by David Hildebrand, PCI # 404T/EMSCI #118T
Denton (TX) Police Department
After years of wanting a helmet light to supplement my handlebar lights and handheld flashlight for duty use, I came across a product that fills the bill. While there have long been helmet-mount lights on the market, they have generally been rather cost-prohibitive to those of us who have spouses whom they wish to retain. During my time on night shift, I settled for zip-tying an LED flashlight to my helmet. While this worked well, it looked a bit “different”.
The Princeton Tec EOS bike headlight has proven to be the solution for which I was searching. The light can be handlebar- or helmet-mounted, but in my opinion, it does its best work as a helmet-mounted light. At $49.99 retail, it is reasonably priced and offers a high degree of value.
The light weighs in at only 105 grams, and seems to disappear when you mount it on your helmet. It has four operational modes: high, medium, low, and flashing. The switch is flush-mounted rubber and works easily. If you press it once and leave it, the high mode is automatically activated. If you press it on/off quickly, it toggles through the other modes. It took me a little while to quickly find the button when wearing full-finger gloves, but after a little practice, it became no problem at all.
Performance-wise, the light does exactly what I want it to. At 50 lumens, the beam is bright and focused enough that it makes an excellent supplement to handlebar-mounted lights. I have even used it by itself off-duty on night-time road training rides. On-duty, I quickly learned that I needed to make sure I kept it pointed down when I was talking with someone so I did not blind them with the light. I really like having my hands free when dealing with people, and not having to use a handheld light. I still keep a regular flashlight with me in case of long-term use but in most situations, the headlight works great.
I have found numerous uses for the light around my house and other jobs around the PD, using the included head strap. It makes it much easier to BBQ on the grill now that the days are so short. I also found it to be very useful while running a night firearms class. I could read the course sheets, score targets, etc., while keeping the ambient light to a minimum for the students; very useful.
The light takes three AAA batteries to operate and touts a 113-hour burn time on high. The light is also regulated so that after a specified amount of time, it will shut off. This time varies according to which mode is being utilized. The EOS is also waterproof to one meter for 30 minutes. That is plenty rugged for my intended uses.
I would highly recommend the Princeton Tec EOS bike headlight to anyone looking for a helmet-mounted light who does not want to spend a big wad of cash.
I am always on the lookout for new taillight technology that performs at a higher level than its competition. The Princeton Tec Swerve taillight distinguishes itself quite well when compared to the majority of other active taillights I have used through the years. The light is compact, light (at 81g), and performs very well. It has a narrow, rectangle box configuration with a toggle-mounted, two-way switch in the middle, providing 180 degrees of visibility.
The light operates in two modes, steady and flashing. When I first saw this light, I was reminded of my impression when we switched from the red Vista taillights to the white lens Vista lights with colored LED bulbs. The other members of the bike unit and I were amazed at how much further away we were visible with the new lights. The Swerve made me feel this way again.
Utilizing “LED optic collimater” technology, the beams are focused into a narrow, bright beam designed to illuminate long distances. This technology, combined with a proprietary lens system, produces a taillight that will reach out and touch someone.
The flashing mode seems to work best for conspicuity since the eye is drawn to movement. The flash mode not only flashes on and off, it also alternates between two bulbs set about two inches apart. The toggle switch is easily manipulated, moving either up or down from the center “off” position to access the different modes.
The light mounts easily to the seat post or seat stays with an innovative mount, or clips onto a rack bag or pack with the integrated clip.
The clip appears to be sturdy and designed well enough to prevent the light from falling off while riding rough terrain.
At $29.99, the Swerve is on the middle-to-high end for self-contained taillights but performs well enough to justify the cost.
David Hildebrand is currently the Training Coordinator for the Denton Police Department. He has been a firearms instructor since 1997 and a bike officer since 1996. He currently serves on the IPMBA Board as President. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
© 2010 IPMBA. This review appeared in the Winter 2010 issue of IPMBA News.