The LED Lenser XEO19R is a 2,000 lumen headlamp which sits at the top of LED Lenser's range of cycling and sports lights. I tested the Adventure Sports Kit, which bundles the XEO19R with a plethora of mounting options: head mount, helmet mount, bike mount, chest mount (via a GoPro type adapter) and tripod. You can also mount the headlamps onto the battery pack for a handheld option.
Aside from the plethora of different mounts (and carry case for them), the XEO19R comprises the twin headlamp unit, a battery pack, a mains adapter and a power cord that connects to the short lead on the headlamp unit.
Although you can head or helmet-mount the light, I wouldn't because it's simply too bright - even on the lowest settings you wouldn't want it pointing at someone's eyes. If you're a mountain biker in the woods then go ahead with the helmet mount, but for roads or paths where something might be coming the other way stick to the handlebar mount.
The handlebar mount has two ratcheted plastic strips that you screw in place similar to other lights on the market. It only takes about thirty seconds to fit and it can sit over the stem, which is a good design choice because it takes up very little of your precious handlebar space that way. Helpfully, you can quickly remove the headlamp unit but leave the bracket in situ.
It's worth noting that, whilst the XEO19R is a Jack of all trades, it doesn't feel like the bike functionality is an afterthought. The whole attaching system works fine and I can't really think of anything I'd improve on it.
The headlamp unit has a short built-in lead connecting to the battery pack. This lead is long enough for head-strap mounting (the battery goes in the headmount too) or handheld use, but for the bike you connect an additional power cord which is longer than you're ever likely to need (with a coiled area to take up the slack).
You can strap the battery pack to the top tube of your bike, athough the cord is long enough to put it at the top of a rack bag (which I did during testing). There are clips on the power leads too, so no chance of them disconnecting.
The basic function of the light is that the two lamps work independently; you can have one bright, one dim, one flashing, one off, etc, in any combination. There's also a lever by the side of each lamp to adjust the focus - it makes a lot of difference to the beam pattern, though on the bike you'll probably want to stick with the narrow beam. The standard modes are 5%, 25%, 100%, opti-sense (auto adjusting) and flashing. Other modes are also available which I'll come to later.
The headlamp has five buttons on top which are easy to access on the bike and shouldn't cause any trouble to use with anything other than the thickest gloves. Why it needs five buttons it a mystery to me; three (one for each lamp and one to control both) would be more logical. This point leads me to my only real criticism of the product.
On the first day I used it I was using what, according to the instructions, was 100% brightness which I'd achieved by using the centre button that controls both lights at once. It was bright; it was more than adequate, but frankly I was a little disappointed. I expected more for a light at this price and its claimed 2,000 lumens. I reacquainted myself with the instructions to try and work out what all the buttons did and to check if I'd missed something.
The instructions are a bit confusing; they're in the IKEA style with hardly any text apart from the word 'Click' here and there and some exclamation marks in triangles (the meaning of which wasn't always clear). It's not at all obvious what's what. After some studying, I realised that I was using 100% of that particular mode. The mode I'd selected apparently illuminates 200 metres in front of you, but there was another, brighter mode stated as 300m (no percentage stated for that mode).
To get to the brightest mode you need to do something you're unlikely to discover without the instructions. You have to hold down the bottom arrow for five seconds then, when the light comes on, you hold down the up arrow for two seconds. I've no idea why something with more buttons than it needs requires such a convoluted process to use at its fullest. It turns out that maximum power is 'boost' mode and the 100% is 'power' mode. I only learned that from the specs on the website.
When I accessed the brightest mode, there it was: the WOW that I had been waiting for. I've taken some pictures of the beam pattern but it's hard to do it justice - it's just a big blast of light. The ultimate level of lighting for me is one that allows you to maintain the speed and head position you'd use if it were daylight. With the XEO19R I could do that no problem. It's hard to put an exact figure on it, but I could confidently see exactly what was in front of me at distances of around 150 metres. It's bright enough for any situation, and more light than you could need.
"With great power comes great responsibility" as someone once said. I was mainly testing on unlit towpaths. Approaching cyclists or pedestrians on a narrow path you must put a hand over the light otherwise there's likely to be a collision - it is quite literally blinding.
I assumed a hand over the light at 10-15ft away would be adequate, but it really needs to be 30ft or more. Several people thanked me for doing this, realising they'd have probably died if I hadn't; one simply proclaimed "****ing hell" and another said "big light" which was stating the obvious. Without wishing to labour the point, it is really, really, really bright and you cannot look in its general direction unless you're at least 20ft away.
Away from the retina-decimating modes, I did of course use it on lit roads too. I found the 5% mode more than good enough and still made sure it was angled slightly down. A few times I used a single beam and that too is fine. I think the 25% mode is probably a bit too bright if, like me, you're planning on doing a lot of filtering and heading towards cars. Really, the light is so powerful that normal road use is nothing to it, even using a single lamp is enough.
There is a flashing mode too but personally I found it a little aggressive (very bright and very fast - don't use it indoors - it was so disorientating I felt queasy) and, if I felt the need to use it, I'd stick to one lamp for that (the 5% flashing mode is OK though).
Battery life is quoted at a minimum of four hours in the brightest 'boost mode', maximum of 20. Boost mode is so bright it's unlikely you'd ever be in a situation where you'd need it on for four hours. 'Power mode' is adequate for almost anything and is quoted at eight hours; 'low mode' (still 200 lumens!) gets you 20 hours, while the 10-lumen 'emergency mode' is quoted at a whopping 400 hours .
By pressing the button on the battery pack you get a visual indicator of battery life via three blue LEDs. As a nice addition the battery pack can also charge a USB device at the same time as powering the light and, away from lighting duties, it can be used as a standard USB 'powerbank'.
The light is IPX6 rated and I can confirm the waterproof-ness of the light. I was well and truly soaked on a couple of occasions, and it performed a lot better than any of my allegedly waterproof clothing.
You might think this power comes with a weight penalty, but the LED lenser is surprisingly light: the headlamp unit itself weighs just 132g, while the battery pack adds 280g.
Overall the XEO19R is a fine product once you work out the rather odd controls. It's certainly overkill for urban commuting, but if you're using unlit roads or paths and want maximum visibility it's a great buy - just make sure you're aware of just how bright it is to anyone coming the other way.
LED Lenser XEO19R Rechargeable Head Lamp, £249.99 from www.ledlenser-store.co.uk.