Niteye is a relatively new flashlight brand, owned by a company that has been around for a while. For a time, JETBeam lights have been distributed by SYSMAX, but due to a recent disagreement, that partnership has ended. From this disagreement, the company previously producing JETBeam lights began producing lights under the Niteye brand. In the past few months, we've seen quite a variety of lights from Niteye, from small single-cell lights to large multi-emitter lights. Now, Niteye has produced a light with a very specific purpose: a high-end, high-output, multi-emitter bike light.
Thanks to Niteye for providing the B30 for review.
I’ll be reviewing the B30 in two sections: first, I’ll discuss the light objectively (the facts about the light itself), then I’ll discuss the light subjectively (my impressions about the light's performance when used for specific applications). This is a compact, high powered bike light designed for a good throw/flood combo, so I'll be reviewing it as such. If you have any other specific applications you'd like the light tested for, let me know and I'll see what I can do.
Below is a video "quick review" you can watch in just a few minutes, if you're not up for reading the full review right now:
This video is available in 720p HD, but defaults to a lower quality. To select the playback quality click the settings button (looks like a gear) after you've started the video.
Price: $200 - $286
The Niteye B30 comes packaged in a cardboard sleeve around a nice zippered carrying case. The cardboard sleeve has the stats printed on the back.
The carrying case seems to be made from some sort of firm plastic covered in a rubbery material. It sports the Niteye logo on top and a seat-belt on the back.
Inside the case, the light and accessories rest in a foam cutout, and the manual and warranty card are kept in a mesh pocket.
Overall, the case is very nice quality, which is appealing because there are quite a few pieces to this light.
The B30 is made from aluminum, and is available with either red or black anodizing. Niteye doesn't specify what hardness level the anodizing is, but AFAIK, level three is not available in bright colors like this, so I'm guessing it's HAII at best. As a dedicated bike like, The B30 isn't shaped at all like a normal hand-held flashlight. It's got a sort-of aerodynamic look, though I'm not sure how aerodynamic it actually is. The B30 is powered by an external battery pack, and controlled by either the button on top or a remote pressure switch. Both these accessories (as well as others) are included with the light, and are discussed in the Accessories section.
The B30 uses three separate emitters, each with their own reflector or optic, and each with a stainless steel bezel ring. There is also a small "roof" overhanging the emitters, which may help keep rain/snow from fogging them up, or may just be for looks .
The B30 uses a single Cree XM-L emitter in the center, combined with a orange-peel textured reflector. The large size of the XM-L combined with the small, shallow, textured reflector make this a very smooth floody emitter.
On either side of the XM-L is a Cree XP-G emitter in a diffused optic. These optics tend to give a general spot with little flood, and the XP-G has a smaller die, so these emitters give the light a bit more throw, while the honeycomb diffusing pattern serves to smooth out the beams.
On each side of the head, a series of three cooling fins increase the surface area, which allows air to flow through and keep the light cooler. Being a bike light, the B30 should stay plenty cool while you're in motion, but Niteye recommends not leaving the light on high for very long when you're stopped.
The rear has the Niteye website printed on it, and the short cord that attaches the light to the remote pressure switch.
On top, the B30 has the Niteye name and model name, the battery indicator lights, and a two-stage electronic button. This button recognizes being pressed either half way or all the way down. Both the battery indicator and the button are recessed into the top of the light, so that they are even with the surrounding area.
When on the light is on, the battery indicator lights up with the appropriate amount of lights. You can see more info on the battery indicator in the Performance section.
On the underside of the B30 is the handlebar mount attachment point. The handlebar mount clicks into position in these rails, and is released by pressing this button on the side.
The Niteye B30 includes quite a few accessories, all of which are necessary for the function of the light: The battery pack and battery pack sleeve, battery charger, remote pressure switch, velcro strap to secure the remote switch, and handlebar mount. As you can see, each of the connections (with the exception of the battery charger) have a small o-ring and a screw-over cap to keep moisture out of the connections. Niteye rates these as "rainproof".
The included battery back comes in a high-quality, rubbery cushion pouch with a large velcro strap. The strap can be used to attach the pack pretty much wherever is most convenient before, and is big enough to fit around an arm or a leg. Inside the pouch, the battery pack is inside another rubber sleeve with Niteye name printed on it. When rolled back, the batteries are found in a black plastic wrap. I have not yet opened the pack to see what kind of 188650 cells are included.
