BBB's Strike 500 front light might not be standout powerful or a particularly svelte unit, but there are certainly reasons why it might be the front light for you.
- Pros: Bright (enough), decent battery life, handy installation options
- Cons: Quite bulky, hard to adjust upside down
It wasn't long ago that brands could shove 500 lumens into their front light, fit it with a half decent lens, imbue it with enough battery life to last a dim Sunday club ride and a simple attachment system, and we'd have a category winner. Well, a contender at any rate.
If I'd come across this iteration of the Strike 500 a couple of years ago (we have seen a model of this name before, back in 2012), I might well have said that it's one of the very best out there. With its 500 lumens, 2.5 hours' battery life when left on its brightest setting, as well as a simple to use interface giving access to six very usable modes, I would have been a happy bunny, thank you very much.
The truth is, now practically every light brand from Lezyne to Cateye has a compact model that can boast this, and sometimes more besides. So, how does the BBB stand out?
Well, it's in the fit system where I've been most impressed. You're given a bracket that fits to the handlebar, and two fitment mounts: one that fits out front and slightly to the side, and one that attaches to a camera mount.
What's great about the standalone mount is how securely the light fits to the catch. Slide it on and click it in, and it holds incredibly firmly – so firmly, in fact, that you can install the light in the traditional place above the bar in clear view, or upside down as if hanging below the bar, more out of the way. That's by BBB's design, and it works very well, holding the light in secure place without a hint that it might shake out.
Moreover, the system also allows great adjustment to pitch the light, moving in set increments up or down, rather than a vague pointing that can be shaken from its intended direction as you go over rough ground. When you decide where you want the light pointed, as long as you've tightened it up using the spindle firmly enough (which is easy), it stays put.
Fitted upside down – which is where I preferred it to keep it out of the way – the only issue is that the buttons become out of reach, and reverse, so adjusting the setting on the move becomes a trickier manoeuvre. In fact, I stopped trying to reach over my bar to work out which way round the buttons were, for fear of coming off.
Still, when you can reach the buttons, it's a really simple interface. Plus (+) and minus (-) buttons dictate the direction you move through the settings, from the 500-lumen Boost mode to the 15-lumen low mode. Pressing both buttons together engages the flash mode, which puts out a strobe-like 150 lumens. Unless riding at night, this was the mode I stuck to, and got great battery life: not quite 45 hours as claimed, but close enough that I hardly noticed. Indeed, the Boost mode gave a solid two hours when left on continuously, only dimming towards the end of its burn time as the battery drained out.
Also, it's worth noting that only the grey head section became warm using this high setting, and never too hot to touch, so the chances of burning yourself with it are almost zero.
The beam is good, if unspectacular. There's a strong focus zone that gives away the lens's squarish profile, with light bleeding out quite rapidly. That said, for commutes in the dark, you can go at a fair pace without feeling the need for a more spread out or powerful beam – certainly, it's good enough to focus on the relevant parts of the road ahead.
Of course, it's USB rechargeable, with nicely quick and convenient charge times – I never had to leave it plugged in for much more than three hours before the blue LED indicator switched off, indicating a fully charged battery. When the battery does drain, the indicator starts flashing with around 30 minutes of life left at its current setting.
All in all, the BBB Strike 500 front light is a very competent small light. Although not really outstanding in any way, I could happily use it all winter long despite its slightly portly dimensions and weight at 147g all in – although to be honest, these actually add to the sense of build quality without being too chunky. It has good adjustability and a fitment system that allows you to install up above or below the bar, worry-free.
At £54.95, it may not be the cheapest out there boasting a 500-lumen output – Ravemen's LR500S is a good £20 cheaper, for example – but you still get a very competent light for your money, with good battery life, useful fitment system and seemingly solid build quality to boot.
Competent light for the money, with easy-to-use functionality and nice bracket fitment option
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road.cc test report
Make and model:
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?
A 500-lumen compact light designed for road, mountain bike and urban use.
All BBB says is, "MTB + ROAD + URBAN"
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the light?
BBB lists these details:
- 180° rotatable body allows upside down mounting
- +/- button for easy switching between 6 modes
- City mode with runtime of over 45 hours
- Boost mode for maximum visibility of 500Lm
Build quality is very good, no question. It's a nicely made unit, though the bracket will come apart if you unscrew it too far while not mounted (as I did accidentally!).
As long as you can see the buttons, it's very easy; a bit more challenging when mounted under the bar.
Holds the light very firmly, and gives good pitch adjustability. It will come apart when off the bike and you unscrew it too far by accident, though.
No complaints at all.
Battery life is very good and as claimed, while recharge times are fine to live with too.
Does what it says on the tin, and does it very competently without revolutionising my dark-conditions riding.
Build quality looks fine, with close-fitting parts creating an almost seamless whole. Nothing to suggest it won't stand the test of time.
Including the bracket, it's not the lightest, and on a long road ride I think you can just about feel it through the bars (although I may have convinced myself that I could!), but it's not a deal-breaker.
Ravemen's LR500S is £20 cheaper, but there are many in and around this price range and it's a good combination of performance, build quality and functionality for the money.
Tell us how the light performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well, no complaints at all.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the light
Simple functionality, solid 500 lumens output, good build quality.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the light
Weight, difficult operation on the move when mounted upside down.
Did you enjoy using the light? Yes
Would you consider buying the light? Yes
Would you recommend the light to a friend? Yes, alongside similar-output competitors from the big players, probably.
Use this box to explain your overall score
It's a good light that performs a solid job.
About the tester
I usually ride: Canyon Ultimate CF SL My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: Road, commuting, sportives, club rides