2016 Lights Shootout

Trail LED DS has 5 laterally mounted LEDs for a good horizontal beam.

Trail LED DS has 5 laterally mounted LEDs for a good horizontal beam (click to enlarge).​

Editor's Note: This article is part of Mtbr and RoadBikeReview's 2016 Bike Lights Shootout. See the 2016 Mtbr Headlights Index and the RoadBikeReview Commuter Lights Index.

The Lowdown: Trail LED DS

Trail LED certainly upped their game by exceeding Lumen claims and delivering a staggering 3150 Lumens against a claimed 3200. They also developed an elegant new mount that holds the finned light head on the the bar securely.

Quality and usability is still top notch as the head unit displays the finest machining we've ever seen in a light. The notches for the rubber mounting straps are making a lot of sense to us now in terms of their simplicity. The light can be used the helmet with its 108 gram head or mounted on the bars.

Trail LED DS with new bar mount.

Trail LED DS with new bar mount (click to enlarge).​

One of the coolest things about this light is the form factor. It is not round or square, rather it's a horizontal array of lights. This allows it to have the ideal wide beam pattern with a high center. It also allows room for plenty of cooling fins.

Trail LED is a bike light company similar to the great handmade bike builders like Moots and Chris King. It is run by craftsman Grady Pace who is meticulous about his work and craftsmanship. These lights are machined from billet aluminum and then assembled in Dallas, TX. All components except lenses, batteries, and chargers come from the USA.

They sent us three lights and they are illuminating in their design and innovation. The three in the line are:

Trail LED XXX: $300 - 2000 Lumens claimed
Trail LED Halo: $1,200 - 6000 Lumens claimed

This DS model is the workhorse of the line and achieves the happy medium between compact and exotic.

Claimed Lumens: 3200 LumensMtbr Lux: 315
Measured Lumens: 3150 LumensMounted weight: 496 grams
Lumens per $: 5.64 LumensCategory: Headlight
Lumens per gram: 6.25 LumensPrice: $550
Run time on high: 1:30 HoursRating:
0 Flamin' Chili Peppers
5 Chilis-out-of-5
Stat Box


Pluses

Minuses
  • Matches Lumen claims with 3150 output
  • $550 for a single light is not for everyone
  • Excellent brightness and wide beam pattern
  • Big battery and long wires on
  • Awesome new bar mount
  • This can be used by itself as an ultimate helmet light
  • Excellent construction and very versatile light
  • All American made

Full Review: Trail LED DS

Mounting is done with a couple of heat proof bands that go through the vents of the helmet. Some helmet shapes don't conform with the light shape, so uniform contact will not be achieved. Aiming the light is done by positioning the light along the curvature of the helmet. Mounting the DS model is easy on any helmet since it's small and only slightly curved.

For bar mounting, there is a new mount that efficiently holds the fancy lighthead on the bars securely.

Charging is done by a huge external charger that will fully charge this powerful battery in two hours. The battery is now nicely padded and encased in a shock absorbing pouch to help protect it.

Trail LED DS is all made in Texas.

Trail LED DS is all made in Texas (click to enlarge).​

They also put out ridiculous amounts of light on the helmet. Grady believes that the helmet is the best place for the light, as a wide beam beam pattern that can be pointed gives the best illumination for the fastest and most aggressive night rides.

The Trail LED DS is the happy medium light hitting 3150 measured Lumens. Although some might claim this amount of light as excessive, there is a 6000 Lumen model in the line that puts this light in perspective. If one wants to ride at very high speed and if one just wants to use one light, this DS is ideal.

The form factor and shape is just right with 6 LEDs in a curved row. This forms kind of a halo around the helmet and is shaped to follow the curvature of most helmets. This gives the light a low profile, as it is just a couple centimeters above the helmet. It just seems like a dialed solution for helmets for someone who wants a very bright light with long runtime.

Continue to page 2 for more on the Trail LED DS, the beam pattern and Lumen measurement »



Trail LED DS sports first-rate construction.

Trail LED DS sports first-rate construction (click to enlarge).​


Video: Test loop with the Trail LED DS. Camera is on a locked ISO setting and is set to Wide Angle mode.

The beam pattern has a nice rectangular shape. It's fairly wide for peripheral vision and it's got a nice spot to see far ahead.

The battery is separate of course and it is a very well-insulated 'brick' style with a system weight of 380 grams. It can power the light at full brightness for 2.5 hours and the battery can be charged to full capacity in just two hours. It is intended to be carried in a hydration pack.

Trail LED DS Beam Pattern

Beam Pattern Photo

We photographed the lights in the same location setting with the same camera settings. The photo was taken in the back yard that is approximately 25 yards long. The backyard beam pattern allows you to gauge the throw and the width of the light. Compare all Beam Patterns here »

Integrating Sphere Measured Lumens

This light measured 3150 Lumens in an integrating sphere. Claimed Lumens by the manufacturer is 3200 Lumens. Compare all Lumen Tests here »

Trail LED DS head unit weight is 108 grams.

Trail LED DS head unit weight is 108 grams (click to enlarge).​

Trail LED has quite a range of lights, all the way to the ridiculously bright Trail LED Halo model. This one is a good balance of quality, size and good old American ingenuity.

For more information visit www.trailled.com.

This article is part of Mtbr and RoadBikeReview's 2016 Bike Lights Shootout. See the 2016 Mtbr Headlights Index and the RoadBikeReview Commuter Lights Index.