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Verdict: 
Good beam but let down by poor usability and archaic charging method
Weight: 
129g

The Gemini Xera Flashlight 950 is a bit of an anomaly – it's an expensive high-end light that uses cable ties to secure the handlebar mount, and eschews a battery indicator and USB charging – plus it has an odd method of toggling between modes. On the plus side, it does throw out a decent beam.

  • Pros: Good beam, small and lightweight package
  • Cons: Lack of battery indicator, tricky mode toggling, no USB charging, poor bar mount, excessive packaging

This 2018 model is very different from the Gemini Xera 950 Neil reviewed in December 2016 – that one consisted of a separate head unit and battery pack, and used a button to change modes. The 2018 Flashlight is better in that it is now an all-in-one design, with both light and battery housed in one small, sleek and lightweight torch-like unit. However, the removal of a simple power button in favour of a twisting method to activate the light and change modes is questionable.

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It's a tricky action to perform while riding along, as you have to lean forwards to reach then rotate the head, and it's easy to obscure the light with your hand as you twist it. With each twist forwards and backwards you cycle through the three steady and one flash mode, meaning you have to do this three times to toggle from flash to full beam – and each time the light goes out momentarily, which is far from ideal if it's your sole means of illumination.

Also, I found the lack of any indicator or window to enable you to see if the light was actually on while riding through well-lit streets quite disconcerting – you'd have no idea if it had stopped.

With 950 lumens on full beam, the Xera 950 is plenty powerful, and on unlit roads and my towpath commute the amount of light is perfectly adequate. The LED bulb throws out a strong beam with good projection and decent peripheral illumination. I wouldn't rely on it for descending dark country roads at speed, though, as the beam doesn't reach far enough for that.

In flashing (600 lumens) and low (100 lumens) steady modes, the Xera's beam is great for making yourself visible to other road users; low beam lasts about 8 hours, flashing 5:30 hours, so pretty good run-times. There's also a medium 600-lumen steady mode. Full beam lasted 1:45 hours on my sample. However, there's another black mark against the Xera in that it has no battery indicator, so you have to rely on memory and hope you've got it right.

As for charging, unlike most bike lights these days, which use a ubiquitous USB cable that plugs directly into the light body for no-fuss recharging at home or office, Gemini has opted for a removable non-standard-size 3400mAh battery that has to be recharged in the supplied mains-powered charger. This means you have to remember to cart the charger around with you, just in case. Gemini says it's handy because you can swap in a spare, fully charged battery to extend ride times, but it doesn't include another battery in the box, and carrying one with you is just something else to remember.

> Buyer's Guide: The best front lights for cycling

The supplied bar mount is a simple plastic U clip that attaches with zip-ties; fine if you want to fit and forget it on your winter bike, but if you have multiple bikes it's a faff to remove and refit. Also there is no lateral adjustment to help direct the light beam. You can buy a helmet mount as an extra but it's hard to find anywhere selling one; I only found one online retailer and it's priced at a hefty £10.

The RRP for the Xera seems vastly overpriced considering its shortcomings, though it's widely available for about £70 – although you could spend that amount more wisely. For a fiver more on the RRP you can buy the far more powerful Giant Recon 1600, while the Ravemen PR800 gives comparable light and costs £75, and the similar NiteRider Micro 850 is just £65.

Maybe part of the reason for the inflated price is the ridiculously over-the-top packaging – it comes in a fancy 8inch square presentation box that's destined to gather dust in a cupboard or sit in landfill ad infinitum.

Sorry Gemini, when I saw the Xera I really did want to like it, but it's impossible to recommend it.

Verdict

Good beam but let down by poor usability and archaic charging method

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Gemini Xera Flashlight 950L

Size tested: 950 Lumen

Tell us what the light is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

Gemini says: "A pocket-sized flashlight that packs an incredible 950 lumens of power. The Xera Flashlight weighs just 99g with the 1-Cell battery and measures shorter than 4 inches."

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the light?

Gemini lists:

Brightness: 950 Lumens

Battery: 1-Cell Battery 3400mAh

Weight: 55g Xera Flashlight, 44g 1-Cell Battery

Modes: Low / Med / High / Flash

Material: Hard Anodized Aluminum

Safety: LED Thermal Protection, Charging Protection

In the Box: Xera Flashlight, 1-Cell Battery, Cell Charger, Handlebar Mount

Rate the light for quality of construction:
 
8/10

Sleek and solid.

Rate the light for design and ease of use. How simple was the light to use?
 
3/10

Switching modes is awkward as you have to lean forward and twist the head, which also leaves a dead time between modes with no light. There's no battery or light indicator so you have no warning of when the run-time is nearly up and can't check if the light is actually on when riding through city streets. Charging is a pain as you need to remove the single battery and recharge it in the supplied mains charger (the battery is slightly bigger than AA so won't fit in standard chargers).

