A BBB SparkCombo light set arrived at RCUK Towers and I was happy to give it a whirl.
I seem to misplace or break lights every year and by the end of winter have a mismatched set.
The Sparks were small, lightweight, easy to use, with a strong strap mount, and adequate for town use as a unit with which to be seen, rather than to see with.
Both front (BLS-46) and rear (BLS-47) weigh 25 grams, have a matching design, four modes, including high beam, low beam, strobe and flash, and come in black or white.
A few more facts: the front light throws out 20 lumens at high beam; nine lumens at low; and 14 lumens for strobe and flashing. BBB promise three hours of use per charge on high beam and 5.5 hours on low, which chimed with our experience.
High beam on the rear light delivers 5.5 lumens, while the low throws out 2.7 lumens. Claimed hours of usage between charges is 3.5 on high beam and 6.5 on low; again pretty consistent with our tests.
My initial feeling was that the Sparks would be adequate for my commute through central London’s well lit streets, but how would they perform in Richmond Park, where there are no streetlights?
Well, the rear light gave out a perfect array of light (the aforesaid 5.5 lumens at high beam, 2.7 lumens on low beam), but what of the front? Unfortunately, I found that it didn’t have enough clout. I’ll need a unit with more illumination when the dark nights and early mornings really kick in. That said, for a commute through lit streets, the front light is perfectly adequate.
Both lights have three micro-LEDS with four modes. By continuing to press the rubber-enclosed, water resistant ON button, you activate a low beam, high beam, strobe or flash. Personally, I never use strobe mode on either a front or rear light. I feel it annoys drivers (even if it is more obvious that a cyclist is present) and gives me the uncomfortable feeling that it may induce a fit in an epileptic motorist.
Like many modern lights, they can be charged easily with USB (what did we ever do before this?), and have a battery power indicator on top that flashed blue when they are running low. Charging takes around 2.5 hours and BBB say the system is protected against short circuits, overcharging and total discharge. They also claim up to 400 charges without loss of performance – that’s a lot of commuting! I’ve only had to charge them once, after 180 miles.
The Sparks attach to the bike with adjustable silicone “Strapmounts”, each with five holes to fit standard and oversized handlebars. The straps stretch well and look unlikely to perish: a fate suffered by lights I’ve previously used.
As a safety light i.e. one to be seen with on well lit urban roads, rather than one with which to see on unlit streets, the BBB SparkCombo is up to the task. They cost £44.95 a set.