from San Jose, CA, USA
Date Reviewed: January 14, 2008
Strengths: Light output, light color (nice white color that is easy on the eye), VERY long-lasting battery, top-notch construction and materials, all-in-one (light, battery, switch, mount), ultra-fast charging from the wall charger, reasonably light weight, mount design, battery meter with 6-levels that actually *works*, low "stealth" mode for those tricky situations, really nice travel case.
Weaknesses: Doesn't come with car charger.
The C2.1-H is the best handle-bar mount light I've ever used, hands-down. I night ride every week in the Winter, and I've used a lot of different lights since I started nightriding in 1990 - from Nightsun, Nightrider, and Light and Motion. Halogens, HIDs, and now LEDs. NiCad, Nickel Metal Hydride, and now Lithium Polymer batteries.
The fact that the C2.1-H is self-contained is huge. No seperate wires, switch, or mount - just one little box with a well designed mount on the bottom, a switch and power-level indicating dual-color LED on top, Lithium Polymer battery inside, and the two LED lamps in the front. The light-output is as powerful as my HID (what? Yep!), and the color is *better* - a nice white color. The charging/recharging is ultra-fast. The unit is super easy to mount/remove from the handlebar, so every week it goes back and forth between my commuter bike and one of my mtb bikes (night rides every Weds). I only charge it once/week and sometimes use it every day on my commuter. Even on high-output the whole time, the battery simply lasts forever on a charge. I've only heard negative comments about the supposed "bulkey-ness", but I'm convinced that these are from people who haven't tried one, and probably not even seen one in person. On the bike, it's not bulky at all, though it looks like it would be from the pictures. I ride with it on super-tight singletrack, over log and rock drops (5-6 feet - no bs), etc. I've never felt like it added any change to the way my bikes handle. Yes, the box-shape isn't pretty, but who gives a crap? Not me... I use the stealth mode when... I need to be stealthy :-). This is a nice feature, and probably one that goes overlooked. I guess you could also use it when you're climbing to cut down on battery time, but really the battery lasts so long I've never needed to bother.
The construction, design, and materials are all top-notch, and so far this bike has been totally reliable (used for over a year). I demo'd one before I bought one - one of the original C2 lights. On the demo ride, I slid out on a tight turn (wet leaves), and slid into a very large boulder on the side of the trail - the front of the light took a direct hit. No problems - nada. The light stayed on, continued to work fine, and there was simply nothing other than a tiny scratch in the housing.
Similar Products Used: Nightsun, Nightrider, Light and Motion - I've owned and extensively used a half-dozen different setups now.
Bike Setup: xc bike, freeride bike, commuter bike - I use this light on all three regularly
a Weekend Warrior
from Greenville, SC, USA
Date Reviewed: March 9, 2007
Strengths: Note: This review is of the BR Lights C2.1-H, upgraded from the original C2 with Cree emitters to almost double the lumen output. Strengths: 320 lumen high beam output good for typical high speed cross country night riding; 134 lumen low beam extends runtime to 9 hours while still supporting good riding speeds; 2 lumen stealth mode lets you go back slowly if the battery won't make it that far; snow white beam is a seamless blend of moderate spot and broad flood; battery status indicator easy to read while on the fly; lightweight yet rugged and high quality construction; easy to switch between low and high beam while riding; no separate batteries and cords to hassle with; BR Lights Technology Commitment policy will upgrade light (for a price TBD) when even better emitters are available.
Weaknesses: Like ALL Lithium powered lights: Battery only has a lifespan of 2 - 3 years, regardless of how well you care for it. Unless you ride every night, the battery will die by aging instead of overcycling. BR Lights can install new batteries for $75 - $100, which is comparable to the cost of a replacement lithium pack from other manufacturers.
Some people ding the C2 family as ugly, but I find their look businesslike and quirky in a fun and functional way.
The advantages section pretty much says it all. This is a really nice light. I should expand a bit on the lithium battery comment. All lithium powered lights have the same characteristics as the C2, which is to say that you need to know how to treat the battery and it has a limited lifespan.
Lithium batteries have no memory, though they may need to be completely discharged from time to time to ensure correct calibration of the status system. When not being used, lithiums do best stored in a cool place at ~40% charge. The routine is to ride, leave the light at its partially charged state, and connect to the charger about 1 hour before your next ride.
Lithiums also do best when kept cool, so do not leave the light alone in a hot car.
Is the BR Lights C2.1-H right for you? Maybe, if your night rides are no more than 4 hours long. Note that BR Lights also makes the "C2.1-E", which offers a high beam of only 250 lumens but has a 5.5 hour runtime.