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Bontrager Ion Comp R Front Light

6
£64.99

VERDICT:

6
10
Decent quality front light for being seen, but beam pattern could be better and it's a bit pricey
Good quality
Ease of use
Mode choices
Memory function
Beam pattern
There are cheaper options
Weight: 
65g

The Bontrager Ion Comp R front light has a maximum output of 700 lumens and is bright enough to get you seen and to light the way on many routes, although it's not ideal for rural lanes after sundown. The metal and rubber construction feels high quality and durable, the modes are logical and easy to navigate, and run-times are also good, but the Ion Comp R is at the pricier end of lights of this power.

Over the last few months I've been using the Ion Comp R on both commutes and winter rides. I've found that its highest setting is enough to see with, in a pinch, but ideally this is a 'be seen' light, ideal for urban commuters.

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Turning on the light requires a double press of the single button, which means it's unlikely to turn on accidentally in a backpack or pocket. The button is positioned well on top of the light and has a raised profile making it easy to find and use, even in thick winter gloves while riding.

Each subsequent press of the button scrolls through the five modes, which are:

  • 700lm – 1.5hrs
  • 500lm – 3hrs
  • 300lm – 6hrs
  • 300lm day flash – 19hrs
  • 200lm night flash – 9hrs

I've found the claimed run-times to be pretty much spot on, and they're on a par with some strong competition. For example, the Ravemen CR700 will last 1hr 36mins on its 700-lumen mode, and the Bontrager light has a more useful 300 lumens for 6 hours compared to the Sigma Buster 700's 350 lumens for 4 hours.

The Ion also has a memory function, which means it will turn back on in the last used mode, a neat feature that can save a little time.

Many of the alternative lights have a dimmer constant mode, but this isn't something that concerned me with the Bontrager – at under 300 lumens the light will primarily be used for being seen, and I always find a flashing mode more eye catching.

> Buyer’s Guide: The best 2020 front lights for cycling

The 300-lumen day flash cuts through urban noise nicely with a distinctive pattern that balances getting seen without being too irritating or manic.

The night flash always has at least a dim light on, so you always have something showing to make you visible, which explains the shorter run-time.

Using the constant modes, I found that 300 lumens was enough for my commute along a lit cycle path, upping this to the 500 mode when heading out of the city and switching to the 700-lumen mode when the streetlights ran out.

> Buyer’s Guide: 19 of the best rear bike lights for 2021

For prolonged rides in areas without streetlights I'd want something with more power than the Ion Comp R's wide beam pattern, but it's enough if you get caught out.

The beam pattern itself is pretty wide, once again pushing this light into the 'be seen' rather than 'to see' market. This large field of vision means that hedges and sides of tracks are illuminated, but you might not pick out the potholes in front of you quite as quickly as you might with a more focused light. The wide beam does mean that you can be seen from more angles, although I do feel Bontrager has missed a trick here as the lack of side cutouts and the recessed LED limit the light's side visibility.

2020 Bontrager Ion Comp R Front Bike Light - side.jpg

Another area I think could do with improvement is a cut-off at the top of the beam; as is, I can quite see how, when in 700-lumen mode, this could dazzle oncoming drivers.

The power button indicates the light's battery life, illuminating green for 25-100%, solid red for 5-25% and flashing red under 5%. It could really do with an intermediate step as, by the time you get to 25%, it's sometimes too late to do anything about power saving.

2020 Bontrager Ion Comp R Front Bike Light - top.jpg

When you do run out of juice, there's a micro USB port on the bottom of the light for charging, which takes a rather slow 6.5 hours from flat.

Mount

The mount is simple but effective. Leaving the mount attached to the bike is a big plus to me on a commuting light as I always remove it when I park my bike up. Fitting and removing the light is quick, with a sliding action and reassuring and secure click.

2020 Bontrager Ion Comp R Front Bike Light - mount.jpg

The rubber strap feels robust and I had no movement of the light on the bars. Bontrager says the mount is suitable for 22.2-35mm diameter handlebars, but if you wish to use the light on aero-profile bars or a helmet then you'll need to buy a separate BlendR mount.

Value

With an rrp of £64.99 the Ion Comp R is at the pricier end of comparable lights: the Ravemen CR700 mentioned earlier is £59.99, uses a similar style mount and has similar run-times, but I'd be tempted by the more powerful Lezyne Micro Drive Pro 800XL for £60, though it's a bigger unit and does have some mode navigation niggles.

You can also get 800 lumens for £40 with the ETC Capella, which Mike found a decent offering bar a few issues including the beam shape and that it only alerts you to a low battery with 20% power remaining.

Overall, the Ion Comp R is a high quality front light with a useful amount of power for being seen during the day and to dabble in nighttime riding. For getting seen, the beam pattern is fine, but for seeing with it's a bit too broad and could dazzle drivers in the brighter settings. Run-times are good but lots of competition in this sector means that at rrp it's quite expensive, though it can be found for less.

Verdict

Decent quality front light for being seen, but beam pattern could be better and it's a bit pricey

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Bontrager Ion Comp R Front Bike Light

Size tested: 700 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?

Bontrager says: 'Ion Comp R packs the power of lasting light into a sleek, compact design that's at home on any road, mountain or city bike. Light your way with five modes, including a Daytime Running Light mode that's designed to increase rider visibility during the day and can be seen from 2 km away.'

I agree that the light is high quality and run-times are good. It's better for making you visible rather than for seeing with, and is a good choice for commuters and anyone who wants to get seen and occasionally dabble in nighttime riding.

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

From Bontrager:

A warm, wide 700-lumen beam allows for confident night riding with a great depth of field

DRL-specific focus, flash and range flash patterns offer ultimate daytime visibility

Runtimes: 700 LM – 1.5 hrs, 500 LM – 3 hrs, 300 LM – 6 hrs, 300 LM day flash – 19 hrs, 200 LM night flash – 9 hrs

Blendr-compatible for integrated mounting on compatible Blendr stems, helmets and helmet mounts

Quick Connect+ offers secure installation with a flexible mount that's compatible with all bars from 22.2 to 35 mm

Includes Ion Comp R light, Adjustable Quick Connect+ Mount and micro USB charging cable

Rate the light for quality of construction:
 
9/10
Rate the light for design and ease of use. How simple was the light to use?
 
8/10
Rate the light for the design and usability of the clamping system/s
 
7/10
Rate the light for waterproofing. How did it stand up to the elements?
 
7/10
Rate the light for battery life. How long did it last? How long did it take to recharge?
 
6/10

Pretty good run-times, but recharging takes ages at 6.5 hours.

Rate the light for performance:
 
7/10
Rate the light for durability:
 
8/10

Light and the mount feel robust, and wet rides have proved no issue.

Rate the light for weight:
 
7/10

Comparable to 700-lumen alternatives.

Rate the light for value:
 
4/10

It is quite expensive compared with the competition.

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

It performed well, ideal on my commutes, with enough power to do the odd unlit lane as well. The mount is simple yet effective, and operating the light is easy, though it could do with an intermediate power indicator step as it stays green all the way from 100% to 25%.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the light

Easy to use.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the light

Beam pattern needs cutting off at the top.

Did you enjoy using the light? Yes

Would you consider buying the light? No

Would you recommend the light to a friend? Yes

Use this box to explain your overall score

It's a high quality and robust light with good run-times and modes, but the beam pattern could do with being cut off at the top and it is expensive compared to the competition.

Overall rating: 6/10

About the tester

Age: 22  Height: 6ft  Weight: 74kg

I usually ride: Specialized venge pro 2019  My best bike is:

I've been riding for: 5-10 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb,

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