SEVEN DAY CYCLIST
CYCLING, BUT NOT USUALLY RACING
LATEST UPDATE: MAY 30th
SIGMA BLAZE REAR LED LIGHT
The Sigma Blaze rear LED light is built to meet strict German stVZO lighting standards. It's powerful, without being brash and the automatic sensor functions work very reliably. However, in common with others using “braking” technology, this function can put a big dent in run times, if your rides involve longer, slower climbs.
Pros: Bright, well-made, reasonable charge time.
Cons: Braking function can put a big dent in run times and cannot be switched off.
In common with its Infinity sibling, the Blaze employs a polycarbonate lens with collimator technology, designed to project the beam of light exactly where it’s needed, ensuring you can be seen, without dazzling approaching traffic. Aside from being a good thing, it’s a key requirement of the German stVZO standards. Being the stuff of riot shields, it’s also very strong, so an obvious choice for lights and other stuff exposed to the elements. Behind the lens, we have three diodes-one for lighting, the other two engage under “braking” or more accurately, when the sensor detects slowing. These are all the same output but are not, (as I initially thought) the same employed in the Infinity.
This cannot be switched off, which may be a deal-breaker for some. However, there are daytime and nighttime functions, meaning the integrated sensor will automatically dis/engage the light, as required-say if you’re entering a dark tunnel, or road encased with trees. Sigma do not cite lumen outputs, preferring to cite visibility of 500metres.
Fuelled by a 3.7V 320mAh lithium polymer cell, the Blaze features a two-stage battery indicator, for a more precise gauge. Weatherproofing is splash resistant, as per IPX4, which is a little low in the top trumps sense, but practical enough for commuting and general road-biased riding. The port cover fits snugly, and I’ve had no problems during the test period. That said; I’d be inclined towards a quick, precautionary lick of silicone grease if shunning full-length guards during the winter months.
This is a top mounted rubberised design-easy to spot and command, even wearing winter weight gloves. A firm half-second press brings it to life and into daylight running mode- braking only. A subsequent press brings night mode, meaning both the light and braking functions are operational. No issues with unwanted power-ups to date.
This uses the same “ladder strap” design as its Infinity stablemate, hooking to the light via two little lugs, it’s very reliable and I’ve had no issues with posts between 25.4 and 27.2 diameter-there was plenty of strap to spare, so I can’t see any straining with oversized models either. I’ve also tethered ours using an 'O’ ring strap from the bodge box, which in my view, gave a cleaner aesthetic and satisfied my curiosity. So, no major dramas, should you lose the OEM unit.
Charge/Run Times 3.5/5
The Blazes charges via the ubiquitous micro-USB cable, so no need to worry if you lose that supplied. Charge times are cited as 3 hours. In practice that’s been exact when plugged into the laptop/similar device and around 15minutes quicker, from the mains. Sigma cite a maximum potential run time of 7 hours, which seems competitive, especially when compared with other models employing a braking function.
Unlike some, the braking function cannot be switched off. In the night mode and on a solo bike, I have returned 2.45-6hours from a full charge, depending upon my own pace, traffic and climbs. The braking function engages for three seconds, every time the motion sensor detects a drop in pace, which consumes a fair bit of juice if you’re grinding along.
This was most apparent with low slung touring trailer trundling belong my tubby tourer on 20-mile loops, 2hrs 45. When it’s been tethered to my beloved 30-year-old road bike, or my pared to the essentials fixe gear TT build, I’ve just crossed the 6-hour threshold-when riding flat courses. Tubby tourer sans trailer has averaged 5hrs 15.
Output is impressive- in day and night modes. Sigma doesn’t cite a lumen output but suggest its visible from 500 metres. It’s certainly come close on some dark, starry nights, especially when the braking diodes have chimed in and its quite fierce at close quarters, say if you’re following behind on a group ride but seems to keep approaching cars, vans and bigger vehicles at a sensible distance.
No-one has drawn alongside to complain of being dazzled. Misty mornings and along unlit roads, friends reckoned they could pick me out at 150 metres, which is still plenty of braking time.
Peripheral punch is also decent. Posts are the intended hosts, but I’ve found wishbone stays, or high on the seat stays similarly effective. At darker junctions and some, bigger roundabouts I’ve felt safer with a flashing model, but the braking function supplies added punch. The bigger surface area, compared with its Infinity stablemate also helps in this respect. Through town, bargain on 150-200 metres.
Bigger vehicles such as HGVs, busses and vans certainly seemed more attune to my presence. Running flashing model on the bike and switching the Blaze to my helmet boosted things quire considerably (275-300metres) but the lens’ collimator technology stopped short of dazzling/antagonising
those following close behind in stop-go situations. In bright sunlight, the braking function still held its own to around 80 metres, 100 plus when things turned overcast.
The Blaze feels reassuringly solid and to date, I’ve had no issues with water, or similar ingress through some very wet rides. No surprise but I’ve also ours in situ while giving bikes sudsy bucket deep cleans, rinsing with a garden hose. The odd stray stone has scored a direct hit but again, being polycarbonate, the lens has just shrugged.
£27.99 is competitive and the StVZO accreditation is a definite plus, especially if you regularly ride through sub/urban contexts. If this isn’t top of your list...
Magicshine See Me100 is £28.99 pumps out a maximum of 100lumens. (Admittedly this denotes the braking part-72 lumens is the brightest light setting.) However, it has an ambient light setting and the braking function can be disconnected, to extend run times.
Oxford Ultratorch R75 also comes in at £29.99, pumps out a maximum of 75lumens, projected through a collimator lens. It meets IPX65 for weatherproofing and charges promptly. However, the battery life indicator is more basic than some.
Ravemen CL05 USB Rechargeable Lightweight Sensored Rear Light (30 lumens) comes in at £25.99 has very frugal run times, several modes, auto stop-start and is much brighter than the numbers suggest.
The Sigma Blaze is a very potent rear light with solid build and nice touches. Assertive in all contexts, stVZO compliance means its bright but won’t dazzle, so well worth a look, if you’re regularly negotiating the concrete jungle. The ability to switch the braking function off, would be welcomed. However, if you’re keeping a consistent tempo, run times are quite reasonable, especially compared with some others boasting “braking” functions.
Practical enough for middle-distance training and commuting, although personally, I’d to be inclined towards its Infinity sibling for dusk till dawn Audax and other marathon riding.
Verdict: 3.75/5 Decent light, especially for regular town riding but braking function merits revision.
PUBLISHED OCTOBER 2021
BUILDER OF STEEL CYCLE FRAMES
Ryton On Dunsmore
Coventry CV8 3FH