SEVEN DAY CYCLIST
CYCLING, BUT NOT USUALLY RACING
LATEST UPDATE: MARCH 18th
SIGMA BUSTER 700 FRONT LIGHT
132g (light only) £69.99
The Sigma Buster 700 is suitable for road and off-road use, mounted either on the bars or on the helmet. It follows the intelligent design and straight-forward functionality that I’ve come to expect from Sigma. OK, it may not be the best road light or the best off-road light, but for riders who want a general-purpose companion for road and trail jaunts, who like to keep things simple, it has a whole lot to offer.
Pros: well-made with sensible modes.
Cons: no remote.
Open the box and you’ll find two mounts – one for the bars and one for the helmet. The latter includes an adaptor for fitting an action camera. There’s also a couple of shims to aid mounting, the charging cable – and, of course, the lamp itself.
A solid aluminium casing contains a powerful 3300aMH battery, a single Cree LED, and high-quality optics. The underside is ribbed, to act as a heat sink. Sigma say that the battery is cleverly self-protected against overcharging and over discharge – handy, but not so uncommon in good quality lights like these. The charging aperture is covered by a plastic cover that clicks firmly into place. The whole thing feels confidently robust.
Ours came with a screw-type bracket, but there’s a silicone watch-strap type available, too. In fact, sigma offer a good range of spares, all-round.
There are four modes, and Sigma state a range of 100m. More of these below.
The lack of a remote control may not be a deal-breaker, but limits functionality, especially if prime purpose is for helmet mounting.
The press-button switch is also the charge and discharge indicator. Two rapid pushes turn the unit on; a single push toggles through the modes, and a push-and-hold turns the light off. A nice touch for road use, in particular, is that two rapid pushes when lit take you straight form the highest to the lowest mode. OK, with only four modes that may not be that great a leap, but it does help maintain the peace if the need to dip is urgent.
When charging, the switch will glow green when the charge is full, having started at red. Likewise, you can get a pretty good idea of how much life remains: the switch turns green when less than 71% charge remains, turning to red when things dip below 30%. That gives plenty of time to head for home or sort out your auxiliary lighting.
Stowing the light in pannier and pocket, I’ve not managed to get it to power-up accidentally. However, I’ve not found the switch the easiest to operate in thickly gloved hands, although ensuring the bracket is tightly fitted enables a bit more force to be used. Gloves with reinforced finger tips have been best.
It takes a little practice to get used to finding the switch when helmet-mounted, and it is in that context that a remote would be useful.
Brackets and fitting 3.75/5
The after-market watch-strap type of mount would have been my first choice, although the screw-type functions well and hold things just as tight. Neither take long to sort out, so there’s little problem porting between bikes. Bar diameter should not be too much of a problem, and I have used them on 31.8mm bars as well as the slimmer old-school bars that grace most of my machines.
The helmet mount continues the solid and easy theme. OK, it has taken a little longer to get in the ideal position on some helmets than others: vent position and desired location being factors that can require compromise. Mind you, that is similar to most helmet mounted gizmos. My Kali Lunati off-road helmet, for example comes with a its own camera/helmet light mount to fit onto the ridge on the crest of the helmet. A little ingenuity allows the Sigma Velcro-type mount or the Kali mount to be used. Truth is that the Sigma mount is adaptable – the strap being quite long and the action camera type bracket allowing a range of angles to be deployed. Mind you, ensure that the Allen (hex-head) key bolt is tight enough to keep the light at the desired elevation.
Modes, charge, and run times 3.5/5
There are just four modes. I can hear the sound of sinking hearts amongst some fans of more complex and customizable lights. From the perspective of this simple soul, four is plenty – although I could argue for a second flash/pulse option. There is just one of those, with three steady modes. Truth is that they cover all I generally need for day-time running, mixed terrain commuting and moderate paces.
Top “Power Mode” is 700 lumens, with a two hour burn time. Standard (350 lumens) runs for 4 hours, and Eco (170) gives 8 hours of light. The single flashing mode runs for 18 hours. Sigma do not give a lumens rating, but it is certainly good enough for a day-time runner when one is needed on dull days, or an auxiliary light in busy town centres at night when an extra bit of presence is desirable.
