Review: Fenix BC30

Dual-beam, good light color in self-contained bike light

Lights Lights Shootout

2015 Lights Shootout

Fenix BC30 Front

The Fenix BC30 is a self-contained, flashlight style light with two LEDs for a dual-beam pattern. Dual beam is a key advantage of these types of light heads, where the light can focus on both width and throw. The BC30 does quite a good job at this with a big beam, but with pretty good spot for distance.

One of the things we noticed with this light is the color, as it is more yellow than this year’s crop of lights. It’s almost akin to the Halogen days of more yellow-ish lights before the advent of HIDs. This light tint doesn’t seem as bright, but it’s actually really good for shadows and contours as the rider’s eye is able to detect rocks, ruts and bumps more easily on terrain, especially when using bar mounted lights.

Video: Test loop with the Fenix BC30. Camera is on a locked ISO setting and is set to Wide Angle mode

This light doesn’t come with batteries and that is a bit of a pain as it doesn’t say that on the website or packaging clearly. One has to buy their own 18650 pair of batteries and charger. We factored that in to the pricing adding $40 to the $100 price of the light without battery or charger. This gives it a quality set of batteries and allows us to make it an easy apples to apples comparison with the rest of our lights which come with batteries.

Deceptive

The box and the web information on this light keep claiming ‘max brightness of 1800 Lumens’ but as we measured it, 1200 Lumens was the output. It turns out one needs to plug in a remote switch and keep it pressed to trigger an ‘overdrive’ mode which is 1800 Lumens. This can only be done for a few seconds since the LED is not designed to be safely driven at this output.

This is pretty deceptive advertising that we hoped would be weeded out of the light industry by now. It’s a good light at 1200 Lumens, so just label it that. The 1800 Lumen boost mode can exist, but don’t claim that as the light output if the light cannot be consistently run in that way for a whole battery cycle. Aside from that, our light kept shutting down and requiring the batteries to be taken off every time we tried to run it at 1800 Lumens with the button pressed. And realistically, one cannot safely hold the button down while descending at full speed, which is when a ‘boost’ mode would be needed.

Beam Pattern Photo

We photographed the lights in the same location setting with the same camera settings. The photos were taken in the back yard that is approximately 25 yards long. These photos feature many objects and a distinct background to analyze detail and beam pattern. Compare all Beam Patterns here »

Fenix BC30 Backyard Beam Pattern

Integrating Sphere Measured Lumens

This light measured 1283 Lumens in an integrating sphere. Claimed Lumens by the manufacturer is 1800 Lumens. The Lumen-hour graph below shows how the light performs over the first three minutes of its battery cycle. Compare all Lumen Tests here »

Fenix BC30 Lumen Chart

Strengths
  • Dual beam pattern is bright, wide and has good throw
  • Construction seems quite good
  • Good value
  • Mount works well
Weaknesses
  • Doesn’t come with batteries and it doesn’t state that clearly enough
  • 1800 Lumen claim is deceptive
  • Battery hatch is difficult to close
  • Remote switch doesn’t turn the light on and off. It only works to overboost the light
Specifications
  • Price: $160
  • Claimed Lumens: 1800 Lumens
  • Measured Lumens: 1283 Lumens
  • Lumens per $: 9.16 Lumens
  • Lumens per gram: 7.97 Lumens
  • Time on High: 1:50 Hours
  • Charge Time: 5:00 Hours
  • Mounted Weight: 161 grams
  • Category: Flashlight/High End
Overall Rating

4 Flamin' Chili Peppers 4 out of 5 Flamin’ Chili Peppers

It’s a good light, but it’s marred by 1800 Lumen claims and no batteries are included.

For more information visit www.fenix-store.com.

This article is part of Mtbr and RoadBikeReview’s 2015 Lights Shootout. To see all the bike lights tested CLICK HERE.


About the author: Francis Cebedo

The founder of mtbr and roadbikereview, Francis Cebedo believes that every cyclist has a lot to teach and a lot to learn. "Our websites are communal hubs for sharing cycling experiences, trading adventure stories, and passing along product information and opinions." Francis' favorite bike is the last bike he rode, whether it's a dirt jumper, singlespeed, trail bike, lugged commuter or ultralight carbon road steed. Indeed, Francis loves cycling in all its forms and is happiest when infecting others with that same passion. Francis also believes that IPA will save America.


