Planet Bike Blaze 1W

The Planet Bike Blaze 1W is an economically priced one-watt LED headlight that can be used as a primary headlight for commuting, or as a powerful, forward-facing flasher for urban settings. The body is made from high-impact plastic, with an alloy center ring that serves as both a reinforcement and a heat sink for the LED. It uses a highly efficient, lifetime Cree XR-E P3 LED as its light source.

Mount
Included with the Blaze is a universal “QuickCam” quick-release mount that fits any handlebar and can be quickly removed without tools by flipping a lever. With the push of a separate button, the light slides off the mount while the mount stays on the handlebar; this is a great feature for those who park their bikes outside where accessories are vulnerable to theft.

The QucikCam mount is identical to the mount I’ve been using with my B&M Ixon light for the past couple of years. I pretty much abuse the mount—moving it from bike to bike on a regular basis—and it has held up well.

Modes
The Blaze has three light modes: low, high, and “Superflash”. On low, it’s not bright enough to use as a primary headlight, but it works fine as a “be seen” light. On high, it outputs an impressive 70 lumens, more than enough to be used as a primary headlight for urban/suburban commuting where some ambient light is present. In Superflash mode, the Blaze is blindingly bright and eye-catching (see video below). Think of a Superflash tail light with a forward facing 1 watt emitter instead of a 1/2 watt emitter, and you get the picture. The staccato flash pattern is the most eye-catching I’ve seen and it sets this light apart from its competitors. If you’ve been searching for a high-intensity urban front flasher, look no further.


Beam
The Blaze has a typical American-style round beam pattern with a markedly bright center that quickly drops off at the edges. The beam is tightly focused which makes it seem brighter than its 70 lumen spec would indicate. The trade off for a brighter center beam is less light off-axis toward the edge of the road.

Blaze on the left (high), Fenix L2D on the right (general/high)

The Competition
It’s natural to compare the Blaze to the Fenix L2D because the L2D is generally considered the current leader of the pack in sub-$100 LED headlights. Here’s how it breaks down.

The Blaze wins on price. It can generally be had for $10-15 less than the L2D and the Fenix isn’t supplied with a mount (it’s a flashlight). A decent mount for an L2D will run $10-50, so you’ll want to factor that in when considering the purchase price.

The L2D wins on maximum output but falters on run time. In “turbo” mode, the L2D outputs an astounding 180 lumens which is unheard of in a light of this size and in this price range. But there’s more to the story than just max output. At 180 lumens, the L2D barely gets 2 hours run time using high quality NiMH rechargeables. Most bike commuters will want more than two hours between charges and consequently they’ll run the L2D in the lower output “general” mode. On this lower setting, the L2D outputs 107 lumens with a run time of 4 hours. Taking that into consideration, suddenly the Blaze looks pretty competitive, with a 70 lumen output, and a much better 7 hour run time. It’s an individual choice whether max output or longer run time takes priority.

The Blaze wins on ease of use. Assuming you’re running rechargeables (hopefully you are), the nearly 80% longer run time saves a lot of battery shuffling over time. It’s also easier to remove from the bike, and the battery compartment is easier to open and close.

Summary
As prices on LED commuter-style lights have plummeted, the lights themselves have gotten brighter and more efficient. The Blaze 1W is a good example of this; just 2-3 years ago, a light of this quality would have run $100 or more. Now, for under $50 you get a light that’s lightweight and durable; has a max output of 70 lumens with a 7 hour run time; comes supplied with an excellent quick-release mount; and has the best flashing mode I’ve ever seen in a headlight. Team it up with a Superflash tail light and you have the best value on the market in a truly functional, battery-powered lighting system for bike commuters on a budget.

Specs
List Price: $44.99
Maximum Output: 70 Lumens
Emitter: Cree XR-E P3
Modes: High/Low/Superflash
Run Times: High=7 hrs, Low=14 hrs, Superflash=20 hours
Batteries: 2/AA

A note on batteries: I recommend rechargeable NiMH AA batteries because they’re ubiquitous, cheap, environmentally friendly, and hold plenty of juice for today’s highly efficient LED lights. Please consider using rechargeables — the last thing we want to do is trash our landfills and pollute our waterways with spent alkaline batteries. Read more on rechargeable batteries here.