The battery charger includes a small LED on top that will light up red when charging and green when fully charged.
The remote pressure switch is not optional, the way the connectors are designed, the light cannot be connected to the battery pack except by the pressure switch. The switch uses two separate buttons, a long one and a short one. The short one turns the light on/off and the long one changes the modes. You can see more about this in the User Interface section. The switch has two rubber slots that the velcro strap is threaded through to attach the switch to your bike.
The handlebar mount attaches to both the handlebars of your bike and the underside of the light. To attach the handlebar mount to your bike, you remove the cap, slip the ridged strap out and around the handlebar. Then slip the strap back through the mount, and tighten it by screwing on the cap.
The attachment of the mount to the light is very secure, and the light will not slide out unless the release button is held down.
When using the light, you'll connect the light to the remote switch, and the remote switch to the battery pack. When plugged in, the caps on the connections screw down to keep out moisture and keep the connections from coming undone while riding.
The B30 can be controlled by either the electronic button on top of the light, or the remote switch. The B30 has four brightness modes and one strobe mode. Low mode and Medium mode use the two XP-G emitters, High mode uses the single XM-L emitter, and Turbo mode uses all three. Strobe mode alternates between the two XP-G's and the XM-L. The momentary on function of the B30 uses the High mode with the single XM-L.
The button on top is a two-stage switch that recognizes either a half-press or a full-press. To turn the light on momentarily, press this switch half way down, and the light will stay on until the switch is released. To activate constant on, press the switch fully down and hold it for about a second. When the light is on, a half press will advance to the next mode in the cycle (Medium > High > Turbo > Low). A full press will activate the Strobe, and another full press will return the light to the last used brightness level. The light can be turned off by giving a full press and holding down for about a second.
The remote switch has two separate buttons, a long button and a short button. A momentary press to the long button will turn the light on momentarily, until the button is released. To activate the constant on, hold down on the short button for about a second. Once the light is on, a press to the long switch will advance the light to the next mode in the cycle (Medium > High > Turbo > Low). A press to the short switch will activate the Strobe, and a press to either switch will turn the light back to the last used brightness level. The light can be turned off by holding the small switch for about a second.
You can click on any of these shots to see them full size.
Light in Hand
White Wall (Low, Medium, High, Turbo)
ISO 100, f/3.3, 1/20"
BeamSlice (2xXP-G, 1xXM-L, 2xXP-G + 1xXM-L)
Indoor Shots (Momentary, Low, Medium, High, Turbo)
ISO 100, f/3.3, 1"
Outdoor Shots (Momentary, Low, Medium, High, Turbo)
ISO 100, f/3.3, 2.5"
Submersion: Niteye claims this light to be "rainproof", not waterproof, so I have not submersed the B30. This could mean anything from IPX-1 (vertical dripping) to IPX-3 (spraying water up to 60 degrees from vertical) depending on how fast you're riding.
Heat: I've found the B30 to warm up pretty quickly on most modes if used when stationary, but it stays plenty cool if used while in motion on your bike.
Drop: I dropped the B30 from a height of about 1 meter onto various surfaces including grass, packed dirt, carpet, and wood. The light shows no cosmetic damage and still functions normally.
Reverse Polarity Protection: This is not an issue, as the included battery pack will only connect to the light with the correct polarity.
Over-Discharge Protection: The included battery pack contains a protection circuit that shuts down the pack before the batteries are over-discharged. You can see more details of the battery pack's performance below.
All light that we see as white is actually made up of several different colors put together. The relative intensities of the different colors in the mix are what determine the tint of the white we see. For example, cool white LED's have a lot of blue, and warm white LED's have more red or yellow. This measurement was done on a home made spectrometer. The plot below the picture is corrected for the spectral sensitivity of the human eye. Note: the peak in the 900nm region doesn't really exist, it's a piece of the second-order spectrum that's showing up here because of the high intensity of the light source.
Below are three spectral graphs, one for the XM-L alone, one for the two XP-G's alone, and one for all the emitters together.
Output, Current Draw and Runtime
ANSI FL-1 runtime ratings are the time it takes for a light to fall to 10% of it's original output (counting from 30 seconds after turning the light on). *My estimate for the Low mode run time is calculated from the current draw measured for Low mode and the battery capacity used on the other modes.
The vertical axis of the graphs below represents a relative brightness measurement using a home made light box. The horizontal axis is time in hours:minutes:seconds. Runtimes are stated in hours:minutes:seconds. These graphs may be truncated to show detail.
