Review: Laser-shooting Lumma gets a grip on bicycle lighting
If you commute by bicycle after dark, then you need lights. Not everyone wants a headlight cluttering up their handlebars, however, plus they may forget to bring it if they head out while the sun's still up. That's why Lumma was created. It's a set of bar grips that feature unobtrusive built-in head- and tail lights, along with laser lane markers. We tried it out, to see if it's up to snuff.
Each Lumma unit takes the form of a regular bolt-on rubber handlebar grip, with a water-resistant solid aluminum electronics module that plugs into its outside end. That module contains an LED headlight and tail light, a single laser lane marker, and a cylindrical lithium-ion battery that extends inside the handlebar tube.
The lights are activated using rubberized switches, and can be set to one of three modes – flashing, 70 percent-output steady and 100 percent-output steady. The lasers can likewise be set to flashing or steady. One USB charge of the battery should be good for about 50 hours of continuous use, depending on the settings used.
Getting the grips themselves on was no problem, although we did find that the battery was just a little too wide to fit inside the handlebar of the flat-bar road bike we had planned to use. That's why a mountain bike ended up being the "model" in this review.
At a maximum output of 45 lumens each, the headlights are obviously not going to light up dark roads in any big way. We did find that they made us very visible to other vehicles, however, plus unlike traditional center-mounted single lights, they really give a sense of the width of the bicycle.
The laser lane markers likewise performed as advertised, projecting lines onto the road on either side of the bike to create a sort of virtual bike lane. We did notice that those lines weren't entirely symmetrical (the right one was closer to the bike than the left), although the makers assured us that this was just a foible of the prototype that we received.
Minor gripes include the facts that the lights are easy to turn on unintentionally as you're moving the bike around, plus removing the electronics modules for recharging is a little more involved than simply popping open a battery hatch. All in all, though, we believe that Lumma takes an unique and effective approach to built-in bicycle lighting.
If you're interested in getting a set, you can pledge US$43 to Lumma's current Indiegogo campaign. Delivery is scheduled for September, if all goes according to plans.