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22 Responses to “Planet Bike Blaze 1W”

  • charles says:

    I have both of these lights and you are right, the Blaze is pretty good. I live in the country and it works fine as a ‘to see’ light for me. I have noticed it can be washed out by car headlights and I haven’t tried my Fenix yet under the same conditions. I like the long run times and the slick mounting. It allows me to remove it and use it on another bike when necessary. I run my Fenix at the 100 lumen normal high setting and it works good enough for me at the 13-18 mph
    I normally ride at. Right now its a toss up but I will probably use both if I do some serious night riding and will use the Fenix on my helmet with the Blaze on the bars or low on a front rack mount.

  • beth h says:

    Remember when I tried the B & M rechargeable headlight? Well, it began to hold a charge less and less long, so I sent it back to the distributor. They sent me a new light. I went through the whole business again of charging it through several cycles so that it would ultimately hold a charge. Six weeks into the experiment the thing wasn’t working for me; on a half-hour commute home the light would fail halfway through the ride. I finally sent the light back and asked for a refund. I accept that it’s possible I got two bad lights in a row and that if I did it again it’d all work out, but at this oint I just wanted a light that would work dependably. So I got the Blaze and some rechargable batteries and it works just fine for city riding at night. I’ve had it for two months and it’s still going strong.

  • Wuss912 says:

    they actually sell this as a combo set with the blaze and the superflash.
    which makes an excellent combo

  • 2whls3spds says:

    The Blaze is also available in a generator version Velo-Orange has them available. Haven’t needed one or tried one but I suspect the beam pattern to be identical to the battery powered one, and no batteries to fiddle with ;-)

    Aaron

  • Larey says:

    I found the beam pattern to be very tight which was only a concern on very dark mornings along the parts of my commute on rural roads and unlit portions of a MUP. So I added back the 1/2 watt Blaze the 1 watt Blaze replaced and aimed the 1/2W at the horizon. That really helped by lighting up such things as bridge reflectors and low hanging branches. It also provided a much better “look at me” profile, especially when set to flash, than just the 1W alone.

  • Alan says:

    Hi Aaron,

    I have the generator version – I plan to give it a try on the Civia Hyland I have on loan for testing. I suspect it’ll be a big improvement from the stock Shimano headlight. I’ll provide the results along with the Hyland review.

  • Scott Wayland says:

    Boy, two of these would provide 7hours of 140 lumens? Dang, for $100, that’s one hell of a system. Wish I’d gone this route instead of the Niterider Mininewt, which works fine–well, this one. I had to send the first back. Turns out the charger was no good.

    I’m starting up a bike touring class in my area, and I will recommend this light to the kids–along with the Superflash, of which I own three :)

    Cheers,

    Scott

  • 2whls3spds says:

    Alan,
    What is the stock headlight on the Hyland? I have several brands of lights and so far have been super pleased with everything I have ever gotten from B&M. The IQ Fly LED is unreal for the price compared to the older Lumotecs. I still have one ancient factory system installed on my l1972 Raleigh Superbe. The only reason is because it is vintage and I am trying to keep it as stock as possible. It is little more than a marker light at best.

    Aaron

  • Reuben says:

    You sure that’s the right photo? My Blaze 1W is white.

  • Alan says:

    @Scott

    Yeah, a pair of Blaze 1W’s would be a killer set-up on the cheap. I’d mount one low on the fork using this bracket, and mount the other on the handlebar.

  • Alan says:

    @2whls3spds

    The Hyland headlight is a Shimano product – I believe it’s the LP-R600 that’s part of the Alfine group. It’s not a horrible light, but the Blaze is definitely brighter and has a much cleaner beam.

    Civia Hyland Detail

  • Alan says:

    @Reuben

    When sold separately, the Blaze 1w has a white casing, when sold as a part of the Blaze 1w/Superflash combo, it’s the gun metal color that is shown in the review.

