On rare occasion, the buzz is actually the truth.
When Light & Motion debuted their Vibe ($40), Vibe Pro ($60) and Vibe Pro HL ($50) lights this year, there was plenty of positive noise and pr-generated excitement. After testing these lights for three months, I can honestly say the Vibe is everything it’s lit up to be.
To understand the ground-breaking nature and cool factors behind the Vibe, just google the product. Here’s a sampling from the first page of search results:
“Light & Motion Gets Smart with the New Vibe Series, a Revolutionary Approach to Bike Lights.” “Is this the future of bike light design?” “Light & Motion ditch buttons for automatic operation.” “Light & Motion Vibe series lights use button-free smart sensors.” “Stay Safe With The New Vibe Series Smart Lights from Light & Motion.”
You get the idea. This is a departure from every safety/urban light set-up you’ve ever used. So, that’s the hype but how does the Vibe perform in real life, in real conditions?
I’ve been using the 200 lumen Vibe Pro, mounted on the front handlebar and the 100 lumen Vibe out back on the seat post and everything has worked perfectly. (The Vibe Pro HL is basically the 200 lumen version.) As a lighting concept, I’m sold.
First, the smart sensors react flawlessly, detecting motion to turn themselves on and off. Once on the bike, they respond instantly. All I have to do is talk over and touch my bike lightly with one hand and both front and rear lights flash on in one second. If the bike remains motionless, they’ll shut off in 30 seconds. That’s super fab and a nice card trick.
The lights lock into the mount with a quarter turn, which also activates the sensors. What’s extra handy is that you can take them off the bike with that same quarter turn. If I’m locking up my bike or putting it on the ferry, I can pop the lights in my pocket so nobody swipes them. Easy-cheesey.
The smart sensors detect motion and also ambient light. The Vibe Pro headlight senses light levels and knows to pulse during the day but go steady bright at night. (The rear Vibe is always in flash mode regardless of light levels.)
The big thing that’s missing are the buttons. Generally with lights you tap your way thru a few modes — steady, flash, pulse, eco — but the Vibe keeps things simple. They’re on or off, steady with a burst of flashes every few seconds. And you know what? — I don’t miss the buttons, especially when I’m wearing winter gloves. In my experience, I rarely change the mode of my safety lights, regardless of brand. There’s something to be said for not having to fiddle with modes and settings.
Runtime for the Vibe Pro is 3 hours while the Vibe, at half the lumens, is 6 hours. I’ve found that pretty accurate but I’m not clocking with a stopwatch. The recharge is also effortless — the USB connector is part of the light so you can plug it right into your laptop USB port or any USB changer you have on hand. When I get to work after my 1 1/3 hour commute, I stick them right into my laptop and generally in an hour they’re ready to go again. Light & Motion says 2 hours for a full recharge if you’ve drained them.
The Vibe is rain-ready and completely waterproof. For those of us who appreciate the environmental impacts, the Vibe body is plant-based and bio-renewable. Enlightenment comes with the illumination.
Downsides? None that I can identify. I could argue that the form factor is a bit elongated. I can get pretty anal about minimalist design and unobtrusive integration. However, I’m assuming the motion and ambient light sensing requires a slightly larger size. Not really an issue for me and I have grown to like the light probe look.
Vibe highlights: Motion detectors, ambient light sensors, no buttons, the future of lighting!