Whether you look online or stop by your local bike shop, you’ll notice there are an overwhelming number of lights on the market today. The lights range from compact low powered blinky lights to multi-thousand lumen lights designed to turn night into day. Power sources range from AAA batteries all the way to packs of rechargeable Li-ion battery cells. However, one thing a majority of the lights share is that they use LEDs and some variation of a button interface. Light & Motion Vya bike lights are designed to break the mold of traditional bike lights and incorporate useful ‘smart’ features. In this review, we’ll specifically look at the Vya Pro Smart Headlight, the brightest headlight offered in the Vya product line.
The Vya Pro Smart Headlight is a compact button-less headlight that incorporates a motion and an ambient light sensor to automatically turn the light on/off and switch between a day and nighttime output mode. During the day, the light has a 250 lumen SmartPulse which is Light & Motion’s proprietary pulse mode. At night, it automatically switches to a solid 200 lumen output for better visibility. If no motion is detected for more than thirty seconds the light automatically goes into a standby mode until motion is detected again.
At first we were hesitant about the button-less design, but after a few rides we wondered why all lights weren’t like this. The automatic day/night selection takes the stress out of having to cycle through different output modes and remember different user interfaces.
It is also worth noting that Light & Motion is a local company based out of Monterey with an impressive history in lighting. Having been first founded in 1989, they are also credited with the first rechargeable LED bike light in 2005 and were early adopters of the Fl-1 standard which drove accurate light output testing. They also have an excellent support staff who have been quick to answer our product questions and concerns.
|Category||Bicycle Head Light|
|Likes|| + Unique form factor|
+ Integrated USB connector
+ Excellent visibility
|Dislikes|| – Non-intuitive low battery indicator|
– Unclear mounting alignment marks
– Visible molding lines
|Where to Buy (US)||Light & Motion|
In terms of packaging, as with the Vya Switch, Light & Motion has done a great job to minimize the environmental impact. The light is mounted on a simple cardboard mount, and small plastic receptacle to hold the light in place. Inside the packaging you’ll find:
- Vya Pro Smart Headlight
- Handlebar Mount w/ Rubber strap
- User manual
Note, there is no USB cable as the Vya Pro has a USB connector built directly into the headlight.
The Vya Pro Smart Headlight mount is a two piece design that is unique to Light & Motion. The primary portion of the mount is a simple plastic base that attaches to round handlebars with a rubber strap. Attaching to the mount base is what we refer to as the ‘secondary mount’ which features a locking mechanism to attach the light head and a round post on the underside to attach to the mounting base.The secondary portion is another plastic piece which the USB connector portion of the light inserts into with an innovative twist-lock system. With this two piece design, you can easily rotate the light a full 360 degrees. Unlike other rotatable mounts we’ve tested in the past, the Vya Pro Smart Headlight doesn’t have any play (thanks to the friction fit!). Note, that Light and Motion also offers a GoPro mount adapter for an extra cost.
When the light is locked into the mount, it automatically goes to a standby mode and turns on once motion is detected. The light should not be stored in this locked position as it will slowly drain the battery. This also means that if you want to ride with the light off, you need to remove the light from the mount entirely (riding in the non-locked position is not recommended as it might fall off). As with the Vya Switch we reviewed, we found the twist-lock system to be non-intuitive to use. The mount only allows for a single direction insertion, so you’ll have to remember which way to insert the light. We often found ourselves inserting in the incorrect direction, and trying to force it to rotate before realizing it should go the other way. Once you get more accustomed to the mounting, it provides a secure and water tight mount.
FIT & FINISH
In addition to the innovative buttonless interface, Light & Motion developed the Vya Pro Smart Headlight to have a unique form factor. Similar to the other Vya products, this light is made with bio-renewable material and has an IP67 rating. The light has a rubbery texture to it, with scalloped sides which make it easier to handle. With a single LED and the USB connector directly integrated into the light, it’s extremely compact. The built-in USB connector makes it very convenient to charge the light as you simply plug it into your USB port directly. If you’re using a multi-USB port charger like your computer, due to the width of the light you’ll need extra space around the USB port to charge it.
Unlike the Vya Switch, the Vya Pro Smart Headlight has a transparent body to accommodate the photo sensor on the top. On the other side of the light, the product name is printed on an opaque black background. Although the overall form factor is unusual, we found the light to be well designed and easy to use. The Vya Pro Smart Headlight’s small form factor allows it to fit easily in your pocket for easy transportation and can be swapped between bikes in under a minute.
A single Cree LED is integrated into the front of the Vya Pro Smart Headlight with a protruding lens. Unlike some lights which have multiple user selectable modes (or a baffling 17 like the Magicshine Allty 2000!) that can be difficult to tell apart, the Vya Pro Smart Headlight only features two modes depending on the amount of light the ambient light sensor detects. In high ambient light situations, the SafePulse mode puts out 250 lumens (6 hour run-time). This is a special pulse designed by Light & Motion to improve safety during daytime riding. Unlike typical flash or pulsing modes, the SafePulse mode has a distinct non-uniform pulse design that is also less annoying to other cyclists. Also after 30 seconds of no motion, the Vya Pro Smart Headlight will automatically shut-off and go to standby mode. If motion is detected again, the light automatically turns back on.
For low-light situations, the Vya Pro Smart Headlight reverts to a basic solid 200 lumen output (2 hour run-time) for better visibility. In either modes, Light & Motion has designed the light optics to provide a uniform and cool white output. While the output is impressive for the Vya Pro Smart Headlight’s size, the 200 lumens isn’t enough to provide enough throw to be used as a primary light if you ride on completely dark roads. The light output is better suited for urban riding where there is ambient light. We also consider the Vya Pro Smart Headlight an ideal secondary light or backup light, as it’s compact form factor and light weight mean it’s easy to leave in your backpack or pocket.
With the transparent body of the Vya Pro Smart Headlight, Light & Motion also incorporated a small amber side light on the right and left side of the light. The side lights improve the side visibility of the light for better safety when riding at night. Additionally, the side lights are used for the low battery warning (5-10% remaining battery) by pulsing the side lights 4 times faster than the headlight. This is one downside of the light, as it’s easy to find yourself with a dead headlight unless you remember to regularly charge the light.
The common rule of thumb is that if you are designing something that is different than conventional devices you need to make a major change or use the common design. With the Vya Pro Smart Headlight, Light & Motion has gone against the conventional mode selection options and designed a very unique light. At first, we were hesitant about the button-less design, but after a few rides we wondered why all lights weren’t like this. The automatic day/night selection takes the stress out of having to cycle through different output modes and remember different light interfaces. At only a maximum of 250 lumens though, the Vya Pro Smart Headlight works best for urban riding or as a secondary light if you ride on pitch dark roads. We look forward to seeing the innovations of the Vya Pro Smart Headlight applied to future lights from Light & Motion.
Disclaimer: The product for this review was provided by Light & Motion. 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.