Fenix BC30 Bike Light,
Dual distance beam -Twin XM-L2 T6
The BC30 is Fenix latest high power bike light and feature twin XM-L2-T6 leds delivering their Dual Distance Beam technology. This is their first replaceable internal battery bike light making the BC30 a powerful and user friendly cycle light for on or off road.
What's in the box
The BC30 come in good quality cardboard box with data and photos on front and back. Inside is a foam cut out protecting the various items, to include BC30 light, handle bar clamp, remote burst switch, user manual and registration/warranty card and a small plastic bag with 3 "O" ring replacement and a couple of rubber inserts to adjust the clamping diameter according to the size of your handle bar.
Initial overview and feel
At first view the light inspire confidence due to its overall quality, usual with Fenix lights.
Housing two 18650 batteries the BC30 is a fairly big cycle light but well balanced in its designed as well as its looks. The light is made of aluminum alloy with a good quality plastic battery cradle and aluminum end cap. The BC30 also has some very impressive features, 1200lms on Turbo, 1800lms on remote burst mode, long run time, low power indicator, adjustable handle bar clamp and their Dual Distance Beam. The BC30 certainly looks at home on my bike handle bar and could also be used around the house or while camping as a hand held flashlight.
The head is satin silver, nice contrast with the satin mat black body, four cooling groves are positioned on each side of the light with an additional six on the upper body.
You can immediately see that the BC30 has been designed for the cyclist has the head has a small visor on the top to reduce the height of the beam and therefore may minimizing slightly the risk of blinding incoming traffic (this of course is subject to the light being properly adjusted on your bike!).
The twin lens is designed to achieve their Dual Distance Beam and is very specific to their system. The internal battery cradle is removable from the rear of the light making the head and body a single mass for better heat dissipation. This works very well with the whole body warming up if no airflow is present.
The cradle has a square cut out on the underneath to facilitate battery removable by pushing the battery out through that opening (well thought out Fenix) They advise you to use flat top and they are right, standard batteries with the raised terminal make the battery removal a little more difficult.
The cradle locking system is easy to operate and the release ring is spring loaded staying in flush with the end cap when not in use. The Battery cradle is made of an aluminum end cap attached to a plastic cradle which looks high quality.
The light handlebar clamping is made of strong plastic rail attached to the underneath of the BC30, which do slide into the handlebar clamp and lock in place via a release catch at the rear.
Again, Fenix are showing good friendly cycling design as the clamp as an horizontal 30 degree side adjustment to compensate for the curvature of many handle bars. I had to change the rubber insert to the two slimmer one, and they are easily replaced and locate securely into the mounting and do give a very firm grip without marking the handlebar.
A small "Jack plug" port with a rubber bung is situated under the light to attach the remote "Burst" switch.
The Remote Burst switch has a Velcro strap with an anti-slip backing and the switch itself has a "glow in the dark" rubber cover. The connecting jack plug has an "O" ring giving a waterproof and firm connection. This need to be pushed in firmly to establish a tight connection, if not the plug will come off! Once again, I am very impressed by the attention to details which went into the design of the BC30.
Utilizes two Cree XM-L2 T6 LED with a lifespan of 50,000 hours
Uses two 18650 rechargeable batteries (Li-ion) or four 3V CR123A batteries (Lithium)
Output mode / Runtime:
Burst: 1800 lumens
Turbo: 1200 lumens / 1h 50min
High: 500 lumens / 5h
Mid: 200 lumens / 11h
Low: 100 lumens / 20h
Flashing: 200 lumens
**Lumen/Run time figures given are from Fenix lab test carried out with their ARB-L2 and they warn you that results may vary due to battery and environment**
Dimensions and Weight:
Length: 4.99" / 126.7mm
Width: 1.97" / 50mm
Height: 1.25" / 31.8mm
Weight: 5.68oz / 161 grams (excluding batteries and handlebar mount)
Instant Burst: 1800 Lumens
Flashing Mode: 200 Lumens
Maximum Distance: 170 meters (557 feet)
Max 1800-Lumen Output
Instant burst activation with the remote pressure switch
Dual distance beam system
4 brightness levels plus warning mode
Digitally regulated output - maintains constant brightness
Quick attach and detach handlebar mount sized for 22mm - 35mm handlebars
Easy, secure adjustment of the light's direction
Made of aluminium alloy and quality plastic
0 - 30 degree horizontal adjustment and any vertical adjustment to satisfy your various lighting needs
High-quality detachable rubber mat included for improved shock resistance
Innovative quick-change battery system for fast and easy battery replacement
Low-power battery indicator
Normal function in heavy rain or thick fog (IPX-6 Rating)
The light is turn on by a 2 second push of the power switch, which will activate your last used constant mode (well done again, no need to cycle through the modes!) then modes can be changed by a single press of the switch, the flash mode can be activated by a double press of the switch once the light is on, to return to the constant mode , only one press is required. To switch off, again a two second press is required. The "remote burst mode" switch will work when the BC30 is on or off and will require constant pressure for illumination to the 1800lms or the highest level according to the power left in the batteries. The low Battery warning system is incorporated in the switch and will turn from green to red when the battery gets low. No data is given regarding run time and light behaviour when the battery light is on red. As this is important to cyclists, have a look to my test results, this do differ enormously according to the batteries you use.
