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The Lezyne Hecto Drive 500XL is a decently priced 'be-seen-by' light with just enough punch to see where you're going in an emergency. It's sturdily built and easy to use, and its quick recharge time and long burn-times in the flashing modes mean it lends itself well to year-round commuting.
On days where I know I'm going to be riding on busy roads or mingling with urban traffic I tend to use lights all of the time, especially now that many front and rears are coming with daytime flashing modes to get you noticed, and this is where I see the Hecto Drive coming into its own.
Its highest power output from the single LED is, as you've no doubt guessed, 500 lumens. This Blast mode is just about enough to see by in an emergency or if you get caught out, with a narrow spot beam pattern that doesn't give you that great a view of the road, but you'll need to be pretty close to home to make full use of it, as it has a mere one-hour battery life.
The other constant modes are Enduro (200lm/2hrs), Economy (100lm/4hrs) and Femto, which dishes out a meagre 15 lumens for 20 hours, although it isn't much use apart from making sure you are legally lit up on the roads.
The four flash modes are where I spent most of my time.
Day Flash gives you the full 500 lumens for 5hrs 45mins and is bright enough and distinctive enough to get you noticed by oncoming drivers or when filtering through slow-moving traffic from the rear.
It's a little obnoxious for night-time use, so either of the two 50-lumen modes, Flash 1 or Flash 2, will work well in town and when paired with a more powerful solid light for when you're out in the sticks. Both last for 13hrs 30mins. There is also a Pulse mode, which also kicks out 50 lumens, with a run-time of 15hrs.
Actual run-times are pretty much spot on with those claimed by Lezyne.
You scroll through the modes by the single button on the top which also acts as a battery indicator by changing colour from green to amber to red as the juice depletes.
Typically with Lezyne lights I'd complain about having to scroll through the flashing modes to get back to the solid ones, but considering the type of light the Hecto Drive is, that isn't much of an issue here.
To charge it, you plug the light directly into a USB port after removing the rubber cover and it takes around 2.5hrs, as Lezyne claims.
Matt reviewed the Micro Drive 500XL last year and there were a few comments about how easily the rubber cover would come away from the light, but I never had any issues with it on the Hecto Drive.
The cover does a good job of keeping the rain out – I had no issues with water ingress when riding in the numerous showers and downpours during the test period, and it survived a dousing from the bathroom shower.
You can pick up a decent 'be-seen-by' light for about 20 quid like the 100-lumen Giant Recon HL-100 (£24.95) but I'd say it's worth paying a little extra for something like the Hecto Drive that will get you home if you are caught out, even in the back lanes.
Comparing it with something like the Exposure Trace Daybright, the Lezyne looks excellent value for money. The Exposure is very well made but only pumps out 110 lumens and for 3hrs, whereas the slightly lower 100-lumen output of the Lezyne will last 4hrs.
The Ravemen LR500S gives it a run for its money, though, at £34.99, with a larger battery and longer run-time on full.
On the whole I like the Hecto Drive 500XL. If it isn't on the bike it's a good one to have in your rucksack. It's so small you can just bung it in in case of an emergency, working best as a be-seen-by light but capable of letting you see where you're going if you need it.
Well-made light for being seen by and to see with, at a push, for very little money
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Lezyne Hecto Drive 500XL front light
Size tested: 500 Lumens
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, "Compact, durable cycling light with a machined aluminum body. It features built in cooling fins and cutouts for side visibility. Its single LED design provides up to an impressive 500 lumens of output and eight output modes - including a Daytime Flash mode. Runtime has increased by 2.5 hours for up to 20 hours. Charging is simple with an integrated cable-free USB stick. It's available in five colors (Black, Silver, Red, Blue, Purple) and securely straps to a variety of handle bar shapes and sizes."
A decent backup light to have in your arsenal.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the light?
MAX LUMENS: 500
MAX RUNTIME: 20 hours
RECHARGE TIME: 2:30 hours
A quick recharge time and the battery life is pretty good in the flashing modes.
Tell us how the light performed overall when used for its designed purpose
As a 'light your way' device the beam isn't that great and you'll struggle with the battery life, but it's a decent 'be seen by' light that'll get you home in an emergency if needs be.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the light
Compact and simple to use.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the light
Short battery life on high power.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It compares well against the Exposure Trace Daybright, which is the same price but with a max output of just 110 lumens, but the Ravemen LR500S is £34.99 and has longer run-times.
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
It's a good light for £40, well made with its machined aluminium body, and delivering decent enough burn-times considering its size.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed
With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!