Light & Motion Urban 180/Vis 180 Micro Review

Each day gets a little shorter and a little darker here in Wisconsin. Luckily I have an arsenal of lights to choose from. Being a 6 bike family means there’s lots of gear floating around Spoke Haven headquarters.

We have Knog Frogs, Princeton Tec’s Push & EOS lights, PDW’s Radbot & Spaceship, a slew of Planet Bike’s offerings, old Blackburn lights, Nite Rider’s Lumina Micro set (recently given to a friend who desperately needed good commuter lights), and the Cygolite Metro 360.

Out of all the offerings I still find myself sticking to the Light & Motion Urban/Vis Micro combination. I can’t speak much for the Nite Rider set as I literally had it in hands for two days, but I’ll eventually get to do a more in depth test of that set. My co-workers have some Nite Rider sets and seem to love them. They are folks who ride year round, so I assume they work well in cold weather. I hope to find out if that’s the case!

Here's the combo in a nice ruby shade.
Here’s the combo in a nice ruby shade.

Back to Light & Motion. I LOVE their Urban front light. The 180 is an older model that has since been upgraded to a 200 lumen model and they go up from there. The number corresponds with the amount of lumens the light is rated. The higher the lumens, the brighter the light.

I used the Urban 180 to commute through all of the elements. Rain, sleet, hail, snow, freezing cold, blazing summer sun, and muggy weather. It never failed. The construction of the light is bombproof. I’ve dropped it on the ground, flipped my bike over on top of it to complete repairs, have left it on my bike while on my car rack, and the thing is still going strong!

The Urban 200. Note the integrated mount. Twist to the side and remove or install it on your bars.
The Urban 200. Note the integrated mount. Twist to the side and remove or install it on your bars.

The light has survived everything I’ve given it and has a few small battle scars to prove it. The main light body is made out of an airtight metal body. The attachment piece is integrated into it and consists of a heavy duty rubber strap for attaching it around the handlebars. It fits a wide range of bars and I have rocked it on my 26.0 Salsa Poco’s as well as my 31.8 Salsa Road 2 bars.

My favorite part about the light is that it’s USB rechargeable. I personally hate batteries. If I could recharge my house remotes (electric fireplaces and fan lights have remotes now) from a USB port, I totally would. Yes, I use rechargeable batteries around the house, but give me a micro USB and I’m stoked.

Light & Motion provides you with a charging cable that can be used from your computer’s USB port or if you have one of those iPhone charging cube plugs that works as well. I also just so happened to have an old phone charger that worked with micro USB, so I use that a lot too.

The settings on the light are pretty standard. There are 3 dim options for seeing while riding (including full blast steady) as well as a blinking option if you just want to be seen. The light also has a tiny rear LED that lets you know how much juice you have left. An orange light means you’re still pretty good, but red means a recharge is needed. Green is what shows when you have fully charged the light.

Full disclosure, I got this light from a friend who was given two of them from a Light & Motion rep. He didn’t need two and knew I was a hardcore commuter, so he gifted it to me. I’m sure glad he did because I’ve used this light for almost two years now and it’s still kicking. I’d gladly pay the $80 retail for the Urban 200 today and I don’t say that about a lot of products!

The Vis 180 Micro just so happened to fall into my hands thanks to Facebook. I’ve won some pretty kick ass stuff because of Facebook contests. A jersey, a stainless steel shot glass, and the Vis 180 Micro!

Small & Mighty Vis 180 Micro
Small & Mighty Vis 180 Micro

So, I haven’t had as much time to spend with the Vis 180 Micro, but I have tested it since (I believe) spring of this year. I really like the light because it’s bright as hell, is easy to mount, and SURPRISE…it’s USB rechargeable. The mounting system is similar to the Urban series in that it’s consistent  it consists of a durable rubber piece. You can also remove the rubber and use it say on a seat bag. My one major disappointment (really it’s not that major) is that it’s not compatible with the light bracket I have mounted on my rear rack on the Surly.

Note the mounting. It can be placed at angles or press right up against the attachment piece.
Note the mounting. It can be placed at angles or press right up against the attachment piece.

My previous go to light before the Vis 180 Micro was the PDW Radbot. I still really love that light and will often still mount it up because it has a built in reflector for if my lights ever fail. The only issue is that it’s not USB rechargeable, but that may change. PDW has pulled out some new stuff at Interbike. My wish may come true!

Back to the Vis, it has multiple blinky settings like most other rear lights and a bright steady. The way That I have it set up currently is actually on my seat tube instead of my seat post. I sometimes carry a seat bag and sometimes don’t on my Surly (which the light set currently resides on), so I put it down on the seat tube and it lights everything up nicely. The entire rear of my bike and rear tire get lit up in a pleasant red glow.

I’m pretty sure if I had to, I’d buy the Vis 180 Micro. The jury is still out on it as I haven’t tested it in snow yet. My hopes are that the battery and casing will hold up with winter commuting. One thing my Radbot failed at was staying bright when I was riding in the cold to and from work. The batteries would drain quickly and cause the light to dim. Once I got inside and things warmed up again it would work just fine. I really hope the Vis 180 Micro doesn’t do that though. I need a reliable rear light as I now commute on a very busy road on my way home and it’s getting dark before my workday is over at 5pm.

Overall I think both lights do a great job and I would highly recommend the Urban series to anyone looking for a high quality, bright, and reliable bike light. The lights are a bit on the pricey side, but you have to remember Light & Motion makes their products in the USA! They are also going to last probably 3x if not longer than most battery powered lights.

I hate to say it, but I’ve gone through so many other battery powered lights in my lifetime that I’m done with most of them. Replacing that same $25 light over and over just doesn’t make sense! I won’t name names, but it’s a local company who I know making strides to improve their product line and offering USB models.

Currently the Light & Motion set will call my Surly home. I was using them on my Raleigh for commuting, but I recently obtained another set of rechargeable lights from another manufacturer that I’ll be reviewing. A couple months of commuting in this weather should be a pretty good test for them. Basically any light set I test from here on out will be getting compared to Light & Motion, so they have some BIG shoes to fill!

To learn more about Light & Motion, please visit their website or check out your local bike shop to demo some units!

BTW before I forget…both front and rear lights are easy to turn on and off with full finger gloves on. They are easy to remove when parking and you can buy the a combo set of the Urban 200 with the Vis 180 Micro for $10 cheaper than purchasing separate 🙂

**I wanted to shoot a video of the lights with all their settings and whatnot, but I frankly didn’t have the time. It is something I’d like to do in the future for light reviews though and I actually filmed the new light set I’ll be testing just to give an idea of the brightness and functionality.