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Light & Motion Lights Reviews

Urban 350 Review

February 13, 2019

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Urban 350 Review

Light & Motion Urban 350
4.25

Summary

With a current sales price of $28 from Light & Motion, the Urban 350 delivers a lot of bang for the buck. Pay special attention to the micro USB port cover underneath, which easily dislodges.

If you ride in especially dark areas for long periods of time, though, my long-term experience suggests you might want to go with a more powerful model.

  • Brightness
  • Battery Life
  • Ease of Use
  • Durability
  • Price
  • Overall Value

Pros

  • Feels brighter than 350 lumens at maximum
  • Four different modes (High, Medium, Low, Daylight Pulse)
  • Super easy, one-button operation
  • Mount straps firmly to nearly all modern handlebar sizes
  • Great firsthand, long-term experience
  • Comes from a highly reputable manufacturer
  • Solid value for the money (currently deeply discounted through Light & Motion)

Cons

  • 350 lumens won’t suit all riding situations, urban or otherwise
  • Limited battery life on High mode
  • At normal price ($50) there are many competing options that might deliver brighter beams and faster recharge times
  • Many online consumers complain the ‘peg’ on the light’s underside frequently breaks (I didn’t experience this)
  • Plastic cover over micro USB port can easily fall off and become lost, which means water and other debris could easily enter and cause damage
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Although it’s currently being phased out, Light & Motion’s Urban 350 bicycle light offers dependable functionality and decent battery life, depending on your needs.


About the Urban 350 Front Bike Light

The Light & Motion Urban 350 bicycle headlight promises to deliver premium performance and bulletproof reliability regardless of what Mother Nature throws at you, and whether during daily commuting, long road rides, or barhopping around downtown.

In fact, the company advertises its entire Urban series as the safest, most convenient performance lights.

Despite these features and reliability, the USB-rechargeable 350 comes with an ultra-low price that’s ideal for cyclists who need to watch their budget, without sacrificing functionality. The light even comes with a two-year warranty when purchased through an authorized dealer.

But, is the 350—or any model in the Urban lineup, for that matter—the perfect front light for you? I’ve used mine for more than two years, and my experience could help you make a better decision.

Let’s start by taking a step-by-step look at the light’s specs before discussing how they compare to other Urban models from Light & Motion.

Zooming In on the Urban 350’s Features

Urban 350 Construction

The 350 weighs 121 grams (4.3 oz) with a cylindrical design that measures 4” long, 1.2” high, and 1.2” wide.

Light & Motion advertises that the leading cause of bike light failure is water immersion, so they built the Urban 350 with an IP-67 rating, which means it can be submerged in one meter of water for up to half an hour.

It also features an aluminum heat sink that’s “rated to withstand multiple drops on concrete from up to one meter—the only commuter light certified to this rating,” along with a micro-peened reflector for an optimally smooth, even beam pattern.

The Light & Motion Urban 350 in all its blazing glory.

Mounting the Urban 350

Each model in the Urban lineup, including the 350, features Light & Motion’s lightweight quick-release handlebar mount.

These mounts utilize grippy rubber straps with small interior holes, similar to a belt. The bands are stretchy, so you simply twist the setup 90-degrees, pull the strap around underneath your handlebars, pop the little plastic nub through the band’s hole, and then pop any excess through the remaining hole.

The Urban 350’s mounting strap features ribbed rubber to improve grip against handlebars, and its belt loop-like design tucks everything away nicely while you’re on the bike.

Once in place, the light’s notched peg on its underside slides into a slot on top. You’ll know it’s all the way in place when you feel a (slight clicking sensation). Light & Motion advertises that the band won’t slip, whether you have standard or oversized handlebars.

Mounting the Urban 350’s strap isn’t complicated, but it does require hand strength and dexterity to get everything nice and tight.

You can remove the seconds by reversing the process and keeping the band in place to save time later.

