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review

ETC FR340 USB Rechargeable Lightset

8
£34.99

VERDICT:

8
10
Great commuting lights for the price, and the rear is a surprise standout
Lots of lumens for little cash
Solid build quality
IPX5 waterproof
Rear light has some useful smarts
Long run-times
Front light output isn't very road-specific/dazzles at higher lumens
Slightly heavy front light
Weight: 
163g

At road.cc 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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The ETC FR340 USB Rechargeable Lightset is a low-cost front and rear light combo that's solidly built, easy to use and handy for commuting where you want to be seen rather than see. The front light is reasonably powerful, though a touch blinding on higher settings. The rear has some smart touches, but it lacks power for really bright days.

ETC's front light looks a bit like a torch, and it acts a bit like one too – outputting a beam that's very focused on one spot. Although the 300-lumen maximum output is actually pretty decent for the price, and would work as a backup for unlit lanes in a pinch, it's slightly blinding because of the light leakage around the beam.

Still, in lower power modes (there are two steady ones), it's plenty bright enough to be seen effectively day or night – just watch that light positioning on the bar so as not to blind other road users. There's also a regular flash and a slow flash to choose from. They're all easy to switch between thanks to the single button on the top.

2021 ETC FR340 USB Rechargeable Lightset - front light 2.jpg

ETC claims a run-time of 2 hours 30 minutes in the brightest mode, and at 2hrs 15mins in the real world, it's not far off this. There's a lower power light on the button which lets you know when it's time to charge via the included micro-USB cable. The 4.5hr charge time is a little on the slow side.

2021 ETC FR340 USB Rechargeable Lightset - front light USB port.jpg

At the rear, the circular light only boasts 40 lumens, which might seem pretty weak, but although it's too dim to be noticeable on a bright, sunny day, at night on unlit paths or commuting in a city it's just right.

2021 ETC FR340 USB Rechargeable Lightset - rear light 1.jpg

You get a load of modes to choose from, including steady, breath, rhythm flash, and more. To turn the light on or switch between settings, just hit the button in the centre of the lens.

Even though this lightset is firmly in budget territory, the rear light boasts some rather neat features, including an auto mode that automatically turns the light on when you start moving, and turns it off after about a minute when you've stopped. That's ideal if you forget to turn your light off after a ride.

It also features a brake warning, boosting the lumens when it senses you slowing down. This is really useful if you spend a lot of time riding among traffic or with another rider following at the rear.

Neither light has side visibility, so they're not the best for being seen at busy junctions.

> Buyer’s Guide: The best 2021 front lights for cycling

As with the front, there's a low battery warning light – in this case it's a small LED on the inside of the light that turns red when it needs charging. The rear light managed 9hrs 50mins on steady, which is well over an hour shorter than ETC's claimed run-time of 11 hours. In real world riding, the battery drain will be even greater, as the brake light no doubt uses extra power in stop start traffic.

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

A stupendous 33.5 hours of run-time is available in Eco Flash mode, so you could commute for weeks on end without worry. Even with the regular flashing modes, you're good for at least a week unless your commute each way is more than an hour.

When you do need to charge the rear light, the charge time from dead of 1hr 35mins is pretty decent.

2021 ETC FR340 USB Rechargeable Lightset - rear light USB port.jpg

Mounts

To attach the front or rear to your bike you simply hook the notched silicone band over the bar or seatpost, and away you go.

2021 ETC FR340 USB Rechargeable Lightset - front light mount.jpg

Alternatively, the rear comes with a mount to allow you to attach it to your saddle rails, making for a very neat and integrated installation. The elongated, rocket-style shape of the light blends in perfectly in this position.

2021 ETC FR340 USB Rechargeable Lightset - rear light mount.jpg

The front can be removed quickly thanks to a quick release lever, though the rear is a bit more fiddly – you have to unscrew the light unit from its housing, which takes a bit of time. I reckon the idea is to leave the rear on unless it needs charging (given the auto on and off functionality).

Build quality

Both lights are alloy-bodied and feel solidly built, and they're rated IPX5 for waterproofing, which means they're protected against a low-pressure jet of water at any angle. This makes them ideal for use all year round, and I had no issues with water ingress on either light.

If you want a low-cost combination for commuting, the ETC FR340 lightset is a bit of a no-brainer. For slightly less you can pick up the Magicshine Seemee 30 Combo but you only get 30 lumens front and rear, versus the ETC's 300 and 40. The Seemees are a much lighter pairing, mind.

> Read more road.cc reviews of front and rear light sets here

If we're setting lumens as the marker, then Infini's Super Lava 300 front and Sword Super Bright 30 COB rear pairing is perhaps a better comparison, with 300/30 lumens front/rear. They're also lighter, but aren't as solid and aren't IPX5 waterproof, and cost nearly twice as much at £59.99.

