It’s that time of year when a decent set of bike lights could literally save your life. Helen and Mark, two Trivelo Test Associates, have put the See.Sense ICON2 smart bike lights under the spot light. The guys at See,Sense claim they’re more than just lights. so this is what we thought after using the lights for the past few weeks. Read their review and share your experience.
Helen Murray – Macclesfeild
10th female overall Ironman UK 2016, 5th ETU middle distance champs 2014 & too many 4th place 70.3 Ironman finishes to mention !
If I only commuted in an urban setting, the See.Sense Icon2 smart bike lights are a great option.
I live in the countryside, but my regular commute would be 50% urban, 50% countryside. I also enjoy cycle touring and carry lights for tunnels…as well as those unexpected long days when nothing goes to plan! In addition to being a cyclist, I’m a driver too and I really hate it when cyclists either don’t use lights at all, or have lights which you can’t see, unless you are a metre or two away. As a driver and a cyclist in rural and urban areas, I want a light which can help me see, but also be seen and I was looking forward to seeing if the Icon 2’s 400 lumen front light and 300 lumen back light would do the trick.
Intro to See.Sense smart bike light
I first heard about See.Sense smart bike lights on social media. I remember clicking through to read more about them because I was intrigued by the reactive nature of the lights, but I had recently purchased new lights for my commute to work, which was bulky, heavy and required a battery pack… however it was ridiculously bright! So when I got the opportunity to test the See.Sense Icon2 smart bike lights, I was really excited to give them a go.
First impressions of the Icon2
The lights were a lot smaller and even lighter (60g/light) than I had expected . However, the Icon2 certainly pack a punch when it comes to visibility; manufacturers claim the lights make you visible up to 3km away.
The lights come with everything you need to get going straight away; USB chargers, a choice of mounts depending on whether you are riding a road or TT set up, elastic straps to secure the lights and instructions. Part of the packaging stuck to the light when I tried to take it out of the cardboard, but otherwise I was impressed with the package and contents.
Charging is simple too.
…..via USB which is great if you are commuting by bike and need to charge them up at your computer during the day. The first time you charge the lights, it takes around 10 hours, but after that, it’s 3. There is also a really handy charge indicator on the light, so you know when the battery is full.
See.Sense claim the Icon2 can run for 16 hours on ‘reactive flash’ mode, so being caught out on the way home from work in winter is very unlikely if you keep an eye on the charging indicators on the lights themselves, but even better via the app.
See.Sense ICON2 Mobile App
One really smart feature of the Icon2 is the See.Sense app so you can get low battery notifications and customize/control your lights via your phone, receive theft alerts, send crash alerts and also share insights to improve rides for yourself and others. It was really straight forward to find and download the app and then pair my lights to it. If you are willing to allow access to your location, you can also set up the auto theft and auto crash alerts which seems like a really nice additional feature.
Fitting the lights
The lights are attached using mounts and rubber straps which come in the box. The straps are really thin and flimsy though and having so many in the package did make me wonder if they would snap really easily. On the plus side, having a variety of different sized straps allowed me to readily swap the lights between bikes with different sized seat posts and handle bars.
I found trying to attach the lights really fiddly in and around the cables on the front of my bike and also struggled to fit them around my puncture repair kit at the back. I think the lack of mounting options at the rear is a major downside of the lights. It would be extremely useful to have a clip mounting option, so you can attach the rear light to a puncture repair kit for commuting and on club rides and a saddle bag or panniers for cycle touring. When I am cycle touring, pack weight is key, so the See.Sense ICON2 smart bike lights would be a great addition to my kit list. However, without a clip attachment option, I simply wouldn’t consider taking them.
When it comes to clipping the lights into the mounts, there are four notches along the edge of the light which you can choose from, depending on the angle you want the beam to shine at. Whilst the feature offers flexibility I just wasn’t completely convinced by how secure my light would be, especially on pot hole-filled UK roads.
