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Verdict: 
Okay for slower rides, but lack of focus and wobbly mount are significant disadvantages
Weight: 
140g
Lezyne Macro Drive 800 XL
6 10

The Lezyne Macro Drive 800XL is a decent-enough, all-in-one light with significant runtimes, but it's let down by poor beam focus and a wobbly mounting system.

The 800XL sits at the bottom of Lezyne's 'Performance' range, which then drops to 'Sport' with lights of 450 lumens or lower. In the 800XL you get standard light settings from 15 up to 400 lumens, with runtimes decreasing from 63 down to 3 hours. There are 150 lumen pulse and flash modes lasting over 13 hours, plus Lezyne's trademark 'Overdrive Race mode', with a simple toggling between 'low beam' at 150 or the Overdrive 800 flagship output lasting 1hr 40mins.

I've been a fan of the Overdrive Race mode for years, and consider any light without it fundamentally unfit for purpose. The ability to toggle directly between what is effectively High and Low Beam is a basic need for every cyclist, on- or off-road.

The new lineup of Lezyne lights has seen the bombproof plastic brackets replaced with rubber ladder straps, but fortunately the original brackets are available as an optional accessory for 25.4 or 31.8mm bars in Composite (£6) or Alloy (£12) options. This is good because the rubber band fixing provided is not up to the job of holding the light firmly when pressing the button to cycle through light settings, particularly if you're wearing thick gloves and therefore basically just mashing the entire top of the light to change output.

The new ladder fitting is also a bit of a faff to fit onto 31.8mm bars, requiring every step in the ladder and leaving you with only a small rubber tab to grasp – again, a faff with gloves on. For round bars there's an adapter you fit over the rubber strap, or remove for fitting to flatter aero bars. That's a nice touch, and the removable bit is held pretty firmly.

The hard brackets are readily available but you need to seek out the adapter to screw to the bottom of the light, which frustratingly seems to only be sold in the UK by Upgrade bikes for an extra £2.50 under the part number 'Lezyne - LED Strap-To-Handle Bar Mount Converter L-1-LED-HBMA-V104'. I mention this because you'll need the converter to screw into your light; you might buy a new bracket or already have one kicking about that you'll want to use for the Macro Drive 800XL.

Out on a dark road the Macro Drive 800XL puts out a decent amount of light. Eight hundred lumens isn't to be sneezed at, and you can trundle along happily at say 12-15mph and never miss a pothole or drain cover. But the nature of the beam really limits you to that and no more. Even though you have impressive power on tap it's sprayed all over the road and roadside, meaning when you want to go fast there simply isn't enough in the focused tunnel-vision centre of the road to let you get on in safety. Your hoods and front wheel are well-lit, as is the ground in front of you, but not the road beyond about 20 yards out. I found I couldn't ride faster than about 25mph due to the lack of definition.

My go-to light for the past four years has been a 2013-model Lezyne Power Drive XL, pumping out 475 lumens in overdrive mode. The focused single LED has proved just the ticket for nipping about pitch-black country lanes of an evening at about 25mph.

If you visit the road.cc light beam comparison engine (below) and select the 2016 Macro Drive 800XL alongside the 2015 Power Drive XL, on the face of it the 800XL blows away the weaker Power Drive. But look closer. See the car in the distance? The weaker light illuminates it markedly better, while the 800 lumens from the Macro Drive are wasted in a wide beam close to the bike.

What I'd have loved is a single 800 lumen LED, or a lens that combined the two 400 LEDs present in a more focused way. For a light purporting to be in the 'Performance' line, the performance is underwhelming.

Of course because it's Lezyne the runtimes are actually a bit longer than advertised. So in use as a 150 lumen daytime flasher safety light for training or commuting, it's a decent option: 13.5 hours should do the hardest of commuters for a full week between charges, which are performed via a rather deep micro-USB port on the rear. This socket is a step backwards from the previous Lezyne charging ports which were markedly shallower. While the provided cable fitted OK, I found various micro USB cables scattered about the house or garage would not seat properly. As with cameras the best USB cable is the one in your hand, and manufacturers shouldn't make their micro USB sockets borderline-proprietary.

That said, the weatherproofing is to Lezyne's usual high standards. Over a few months of riding in occasionally soaking conditions the Macro Drive 800XL didn't miss a beat, nor did the road.cc shower test of doom faze it.

