Oxford's UltraTorch SF Silicon front light is a very simple and surprisingly capable safety/contingency light, with three modes and excellent surface area. However, this design is among the most widely copied and some nigh-on identical store brands' represent better value for money.
What we have here is the classic fit 'n' forget cartridge comprising a single diode, switch and rechargeable lithium-ion cell, which delivers reasonable bang for modest buck. This is encased in a weather and shock-repelling silicone monocoque with integral strap.
Talking of which, the recessed charge port's location and plug are extremely well conceived, snug fitting and sandwiched between the light body and your handlebar for additional protection from the elements. Charge times are approximately 2 hours at the mains, another 30mins when guzzling from laptops. Either way, the lens will emit a solid green light when fully juiced and it has the courtesy to turn red when reserves drop to around 25 per cent, giving ample opportunity to get home and refuel.
Superficially identical to a wealth of competitors, such as the BTwin Vioo (£9.99) and the Revolution Flash (£8.95) it employs a watch strap type bracket that locates with a plastic pip, which is less convenient than press-fit designs but ensures incredibly secure tenure across the full zodiac of handlebar diameters. It even entertains fork legs and head tubes, should you prefer.
The centre-mounted switch is exactly where you'd expect to find it and intuitive to use. Pressing and holding for two seconds engages the brightest setting, whereupon you simply toggle down to suit. Unless you've buried it in the bottom of a bag, unwanted power-ups are in blue moon territory.
The brightest setting is just about good enough for town work and navigating unlit backstreets, although I'd draw the line at canal paths, and it's run for 4hrs 47mins.
As for being seen, other traffic spotted me from around 70m on relatively clear nights, and peripheral bleed maintains this presence when emerging from side roads or negotiating roundabouts.
Low isn't much cop, frankly, although it sips reserves to the tune of 6hrs, which could make all the difference in an emergency.
Thankfully it's redeemed by flashing – a decent pulsing strobe that works beautifully paired with old fashioned dynamos, or as backing singer to a more powerful rechargeable system. Returning 8hrs 51mins from a full charge, little surprise it's been my default for dull wintry afternoons. It's distinctive enough to stand out in seasonally lit town centres, and other vehicles acknowledged me from 100m, 150m in less-built-up areas.
Competent safety light, but nothing special
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Oxford UltraTorch SF Silicon front light
Size tested: n/a
Tell us what the product 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?
Oxford says: "Part of the Oxford PRO range, the SF Ultratorch is an easy-to-fit silicone front light that fits to all sizes of cycle handlebar - just strap it on and go!"
Simple and competent, no-frills safety light.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
* 500m Visibility Bright LED
With a super-bright LED visible from 500m, the Ultra SF is a front light to be seen with in the busy environment of urban commuting.
* USB Rechargeable
Internal lithium battery is charged by USB connection - charge at home, in the office etc. Ideal for recharging wthout PAT requirements.
* Full / Dipped Beam & Flash Modes
For varied conditions, select the beam most suitable
* Long Battery Life:
9 hours on flashing mode / 7 hours dipped & 5 hours main beam.
* Simple strap-on silicone mount.
No tools or ugly mounting brackets
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Overall, the Oxford UltraTorch SF is a reasonably competent yet very simple contingency/safety light.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Simple to use, reasonable output, tried and tested design.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? On balance, no.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Not above several almost identical but cheaper models.
Use this box to explain your score
Competent light, but nothing special.
About the tester
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)