Finland is a grim place in winter. The whole period from October to February is dark and cold. Until we get some snow good lights are essential for safe commuting. The new lights based on high-efficienct light-emitting diodes are game changers. Bicycle lights still have a tendency to break easily or get stolen so I’ve experimented with some cheap alternatives to well-known vendors. As always it seems you get what you pay for.
I have been using flimsy keychain type lights for several years now. They are useful mostly just for visibility during commuting. The upside is that they don’t cost too much so you can have a pair in all my bikes. The light itself is not very bright at all, but seems pretty resilient inside its protective silicone shell. The only downsides are that little plastic clips are lost real quick and the CR2032 changeable battery does not last all that long. All in all useful pair of little lights that does what it promises.
First I tried the SolarStorm X2 “owl” lamp from lightmalls.com. As long as it worked the light was amazingly bright and the two CREE beam was wide. The blinding light would be better suited trail riding than commuting as there is no visibility from the side. Also the battery pocket was flimsy and on the forums there are lot of reports of the charger breaking right away. My light broke spectacularly releasing smoke with just few of hours use. I support from LightMalls was dismal. In conclusion I would avoid both the Solarstorm x2 and Lightmalls at all cost.
The last experiment involved a usb powered XM-L2 bought from eddiestore2 at ebay. Since the chinese have had a bad track record of cost cutting I liked the thought of powering the light using an external usb battery. I actually had a one from Wave laying around. Lot of good things have been said about Ianker‘s products. As far as the light itself goes the beam is quite narrow and there is no visibility to the sides. I carry the battery in a frame pouch and always need to turn the battery on. All in all the light seems allright for the time I’ve had it.
In conclusion since I don’t do too much trail riding during the winter I would still be better served by products from likes of Blackburn and Cateye.