SEVEN DAY CYCLIST
CYCLING, BUT NOT USUALLY RACING
LATEST UPDATE: MAY 30th
SEE SENSE ICON+ REAR LIGHT
The See Sense Icon+ rear light is a very clever combination of safety aids - a high performance LED light, with the bells ’n’ whistles you’d expect and some you wouldn’t. The concept has been around a little while and judging by our sample, the British firm has listened and continuously refined the design. This version produces 250 lumens (125 per diode) and is reckoned 30% brighter than its predecessors.
Build quality is extremely high. The ridged polycarbonate “Fresnel” lens produces 180 degree cloak of light without unwelcome dazzle, something I initially found difficult to believe, given the seriously fierce output.
Constant is extremely bright but not irritating and, though the flashing/strobing/pulsing combinations suggest they’d induce a seizure, the intelligent system responds to intensity of vehicle lighting and adjusts accordingly, so dazzling is a moot point.
Not only can the system tell whether you are stationary, filtering through stop-go slow-moving traffic, it even “knows” when you are being approached by a car (with its headlights on), or travelling in low light - say through a tunnel. In these contexts, it will automatically increase its brightness and, where appropriate, flash rate to signal your presence to other road users.
This lack of presets has made it very difficult to evaluate real world run times in the usual way but using the flashing modes, I’ve consistently achieved 12.5 hours from a full 5hour wall charge - the “fuel gauge” traffic light system green (100-75%) amber (75-25%) and red (25% downwards) keeps guesswork to a minimum.
The system is extremely well sealed against Mother Nature. There is a thick rubberised mid seal and the lens is screwed into the base with 4 1.5mm Allen screws Even with a USB charge port, it still meets IPX67 -f ull blown immersion in water, up to a metre deep.
A big, precision-fit, rubberised plug port cum bracket has clung limpet like to round posts between 25.4 and 31.8, adding further protection from wet, silty ingress - even off road. An aero version is also available.
Ours has also sniggered at regular, close range blasts from my high-pressure garden hose. I certainly wouldn’t bother adding a lick of silicone grease here. My one minor gripe is that, while a generic pattern, getting them to slot in can prove fiddly.
OK, let’s focus on the other tech, specifically the “distress” and “movement” modes. These work via downloadable smart phone app and though not something you’d want to set up twenty minutes before a friend’s due to drop by for a ride, its pretty straightforward.
Some Apple users report glitches, but I’ve not had any problems with the android version. This can also communicate with the lights individually, or as a pair, so if you’ve several, they can all be controlled via that application. You can now use it to switch your light on, switch between modes, adjust brightness, check the battery and engage those anti-theft/accident alerts.
Since we’re on the subject, this latter function engages when your phone is 3 metres away and will trigger an alarm via your phone. This won’t deactivate until you actively choose to disable it.
Personally, if I don’t physically have my hand on my bike(s) they are locked. However, this will also alert you to vandals and could be very useful at home or overnight when your bike is sleeping in the garage/outbuilding, but doesn’t work if your phone’s switched off.
Security aside, sliders on the app permit effortless adjustment of brightness for performance and/or economy, it can also be set to turn the light off after three minutes inactivity, or you walk 3 metres out of range.
If that wasn’t enough, I’m told See Sense are trialling a data collecting option Icon-recording things like road surface quality, light quality, near misses, crashes etc. This can then be uploaded anonymously to the “cloud” and supplied to local authorities - theoretically to help build better infrastructures.
The physical switch is perfect; positive and easy to locate/operate in winter gloves. There is no doubting the ferocity of output. The highest, constant setting is very potent, though that’s where the intelligent system comes in.
Belting along the pitch-black lanes, others commented they could spot me from a good 300 metres away. There are a series of flashing settings too, which are incredibly painful at close quarters, say when setting up for the first time but again, the self regulating component means they’re assertive, rather than anti-social.
Peripheral bleed is perfect round town, especially at big roundabouts or concealed junctions and anecdotally, the alternating oscillation speed encouraged most drivers to pass wider and more courteously.
I did get a shock on three occasions when the Icon+ unexpectedly shut down. The first being on a busy unlit rural road with 60mph limit, where I was held at a junction for approximately four minutes - the Icon+ went to sleep. When run in the highest, constant setting along pitch black roads, it burns incredibly intensely.
On two occasions, seventy minutes in, the battery was completely spent and again, shut down. Thankfully I always run a backup blinkie. See Sense recommended we update the firmware to version 56, which has solved the problem, so bear this in mind when setting up.
Taking everything into account, I’ve been seriously impressed by the Icon+. I’m not completely comfortable with the idea of sharing too much data and indeed, how it will be used. Then again, this goes for any GPS type technology.
£79.99 isn’t cheap by any stretch of the imagination. Potent blinkies can be had for £20 but then the Icon+ is not simply a light and is literally brilliant in so many respects.
Verdict: 4/5 Brilliantly executed safety light but not completely fool proof.
PUBLISHED OCTOBER 2016
BUILDER OF STEEL CYCLE FRAMES
Ryton On Dunsmore
Coventry CV8 3FH