Lezyne Light Review Part One : Femto Drive Rear LED
Experience has shown I should give it some time before reviewing lights. You can tell instantly if the light is going to provide the awareness or intensity you require, but using them in the rain offers a different type of test; waterproofing. Now with three months of dark nights behind us, I can provide a balanced review the Femto Drive.
Until now I'd standardised on Mars Blackburn's, with a 3.0 attached to the back of my cycle helmet and one Mars Blackburn 4.0 on the saddle stem. Both models had performed well, but the seals on a couple of them required attention, repaired by one my most reliable 'Danish solutions' - black electrical tape. (In fact they were fairing significantly better than my front lights. I now only had two of four Cateye HL-EL130/135s currently working. The problem was again water - rain had gotten into the unit and corroded the battery contacts, rendering them useless.) With my commuting route now on more dangerous roads, I thought it would be good to invest in an additional rear light, perhaps clipped onto the saddlebag or rear down stay.
I have purchased 'Lezyne' products before (and at some point I must get round to reviewing the 'Road Drive' pump), and to date they have been well designed and reasonably priced. On a random trip to Lewes, East Sussex, I discovered a bike shop - the Cycle Shack to be precise, located as a concession within the Intersport store. As well as stocking Genesis bikes, they had an impressive array of Lezyne accessories - including the Femto. It was small,easy to fit but packed a decent punch, courtesy of its 5 different flashing modes. 'Full beam' so to speak would not be sufficient on its own, however the variety of rapid flickers would draw attention to the presence of me on the road. That was my objective. At £12.99 each I bought two and fitted them immediately to the Spesh and Trek single speed.
Suffice to say, it took me longer to decide where to put them than fit them. A very robust rubber band slots in behind the clip, allowing the rest of the band to be wrapped around whatever part of the bike you choose. Very simple, extremely effective. The light itself is made out of CNC machined aluminium and comes in a number of colours. Mine where silver. It's powered via 2 'old school' batteries - CR2032 - which apparently provide 60 hours of light when flashing. I cannot attest to this yet. The clip is sturdy enough to attach to the top of affair of over-trousers for example or a loop on the back of cycling jacket. I was now ready to test the lights on the road.
From the rear, the bike looked like a Christmas tree decorated with red bulbs. 3 lights, all flashing at different intervals. There would be little excuse for not seeing me. On this particular commute, unfortunately, my ride from and to work were conducted in terrible weather. I got soaked both ways. The lights though seemed to perform well....or so I thought. The following weekend in a fit of pique I decided to do something very uncharacteristic - clean my bike. During that process I absentmindedly tested the lights, only to find one of them didn't work. Closer inspection showed that somehow water had already gotten into the battery housing and had corroded the contacts. Switching batteries made no difference, the unit was dead. After some mild haggling, the folks at the shop exchanged the unit for a replacement. However it demonstrated that unless the back of the unit is screwed in absolutely as tight as it will possibly go, water will find a way inside the unit.
As an inexpensive 'visibility enhancer', the Femto does a perfectly decent job. It will not replace a main rear light but it will help to remind other road users of your presence. As just mentioned, you need to be careful with the screw seal on the back as it can be prone to leaking. For £13 I believe it still represents good value.
For more information of Lezyne products, visit www.lezyne.com
@intersportLewes and the Cycleshack can be found in the High Street, Lewes, East Sussex
Lezyne accessories can also be bought from other good local bike shops and www.wiggle.co.uk