good spread and throws light down the trail well, but much of that is ‘lost’ to the sides, where it probably doesn’t matter. The XML T6 in contrast throws a strong beam down the singletrack and gives a clear view of the way ahead.

Conclusions:

1 – if I could only run one of these lights, I’d go for the single Cree XML T6.

2 – I’m going to do a spin shortly on my own and will mount the SolarStorm on the bike, to give a good spread, and put the Cree XML T6 on my helmet to light up exactly where I’m looking.

We have a short video of our experiences HERE.

Final note – these lights do dazzle oncoming drivers, so use them responsibly. At one point, Louis and I were riding side-by-side and an oncoming car pull over as it assuming we were another car… and we had one car flash us to ‘dip’ our lights.

Update 29th October 2014 – I’ve just bought a higher capacity battery for the SolarStorm and forst impression are good, with much extended burn times. This should make the SolarStorm a practical option for extended trail rides now.

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