The Bike List

Bikehut EXA Bright LED Light Set £60

Tested by Neil Watterson, tester for The Bike List

It's always difficult knowing where to start when you get a new toy to play with. Do you studiously read the instructions, learning everything you need to know about it before slowly and methodically following them? Or do you just rip the box to pieces like Staffie with a piece of junk mail?

I'm afraid I take the latter line, eventually resorting to reading the instructions to find out why something won't work the way I had assumed it would. And that's something that's happened with this kit.

Now, I'm fairly well versed with bicycle lights, having used them on my various bikes for a quarter of a century, so I reckon I know how to put them together, what to expect from them and how to fit them.

So, I took the rear light from the box, slipped in the two AAA batteries and pressed the button to see what each of the functions were. Low, high then flashing. But why wasn't the main LED flashing? Did it mention it in the instructions? Um, no. Was it faulty? I'd have to ask Halfords to find out.

In the meantime I started to play with the rear light mount. It's designed for ease of fitting with a stretchy band wrapping round the seatpost and catching on a hook of the mount on the other side.

The part that sits flush against the seatpost is angled to point the light at about approximately horizontal - and with most bike frames being within a few degrees of each other, the LED should have enough latitude to cover them all. Except it doesn't work.

I've tried it on seatposts with diameters from 27.2mm to 34.9mm and can't get the mount to sit properly; each time it ends up pointing at the floor. If I was trying to tell worms I was there this wouldn't be a problem, but I'm trying to warn drivers, many of whom will be sitting at around about the height of the light, of my presence.

So, this is the first rear light I've ever picked up that I've refused to fit to my bike. Be bright - be seen, so the saying goes.

So, what about the main LED in flash mode? Halfords tell us that to extend battery life the main LED doesn't flash. Given that the battery life is 150 hours, even if you commuted for 30 mins each way, five days a week, the batteries would last over seven months. But Halfords is simply responding to market forces. Buyers want to have lights but don't want to have to spend out on batteries, so are quite happy to trade performance for battery life. It's a shame because the main LED is very bright and by omitting it they are seriously limiting the functionality of the light. Even at full power with all three LEDs on steady, the battery life is 48 hours.

If the rear mount pointed it the right direction I'd have no qualms about using it as my main steady rear light, but it doesn't. I suppose I could use the belt clip and hang it on my backpack, but then it may not point the right direction anyway - and I tend to use the flash mode on my bag to grab attention and the main LED doesn't light… So, all-in-all, I'm not that impressed with the rear light.

The front light, on the other hand, is slightly better. Rather than using a small focussed LED, it has the LED pointing back at the reflector. And the light spread is rectangular instead of a circular pattern.

It uses four AA batteries, gives 40 hours of light on full power and has a claimed output of 30 Lux. My un-scientific light measure test gives it a reflected measure of 1/5th second at f/8 at ISO 100, which confirms the Smart 35 Lux is slightly brighter. The rectangle of light is almost twice the area, though, giving approximately 66x38mm at 3 metres, so the performance isn't too bad in reality.

On urban roads you can aim the light so the top edge of the rectangle is about the height of van door mirrors at four car lengths and this gives a reasonable spread of light on the floor. It doesn't quite light close enough to be good for fast riding along dark gravel paths, but it's adequate for ones with a bit of ambient light. You could aim it down to get better light on the floor, but that's at the expense of stuff further away - you can't have both.

You are also likely to be seen with this light on - the reflector used in the 'reverse beam technology' light means there's quite a large area for drivers to spot - unlike smaller bullet lights which can be tricky to pinpoint. There are also good cut-outs on the side of the light so you're more likely to be seen by drivers from the side.

One thing that niggled me with the bracket - a no-tools needed to fit with quick release - was that it was too large for my thin-tube handlebars, leaving me having to rob some extra packing rubber off an old light to prevent the light from shifting at every bump. This won't affect everyone, but it was another thing to annoy me.

Overall, I like the front light. It's quite chunky and heavy, but it's got a good beam spread and battery life, even on full power. I'd be happy with it as a commuter light, but it would be just a touch too unwieldy for cross-country use.

As a set, though, it's let down by the rear light, both for omitting the main LED on flash and the mount. And that's why the set has been marked down.

Buy from halfords.com

At a glance

Verdict Good commuter front light let down by rear light that is difficult to fit correctly and doesn't flash at its full capacity.
Value
Performance

Bikehut says:

The BikeHut Exa Bright light set offers superior reverse beam technology making it the perfect choice for riding in the dark. Containing a front and rear light and benefiting from 3 different light modes and waterproof casing for use in all weather.

Features and benefits of the Bikehut EXA bright light set

  • Lower power, high power and flashing lighting modes provide exceptional visibility in dark conditions
  • Front and rear lights conform to road vehicle lighting regulations when in flashing mode
  • Front and rear lights conform to British Standard BS6102/3 in constant mode
  • Waterproof rubber sealed outer casings on front and rear lights

Front Light

  • High efficiency reverse beam technology with rear facing LED for outstanding performance
  • Front reflector with rear facing LED projects a powerful concentrated parallel beam
  • Lower power, high power and flashing lighting modes
  • Exceptional visibility from the 30 Lux light output
  • Quick release handlebar bracket
  • Provides upto 280 hours light in flashing mode, 80 hours in lower power mode and 40 hours in high power
  • Batteries included 4 x AA

Rear Light

  • Extra bright rear LED light with internal reflection lens technology for high visibility
  • Lower power, high power and flashing lighting modes
  • Up to 90 hours light in lower power mode, 48 hours light in high power mode, or 150 hours flashing mode
  • Conforms to British Standard BS6102/3 in constant mode
  • Clip for attaching to clothing or luggage
  • Batteries included 2 x AAA

Supplier: Halfords, +44 (0)8450 579 000, halfords.com