The Planet Bike Blaze headlights have been a mainstay of their bike light product line. Throughout the years, they’ve been continuously updated to improve their output and usability. In this review we’ll be looking at three models in the latest Blaze SLX line: the Blaze 400, 600 and 800 SLX headlights. These three headlights feature integrated rechargeable Li-ion batteries, excellent 275° side visibility as well as Planet Bike’s exclusive “Courtesy” and “Superflash” output modes. With the latest iteration, the SLX lights have been upgraded with higher lumen output, an improved Quick Twist handlebar mounting, and a Clean Beam design.
The Blaze 400, 600 and 800 SLX lights offer a wide range of options from commuters to those looking to turn night into day. We found the headlights offered excellent optics and usability while still being more affordable than competitors.
With outputs ranging from 400 to a maximum of 800 lumens, the lights offer a wide range of options for commuters to those looking to turn night into day. The latest updates have also made the Blaze SLX lights more competitive and improved their usability. In particular the Quick Twist mounting is a great update as they offer a tool free and secure way to mount the headlights to your handlebar. Also, the Clean Beam design alters the light output to have a wider beam to improve side visibility and reduce glare. In this review, we’ll go into details of the design and new features to determine how the Blaze SLX lights compare to one another and other lights on the market.
|Category||Bicycle Head Light|
|Retail Price||$43/ $55/ $65|
|Likes||+ Budget prices |
+ Courtesy and Superflash modes
+ Excellent 275° visibility
|Dislikes||– Bulky form factor |
– Cycling through flash to adjust power
– Non-obvious battery status indicator
|Where to Buy (US)||Planet Bike|
With all three of the Blaze SLX lights, Planet Bike does an excellent job in terms of packaging and presentation with their iconic radial graphics on cardboard with the lights prominently displayed. Instead of multiple layers of plastic, the packaging is environmentally conscious and minimal.
For each of the lights you receive:
- Blaze SLX light
- Micro USB charging cable
- Quick Twist handlebar mount
- User manual
Note, with the Quick Twist mount, you will need a screwdriver (not included) to adjust the strap for different handlebar diameters.
The Blaze SLX lights all utilize a sliding slot handlebar mount design. The mounting interface is plastic molded onto the bottom of the headlights, while the handlebar mount is what Planet Bike refers to as the Quick Twist mount. This is a standard cam design that requires no tools, just a simple rotation with your hand to loosen and tighten. Although this doesn’t offer the universal compatibility that a Garmin style mount would, we prefer these cam designs over the more common rubber band style mounts. The simple cam design is easy to tighten by hand onto a handle bar, and quick to remove. The mount also allows for a few degrees of side-to-side rotation to allow for off-center mounting. We found that the tolerance between the mount and headlight were precise, resulting in little play or jitter on the road..
To accommodate different handlebar widths, the Quick Twist mount has internal stops that adjust the position of the strap. A screwdriver is needed to remove the screw on the top of the mount, but once removed it is easy to move the strap attachment point to one of three locations (closest is 22mm, middle is 26mm and furthest is 31.8mm). Although this design did require us to read the manual for instructions, we found it to be a very clever solution. Other lights like the Fenix BC21R v2 use a similar cam style handlebar mount but include different thickness pads to work with different handlebar diameters. The advantage of the Planet Bike design is that you don’t need to store and keep track of any additional parts as the adjustment is built directly in the mount. Planet Bike also offers a fork mount bracket for an additional cost.
FIT & FINISH
Although the Blaze 400, 600, 800 SLX lights have different power outputs (and different capacity batteries), visually they share the same external design and the 146g total weight. Aside from the model names printed on them, you wouldn’t be able to tell them apart. Overall the lights have a torpedo style profile, that narrows at the front/rear and bulges slightly at the center. The front portion of the light is aluminium to improve heat dissipation with an attractive silver metallic flake finish. Although the rear of the housing is a semi-gloss plastic, the curves and cutouts of the housing line up well. There is also a large upper shielding above the lens that prevents the rider from being blinded by the light even when you’re out of the saddle.
