SEVEN DAY CYCLIST
CYCLING, BUT NOT USUALLY RACING
LATEST UPDATE: MAY 25th
OXFORD ULTRATORCH SLIMLINE F100 FRONT LIGHT
The Oxford Ultratorch Slimline F100 front LED light is a compact safety model with 8 modes. 100lumens in constant, is just enough for standalone use in town centres/dual use paths. Being picky, the lowest constant mode is of limited use. However, this minor gripe is offset by the unit’s otherwise practical settings, and long run times.
Pros: Bright, versatile, solidly made and sips reserves.
Cons: Sturdier O ring straps would be welcomed.
The F100 is a slimline design that employs the increasingly standard COB technology. This is where diodes are mounted directly on the PCB, thus allowing more to shre the same space. In this instance, 16. Doing so, produces a more intense output, relative to size. However, these aren’t the only determinant of a light’s prowess.
Since we’re on the subject, these are projected through an ABS plastic lens and fuelled by a 3.7V 500mAh lithium polymer cell. This is charged via the ubiquitous micro USB cable and the port is hidden behind a soft, flush fitting rubberised “foot”.
Aside from protecting against water/ingress, this doubles as a shim, whether mounting to the bars, head tube, or in my instance, fork leg. Like many similar patterns, the F100 tethers via a stretchy O-ring band. I lost one and broke another. A rummage in my spares pot, unearthed several compatible, sturdier patterns.
Eight, should be enough for anyone. There are four constant, four flashing. High is 100 lumens, medium, 50lumens, low 25lumens and eco, 13. Thankfully, there’s a memory function, defaulting to your last choice.
This is a raised, opaque crescent shape, which is tactile and easily operated with thumb and fore-finger. Including those encased in winter weight gloves. Not so easily that it’s vulnerable to accidental nudges, either in situ, or when holidaying in a wedge pack, or jersey pocket.
Switching between steady and flashing, requires a quick double prod. Straightforward enough (assuming you have mounted it to your bars/extension bracket) but requires a bit of practice mid ride.
I’ve stuck to mains charging, which translates as 2hrs 15minutes, zero to hero. Add another twenty minutes, or so if its guzzling from a Laptop or similar, third party device. During this phase, a pulsing green light gives a visual cue, then turns constant when fully refuelled.
Subtle enough to avoid attracting unwanted attention, when charging at work/similar settings. The Lithium polymer cell is reckoned to have a lifespan of 500 charge cycles. A few years, potentially longer- depending on which settings you default to.
Meeting IPX4 (rain) the F100 has taken heavy rain, sudsy bucket washes and other, everyday wet stuff in its stride. To date, even when its been riding on fork legs, I’ve not felt any need for a lick of silicone grease on the charge port.
This is impressive, by any standards. As I said earlier; despite the lack of collimator technology the lens projects a 270degree arc of light. In isolation and when mounted vertically, the highest, steady 100lumens is good enough for being seen in well lit, town settings.
Prompting most people’s attention at around 20 metres. 50 lumens will do, if you’re needing to limp home, along shared use paths. To my surprise, Low and eco are more useable than numbers suggest.
Though probably best as contingencies, should a main light fail, or as companions to old fashioned, pre-stand light dynamos. Visibility is around the 10metre mark, on clear evenings. By contrast and, unsurprisingly, flashing is superb.
Quick flash medium beam is 50 lumens and has been my default-day, or night. Easily visible to 200 metres along unlit roads and clear to moderate nights, there’s enough bite for changeable, or grey days Oncoming traffic seemed to acknowledge at 100-120 metres on the bars, 80-90 on the fork.
It’s also frugal. A bit fierce at close quarters, mind. Not what’s called for in slow moving, rush hour traffic.
Stick with the slow flash low (25 lumens) here. Depending on how much neon you’e competing with, other traffic picked me out at 60 metres, 50 when fork mounted. The slow medium (50 lumens) has been perfect backing singer to my Trelock LS906 dynamo.
Especially when I’ve been stationary at junctions, winching up a very steep climb with said lamp fed from the SP SL9 dynohub , or negotiating bigger roundabouts. I’ve also found its’ helped other vehicles pick me out, as a cyclist (rather than scooter/similar) when thundering along the lanes, navigating with a 2000lumen front light.
These are reassuringly accurate but what we’ve come to expect from Lithium Polymer cells. From full charges, I’ve returned 1hr58 from the 100lumen high constant, between 3hrs 59 and 3hrs 56 from the medium, 5hrs 57 low constant. At the other extreme, using the 25lumen slow flash eco, I rode an entire month and nigh on the 45hours cited, from a single charge.
Slow flash medium (9 hours cited) returned 8hrs 57, its high beam counterpart, 4hrs 59 and the slightly abrasive quick flash medium 17 hours 56. All close enough. Only the most pedantic could find fault here, although there’s not a great deal of visual warning, when reserves are dwindling.
Lighting is getting better every year, or at least what we’re getting for our money improves by the season. In some respects, the Oxford Slimline F100 feels a bit over loaded modes wise. Testing scrutiny aside, for general riding, I’ve alternated between three. Nonetheless, all are very capable and aside from the very highest options, there’s not a massive trade-off in terms of run times. Bottom line, if you want plenty of bang for your buck, the F100 is hard to ignore.
Verdict: 4/5 Capable safety light with plenty of presence and sensible settings.
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