Regular readers of my blog will have noted that I’m not the type of person who blindly buys ‘bicycle specific’. Be it clothing, luggage or lighting, ‘cycle specific’ can often be used as an excuse to charge more for less. Don’t get me wrong, there are some fantastic bike specific products out there, but I urge you to have an open mind when seeking out solutions to cycling problems, such as keeping warm, dry and visible at night.
In this vein, I’ve been experimenting with alternatives to the cycle specific front light. I’ve bought new front lights each winter and they have all failed, fallen to pieces or fallen down the road. It seems that the basic truth is, unless you pay mega-bucks for a high-end lighting system (whether it be dynamo or Li-Ion/LED) affordable bike lights are generally disappointing. However, in contrast, there are some superbly made, full waterproof LED torches out there, which more than rival equally priced ‘bike’ lights in terms of output and knock them out of the park in terms of build quality and weatherproofing.
After a good deal of research, probing some pretty obscure forums, I’m pleased to announce that soon to be joining The Everyday Cyclist’s lighting arsenal will be a Fenix E21 LED torch. This diminutive torch is the same size (more or less) to a Mini Maglite (the one that takes 2xAA batteries) yet kicks out a massive 150 lumens on full power. Encased in a hard anodised CNC aluminium waterproof case, at £30 it looks, on paper, to be massively better than a comparably priced front bike light from Cateye, Nightrider or other popular ‘bike brands’.
The light will run for 2.5 hours on full power (enough power for off-road night riding) or over 11 hours on its low power setting, which is still more than powerful enough to see by on unlit country lanes.
But how to fit it to the bike? A quick Google for ‘maglite bike mount’ resulted in a neat, simple rubber block and Velcro mount arriving through the post (via a popular auction site). This will securely hold any AA sized torch. The cost? £3.50.
So, for £33.50, I’ll soon have a high-powered, compact, lightweight front light system that will far outlast cheaply made, plastic lights from bike specific manufacturers.
When the Fenix torch arrives, I’ll subject it to some real world testing and get back to you with the results. In the meantime, I’m trialling the system with my modified LED Maglite. Although not in the same league of brightness, this is a great ‘be seen’ front light, with long, long battery life. It’s also (rather unsurprisingly) a great torch for roadside repairs.