Fundamentally I'm conflicted by this light. I love Lezyne's gear and have (at last count) no fewer than six of their lights in various shapes and sizes. It should on the face of it be my new go-to light for dark ventures, but the lack of focus and loose rubber strap means the weaker yet focused and stable Power Drive XL beats it, and the charge port is just annoying. For regular commuters I could see the Macro Drive XL being a good option: lasting a week on a bright yet inoffensive flash, with enough oomph to get you down dark lanes if they form part of your route. Just make sure the USB cable on your desk is a good fit, and you'd probably tire of fighting with the ladder strap so plump for the hard bracket and adapter.

Verdict

Okay for slower rides, but lack of focus and wobbly mount are significant disadvantages

The light beam comparison engine

Our beam test comparison data contains beam shots and data for over 40 of this year's lights, so you can directly compare one with another. After it, we take a look at the various options in lighting technology and recommend some of our favourite lights. 

If you have a nice big screen you can click here for the widescreen version (1400x1000px)

road.cc test report

Make and model: Lezyne Macro Drive 800 XL

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?

It's for someone not wanting to go too fast, or who needs a bright, removable light.

Lezyne say:

A high-performance multi-purpose LED cycling light.

High-performance multi-purpose LED cycling light. Compact, durable and heat-dissipating extruded and machined aluminum body. Ultrahigh-output LEDs delivering up to 800 lumens. Optional Overdrive Race Mode toggles between Overdrive and Economy modes only. Mode Memory function returns to selected mode after turning off. Enhanced MOR (Maximum Optical Reflection) lens with built-in side visibility. High-speed 2 Amp USB charging capabilities (with compatible wall adapter). Versatile handlebar strap secures to round and aero bars. Advanced Li-Ion battery for superior run time.

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

MAX LUMENS: 800

WEIGHT: 152.8/143.8g (with strap mount/without strap mount)

RECHARGE TIME:4hrs

Rate the light for quality of construction:
 
9/10

It's Lezyne. 'nuff said.

Rate the light for design and ease of use. How simple was the light to use?
 
7/10

Not impressed by the strap, but the menu is typical functional Lezyne.

Rate the light for the design and usability of the clamping system/s
 
4/10

Not a happy camper here.

Rate the light for waterproofing. How did it stand up to the elements?
 
9/10
Rate the light for battery life. How long did it last? How long did it take to recharge?
 
9/10

Sub-4hr recharge from a decent source.

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

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

Well enough, if the design purpose is not going fast.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the light

For use on a hire or borrowed bike, the strap is quick to use (so long as you don't have gloves on).

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the light

The beam shape.

Did you enjoy using the light? Yes

Would you consider buying the light? Not really

Would you recommend the light to a friend? Depending on what they needed a light for

Use this box to explain your score

I can't give this more than Above Average, and that's really only for the standard Overdrive Race mode implementation that other manufacturers still don't get, plus great runtimes. The strap and beam shape really are a let-down to what should be a great package. Also, the new deep charging socket is a bit hit-and-miss with different cables.

Overall rating: 6/10

About the tester

Age: 43  Height: 183cm  Weight: 72KG

I usually ride: Merida Ride 5000 Disc  My best bike is:

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: A few times a week  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, club rides, general fitness riding, mtb, Dutch bike pootling.

10 comments

Avatar
asdfqwerty [13 posts] 2 months ago
1 like

No complaints with the mounting bracket here, I've found it fine for me. Doesn't move unless I want it to, but easy enough to point the light down away from oncoming traffic. Agree that it's difficult to put on, though - a slightly longer strap would've been helpful.

Avatar
Nixster [351 posts] 2 months ago
1 like

I'll confess to some surprise here.  I have the 600XL which is basically the same light with (you're ahead of me) 200 fewer lumens.  Agreed the strap is a bit short and a faff to get on but once on it's fine on my ergonova bars.  Never felt the need for the bracket which came with the 'Loaded' kit.

The surprise part is that the 600XL light got 4.5 stars when it was reviewed last year and the now brighter version only gets 3 stars.  Road.cc reviewer inconsistency I guess?

