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Review: Fenix BC30 (2x18650 or 4xCR123) plus ALB-10 mount ——subwoofer,CPF

Publish Time:2014-11-02

Author's Statement for Transparency and Disclosure
The test sample/s featured in this article were provided for technical testing and review by "Fenixlight Limited". Test samples are retained by the reviewer following publication of the completed review for the purposes of long term testing and product comparisons.
Supply and Delivery was fulfilled by "", the UK Distributor for Fenix lights

Since they were released, my bike has been fitted with my favourite bike lights so far, the Fenix BT20 and BT10. Though really excellent lights with user changeable cells, they still used a separate battery pack. Well, step aside BT20/BT10 and make room for the newcomer, Fenix's BC30. Higher output levels, shaped beam for bike use, rock solid mount, and despite having user changeable cells, there is no separate battery pack, the BC30 is self-contained!

Author's note: many of the images used in this review are animated to reduce excessive scrolling. You may need to wait for the images to load fully.

Taking a more detailed look:
The photos here show:
The packaging
Full contents
BC30 and mount assembled
Twin optics
A view inside the battery tube
Battery carrier removed from the BC30
BC30 next to two cased ARB-L2S 3400mAh cells (these cells now com in individual cases)
The battery carrier with cells fitted
Switch illumination
And the BC30 getting ready to go with the Fenix ARE-C2 smart charger, and a personalised NW20 whistle (laser engraved by MyFenix)

There are a lot of details to show, so here is another set of images showing:

General shape of the BC30
Slim side profile
Battery carrier locking handle
The underside and mounting rail
Opening the remote switch port's rubber cover
Remote switch plug connected to the BC30
Twin LED/optics
Remote Burst mode switch with glow in the dark button
Velcro adjustable remote switch strap
BC30's switch illumination when ON
The twin lenses lit up

Bike mounts vary significantly, with even high end lights using o-ring mounts. The BC30 uses a very strong clamp. The design is so good, Fenix sells the system as a flashlight holder (the ALB-10) to go onto the same handlebar mount used by the BC30. This allows you to buy a second handlebar clamp to fit to another bike making moving the light from one bike to another a cinch.

Here the ALB-10 is shown with the BC30, and the BC30 fitted to a bike, and some details of the clamp.

The mount has five click stop positions (two either side of centre) for angling the beam from side to side.

And now for a quick spin around the BC30.

A little look at the front end.

To keep the BC30 very compact yet still allow the cells to be changed, Fenix use a carrier that sides into the BC30 body and is removed as shown here.

Thanks to Rob at MyFenix, the BC30 sent to me for review has been personalised with laser engraving. This is a service MyFenix are now offering should you wish to add the personal touch to your lights.

Looking closer at the engraving itself you can see the slight pattern created by the laser path and how the laser 'pecks' away at the surface. This is normal for laser engraving and is shown for the sake of interest.

The beam

The BC30's beam is lovely and smooth, well shaped and amazingly powerful. The neutral tint avoids glare and shows colours well.
On the edges of the indoor beamshot you can see the double shadows due to fact that the BC30 has two separate emitter/reflectors. You will also start to notice the beam shaping.
Outdoors the BC30's beam shaping works well to give reach but also light the ground surface.
Shining on a white wall, the beam shape is clearly visible with its almost square topmost spill beam.

Going out on the trail, and using the BT20 as a 'control', the BC30 on Turbo is a beast.

Modes and User Interface:

With a single built-in electric click switch and additional remote switch, the Fenix BC30 has a very simple interface.
From OFF, press and hold for the main switch for 2s to turn on to the last used constant mode.
When ON press the switch briefly (and firmly in this sample) to cycle through LOW, MID, HIGH, TURBO back to LOW etc.
To switch OFF, press and hold the switch for 2s.
From OFF, press and hold for the remote switch for immediate Burst mode. This is a momentary function only and Burst goes off as soon as the switch is released. Burst can be accessed at any time from ON or OFF.

To activate strobe, when ON give the main switch a double click. A single click returns to steady output.

Batteries and output:

The BC30's cell configuration is 2S1P for 18650 and 4S1P for CR123, so it requires either 2x 18650 cells or 4x CR123.
Due to the design of the battery carrier, Fenix recommend the use of flat-top cells. Using button top cells can make fitting and removal difficult. Additionally, the battery carrier is quite stiff to push fully into place. If you don't get it in far enough, the lock 'grinds' as you rotate it. Fenix do provide an additional smaller o-ring to make this easier, but at the cost of water resistance.
Keeping this test as 'FENIX' as possible, the BC30 was powered using ARB-L2S cells charged with the ARE-C2 multi-chemistry charger.

