PRODUCT EVALUATION TRAIL TECH LED HELMET LIGHTS Daylight in a can
q We’ve progressed to the point where most manufacturers understand that ATV riding doesn’t have to be confined to daylight hours. Almost all full-size quads come with lights. There’s a catch, though. If you’ve tried to ride with the lights that come stock on virtually any sport quad, you know that they are perfectly adequate in broad daylight. After dark, however, it’s another matter. Utility quads are better, but it seems the faster the ATV is in the daytime, the slower it has to go at night. That’s where the Trail Tech dual-LED helmet light kit comes in. It can fill in for the shortcomings of OEM lights, as well as open up the world of night riding for quads that have no lights at all.
POWER ME UP
The Trail Tech dual-LED kit comes with everything you need for self-contained night riding. You get two LED lamps, mounts for both helmet and handlebar, and a lithium-ion battery and charger. The two lamps are the heart of the system and have 35mm housings with light-emitting diodes. These aren’t your grandfather’s LEDs. This is the latest technology in lighting, capable of producing 800 lumens apiece, which is more power than you might guess. The biggest advantage is its size and weight. We usually don’t think of lights in terms of power-to-weight ratio, but an LED system scores well in that category, which is especially valuable in a helmet light. The lamps are 6 ounces apiece, which means two weigh about as much as a single HID.
As for the battery, it’s a new-generation lithium ion. It puts out 11.1 volts and is rated at 6600 mAh. The battery has a built-on belt clip and weighs in at 18 ounces; a lead-acid or NiCad battery of the same power would be over 3 pounds. With the supplied charger, the battery can be fully charged in three hours. Trail Tech claims that a fully charged system will power both lights for three hours.
GO TO THE LIGHT
If you like night riding, you’ll love riding with the Trail Tech dualies. We mounted both lights on the chin piece of a full-face helmet and were quite pleased with the results. The chin is the best location because the lights don’t illuminate floating dust and debris in front of your face, as is the case with lights mounted on top of the helmet. You see only the target, which is wherever your head is pointed.
We were surprised at how much light comes out of those two little lamps. It easily outpowered the stock headlight on our Honda TRX400X. Combining the helmet lights with a quad-mounted light is the best of both worlds, because you get more of the big picture. When we rode with just the helmet lights, we experimented with the angles and got the best results with one light straight and one light pointed slightly downward. The freakiest of riding at night comes when you’re airborne. The downward light gives you a little perspective on your location in relationship to Mother Earth.
In terms of output, the two lights are good for riding at moderate speed. One light is OK at lower speeds. The only helmet light that produces significantly more power is the SCMR16, also made by Trail Tech. This is a super-bright HID lamp (rated at 1850 lm), but it’s heavier than the LED lamp, which limits your mounting possibilities. In our experience, HID lights are finicky, whereas the LED lights were trouble-free during our test.
As far as run-time, three hours at full power for both lamps might be a little optimistic. It’s hard to get an accurate measurement of this because the lights turned on and off several times in a given ride, and each lamp has three power settings. There’s no doubt that the lights can go a long time with careful power management—six hours or more. The truth is that the lights always outlasted our will to ride at night.
Complaints? Not many. We would like a more elaborate mount, particularly for the helmet. The stick-on mounts don’t allow much aiming flexibility once in place.
For casual night riding, it’s hard to do better than this. If you plan on racing Baja, though, you need much, much more. Speed requires lots of lumens. For that, the Trail Tech LED system works as a good backup. The price for the whole kit is $379.95. If that’s a little steep, you can get a single-lamp kit for $259.95. For a single light without the battery, you can wire the light to your quad’s electrical system; the price is $139.95. For more information, go to www.trailtech.net or call (360) 687-4530. q
Never stop riding! The Trail Tech dual-LED helmet lights can last all night if you manage your power levels.