When Light & Motion offered to send me a prototype of the VIS 360 “commuter” headlight, I didn’t think I could possibly become so smitten with such an innocuous seeming bit of gear.
The $169 VIS 360 is a winner in almost every single way (save one, which I’ll get to in a moment) and is now a permanent resident on my helmet as fall creeps ever closer.
The VIS 360 is a rechargeable system with an unbelievably bright front light, side “markers” (lights that don’t flash) and a rear 4-lumen tail light.
My main headlight is a NightRider Pro 1400 LED, a dual-beam system that throws 1400 lumens at full power. The VIS 360 creates a beam that (thanks to the greater concentration of focus) appears brighter than the NightRider. While I wouldn’t use it as a rgular light for riding without streetlights”something I do with the Nightrider (and for the record not something the VIS is designed to do) it’s a superb light for the commuter, especially to fill in the dark patches and times when other lights fail.
As an example, I recently was doing an impromptu night ride when my NightRider, which I had been riding all week without recharging, gave up the ghost. I was able to ride home with the VIS 360 and felt comfortable the whole way. It’s also a great light for grabbing the attention of drivers. When I have a brighter light on my helmet and I turn to look at an approaching car, I often run the risk of blinding the driver. The VIS is bright enough to catch their eye but not bright enough to put that eye out of commission.
The rear flashing light isn’t the brightest light I own (that award goes to either the VIS 180, also by Light & Motion or the hellishly-bright Planet bike flashers I own) but it is more than sufficiently bright to be seen for great distances. Be aware that since the light is mounted to the helmet it shouldn’t be the only rear light”look left or right and you’ll turn the light away from cars behind you.
Of course nothing’s perfect and in the case of the VIS 360 there’s one little issue that irritates me. The light is designed to be charged over USB instead of with an accessory adapter (yay!) which means that it’s possible to ride to work and plug the VIS in to one’s desktop to juice up for the ride home. The charging jack is the less-common Micro USB cable, not the standard Mini-USB found so ubiquitously on so many products. When I asked the company about this they said that the Micro USB is more common “on 2010 cell phones.” That might be the case, but anyone who uses an iPhone or an older phone won’t have this cable and anyone with one of these phones will likely be using the cable to charge their phone.
It also means that anyone who loses the Micro USB cable or forgets it at home can’t just grab one of the common Mini USB cables found on other phones, card readers, hubs, cameras, video cameras, hard drives and any of the other thousands of items with a Mini USB cable.
That aside the VIS 360 is a praise-worthy light that won’t let you down and more than lives up to the company’s claims.