Now, run times are pretty much in line with similar models from other quality manufacturers, although its top whack gives 30 minutes more at 700 lumens than the Ravemen CR800 at 800 lumens. Not directly comparable as they are, the Buster 700's Standard certainly gives the CR800 two mid-range modes a good run for their money in terms of run times and, certainly, output.
I’ve found that the run times are a little understated, in my experience. I have generally got around fifteen minutes longer, although, in real world testing, one rarely sticks solely to one mode.
Sigma state a charging time of around 4.5 hours – a bit too long to get away with at the workplace, maybe. This is not especially rapid, but is not unreasonable. Certainly, it will charge in an evening or overnight and be ready for you in the morning. I have found four hours and fifteen minutes has taken it form zilch to full. The special protection against over-discharge should mean that running to zero has little detrimental impact on the battery. However, I’d tend to try and recharge when it dips to 10-20% - a shame the indicator turns red at 30%.
I’ve been impressed using the Buster 700 on the commute on pitch black mornings along unlit canal towpath. Happily, the standard mode has delivered two days to work and back – more when dropping down to Eco on the well-lit city streets. Mind you, that territory is familiar. Heading out onto unfamiliar forest tracks, I’d opt for top whack. Speeds have been between 12 and 15 mph. In Standard mode I’ve made moderate progress at around 15mph on unlit country lanes. The Eco mode has been fine in lit city streets when traffic was light, but either Standard or, as an auxiliary, flash have been deployed amongst heavier traffic.
Fundamentally, lights of this type perform well for the enthusiastic, multi-surface rider, who is not after a PB. All out road-riders will probably prefer the Ravemen CR800, and more serious trainers will go higher still. Likewise, hitting the Red Routes in the dark will require something more like the Sigma Buster 2000, really a specialist off-road light. In that context, the Sigma Buster 700 can take you just about anywhere, but not necessarily at top speed. It can also act as a very handy auxiliary light, whether bar or helmet mounted.
Sigma claim 100 metres of illumination. Well, you’ll certainly be seen from that distance – and considerably further. However, with the light tilted to focus two or three metres in front of your front wheel, the Standard mode, in my experience, gives twenty-five metres or so of clear, pure illumination; Power mode just about doubles this. Having said that, off-road it may well be reasonable to have the beam cast at a higher trajectory, so 100 metres might well be possible. Whatever, there’s certainly enough light to see darkly-clad dog-walkers and their pets on pre-dawn walkies on unlit cycle paths and towpaths – and to take suitable action.
As you’d expect, the beam is cast a little wider than a road-orientated light, but is not a full-flood. Even so, there’s a clean light offering a clear view of the track – and of where the edge of the canal is!
This seems to me to be a replacement for the admirable, but now discontinued, Sigma Buster 800. As such, it seems to offer more punch. It is worth bearing in mind, too, that it is an all-rounder, rather than the more expensive Ravemen CR800, for example, which is aimed at the “faster road rider.”
Ravemen’s PR1600, not to mention their 1200 and 2400, for example, are much more expensive, but offer dual lens coverage for road and off-road, with longer run times and more illumination. Their ideal for the frequent multi-surface night-tripper, but are probably overkill in other circumstances. A lot will depend on how deep your pocket is and how much ‘adventuring’ you want to do.
Another competitor is the Kryptonite FL650 Premium USB front light £74.99 . 650 lumens top, 2 hour run time in highest mode, 2 hour charge time, six modes total.
A well-made light for the general rider, or the cyclist seeking a good back-up for helmet or bars to stick in the back pocket, the Sigma Buster 700 seems to me to offer very good value for money (provided you do not want to be too specialist). It has some nice touches, without being finnicky or requiring too much attention to master it.
Verdict: 3.75/5 likeable, straight-forward, all-rounder, at a very nice price.
PUBLISHED DECEMBER 2021
BUILDER OF STEEL CYCLE FRAMES
Ryton On Dunsmore
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