The Riding Gravel Light Round-Up: Light and Motion Imjin 800- by Grannygear
Since there is only one sample left in our group of lights we began with, and since none of them have been my favorite light so far, then it looks like the Light and Motion Imjin 800 is my top choice for gravel bike use. It’s not perfect, and we will talk about that soon enough, but it is a compelling light for many reasons. First, let’s look at what we have here.
From the Light and Motion website
Imjin 800’s powerfully focused beam and compact size make a versatile light for any type of riding and is perfectly designed to run on your helmet. Designed to maximize output in a compact design, the Imjin features an optimized reflector that uses micro peens to make the beam broader and smooth without hotspots. With an external battery for the longest of rides, the Imjin 800 is built with the epic in mind.
• 800 Lumen output certified to the FL-1 Standard
• Engineered with the best CREE LED and enhanced firmware.
• Custom engineered reflector optimizes the light to provide a smooth, even beam pattern that focuses the light exactly where you need it.
• Multiple mounting options including a low profile helmet mount and GoPro interface.
• Beam pattern was engineered to maximize riders’ depth perception using optics that eliminates the snowball effect with a clean transition across the beam.
• Multiple settings including ‘Race Mode’ which toggles between high and medium only ideal for offroad riding
• 2 Cell Battery, Smart External Charger, Helmet Mount, Handlebar Mount, GoPro Mount Interface, & Battery Cradle
It is a bit obvious, both from the website and from the way the light is packaged, that the focus of the Imjin 800 is as a helmet mounted light. I never used it that way. In fact, the Urban light line from Light and Motion is basically this head piece (reflector, LED) in an all in one light style. But one of the things that caught my attention and attracted me to the Imjin 800 was the separate battery pack. That allows you to scale up the battery size as needed. The stock pack with the light is a 2 cell, but also available is a 3 cell and a 6 cell pack. I was told that one cell adds about an hour of run time per cell. So you could run a bigger pack to begin with or carry an extra pack and swap when needed. It’s not a bad deal.
- Ok, we talked about the scalability and endless run-ability of the light as long as you can continue to swap battery packs. It’s not a generator hub, but it is not bad either.
- The light head is small and weighs about the same as three soda crackers…OK, more than that, but it is barely there on your bars, both in the space it takes, and the weight of it. The light weight means it takes very little in a mount to hold it in place and there is no bounce or wiggle when on bumpy roads. It is very unobtrusive and it could be mounted in a lot of places, like on a front rack or an alt bar somewhere, and has Go Pro mount capability.
- The beam pattern is clean and even, somewhere between a flood and a spot. It might be the perfect gravel bike pattern, if indeed that even exists.The light output is about right. On it’s own I have ridden on dirt roads up to 25mph and was just beginning to think I needed more reach in the light beam. I would not mind a 1000L version if that would get me a bit more stretch, but really I seldom go much faster than that off road on a gravel bike.
- Bigger battery options…talked about that.
- Long cable between the light head and the battery allows for lots of light/battery placement options.It would make a killer helmet light for gravel use and the cord is long enough to run the battery pack in a jersey pocket.
- The LED temp, at least to my eyes, was a bit warmer than the Taz. That is nice.
- It does have little side marker lights, so that is a bit more visibility.
The Not So Good:
- The charging is done through the same plug as the battery uses to connect to the light head. There is no separate charge port, like a micro USB, etc. That plug is unique. The multi-pin plug needs to be clocked just right in order to match ends and the pins inside are tiny and thin. If they ever get bent, then you are done for. It also means I have this unique charger with a transformer, etc, and I cannot use my typical USB charging system that I use for all my other devices. Really? Not a fan of that.
- Connecting that finicky light cord in the dark, with muddy conditions, and with gloves on, could be a pain if I was swapping batteries or using the light for the first time. Note that Light and Motion does not suggest you store the light with the plug connected. I did that…it drained the battery over a few weeks of storage.
- That long cord, the one that allows you lots of placement options of the battery and the light…is a bit much when you are doing the traditional bar light mount/frame battery mount combo. Velcro or coiling is required. If they offered it, I would click the box for the shorter cord option.
The Imjin also has that super functional Race Mode where I can get high and medium only, toggling with a button press. Love that. It’s about all I used on it. It has a multi-mode option with flash as well if you want that. Medium mode is still very usable for flat road cruising.
The small form factor of the light head, the very good light pattern, the just about right Lumens rating, the battery options, and the excellent- to my way of thinking- dual race mode tips the scales to the positive side for me despite the odd (in this day and age) charging system. For those reasons the Light and Motion Imjin 800 is my favorite gravel bike light of the pack.
Note: Light & Motion sent the Imjin 800 at no charge to Riding Gravel for test and review. We were not paid nor bribed for this review and we strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.
About The Author: Grannygear hails from SoCal and spent most of his cycling days as a mountain biker from the formative years of mountain biking all the way up to the present day. His day job is in the tech sector, but he has spent time writing about off road 4X4’s, 29″ mountain bikes, and cycling in general. Grannygear and Guitar Ted have worked off and on together since 2009 after a chance meeting at Interbike. With gravel cycling on the rise, Grannygear has been exploring how this genre’ works in SoCal and now does guest pieces for RidingGravel.com in his spare time.