At its face value, the Fenix BC05R is not a particularly interesting bike tail light. It is easy to overlook at only 10 lumens with a traditional design and the low retail price of only $19.95. However, Fenix has leveraged their expertise in flashlights to incorporate a number of impressive features despite the low price point. The BC05R doesn’t have any smart features or associated cell phone apps to customize it, instead it excels at being a reliable and compact tail light.
Instead of the traditional micro USB port, the BC05R has a USB Type-C port, a feature that the bicycle industry has been slow to adopt. This means you can re-use your existing USB Type-C cables to reduce carrying more cables around. Additionally, the light also has an intuitive battery indicator incorporated into the single button interface. These two features set the BC05R apart from other bike tail lights on the market.
The Fenix BC05R has impressive features at a budget price. Although the BC05R isn’t bright enough for daytime use, the light has a compact form factor and long runtime. Additionally with USB Type-C charging port and an integrated battery indicator that can be accessed while the light is off ensure the BC05R is convenient to charge and won’t leave you stranded.
|Category||Bicycle Tail Light|
|Likes||+ Budget price |
+ USB Type-C Charging and Battery indicator
+ Compact form factor and easy mounting
|Dislikes||– Poor side visibility |
– Not compatible with aero posts
– Lacks smart features
|Where to Buy (US)||Fenix Lighting|
The Fenix BC05R comes packaged in a bright orange box with the tail light well displayed through a plastic protrusion from the box. The contents include:
- BC05R tail light
- Rubber mounting strap
- USB Type-C charging cable
- Body clip
- User manual
- Warranty card
With the small form factor everything fits well in the packaging, and feels well made. The only downside is that you do need to destroy the packaging to get at the contents, so you won’t be able to really save the box for storage.
Fenix has integrated the mounting hooks directly into the BC05R housing. This means attaching the light to your bike only requires the provided rubber strap. The rubber strap is thick with multiple adjustments positions, which makes us believe it will survive longer term use. A thick rubber pad is incorporated behind the BC05R to avoid scratching your seat post and protect the USB Type-C port. Note, Fenix does not provide any adapters to accommodate basket mounts or aero dynamic posts which have thin mounting surfaces.
However, Fenix does include a body clip with the BC05R to mount the tail light on saddlebags or backpacks. The body clip utilizes the mounting hooks in the tail light housing to securely hold the tail light in place. Compared to other tail light clips, the Fenix body clip feels particular well designed and secure. It’s also worth pointing out that with this design, it is seamless to transition the tail light from a seat post to a backpack. You simply have to remove and put away the rubber strap to do the transition.
FIT & FINISH
One of the most striking things about the Fenix BC05R is just how small the tail light is in-person. The tail light looks larger in the product photos online, while in actuality, it is about the size of a AAA battery and weighed only 22 grams on our scale with the strap. Aesthetically, the light is composed of 3 x 2835 LEDs arranged vertically. The tail light has the thickness of a AAA battery as well, with opaque plastic housing and transparent lens on the front face.
On the top of the tail light’s face, you’ll also find a large rubber button which is used to power the light on/off, cycle through modes, and check the battery status. The rubber button is large enough and easy to use even with thick winter gloves. A long press will power the light on/off, while a single click with the light on will cycle through the modes. Interestingly, there is no mode memory with the BC05R. On power-up the light always starts out in the low mode (low -> slow flash -> high flash -> high) instead of reverting to the last known state.
Most importantly, a single short press with the tail light powered off indicates the battery status by turning on a backlight behind the button. A green color indicates 71% or better, orange is 41-71%, red is 11-40% while flashing red is anything below 11%. This is an essential feature as it ensures you can monitor the battery state, rather than relying on ambiguous low battery indicators. Unlike battery powered tail lights that will dim as the battery diminishes, rechargeable tail lights are designed to operate at 100% until they don’t have enough power. This often means you won’t realize the battery is low until the tail light completely dies. Hence, the battery indicator is something that will ensure you can maintain the battery without having to constantly preemptively charge a light.
The BC05R is designed with three surface mount LEDs instead of the more common COB LED design tail lights on the market. Unlike the COB LED tail lights which have dozens or more LEDs tightly arranged in grids, each of the LEDs on the BC05R can distinctly be seen. The tail light can be operated in four modes: high (10 lumens – 1.8 hours), low (2 lumens – 10 hours), slow flash (2 lumens – 40 hours) and fast flash (2 lumens – 72 hours). The run-times are impressive considering the small 240mAh Li-polymer, although lumen output is far less than other tail lights on the market.
Question is, do you need a 300 lumen tail light or is the Fenix BC05r at 2 lumens enough to be seen? Based on our riding, even on the low setting the BC05R does a great job distributing the light and improving your visibility. This isn’t a daytime riding light though, and Fenix claims it can been upto a distance of 200 meters (656 ft). Comparing this to the Light & Motion Vya Switch, at its lower 25 lumen output mode claims 1km (3280 ft) visibility, partially in part to their special SafePulse flashing mode. For nighttime riding, we found the low mode of the BC05R to be sufficient while the slow flash mode was well suited for urban riding. Note, the fast flash mode is probably too fast and can be annoying for cyclists behind you.
It’s also worth pointing out that the design of the BC05R has poor side visibility. With the opaque plastic body and flat lens, the light has only 180 degree visibility or less. Other tail lights avoid this by either using transparent housings or extending the lens out of the house.
As Fenix’s first tail light, the BC05R has some impressive features at a budget price. Although the BC05R isn’t bright enough for daytime use, the light has a compact form factor and long runtime. Additionally with USB Type-C charging port and an integrated battery indicator that can be accessed while the light is off ensure the BC05R is convenient to charge and won’t leave you stranded. We recommend the light for anyone looking for a simple lightweight rechargeable tail light, or as an excellent secondary backpack/saddlebag mounted light at a low price point.
Disclaimer: The product for this review was provided by Fenix Lighting. The views expressed on this website are solely those of the authors and are here to help people make an informed choice before a purchase. The authors or the blog itself does not get any monetary compensation from the product manufacturer or third-party websites/vendor links that are posted here.