Another excellent piece from the folks at Streetfilms.
To me, nothing says summer like the taste of dust in your mouth after riding a few miles on a dirt road through Vermont farmland. On Flickr →
—Aaron Collins, South Burlington, Vermont
The recent advancements in LED technology have been a real boon to bicyclists. Just a few years ago, lighting systems powerful enough to illuminate the road sufficiently for riding at commuting speeds could cost into the hundreds of dollars. As LED emitters have become more efficient, small, lightweight bicycle lights have become powerful enough to be used as primary headlights. Along with increased output, these diminutive lights also have longer run times and virtually infinite “bulb” life.
Planet Bike has just introduced a new 2-watt LED headlight called the Blaze 2W. It looks nearly identical to their popular Blaze 1W (the 2W is black, the 1W is white), but as the name suggests, the output is double. Like other Planet Bike lights, the case design is sleek and simple and the weight is kept to a minimum. The handlebar clamp is nearly identical to the Busch & Müller clamp and it’s one of my favorites. It adjusts to any bar size without the use of rubber sleeves and the quick release is quick, yet secure. The overall build is excellent for a light in this price range.
Over the past couple of years I’ve used the popular Fenix L2D as my benchmark battery-powered headlight. The L2D is actually a flashlight that, when combined with a TwoFish mount, makes an excellent bicycle headlight. Up until now, the L2D provided just about the best balance of output versus run time in a 2/AA powered LED headlight, so it made sense to compare it to the new Blaze.
As you can see by the above beam shots, the Blaze is noticeably brighter than the L2D. The Blaze beam is ever so slightly tighter, with a little less spread. The L2D beam has softer edges and is generally more diffuse. The Blaze does a better job of illuminating the road surface near the bike and throws a beam out at least 20-30% further. Overall I feel as if the road is better illuminated by the Blaze.
The Blaze is powered by 2 AA batteries. Run times are good with 5 hours on high, 12 hours on low, and 18 hours in flash mode. For comparison, the L2D runs 4 hours on the same 2/AA set-up. I’d stay away from the flash mode except during daylight hours; it’s far too intense to direct into the eyes of oncoming motorists at night.
Obviously, these runtimes indicate the use of rechargeable batteries. If you don’t have a charger, Thomas Distributing is a great source. The Maha chargers are nice and they pay for themselves in no time. The Deluxe 8 Cell “Pro” Charger is fast, reliable, and highly recommended.
Generally, we recommend dynamo lighting systems, but for those who only occasionally ride after dark or don’t have the budget for a dynamo wheel and matching headlight for every bike, a small, but powerful LED headlight like the Blaze 2W is a great alternative. At $59.99 you’ll be hard-pressed to find another light that provides so much output for the dollar. Highly recommended.
About Planet Bike
Whenever I review one of their products, I like to point at that Planet Bike donates a full 25% of company profits to grassroots bicycle advocacy organizations. Learn more here.
Disclosure: Planet Bike is a sponsor of this website and provided the Blaze 2W for this review.