Rate the light for the design and usability of the clamping system/s
 
4/10

Remarkably, for an expensive light like this, the plastic handlebar mount has to be secured with zipties. It's a very simple U mount design, with a shim provided to accommodate different diameter bars. There is no lateral adjustment should you wish to point your beam to the side at all. Cable tying it in place rules out easy switching between bikes. To attach the light itself, you just push it into the upward U mount, which is quite stiff so holds the light securely.

Rate the light for waterproofing. How did it stand up to the elements?
 
7/10

To switch the light off you have to twist the head, which unscrews the battery housing a little, so if you leave it mounted on the bar in heavy rain I'd be concerned about water ingress. However, riding with it switched on in rain there was no problem at all.

Rate the light for battery life. How long did it last? How long did it take to recharge?
 
6/10

The removable battery cell takes about 5.5 hours to recharge fully.

Run-times were pretty much as claimed, although I got slightly longer on high beam, before it dimmed significantly:

Level Lumens Run Time

High 950 1 hour 30 mins

Med 600 2 hours 30 mins

Low 100 8 hours

Flash 600 5 hours 30 mins

Rate the light for performance:
 
3/10

The LED bulb throws out a strong beam with good projection and decent peripheral illumination, but unfortunately in a non-user-friendly package.

Rate the light for durability:
 
9/10

It is well made, but sadly not well designed.

Rate the light for weight:
 
9/10

All-in-one design keeps weight low.

Rate the light for value:
 
3/10

Its very disappointing usability makes this poor value, as does the fact that you can buy more powerful lights for a similar RRP.

Tell us how the light performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Not very well – see design and usability comments above. On the plus side, the light beam is decent.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the light

Bright beam and small, lightweight body.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the light

Lack of battery indicator, method of mode toggling, no USB charging, poor bar mount, excessive packaging (a sizable padded zip-up case).

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?

Expensive. For example, for a fiver more on the RRP you can buy the far more powerful Giant Recon 1600, while the Ravemen PR800 gives comparable light and costs £75, and the similar NiteRider Micro 850 is just £65.

Did you enjoy using the light? No

Would you consider buying the light? No

Would you recommend the light to a friend? No

Use this box to explain your overall score

Although the light beam itself is decent, the whole package is far from user-friendly. I really missed having a battery charge indicator and a way to see if the light was actually on when riding in lit streets; changing modes is awkward and entails having a dead time with no light while you're twisting the head; having to remove the battery and use the bespoke charger is a pain; and using zip-ties to secure the bar mount seems cheap and rules out easy switching between bikes.

Overall rating: 3/10

About the tester

Age: 45  Height: 170cm  Weight: 62kg

I usually ride: Marin Point Reyes 29er  My best bike is: Whyte T-130 RS

I've been riding for: 10-20 years  I ride: Most days  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, mountain biking, audax

4 comments

Avatar
oceandweller [94 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes

I have one of these & it makes a pretty good hand torch (&, coupled with a NiteIze head band, head torch) but yes, it's a truly rubbish bike headlight. & although it uses replaceable LiPol batteries, they're a non-standard size, about a mm shorter than common 18650 batteries, which won't work in it. Fortunately I didn't pay anything like £95 for it. Still, if I had my life over I'd find something else to spend my money on.

Avatar
handlebarcam [1310 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes

The clue is in the name. It is a flashlight. Not a bicycle headlight. Maybe one for potholing.cc?

FYI, longer 18650 batteries have control circuitry inside them. Presumably this light has surge protection built into the main unit, so doesn't need that. You can search online retailers for "unprotected" 18650 batteries and they should be shorter.

Avatar
dave atkinson [6525 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes
handlebarcam wrote:

The clue is in the name. It is a flashlight. Not a bicycle headlight. Maybe one for potholing.cc?

They're selling it as a bike light, and sent it to us to test as a bike light

Avatar
watlina [100 posts] 6 months ago
0 likes

I had the Xera 800 that Dave reviewed in 2012 

https://road.cc/content/review/70595-gemini-xera-led-800-lumen-flashlight

Great hand torch but as Dave says rubbish cycle mount.

I had a pretty rubbish Cateye for a while (the Cateye rear light was good)

I Bought the Cygolite Metro Pro 1100 in Jan 18 for about £60 and it's been a really good light. I genrally use it on low in town then medium is plenty on the dark country roads. 

https://road.cc/content/review/232869-cygolite-metro-pro-1100-usb

And I've been pleased with my See.Sense Ace rear light after picking up a set on Kickstarter last year.