SEVEN DAY CYCLIST
CYCLING, BUT NOT USUALLY RACING
LATEST UPDATE: MAY 25th
XECCON ZETA 1300R WIRELESS FRONT LIGHT
337g inc battery £109.99
The Xeccon Zeta 1300 Wireless Front Light is a four mode model producing 1300 lumens in top and Xeccon reckon, suitable for trail and town alike - a pretty tall order from any system; let alone those giving change from £100. External battery packs may be a deal breaker for some but decent output and practical run times mean it’s a good option for riders wanting one light for commuting, training and exploring.
£99 buys the lamp, external 8.5volt 5200mah battery pack, helmet and handlebar mounts and a remote trigger. The latter is primarily intended for helmet use, though it has a huge range. I discovered it will command the light through solid brickwork and a distance of 8ft! Thankfully it hasn’t hijacked action cameras or interfered with other localised tech.
The lamp itself is tiny, (36x31.6x28mm) perfect for clutter-phobic cockpits and attaches to the bars via a choice of beefy O-rings, which so far, offer a vice like grip on standard and oversized diameters. Don’t worry if you’re prone to losing them; they seem universally compatible with everyone else’s.
Inside the neatly CNC machined, black anodized shell lives a single Cree XHP50 diode, circuitry and switchgear. Lens and reflector quality seem a notch higher than I’ve come to expect of Far Eastern “master blasters” and the flat, centre mounted switch cum battery indicator a welcome change from the squidgy jelly types.
Now a quick word about the battery; while comparatively cumbersome, the 8.4V 5200mAh cell isn’t overly heavy, or intrusive - the paint friendly neoprene carry sack just bulks it up a bit.
Two to three hours mains charging are what we’ve come to expect from this breed but the Zeta’s requires a full 5hrs 30, 7hrs if it’s been run completely flat. On par with the Moon Meteor Storm Pro but not the most practical for workplace recharging.
Spare/replacements are available for £29.99. Experimentation confirmed it also worked handsomely with some Magicshine batteries and some unbranded auction site specials.
Small enough for a jersey or poachers type pocket, this could extend riding time -potentially dusk’ til dawn and overcomes the workplace charging politic.
Powering up defaults to high - 825 lumens - press again to unleash the ultra high (1300), subsequent prods staircase down to medium 450 and low comes in at a town friendly 120 lumens.
The bar mounted remote trigger makes selection considerably easier mid-ride, say leaving the sticks and entering city limits.
Battery life is communicated “traffic light” fashion via the lamp mounted switch. It’s easy to read; green indicating 100%-75% Blue 75-25%, whereupon it turns red. I’ve managed 3hrs 23 when using the ultre-high setting (1300 lumens), 50minutes on red before I was unexpectedly plunged into darkness. Thankfully, I cruised the final miles home with a set of blinkies and a 200 lumen helmet lamp.
Like most high power systems, given forty minutes in the highest settings it also generates a fair bit of heat - even allowing for cooling air generated while riding. At a more moderate 450 lumens, we’re talking three hours. That said; while it’s the sort that will thaw out icy digits, it won’t singe them when you’re locking in the street and stripping the bike of tempting goodies.
I accidentally left ours running overnight in the high setting - a good 9 hours. It was still running in green and though hot, still temperate enough to touch, suggesting the thermal conduction system works very well. I then managed a further four hours in high!
Quality of output is also impressive. As our bar cam footage illustrates, the full 1300 provided sufficient detail for 30-35mph (faster on the descents) even into the corners, which isn’t always the case at this end of the market. Combining flood and spot ensures a decent spread of light, while alerting bigger, faster vehicles to my approach.
Most oncoming traffic dipped their beams at around 120 metres and wherever possible, I reciprocated. However, occasional moments of forgetfulness haven’t induced angry retort.
Trail riding proper demands both bar and helmet lighting, although there’s sufficient bite in this mode for impromptu forest and bridle path fun. I’ve managed 3hrs 26 minutes from a full charge, although intelligent use of power meant I’ve been able to get a week between charges.
High is 825 lumens, which proved a good match for my hub dynamo powered Exposure Revo light - more than adequate for rural contexts to around 23mph. Other traffic dipped their lights in recognition from 80 metres and though bright, according to friends, I didn’t scorch their retinas. I’ve managed a similarly impressive seven hours - adequate for a week’s middle distance winter commuting.
Mid is another sensible choice, producing 450 lumens. Tame enough for town centres, yet providing all the presence and advance warning of potholes, broken glass you could want. Like the torch type commuter fare boasting similar numbers, it starts feeling decidedly underpowered for semi-rural navigation beyond 15mph, although being seen wasn’t an issue.
Low is quoted as being 120 lumens but feels more powerful and literally sips reserves - I’ve managed the full 38 hours and within 20 minutes using an older, compatible unit.
However, so-so peripheral bleed stopped short of being ideal for town duties. Strobe’s 420 lumen and pulse rate is better in these contexts and assertive enough when used as a daytime option.
With religious dipping down and using all four modes, letting rip with the full 1300 along the darkest lanes to neon soaked city centres using mixes of 120 and pulsing, I have still managed ten hours from a fully charged battery.
Ultimately, I’ve been impressed by the zeta 1300. It’s a very useable model that takes long haul back road scratching, the occasional bridle path blast and town riding in its stride.
However, some minor things scream “budget!”
For example, while the lamp and switchgear seem well sealed, the battery pack is less so. Thermal regulation tweaks power to protect the diodes once operating temperatures hit 80 degrees, I would’ve liked an intelligent failsafe that would kick down, rather than shutting off once reserves hit critical.
While the unit doesn’t slip around the bars, the flat bladed retaining screws need to be kept tight - I’ve had ours slip downward mid ride and at some speed. A knurled tool free edge so I could nip it snug until the next rest stop would’ve been welcomed.
Pros: Compact lamp with good quality output, practical modes and run times.
Cons: external battery pack, lack of intelligent kick down.
Verdict: 3.5/5 Wallet friendly high power system with road practical settings and sensible run times.
PUBLISHED OCTOBER 2016
BUILDER OF STEEL CYCLE FRAMES
Ryton On Dunsmore
Coventry CV8 3FH