Aerodynamics have become an increasingly important aspect of cycling. Not only are there aerodynamically shaped bikes on the market, but there are also accessories that claim to also reduce drag. In this review we’ll be looking at one of the latest aerodynamic products from LightSKIN, the NACA Road front headlight. With a retail price of $270 the NACA Road is an StVZO certified headlight with an optimized projector lens and sleek profile based on the NACA airfoil. The NACA Road offers up to 520 lumen output and runtimes that range from 1.5 to 7.3 hours depending on which mode is selected. Not only does the NACA Road have a sleek design, but it’s also one of the few bike headlights specifically designed to be mounted under out-front mounts using an integrated top-mounted GoPro attachment.
The LightSKIN NACA Road headlight combines a sleek aerodynamic form factor with a crisp StVZO beam cutoff.
|Rating||8.7 / 10|
|Measured Weight (g)||164|
|Likes||+ High quality projector lens|
+ Designed to be mounted on out-front mounts using integrated GoPro attachment
+ Crisp and sharp StVZO beam cutoff
|Dislikes||– Premium price|
– Limited runtime at higher output modes
– Lacks a daytime flash mode output option
|Where to Buy (US)||LightSKIN|
The LightSKIN NACA Road headlight comes in a premium looking black cardboard box with gold colored branding printed directly on to it. Inside the box you’ll find:
- NACA Road headlight
- USB-C charging cable
- Rubber anti-glare guard
- User manual
The optional rubber anti-guard slides over the front of the headlight and is useful if you’re using the headlight without a GPS computer, which would typically block the glare. Note, the guard is obviously less aerodynamic as it disrupts the NACA profile with an extended front lip.
LightSKIN has designed the NACA Road to be specifically mounted underneath dual sided out-front mounts like the Topeak UTF Mount. It’s a setup we’ve always advocated for as you can place your GPS directly in front of your stem and the headlight underneath it. To accommodate this setup a metal GoPro mount is molded into the top of the headlight. It’s a slick design that not only looks clean when mounted but also allows for simple vertical angle adjustments to get the beam cutoff positioned correctly. LightSKIN has also appropriately placed the light controls and indicators to account for the mounting position instead of having them hidden underneath, which is an issue even with headlights designed to be flipped like the Moon Sport Rigel 700.
FIT & FINISH
True to its namesake, the LightSKIN NACA Road is modeled after the well-known NACA airfoil series. That translates to a rounded front lens and a tapering rear profile that visually looks sleek. Compared to traditional headlights with vertical front lenses it’s easy to believe LightSKIN’s claim that the headlight requires about 24% less energy to sustain a 45 km/h speed. Even though LightSKIN also includes some computational fluid dynamics simulation data to illustrate the performance of the headlight, it’s fair to say the real world gains are minimal at best when you consider that most of the aerodynamic drag is generated from other sources (i.e. the frame and your body).
Aerodynamic claims aside, the NACA Road has a premium aluminum construction with a wide projector lens on the front and small side cutouts to improve side visibility. Unlike most bike headlights which use simple non-directional beams (i.e. Knog Blinder Road 400, Fenix BC26R) or soft beam cutoff lights (i.e. Magicshine RN 1500), the NACA Road has a true projector lens with a sharp cutoff. It’s a big upgrade that eliminates glare for any oncoming traffic and focuses the light on the ground. The user interface for the NACA Road is a single button mounted on the right side. It’s a one level menu with a long press to turn the light on/off and a single press to cycle through the four modes. Unlike the Lupine SL, the NACA Road is a simple light with no smart sensors or remote control.
Battery status is indicated through a top mounted LED on the right edge. Although it looks like three separate LEDs, it appears to be a single LED and illuminates in either flashing red (less than 10 min), red (10-30 min), orange (30 min- 1 hr), yellow (1-2 hr) or green (2hr+). The indicator color quickly updates as you change modes to reflect the current power usage. The USB-C port is hidden under an unusually wide rubber gasket. The rubber cover extends the full width of the headlight and has to be rotated around to expose the USB-C port. We suspect this design was part of the aerodynamic optimization and it allows you to easily charge the device while riding.
LightSKIN has incorporated four output modes into the NACA Road. Due to the StVZO regulations, all the modes are constant with no flashing modes available. The two brightest settings offer 520 / 400 lumen output with 1.5 / 2.4 hr runtimes respectively. The last two modes are lower output with 290 / 185 lumen output and 4.0 / 7.3 hr runtimes. A single press cycles through the modes from the maximum output down the lowest city mode. Doing a long press turns the light on and off, while mode memory ensures the light always remembers what the last active mode was. We found the runtimes to be accurate but a bit limiting especially in the maximum output mode.
LightSKIN claims the light has upto 72m visibility with a maximum viewing angle of 52 degrees. On the road that translates to a wide beam with the output focused on the ground that looks brighter than the lumen output would suggest. The projector lens creates a clean and sharp beam with a uniform light distribution. With the rounded shape of the lens, there is even some light directly underneath the NACA Road which helps you see your handlebars and front wheel. For darker roads we found medium or high mode to be more useful, while the lower output modes are better suited for urban riding. Not only are the beam optics impressive, but the projector lens design has no glare which means riders or pedestrians won’t be blinded as you pass.
Overall, we found the LightSKIN NACA Road to be a sleek headlight with great optics. The projector lens creates a crisp beam cutoff that focuses the light on the ground and eliminates glare for oncoming traffic. It’s also an aerodynamic headlight with a slippery NACA inspired profile that is specifically designed to be mounted underneath out-front mounts. That means the controls and battery status are all within easy reach and you can eliminate handlebar clutter. Obviously you’re paying a premium for the projector lens and aerodynamic profile as the retail price on the NACA Road is quite expensive compared to standard bike lights on the market. We would have also liked to see some sort of daytime flash option with the headlight for daytime use. That said, the LightSKIN NACA Road is a sleek headlight with impressive optics that would look great on any road or urban bike.
Disclaimer: The product for this review was provided by LightSKIN. The views expressed on this website are solely those of the authors and are here to help people make an informed choice before a purchase. The authors or the blog itself does not get any monetary compensation from the product manufacturer or third-party websites/vendor links that are posted here.