As you can see, on each mode the B30 is well regulated, and drops down to a lower output near the end of the run. Niteye's claims for runtimes are generally shorter than the regulated time, but then the output they drop to is right around 10%. When reporting the ANSI standard run time, it's the time until the output falls to 10% of the initial output. For Turbo and High modes, the output after the drop is a bit above 10%, so the ANSI runtime is a bit higher than claimed. For Medium mode, the output was just below 10%, so the ANSI runtime falls short of the claimed 12 hours. However, if you did include the output after the drop, the runtime would exceed 12 hours, as you can see on the graph above.
ANSI FL-1 standard for stating a light's throwing distance is the distance at which the peak beam intensity (usually at the center of the beam) is 0.25 lux. I calculate throwing distance and candela (lux at 1 meter) by measuring peak beam intensity at five different distances and using the formula lux*distance^2=constant.
2 x XP-G
Peak Beam Intensity: 2126cd
Throw Distance: 92m
1 x XM-L
Peak Beam Intensity: 4322cd
Throw Distance: 131m
2 x XP-G + 1 x XM-L
Peak Beam Intensity: 6362cd
Throw Distance: 160m
Mounted on a Bike
Below I've included some photos of what the B30 looks like when mounted on a bike (click on one to see it in full resolution). Obviously, you can choose to mount the different pieces of the system wherever you like, but this is how the B30 fits best on my bike.
Once you have the light mounted, the mounting bracket and remote switch will stay in place. The light itself will be quickly removed and stowed when not in use (to prevent theft), and the battery pack can be left on the bike until it's time to re-charge, at which point it detaches easily.
The Battery Pack and Battery Indicator
The B30 comes with an appropriate battery pack in 2s2p format (four 18650 cells, two sets in series of two cells in parallel). So, the ideal charged voltage of the pack would be 8.4V (double the voltage of a single 4.2V lithium ion cell). The B30 also comes with an appropriate charger for the battery pack. I've analyzed the performance of the B30 with the included battery pack and charger, however, by a mistake the European charger was sent to me instead of the American charger. I have been using a European/American outlet adapter to charge the light, and I do not believe this has affected the performance, but it is possible, and should be kept in mind.
The B30 also includes a voltage monitor and indicator built in to the body of the light itself.
To display the voltage, the indicator can light up 0 to 4 orange LEDs, 4 indicating a nearly full battery, and 0 indicating a nearly depleted battery. When fully charged, 4 lights are lit, and then they go out one by one as the charge is depleted.
I charged the battery fully using the included charger, then measured the voltage at each stage as I discharged the light. I did not wait for the battery pack to return to a resting state at each point, so the voltages were measured under load. Below I've listed the voltages I measured at each point, with the average voltage in each of the four cells calculated and included in italics.
Fully Charged (4 Lights): 8.54V (4.27V)
3/4 Lights: 8.09V (4.05V)
2/4 Lights: 7.80V (3.90V)
1/4 Lights: 6.80V (3.40V)
0/4 Lights: 6.03V (3.02V)
Fully Discharged (Protection Circuit Engaged): 5.93V (2.97V)
I did not fully disassemble battery pack, so I can't say for sure if each of the four cells has it's own protection circuit, or if they have a single protection circuit for the entire pack. 4.27V is higher than the recommended max charge for lithium ion cell (4.20V), but only by 1.7%. This was after charging the battery for over a week, so this should be the upper limit for charging. The protection circuit activating at an average of 2.97V per cell is earlier than most protection circuits on individual cells. This means you can use less of of the total battery capacity, but it should prolong the life the batteries. Also, it's good to take into consideration that if the average battery voltage is 2.97V, this means some cells may be below that point.
Based on the measurements I've taken, I recommend recharging the battery after the indicator switches to only a single light, but before the last light goes off.
Also, while taking the measurements, I occasionally would short the battery pack on accident. In this case, a the protection circuit would activate and shut down the battery pack. This would help prevent damage to the light or battery pack in the event of a water leak shorting the battery pack.
Quick break down:
+ "Wow that's bright!"
+ Solid mount - doesn't shift on a bumpy ride
+ Active cooling - as long as you keep pedaling
+ Quick release of the light, the rest can remain on the bike.
+ Indicator light to show battery voltage.
