The Bike List

Smart Lunar 35 Lux front and 1/2 Watt rear light set £55

Tested by Neil Watterson, tester for The Bike List

As a driver, I detest cyclists who venture onto roads at night with no lights. They may be able to see where they are going, but it doesn't mean I can see them. Then there are those who buy the cheapest rear lights imaginable and use them on their lowest power setting to eke out as much battery life as they can get. I mean, how much does a pack of four batteries which will last a year on full power cost from the Pound Shop?

And because I'm a grumpy old man, I'm on a constant quest to find cheap good lights that any cyclist can afford so I can moan even more…

Of course, cyclists are caught up in the arms-race that is vehicle lighting. LED technology and daytime running lights mean that we have to keep upgrading our lights to stand a chance of being seen against the engine-powered brigade.

This light set, Smart Lunar 35 Lux Front and 1/2 Watt Rear Light Set has an RRP of £55, but shop around and you'll find it for half that. I'd rate them as 'commuter+' standard - bright enough to alert car drivers of your presence and just about powerful enough to guide you along familiar unlit Sustrans routes, but not powerful enough for riding off-road.

Smart have been a player in the bicycle lighting market for years and, helpfully, have taken the line of sticking to an idea that works. So, if you buy these lights you'll find they fit on some of the older mounts from the company and older units will fit on these - so you can re-use your old mount on a second bike and use this light on both.

The mounts aren't too difficult to fit. You'll need a cross-head screwdriver to adjust the mounting strap length on the front light, then you clip the mount round the bar and tighten with the thumb-wheel.

The rear is supplied with two mounting brackets: a standard cross-head screwdriver adjusted seatpost ring with rubber shims, and a rear stay mount. I haven't managed to get the latter to fit to any of my bikes - It looks like it is designed for very large-framed road bikes.

With a main 1/2 watt LED, the 2xAAA rear light unit is very powerful and has three LEDs - a focussed main one to be seen from a distance and two standard-ish power ones to add more local and side light. It has two settings: flash and solid. Smart claims it'll run for 100 hours on flash and fifty on steady. I've been using the light on flashing for 90 minutes a day for the last month or so and the batteries are still going strong, so the manufacturer's figures appear to be valid. The switch is the only disappointing part of the light. Hidden underneath the unit, you have to flex the whole casing to get the switch to operate. It didn't work very well on the previous generation of Smart lights and it doesn't on this. Some people may find the switch infuriating - and you certainly can't switch it on or off while sitting on the bike.

At the other end, the 2xAA front light is a small, torpedo-like affair, with a small push-button on the top. It's easier to use than the rear, but if you switch it while wearing gloves when riding you'll have to check what setting it's on by waving a hand in front.

The light itself has a good light output, with full, dim and flash settings, together with side cut-outs to increase visibility from the sides. It's a claimed 35 Lux, but given that all bike lights are marketed in different ways, it's almost a meaningless figure. What it does tell you, though, is it has a better output than the 7, 15 and 25 Lux models from the same company.

It's focussed so that you get a 40cm diameter spot of light at a distance of 3 metres and, using a hugely un-scientific light reflection test of pointing it at a white screen and taking a camera meter reading, it would require a 1/8th second exposure at f/8 at 100ISO at 3 metres. To put it into context, a 4D LED Maglite would require 1/10th of a second exposure for the same settings - suggesting (but subject those who understand lighting better enlightening me…) that the Smart 35 Lux is slightly less bright than the Maglite.

In real terms, the 35 Lux isn't quite bright enough to light your way on the ground - well, not above 10mph anyway. At optimum angle - high enough so it lights car number plates, but low enough that it shines light on the ground - it'll help you spot obstacles, but doesn't illuminate them effectively enough to give you the confidence to tackle them at speed. And the narrowness of the beam means if you angle it more towards the floor, you won't see the obstacle in time to react to it. If you're bustling along urban cycleways, though, it's good enough.

Where it does score is letting drivers know you are there. The tight focus means you're shining a tight beam of light forward and at around 10 metres the circle of light is about the width of a car - bright enough to irritate drivers and make them notice you.

Combine it with a wider-angle light and it makes a good main beam for darker roads and even light off-roading, but it's best saved for commuting.

I wouldn't be disappointed if I had bought this set for the RRP of £54.99. At sub-£30, though, it's a bit of a no-brainer - any driver who fails to notice you with these lights on shouldn't be on the road.

Buy from   chainreactioncycles.com

At a glance

Verdict A great little light set with a very powerful rear light and a good front, ideal for commuting and Sustrans routes. Would I use this set as sole commuter lights? Yes.
Value
Performance

Smart says:

Front Features:

  • 35 Lux, output from a single 2 Watt high-power Japanese LED
  • High, low and flashing modes
  • Up to 5,12 or 18 hours run time in high, low, flashing mode using 2AA batteries
  • Intuitive mounting bracket, installs without tools
  • Extremely durable can withstand all weather conditions
  • Limited lifetime warranty
  • Batteries included

Rear features:

  • Visible from up to 1 mile with a single ½ Watt Japanese LED & 2 further LEDs
  • Constant and flashing modes
  • Up to 100 hours run time using 2AAA batteries
  • Mounts to belt clip, seat post or seat stay
  • Perfect for Off Road/Commuting

Supplier: Fisher Outdoor Leisure, +44 (0)1727 798 340, fisheroutdoor.co.uk