SEE SENSE ICON 2 REAR LIGHT
The See Sense Icon2 is the latest in the firm's family of intelligent lights. Aside from being very bright, it's highly tuneable and for the most part, very frugal. It can also collect data about road surfaces and even send for help, in the event of a crash.
Pros: User Friendly, Highly tuneable, with great outputs and relatively generous run times.
Cons: Switch profile proved tricky in full length gloves, clothing clip a missed opportunity.
Well, it’s difficult to fault. No less than I'd expect (having run the original Icon for a good while) but features are genuinely useful and build quality reassuringly high throughout.
Production is focused locally, within Northern Ireland, which has several major advantages. Aside from having much greater control over quality, it enables See.Sense to make rapid, cost effective changes to a design/model, at least during the early phases. COB (chips on board technology is as ubiquitous as central heated houses these days) but these are positioned in a matrix formation. This theoretically cloaks rider and machine in a cloak of light, rather than providing a single focal point.
This is boosted still further by a powerful Cree unit. Theory goes, this formation, coupled with the modes/settings (stock and rider tuneable) simulates and maintains road-user awareness, making it much harder for the person driving a following vehicle to tune out.
Speaking of tuning, the app enables you to pair the light(s) with your phone. Aside from being able to personalise outputs/settings, it can advise you of battery health/power levels and can record a wealth of other facts. These include the surfaces conditions you've been experiencing and indeed, distance covered, number of calories burned. There is also an "interesting ride of the month."
I wonder if this may also be a means to futureproofing as automated vehicles enter our public highways. Diodes are amplified through an ASA Luran Polycarbonate lens, which I am told, is particularly tough. I've accidentally dropped our test unit on several occasions, and it's been launched from a bracket mid ride (more about that later) with no sign of damage, whatsoever.
Staying with this a moment, it meets IPX67 for weather proofing, which means it can withstand immersion, in 30 metres of water, for up to 60 minutes. Not that I've come anywhere near that, but its good to know!
The low-profile rubberised switch commands six factory modes, which frankly, met my needs just dandy, without needing to pair with their app (although I have done the download bit) but good thing we're not all the same.
Though I wouldn't describe the switch as difficult per se, it’s a low-profile design, which has proven slightly fiddly in some winter weight gloves. Obviously, memory functions and the ability to tweak settings to suit helps but it’s probably the only that I've been disappointed by.
Android & ANT Apps allow these to be programmed and a wealth of other GPS derived, rider generated data to be collected. Including road surface damage/imperfections - and, yes, potholes. It can also send a message to your appointed person, in the event of a crash, or yourself, to alert theft.
The android app has been as simple as the next really. I had a few teething troubles, much attributable to a wavering wi-fi signal. As with most systems these days, rider/user data is encrypted, so as secure as anyone can get things.
Stock modes are: Solid, Flash, Twin, Burst, Pulse and Eco. Not forgetting brake mode, which could be particularly useful for trailers and tagalongs. When the unit detects "medium to hard braking" one half will light up solid, the other remain flashing.
Once momentum is observed, it will revert to flashing. It will also detect when you are at slower sections-junctions and roundabouts, intensifying the output, in these contexts. I should also point out, save for ECO flash, straight from the box all run at 300 lumens.
Thankfully, these can all be regulated to suit environment, via a series of sliders, on the See-Sense App. This is fairly straightforward to set up, and connects via blue tooth. With the phone and light in relatively close proximity, they will connect and communicate very quickly. Start with the Test version to develop familiarity, before committing to the public version, if you don’t fancy going fully integrated.
The mount looks a little quirky but is actually very stable. Post mounted, I've had no issuers with standard and slightly quirky diameters. (25.4-27.2). Using the aero mount, I've also achieved secure and reliable tenure, using the aero mount to seat stays and box section tubing, including my Yak homage trailer.
Whatever your preferred location, be sure that the serrated edges of the light are fully engaged with the bracket. It’s not difficult but takes a few times to become counter intuitive. Oh, and don't be tempted to deploy a clothing clip from an earlier model.
I was warned by See Sense that the Icon2 would be too heavy. I called their bluff and I stand corrected, as it bounded across some particularly battered tarmac. Icon2 was retrieved, completely unscathed. The doughnut style strap has turned a little flabby with regular un/couplings.
Nonetheless, it’s still perfectly serviceable but replacements and compatible patterns are easily acquired from bodge boxes/friendly local bike shops, so hardly a deal-breaker in my book.
Charge Times 2.5/5
Given the output and sophistication, I anticipated relatively long charge times and wasn't disappointed. The charge level indicator is very clear and gives ample warning, so being plunged into darkness is really down to rider oversight. Either way, straight from the packet give it a full ten-hour charge.
