A good light goes a long way to extending your ride, and keeping you alive.
Usage Time/Distance: Approx. 2+ years
Purchased From: Amazon
- One-piece design (no external battery)
- Quick USB recharge (700 takes longer)
- Very light (no pun intended); weighs about 150-200g (the 700 weighs 240g)
- Great visibility
- Good battery life
- Fits in a jersey pocket
- Some (350) don’t come with helmet strap (250 did, 350 did not, 700 does)
- Heats up if you’re stationary or in hot weather
Are there brighter lights out there? Yes. Are there ones with longer-lasting batteries? Yes. Are there smaller lights, cheaper lights? Yes. But are there any that are as well-rounded as the lights that Cygolite produces? Well, I haven’t needed to look, because I’ve been so impressed with these.
I originally bought the Expilion 250 to replace an archaic Cateye Halogen light from 2000 that used 4 AA batteries. Needless to say, the old light wasn’t cutting it anymore. The 250 worked so well that I immediately got the 350 (which at the time was on sale from $110 to $85). Since the 250 came with a helmet strap, I put my 350 on my handlebar and the 250 on my helmet.
Since they weigh so little, placing the 250 on my helmet wasn’t uncomfortable at all. And the ability to direct the light where you’re looking makes any discomfort well worth it. But even without the helmet mount, the beam produced by the Expilion 350 is beautiful. Wide enough to cover a good swath of the road ahead, but direct/powerful enough to see well ahead of you, and to easily be seen. In fact, I had one car turn on his high beams cause he didn’t like how bright my light was. And that was only the 350!
Since then, I’ve gotten the 700. This light is seriously bright, and has an excellent wide field, lighting not just what’s ahead of you, but what’s off to the sides ahead of you. Being that’s it’s slightly heavier than the 250 and 350, you do notice it when you have it on your helmet for longer than a couple of hours, but it’s well worth the level of visibility.
The handlebar mount they come with works great, and holds the beam steady, rarely if ever needing adjustment/tightening. The helmet strap that came with the 250/700 takes a bit to get situated to first time or two (depending on your helmet) but once on holds the beam right where you want it.
The light modes for the 250 and 350 are pretty similar, with the 350 having an additional “boost” mode which I think is insanely bright (I use it when I’m riding at full dark). The flash mode is very bright – almost too much so, making it great for being seen, but rather annoying to people when you’re on a trail instead of the road. It would be nice if they had a low-flash mode that still blinked, but not at full intensity.
The 700 has an additional mode: 2-in-1 steady-pulse, that keeps the light on at about the brightness of the 350 but flashes at the 700 level. Pretty cool, and very noticeable.
The aluminum body construction makes the one-piece light very rugged – I’ve dropped it a couple of times with nary a scratch. However, it uses convection (movement of the air) for cooling, so if you have it on high and are sitting still, that body will heat up pretty quick, especially in warmer weather. And though it really shouldn’t be important, the design is pretty stylish. It doesn’t look like you strapped a workshop drop light to your bike. Being a one-piece, it’s very easy to fit into a jersey pocket, which is usually where I store my helmet light until conditions warrant it.
All in all, I really don’t have any complaints, and would strongly recommend these light to anyone looking for good illumination from the helmet or the handlebar. I would probably also recommend going with one of the brighter ones since the prices have come down quite a bit (I’ve seen the 700 for $85, when it normally runs $130).