Bontrager’s Ion 800 front and Flare R City lights take the fight to the day and the night
Words & Images - James Raison
The Ion 800’s form factor is really exceptional. It’s easily the smallest and lightest headlight with this battery size (Li-Ion 3000mAh 3.7 Volt) and power output that I’ve used. It’s sleekly packaged in a clean alloy casing with a button on the top that switches modes and indicates battery level. Underneath is a deeply recessed, rubber-protected micro USB charge port. It’s all tightly sealed up so no swappable battery.
It grabs your bike via silicone mount that’s pretty stiff out of the box so you’ll need to stretch it a bit on first few fittings. It’s got 25 degrees of adjustment too so you can adjust it to point inboard or outboard when mounted off-centre on your bars.
Battery life is exactly where you’d expect for a light of this size, output, and price:
- 800LM - 1.5hrs
- 450LM - 3hrs,
- 200LM - 6hrs
- night flash - 20hrs, day flash - 20hrs
I was immediately impressed with the brightness and spread of the Ion 800’s beam. It has a substantial dot and a bright halo around it. So the crucial road ahead of you is well lit, and so are the peripheral areas around it. 800lm is more than enough to take dark roads at full pelt. Their 450 and 250lm levels punch above their weight as well compared to other lights with the same brightness claims. Lumens are an easy point of reference for gauging output but they’re not all created equal. Some lights just make better light and this is one of them. At all lumen levels this light excels.
Flashing modes are very useful too, particularly the daytime flash that blasts out full lumens on an inconsistent pattern. That flash mode gets attention. I used it almost every day commuting and I felt more visible with the light blasting out enough power to grab attention in full daylight.
This light has been a reliable companion through my winter of dark riding. There’s just one problem: questionable rubbers. The rubber stopper over the charge port has broken in 2 places within 3 months. First, there’s only a couple of millimeters of rubber to pull the stopper out and access the charge port. That broke within a few weeks. Second, the rubber strap that attaches the stopper to the light snapped soon after. I contacted Trek Australia about it, and they said the unit would most likely be replaced by the retailer. It’s good that retailers would replace the unit but it’s concerning to have 2 rubber failures within 3 months of use.
FLARE R CITY
The Flare R City is ultra-simple with a cuboid shape, large gummy operation button on the top, and sealed charge port underneath. It has a simple snap-on silicon mount making it easy to shift between rigs. The light itself can rotate on its mount so the power button can be on your preferred side. It blares out 35 lumens at maximum and has a clever integrated light sensor to automatically adjust to current conditions. Good news for safety and battery life.
Battery life is:
- 35LM - 8hrs
- night flash 35LM - 16hrs
- day steady 20LM - 3hrs
- night steady 2LM - 20hrs
The Flare R City is a cracker of a light. Firstly it’s bright. Very bright. It’s smart as well thanks to its sensor. Turn it on and the light self-adjusts to the most appropriate flast. Day flash is ultra-bright, and night flash reduces the total power in favour of a more consistent flash pattern. It has a nice chunky power button to easily switch it on and off while riding, and a solid rubber guard over the charge port.
The only limitation I found was side visibility. It’s cube shape means the light is focused where it points; straight behind you. Other lights will have some sideways splash to give you some more lateral visibility. Really, that’s all I got. It’s a damn good light so I have to nit-pick.
The Ion 800 lives in a competitive market segment filled with lights of about-the-same-lumens and about-the-same battery life for about-the-same price. It distinguishes itself through superior form factor, small packaging, and a outstanding beam quality. It’s easily the smallest integrated light with this power and battery life I’m aware of. It’s been a trusty companion through my winter of riding in darkness. Those rubbers are a bummer though.
The Flare R City is another now-trusty companion of mine. Fabulous form factor, smart brightness adjusting, and plenty of power to make road users behind you pay attention. It’s a top be-seen light.
Head on over to the Trek Bikes website to buy these lights:
Disclosure statement: These lights were sent by Trek Bikes Australia to review.