+ Can be controlled either by the button on the light or the remote switch
+ Water resistant connections
+ Protection circuit built in to battery pack
- XM-L and XP-G are noticeably very different tints
- Remote switch shifts a bit while riding, could use a second strap
- Low is a bit too bright for suburban riding
- Heats up quickly when stationary
- The battery does not connect to the light except by the remote switch (may have been updated on newer versions)
- Not a lot of throw, except by sheer force of output
- Only really usable as a bike light
- Takes a little too long to turn on and off.
Well, I'll start by saying this is a very impressive bike light. In the B30, Niteye put together an impressive package that gets the job done well.
There are quite a few things I like about this light. First, is that it puts out a lot of light. On Turbo, all three emitters are on, and unlike many other lights, it can actually maintain Turbo for quite a long time. The use of the battery pack allows a long run time (about 3 hours regulated), and as long as the bike is moving, the airflow over the light keeps it plenty cool for the full run time Turbo is capable of.
I also really like the design of the bike mount. On many other bike light's I've had, the mount gets loose and slips around, so that you constantly have to adjust the angle while you're riding, especially on bumpy terrain. I've taken my bike over some good bumps with the B30, and it stays put, which is great. After all, what's the point of mounting it to your bike if you keep having to use your hands to aim it? Also, the mount has a very good quick release button that allows you to take off the light while parking your bike in public. Really, I don't want anyone to steal the switch or the battery pack either, but they just don't look as tempting to potential thieves as the light itself (especially the red version). The only difficulty here is that while the light releases from the mount quickly and easily, you still have to un-screw the connection to the switch. I'm not sure if there is some other type of connection that could be quick-release and still be secure and waterproof there, but I'd like to see something a bit different. And while we're at it, the same could go for the connection between the battery and switch, which would make it easier to charge the battery.
I also really like the voltage indicator on the B30. It's integrated in a way that looks really good, and I like the voltages indicated by the different numbers of lights. The way it's set up, I can know that when it's down to one light it's a good time to head home and re-charge. I know I can take it down to zero lights in an emergency, but I'll try to avoid letting it get that low regularly. The only thing I'd like different about the indicator is that there is no separation between the lights under the cover of it, light can get from one LED into all the openings. If you look at it at an angle, it can sometimes be difficult to tell exactly how many of the LEDs are lit. However, this isn't much of a problem, as I'm usually looking at it straight on.
In use, the B30 works really well. You can control the B30 either with the built-in button on the light itself, or with the remote switch. However, you have to have the remote switch in order to connect the light to the battery. I've heard that the newer version of this light doesn't work like this, that the remote switch attaches to the light separately, and the light connects directly to the battery. I like the idea of this setup better, as it gives some more versatility without adding complexity. I really like the UI of the B30. The momentary on function is very useful, I like to ride without the light on in a well-let area, but it's good to have quick access to light if traffic comes. The B30 takes a little too long to turn constant-on or back off, but when on it's easy to change modes, and I like the quick access to the alternating strobe mode. I like the very high output available, but I often wish that their was a lower low mode. When riding with friends, even on low my light easily drowns out all of theirs. This is fun for showing off, but in practice is actually bad for the night vision of the group as a whole, because if my light goes on their path then away again, it takes a moment for their eyes to re-adjust. Also, a lot of time I just don't need as much light as the low mode puts out.
The only other thing that bugs me much about the B30 is that the XM-L is given a reflector while the XP-G's are behind a diffusing optic. This results in two sources of light, each with pretty mediocre throw. What I'd rather see is the XP-G's in tight throw optics or good smooth reflectors (or even an aspheric lenses), and the XM-L in a textured reflector or diffusing optic. This would give the light options for throw, flood, or a strong combo. As it is, the throw of the B30 is just from sheer amount of output. Often this is fine, but when riding fast in unfamiliar territory I'd like to be able to see a little farther ahead.
As a small note, the tints of the XP-G's and the XM-L differ visibly. My wife doesn't notice the difference while we're out riding, but I can see it when I shift from the XP-G's to the XM-L, and it's enough bother me just a bit. It's not a huge deal, but tint matching here would be a step up in the overall quality of the light.
So, overall, I would highly recommend the B30 as a high-end bike light. It can't really do much else, so don't expect it to double as your back-up light if you get off your bike, but while on the bike it does a great job.
Long Term Impressions
I'll fill this part in after carrying the light for a while. If nothing get's added here, either I find nothing else worth noting about the light, or I end up not using it often.