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See.Sense. lights can detect your motion, orientation, ambient light and car headlights, and your current mood* (*this one might not be true). They use this information to adjust their brightness and speed of flash to alert cars or other vehicles to your presence on the road.
What they show in their video does really happen - the lights flashed more when I pulled away from a junction, were brighter when it got darker and generally did clever things to help me stay visible to drivers.
See.Sense. lights claim to be not just bright, but intelligent. To address their first claim, they certainly are bright. At 160 lumens for their front light and 95 for the rear, there was certainly no SMIDSY (Sorry mate I didn't see you) with these blinders on. When I first turned on the light, having of course not read the instructions, I blinded myself for several minutes - take this as a warning and if you buy these lights on no account turn them on with the with the Cree LEDs facing towards you.
Therein lay one of the problems for the front light, though. With no hood, the light was simply too bright for me, and in flashing mode (the default setting) it left me seeing stars. However, this is where the intelligent part comes in. The brightness could be adjusted downwards and I could also personalise the light to be on a steady beam rather than flashing. The beam has a spread of around 180 degrees which is great for the rear light as I could be seen from the side, but unhelpful on the front light, as even when angled down it dazzled. When asked about this, the manufacturers said that a few which had been returned had makeshift gaffer tape hoods on, so this will be something for their next model.
The other issue with the brightness was when fitting the lights to my bike. They attach with a rubber ladder which grips the bars, but the lights have to be turned on first (3 quarter turns clockwise) so then you are left with 160 lumens beaming up at you whilst you try to tighten the rubber round your handlebar or stem.
The lights need turning 3 times (very Wizard of Oz) to turn them on because there are no buttons. Not one. Really. Which is a pity, because it would have made operating them a damn sight easier. See.Sense. chose not to have buttons to minimise the opportunities for water ingress, but there is a rubber cover for the USB charging port so surely a rubber button wouldn't have been too hard to engineer.
I won't claim that changing modes and settings on the See.Sense. is intuitive, and the company seem to agree as they have provided video guides on their website. Personally, if I need to watch a video to find out how to work a bike light, then the light is too complicated. The other option of course is that I'm too stupid. After a personal demo from the makers at The Bike Show I understood the 'turn clockwise to change the mode, turn anti-clockwise to change the setting' approach. It was a bit hit and miss even then but once your settings are in (medium bright and steady for the front, bright and flashing on the back in my case) then the lights remember them.
The lights do, however, turn off on their own - either after 3 minutes when you have been using them and you are stationary. After this they use the motion sensors to turn back on straight away, for example as I pulled away from a particularly tiresome set of traffic lights. If you are finished for the night, then placing the lights face down turns them off properly.
Because there is no button, the lights didn't turn on fully when being carried in my bag. A jolt would make the mini green initial movement sensor light up for a moment, but I couldn't perform the necessary 3 quarter turns to fully turn the See.Sense. on by accident, so the batteries weren't wasted.
Talking of batteries, as the lights change according to the usage there was no definitive run test to take, but in real life I got about a week (12-15 hours) of use between charges. There is a fuel gauge red led, but I found this a bit hard to read (you have to count how many red blips out of 7 red and green blips there are to tell how much juice is left).
We clocked the total weight of a pair of lights at 108g, fitting well with the manufacturer's claims of 55g per light. The lens is apparently made from Apollo helmet visors (or maybe that was the same material rather than the actual visor) and the body is Luran S, an ASA plastic which was extremely tough and withstood knocks and bumps without marking in daily use.
Each light is 5.8 x 3.8 x 4.8 cm and the same moulding has been used for the front and the rear lights. This raises an oddity, where the curve of the rear light casing sits well on a seat post or stem, but looks wonky when handlebar mounted. See.Sense. have made a bit of a Heath Robinson fix with an additional rubber mount, but this was a faff to use and the wide angle of the beam meant that the wonkiness was cosmetic rather than affecting the spread of the beam.
The See.Sense. made me feel safer on the road - especially the differing flash rates according to my speed. At £79.99 for the pair, I would probably invest in the back light for all the riders in my family, but wait for the front light to be modified before paying for the full set.
Very bright, clever lights; maybe a bit too clever for their own good
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Make and model: See.Sense. 2.0 Front and Rear Set
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?
Get some road sense with the See.Sense. intelligent front and rear light set. These tiny, clever lights help make you more visible - flashing brightest when a cyclist needs it most. Seriously bright LED's, long run-time, USB rechargeable, no switches, weatherproof, lightweight, widely-dispersed light, strong mount. See.Sense has it all.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the light?
Auto on/off. A new auto standby has been perfected to put the lights to sleep after 3 minutes of inactivity and wake them up the next time the bike moves.
Improved standby-time. Power consumption has been reduced in standby mode, giving 12 times longer standby time.
Increased brightness. LED technology moves at an extraordinary pace so the light has been updated to deliver to 11 extra lumens with no impact on runtime.
Revised design and firmware. Minor changes to further enhance the performance and reliability of every See.Sense.
Really tough to change the settings without paying a lot of attention.
Average rubber ladder.
No problems even in heavy rain.
Comes with a very short USB cable.
It is very, very bright.
Tough to scratch and passed the drop test with ease.
55g per light.
Good value considering the R&D put into these lights.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the light
The motion sensing.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the light
The confusing series of quarter turns to switch the settings.
Did you enjoy using the light? It was a bit too much hard work understanding it.
Would you consider buying the light? Yes, the rear light.
Would you recommend the light to a friend? Yes.
Anything further to say about the light in conclusion?
A very good new light on the market, with room for improvement in later models.
Age: 36 Height: 5'7 Weight: size 16
I usually ride: Trek 7.5 WSD My best bike is: Turquoise Cruiser
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Novice
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, general fitness riding, Leisure