Brontrager’s DRL – Daytime Running Light technology is designed to make cyclists more visible on the road during daytime rides. The US company has created a range of cycle lights that feature focused beams, longer detectable range and specific daytime flash modes. I have been testing the commuter-friendly Bontrager Ion 350 R front light.
The Bontrager Ion 350 R front light is super-compact in it’s design. The plastic casing is tough and lightweight. The front of the casing has a wide angle optic which houses a single, high-powered CREE-LED. Either side of the front casing are small amber windows for side-on visibility. The front light has a quick-release bracket for connecting to the rubber mount or helmet mount (available separately). The mount itself is a rubber strap which fixes in place with a small plastic hook.
The Ion 350 front light has 5 different modes to cover a variety of riding. Each setting uses varying battery life – ranging from 1.5 hours on full 350LM beam, to 10 hours for the Day Flash setting.
The Night and Day flash modes differ in that the Night Flash is a continuous, steady pulse. Whereas the Day Flash varies in is pattern. The (claimed) charge time is 4 hours using the micro USB cable that is included with the light.
The Bontrager Ion 350 R front light provides a decent output for its size. I tested the light on several urban/city commutes as well as poorly lit cycle paths and dark country lanes. The 5 modes offer a good range for riding in different conditions. I particularly like the Daytime Flash setting. It’s almost sporadic flash makes it very noticeable from a distance. The small amber windows either side of the main light are designed to make the light more visible from the side. Whilst this is a nice feature – I didn’t feel they made a significant difference unless the Ion 350 was set to one of the flash modes. I would certainly class the Bontrager Ion 350 R front light as a light to be seen by – rather than a light to see where you are going. The 350 Lumens kicked out by the CREE-LED offers a good focused beam that works well in low light conditions. However, it’s range doesn’t seem to be quite wide enough to light-up dark country lanes where there is no street lighting. That being said though – for commuting it has plenty to offer.
The compact size makes it a good option for both handlebars or cycling helmets. Although you do have to buy the helmet mount separately. The rubber on/off button also acts as a battery indicator. When the battery is fully charged or the light is in use, the button glows green. But during charging or when the battery is running low, the button switches to red. This will let you change the mode to a less powerful setting in necessary.
My only real disappointment with this light was the handlebar mount. The rubber strap is thin and flimsy and the small fastening hook is fiddly. On bumpy roads, I found the light struggled with the vibrations through the handlebars. I tested the light on both my road bike handlebars (31.8mm) and my old mountain bike handlebars which were 25.4mm. On both bars I found the light didn’t want to stay in place and had a tendency of rotating forward slightly.
Bontrager Ion 350 R Front Light Review
There are a lot of mid-range commuter-friendly lights available. The Bontrager Ion 350 R front light is up there with the best of them in terms of it’s overall performance. I really liked is neat and compact design. It sits nicely on the handlebars without having an ‘in-your-face’ presence. The different modes are very good and the full 350 beam lights the way enough to get you home in low light or street-lit conditions. I am a big fan of lights during the day and the Day Flash mode left me feeling reassuringly visible, even on a bright, sunny day. I do thing a very good light is a little bit let down but the poor handlebar mount. It does its job OK but could be much better by being less flexible.
Despite a slightly disappointing mount - the Bontrager Ion 350 R Front Light is a winner for those looking for a neat and compact commuter-friendly light. Also for those safety-conscious riders looking to be seen during the day.