Urban 350 Lighting Modes & Special Features

The Urban 350 features a high-powered premium CREE LED that’s certified to the ANSI FL-1 standard. It casts a 20° beam angle (spot) and is adjustable between four different modes/power settings, which you can switch between by pressing a button on top:

  1. High: 350 lumens
  2. Med: 150 lumens
  3. Low: 75 lumens
  4. Daylight Pulse: 75 lumens

Light & Motion states that their daylight pulse mode offers two primary benefits: First, it “helps distinguish the rider to oncoming traffic.” Second, unlike potentially dangerous traditional flashing lights, it also “allows motorists to accurately gauge the distance and motion of the rider.”

Quickly scrolling through the Urban 350’s four light modes, casting light on a wall about five feet away.

The 350 also comes with bright amber side lights—advertised as the industry’s most powerful, which they say “keep the rider substantially more visible and safe,” especially when passing through intersections.

I’ve found they also deliver helpful illumination around the torso area while riding (more soon).

One of my favorite features about the 350, as well as other models in Light & Motion’s Urban lineup, is the unique amber side lights for added visibility.

The Urban 350’s Battery

The 350’s plastic shell houses a Lithium-ion battery that offers the following runtimes:

  • High: 1.5 hours
  • Med: 3 hours
  • Low: 6 hours
  • Daylight Pulse: 12 hours

As the battery drains during use, a multi-color indicator button (driven by custom firmware) on top will slowly fade from green to orange, and then eventually to red when it’s almost out of power.

Once the time comes, recharging is quick and easy using the included micro USB cable. Simply remove the light from its mount, plug in the cable, and 270 minutes later you’ll have a fully charged battery (the top light will change to solid green).

Here’s a quick table outlining all of the core Urban 350 specs we just discussed:

Urban 350 Quick Facts
Dimensions 1.2″ x 1.2″ x 4″
Weight 121 g (4.3 oz)
Lumens (Brightness) 350 (high), 175 (medium), 90 (low), 90 (pulse)
Runtime 90 min (high), 180 min (medium), 360 min (low), 720 min (pulse)
Beam Angle 20°
Recharge Time 270 min

Is this meaningfully different than other lights in the Urban lineup?

How Does the 350 Bike Light Compare to Other Light & Motion Urban Models?

Other Urban models from Light & Motion have more in common with the 350 than not, including the same runtimes, beam angles, IP-67 ratings (1 meter impact and water depth resistance), and dimensions and weights.

However, there are several meaningful differences, including how bright their lights are, the availability of SafetyPulse technology, as well as how long their batteries take to recharge once completely drained:

Model Lumen Output Recharge Time Price (Amazon)
Urban 350 350 (high), 175 (medium), 90 (low), 90 (pulse) 270 min Light & Motion Urban 350 Bike Light (2016)
Urban 500 500 (high), 250 (medium), 125 (low), 125 (pulse) 270 min Light & Motion Urban 500 Bike Light (2016), Onyx
Urban 700 700 (high), 350 (medium), 175 (low), 175 (pulse) 300 min Light & Motion Urban 700 Bike Headlight
Urban 900 1000 (high), 500 (medium), 250 (low), 500 (SafePulse) 360 min Light & Motion Urban 900 Red Stripe Bike Light 2017-18
Urban 1000 1000 (high), 500 (medium), 250 (low), 500 (SafePulse)   360 min Light & Motion Urban 1000 Trooper Bicycle Headlight – 856-0687-A
Urban 1000 FC (Fast Charge) 1000 (high), 500 (medium), 250 (low), 500 (SafePulse) 150 min Light & Motion Urban 1000 FC Bike Headlight

Together, the Light & Motion website emphasizes that although all Urban lights can remain in High mode for 1.5 hours, the 1000 model (for example) can maintain the same output in Medium mode as the 500 in High mode, thereby doubling its runtime.

My Experience With the Urban 350 Bicycle Light

I’ve owned the Urban 350 since October 2016, which I purchased from Amazon at the original price of $49.99. As of this writing, you can buy one for as little as $30 directly from Light & Motion.

Note: It’s only listed in the company’s Sales and Deals section of their website and is no longer available from several popular online retailers, though, so it appears the Urban 350 is being phased out.

