Outside magazine, July 1995
Most bike lights are sentenced to life on your handlebars. That's OK when you're staring straight ahead at single-track, but beyond the periphery of your bar-ends your prospects remain dim. A permanently mounted light is even less useful when you're not riding--but you're out running or skating instead. If you want to see more than your wheel vector, check out the dual-beam VistaLite VL530.
The 37-ounce halogen system includes a 15-watt floodlight and a ten-watt spotlight. For placement, there are two quick-release handlebar mounts, a helmet mount, a nylon belt, and a neoprene headband. For power, there's a six-volt nickel-cadmium battery pack with an extension cord and a charging unit. Both lamps can be mounted on the handlebars--if you like. I preferred putting just the floodlight up front, for a wide-angle view, and strapping the spotlight to my helmet to focus on whatever happened to capture my interest. The battery pack attaches to your bike's top tube or seatpost. Off the bike, you can strap the battery pack onto the belt and use one of the lights as a headlamp.
I optimized battery time by splitting duties between lamps, using the floodlight alone for flats and both lights for high-speed descents. Together, the lamps burn for about 50 minutes. Solo, the floodlight lasts 90 minutes; the spotlight, about 160.
The one drawback to riding with the headlamp is that you have to get used to feeling like a cyborg with your helmet wired to your bicycle. But for ample light, exceptional versatility, and moderate price, the VL530 is a bright way to beat the bike-bound system.
$170. From VistaLite, Route 136 E., Rantoul, IL 61866; 800-456-2355.