- 4.5 / 5 Bee's Knees -
In the not-so distant past, the common mantra for bike lights was: “it can’t be too bright.” Before the monumental strives in LED technology, this was mostly true as halogen lights were expensive, short running and most were dim. With the lumen race in full swing and myself in need of a serious light for commuting, it was futile to resist purchasing a 1600lm HID bike light from Trail Tech (more known for their ATV and motorcycle lights). Living with anything less than the output of this absurdly bright light seemed unlikely but with its cumbersome battery, short runtime, fixed output level and intense heat, the system offered less and less appeal as time went on. Ultra compact lights with integrated batteries made the downgrade in lumens worth the while. But, with more progress comes something huge…huge yet small.
Last year you may have caught my review of the TAZ1200 which was (still is) no slouch in the output department. This year L&M brings you a light with as many lumens added from the previous year as some lights cast in total. At 1500lm, the TAZ 1500 is one of the brightest self-contained-battery lights in the world and possibly the brightest of those easily available in the US. For anyone who can’t put this output into perspective, the output of a high-end HID car light is around 2200lm. For commuters, MTBers, road cyclists blazing through the dark, no one light can better appease the full gamut of cyclists. Not only does the output break new ground, but the design of each reflector and the frosted lower lens creates an unrivaled beam pattern. Each of the top two LEDs throws a reaching spot with great concentration yet soft edges while the bottom LED disperses a large flood to blend everything together and offer great side visibility. In addition to the front emitters, two side emitters are used to give you independent control of the added side visibility they provide. These amber LEDs can shine anywhere from highly-visible constants to a cautious pulse setting or off. Independent control of these two sets of emitters makes all the difference to achieve terrifically intuitive operation.
While the mount used on the TAZ series lights may look identical to that of the Urban series, it is in fact different. By engineering a notch in the mount for the strap to loop through, greater leverage can be achieved while stretching the strap and a more secure mounting can be established. Is it flawless for a light this size? I’d say no. Without the use of the included grip padding, I have experienced some slip. But really, it’s darn minimal. If you don’t mind the light getting knocked a little off-level when you hit some major bumps, you won’t find cause for concern. If you do, the grip pads offer an easy solution. Overall, the mounting setup is more than secure enough for most riders and offers a clean look when you remove the light since nothing is left on the bar.
If any element of the TAZ was made with great diligence yet under-appreciated, it would likely be the lights output selection buttons. Had L&M used a single button to cycle through each of the lights standard settings, race settings and side emitter settings, things would have been an awful mess. However, since they use a dedicated button to adjust both of the side emitters outputs as well as a larger button for the front emitters, the overall operation is simple and highly intuitive. For riders in need of a no-nonsense setup, entering into the lights “race mode” will cycle between two useful constant settings while avoiding both the pulse and strobe outputs. Even for commuters, race mode offers a minimalist setup that further simplifies an already easy to use light.
Whether you’re after an ultra-bright self-enclosed light or an all-night burner that still punches through the night on its lowest setting, the TAZ 1500 will dazzle without question. Its distinctive beam pattern is massive yet entirely usable and designed in such a manner to appeal to all types of riding styles. Just be warned, once you spin behind 1500lm of trail or tarmac illuminating mania, you may never be able to go back to less!