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Lezyne's Hecto Drive 300XL is an impressive USB-rechargeable front light, which packs a pint-sized punch along with decent beam options.
The light, as the name suggests, provides 300 lumens of output on its maximum setting for a claimed one hour of battery life. In reality – and this is what really matters – I got nearly 90 minutes of broken use at the 300-lumen setting, which for a light of this size is pretty impressive.
I've found this with Lezyne products (I own three other Lezyne lights) – battery life is often slightly better in the real world than it states on the website. This is a trend that continues with the lower settings too. For example, I left it on the economy setting to drain the battery from full and it smashed the four-hour predicted life, lasting for just under five.
So, although battery life ratings aren't necessarily fantastic on paper, you do get a touch more than you might expect. Other settings include a mid-level 150-lumen static setting, as well as three flash and one 'Femto' setting, which mimics the Femto Drive's namesake 'orbing' pulse setting. On that setting you'll get a rated 18 hours of battery life (subject to Lezyne's usual slightly conservative predictions). Fundamentally, it's a small light, and the battery life is no doubt informed by the size of the power unit in conjunction with the potential lumen output (for the record, a Li-Poly unit).
Despite the XL moniker, this is a small front light. Weighing 82g on the trusty road.cc scales, the body of the light is comparable in size to the old style single-barrel Hecto Drive and Micro Drive Lezyne previously offered.
The benefit of the slightly wider profile than those single-barrel units means you get a wider beam form the single LED bulb on the road. This is particularly helpful when riding at speed in the dark, because it improves your peripheral vision. You might not initially realise how much you use it, but switching back to my old single-barrel Hecto Drive on a similar brightness setting (100 lumens) highlighted just how much I actually do.
One downside of this new unit, in my view, is the loss of the simple snap-in nature of the bracket. This is a shame, because while this means the bracket is far more securely attached to the light (you need an Allen key to fasten the light and bracket together – which, interestingly, wasn't supplied with my test unit), it also means removing the bracket altogether is the easiest way of taking the 300XL off your bike. That makes storage off the bike slightly more awkward as it's not really worth the effort of decoupling the light from the bracket, though you do get a small amount of lateral (left-to-right) adjustability through the clasp as well as the inherent up-and-down range of motion too.
It also means that reattaching the bracket to your bike with the light still in situ isn't particularly easy – it's a tight squeeze to fit the rubber band into the catch that holds it in place. Still, this isn't an insurmountable problem and you get used to it after a few goes.
One issue with the old Hecto Drive was the ease with which you could cross-thread the screw cap which housed the USB port. The 300XL retains this style, but Lezyne has ditched the screw cap (largely out of necessity, considering this one isn't round) in favour of a snugly fitting slot-on cap. It's so snug, it takes a bit of forcing off to be honest, but this only serves to reassure you that it'll keep water out should you be caught in a downpour.
Also retained is the red-red/green-green indicator LED within the button, and although no claims have been made as to the quality of the button mechanism, I must say I thought it felt slightly more resilient under my fingers. Certainly, I had no occurrences of pressing the button with no response (which I have occasionally encountered with my old Hecto Drive).
Overall, this is a tidy little unit that largely improves on the old Hecto Drive, delivering greater power, a wider beam and comparable battery life, and easy and quick recharging in a compact and lightweight shell. I expected the price to be around £40-50, but at £29.99 – with small discounts already available in online retailers available – the 300XL is a great value compact option for general road use, for commuters and keen roadies alike.
A top little unit for a small amount of money
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Lezyne Hecto Drive 300XL
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?
Lezyne says: "Multi-purpose performance LED cycling light. Compact, durable and heat-dissipating CNC machined aluminum construction. Ultrahigh-output LED delivering up to 300 lumens. Mode Memory function returns to selected mode after turning off. 7 combined lumen and flash modes. Enhanced MOR (Maximum Optical Reflection) lens with built-in side visibility. Integrated cable-free recharging USB stick. Advanced Li-Poly battery for superior run time."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the light?
- Alloy body, available in silver or black
- 7 lighting modes
- Max Output: 300 lumens
- 'Femto' mode included
- Up to 18 hours burn time (dependant on mode)
- New integrated mounting strap.
- Uniform Power Beam "MOR" twin lens for wider angle beam
- Power Indicator button
- Slip-on cap
- Waterproof (FL1 standard)
- 2 year warranty with the unit
- Helmet mount accessory available
Standard Lezyne alloy construction is smartly made, as ever.
A shame that the new bracket means you can't remove the light from the bracket as easily as before, but otherwise excellent.
The clamp isn't as simple to use as previous cylindrical Hecto Drives, but the offset is you get very secure retention and fit on the bar.
Absolutely waterproof from my testing, though I wouldn't submerge it – in case the slip-on cap does let a little water in.
Reasonable battery life considering the size, and recharge times are very fast.
The wider beam from one LED does mean you don't quite get the same 'spotlight' you used to with the cylindrical models, but peripheral illumination is great for a unit of this size.
No complaints, although buy in silver if you'll get upset when the black coating fades over time through extensive use (as I've seen with all my previous black Lezyne units).
82g isn't too heavy.
£29.99 is a great price for this little unit. Spot it for under £25, and it's a top bargain.
Tell us how the light performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Tell us what you particularly liked about the light
Beam width, and compact nature.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the light
I prefer the old-style bracket and the easy disengaging it offered, but that's a personal opinion.
Did you enjoy using the light? Yes
Would you consider buying the light? Yes
Would you recommend the light to a friend? Yes
About the tester
I usually ride: Specialized Allez Sport My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding