The nights are no longer drawing in. They have well and truly drawn in. It’s been misty with poor visibility till about 7am every morning, and by 7pm we’re in darkness.
I’ve tried a couple of different types of lights in my time – from the cheapest of the cheap blinkers to £200 lamps that illuminate the road. There is always something new to test, so the lovely team at Global Bike stepped in and sent me some shiny new gadgets – a Femto Drive LED Pair, and a Zecto Drive LED Pair 2014.
The Femto Drive set has an RRP of £21.99, but at the moment they’re on offer for £19.49. These are ‘be seen’ lights, meaning they will ensure that cars see you, but you can’t take them down any unlit streets and expect to be able to see the road.
Like all things Lezyne, they look pretty stylish. They’ve also ensured that the lights will suit commuter riders with a cool ‘clip on’ feature that allows you to attach the light to jeans, your backpack, or anything else, as well as providing a rubber band for fastening to the bike.
These are little lights that you can slip into your bag whilst you’re not riding, and having been the victim of ‘bike light theft’, I’m all in favour of these quick and easy solutions.
Once you’ve removed the packaging, and arranged the batteries correctly, you’re good to go. I’ll admit it took me and my other half a little while to work out which way round the batteries went, but that’s not a big issue. To turn the light on, you just press the lens, which is good if you’re wearing gloves. There are 4 different speeds of flash, and a solid light option.
But what of the beam? For a set of lights at the £20 mark, you get a good bright flare in the dark. These weren’t exactly earth shattering, but they’re pretty bright, especially considering the entry level price tag.
It is worth noting that the batteries supplied (as brand new) with the lights were questionable – initially it appeared the front light was quite poor and the rear very strong. I swapped the batteries and found the reverse. This isn’t so much a slur on Lezyne as their battery supplier.
The Zecto drive really impressed me. At £54.99, now down to £47.45, these are still ‘be seen’ lights, but they’re a pretty incredible version.
Firstly – I was amazed to find a USB cable in the packet – these are rechargeable. That’s something I’ve come to expect from an expensive ‘seeing’ light, but for a fairly affordable commuter bulb, it’s pretty impressive. The USB port is neatly stored beneath a rubber flap, so you wouldn’t expect to get any water damage.
As the Femto, you get clips for attaching to clothing (making this a great ‘second light’) and an elastic band for clipping the light to the bike.
And the beam? At up to 80 lumens on the front, and 20 on the back, depending on the mode you use – these are startling enough to be reassuring on the road. There are 6 modes, and as I tested it in the living room my first remark was “this isn’t a bike light, it’s a disco light!” Seriously, you could set up a load of them and have a party.
On the road, these performed excellently. The rubber fixtures meant the light didn’t move around and I felt safe in the knowledge I had a bright beam. LED’s on the side tell you when you’re running low on battery, too, with different colours depending upon how much juice you have left. Both front and rear last 3-7 hours depending on t he mode you’re on.
The square shape gives a good surface area of light, but it’s worth noting it won’t sit well on an aero, or time trial bike. This won’t be an issue for a commute, but as it’s worth bearing in mind if you’re partial to time trials and like to ride with a light.
Finally – here is a direct comparison. Please excuse my bike for still having panniers, she’s currently transitioning from ‘touring bike’ to ‘winter bike’:
Both sets of lights are effective and well built, but that comes with the Lezyne name and I would expect nothing less. For a USB rechargeable battery, brighter front and warning when the juice is getting low, I’d choose the Zecto, but I’d trust the Femto to get me home if I found myself in a pickle.
Of course, if you plan on riding hard and fast of an evening/early morning in winter, on unlit roads, you will need to crank it up to a ‘seeing light’. A good quality ‘seeing’ bulb will light up the road in front of you, so that you don’t feel handicapped by the dark at all. If this is what you’re after, you’ll be looking for 1000+ lumens, and many of these lights retail at £150+. There are cheaper ebay options, but having tried this, and compared to quality builds from brands such as Exposure and Lezyne, I’d recommend you trust the reputable brands. For the joy of getting out in winter before the rush hour traffic and bombing round the country lanes as comfortably as you would in daylight, it’s money well spent.
To see the full range of Lezyne lights at Global bike, click here.