Review: BRC NiteStar 2.0 900 Lumen Light

If you, like me, like to see at night rather than just be seen, then you need a good strong light. Questions is, how much to you pay for said light? Good lights have always been expensive and the sky’s the limit for upper-end stuff. Want to get rid of a spare grand? No problem.

But apparently it needn’t be that expensive any more to get decent lights. That’s why I was attracted to the BRC NiteStar from Cell. I’m not sure if they made that name up of or if the BRC Nitestar is the official name worldwide (it kinda smacks of XYZ NiteFurnace 2000) but it hardly matters when you’re spending just $80.

I have seen similar lights around the traps for a while and have polled the opinions of a few people mountain bikers using them, all purchased at around $150-200, and the reports were very positive. That seemed like good value (if you know how much mountain bike lights cost) so when I saw the BRC NiteStar for $80 I snapped it up.

(Cell’s promotional photo of the BRC NiteStar 2)

I’ve owned similar lights before. My last light was a Niterider (I know, can no-one spell “night” in this market) and it gave me a lot of trouble. It was sent back to the manufacturer early on for a defect in the electronics and then later the cable pulled away from the socket joint (even though I hadn’t rough-housed it). I bought a helmet kit (cable extension and a mount to stick on my helmet) for $50 and repaired it myself with some solder and a bit of heat shrink. When the same thing happened a second time I realised I was dealing with a design defect and tossed it in.

So when the BRC NiteThingo 2 popped up for just $80 I thought, where do I sign on. (Answer: right here.) When it came delivered with a cable extension and a helmet mount I was well impressed. Then I realised it wasn’t actually a helmet mount. If you look at their promotional picture above you can see bottom left corner a head strap. That thing is for running. The kit comes with a rubber bungy for attaching to your handlebars and that works a treat. Slips a bit sometimes on my skinner carbon bars but stayed true on the mountain bike over rougher terrain.

In use the BRC NiteDoda 2 spits out an awesome amount of light for the price. The beam pierces the darkness for a hundred metres or so and you can see everything you’ll ever need to see on the road. As a road light it would be hard to improve on it. As a mountain bike light it’s decent but not perfect. The beam is too hot right in the middle and the spread, while decent, is not quite board enough. Or perhaps it’s just that bight spot in the middle that makes the spread seem a little under-whelming. But for $80? Awesome.

The light comes with three light modes and a flashing mode. I tend to use all three modes because full-on mode is a a little full-on for some circumstances. I’m not out there trying to blind people if you know what I mean. I have mine helmet mounted (what? more on that in a minute) so I can shine it into drivers’ eyes if I’m not careful, so I use the dimmer. The flashing mode flashes at full beam and I almost never use it. If you were riding under bright city lights it might be a good way to warn drivers but if it’s even a bit dark the difference between the f-ing bright flash and the darkness is too great. Imagine riding along with a slow strobe that alternates between deep darkness and blindingly bright light. Not good.

Improvising a helmet mount of was simple enough. I snipped away the elastic from the head mount and zip tied it to a helmet. It meant having a spare helmet ready to become a dedicated bike light helmet but I had such a helmet so it wasn’t a big deal. It wouldn’t work with every helmet. One one of my helmets the vents lined up perfectly for a helmet mounted light but on the other it would have been impossible. Below is a picture of my improvised mounting.

(Couple zip ties. You get the idea.)

The light is good enough for mountain biking duties but it’s probably not the light you’d want to spend a night in the darkness solely relying on. It’s surprisingly capable and you certainly can use it as a single light (which I do on occasion)  but you need to get the helmet mount sorted. As a handlebar mounted light the spread is too narrow and you’ll find some corners are dark and mysterious until you’ve turned into them. As a helmet mounted light it is perhaps a little heavy. It’s okay off-road, where the stance is more upright, but for long trips on the road the extra weight can be wearying.

Of course there are better lights on the market but there probably aren’t any better $80 lights on the market and that really is the point here. If you’re using the light for round town on your fixie then it’s already overkill. My rides usually have a mixture of lighted roads and sneaky unlit back ways, so it’s just about perfect for me. I’ve already bought a second one, this one for my uncle, so I imagine that’s a recommendation of sorts.

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