The main thing that was concerning me was what size would the battery pack be. As the editor of this site remarked “I can’t wait to see the nuclear power station they’re using” Well I was surprised, as a head torch the XE019R comes in under 500g. This does feel a little heavy compared to my usual head torch but this is a completely different beast. The full price pack with all accessories includes a belt clip for the power pack and an extension lead which can help to alleviate this issue.
The full pack also comes with a bar mount, a helmet mount, 3M stickers to attach to helmets or boards with no vents, a GoPro compatible chest mount, a mounting bracket and a neoprene case for the power pack, instructions, a cleaning cloth and brush and a quality case to keep it all in.
On opening the packs I obviously ignored the instruction booklet and set about playing. Almost blinding myself in the process. DO NOT look directly into this torch! Removing the lamp and power pack from the head band are straight forward although I find the bracket for attaching the lamp to handle bars a bit fiddly. It’s one of those designs where you turn a dial and it tightens. I would prefer a proper hex bolt for security and stability. I did get a rattle when the bracket worked a little loose on a 40mph descent in the Brecon Beacons and whilst this wasn’t dangerous it was annoying. The power pack however was simple and could be fitted to either handle bars or top tube.
Now I’ve never liked Coed Y Brenin. This is probably due to a mate breaking his arm there the last time I went, but I find it a bit under graded. I was therefore a little concerned about riding in the dark, but with a few tips from Beics Brenin and the rest of the group we set off in the setting Snowdonia sun. Enjoying my first taste of riding with bigger wheels and chatting about bikes and hills I almost didn’t notice the darkness creeping up on us. But we turned on our lights and starting the test in earnest. Obviously not reading the instructions I just set it until it seemed brightest and rode the trails.
Wow. What an experience. The XEO19R lit up the trails like it was daylight. From the bars it has its limitations for peripheral lighting but with the twin independently adjustable lenses most aspects were covered. Further testing attached to the helmet has eliminated these issues anyway allowing me to a run a smaller light on the bars.
The dark forests of Brenin came to life and at no point did I feel I needed to slow down or hold back due to light issues. I had to hold back due to being a rubbish mountain biker but that’s always the case.
The next day we turned the lamps back into head torches, attached them to helmets and with our guides at Go Below Adventures in Betws Y Coed went down a slate mine near Penmachno. On an expedition featuring underground Via Ferrata the XEO19R was perfect. Never feeling too heavy, water resistance working during an ascent of what was really a waterfall and masking my face when I was being a wimp on an exposed traverse.
Again it was like walking in daylight, a fact reinforced when the lights were switched off. The XE019R also stood up to a couple of bangs on low roofs despite not looking robust.
Anyway after returning home I finally decided to read the instructions and remembered some features I’d forgotten about. Mostly the Optisense technology and the Thermal cooling system. The Optisense works on the principal of giving the user the amount of light they actually need. So for example it will dim for close up work, become brighter as the sun sets or you go into shaded areas. This works in Nano seconds and has become my preferred setting. Apart from the power savings it just saves fiddling about. I took it out on one training ride which started an hour before dusk, switched on the light and forgot about it. One thing I also really noticed on this ride is that no cars pulled out on me, no way can they not see the XEO19R. The thermal cooling system makes the torch brighter the faster you go. I’ll be honest I’ve not noticed any changes in output level but maybe that is the beauty of the system. Either way the lamp hasn’t over heated at any point.
Another feature is the boost function. This is where the 2000 lumens comes from. I used this function on a canal path ride last week and I’m sure it was bright enough to start the dawn chorus.
Other features include independent setting for the lenses, ability to charge devices from a USB port in the power pack, a flash function and a low light emergency setting. This is one beast of a lamp.
However there are a couple of niggles for me. Apart from the aforementioned bracket, I’ve found in boost mode that the lamp causes my Garmin to lose signal which is annoying, I tend to catch my legs on the power pack when climbing out of the saddle, I’d like a power level indicator in clear sight and it is easy for grit to get into the zoom mechanism. The other thing is that with the XEO19R have a RRP of £249.99 for the full pack and a little cheaper for the basic pack it ain’t cheap. However put it this way, my lights last year added up to approx. £150 and my head torch another £40 on top of that, so it isn’t that expensive.
In short I love the XE019R. I’m riding the endurance MTB event Mountain Mayhem next year and this is the light I want up front. I’m happy to go out riding the dark lanes on the Brecon Beacons with the XE019R, happy on Y Wal at Afan, happy commuting through the numpty traffic of the Swansea valley. Yeah this thing makes me happy.
For more info visit the LED Lenser website
Photgraphs 1 & 2 Courtesy of Freestak