XECCON MARS 30 COB REAR LIGHT
The Xeccon Mars 30 COB rear light has better build and better presence than the numbers would imply. However, the bracket, though not beyond redemption, needs redesigning.
Inside the Xeccon mars 30's big clear ABS plastic dome (which reminded me of a Portuguese man o’ war, without the tentacles) sit 30 diodes. These follow the chips on board narrative.
Sitting them directly on the PCB means more can be crammed into the same space, thus providing greater visual punch, compared with more traditional models of comparable output.
These are fuelled by a 300mAh lithium ion cell, which is reckoned good for (number) of charge cycles. It charges via the usual android type USB cable and refuelling takes a relatively pedestrian 4 hours but on the flip side, flashing sips reserves.
Now, the “smart” element lies in the unit’s ability to switch to a 30 lumen, constant mode, theoretically to denote braking.
Given brake lights aren’t standard fare on bicycles, there’s little to suggest other traffic recognises this particular signal but it seems intense enough to keep other vehicles at a comfortable distance.
The main unit feels very solid, more so than typical of this price point. The USB port is positioned out of harm’s way and the plug fits very securely. Although Xeccon don’t cite an IPX rating, I’ve had no problems, despite some pretty heavy downpours. Blasts from my garden hose, haven’t revealed any obvious weaknesses either.
This is a sensibly proportioned side mounted affair, intuitive to use and locate, even wearing full-finger, winter-weight gloves. Depressed for two seconds brings it to life and subsequent, single nudges cruise through the modes. Debate rages, but for the most part, three modes cover the basics competently. Powering down also requires a constant, two second press. This and the relatively positive feel means unwanted, bottom of the bag engagements will be rare events at worst. There’s no memory function for the three modes; high, flashing and daylight 20, 10 and 30 lumens respectively.
This is a hybrid of hinged and watch strap and very disappointing, since I was never able to get the knurled plastic pin wound tight enough. This meant, over the course of an hour’s riding, the light would be misaligned, often projecting upward, beneath the saddle, rather than driver eye-line.
There is scope for seat stay mounting, which proved an excellent alternative. I moved ours below the cantilever posts on my fixed gear winter/trainer, which largely overcame its tendency to stray.
The highest, steady setting (20 lumens) is good and projects a decent 180 degree cloak of light. Generally speaking 30 lumens is my benchmark for lonely lanes and faster backroads. However, this is mitigated to some extent by the auto-default to 30 lumens when the light senses you are decelerating/braking. Provided the hinged bracket hasn’t slipped, the 20 lumen mode is visible to around the 175 metre mark, 100-125 through built up areas.
I’ve had 12 hours from a fully juiced battery in flashing. Steady is reckoned good for 3hours. I’ve managed 2hrs 43. Either way, the switch’s battery life indicator will begin flashing when reserves drop to 15%.
Now, the “intelligent” braking is useful to a point. While bright, relative to specification, none of these settings are what we’ve come to expect of a daylight mode. There’s a pregnant pause, a second or two before it registers change of pace and therefore, disengaging However, the increased presence when breaking on a wet, overcast day, is definitely a bonus.
The Mars 30 is a potentially an excellent light for the money but scuppered by a silly bracket. If seat stay mounting works for you, or you can persuade it rest against a wedge, or saddle bag, then you have a bargain.
Otherwise, something like Revolution Vision COB offers better bracket and 30 lumens for almost a tenner less.