Review: Blackburn Central Front

It dims automatically when ambient lights are bright

Lights Lights Shootout

2015 Lights Shootout

Blackburn Central Front Lens View

The Blackburn Central Front light has a couple tricks up its sleeve. First, it senses ambient light and dims its light output when it’s bright in the surrounding area. The theory is when it’s bright enough in the surrounding area, the rider does not need as much light to see.

Its other unique feature is a robustly built case with a rotary switch. Unlike most modern lights with a tiny light switch that scrolls through a bunch of light modes and even controls light programming, this light sticks with a basic rotary switch. It’s a bit of a throwback, but it is effective for users who want a simple switch that is easy to use in all conditions.

Construction is first rate on the light unit and the mount is solid. The light is big too, so heat dissipation will never be an issue with this light.

But the light sensing technology of this unit may be flawed in concept. It functions to save battery by dimming down when there is more ambient light, but as a ‘to be seen’ light, more light is actually required when the surroundings are bright. So dimming down may not be the desired behavior by some cyclists, especially in busy downtown streets at night.

Of course the light can be set in ‘fixed brightness’ mode if the auto-dimming is not desired, but that is the key feature of this light and what the user is paying for.

Finally, the the price of $120 is on the high end of the competitive spectrum with 531 measured Lumens. Most lights in this price range have 750 Lumens and the light doesn’t have a spot either to allow the rider to see far ahead when traveling at a high speed or on a trail

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 »

Blackburn Central Front Backyard Beam Pattern

Integrating Sphere Measured Lumens

This light measured 531 Lumens in an integrating sphere. Claimed Lumens by the manufacturer is 500 Lumens. Compare all Lumen Tests here »

Strengths
  • Auto dimming when ambient light is bright, thus saving battery
  • Good construction
  • Honest output
  • Simple rotary switch
Weaknesses
  • Auto-dimming behavior may be reversed for ‘to be seen’ cycling needs
  • Price is high for the output level of 531 Lumens
  • A bit heavy for the output at 195 grams
Specifications
  • Price: $119
  • Claimed Lumens: 500 Lumens
  • Measured Lumens: 531 Lumens
  • Lumens per $: 4.46 Lumens
  • Lumens per gram: 4.72 Lumens
  • Time on High: 1:30 Hours
  • Charge Time: n/a Hours
  • Mounted Weight: 195 grams
  • Category: Commuter
Overall Rating

Good construction and good innovation, but the automatic dimming of the light may be reversed for some users.

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

For more information visit www.blackburndesign.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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