Indigo5 light long-term review
Aside from a few quick Instagram and Facebook mentions, I’m a bit late coming to this one in terms of bringing it to you hot off the presses. I’ve been waiting until I had some decent time with it and the opportunity for a few recreational night rides (as opposed to commuting), and time has been scarce…
The Indigo5 light
Indigo (originally Indiglo, until the well-heeled lawyers at Timex watches had their say) is an Adelaide, SA based company that, like many these days, had it’s start on Kickstarter. The idea was to produce a high-end product in terms of both performance and finish, at a modest price. After after smashing their funding target in October of last year and with some delays to ensure the best product was delivered, I received one of the very first Indigo5 lights to be sent out towards the end of May this year.
What you get
The Indigo5 came packaged in a branded carry case, in a branded box, with the charger, mount (either Roadie or MTB, chosen when you order), 2 pieces of thin foam to place between the mount and the handlebars, an allen key, spare O-rings, and tether. The mountain bike mount is machined aluminium and is fixed with two hex bolts with a pivoting cradle so you can angle the light just right. The road mount is an easily removable stretchy strap, similar to those found on many other lights. All pieces have a high-end feel, and I can say that the MTB mount is solid and the pivoting head does not move about when jostled.
Fitting the light takes no time, but if you prefer to use the more solid MTB mount and want to use the light on more than one bike, do yourself a favour and order a mount for each bike, unless you want to be unscrewing the mount each and every time. Not me.
There are a few accessories available, including different charging options, spare batteries, and booster packs to extend the run-time if you need.
The finish on the Indigo5 light itself is clean, if not simple. It’s minimal in design, with a not-your-usual-black, dark blue anodized finish. A solitary, small Indigo5 symbol sits in the middle of the barrel, the cooling fins blend well with the overall design, and on the back, the button has a nice sharp click to it, the gold charging port has a little rubber cap, and there are 3 small (but bright!) LED’s to communicate battery life.
The size isn’t small, but it’s not any bigger than some of the other stand-alone, high powered lights on the market (it’s targeted at Exposure). It’s not light-weight either, but once again, it’s pretty standard compared to those in it’s class. Nothing out of the ordinary here.
How does it work?
It’s bright, as you would expect with a claimed 1800 lumen output.
The first thing to note here, though, is that the Indigo5 has a higher than normal CRI rating, which means it produces a much warmer light which is closer to natural light, as opposed to the intense white light that most lights produce. The other thing is that the developers wanted the Indigo5 to give as broad and even a beam as possible, minimizing the narrow hot-spot that is common among most lights.
This is important to note because the Indigo5 doesn’t seem as bright as it claims. However, because the light isn’t harsh, and doesn’t fall off towards the edges as much, what you get is more usable light, even if it doesn’t look as intense. Your eyes don’t strain as much and can pick out depth of field quite a lot better. Again, the output is actual, it just doesn’t seem like it when comparing it to a similar white light.
The light settings are as follows: Low=100 lumens (>7 hours), Medium=600 lumens (>3 hours), High=1100 lumens (>1 hour), and Max=1800 lumens (>30 minutes). The two flashing modes, Racing Heart= >3.5 hours, and Day mode= >6 hours. The three LEDs on the back of the Indigo5 are green (battery at 100%-51%), orange (50%-11%), and red (10%-0).
I have been using the medium setting most often. It’s still not bright enough to blind oncoming traffic but puts out more than enough light to deal with almost all situations, and battery life is quite good (at 3+ hours). The high setting does an admirable job at throwing the beam far and wide when needed, but I have to say I won’t be using the Max mode very often at all.
It’s bright, no doubt about it, but it drains the batter very quickly, and even with the booster pack you need to still be careful about the temperature, as the instructions indicate that you should not use Max and even High at low speeds (<10kph) or above temperatures of 30℃ (both situations are unusual, it must be said). After 3o minutes, the Max mode will automatically switch to High to prevent overheating. For intense trail riding it would be great, no doubt, but so far I’ve been happy enough using the Indigo5 on High.
For a comparison of the different settings, scroll down to the end.
There are two flashing modes, one for night, and one for daytime. The first flashing mode is what Indigo calls their “Racing Heart”, which runs the Low mode with a brighter, irregular pulse that mimics a heart-beat. The effect is quite balanced with the pulse occurring over top of the steady beam – it is enough contrast to draw attention to you, but not enough to blind anyone in front of you.