Overall, the ETC light set is incredible value for money, with a power output that bests anything in this price category. The front light is a little unrefined and potentially dazzling, but the rear is great. If you don't want to spend much but want enough power to be seen at night or even during the day, this is a really good option.

Verdict

Great commuting lights for the price, and the rear is a surprise standout

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road.cc test report

Make and model: ETC FR340 USB Rechargeable Lightset

Size tested: Max 300 lumens front, 40 lumens rear

Tell us what the light set 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?

An inexpensive front and rear light combination that's ideal for being seen rather than seeing. It's an ideal pairing for commuting.

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

ETC lists:

Front

COB LED

Functions : 100% SOS/Steady, 70% Steady, 50% Steady - Off.

Low Battery Indicator

Waterproof IPX5

Battery Size: 3.7v 2200mAh Proprietary Lithium (included)

Run Time: 2.5 hrs 100%, 5 hrs 50%

Charge Time: 4.5 hours

Rear

Functions : Steady, Breathe, Slow Flash, Fast Flash, Rhythm Flash, Eco Flash. With Low Battery Indicator. Plus Brake Warning, Auto Light Sensing, Auto Sleep and Auto Wake up.

Waterproof IPX5

Battery Size: 3.7v 240mAh Proprietary Lithium (included)

Run Time Rear : Steady (11hrs), Breathe (10.5hrs), Slow Flash (17hrs), Fast Flash (18.5 hrs) Rhythm Flash(18.2 hrs), Eco Flash (33.5 hrs).

Rate the front light for quality of construction:
 
8/10
Rate the rear light for quality of construction:
 
8/10

Alloy-bodied, solid feeling and IPX5 waterproof – much beefier than the price would make you think.

Rate the light set for design and ease of use. How simple were the lights to use?
 
8/10

Easy to switch modes using the buttons. You can even do it on the front on the move, although the button feels a bit small with thick gloves on. Auto modes at the rear are brilliant for fitting and forgetting.

Rate the front light for the design and usability of the clamping system
 
8/10
Rate the rear light for the design and usability of the clamping system
 
6/10

The front has a quick release mount, but the rear has to be unscrewed which is fiddly and takes time.

Rate the front light for waterproofing. How did it stand up to the elements?
 
8/10
Rate the front light for waterproofing. How did it stand up to the elements?
 
8/10

Both lights are IPX5 rated (protected against a low pressure jet of water at any angle).

Rate the front light for battery life. How long did it last? How long did it take to recharge?
 
7/10
Rate the rear light for battery life. How long did it last? How long did it take to recharge?
 
7/10

Front light: almost spot on with claimed times at full power, which is decent. Charge time is lengthy at 4hrs 30mins though.

Rear light: not quite on par with factory figures at 9hrs 50mins, versus ETC's time of 11hrs dead. Charge time was 1hr 35mins.

Rate the front light for performance:
 
6/10
Rate the rear light for performance:
 
8/10

The front light is very bright, but the spot focus isn't ideal and it's a bit dazzling. The rear light is plenty bright enough apart from on very sunny days. The auto brake mode boosts the lumens when you slow down, which is neat.

Rate the front light for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the rear light for durability:
 
8/10

Both lights are solidly built and should last well.

Rate the front light for weight:
 
5/10
Rate the rear light for weight:
 
8/10

About 120g for the front which is on the heavy side. About 40g for the rear is decent.

Rate the light set for value:
 
10/10

One of the cheapest light combinations around given the output and nifty features.

Tell us how the lights performed overall when used for their designed purpose

The front light pattern isn't very road friendly and is a bit dazzling at high settings, but otherwise both are brilliant be-seen lights (with the ability to be used on unlit lanes in a pinch).

Tell us what you particularly liked about the lights

The smart features of the rear light.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the lights

The front light isn't very refined, and it's a bit heavy.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?

As far as I can tell, this is the cheapest combination of lights on road.cc when you factor in the overall light output. For a little less you can get the Magicshine Seemee 30 combo, but they're a lot less powerful. The Inifni Super Lava 300 and Sword Super Bright 30 COB Rear light is strong competition in terms of raw output, but they fall down in some other areas and they're nearly twice the price.

Did you enjoy using the lights? Yes

Would you consider buying the lights? No, but I'd buy the rear on its own.

Would you recommend the lights to a friend? Yes, they're dirt cheap!

Use this box to explain your overall score

Incredible value-for-money light set with a power output that bests anything in this price category. The front light is a little unrefined and potentially dazzling, but the rear is really good. Both lights make a great set for commuters who don't want to spend much but want enough power to be seen at night or even during the day.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 39  Height: 6'4  Weight: 175lbs

I usually ride: Steel audax bike  My best bike is:

I've been riding for: 10-20 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, sportives,

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