Impressively bright yet compact front light that can hold its own in town and on unlit lanes
Generally speaking, front lights come in one of two forms: compact units that draws attention to the rider, and larger lights with the main purpose of acting as bona-fide headlight, shining a path ahead.
Of course, that over simplifies things, and the Lezyne Lite Drive 700XL is a prime example. It sits at the base of Lezyne’s ‘performance’ range of front lights, and manages to combine stylishly svelte looks in a unit that packs a serious 700-lumen punch.
That comes via two LEDs, which combine to generate a wide beam. The result is a light that shines brightly enough in pitch black conditions, with an intensity that’s more consistent than you get from a single LED thanks to the wider spread of light.
With this, you might expect burn time to be low given that there are two diodes to power along a longer circuit, but it’s not the case at all. From fully charged, I timed the Lite Drive to give 3:07 hours of run time when on the 400-lumen ‘Blast’ setting (Lezyne claims three hours burn time for this). As ever with these settings, however, the light does start to lose some of its potency after around a third of the claimed battery time, particularly on the full 700-lumen ‘Overdrive’ mode (claimed run time 90 minutes).
You have a good indication of where the battery level is at any given moment, thanks to a clear LED button on the top of the unit, which lights up in a traffic light format, finishing with a blinking red setting when it’s on its last legs and locks the light into a low ‘get-you-home’ brightness.
A single press of the button switches between settings, with eight in total, including Lezyne’s day-specific double-flash mode and five static modes. It will also remember your last setting if you switch it off by pressing and holding the button.
Handily, the light will recharge in around six hours from flat, so if you plug it in the back of your work computer at the start of the day, it should be fully charged when you leave the office. The micro-USB cable port on the rear of the unit is covered by a big rubber bung, which does a good job at keeping any water out.
Elsewhere, as we’ve come to expect from Lezyne, build quality is excellent, with the alloy body giving a real sense of quality in the product, although I did notice some scratches appearing on the alloy body after the light was chucked in my backpack after getting off the bike. As well as the silver unit on test, you can have the 700XL in black and a range of more shouty purple, blue and red colourways.
The mount is easy to use, with a stretchy silicone band which wraps around your handlebar. However, you can’t quickly remove the light from it and leave the clamp on the bike – instead, it’s only removable from the light by an Allen key, so realistically when you remove the light, you take it together with the clamp.
It’s not the end of the world, and it gives a strong and secure fit to the bike when in place. The only complication is that you need to turn the light 90 degrees to be able to easily hook the rubber band onto the back of the clamp to secure the light. Again, it’s not too difficult – all you need to do is turn it back again when the bracket is reattached and it does mean you have the option of shining the light in a different direction during use.
All this comes in a £56.99 package, which given the overall quality of the unit and its general all-round capability – with eight modes, good output and even better beam shape – seems a good buy.
The Lezyne Lite Drive 700XL is a very capable front light in a compact package that hits a very good sweetspot between brightness, overall performance, build quality and price. If you need a light that can still illuminate the road while taking up relatively little space on your handlebar, then the 700XL should be on your shortlist.
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