Testing the smart lights
I live in the countryside where you need to ensure that you can both see and be seen. In the dark, I was really impressed with the intensity and variety of the flashing pattern which really makes you visible to other road users. When I stopped at junctions, the front light really did flash faster and brighter which gave me some confidence. However on unlit country lanes I felt a lot more vulnerable in terms of my ability to see the route and spot any pot holes, or poor patches of road surface. The 400 lumens just wasn’t as powerful as I am used to riding with at night in winter.
The other set back was that I’d have to physically stop and switch the light between flashing and constant beam, or stop, get my phone out and alter the settings via the app. It made me think I would feel a lot safer running the See.Sense ICON2 smart bike lights alongside another light at the front, with one flashing and one acting as a constant beam for added safety and visibility.
I also had the opportunity to test the lights in the middle of the Australian summer, on dawn rides through the Sydney suburbs when it was more about being seen rather than trying to see. I felt this is where the lights came into their own and I was really impressed with them at junctions and around traffic as I really felt like I was visible to other road users and the lights adapted to the surroundings. My cycling buddy also commented on how effective and bright they were.
I mentioned my doubts about the mounting systems not feeling particularly secure and during the first few rides, the lights held fine in their plastic mounts, and I decided my concerns had been unfounded. However, during my final test ride in the city centre, I hit a pot hole in the road and the next thing I heard was something hitting the floor. My front light had detached from the mount and ended up under a parked car. Not impressed!
Final impression of the See.Sense ICON2 smart bike lights
If I only commuted in an urban setting, the See.Sense Icon2 lights are a great option. Yes, there are cheaper lights out there, however, the technology is on another level compared to many other lights and they are really lightweight. The ability to easily charge them while you are working for example and keep tabs on the battery life via the app is really handy, so you are unlikely to get stuck without a light on the way to or from work.
However, given my semi-rural commute, I would probably use the Icon 2 alongside another light, to ensure I could see and be seen, because I just didn’t feel like the front light was bright enough to navigate along country lanes in the middle of winter.
I was also left really disappointed by the mounting system. The lack of clip mount is a real con, and given the price, I would expect more robust loops to attach the lights on to the frame. I would also want to know that the lights weren’t going to fly out of the holder if I hit a pot hole.
Mark Shepherd – Experienced duathlon competitor and Bronze medal winner at AgeGroup Champs in 2011, 2017 and 2018.
I would buy the rear light and will recommend it to anyone who asks me what the best rear light is. Obviously as I said the front doesn’t work for me .
I have been using the See.Sense Icon2 lights for a few weeks now and with that I have learned that this review will need to be broken down into sections but before I start that I have to say that See.Sense were very brave in asking me to review these as lets face it I am not a commuter but a racer who is on and off road in all sorts of conditions. This simple fact brings me to the first excellent point about these lights. The mounts are excellent, very similar to the garmin approach to mounts (I quote garmin as I have way too many of these) which is the approach used by many manufacturers to attach things to bikes but that’s not the impressive bit, it is the way the clips hold the light to the mount. I put it on initially as I was going out to play on my cyclo cross bike. Everything I needed to know about mounts in about 90 mins.
Having gained confidence from this ride I did a commuter test on my road bike which confirmed all I believed about the front light.
After these two test the majority of my work and app testing has been done using an MTB bike while playing canal terrorist, fortunately when I am out playing the paths are pretty clear.
Icon2 bike light features
The Front light – It’s bright make no mistake if you ride in traffic in a town then motorists have no excuse, I went for a ride through town on this and you could see it clearly coming back off objects. However I had two issues with the light:
- The light going all the way to the edge meant that even mounting it down the headtube and putting a big garmin in the way(above the light coming out from the stem) at points the light actually blinded me when I was riding
- It has no logical beam pattern which meant where my ride home had no street lights I couldn’t see ahead down the road.