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BrokenBootneck [195 posts] 2 months ago
0 likes

Just ordered this and a rear light package for 47 quid from Evans. I will be pairing it with a SuperDrive xl which is 575l on overdrive. It will be interesting to compare them. 

Avatar
Simon E [2985 posts] 2 months ago
1 like

I'd have to disagree about the beam - for me a narrower spot, even one with good reach, leaves more doubt on unlit country lanes than a wide spread beam.

Good to know there's an adapter as it's one of the reasons I chose a Power Drive.

Avatar
KiwiMike [1271 posts] 2 months ago
0 likes
Simon E wrote:

I'd have to disagree about the beam - for me a narrower spot, even one with good reach, leaves more doubt on unlit country lanes than a wide spread beam.

Good to know there's an adapter as it's one of the reasons I chose a Power Drive.

 

Simon, how wide are your tyres? riding faster than 15MPH, I'm far more concerned about a very narrow strip of road approaching fast, than I am the hedgerows or foreground that I can't do anything about as I'm committed to riding over it.

It's basic science: you can't ride fast if your eyes can't make out hazards. A spread beam at the same power will give a shorter range than a focused spot. It is certainly a balancing act - one I feel Lezyne nailed with the 475 lumen Powerdrive XL, but have dropped the ball on here with this glorified commuter light.

Avatar
Simon E [2985 posts] 2 months ago
0 likes
KiwiMike wrote:

Simon, how wide are your tyres? riding faster than 15MPH, I'm far more concerned about a very narrow strip of road approaching fast, than I am the hedgerows or foreground that I can't do anything about as I'm committed to riding over it.

My tyres? Not sure how relevant that is. My commute average is 16-18 mph, but a lot of it on narrow country lanes where I don't feel I can go quickly in the dark. I find it worst when I'm on a winding road - there is reasonable illumination where my handlebars are pointing but I can't see where I intend to go well enough, despite knowing the road very well. The verges are really cut up by farm traffic in places now, making the surfaces even more hazardous than usual.

On the two-lane B roads it's not an issue, I know the location of every manhole and inspection cover.

Avatar
psling [226 posts] 2 months ago
1 like

I lost interest when I read this:

"I've been a fan of the Overdrive Race mode for years, and consider any light without it fundamentally unfit for purpose."

Does that mean I have to chuck all my lights out, because none of them have Overdrive Race Mode which seemingly makes them useless? 

Avatar
KiwiMike [1271 posts] 2 months ago
0 likes
psling wrote:

I lost interest when I read this:

"I've been a fan of the Overdrive Race mode for years, and consider any light without it fundamentally unfit for purpose."

Does that mean I have to chuck all my lights out, because none of them have Overdrive Race Mode which seemingly makes them useless? 

All 'Overdrive Race Mode' is, is a high/low beam switch. I consider any light without the ability to instantly toggle between high and low beams to avoid dazzling oncoming road or path users to be unfit for use. Actually, to be unsafe, because of the extra time your hand is away from the bars/brakes. Cycling through multiple modes, possibly flashing, possibly off (even more dangerous), is fundamentally unacceptable. You wouldn't accept a car where you had to flick the dip switch three or four times, maybe turning completely off, would you?

The one exception I'd make are German lights manufactured to throw a shaped beam that cannot dazzle oncoming road users. In that case you can just use them on full all the time. But then on paths where you wand uniform coverage, for example to get even left-right cornering coverage, they don't work.

 

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psling [226 posts] 2 months ago
0 likes

Thanks for coming back Mike. I get confused by manufacturers' terminology distracting from general application terminology. Overdrive Race didn't immediately say hi/low beam switch to me!

Agree with your comments though; too many over bright beams out there on the road dazzling and blinding without the easy ability to dip. I use the Exposure Strada on my commute which is handy with its remote switch but is still not a cut off beam pattern in dip mode (at least, not on my earlier model). And I actively avoid front lights that toggle through flashing modes to fixed beam modes.

Avatar
Simon E [2985 posts] 2 months ago
1 like

I find cyclists with bright headlights are usually an issue when it's pointed straight ahead. Mine is angled down so pointed onto the road surface about 3 or 4 metres in front of me. I've never tried race mode, if it's dark or nearly dark then I put the Power Drive on medium (on + 1 press) and leave it there all the way home.