Here are my thoughts:

Construction, Fit, & Finish

The 350 definitely has some weight to it, with a solid feel. It definitely doesn’t feel like a flimsy or cheap light.

I’ve used the Urban 350 during light rain, but nothing that’s even come close to putting its IP67 rating to the test. However, I have used it in freezing temps (upper 20s) and it worked just fine, although battery life was noticeably reduced, as is normal with any battery.

The biggest design flaw? In my opinion, it’s the rubber plug covering the charging port on its underside, which provides weather and water resistance.

While I’ve found it works well when in place, it also tends to easily dislodge during normal use, leaving only a tiny nub attached to the light’s body. If unclipping the light in the dark, it can easily fall out and become lost.

And from there, it’s easy for water, dirt, and other debris to penetrate and cause damage.

After extensively testing the Urban 350, my only real complaint is that this plastic ‘door’ over the micro USB port is flimsily attached and easily falls out. If this happens in the wrong place, the light is left vulnerable to the elements.

Mounting/Removing the Urban 350

I like the 350’s unique, lightweight mounting system, and have found it’s easily adjustable to different handlebar sizes across my stable of bikes.

It also keeps the light in place (whether from moving front-to-back or side-to-side) in most paved areas and smoother trails, but tends to flail around a bit on anything rougher than groomed singletrack.

When mounting, you’ll need to maintain a firm grip on the strap, as well as some decent arm strength, when wrapping it around your bars and pulling one of its holes over a plastic knob.

I haven’t experienced problems with its pivot point breaking, although this is a common online customer complaint. And while not everyone reported a similar experience, Amazon customer Wyatt tells us that Light & Motion offered a replacement:

“I will also say that my light suffered from the broken mount issue many others are having. So why the 5 stars? Because I called to ask them about it and found out that a manufacturer had used an improper compound for some production without their knowledge. They were very candid about this issue and offered a free replacement no questions asked when provided with a receipt.”

The 350’s Beam & Battery Life

I mostly use my 350 for early morning rides before the sun comes up during the fall and winter. Because of this timing, I typically only keep it on Medium mode for about an hour before the sun comes up, after which I slowly dim until turning it off completely.

From there, I turn it 90° on its pivoting mount to align with my handlebars, where it remains surprisingly unobtrusive for the remainder of my ride.

In my opinion, it’s plenty bright, casts a wide beam on the ground, and greatly increases my visibility in urban traffic. At 270 minutes, recharging certainly isn’t quick, but it is super easy to plug into a micro-USB charger and set it and forget it.

Finally, I especially appreciate the amber side lights, which provide soft, non-intrusive illumination around my handlebars and torso. I think it also adds some nice contrast that helps me further stand out in the dark.

Finally, I think the slow fade power indicator is a nice touch that provides a progressive glimpse at how much battery power remains.

Bottom line: After more than two years of use, I’ve found that the Urban 350 fits like a glove for my early morning, part-time needs. If I had a long commute in the mornings and evenings, though, I’d imagine the 1000 FC’s brighter beam and faster recharging times would be worth the added expense.

Are There Other USB Rechargeable LED Bike Lights Like the Urban 350?

Like most types of technology, bike lights evolve quickly so there are a variety of USB rechargeable models competing in the same marketplace as the Urban 350.

Many, although not necessarily all, include similar features like quick-release mounting straps, 360-degree swivel ability, multiple lighting modes (including some kind of proprietary flashing option), LEDs (although not necessarily from CREE), and battery level indicator lights.

