Reviewed by Coy Starnes
Light supplied for review purposes by Princeton Tec
Briefly, the Princeton Tec Push features a single Maxbright LED in a very compact unit that weighs in at only 115 grams (4.06 oz). The light output seems very bright, and according to Princeton Tec it is rated at 100 lumens. It is powered by 3 AAA batteries (supplied) and boast a burn time of 63 hours, but this is while using the flash setting (more on this later). Mounting is accomplished with a very sturdy looking clamp that will make installing the light a breeze and also make swapping the light from one bike to another very easy to do. They say it is a race proven mount but all I know is that it seems very secure on my road bike and recumbent so far. Below are a couple of pictures of the light mounted on different bikes. And BTW, the markings visible on top of the light in the second photo show where to twist the head of the light so that it comes off to replace the batteries.
Power: 100 Lumens
Lamp: Mabright LED
Burn Time: 63 hrs flash. 14 hrs low, 4 hrs high
Batteries: 3 AAA Alkaline (supplied) or rechargeable.
Weight: 115 grams (4.06 oz)
WATERPROOF: LEVEL 1 (website description below)
“Level 1 is assigned to lights that offer a degree of water protection equivalent to IPX4 in the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) standards. Lights rated at Level 1 are designed for water resistance to splashing and quick dunkings. If a light with a Level 1 rating is accidentally submerged for a longer period of time, the batteries should be removed and the cabinets should be carefully inspected for signs of battery leakage. If water has entered the housing, the light should be dried and batteries replaced.”
One neat feature not brought out in the specifications are the red side lights. These can be turned off if so desired but the red color does not interfere with my night vision like a white light so I will probably leave it in that mode most of the time.
Speaking of modes, it is very easy to select the mode for this light. The on/off button is at the rear of the light and also serves as the mode selection button. The light comes on in the high beam mode by default. Mashing the bottom once changes it to the low beam and another push changes it to the flash mode. One more push of the button turns the light back off. To select or deselect the side lights, while the light is on, just hold the on/off button down for several seconds. This will not change the primary mode and it will be obvious when the side lights change. The next time the light is powered on it will retain the last side light setting used. In other words, if I turn the light off while the side lights are on, the next time I turn on the light, they will be on. If they were off, they will be off the next time I power up the light. Here is a rear view of the light showing the start/stop/mode select button as well as the lever that lets me take the light off the bike. This may seam trivial, but it is a nice feature because I can use the light off the bike for other duties like looking in my panniers, changing a flat or to see what might be in the woods along the side of the road should I need to stop for any reason.
I took the light out for a late afternoon ride but managed to finish my ride shortly before it got real dark. However, I did use the flash mode for the last 16 miles of my ride. I was riding with a couple of friends and when I took the rear it seemed very bright to them as they viewed it through their mirrors. They also commented that it had an extra bright pulse every little bit. In other words, it flashes very fast, but they were seeing a flash-flash-flash-FLASH. I noticed it too as I approached the stop sign at the end of the road when I could see the light reflecting back towards me. After getting home I waited about an hour for it to get completely dark and took a short 3 mile ride around the loop near my house. This loop has several short but steep hills, and while I never felt like I was outrunning the light I did wish it was a tad brighter when I got up to around 25 mph a few times. However, since I usually average around 14 mph when riding on flat roads I won’t have this problem very often.
A Short Primer on Light Power
If you are like me, you look for the most bang for the buck when shopping for most things. I have spent countless hours pouring over bike lights and all the specs that go along with them. One thing that immediately stands out is that an LED light will save a ton of money in battery cost. And even if using rechargeables, they are still worth getting for the long burn time compared to regular type bulbs. The one downside to LEDs is that the light is not quite as natural as the more traditional lights like halogen bulbs etc.
The other thing I look for is the power of the light. This is where it can get confusing and often frustrating because the manufactures don’t always go by the same light ratings when advertising their lights. I would find one light rated at so many candlepower and a similar light (as far as batteries and burn time is concerned) rated for a lot more candlepower. This did not seem logical until I did a little research and found out that candlepower is not a good way of determining a lights output. Part of the problem is that by focusing a light to a small point it will have a much higher candlepower than the same light that is not focused.
On the other hand, lumens is a scientifically measured value that give an exact value for a light, whether it is focused into a tight beam or not. I applaud Princton Tec for using lumens. As a bonus, they give a neat little chart on the website that shows how far the beam shines as well as a general idea of how broad the beam is.
I wanted to discuss a little about why a bike light can be useful. When I first got into biking about 4 years ago I wondered why anyone would want or need a light on their bike. I might could see a commuter who had to ride to work very early in the morning or after dark in the evening, but that was about all I could conceive. However, after getting a bike, I soon saw that there were lots of reasons to want or need to ride after dark. One of my favorite times to ride is early on Sunday mornings. I do believe that there is less traffic on the roads at this time than any other. And in the summer it is good to start real early so that I can beat the heat of the day as well as get home in time to shower before going to church. And thus, I often begin my ride about a half hour or so before daylight. In the winter I often can only ride late in the afternoon. It is usually warmer then, but after the time changes, it gets dark earlier. So in order to get in a good 2 hour ride I needed a good headlight to finish my ride.
A good light is also very important for the last half hour or so before it gets dark (or right after daylight in the morning) because visibility on a bike is not only important to the rider, but to passing motorist as well. In fact, that to me is even more important. The last thing I want is for a car to not see me on the road, and especially one approaching me from the rear. So in addition to a good headlight, a good blinking taillight is a must for riding anytime near or after dark.