On the underside of the lights, you’ll find a large rubber cover that protects the micro USB port. Even though the headlights have an IP66 rating (heavy jets of water, but not immersion), the cover is surprisingly thick. The mounting surface is molded into the rear plastic housing portion and feels solid enough to handle heavy use. On the rear you’ll find the Planet Bike logo, but it is otherwise unadorned. Two slots run down the sides of the lights to add a little visual interest and also conceal the two screws that hold the housing together. The top of the light has a large power button that has a backlight that briefly illuminates when pressed and to indicate the low-battery status.
We found the Blaze SLX lights to have a bulky form factor, especially compared to similar output headlights on the market. Particularly for lower lumen outputs like the Blaze 400 SLX, there are various headlights like the Topeak Headlux 450 that offer comparable power with a compact form factor. For the Blaze 600 SLX, the Light & Motion Urban 700 is more compact and modern looking. With the Blaze 800 SLX there are also other options like the Fenix BC21R v2.0 or Magicshine Allty 1000 that also have a few more additional features. However the merchandising department at Planet Bike has done their homework as we found that the Blaze SLX headlights were more affordable across the product line than comparable headlights on the market.
The Blaze SLX lights also feature Planet Bike’s new Clean Beam design, which are essentially vertical diffusers on the front lens to spread the beam horizontally and reduce glare. As you can see with the beam pattern, the Clean Beam design results in a more ellipse shape than the typical round shape. We found that the wider beam made side-to-side visibility better on the road and had a more evenly distribution. Side visibility of the headlights is 275° thanks to large cutouts on the sides of the lens which improve nighttime safety. This is often a weakness of many headlights so it’s great to see on such an affordable range of lights.
Operation-wise, the headlights all use a single button interface with a long-hold to turn it on/off and a single press to cycle through the modes. The Blaze 600 and 800 SLX headlights each have five modes, while the Blaze 400 SLX headlight has one less mode (medium output is omitted). With the Blaze 400 the following modes are available: high (400 lumens, 1.5 hours), low (200 lumens, 4 hours), Courtesy (150-250 lumens, 13 hours) and Superflash (400 lumens, 30 hours). The Blaze 600 SLX features: high (600 lumens, 1.8 hours), medium (300 lumens, 3.7 hours), low (150 lumens, 8 hours), Courtesy (150-250 lumens, 20 hours) and Superflash (600 lumens, 40 hours). Finally the Blaze 800 SLX has: high (800 lumens, 1.5 hours), medium (400 lumens, 3.7 hours), low (200 lumens, 6 hours), Courtesy (160-270 lumens, 16 hours) and Superflash (800 lumens, 32 hours).
We particularly were impressed with the Courtesy mode which is a constant mode that ramps up and down. It is subtle enough to not be distracting but still attract attention when riding even on darker roads. We can’t say the same about the Superflash mode which is a high frequency erratic flashing. The run-times for Superflash modes are particularly impressive and serve as a great daytime running mode. On camera the highest output steady modes for the Blaze 400, 600 and 800 SLX lights look similar, but on the road we found the Blaze 800 SLX to provide the furthest reach and intensity. However, the Blaze 400 SLX still provided adequate lighting for those with a tight budget looking for a light for nighttime riding.
Overall, the Planet Bike Blaze SLX lights are affordable and well built set of headlights. The clever cam style handlebar mounts are easy to install/remove and can be used on different handlebar diameters. Although the headlights have bulky form factor (particularly for the Blaze 400 SLX), the clean beam design results in a uniform and wide beam for riding in the dark. Planet Bike’s exclusive Courtesy mode is great for nighttime visibility while the Superflash mode has the power and the long runtime needed for daytime riding. The Blaze 400, 600 and 800 SLX headlights are also more affordable than other headlights on the market. If you are wondering which one out of the three headlights you should buy, our advice is to get the brightest one you can afford.
Disclaimer: The product for this review was provided by Planet Bike. 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.