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Verdict: 
Innovative and very well executed town/contingency light
Weight: 
55g
Contact: 
Fabric FL150 light
8 10

Fabric's FL150 is a compact front light, its sturdy 6061 aluminium body measuring a tidy 77x20mm, with some very useful features. See those windows along the top section? These, coupled with reversible brackets, mean it doubles as an emergency front and, yes, rear light.

This four-diode strip is designed primarily as a contingency unit for limping home with, or using as backing singer to something more powerful. There are two settings – white and red – which engage in that order, with solid, pulsing and flashing modes for both.

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Used in this mode, the solid 30-lumen output is a little impotent, but coupled with a 4-hour run-time could prove a godsend should a main system go down, or that early afternoon ride extend further than planned.

Fabric FL150 - rear mode.jpg

Fabric FL150 - rear mode.jpg

As with the Fabric FL300 I tested previously, peripheral presence is relatively poor when mounted horizontally and, to a lesser extent, vertically. Pulsing and flashing are better bets in emergency situations; better still, they'll run close to the 19 hours cited, and the rear just about provides enough be-seen-by presence for pitch black lanes.

Full on

Used conventionally, the single Cree diode is capable of 150 lumens. Four modes are offered: full, medium, pulsing and flashing. Switching between modes requires a definite press and is a little tricky to locate in full-finger, winter-weight gloves, but means accidental switch-ons in a bag are unlikely.

In full beam, the FL150's pool of light feels broadly comparable with similar competitors, such as Electron's F150. The hybrid spot and flood beam is more than adequate for speedy suburban/urban riding, though along darker sections, such as railway bridges, minor imperfections in the beam quality become more apparent – holes and glass less so.

The pure arc, fish-mouth cutaway lens and proportionally good pool of light do give plenty of presence, and not just around town. Along the back roads, other traffic picked me out at a good 40 metres. I've managed 2 hours between charges with no problems.

Medium mode is around 70 lumens and okay for well-lit town sections, where being seen is the main priority. It's no better or worse than others boasting similar numbers, and sips reserves for a very reasonable 3 hours before powering off.

> Buyer's Guide: The best front lights for cycling

Flashing is more than adequate for dull, overcast days. The slightly frantic tempo is very distinctive and friends say visible at a good 100 metres, further on clear, starry nights. I've certainly felt reassuringly conspicuous when negotiating roundabouts and other turns in congested, rush hour traffic.

Pulsing is almost as effective and arguably kinder on other road users' retinas when caught in pockets of slow-moving traffic. Both are reckoned to run for 7 hours. I've come close – 6hrs 58mins, dipping to 6:54 and 6:53 consistently since the first outing.

The integral lithium-ion cell requires a full two hours for mains charging, and another 20 minutes from laptop or PC ports. Unusually, it flicks from red to clear, not green, when fully juiced. The direct USB charging stick keeps things minimalist, but I've often resorted to an adapter in tighter spaces.

Mount

Now this is very sleek. Doubling as a protective cap to the direct USB plug-in, it features a rubberised foot that achieves a good finish-friendly purchase on standard and oversized bars, seatposts and seatstays.

The rubberised straps do a decent job of holding everything in place, although O-ring types will also do in a pinch, should you lose the originals.

Mounted on the stays, or on bikes without mudguards, it will accumulate silty, gritty stuff, so whip 'em off and rinse regularly to prevent swirls in painted, lacquered and anodised finishes.

With a little ingenuity the light also mounts atop most standard road and trail helmets, where – combined with a powerful bar-mounted main light – it came in really handy for reading road signs, maps and foraging through luggage for tools, keys and so on.

Ultimately, the FL150 is a surprisingly capable light for town riding and contingencies. It performs consistently well in all its guises, although for an extra £10 its FL300 sibling may represent better value.

Verdict

Innovative and very well executed town/contingency light

road.cc test report

Make and model: Fabric FL150

Size tested: n/a

Tell us what the light is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

Fabric says:

Be seen and get home safe

The 150-lumen CREE headlamp casts a powerful beam on the darkest streets. A strip of four LEDs that glow red or white allow the light to be used at low power as an emergency 'home safe' option.

Versatile, multi-position mount

The supplied, highly-adjustable mount allows the light to be positioned vertically, horizontally and at many points in between, on handlebar or seatpost. Made from tough nylon, it holds the light securely in an airtight grip.

My thoughts: Innovative town/contingency light that genuinely delivers in all contexts.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the light?

Burn Times:

150 lumens headlamp

Full power: 2 hours

Medium Power: 3 hours

Strobe: 7 hours

Flash: 7 hours

30 lumens LED strip

Full power: 4 hours

Strobe: 19 hours

Flash:19 hours

 

Specifications:

Width: 20mm

Length: 77mm

IPX5 water proof rating

Materials: Sandblasted aluminum body

Universal mount with rubber strap

Specifications:

* 150 lumens full.

* 30 lumens med.

* 7 lumens Led's.

* W: 20mm L: 77mm.

* Aluminium body.

* Micro USB charging.

* Multi-position mount.

Rate the light for quality of construction:
 
8/10

Well made and sealed from the elements.

Rate the light for design and ease of use. How simple was the light to use?
 
7/10
Rate the light for the design and usability of the clamping system/s
 
8/10

Multi mount design is intuitive and very adaptable.

Rate the light for waterproofing. How did it stand up to the elements?
 
8/10

More than adequate for road riding – no problems in persistent rain or when given quick blasts from the garden hose.

Rate the light for battery life. How long did it last? How long did it take to recharge?
 
8/10

Very good all-round but extremely impressive in the flashing settings. I'm not keen on stick type USB chargers though.

Rate the light for performance:
 
8/10

Much brighter than I was expecting – in all the settings. Genuinely does everything it promises to a very high standard.

Rate the light for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the light for weight:
 
7/10
Rate the light for value:
 
6/10

Good when you consider you are getting several competent lights in one small package. That said, the FL300 packs 300 lumens, costs only a tenner more, and is still very compact.

Tell us how the light performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Extremely capable all-rounder, whether you want something to accompany a more powerful main system, a compact town lamp, or fancy a good contingency model that won't clutter a pared-to-the-essentials bike.

Though the hybrid (spot/flood) beam has some imperfections, the 150 lumens has plenty of presence for well lit suburban/urban riding and the highest flashing also cuts the mustard on murky December days. As a blinkie, peripheral bite in the steady settings doesn't quite compare with dedicated blinkies with wraparound lenses, but flashing seemed good enough for pitch black lanes – as a contingency.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the light

Pretty much everything, given the design brief.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the light

Nothing per se but I would probably go for the FL300 – twice the power for only a tenner more.

Did you enjoy using the light? Yes

Would you consider buying the light? Possibly but on balance, would probably go for the FL300.

Would you recommend the light to a friend? Yes, with the above in mind.

Use this box to explain your score

Great concept, well executed.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 43  Height: 1m 81cm  Weight: 70kg

I usually ride: Rough stuff tourer based around 4130 Univega mountain bike frameset  My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Most days  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking

Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)