That’s all for now. Please check back in about a month for my next update. I would also like to thank Princeton Tec and 4alloutdoors.org for allowing me to review this light
Update: December 15, 2010
So far I am liking this light just fine. Unfortunately, about 2 weeks after getting the light the weather really went south…and I have not been riding much at all in the daytime, much less at night. Regardless, I did manage to do a couple of night rides during those first few weeks. One was off the mountain and I found my initial assessment of the light at speed was correct. In other words, once I got up to around 25 MPH I felt like I was outrunning my light even with the beam set on high. And keeping my speed under 25 MPH is not easy on this particular ride since it has a pretty long stretch (about 3 tenths of a mile) with and 18% grade followed by a quick set of 3 curves that are only a little less steep. Once past this section the road is only about 6% for the next mile and I was able to keep my speed down easier. Of course the ride back up was slow so I had no trouble outrunning the light and in fact experimented by switching it to low. This proved to be perfectly adequate so I left it on low for the entire 20 minute climb. This ride is about 7.5 miles total but due to the slow climb it normally takes me about 45 minutes to complete. I did the ride in 48 minutes and averaged just over 9 MPH so the slower descent did eat into my speed average a bit.
My only other night ride was not a complete night time ride. It was also on an almost completely flat road that I drive my truck to the start instead of starting the ride from my house. Anyways, I began the ride at 4:30 PM. It was already getting pretty dark so I turned the light on in the flashing mode for the first 45 minutes of the ride. I then took a short break and by the time I was ready to head out again it was almost completely dark so I switched the light to high power. I rode for another hour and ended up getting in 25 miles at an average speed of just over 14 MPH. However, I did ride faster while I had some natural light because when I took my break my bike computer was showing a 15.4 MPH average. But I don’t really feel like I was slower because of my light because I still went at my normal pace. I think it may have been because it was getting colder and I just naturally ride a little slower when it is cold so that the wind doesn’t feel as cold. I may have also been getting fatigued, but honestly, I didn’t notice feeling any tireder until near the very end of my ride.
I wanted to use the light a little more than I did and thus be better able to comment on the battery life but that will have to wait for the next update. Right now I feel like the light is still about as bright as it was at the beginning of the test but I have only used it for about 3 hours total and only about half of this time with the beam on the high setting.
One last note about the light. I keep my recumbent out in my garage which is unheated and it gets very cold in it. So instead of leaving the light on the bike, I like to take it off and keep it inside the house between rides. With the Push this is very easy to do since it clicks right off the mount. And speaking of the mount, it has proven to be very secure. With lesser mounts I have had trouble with my light slowly pointing downward as I rode along. So far the push has remained aimed right where I set it from day one.
That’s all for now, I will be updating the review in about a month and hopefully the weather will cooperate and I can get in some good testing. I would also like to thank 4alloutdoors for allowing me to review the light and Princeton Tec for supplying the light for testing!
PrincetonTec Push Final Update: March 21, 2009
The cold weather has continued to make testing the Push a little problematic, and much like during my early testing, I barely got to ride my bike in the daytime, much less at night. That is until very recently. However, I did use it several times at night just out walking in my yard or across the pasture to my dads house. I estimate using it around an hour total in this fashion. I would usually use the low beam setting but every once in a while I would hear something in the distance and crank the light back up to the high beam setting. The high beam is great for spotting things a long way off and the low beam is more than needed for just walking around.
We had a brief warm-up in late February and I finally managed a night-time bike ride on the 22nd. I should also note that I just recently got a different bike, a used Rans Dynamik. This is a crank forward bike and a lot slower than my recumbents. I put an aero-bar from my road bike on the Dynamik and mounted the Push on it.
Then it got real cold again and I missed another couple of weeks of riding, but on March 3rd I did a short 4 mile loop near my home. This time I averaged 10.5 MPH but I did go a little faster downhill. My fastest speed on the ride was 26 MPH. I will admit I felt like I was outrunning my light and would have not liked it on an unknown road but I did not have any problems seeing well enough to safely negotiate the ride. By the way, this ride is by no means flat. In fact there are very few flat section on the entire loop
On March the 13th I did the same ride again but this time I did 2 loops for a total of 8.04 miles. I averaged 10.4 MPH on this ride and my fastest speed was 25.5 MPH. Again, my familiarity of the road helped make going this fast safe but the Push did its job as usual.
My last night time ride was a real slow and easy 4 mile ride on March the 18th. I had a 28 mile ride planned for the next day so did not want to overdo it. I actually think I enjoyed this ride more than any previous night ride but probably because it was much warmer. However, I did notice a few bugs wanting to fly into my path. I did not have on my clear safety glasses but I think I will need them as it warms on up.
I do feel like the light is getting dimmer so after getting home I took the batteries out and installed some fresh ones. I could tell a difference, but to tell the truth, it was not as big a difference as I anticipated. In other words, while slightly brighter, I don’t think it would not make a big difference on a ride. I estimate I have now used the Push around 8 hours, with about half the time on bright and the remainder on dim or in the flashing mode.
The Push is a good light for anyone who normally does not exceed around 20 MPH on unfamiliar roads. This includes me on my flat rides. I found that after 25 MPH I felt like I was outrunning the light and needing to brake more than I would in the daytime going down the same steep hills. However, I really like using the light just before sundown when it was still light enough to see fairly well but cars might not see me. In fact, this summer when it gets hot I will be riding at sundown more and more. Having the Push will give me the ability to ride then and even an hour or so after dark if needed.
I am from northeast Alabama where I spend a lot of my time divided among several hobbies that include backpacking and day hiking, canoeing and kayaking, and just getting out enjoying nature.