While Fenix is best known for their extensive lineup of everyday carry (EDC) and tactical flashlights, in recent years they’ve also experimented with bike lights. In this review we’ll be looking at their latest bike light, the BC26R headlight. The light has a retail price of $89.95 and has an impressive 1600 Lumen output from a single Luminus LED. As with other Fenix lights, the BC26R features a replaceable battery with threaded tail cap. Although Fenix includes a 5000 mAh ARB-L21-5000 Li-ion battery with the light, the BC26R can be used with 18650 batteries using the Fenix ALF-18 battery holder. Despite the non-integrated design, the BC26R carries a IP68 rating which ensures the headlight can be used in any weather condition.
The Fenix BC26R combines a premium metal body and bright 1600 lumen output with a replaceable 21700 Li-on battery.
|Rating||9.2 / 10|
|Weight (in g)||154 (headlamp), 26 (mount)|
|Likes||+ USB Type-C|
+ One of the few bike lights with replaceable battery
+ Premium metal body and backlight power button
|Dislikes||– Proprietary mount instead of a Garmin style mount|
– Long form factor due to non integrated battery
– Non-directional beam has no cut-off
|Where to Buy (US)||Fenix|
We received an early look at the Fenix BC26R without the official packaging so we can’t make any comments about the actual packing. What you can expect to receive is:
- BC26R headlight w/ Fenix ARB-L21-5000 Li-ion battery preinstalled
- Quick-release handlebar mount
- USB-C charging cable
- Instruction manual
- Spare O-ring
- Warranty card
The light comes with an o-ring pre-installed behind the tail cap cover and prevents water intrusion. As the o-ring can degrade overtime, Fenix includes a spare which is a thoughtful touch.
The tool-free quick-release handlebar mount Fenix includes with the BC26R should be familiar to those who have owned Fenix bike lights in the past. Even though it uses a proprietary slide on design with tab to lock it in place which means you cannot mount the BC26R on out-front mounts or other accessories, it’s still one of our favorite simple handlebar mounts. We’d describe the tool-free design as a swinging-cam style as the rear is hinged on that you can simply swing into place and hand tighten. This is much easier to use than Magicshine’s handlebar mounts as it can be installed or removed in a few seconds. The mount also allows for side to side angle adjustments of roughly 30° to each side with indexed positions. Multiple rubber spacers are included to handle different round handlebar diameters.
FIT & FINISH
It’s easy to tell Fenix is primarily a tactical and every-day carry (EDC) flashlight company rather than a dedicated bike company as the BC26R uses the same elongated flashlight form factor with metal housing and simply adds a handlebar adapter to the base. It’s a simple design that’s easy to hold and allows the headlight to easily be used as a flashlight off the bike. While the form factor is very similar to the Fenix BC21R we previously reviewed, the darker finish and bronze-like power button give the Fenix BC26R a more premium look. Strakes along the sides of the body add a little more visual detail and help with heat dissipation.
The single LED lens is slightly inset into the body to reduce glare when you’re out of the saddle while small rectangular cut-outs on each side help with side visibility. White graphics on the sides also indicate the direction of the battery along with a CE mark and trash symbols. On the underside, you’ll find slots for the proprietary handlebar mount and the USB-C charging port enclosed in a snug rubber cover. What really sets the BC26R apart from other bike lights is the rear tail cap which unscrews to expose the Fenix branded 21700 5000 mAh battery. This means you can easily swap any equivalent 21700 or 18650 battery with an ALF-18 battery holder as a replacement or spare to extend the runtimes. The combination of the USB Type-C and replaceable battery design mean the BC26R is future-proof and can easily be used for years to come.
The BC26R utilizes a single Luminus LED with a dimpled total internal reflection (TIR) lens. With its symmetric lens, the BC26R produces a standard cone shaped beam with a uniform output distribution. It’s surprising to see that Fenix didn’t incorporate a simple deflector similar to the Fenix BC21R or the Magicshine Allty RN 1500. However, it does mean you can mount the BC26R upside down or right-side up if desired. With the BC26R there are five output modes to choose from, four constant modes and one flash mode. The constant modes are: low (50 lm / 65 hr), med (200 lm / 18 hr), high (600 lm / 9.5 hr) and turbo (1600 lm / 3.5 hr).
We found low mode to be too dim to be useful except for daytime riding while high and turbo were the most suited for dark trails. Note, as with any bike light, the full-power turbo mode does generate quite a bit of heat and will reduce output unless you are in colder weather and have airflow around it. The single flash mode is a standard slow on-off pattern that is great for attracting attention during daytime riding. We particularly like the two-level interface – a single press to cycle through constant modes and a double press to activate the flash mode. This allows you to adjust the output without having to cycle through flash mode which can be quite distracting while riding.
Overall, we found the Fenix BC26R to be a well designed and bright bike headlight. The single LED setup puts out an impressive 1600 lumens with a simple two-level interface that separates the constant modes from flash. Instead of smart features such as sensors or app control, the BC26R is designed to be simple and intuitive to use. What really separates the light from other models on the market is the replaceable battery which allows you to quickly swap in a 21700 Li-ion battery or 18500 with a special holder into the BC26R. Not only does that allow you to extend the run-time but it also means you can swap the battery out instead of replacing the entire light once the battery capacity has diminished. The main downside to the BC26R is that it uses a proprietary Fenix mount design instead of a more generic Garmin quarter turn style mount. That said, if you’re looking for a modern bike light with a replaceable battery, the BC26R is hard to beat.
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.