Nutcase Vio Review: Wear Lights as You Bike

You know, I is usually a actual dimwit generally. For too lengthy, I’d dart round on brief journeys with out bothering to slap a helmet on my head. It was a few shut calls—each in the identical night—biking by New York City at nightfall that induced me to clever up and begin carrying a mind bucket each time I took out the bike.

Around the identical time, I used to be griping about having to maneuver headlights and taillights from one bike to a different to a different for ebike testing. Then the Nutcase Vio got here alongside. It’s not the primary helmet with built-in lights, however because of its broad distribution—from outside behemoth REI to small bike retailers—it is one of the seen available on the market.

Lights, More Lights, and Action

Photograph: Nutcase

There are lights for seeing and lights for being seen. The former are typically brighter, as you employ them on darkish roads, and the latter are extra of an alert to different cyclists, pedestrians, and drivers to visually shout, “Hey, I’m over right here! Don’t run me over!” The Vio’s forward-facing LED lamp casts 200 lumens, which puts it squarely in the “being seen” camp. That’s not to say it’s weak. Many handlebar-mounted headlights and integrated headlights (often found on ebikes) are less bright than the Vio.

If you’re riding on dark, unlit country roads or a racing bike at high speed, 200 lumens won’t be enough to light your way. But in the city and on an ebike typically going 20 miles per hour, I had absolutely no problem seeing where I was going with the Vio’s headlight—it performed better than I expected from 200 lumens. Even when I’d turn onto a deserted street and ride the dark stretches of road between streetlamps, it cast enough light for me to spot potholes in the dark. 

There are red and orange 65-lumen LEDs spread around the back and sides of the helmet. That’s as bright as most stand-alone taillights, and it gives the Vio 360-degree coverage, so you can be seen from any angle.

There are three light modes that you set by quick-tapping the power button on the back of the helmet: on, flashing, and slow pulsing. When the lights are off, the Vio looks like a regular helmet. Unless someone were to inspect it very closely, it’d be hard to tell that it’s covered in LEDs.

Feeling So Seen

Photograph: Nutcase

There are a couple of benefits to mounting the lights on the helmet quite than in your bike. For one, you’re extra seen. Handlebar-mounted headlights and under-seat taillights are at roughly the identical peak as vehicles’ fenders, door handles, and trunks. A driver cannot see you in case your lights are blocked by different vehicles. 

With the Vio’s lights on high of my head, excessive above automotive fenders, I’d by no means felt extra seen. Even pulling up subsequent to a pickup truck at a pink mild, I knew the driving force and the remainder of visitors would see my lights, as a result of they have been larger than the windowsills and hood.

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