Here were some of the 350’s closest competition on sites like Amazon and Google Shopping at the time of our research, as well as some of their biggest differences (when data was available):

Light Modes / Lumens Runtime Dimensions / Weight IP Rating Price
Urban 350 4 modes: High (350), Medium (175), Low (90), Pulse (90) 90 min (high), 180 min (medium), 360 min (low), 720 min (pulse) 1.2″ x 1.2″ x 4″, 121 g (4.3 oz)   67 $34
Cycle Torch Shark 500 4 modes: High (500), Medium (250), Low (50), Flash (500) 90 min (high), 180 min (medium), 900 min (low), 1,800 min (flash) 15.3” x 1.8” x 1.7”, 100 g (XYZ oz) 65 $38
Cygolite Metro 500 6 modes: High (500), Medium, Low, SteadyPulse, DayLightning (550), Walking   90 min (high), 180 min (medium), 660 min (low), 210 min (SteadyPulse), 600 min (DayLightning), 9,000 min (walking)   4” x 1.5” x 1.5”, XYZ g (6.4 oz) N/A $28
Blitzu Gator 390 High (390) 120 min (high) 56 g (XYZ oz) X5 $28
CECO-USA F600 Night Modes: High, Medium High, Medium, Low, Night Pulsing   Flashing Day Modes: 4x Flash, 1x Flash, Rapid Zap,
Walking Flashlight
High (1:15hr), Medium High (2:00hr), Medium (3:00hr), Low (5:30hr), Night Pulsing (3:30hr),
4x Flash (39hr), 1x Flash (16hr), Rapid Zap (14hr)
Walking Flashlight Mode (46hr)
XYZ g (5.3 oz) 67 $28
Knog PWR 450L 6 modes: Ride (450), Pulse (320), Commuter (190), Strobe Flash (190), Eco-Flash (50), Stamina (50) -Programmable via ModeMaker app   Ride (40 min), Pulse (150 min), Commuter (150 min), Strobe Flash (210 min), Eco-Flash (2,100 min), Stamina (420 min) -Programmable via ModeMaker app 98 x 30mm, 85 g (XYZ oz)   N/A $55

Keeping these details in mind, choosing the right option will largely come down to your specific combination of unique needs. For example:

  • Brightness – If you typically ride in well-lit urban areas during sunrise, a 350-lumen light might work well. But, if you commute daily among a patchwork of routes in the suburbs in the dead of night, maximizing brightness (800+ lumens) could be the way to go.
  • Battery Life – Similarly, if your morning and even riding lasts 30 minutes or less, you’ll need significantly less battery life than someone who commutes 1.5 hours in each direction. Again, here’s where buying a brighter light and running it at half power can provide the illumination you need, while maximizing battery life.
  • Budget – The brighter the light and the longer its battery life, the higher it’s price. Still, as we can see from the table above, many of these lights are within $20 of one another, so you won’t have to break the bank.
  • Terrain – Do you ride mainly on city streets, or on bumpy trails that might require a stronger mounting system?
  • Frequency of use – Are you like me and only use your light infrequently during colder parts of the year? Or, are you a daily commuter who puts their equipment’s durability to the test?

Let’s pull together everything we’ve discussed and come to a conclusion about the Light & Motion Urban 350.

Our Final Thoughts About the Light & Motion Urban 350

Based on my long-term experience, even at its previous $49.99 price, I think the Urban 350 bike light is a great deal—even moreso now that you can pick one up from Light & Motion for $28.

Furthermore, it comes with mostly positive online customer feedback, and even earned a spot as Wirecutter’s best headlight pick in 2016 (the Urban 500 has since replaced it as number one). They even recommend pairing it with the Cygolite Hotshot tail light, which we’ve also tested over the long-term.

However, it’s difficult to overlook the fact that you can currently pick up one of the company’s meaningfully brighter Urban models for the same price as the original 350, which could deliver better value depending on your situation.

In my instance, I wouldn’t hesitate to replace my 350 with a higher-powered light from Light & Motion (perhaps the 1000 FC) when it eventually bites the dust—although it’s not showing signs of failing anytime soon.

Keep rolling: Park PCS-10 Review

Derek has more than two decades of experience as a cyclist. He currently travels full-time with his family via RV, enjoying the country's best biking destinations. A secular Buddhist, Derek frequently explores the intersection of cycling, mindfulness, and compassion in his writing. #rolloutblissout When he's not writing reviews and guides related to bike accessories, parts, and gear for TreadBikely.com, he's riding, talking about cycling, or thinking about bikes he can't afford. #rolloutblissout
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