Looking for a better handlebar-mounted bike light? This Fenix handlebar mounted light has an innovative digital display, a thumb-button remote, and a fair price tag to boot.
The Fenix BC30R bike light earned a GearJunkie Best In Show award at the 2015 Outdoor Retailer Summer Market for its innovative use of a digital display. We got our hands on one to test, and the Fenix blazer did not disappoint.
Fenix BC30R Review
It’s late fall, prime night-biking season. Over the past month we have ridden with the Fenix BC30R light on nocturnal rides and races, and despite a few small drawbacks, our staff universally agrees this light deserves praise.
It is a 1600-lumen beast that delivers a killer new feature — the digital display, which reveals the run time remaining for its battery. (more on this feature below).
Bike Lights are GearJunkie’s bread and butter because we can observe real differences between run time, beam pattern, brightness, and build quality between different models. The Fenix light has set a new mark on the quality/value ratio charts in our lab.
Best Bike Light For The Money?
The Fenix BC30R might be the best light for the money we’ve seen. We are fans of some Glow Worm and Magic Shine options on the “value” side of the spectrum, and Light & Motion offers some superb choices on the premium quality side. But the Fenix BC30R finds a middle ground, and with little compromise.
The Fenix is near the top in build quality and beam pattern, introduces a few killer new features, and it’s near the top in value as well at an MSRP of $140.
At a max brightness of 1600 lumens, there is enough illumination for anything. The light creates a virtual window of daylight even at its medium-level setting; its high beam is brighter than many car headlights and only needed in extreme cases, including rugged mountain biking trails at night.
OLED Digital Display
The most outstanding feature of the light is its OLED digital display of remaining runtime. Change the light’s brightness and the computer will recalculate the remaining run time at that brightness.
We tested the accuracy of the readout and were impressed — this duration-remaining feature is especially great for commuters or users who ride less than 2 hours at a time (riders who ride more will likely recharge it after every use).
For a commute of less than 30 minutes it might last all week. But with the runtime display, you can be sure about when to bring it inside to plug in for some juice.
The turbo remote is another great feature. A small remote control plugs into the micro-USB port on the light and can be mounted to be used for either thumb.
The button instantly boosts light output to the highest setting, whether the light is running on low, or even if turned off entirely. We found that the button is especially useful for signaling to vehicles or for spotlighting a dicey feature on a dark trail.
The BC30R uses a dual beam system that throws the light in an even, useable pattern. We liked the brightness close to the bike as well as the long-range throw to allow for anticipation of obstacles well up the road or trail. The color of the light might have been a bit too cool, but we had no way to measure this, and it was not so far off as to be noticed by some of us that tested the light.
The mount was better than most. Once we learned that it has to be clamped down a bit harder than first expected, it worked well. It appears to be built to last. We especially liked that the bolt does not fall out when the unit is unmounted. Details like this are what make a product worth buying.
Quality & Value
The Fenix’s specifications are equal to or better than anything else on the market. Take, for example, the Lyzene Deca Drive 1500XXL or the TAZ 1500, two of Fenix’s competitors, and you will find virtually the same brightness and runtime duration but you’ll also find a higher price tag (about double!). What’s more, the competition does not have a runtime display. The only thing you give up is perhaps a bit of build quality and side illumination (on the TAZ).
Fenix BC30R Cited Run Times
- Burst: 1600 Lumens – 1 hr 45 min.
- High: 800 Lumens – 2 hrs. 35 min.
- Med.: 500 Lumens – 4 hrs. 30 min.
- Low: 200 Lumens – 11 hrs. 50 min.
- Eco: 100 Lumens – 20 hrs. 20 min.
We Did Not Like:
The charging port is a micro USB. We like the idea, as it’s superior to a proprietary system. But the port is recessed a bit into the body of the light, making the use of some cords finicky, as the male end of generic cords is not long enough to reach into the port far enough to make contact. A small gripe, but one that could be a buzzkill if you can’t find the “right” cord when it’s time to charge.
Lastly, the unit is not American-made. We have seen large gaps in quality between the durable options from Light & Motion, Nite Rider, Lezyne and others (the American and German brands lead the way. But this light looks and feels like it’s getting close to that premium build.
Is the BC30R the best light we’ll ever see? Of course not. The LED light game changes so fast that making a heavy investment is generally not a good move. But especially at this price we like this light enough to spend our own money on it. It’s the best value on a handlebar mounted light on the market right now, and an overall excellent light.