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The Topeak Headlux 450 USB is a versatile 'be seen' by light that'll fit any shape handlebar and helmet using the same clamp with a couple of different rubber bands, which isn't an option you get from most. It's let down by its actual illumination, though, which is woeful compared with similar power lights, many of which are cheaper too.
I'm going straight in with this: for a 450-lumen light, the output you are getting from this Topeak is way below what I'd expect, turning what should be a light you can see to ride by into something that you can merely be seen by.
Compare the Topeak against the Cateye AMPP 400, for instance, in our beam comparison tool, above.
The amount of light the Cateye is throwing out is massive compared with the Topeak. On a wide, well-marked main road, 450 lumens is plenty to be able to see where you are going, and even in the back lanes, at a steady pace – say up to 20mph – it'll be enough.
The Topeak gets nowhere near that. You get a beam out front, but there is no light spread to allow you to pick out the verge and get some perspective as you are riding along. It delivers a real 'spot', too, so you get light up the road, but nothing in front of the tyre.
So, as a main light it's not great.
It's not all bad though – I've been using it as a daytime flashing light and a secondary setup on the bars in case my main light fails.
I tend to ride with lights on the bike for most of the year, mostly because I spend a lot of my time on busy main roads and the towns/cities that they travel through. When keeping up with traffic or filtering my way through, I like to give people the best chance of seeing me in their mirrors. The flashing mode on the Topeak is good for that – it uses the full 450 lumens and is noticeably bright.
There are four modes: high, mid and low, with the flash coming fourth. But say you were in mid mode and wanted to get back to high, you have to go through flash and then 'off' to get there. Not exactly ideal… With Cateye's AMPP 500, for example, which I've also been testing – and which is cheaper too, at £39.99 – you can double-click to get back to high from any mode.
So, as a light it's a bit, meh. Which is a shame, as it's really well built.
With its aluminium alloy body and high-grade polymer mount, this is one robust little unit.
Some of the bikes I'm testing have aero bars, some with an all-in-one handlebar-stem combo going on, with no round sections anywhere. This is a problem for a lot of lights, but with the dual way mount of the Topeak, along with the two different band diameters, it will fit on pretty much anything. With the smaller band it'll also become a helmet light.
It's also rated to IPX6, which means it can resist water jets of extremely high pressure. That's heavy rain dealt with then; it coped with wet rides absolutely fine and also the bathroom shower test just to make sure.
The button is large and easy to find – ideal, as it isn't backlit – and it works well even with thick winter gloves on.
Battery life is decent, too, for such a small unit. On the full 450 lumen it'll last 1.5hrs, 3hrs on mid and 5hrs on low. Flashing gives you 10hrs. When the battery gets low, you'll be told by the notification light that sits just behind the button. And it'll charge quickly too: about 2hrs.
For what it's delivering, though, it's overpriced.
It's £46.99, while the AMPP 400 I mentioned earlier is just £29.99, and the brighter AMPP 500 I'm also testing is £39.99.
The Blackburn Dayblazer 550 doesn't have the ultimate punch for its spot as the beam of the Topeak, but again, as you can see from the beam comparison, it delivers so much more usable light. It's just £34.99.
Unfortunately, I can keep going. The ETC Capella 800 is £39.99 and gives you so much more light than you are getting from the Topeak, while the Ravemen CR450 is brighter than the Topeak and it comes with the same T-shaped cut-off beam as the CR800 that I have recently tested, for £44.99.
The Topeak has much going for it: it's really well made and the fact that it'll clamp to pretty much anything makes it hugely versatile. But the beam pattern is awful. All of it is just a spot of light that is very concentrated up the road – and it's not cheap either. A real shame, as I feel the Topeak is a light that I could trust regardless of the weather.
Great quality build, but let down on the illumination front
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Topeak Headlux 450 USB front light
Size tested: 450 lumens max
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?
Topeak says, "USB rechargeable, high-performance optical lens, low profile aluminum front light provides 450 lumens brightness with good value. Rubber strap provides bi-directional tool-free mounting and easy removal on aero / round handlebars or helmet."
Fine as a be seen by light, but lacks the punch of many of the competitors.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the light?
MAX LUMINOUS INTENSITY: 450 Lumens
LAMP: 2 white high power LEDs
BATTERY: 3.7V 1080mAh Lithium Ion (integrated)
CONTROL / BURN TIME (APPROX): 4 Modes: 1.5 hr (High) / 3 hr (Middle) / 5 hr (Low) / 10 hr (Blinking)
CHARGE / CHARGE TIME (APPROX): Micro USB / 2 hr
INPUT: 5V 500mA
LAMP HOUSING: Aluminum / Engineering grade polymer
STRAP MOUNT: Fits integrated bar/stem combo, aero / round handlebars, & helmet
WATERPROOF IPX 6
ADDED FEATURE Low battery indicator
SIZE 6.7 x 4.7 x 2.7 cm / 2.6' x 1.9' x 1.1'
Tell us how the light performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It seriously lacks power and a decent beam pattern.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the light
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the light
Not a very good beam pattern.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's expensive compared with the lights I've mentioned in the review, and others too.
Did you enjoy using the light? Not really. Though its small size does at least allow it to be a handy emergency light.
Would you consider buying the light? No
Would you recommend the light to a friend? No
Use this box to explain your overall score
Well built and versatile, but it ends there. Lights of a similar 'lumenage' leave the Topeak far behind.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,
As part of the Tech Hub here at F-At Digital, our senior product reviewer Stu uses the knowledge gained from putting well over a 1,000 products through their paces (including hundreds of bikes) to write in-depth reviews of a huge range of kit. After first throwing his leg over a race bike back in 2000, Stu's ridden more than 160,000 miles on road, time-trial, track, and gravel bikes, and while he's put his racing days behind him he still likes to smash the pedals rather than take things easy. Although, as he spends a fair bit of his time reviewing ebikes these days he's becoming an expert in letting the motor take the strain. He's also waiting for 23mm race tyres to make a comeback!