SEVEN DAY CYCLIST
CYCLING, BUT NOT USUALLY RACING
LATEST UPDATE: MARCH 18th
SMART VULCAN 28 LED FRONT LIGHT
32g (inc. strap) £26.99
The Smart Vulcan Front Light is a three mode blinkie with plenty of punch for night and day running. There are a lot of these about, but there’s plenty to attract your attention to the Vulcan.
Pros: plenty of intensity, with competitive run times.
Cons: no memory mode.
Dimensions of 70x32x32mm are around the norm for such lights as this, and a weight of 32g (as tested, including strap) is, likewise, not unusual. Three modes offer 50 lumens for 2.5 hours in steady, 100 for 10 hours in megaflash, 25 for 20 in superflash. Charging the Li-polymer battery should take around two hours. There’s a blue indicator light that goes from flashing to steady when charging is complete. Low power? The light automatically changes to flash.
Sensible design promises good presence from side-on. Talking of presence, 28 LEDS suggests intensity, though not as powerful a battery as some – such as the 36 on Knog’s Mr. Chips – but should be plenty.
The polycarbonate lens, though which the workings can be seen, has an IPX4 rating. Don’t throw it in the canal: you should be ok in rain.
A rubber pad keeps paintwork safe, one end folding back to reveal the USB (wire is provided).
The strap is a simple rubber minimalist watch strap – a square of rubber with a stretchy loop on either side. OK, not sexy, but sensible. According to the blurb, it has, “a unique versatile bracket design that integrates smoothly onto a cyclists seat post, seat stay, rear rack, helmet or even mudguard.” We’re testing the front light here – the rear is a different animal.
A firm push is needed to activate the lug-like switch. Good for avoiding accidental pocket-activatio
Charge and running time 4/5
A blue indicator flashes to indicate charging, turning solid when full. Ours took two hours and five minutes on the mains, ten minutes longer via the laptop. This was a little over the quoted two hours, but insignificant, in my opinion. Needless to say, it’s a USB charger.
Two and a half hours on steady is less useful than some when it comes to seeing the way, but does enable a limp home if all else is lost. Even so, presence is very good, easily visible at fifty metres, and more, on dark lanes, and some thirty in bright lights. Even so, for the latter “superflash” has been my default Th. OK, I rarely hit the really bright lights, so on busy roads I have tended to go “mega.” However, twenty hours at 25 lumens is a very healthy default for general commuting, and is pretty much what ours achieved.
The switch is on the side of the lugs that secure the light to the very stretchy rubber strap. A very firm push powers up and down and runs through the modes. No pocket illuminations, so far; it is a very firm push. Mind you, even soft-tipped full-finger gloves, such as Showers Pass Waterproof Waterproof Knit Gloves, have not prevented changing modes with the light mounted on the bars – although squeezing both lugs is necessary in that case.
If simplicity is your bag, then there are distinct advantages, to having just three modes On the same front, default flashing when power dips low is blindingly obvious. There’s no
memory mode, but that should not trouble the brain too much.
At 25 lumens we have a presence at a hundred or so metres on straight country lanes, less when we hot the lights of the suburbs. In some situations, the hundred lumens “megaflash” can be a bit too much; however, as a day time runner it has attracted attention very effectively at forty to fifty metres; similarly, in the real bright lights. Equally, on busy roads, the extra power has given confidence.
There’s lots of light to be seen from the side, too – in all modes. Very nice to know at junctions and roundabouts.
The Vulcan 28 has held tight over speed-bumps and pot-holes, mounted on fork and bars. I have stretched it onto the front on a Kali Therapy helmet without snapping the strap. Mind you, mounting there just seemed to cause annoyance to other cyclists and pedestrians. I was not totally surprised by unhappy reactions to a light mounted at eye level on commuting routes.
I’ve had no trouble with moisture ingress into the USB port, which is pulled tight against whatever you have mounted it on.
Moon’s Gemini front light comes in cheaper and has more modes. Mind, its top whack is eighty lumens – effective, but not with the same impact, nor, in my opinion, the same attention-grabbing intensity.
Oxford’s Ultratorch F100 offers a 100 lumen steady mode with a run time of nearly two hours – 20% shorter than the Vulcan.. It is a tenner cheaper than the Vulcan. On the other hand, it is not so strong on peripheral presence, in my opinion.
The Vulcan 28 is very simple, is adaptable, often beats competitor’s presence, and has relatively strong run and charge times. I’ve seen it that ten quid cheaper, too, on some well-known websites.
In the white-hot competition of front blinkies, the Smart Vulcan is a competitor at the higher end of the price range. Ideal as a day time runner or a safety light at night, it may lack the multiple-modes of some, but simplicity may be your bag. A strong candidate for your commute or, given the hearty run time, a little extra presence on longer nigh-time jaunts.
Verdict 3.75/5 Good all-round presence with simple operation, but there’s a lot of competition.
PUBLISHED NOVEMBER 2019
BUILDER OF STEEL CYCLE FRAMES
Ryton On Dunsmore
Coventry CV8 3FH