Frankly, this is best done from the mains, using a suitable adaptor. I've plugged it in to the K-lite USB charger and given it some juice, during the day, since mood and opportunity struck. Otherwise, aside from checking run timers, I've generally left it fuelling from the mains, overnight.
Weather resistance and durability are extremely impressive, all round. Generally mounted low on my Univega's seat stays, or my low-slung Yak homage, it’s been blasted by a fair bit of mucky unmentionables, subjected to torrential rain, not to mention regular sudsy bucket washes and hosepipe rinse-downs.
In a word, superb. In every mode and stock form. The 300lumen daylight flash is very extrovert, even in strong winter sun but particularly effective on those steely-grey overcast December days.
At a conservative estimate, we reckon 350 metres, due in no small part, to the matrix formation. Flash has been my default, due in part to its blend of presence and frugality.
Along the darkest roads and in filthy weather, friends reckoned they could pick the Icon2 out at 325 metres and approaching vehicles, regardless of size seemed to brake early and give a generous berth. It’s worth noting, the unit's intelligent technology means it flashes more intensely and faster at junctions and roundabouts No problems being spotted at unlit junctions, or when negotiating larger roundabouts, to date.
That said, save for a trailer, tagalong, or possibly, a recumbent, unless you are exclusively tackling unlit roads, you'll need to download their app and tweak those modes. Save for day flash, I've defaulted to Eco in built up areas, which has the added advantage of sipping reserves. Even on the murkiest, wettest evenings, Eco seemed visible at 75-80 metres, from every angle, given the units ability to self-regulate.
Experience has ingrained a practice of carrying two rear lights-just in case. (I tend to run both, one in steady, the other in a pulsing/flashing mode). However, the Icon 2's solid block is incredibly obvious and also seemed particularly good at keeping drivers at a respectful distance.
Again, friends on bikes, or indeed driving reckoned I was easily visible at 300 metres, probably further at certain speeds. Peripheral punch was equally compelling. Characteristics that also lend it particularly well to trailer/tagalong service since, in my experience, while a driver may spot the rider, they aren't looking for an attachment.
Despite being someone who has a very disciplined approach to charging lights, and indeed, other tech, I like the option of being able to monitor battery life, via the app.
On a more practical level, there is the motion sensor. If it doesn't register movement, within three minutes, it will power down. Re-engaging once you get going again. This isn't quite instantaneous, but seemed to kick in within 30 seconds, or so.
Run Times 4/5
I wasn't surprised to discover the factory pre-sets pretty close to those quoted. However, these can vary, depending on whether you're doing long, steady road miles, or more intensive, stop-go town work.
There have also been a couple of occasions where the battery has mysteriously lost charge but charge levels are easily checked, via the app, or gently depressing the switch. Unused, the charge will deplete to the point of exhaustion, within four days.
Again, not a major issue, but something to bear in mind. Aside from cross referencing run times, I've tended to trickle charge ours on day rides, using the K-light USB charger, tucked in the See Sense Bar Bag.
I have returned between 1hr 47 and 1hr 54 in the solid mode. Long commutes involving a mix of unlit lanes have seen me default to the flashing/pulsing modes. Flash, Pulse and Burst being my defaults. I've returned between 15hrs 53 and 15hrs 56 (16 hours cited maximum) Pulse has returned between 5hrs 12minutes and 5hrs 53, depending on whether rides have been town-centric, or more typically for me, steady night rides along unlit lanes and B-roads
Similar story with burst. Obviously, these can be personalised and tuned for performance/economy via the app, so room for further variance. I've run ECO in built-up areas, where its proven surprisingly effective. Reckoned to return 40hours from a full charge, too. I've cruised past 20 hours, with the charge indicator just below mid-point.
Decent blinkies can be had for £20, or less, including Oxford Ultratorch R50 Slimline Rear Light which is great news for all of us. However, the level of sophistication and tuneability employed within the Ico2 and its predecessor are phenomenal.
Plug in, app driven lights have definitely become "a thing" and a trend that's likely to become increasingly mainstream. Knog's Cobber is £59.99 and can be tuned via their app. However, it doesn't offer the Icon family's ability to record a bewildering array of data. I'm still a big fan of the Icon+ , but the Icon2 is, for me, an improvement.
The Icon2 is for me, an improvement on its otherwise impressive and likeable ICON+. I'd be the first to agree that £79 is hardly cheap and its a system that takes a little while to become truly familar, thanks to the level of sophistication and power. The Icon2 should be viewed as sophisticated safety system, rather than a light per se, which makes direct comparisons with others, rather tricky. The switch merits improvement, especially given the asking price and I'd like to see the inclusion of a suitable clothing/luggage clip, too.