  • doug says:

    that’s what i use. i like it. my favorite is the first ride after a re-charge, i can see it reflecting off of road signs four or five blocks down the road. tuff stuff!

    however, i have problems with it turning itself off on hard bumps — cleaning the battery contacts helps a bit, but annoying. i think it’s because i ride in the wet whenever it’s wet outside.

    also, i found the mount lacking: i use Nitto Promenade bars, which are skinny MTB diameter. I couldn’t get the clamp tight enough without it being too tight to operate the cam (the lever would bend rather than close). As a result, I had to wrap my handlebar with tape to get a secure mount. Annoying but not a big deal.

  • Timichango says:

    I just bought the blaze 1w this afternoon, and on my first ride the light dropped out of the clip and onto the pavement *twice*, once in the middle of an intersection.

    Craaaap.

  • Alan says:

    @Timichango

    Take it back right away – your LBS should replace it for you. There’s obviously a defect; I’ve been using that mount daily for over two years (on an Ixon and now a Blaze) and I’ve never once had a light fall off.

    Alan

  • Timichango says:

    Yeah, I plan to – I bought it from MEC up here in Vancouver, and their warranty support is pretty bulletproof in that respect.

    I have a feeling that this is an intermittent issue with quality control on their mounts / lights – I used to have one of their 3-led units a few years back, and the clip was nice and snug – there was a fair bit of friction sliding the light in, and the notch on the bracket clicked into place with a satisfying dull ‘thunk’. My girlfriend had the same light around that time, and hers fell out periodically, and was *much* more wobbly in the bracket.

    I get it – for $26 or whatever, you have to expect crappy quality control, and inconsistent molding. The only irritation for me is that I was originally looking for the PrincetonTec EOS bike light at twice the price, but MEC assured me that the Planet Bike lights have increased in quality, and the price was significantly lower which was why they didn’t bother with the EOS – it was simply outgunned by the pricepoint of the PB BLaze.

    Sure, I can go back and get another one, but needing to do so costs:
    • time – I now need to dump an hour of my life to go deal with warranty crap
    • packaging – if I get another one, that’s more packaging back into the recycling stream
    • batteries – hopefully MEC will find a use for the batteries that came with the defective light (or give’em to me), but otherwise, it’s not like PB’s going to stick’em in another for-sale light

    All in all, shoulda mail-ordered the EOS.

  • Alan says:

    It’s all molded plastic stuff. I have an EOS and in my experience the mount isn’t as good as the Ixon/Blaze mount; my EOS has slipped out of its mount and fallen off of my helmet more than once. My only point is that until you get up into the machined alloy stuff ($$), it’s all prone to QC issues.

  • Timichango says:

    I know that it’s molded plastic. I grew up with a father who owned an injection molding plant, and I can say with some conviction that the main things that differentiate the price-point of similar plastic products are design, quality control, and marketing. In the case of the PB Lights, they’re well designed, not overly marketed, and, I speculate, don’t enjoy the best QC.

    There’s no doubt that the clip is well designed – as I said, I’ve owned one with a perfectly satisfactory clip before. But I’ve witnessed two with the same ‘drops-the-damned-lamp-on-the-ground issue’ in the span of 4 years, so I have to come to the conclusion that the quality of manufacture is inconsistent – which mitigates how well it’s capable of working.

    Bummer to hear that the EOS mount doesn’t fare any better. The hunt continues :/

  • Physicsman says:

    1 lm ( lumen) = 1 cd·sr (candela·steradian)

    That is, a light source that uniformly radiates one candela in all directions radiates a total of 4Ï€ lumens.

    The candela is the luminous intensity, in a given direction, of a source that emits monochromatic radiation of frequency 540 × 10^12 hertz (555nm) and that has a radiant intensity in that direction of 1⁄683 watt per steradian.

    In order to use this unit we have to ignore the 555nm wavelength requirement and substitute some band in the visible spectrum.

    Having done this we calculate the maximum lumen output at 1W = (4π*1⁄683)^-1 = 54 lumens

    So if this is indeed a 1W LED then the claim of a 70lumen output is false.

  • Physicsman says:

    My bad. The 4Ï€ shouldn’t be in there and I looked up the LED manufacture specs (70lm).

  • EcoVelo » Blog Archive » Another Year Gone By says:

    [...] Planet Bike Blaze 1W [...]

  • Jansen says:

    can I ask the LP-R600 of the light is how many weight?

 
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