Jim’s Tech Talk
By Jim Langley
- super bright to see and be seen
- side illumination for increased visibility
- integral lithium ion micro-USB rechargeable batteries (no wires on the lights)
- easy to install and remove to move between bikes and take along so they’re not stolen
- highly visible LCD displays on top of the lights with mode, remaining time/battery power
- memory function returns lights to last mode used when turned on
- small size takes up little bike real estate
- ruggedly constructed
- two-year limited warranty
- XBR taillight has braking feature that upon slowing makes the light 3 times brighter
- so many modes! (could just be me, but I find it easier to operate lights that have just a few modes)
Cost: Headlights: X8/ X6/ X3: $144.95/ $74.95/ $54.95; Taillights: XBR/ XR: $39.95/ $27.95
How obtained: samples from the company (X8, X6 and XBR received)
Battery type: lithium ion
Run times: X8: 36 hours in Eco Mode/10 hours on High Steady; X6: 30/3 hours; X3: 24/4 hours; XBR taillight: 36/10 hours
Charge via: Micro USB
RBR sponsor: no
Kryptonite’s Incite lights take a more focused approach to safety
Traditionally, September and October have been when we cycling journalists write about lights. The days get shorter and lights are needed for seeing and riding safely in the dark.
I still think that way. But, in reality, using lights year-round and around the clock, too – is a common practice with roadies now. And not just a taillight, but front and rear lights.
Traffic safety experts have long known that daytime running lights on motor vehicles save lives. And, they’re now saving cyclists. For example, a common accident is when a driver – distracted by the current road conditions, traffic or something else – doesn’t see an oncoming rider and recklessly and dangerously crosses their path. A headlight can make all the difference here. Ditto for a bright rear beacon that leaves no doubt that a human being on a bicycle is on the road ahead.
A bike safety company enters another safety category
So I was intrigued when I heard that the bike lock company Kryptonite had decided to get into the lighting game. While it’s a different kind of safety product, if they bring the innovation and quality they have to locks to their lights, they’ll be well-received (they now have an extensive collection).
The new Incite series from Kryptonite uses intelligent functionality to deliver a higher focused beam of light. The collection includes the Incite X8 ($144.95), Incite X6 ($74.95), and Incite X3 ($54.95) headlight models.
Each is designed for precise light distribution, boasts an IPX4 durability rating, along with side illumination ports for enhanced visibility and safety in traffic at intersections. All of Kryptonite’s Incite lights utilize an integral micro-USB rechargeable lithium-ion battery and have built-in battery indicators that let you know the capacity of the light at any given moment.
They are all also quick-release bar-mount headlights for easy on/off (for switching to different bikes and preventing theft). All feature multiple modes such as steady, blinking and different brightness.
Easy on/off rechargeable integral battery lights like these are some of the handiest types you can own. Simply by pressing a small button, the light can be removed from its handlebar mount. This turns it into a powerful flashlight for use off the bike. I find lights like these to be excellent for safety when walking the dogs when it’s dark, for example.
The Incite X8 headlight is the new flagship of Kryptonite’s lighting collection with a max lux of 80 and up to 24-hour total run time (in Eco mode; 3-hour total run time in High Steady mode). The X8 features extensive side lighting for increased peripheral visibility and safety, while a digital LED display provides important information, including run time and battery capacity, as you adjust the mode of the light between six different settings with the two buttons on top.
The Incite X6 offers premium features typically found at a higher price-point into a modern single button design that simplifies operation, and offers a top-facing sensor that adjusts the lights mode automatically based on the surrounding conditions. The Incite X6 utilizes a double lens technology that creates precise light distribution with a clear cut-off so you are not blinding other cyclists or motorists. The X6 has a maximum run time of 30 hours between charges, seven different modes, and a max lux of 60.
The compact Incite X3 incorporates a double lens design and features a lux rating of 30, with a max run time of up to 24 hours, and five distinct modes of operation.
The intelligent functionality of Kryptonite’s Incite series extends to its taillights as well with the Incite XBR ($39.95) and Incite XR ($27.95). The XBR features an acceleration sensor, which triggers a secondary LED light when speed is reduced by more than 3.6 mph. It makes the light 3 times brighter. To see it at work, I followed my daughter on her Ibis with these lights, and it was amazingly similar to motor vehicle brake lights.
Compact in size, each comes with a bracket that allows the lights to be rotated 180 degrees to accommodate seatstay mounting and a total run time of 36 hours. The XBR run times are up to 36 hours in Eco mode, 10 hours on High Steady mode. It has seven modes.
Lux versus lumens – focused versus dispersed
According to Daryl Slater, Kryptonite brand manager, “Kryptonite is shifting the mentality in lighting from numbers to precision – or from quantity to quality. Numbers alone cannot tell the whole story when it comes to the best lights for cyclists and others on the road that are affected by their lights.
It’s just as important to be seen on your bike as it is to be able to see where you are going. A light that blinds oncoming traffic, or doesn’t shine where you need it to, could actually be more harmful than helpful. Kryptonite’s Incite series lights address this problem.
The Incite lights focus on lux as a measurement, versus lumens. The standard in Germany and other European countries, lux is used to measure the effectiveness of a light versus the overall volume, which is measured in lumens. A higher lux value equates to the quality of the light being emitted and its focused brightness on a specific area, such as the road ahead, versus just the total brightness a light emits.
A high lumen rating may seem impressive, but in reality, it may not be very effective. Light with a high lumen rating can cast an overarching light that may be blinding to oncoming drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians, while a light with a high lux rating has a more focused arch that illuminates what is in front of the rider and the road ahead.”
Verdict and observations so far
Due to the current conditions, I haven’t had much time to try out these new lights riding after dark when you should be able to discern performance differences. However, I have done some comparisons holding the X8 and X6 and then one of my best similar design lights (by that I mean a rechargeable integral lithium ion battery multi-mode headlight).
Doing that, I found that the X8 light pattern and maximum brightness is almost identical to my best light. I tried lighting various surfaces to try to tell if the X8 was more focused. To my eyes both lights focused about the same.
The X8 puts a nice even pool of light filling the road ahead uninterrupted by any artifacts, dim or hot spots. The X6 has a very different pattern on the road and does have artifacts from the lens so it’s not as clean a pool of light on the road and not as lane-filling.
In the back, the XBR taillight is amazingly bright at its max setting. It gives you confidence that as long as they’re actually looking at the road there’s no way they can miss you.
Overall, I’m most impressed with Kryptonite’s X8, XBR combo. For seeing and being seen day and night out on the road, they’re a great choice.
Ride total: 9,786
Jim Langley is RBR’s Technical Editor. He has been a pro mechanic and cycling writer for more than 40 years. He’s the author of Your Home Bicycle Workshop in the RBR eBookstore. Check out his “cycling aficionado” website at http://www.jimlangley.net, his Q&A blog and updates at Twitter. Jim’s streak of consecutive cycling days has reached more than 8,000. Click to read Jim’s full bio.