Riding with the BC30
The first thing I notice once turn on; was its neutral tint, not surprising as I am used to cool white cycle and flashlights and this was a little warm for me.
**Please note the BC30 tint is neutral and not warm**
I do prefer the raw white light coming out of cool tint leds for forest trails. (Just down to personal preference).
The colour rendering of the BC30 is very good and did not create some of the harsh shadows encountered sometime with the cool white LED while cycling. The NW generally does not look as bright as the CW but will illuminate better in rainy or foggy conditions and is preferred by some cyclists. I would have liked for Fenix to offer both tints for sale. The beam is very wide with good throw and place a lot of uniform lighting on the ground where you need most see photos. As mentioned before, the fitting and removal of the light is very quick and easy, The battery condition warning light is dim enough not to interfere with your night vision while ridding and is showing through the switch. The body main switch on my review sample sometime required several attempts to change light mode while wearing gloves on a ride.
This may be due to the switch not being raised much from the body of the BC30.
The burst mode switch due to its small size and its velcro strap can be position virtually anywhere on your handle bar. Mine was position on the left hand side just before the gear trigger! What I did found, is that despite the fact that I can always used a little more light on technical or fast section, the difference to my eyes from 1200 to 1800 lumens on a forest trail was not that great (see video) and changing light modes for me was an unnecessary distraction! So I did not use it in the forest but what I did find is; once on the road, the burst mode was a good way to attract motorists attention, like flashing your car headlamp. The Burst mode for me is more of a road feature!
The BC30 wide beam is well suited as an handlebar light and ridding trails with an additional helmet mounted cool white light was a great combination for me.
For road use, I found the BC30 NW tint excellent and found the high or medium setting more than sufficient for non lit roads giving me long riding time.
The Fenix BC30 was tested with my home made light sphere and a cooling fan was used between the readings. (please note they will be a small margin of error for the readings as the BC30 was removed and reposition on the sphere for the various readings)
The test/monitoring was started 2mn after initial turn on, this is in line with ANSI method of testing flashlights. The BC30 was turned onto TURBO then left until it switches itself off. As you will see from the graph, the light did step down to different levels to achieved long run times.
The BC30 was tested with 18650 batteries
3 years old AW 2600mAh (Start voltage 4.2/4.2v, end voltage 3.04/3.66v)
2 years old INTEL 3100mAh, (Start voltage 4.19/4.19v, end voltage 3.04/3.12v)
6 months old PLUZPOWER 3400mAh (Start voltage 4.21/4.21v, end voltage 2.86/3.07v)
New FENIX 2600 mAh (Start voltage 4.2/4.2v, end voltage 3.0-3.06/3.17-3.27v)
Interesting to note the difference in run time with different batteries.
The time given by Fenix is correct but you must realise that the time given by manufacturers are from turn on to turn off and not the time the light will run at a specific output level. Ie you will not get 1h50mn at 1200 lumens, but this is the same for all manufacturers given running time
Manufacters data - Low100 lumens / reading from my integration sphere - 73000 lux
Medium 200 lumens / 144000 lux
High 500 lumens / 346000 lux
Turbo 1200 lumens / 830000 lux
The Fenix 2600 mAh batteries achieve the longest run time on turbo mode (approx 86mn) out of my four batteries tests but the PluzPower 3400mAh did achieved the longest overall runtime with 4h.15 from turn on to turn off (approx 80mn on the turbo level), not surprising due to the extra amperage.
I would be very interested to see what runtime you do get out of the new Fenix 3400mAh batteries?
Outdoor beam shots
Trying to replicate what the eye does see at night via a photo is not easy, so to help a little with your perception of the light performance I have given the film speed, F stop and exposure. I do try to mimic as much what I can see via the camera settings, so you will notice sometime different exposure etc.
ARB-L2 18650 Fenix 2600mAh batteries
Flat top batteries
Please note the batteries are not included in the box giving you the choice of purchasing your preferred make and amperage or used the one you already have.
Please note, that like in all reviews some of the For/Against may be down to the reviewer personal preferences.
For: Fantastic uniform beam, great output even if you disregard the burst mode, good runtimes, long steady turbo mode, lights level are well chosen, easy interface, good clamp and well designed battery cradle, cyclist purpose built light with an attractive look; safe light (30+ mn once red low battery warning is activated) and levels stepping down to conserve power, last used memory mode, very long overall runtimes with 3400 mAh batteries, very comprehensive instruction booklet, remote burst switch, well priced for the quality, features and output.
Against: Very minor points: only offered in Neutral White tint (for some this will not be a negative point), only have one flash mode.
So to sum up the review, if like me you like the internal battery(ies) cycle lights; the BC30 is an excellent choice, the light has very good features, good output and run time for that type of set up and when you look at the like for like competition, for me the UK retail price is attractive.
For me this is a real keeper!
The Fenix BC30 and the 18650 2600 mAh batteries were kindly supplied by Fenix for my review via their distributor: myfenix.co.uk.
myfenix.co.uk also offered a free engraving service for the light.
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