To measure actual output, I built an integrating sphere. See here for more detail. The sensor registers visible light only (so Infra-Red and Ultra-Violet will not be measured).
Please note, all quoted lumen figures are from a DIY integrating sphere, and according to ANSI standards. Although every effort is made to give as accurate a result as possible, they should be taken as an estimate only. The results can be used to compare outputs in this review and others I have published.

BC30 using Fenix ARB-L2S 3400mAh cells I.S. measured ANSI output Lumens PWM frequency or Strobe frequency (Hz)
Burst 1912 0
Turbo 1260 0
High 538 0
Medium 230 0
Low 119 0

Strobe frequency 1.92Hz

As there is an electronic switch we need to consider the parasitic drain. The Fenix BC30 drain is 146.5uA, and using 3400mAh cells it would take 2.65 years to deplete the cells.

The BC30 runtime trace was carried out using 2x 3400mAh ARB-L2S 18650 cells, and the Turbo output does not step down until the cells become depleted.

You get an impressive 1h 30m of 1200lm Turbo output before the BC30 drops to High.

The BC30 in use

Despite housing two 18650s in a handlebar mounted package, the BC30 is very compact and doesn't feel too large. In fact, once you have a self-contained unit like this you won't ever want to go back to separate battery packs.

The BC30 is shown with the BT20 and BT10 (which is being edged out), also shown is the remote switch in this case fitted just above the rapid shifter lever.

With a very refined beam profile the BC30 works fantastically on and off-road, but it is in unlit off-road trails where you will really appreciate the BC30's shaped beam.

Although it may seem a small thing, the remote switch, giving you momentary access to Burst mode, is fantastically useful. Riding an unlit trail where mostly Medium of High output is sufficient, sometimes you need a bit more light. Thanks to the remote switch you don't need to take your hands off the handlebar to get a burst of maximum output. On-road, you will be using mostly Medium or Low as here it will be more 'to be seen' rather than 'to see', but again the Burst mode allows you to flash at other road users to draw attention to yourself.

Unfortunately the remote switch strap cannot be adjusted as small as you might want to. It would not go small enough to grip the bare handlebar, but instead needed to be fitted to the grip area. As this brings it nearer to the thumb it is not a real issue, but greater flexibility would be provided if the strap adjusted to a smaller size.

The remote switch plug is a firm fit (you do need to push it in firmly), so much so it pushes the o-ring out of its groove. My concern with the design is with its longer term reliability, as I suspect the stability of the push fit will suffer as it wears.

This is a short video to give an impression of the BC30 being used on an unlit trail. Starting with the BT20 to show the difference and then onto the BC30 on Turbo.

Unfortunately due to the camera's inability to cope with high dynamic range, the view is not truly representative of what the eye sees (which is much better), but does give an idea of the amount of light and beam shape.

(there is quite a lot of wind noise, as this was filmed using a chest mounted SJ4000 action camera)

Below the embedded video, there is a direct link to the HD version of the video.


BC30 ride in HD – direct link

The mount is the best I have used. The rubber lining means you can tighten the mount very securely, and it won't move, yet still has some shock absorbing properties. A little feature I found was that as the mount is tightened it tends to point the BC30 down, so when fitting it remember to point it a little higher than you want, and as the mount is tightened it will pull it back to where you want.

The ALB-10 mount is similarly impressive in this regard.

Surprisingly, the BC30 worked best with the light mounted parallel to the ground. Usually I find I have to aim a bike light downwards slightly to get the lighting optimised, but with the BC30 the beam shaping does this for you, so a level mounting position seems to work perfectly.

Thanks to the neatly designed mounting system (which has low profile rails), the BC30 actually works really well as a hand held light. I happened to have it with me in the office when the power went out, and used it as a flashlight. On a flat desk, it even managed to tail-stand and, via ceiling-bounce, provided my entire department with light. This would not be the case if it had a separate battery pack.

Having a neutral tint, the BC30's beam is not at all fatiguing, and there is minimal glare to other road users – so much better than most bike lights.

Though designed as a bike light, the BC30 is just as good on or off the bike.

This is one impressive bike light, and is absolutely my first choice for all night time rides. Need I say more?

Review summary

Things I like What doesn't work so well
User Changeable cells Battery carrier stiff to fully close
Super sturdy mount Remote switch strap has limited adjustability
Self-contained - No separate battery pack Main switch needed a very firm press
Excellent beam tint Concern over remote switch socket longevity
Powerful beam Better with flat top cells
Instant Burst mode
Easily removable
Excellent beam shaping

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