The Bike List

Klarus XT2C Flashlight £55

Tested by John Milbank, tester for The Bike List

Cycle lights come in various forms, with mind-boggling outputs and prices to match. With most of my time spent riding in town, I need a reliable light with a good runtime that I can whip off my handlebars in a second when it's time to lock up.

Many bike-specific front lights have some superb features, but they can be rather pricey, so to find a front light with the output and runtime to challenge some of the higher-end bike kit out there is pleasant surprise. I've tested the Klarus XT10 and XT11 on my daily commute over the winter months and have found them to be ideal for my mixed route which includes everything from busy traffic congested roads to unlit paths. Their 150 lumen medium mode is ideal both on and off the road, and when the going gets tougher, the high power modes of 470 lumen for the XT10, and 600 lumen for the XT11 are superb. These are excellent value flashlights, coming in at £65 and £75 respectively, but the XT2C is a new model, with all the performance of the XT10 in a smaller, and cheaper package.

The XT series of torches are designed with military and police users in mind – as such there are a few things that you need to bear in mind… The strobe is of no real use for cycling, operating through a variable frequency designed to disorientate a would-be attacker. While you could group a few car drivers into that category, it really would be irresponsible to use this mode on the road! The torch always powers up in high mode (470 lumens), reducing its brightness slightly after 3 minutes to conserve the battery (the drop in power is barely noticeable). Every time the torch is switched on again, it goes back to full power before ramping down a little after three minutes, but my testing shows this has very little impact on the battery life.

Medium mode is where the XT2C has spent most of its time on my bike, and you can expect a good seven hours of use before a battery change is required. At 150 lumens (constant – there's no reduction in this mode), the output is great, with a good clean beam pattern. I tried it with two lights on my bars, which gave a slightly wider spread, but of more benefit is to pop one on your helmet and keep one on the bars – if you have the money, this is a great investment. At 126g (with battery), you are aware of it on your lid, but it's certainly not dragging your head down. Whatever mode you're in, as the power gets low, the flashlight dims noticeably, then starts to flash, so there's no chance of being plunged into darkness unexpectedly.

When helmet mounted, the tactically orientated switch can take some getting used to, especially when wearing gloves. The smaller mode button is fiddly at first, but as it's more sensitive than the power button you can get used to it (I've used one as a headtorch for a while when working, and soon learnt the position). Nevertheless, it's worth bearing in mind if you intend to change output settings a lot with it fitted on your lid.

Taclight supply a variety of cycle mounts, including rubber/Velcro bar and helmet models. It's worth having a look at the design of your lid, as on some you may find it better to use the mount designed for handlebars that has its fittings at 90° to each other. My friend's helmet worked best like this, with the bottom of the rubber trimmed off so it was flat, whereas my lid accepted the standard mount. They need nipping up tightly to not flap around, and their flex makes it harder to press the buttons easily, but they're only £5, and Taclight will be able to advise you on the best one for your gear.

On my matt-finish bars, the rubber mounts worked well, but tended to slip a little on my friend's bike. An alternative is the Swivel Bike Light Mount from Taclight – it's intended for the XT10/11, so is a little loose with the slimmer bodied XT2C… on road it's okay (although you need to be careful as you press the power/mode buttons), but if the going gets rough there's a chance the lights could pop out. A little tape on the torch body solves the problem – this bracket is also only £5, so is worth considering.

In an ideal world, Klarus would offer a mounting system similar to Exposure's lights, with quick release and easy positioning on a helmet. However, this is a superb value light at £55. Rather than use disposable CR123 cells, you can pick up a charger for £14, and an 18650 2400mAh cell for £9, which is money well spent. Grab a mounting bracket for £5 and you're still only looking at £83. If you do want to go for a two-lights setup, the charger will re-fuel two batteries at a time.

A pressure switch designed specifically for the XT2C costs £20, and gives you complete control without releasing the bars – great for off-road riding. This is also more tactically orientated, with a long press required to change modes – on the pressure switch designed for the XT10/11 the small button gives instant access to mode changes, but here it's for the strobe, which isn't as convenient. Personally, I like to just pop my lights off the bike when I lock up, so I don't tend to use a remote switch, but the supplied Velcro strap that secures it means it only adds a few seconds to stow it away too.

With its excellent output and beam pattern, coupled with long runtimes and cheap, easily replaceable batteries, the XT2C is a great value for money alternative to many of the bike-specific lights on sale. Taclight are happy to give advice on the best lights and accessories for your bike, and encourage customers to drop them an email at info@taclight.co.uk, or to call on 01274 561856.

Find out more and buy from www.taclight.co.uk

At a glance

Verdict An impressive output coupled with long runtimes make this a fantastic value package with plenty of upgrade options.
Value
Performance

Klarus says:

Optional extras:

  • Klarus TR12 Remote Pressure Switch £19.95
  • Batteries and Chargers From £8.95
  • Klarus Headband/ Head Strap £5.95
  • Bike and mounts £4.95

Specification:

  • LED Type: Ultra bright CREE XM-L (T6) LED with max output of 470 ANSI lumens and a life span of up to 50,000 hrs
  • Battery: 2x CR123A (3v) / 1x 18650 (3.7v) / 2x RCR123/ 2x 16340
  • Function: There are 3 light modes and 1 flashing mode.
  • Switch: Dual Switch operation; a protruding forward clicky tail switch for momentary-on, on and off functions and a second tail switch for mode selection (this is also a dedicated strobe, which can be accessed from any mode when the torch is on and also when the torch is off).
  • Performance: The XM-L LED delivers a lot of light (470 ANSI lumens) and is an efficient performer due to the digitally regulated output, which maintains constant brightness.
  • Protection: Reverse polarity protection circuit protects against incorrect insertion of batteries. Sealed with O-rings for excellent water resistance and improved service life. Waterproof and Dust Resistant to IPX-8.
  • Tactical: Dual-button system for complete, one-handed control over light modes.
  • Dimension: 132mm (Length), 26.4mm (Head), 25 mm (Body)
  • Weight: 68g (without battery).
  • Finish: Tough, sealed body with HA Type III anodising.
  • Reflector: Orange peel to provide a smooth, flawless beam and good throw.
  • Lens: Toughened, ultra clear glass

Operation:

  • Turn Power On/ Off
Pressing the protruding forward clicky tail cap switch will turn power On/ Off. Half-press will provide Momentary-On.
  • Switch Modes
When light is on, press the Mode switch (secondary tail cap switch) to cycle through High-Med-Low modes. Strobe is accessed by holding down the Mode switch for more than 0.8 seconds. Strobe can also be accessed when the light is off, by pressing the Mode switch.