US cycling accessory giant Lezyne have come up bigger and brighter for their Y9 (Year 9) range of lights. Whilst they have added some new models to the range, unlike many manufacturers Lezyne have not changed the names of their flagship lights. Instead the Californian based company has backed the new performance of the range by adding the lumen output and XL or XXL to the name of its most popular products. We took the commuter-favourite Lezyne Hecto Drive 300XL (its new name) front light out after dark.
The Lezyne Hecto Drive 300XL is a completely beefed up version of it’s predecessor, to the point that it could be see as a different light altogether. Lezyne have moved away from the old long-standing cylindrical shaped lights and opted for an oval shaped aluminium case. This is cut away at the lens, allowing the light to be seen from the sides and gives 180 degree viability. It’s light is emitted by a super-bright single LED which kicks out an impressive maximum 300 lumens on full beam or ‘Blast’ mode. Lezyne have also dispensed with the frustratingly fiddle screw-cap cover for the integrated USB charger, replacing it with a good quality rubber back cap which slots neatly and securely over the tail of the light.
For even more convenience the Hecto Drive 300 XL, like most of the light new Lezyne’s new range come with an integrated thick rubber mounting strap that is secured to the base of the light. This means there are no tools or screw-on brackets to fit the light to your bike – which is a good thing! The strap is also replaceable and can simply be changed but removing an Allen (Hex) bolt that holds it in place.
The nice thing about the new rubber mount is that it will fit different types of handlebar shapes with various diameters without the need for padding or buying a different bracket. This also make life a lot easier for removing the light to charge or if you want to use the same light for different bikes.
See or be seen?
When it comes to choosing bike lights, there are really two main things to consider. Do you need a light to be seen by or to see where you are going? And how long do you plan to ride for. When it comes to the brightness of the Lezyne Hecto Drive, the company has added it’s MOR (Maximum Optical Reflection) lens technology and states that this is a ‘one-piece optic that produces a Uniform Power Beam that is wider, smoother & brighter’. In reality I found the Blast setting (300 lumens) was more than sufficient to light the road ahead on a darkened country lane. However, even when fully charged, choose your setting carefully as the Blast setting won’t see you past 1 hour of riding in the dark.
The Lezyne Hecto Drive 300XL has an incredible 7 modes with outputs ranging from 300 lumens to 15 lumens and burn times between 1 hour and an amazing 18 hours. I have already mentioned the full Blast mode which has a 1 hour run time but what we did like is that as you approach the 1 hour mark, the light will automatically switch to the Femto mode which reduces the beam to 15 lumens to squeeze in a little more running time. We are big fans of bike lights day or night and the Femto mode on the Lezyne is fantastic for daytime riding. It’s 15 lumens are enough to allow other vehicles to see you and it’s up to 18 hour run time means you can spend the day in the saddle without fear of the Li-Poly battery running out. In between the two extreme settings there are 5 other settings including 150 and 75 lumen fixed beams, 2x 50 lumen flash modes (fast & slow) and a 50 lumen pulse mode.
It may sound a little confusing but Lezyne have thought about this too and added a memory mode that will automatically put the light back to the same setting it was on before switched off.
Lezyne Hecto Drive 300XL Light Review Conclusion
It is almost hard to believe that Lezyne are relatively young for an industry leader but they the fact is they produce good quality, well thought out accessories and bike lights. The Lezyne Hecto Drive 300XL a very good example. Despite keeping the same name as the previous model, Lezyne have gone back to the drawing board and come up with something almost completely new. The Blast setting makes this more of a light to see by than a light to be seen. This makes it ideal for riding and commuting where there is little street lighting. But an hour in the saddle can go quickly so unless this mode is essential I would suggest using the 150 lumen ‘Enduro’ setting with it’s 2 hour burn time. I like the fact there is a choice of modes although to be honest, 7 is a little excessive. I think 4-5 would be sufficient. One mode that I was really keen on was the Femto setting. This low powered, 15 lumen output and 18 hour run time, it’s an ideal day-runner light. Adding an easy-to-fit rubber mounting bracket is a nice touch. Having owned previous Lezyne lights with a screw-on mounting bracket, this new feature only added to the overall appeal of the rather smart looking front light.
Available in black or silver aluminium finishes and weighing a claimed 81g (without mount) – the Lezyne Hecto Drive 300XL is available from the likes of Wiggle and Evans Cycles and we think it’s well worth it’s £29.99 price tag.