LifeLine’s Ara front light boasts a 2,000-lumen output for a fairly bargainous price, and the separate battery pack and head unit should offer up more flexibility than the LifeLine Pavo Motion I reviewed last year, yet offer similar performance.
That 2,000-lumen output is generated by seven front-mounted CREE LEDs with a specially-designed wide beam pattern lens.
The head unit has a single button that illuminates blue when the light is in one of its three constant modes and red when it’s in its single flashing mode. The button also switches colour once the battery has 10 per cent or less charge remaining.
The CNC-machined 6061 alloy head unit uses a Garmin-style twist lock fixing to attach to the handlebar mount, but the bar mount – which uses two Allen bolts to clamp – is only 31.8mm diameter compatible, although LifeLine tells me a 35mm clamp is on the way.
The included 10,400mAh battery uses a Velcro strap to attach to the frame. The head unit and battery pack are connected with a totally detachable 50cm cable. The pack has a soft cushion to help reduce vibrations and movement, and protect frame paint.
Lifeline Ara 2000L performance
The Ara’s power impressed me, looking like it had a higher output than the 2,000 claimed lumens. It provided plenty of on-trail context to the sides and lit up the track ahead with impressive competence.
Adding to the impressive power is the Ara’s beam shape. It has a good spread off to the sides with a gradual power cut-off and a bright focal point towards the centre. It doesn’t feel like LifeLine has compromised on spread or power, offering an impressive balance that helped me tackle trails with confidence.
It projected plenty of light downward, too, helping to avoid most of the shadows normally created going off drops, over jumps and up rises.
On very twisty trails it feels like it could do with even more power, though, to improve around-turn illumination. There were sections where I felt like I attacked too confidently, thinking the Ara had more power and a broader spread than it actually does.
The beam’s colour is fairly harsh white, which caused some contrast. It wasn’t as harsh as bluer lights, but not as gentle as ones with green or yellow tints. Detail on the trail was impressive, though.
The light was fairly easy to use and because there are only five modes it’s tricky to get lost in the sequences of outputs, despite the lack of mode indicator. The mode selector was easy to use, even on the move over bumpy ground.
The low-battery life indicator worked, but doesn’t leave much run-time in reserve to get out of trouble if you’re a long way from your car or home.
Even though the mount is only compatible with 31.8mm bars, I managed to position it on several 35mm diameter handlebars near to their bend. While this isn’t recommended, and proved to be quite frustrating, it is a workable solution for those who want an Ara and own 35mm handlebars.
The light to bar clamp interface is solid and didn’t move around over rough terrain. It clamped to the bars – even the wrong sized ones – with stable vigour. If knocked hard, it could rotate, though,
The battery pack’s Velcro provided a secure fit and the small pad stopped it from rattling around. However, the connecting cable was quite thick and short, and not especially flexible, which limited battery pack placement. Equally, the cable attachment ports on both the head unit and battery pack aren’t very refined.
Unfortunately, the first Ara 2000L I tested failed to work out of the box. The light turned on, flickered a few times and then shut off right away.
The replacement light also failed in the same way as the first – turn on, flicker, then off again – but only after several night’s worth of riding. This meant I was unable to perform the run-time test.
I spoke to LifeLine about its returns and warranty process, and if a customer experiences the same issues I did they can contact Wiggle or CRC to be issued a full refund or given a replacement unit.
Lifeline Ara 2000L bottom line
Before the Ara failed, it was on course for a four-star review. Its performance is impressive, especially considering its price and claimed output, and it can hold its own among much more expensive competition.
As well as the failures, it’s a shame a 35mm bar clamp isn’t yet available and that quality feels a little low. However, for night riders on a budget, little beats the Ara – well, once LifeLine has identified what’s causing it to fail.
How we tested
We put 12 high-power front lights to the test that should let you head to the hills after night falls to discover a brave new world of riding.
Other lights on test:
- Exposure MaXx D MK13
- Gemini Duo 2200 Multisport
- Halfords Advanced 1600 Lumen
- Hope R4+ LED
- Lezyne Mega Drive 1800i
- Lumicycle Apogee Carbon Extender Pack
- Magicshine Monteer 8000S
- Moon X-Power 1800
- MTB Batteries Lumenator 20
- NiteRider Pro 2200 Race
- Knog PWR Mountain Kit