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BBB's Ultrabeam is a useful light but it has to be said the design is starting to show its age, looking frumpy alongside the latest generation of super bright rechargeables. On the other hand, it's an honest to goodness compact companion great for occasional scoots round town or cosying up to old school dynamos.
Build quality and side-visibility have been greatly improved and the highest setting is just about good enough for navigating suburban cycle paths while a deluxe USB chargeable AAA variant is also available should you prefer.
Three super bright white mini LEDs produce 295 lux, which is pretty intense relative to its size and markedly better compared to its Hi Integrate sibling on high beam along unlit paths to around 12 mph. Tell-tale signs such as the switch and plastics employed in the casing suggest it originates from the same factory as One23 Iintense Bright 1, interestingly enough although the two lighs look fairly different they also produce a very similar beam pattern, not quite as much punch in the middle but slighly more peripheral spread - you can see what I mean if you play with the beam comparator. The difference is that the BBB is £12 less, indeed it's lighting performance on full beam isn't far off that of some lights costing double. For the sake of seeing what you get for roughly the same money the comparator is set to lights of roughly the same price.
Twisting the lens counter clockwise splits the unit in two, giving access to the simple battery tray and circuitry. Unusually it's a triangular profile internally, providing secure tenure but requiring a deft shake before the tray slides free. The mounting bracket feels slightly soft but seems a universal and a surprisingly solid fit in situ and can be mounted beneath, saving precious handlebar real estate. The top mounted switch is positive, easily operated on the fly, toggling between steady, flashing and off but it's not too easily engaged so you're unlikely to find it illuminating pockets, bags or panniers.
Riding through the town, flashing mode was arguably best, although sometimes I felt it pulsed a little too quickly and was neutralised by municipal vehicles and similar visual noise but a quick flick to steady seemed to sort that. Usable, see-by light is somewhat muted by halos, slightly endemic to this type of light, although hustling away from the town along poorly lit shared paths illumination was passable to around 10m at 12 or 13 mph. Open road visibility is to around 350 yards in flashing, although the peripheral window doesn't give much away to oncoming traffic at roundabouts-especially in the rain.
Budget-priced light that delivers real value for money performance
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Make and model: BBB UltraBeam LED Headlight
Size tested: Black
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?
BBB are very coy here but basically it's a commuter/contingency light for sub/urban runs or as a dynamo companion.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the light?
· "Uses 3 super-bright white micro-LED's.
· Water-resistant body casing with sealed twist-lock head.
· Economical power consumption for longer lasting battery life.
· Rubber enclosed water-resistant switch provides direct and responsive activation.
· 2 modes: continuous and flash.
· Easy mounting bracket. Fits both standard and oversized handlebar diameters.
· Uses 3 'AAA' batteries (included)."
Slightly soft but reassuringly tenacious.
Reasonably frugal-62 hours steady, 197 flashing from a set of AAA cells.
Generally good, although the plastics employed felt a little soft but a long way short of flimsy.
Tell us how the light performed overall when used for its designed purpose
On the one hand BBB Ultrabeam is a contradiction in terms and this design is starting to show its age, looking frumpy alongside the latest generation of super bright rechargeables. On the other, it's an honest to goodness compact companion great for occasional scoots round town or cosying up to old school dynamos and at the end of the day lights are about function before form.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the light
User friendly, unobtrusive design with simple clamp and power source.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the light
Nothing given the design brief, although the latest generation of LED blinkeys pack more punch and consume less handlebar real-estate.
Did you enjoy using the light? Yes
Would you consider buying the light? Possibly-as a dynamo companion/contingency unit
Would you recommend the light to a friend? In the above context, yes.
Anything further to say about the light in conclusion?
Tricky one, I've given it a six really in the context of how it stacks up against the newer competition - you can get more light for the same money - but if you do buy this one, it certainly won't let you down
Age: 38 Height: 1m 81 Weight: 70 kilos
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb 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, mtb,
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)