blackburn central front bicycle light review (7)

Sometimes you need a really good front light to get around safely and based on what I’ve seen most people don’t have a really good front light. In fact most people seem to just go with a ‘safety’ light that does little to actually light the way.

I used to be the safety light guy, I was happy to have something small blinking away and rely on street lights to make sure I didn’t hit a pothole or a hedgehog. Then I got a decent light, then a better light and then a really good light in the form of the Blackburn Central Front Smart Light.

This thing packs a whopping 500 lumens of pure unadulterated light into a tough metal body, it ain’t small but the clamp footprint is so it’s all good. It’s not the most beautiful light in the world but it reminds me of a sci-fi laser gun so I’ll forgive it’s lack of sleek lines.

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Attaching it to your bars is a tool-less task, you simply unscrew the clamp, pop it on and screw it up again. I’ve found it to hold super steady with no unwanted movement at all, there are a couple of different rubber pads for different thickness bars which is great. When secured to the bars you can rotate the light left and right in notches to get the beam of light just where you want it which is handy. As is standard these days there is a quick release catch so that you can take the light off and leave the clamp on the bars when you go into bars.

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On the top of the main body there is an ambient light sensor, this automatically changes the power output of the light from 18 lumens right the way up to 500 lumens based on how light or dark it is, with no input from the rider. It’s a great feature that saves precious battery power, gives you just the right amount of brightness at all times and bragging rights over your buddies.

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The beam of the light is great, it’s definitely my favourite beam from my personal light collection. When it’s cranked all the way up to 500 lumens you can see absolutely everything in front of you, I’d say that you shouldn’t need anything more powerful than this unless you’re riding trails. For inner city to suburb commutes this has got your back, 100%.

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One thing I absolutely love about the Blackburn Central Front Smart Light is that it has really good side visibility thanks to a bright strip on each side. None of my other lights have this and it has always left me scratching my head about how such an important feature can be ignored.

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I’m a bit of a mind reader, I want you to think of one thing you really hate about bike lights – I’ll give you ten seconds to think – you hate it when your lights switch on in your bag and run out before you need to use them, am I right? Of course I am! Well there is little to no chance of that with this light because a great big dial replaces the usual buttons to let you cycle through full, half, smart and strobe modes. As well as preventing in-bag-disasters the dial makes it extremely easy to change modes when wearing gloves, anyone that has battled with a light in the middle of winter wearing thick gloves will really appreciate this. But wait, there’s more – the current mode is illumined on the dial using a green/orange/red system which lets you know how much battery you have left. BOOM!

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The battery will obviously wear down fast if you keep it on full beam but even then you should get around 1.5hrs from it which is enough for most people, on the smart mode you can enjoy up to 12.5hrs which is very impressive. Charging is via a weather protected micro USB slot underneath the body, it does exactly what it says on the tin.

What else can I say? Did I mention that you can hold it like a laser gun and pretend to zap stuff? I love this light, the only thing I wish is that it was all black and didn’t have the silver on it but that’s because I’m a top shelf goth. Here are the specs…

– 18-500 Lumens
– Intensity auto adjusts to ambient light
– Runtime ≤ 12.5 hrs Smart, 1.5 hrs High, 3 hrs Low and Strobe
– USB ≤ 4 hr Recharge
– Illuminated fuel gauge levels: Green=100-75%, Orange=75-25%, Red=25=0%
– 195 grams

PROS
– Powerful
– Excellent multi-functional mode dial
– Solid construction
– Smarter than your average light
– Side illumination

CONS
– Not the prettiest light ever
– Not all black, ha

The Blackburn Central Front Smart Light is available directly from the Blackburn website as well as your friendly local bike shop, treat yourself, you’re worth it.