So in conclusion if you want to be seen in a town then this is a top commuter light but if you have to leave a town for some of your ride then this is not the light for you, a USE Joystick would be a better choice.
The Rear Light – Quoted to a friend after 2 uses, “I’m in love!!” Options for solid and an array of flashing options coupled to long battery life with a mount that can take CX training abuse and MTB playing (often you ride to a location before training, so a rear light is a crucial thing and not needing to remove it is great). My favorite feature however is the brake light, under heavy braking the light gets brighter, this is pretty damn cool and very useful in traffic, everyone who drives a car will agree. (Nothing worse than a car in traffic with no working brake lights slowing without you being able to tell.) This is my go to light and because I am lazy, I need more mounts for other bikes. Costs less than the Garmin Varia, it is lighter and brighter with more functionality.
There is nothing negative about this light, if you want to be seen at distance by traffic or found by your mates when you crash this is the light for you.
My thoughts on the App features
I’m not the biggest fan of carrying a phone when I ride but pressure from friends when I ride alone meant the See.Sense app appeared at a good time in my life.
The lights connect to it by Bluetooth, once connected there are 5 options for how the light works (when I was just using the light I only had 3 of the buttons) I played with them all and pulse rear or standard flash will win it for me.
On the front I was hoping there may be more control of the beam pattern but there wasn’t so for me as a commuter it is 2/3 hours of use on solid and only when I am in town. I think you’d have to be a pretty serious rider if you needed more than that for commuting and would have to be grumpy if you were bothered about charging your front light every night.
Lack of effective beam pattern makes the front light no good beyond basic commuting
There are two features of the Seewhich are very interesting:
- Theft warning basically leave the light on the bike and go in the café and if someone moves your bike away you get a message on the phone. The only thing here is I don’t always like leaving my lights on the bike but I’m a bit paranoid.
- Which brings me to what I expect to be the main reason why I use the app. Riding solo a lot, I was very interested in the Auto Crash message.
You put a phone number in the system and when stopped for a certain amount of time it sends a message to the contact you’ve entered and a map showing where you are. This is an excellent feature and I can confirm it works as this is the picture it sent my contact. From a user point of view I would have liked more control over how long it waits before it sends a message but as a starter this is just what you need if like me you ride alone quite often.
The app is currently in BETA for android and I did have some issues with it on the final day of testing.
Two things happened:
- It started turning my light off while I was riding, then as I lifted my phone out of my pocket to check the light came back on. It may have been the light having a moment or the phone but strange all the same.
- During all this it decided at 6.xx on a Sunday morning to inform my contact that I had crashed, frantic and slightly distressed person on the phone which afterwards caused a lot of laughing.
I have every intention of using the app again off a restarted phone as this was 1 day and I used the app 4 times.
As a final test I connected the rear light to my Garmin 1000, it worked perfectly with the Garmin taking total control of the light, the only thing it didn’t do was let me have a flashing light, seemed strange and I have had a message from See.Sense telling me that other Garmins let it have more functionality. I may well contact them and have a chat.
PROS – Brilliant mounts make it easy to move between bikes and you can ride on rough surfaces confident that your light will be there when you hit the road again.
Excellent brightness and options for how the light works which give an excellent battery life.
An app that tells people you have crashed and shows them where you are.
CONS – That front light, so much potential with just a little bit of rubber round the edge and a slightly focused beam pattern.
The app, it needs to let the user have a little more control, but the potential is awesome.
I would buy the rear light and will recommend it to anyone who asks me what the best rear light is. Obviously as I said the front doesn’t work for me but if you are a town commuter who likes matching lights and wants to be seen in traffic it will do a very good job, add to that an app that has potential and you have a lights package that may not stop you crashing but it will do everything a light package can to keep you seen and get you help if something does go wrong, Oh, and they do look good :¬)
If you’re interested in finding out more about See.Sense ICON2 smart bike lights or buying the ICON2 lights then visit SeeSense.
You may also like to read our review of the Lezyne 800XL Bike light
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