04/03/2014 | 3 comments
There was a time when any decent bike light set you back a fortune. Then many riders discovered that you could buy insanely cheap offerings direct from the Far East. These lights might not quite be able to rival the very best offerings, but they do more than an adequate job. The only catch with them is that they’re sometimes a bit hit and miss when it comes to quality and reliability, and sorting out any problems after buying them from so far away isn’t always the easiest. That’s where these C&B Seen lights come in.
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The guy behind the company, Ben terry, got into lights almost by accident. Like so many others he was fed up with the high price that most companies were asking for their lights and so he went in search of some decent ones for sensible money. That led him to get in contact with a whole load of factories in the Far East who were making these kind of lights and before he knew it he had a whole load of samples. It then quickly became apparent to him that despite lights seeming very similar on paper they noticeably differed when it came to performance. Some even looked the same yet again varied in performance. This apparently is due to the fact that there’s often say one company who makes the aluminium light housings, and they then supply several different other factories who assemble their own light within that housing.
Anyway, to cut an even longer story short Ben eventually found a little factory that he felt was producing the best of the bunch. Of course the light itself is only half the story, there’s also the battery to consider. Once again Ben did a load of digging and this time he discovered that it was definitely worth not scrimping on this front, and as a result he reckons his batteries will last for longer than most.
The end result is that C&B Seen are now selling a whole range of lights which sell for little more than the very cheapest eBay offerings, and yet if you buy from this company you’re safe in the knowledge that you’re dealing with someone who’s based in the UK and holds stock of any spares that you might need. Judging by the many glowing reviews on various forums this company also offers great customer service. In fact they haven’t really done any promotion of their lights up until now, yet they’ve sold hundreds purely through word of mouth.
The two lights shown here both provide 1200 lumens, and unlike some other cheap lights that seems like a relatively realistic figure. The blue light is slightly heavier and is probably better suited to use on your bars, whereas the black one is smaller and lighter so perfect for helmet mounting. Unless you really need to save the extra £10 I’d recommend going for the lighter one as the beam patterns are almost identical and you can still mount that one to your bars should you wish to. The black one also comes as standard with a diffuser lens (to help reduce the ‘hot spot’), a helmet mount, a fully sealed waterproof battery, and a 1m extension lead. These upgrades can be bought for the other heavier light but at £10 that puts both the lights level price wise. Oh, and to prove the fact that all lights are not equal, Ben has also found that the smaller light runs for longer despite the fact that on paper it’s meant to last for the same amount of time. If you’re looking for even more power then C&B Seen also offer two of the smaller units as a 2400 lumen package, and likewise if you need more battery power for 24 hour races and the like then they also sell spare batteries for just £19.99.
Of course it comes as no surprise to find that not everything is perfect when compared to some of the best lights on the market, but then again these are a fraction of the cost. Even with the diffuser the beam pattern still isn’t perfect, but then again unless you’re directly comparing you’ll be more than happy with these. It’s the same kind of story with the various settings. You get full beam, low beam, or flash. The thing is though that you can only switch between the different modes within five seconds of switching the light on. If you press the switch after that time it’ll simply turn off. To be honest though we don’t reckon that’s a massive issue considering that these lights will happily run for four hours on full beam, and at least the button is easy and positive to use compared to many other lights. The mountings are nothing to write home about, but again they do the job. It has to be said though that the quality of the cables and connections are definitely a step up from many of the other cheap lights that we’ve seen.
Overall then these look to be incredible value lights which are backed up by excellent customer service. These lights have purely come about because a rider like you wanted something better, and now they’re offering what they discovered to all you lot. There’s no flashy website, just good products at good prices.
Blue Light: £41.36 + £3.99 postage
Black Helmet Light: £51.35 + £3.99 postage
Photos: Ben Winder