The Blackburn Central 350 Micro Front sits well on the handlebar and provides enough light for shorter unlit stretches and urban areas.
- Pros: Nicely bright, good visibility inc from the side, sleek looks
- Cons: Short battery life on high, slight fiddle to remove/attach (but helps keep it secure)
As you can see from the beam comparison engine, the Central 350's beam balances distance and width pretty well, especially when you compare it against others with outputs of 300-400 lumens.
I used it in a variety of light conditions, from well-lit London streets where visibility was key, through to completely unlit lanes where seeing where you're going is as important as being seen. It worked well in both situations, although battery life means it is probably best suited to the former. It also has cutouts on either side of the lens that help you stay visible from the sides.
Battery life is a claimed 1hr 10mins on high beam, although I found it was closer to an hour, so it wouldn't be ideal if you have a long section of unlit road on your commute. Low beam is a claimed 3hrs, pulse 6hrs, and strobe 11hrs, all of which are broadly accurate.
It is easy to see when you need to charge the light thanks to the LED under the single rubber button that glows red when under 25%, orange from 25%-75%, and green between 75%-100%.
Charging is done through the micro USB port at the rear of the light, which is covered by a rubber bung that kept out all dirt and water throughout the review. Charging itself took around three hours from empty to completely full through my laptop, which is perfectly adequate and simple enough to do if I noticed it needed charging after my morning commute.
Attaching the light to the bar is done through a single laddered strap that attaches to two hooks either side of the plastic base. It also acts as protection from bar scratches as it sits between the base and the bar. The hooks themselves are actually too tight to the bottom of the light to make removing it one go possible, but the light rotates on the base, and it's then simple to remove or attach the light. It would be nice to be able to do it in one movement, but as it is it adds a extra level of security so is probably worth the extra two seconds or so it takes.
The RRP of £34.99 is comparable to other 300-400 lumen lights, and a price I would be happy to pay here. Our beam comparison engine suggests it's brighter than the slightly cheaper Lezyne Hecto Drive 400XL, but Moon's Meteor C3 at £29.99 looks a tough rival.
Overall, the Central 350 works well, stays on the bar nicely, and gives off a decent amount of light to keep you visible. It would be good to be able to attach and remove it without needing to rotate it, but given that this helps with security, it's probably a sacrifice worth making.
Pumps out a decent amount of light and looks good on the bar
road.cc test report
Make and model: Blackburn Central 350 Micro Front Light
Size tested: 350 lumens
Tell us what the light is for
A small but potent commuting light.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the light?
No tools required
Waterproof to IP-67 standard
3 hour recharge time
LED charge indicator
Increased side visibility
Lumens: High 350, Low 100, Pulse 200, Strobe 200
Runtime: High 1hr 10 min, Low 3hrs, Pulse 6hrs, Strobe 11hrs
Distance: High 108m, Low 56m, Pulse 56m, Strobe 56m
62g / 0.35lb
Well made with a strong body, combined with a secure fastening system.
Easy to use with a single button easily operating everything.
Secure, but you do need to twist it to attach or remove, which takes a little longer than others.
Used in pouring rain without issue.
If you have a long commute along unlit roads, this won't be the light for you.
Performed well; brings a decent level of illumination and simplicity of use.
Seems well made and durable with decent materials, plus it stood up to the elements.
It's small and light for something that pumps out as much light as it does.
Around the same price as others with a similar output.
Tell us how the light performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Performed well. It gives off a decent amount of light, sits nicely on the bar, and battery life is adequate.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the light
It sits well on the handlebar and the swivel on the mount means you can angle it however you want.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the light
It would be good to have a little more battery life on the full brightness mode.
Did you enjoy using the light? Yes
Would you consider buying the light? Yes
Would you recommend the light to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
Looks good on the bike, isn't impacted by the elements, and gives out a decent amount of light for most kinds of riding. Battery life is a bit limiting though.
About the tester
I usually ride: Mercian King of Mercia or Cinelli Gazzetta My best bike is: Cannondale Supersix Evo
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking
George spends his days flitting between writing about data, running business magazines and writing about sports technology. The latter gave him the impetus (excuse) to get even further into the cycling world before taking the dive and starting his own cycling sites and writing for Road.cc.
When he is not writing about cycling, he is either out on his bike cursing not living in the countryside or boring anybody who will listen about the latest pro peloton/cycling tech/cycling infrastructure projects.