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Fabric FL30 front light



Pricey for 30 lumens but tough to beat on quality, robustness and aesthetics

At every product is thoroughly tested for as long as it takes to get a proper insight into how well it works. Our reviewers are experienced cyclists that we trust to be objective. While we strive to ensure that opinions expressed are backed up by facts, reviews are by their nature an informed opinion, not a definitive verdict. We don't intentionally try to break anything (except locks) but we do try to look for weak points in any design. The overall score is not just an average of the other scores: it reflects both a product's function and value – with value determined by how a product compares with items of similar spec, quality, and price.

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There is something appealing about the Fabric FL30: it's a slick design with what I'd consider the 'right' number of modes – who needs more than high beam, low beam, strobe and flashing? As the name suggests, it uses Chip On Board (COB) technology to offer up to 30 lumens, a relatively low output in comparison with other similarly priced 'be seen' lights, but it does get you seen and is half decent at letting you see, too.

As well as having a classy, upmarket look, the robust nylon casing is waterproof and stands up to the elements. The cylindrical design (23x74mm) is more aesthetically appealing than many 'be seen' plastic looking lights in my opinion, and can be positioned horizontally or vertically with the versatile tool-free mounting system.

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The light is bright enough to be seen by and offers a substantial beam even when riding along roads that are not so well lit; it actually gave off sufficient light on full beam for me to commute on an unlit road; okay, not fast – it's not what the light was designed for – but it's certainly a positive feature, and could help in an emergency.

Peripheral lighting is also surprisingly generous given the shape of the light. I definitely felt I was getting more than the 50-60 degrees Fabric claims.

The switch sits at one end of the light, and it's easy to cycle through the modes: you operate it with your index finger, countering this push with your thumb at the other end. No fiddling for a tiny switch or struggling to activate it when your hands are cold.

One click moves on each mode – high beam, medium, strobe (Fabric calls this 'fast flashing'), flashing, and off. This was the light's only slightly annoying feature – having to cycle through all the modes to switch it off. The same switch acts as a battery life indicator – when it glows red there is only 15% battery life remaining.

The Micro USB port is very well protected by a neat silicone plug that fits snugly to prevent water creeping in. Charging is quick – 1 hour 45 minutes. The on/off switch glows red when charging and goes out when fully charged – all very simple. The braided cable provided is seriously hardwearing but not the longest.

Run-times in the high and low beams were a little less than claimed, but only by a few minutes (3:25 and 5:50), while strobe and flashing were as claimed (8hrs 30mins and 10 hours respectively).

> Check out our guide to the best front lights for cycling

The mounting system is clever: it consists of a split silicone band which enables central mounting on the handlebar, over the front of the stem – so freeing up bar space either side. The band then attaches to a bracket which the light clips into. The rear of the bracket (sitting against the bar, stem or tube) is a symmetrical disc, so the bracket (and in turn the light) can sit horizontally or vertically.

The clasp at the front of the bracket is what holds the light securely. Ridges at the edge of the bracket fit into grooves on the light's casing. It is very easy to clip the light into the bracket but not quite so easy to remove; there is no release lever, so it is a matter of brute force to separate clasp and light capsule.

Fabric claims the light can be mounted on a helmet but I didn't manage this on any of mine (it would mount but the light would shine upwards or backwards). I can see it would work for a rear light, but I'm not sure about a front.

Overall, Fabric has managed to design and produce a quality 'be seen' light. If you only consider pounds per lumen there are undeniably better deals out there, but if you are after a classy looking, durable and versatile British designed light then I recommend investing in the FL30.


Pricey for 30 lumens but tough to beat on quality, robustness and aesthetics

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Make and model: Fabric FL30 front light

Size tested: Width: 23mm Length: 74mm

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?

The FL30 is marketed as a light to get you noticed by other road users.

Fabric says the FL30 is 'a solution for riders who need a light to be seen with, rather than to see by. The FL30 uses value Chip On Board (COB) technology to produce a highly visible beam that belies its 30-lumen rating.'

The light does indeed make you visible on the road. Although Fabric states that it has an angle of 50-60, it seems more generous than this. It's surprisingly effective for such a low lumen rating.

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

*White LED

*Output and runtime: Full- 30 lumen, 3.5 hours

Med- 10 lumen, 6 hours

Fast flash- 10Hz, 8.5 hours

Flash- 3Hz, 10 hours

*Light Angle:50-60 degrees.

*3.7V, 350mAh Litium polymer battery

*Micro USB charging

*IPX5 water proof rating

*1 metre drop test

*Universal mount with rubber strap

Rate the light for quality of construction:

A very tidy light – neat cylindrical shape with a tough outer casing and no obvious construction joints where water might creep in.

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

Very easy to use but a little frustrating that you have to cycle through all modes to switch it off. That said, the switch for doing this is one of most accessible and easy to use that I have come across.

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

The tool-free clamp is versatile. A split silicone band attaches to a bracket. The bracket can be rotated to let you mount the light horizontally or vertically. The split in the band means the light can be centrally mounted around the stem to free up bar space. Removing the light from its bracket was not easy; you do have to tug it out, and if you don't hold the bracket when doing this it will put excessive strain through the mounting band. At least there is no danger of the light falling off! Pushing it into the clamp was easy.

Rate the light for waterproofing. How did it stand up to the elements?

Outstanding – stood up to heavy rain, also underwent the 5 minute shower test and was still glowing.

Rate the light for battery life. How long did it last? How long did it take to recharge?

Fabric claims that it lasts 3.5 hours on full beam. I was getting just a little less than this – 3 hours 25 mins.

The medium beam claim was 6 hours; again it fell just short by 10 minutes. The fast flash and flash claims of 8.5 and 10 were virtually spot on.

The battery went from flat to fully charged in 1 hour 45 minutes.

Rate the light for performance:

It does exactly as it claims – gets you seen. Even on fast flash it gave off a decent enough beam to light the road. I was surprised that with just 30 lumens I could actually ride along an unlit lane without any other lights and see a sufficient amount of the road in front and to the sides; this was an experiment and is obviously not what the light was designed for, but is certainly a positive feature.

Rate the light for durability:

The light is sturdy – it stood up well to being dropped! Its casing appears and feels high quality, not like some other 'be seen lights' that have a cheap plastic appearance and touch.

Rate the light for weight:

Light without compromising on quality.

Rate the light for value:

You can certainly get more lumens for your money with other manufacturers, but they might not be so durable or versatile.

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

Excellent as a 'be seen light'.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the light

Durable, unique design. Easy to access/use switch.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the light

That you had to cycle through all modes to switch it off. After a few uses this became less frustrating; I recognised that time wasted cycling through the modes was countered by the easy-to-use switch.

Did you enjoy using the light? Yes

Would you consider buying the light? Yes

Would you recommend the light to a friend? Yes, if they were a commuter looking to invest in a light that will last.

Use this box to explain your score

Does not offer the lumen rating to match many similarly priced equivalents but performs surprisingly well. It's well made and robust too, and looks great.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 37  Height: 173cm  Weight: 64kg

I usually ride: Road  My best bike is: Carbon road

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Most days  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, general fitness riding, getting to grips with off roading too!

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