The Day mode is, simply put, intense. Use it at night and you could probably cause an accident. It’s a very short blast of all 1800 lumens, having rather a strobe-light effect. Of course, this is for the daytime, as the name indicates, which then makes it quite useful against the high-level of ambient lighting. Use it when the sun is low in the sky and drivers have a hard time picking you out in the rising or setting sun, or, as Indigo suggests, low visibility conditions like fog.
I only have experience with the MTB mount, and as I have already mentioned, it is quite solid. One one occasion the bolts rattled loose on a long gravel ride on my roadie (likely under-torqued), but hasn’t budged since on my CX bike. The clamp is in two pieces, one around the bar, and a snap-in style clamp for the light, allowing the light to swivel up and down to adjust the angle (even on the fly, if need be).
Indigo recommends using the MTB mount above the bars, which is pretty much all you can do on a mountain bike anyway with all the cables in the way under the bars (certainly if you have lockout cables for your suspension). There is little chance of the light flying out of the clamp unless it is helped out, but in case of that, Indigo provides a teather and mounting points on the back of the Indigo5 so that worst case, the light doesn’t go tumbling down a ravine or bouncing off down the road.
One thing I will say is that you have to be careful where you put it on MTB bars, as they taper quite quickly from either side of the stem. Really, you need to mount it as close to the stem as possible, but if you run a computer, you may find that they want to be using the same space.
On drop bars, you have the option of mounting the light under the bars, which is obviously the more attractive location given the lights conspicuousness. Again, the cradle the light sits in is rather a tight fit, so it would need quite a severe impact to dislodge it. I have thus far only used the light in this more prone position on my CX bike on various surfaces and haven’t used the tether, nor have I needed it. Knock wood.
Something to be aware of is that if the light is mounted under the bars, be aware of the possibility that if the bars spin around with force, then depending on how you have mounted the light, the back of it could hit your frame. I got around this by rotating the mount forwards and then swiveling the light down, essentially moving the Indigo5 forward. Check your set-up before setting off.
Whether it’s proper or not, I have tightened the the bolt that adjust the swivel tight enough to keep the light from moving, but still allows me to shove it down a bit and back for oncoming traffic when the light is on a brighter setting. No problems to report.
In terms of weather, the Indigo5 is IPX-8 rated, so you should have no trouble with heavy rain. Not much to say here, other than don’t worry about it.
This is the first product from Indigo, and mine was one of the first lights from the first run, so while you should still expect the highest quality, you also can’t be surprised that there will be some teething problems.
Something that a few customers have experienced is what has affectionately become known as “bump-gate”. Essentially, the spring that connects one end of the battery was slightly under-sprung, and some lights, under the right circumstances, shut off when you hit a bump. This happened to me only once, before the solution became available.
The solution, which has been rolled out to customers and sorted on future lights, is simply to insert a tiny magnet between the light and the spring. Problem solved.
The only other thing that I have experienced, and continue to, is to do with the battery-indicator lights. Not every time, but often enough, when I turn the light on (which, as it happens, looks really cool – like HID headlamps on super-posh cars, the light turns on with a bit of a flash, then settles down into the first mode), the battery indicator light is on orange or red even when fully charged, but when you switch to the next mode, clears up and goes back to green. It will continue to act normally no matter how many times you cycle through the settings, and only appears to do it when the light is turned on initially. It’s not right, technically, but it’s something I can live with quite easily.
Do I like it?
Even if this was a light from an established manufacturer and cost far more to buy, I would say that it performs at the level it promises to. Factor in that it’s a first crack from a small, brand-new Adelaide company and add in that this will only set you back $249AUD, and this is a cracker of a light.
Slick build quality, smart looks, solid mount, huge power, and excellent light quality, the Indigo5 should be a consideration for anyone looking to get a stand-alone, high-powered light. The fact that it is modular (booster packs, anti-glare bezel), and offers a “cradle to grave” service, either recycling the light or “refreshing with the latest technology” makes it even more attractive.
Note: as is usually the case, the camera doesn’t pick up as much light as your eyes, so take these shots as being conservative.