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Wordpress Comments:

  • Endruu says:

    I read on the Fenix Website that 1800 lLmen only
    available in Burst Mode with the Remote !

  • diylighter says:

    What batteries did you use to test the runtime? Brand and mAh?

  • duder says:

    I disagree with saying they claim it as an 1800 light yet it only gets 1283…it’s pretty clear they claim 1200 is the high running mode, and 1800 is a temp mode. It also isn’t 1 spot beam and one flood. Both beams are the same…spot and flood at the same time. Not a very knowledgeable review guys, how about some impressions of how it works? And how did you spend $60 on 2 18650’s and a charger? Quality of both can be had much cheaper, $30ish.

  • Francis Cebedo says:

    >>I disagree with saying they claim it as an 1800 light yet it only gets 1283…it’s pretty clear they claim 1200 is the high running mode, and 1800 is a temp mode.

    Good feedback. The ‘max output 1800 lumens’ is on the box several times. So we’ll attest that this can only confuse buyers. We adjusted our battery and charger pricing to $40 and that’s just sticking to MSRP on Panasonics.

    • Lukas says:

      I still think your report of the measured vs. claimed output should be a comparison of the same mode. You measured 1283 lumens on a mode that is claimed to produce 1200, yet you compare it to the claimed output of a different (higher) mode. That’s at least as misleading as what it says on the package and muddles things further.

  • duder says:

    Again… reading the box (mine arrived yesterday), its clear 1800 is maxed out and only a temporary use. Max running lumens is 1200…just feel that you dwelled on something that was spelled out and a non issue, instead of reviewing a light.

  • diylighter says:

    I bought this light, and there were no surprises. I read the runtimes for the modes and it was clear that the 1800 was not for any length of time, and that you got in this mode with the remote. It’s not like other no-name lights that clearly are being deceptive.
    Also, batteries not included was something I was specifically looking for, having been burned on past cheap battery packs.

    I see what you are saying, but there seem to be multiple buyers that were not confused.

  • RJ2 says:

    Per the packaging: Max 1800 Lumens. From the pictures above, I don’t see 1200 listed on the box. Otherwise, it looks like a good light. Instant burst activation? Sounds like disingenuous marketing babble.

    • diylighter says:

      Okay so I think the intention of the 1800 burst is for road/commuting, considering that this is a multi-purpose light. Ideally, the button should change modes low/med/high, rather than activate burst for mountain biking. That would be a great feature to not have to take you hands off of the bars. Fenix – are you listening??? Real user feedback, and a winning feature request that would translate into competitive advantage among comparable lights.

  • a says:

    “This light measured 1283 Lumens in an integrating sphere. Claimed Lumens by the manufacturer is 1800 Lumens.”

    Was this tested with the max 1200, or with the extra temp 1800 button? So is the 1200 max really 1283 lumens, or is the 1800 only 1283?

  • Jeremy says:

    Best flashlight I owned so far.

  • John says:

    Used this for several months, including during a 24 hr road event. Outstanding light in this price class. You can get same or more light in smaller package…but it will a much higher price range. Even after buying set of rechargeable batteries and charger. Battery time estimates for various modes have been accurate with rechargeable 18650 batteries (Tenergy 2600 mAh). As shown in MTBR test the beam is wide. Perfect for use alone or with a spotlight beam helmet light. Mount a bit bulky but seems solid.

  • Vitas says:

    Hi all. I fully agree with all the guys who state that this is an incredible price/performance combination for the light in such a price range. Bust mode works well for me in situations when I need to pick up some shadows on the road. Battery works well and on the overall – great product. Would highly recommend it to any MTB riders and regular commuters alike.

  • breg says:

    fantastic torch. slightly heavy but it does have 2 18650 batts side by side which do take up a lot of room! the bust mode for me is a great feature for letting drivers know they still have their high beams on. only small complain from me is the slightly fiddly button, not great in bulky winter gloves. its a solid bit of kit though, dropped numerous times and its still just fine. bar clamp is superb also with a nice long thread. very good commuting light with great colour from the leds

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