Planet Bike Blaze 1W
Planet Bike’s Blaze 1-watt LED headlight is what I consider a high-end budget headlight. I know that sounds like an oxymoron, but allow me to explain. In the world of commuter bike lights, you can spend as little as $10 to get an acceptable level of visibility on the front of your bike, and as you eclipse the $20 mark the safety factor goes up dramatically. At $45, the Blaze offers the level of quality and features a serious cyclist demands. In some respects, it even offers some advantages over lights in the $90 to $175 price range.
For example, Planet Bike’s simple Quick-Cam adjustable bracket works impressively well. A rubber strap combined with a cam mechanism allows the unit to fit a variety of bars and doesn’t let the light dip or slip. Like most quick-release mounts, there is a tiny bit of play between the light head and the mount, but it wasn’t enough for me to complain about.
The Blaze also accepts plain old AA batteries, which is pretty economical if you use a set of rechargeable lithium ion batteries. What’s more, if you get caught riding home at night and your batteries run out, you can simply get some from the store—a couple bucks is a small price to pay for safe passage home. With 7 to 14 hours of runtime per charge, a set of batteries should last most commuters a week if not more.
Unlike the high-priced commuter lights in my collection, the Blaze is really just bright enough to be seen, not bright enough to see in the dark. It may cast enough light to traverse a flat bike path at low speeds, but I wouldn’t want to rely on the Blaze in the woods or on the dark, hilly roads outside of the city at night. I’m also hoping I don’t find myself running low on batteries and forced to use the light’s stroboscopic SuperFlash mode. I don’t even have epilepsy and I found myself a gnat’s hair away from having a convulsion when it’s on…
Jokes aside, the Blaze seems like a solid value. Based on my experience with other Planet Bike products, including the venerable Beemer headlight, the Blaze is built to last. Planet Bike backs up their products with a limited lifetime warranty, and of course 25% of their profits go to bike advocacy.