ZanFlare B3 bike light review .

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 I was asked to do a review on the B3 bike light by Zanflare , now I have never reviewed a bike light before and I was not really sure why Zanflare would pick me to do the review . But never mind , the light is here so lets get on with it .  Checking on GB it looks like the B3 is scheduled for shipping September 21 , so I may have a early or pre production sample .

    What surprised me about the B3 was its size , it is to my mind on the petite side - possibly stealthy if you will . To be 100% honest I would not have minded a light that was larger to help dissipate heat .  Speaking of heat I did do a thermal test to see how warm the light gets ( more later ) . What you get is a triple emitter bike light with 3 modes ( light levels ) and hidden flashy modes . There are two buttons on the B3 , one up top to select light level and one at the back to select how many emitters you want to run .  The button at the rear also turns the light on and off , a quick press to turn it on and a long one to turn it off .





  Did I mention the B3 is some what petite .  The build quality seems to be excellent , feels like a nice hunk of anodized aluminum with not rattles or lose bits . Anodizing again looks to be excellent and the emitters well centered . The switches ( buttons ) feel nice and sturdy and just from a visual inspection I can find nothing to fault . The B3 does have memory , and will start on the last settings used . I actually set a mode ( 2 emitters low ) and pulled the battery then went to bed . Some 6 hours latter the cat woke me up , so I let her out and then went and checked the B3 if it had retained the mode ,  yes ! 



 I did have to make a custom harness for the B3 so that I could run my RC Hobby batteries ( 2200mAh 2s ) in tandem for 4400mAh , as well running two batteries effectively halves the load on each .  Remembering we can run 1 to 3 emitters at 3 different light levels effectively gives us 9 modes . I am using a hobby grade power meter to measure current to the light , so lets get to the results .

 One emitter :

 Low = 0.4 Amp , Medium = 0.7 Amp , High = 1.56 Amp

 Two emitters :

 Low = 0.56 Amp , Medium = 1.54 Amp , High = 3.16 Amp

 Three emitters :

 Low = 0.84 Amp , Medium = 2.14 Amp , High = 5.25 Amp


  HEAT :

 I did mention ( I am sure ) that the light is petite and this made me wonder how it would handle all that current , especially in the 2 and 3 emitter modes . The following test is static , inside the house .  So this test does not replicate real world application ( bike light ) but should suffice to give us some idea of how warm the light is capable of getting . Test is for 5 minutes in each mode with no respite for the following mode ( Just switching it higher ) . I also recharged the batteries between runs .  ( voltage never dropped bellow 4.1v per cell )

 One emitter : Ambient temp 18.5deg C

Low mode - Starting temp is 18.5deg C , after 5 minutes it reaches 20.5deg C

Medium mode - Starting temp 20.5deg C , after 5 minutes it reaches 27.9deg C

High mode - Starting temp 27.9deg C , after 5 minutes it reaches 42.7deg C


 Two emitter : Ambient temp 18.5deg C

 Low mode - Starting temp is 18.5deg C , after 5 minutes it reaches 25deg C

 Medium mode - Starting temp is 25deg C , after 5 minutes it reaches 37.6deg C

 High mode - Starting temp is 37.6deg C , after 5 minutes it reaches 56.4deg C


 At this point it is late and time for me to go to bed , I have recharged the batteries for the 3rd and final run ( 3 emitters )


 Three emitters : Ambient temp 15deg C  ( Following day )

 Low mode - Starting temp is 15.6deg C , after 5 minutes it reaches 25deg C 

 Medium mode - Starting temp is 25deg C , after 5 minutes it reaches 44deg C

 High mode - This time I check the temperature every minute ... Starting temp is 44deg C

 1 minute - 50deg C , 2 minute - 55deg C , 3 minute - 58deg C , 4 minute - 61deg C , 5 minute - 65deg C


 Now the light does have thermal protection and it did kick in , but as can be seen running the light static the temperature kept on going up . I did want to know for how long I could run the light on high with 3 emitters and at what temperature ( measured externally ) the light went into protected mode .  Batteries have been recharged again and for the test I went outside , with the ambient temp being around 16deg C ( sun has gone down ) .  I went from a cold start straight into 3 emitter high mode and ran the light with a timer to see when the light kicked down and at what temperature ( IR temp gun ) .  Well it took all of 90 seconds for the light to kick it down a gear ( to medium ) at a temperature ( measured externally with a IR temp gun ) of 46deg C .  To be fair it is relatively cool weather with it still being winter for another week , so how it would go in warm weather ?  The other consideration is the fact the test was static , so with no air moving over  the light and its cooling fins , something to keep in mind especially as the B3 has not even been mounted on a bike yet .


 Blinky Modes :  ( Strobe - SOS - Beacon )

 Thankfully the blinking modes are sort of hidden modes . To enter the blinking modes you have to press the top button very quickly , do it too slowly and you just change light levels .  There is only one light level when in flashy mode , what you get to change is the number of emitters flashing by pressing the button at the rear of the light . The top button changes the flashy mode ( Strobe - SOS - Beacon ) and pressing quickly twice will exit the flashy mode .  

 And right about here the B3 stopped working !  To cut a long story short the B3 detected a bad contact in one of my XT60 connectors that coupled the two batteries I was using together . And because of this simply refused to turn on , obviously a safety feature built into the B3 .  The problem was the solder connecting the XT60's had broken and the B3 detected something was NQR ( This is good Ya ! ) 





 Mounting the B3 on the bike :

 The mount is incredibly simple in design but effective . The only problem I have with this is that the little rubber pad on the base of the mount which is supposed to grip the handlebars of your bike , it does not really grip that well . And pushing on the start button pushes the light down on the handle bars .  A possible solution is to add some tape to the handle bars where you mount the light so that the B3 mount has something to dig into and hold itself in place . ( smooth metal tends to be slippery - would a drop of Tarzan grip be out of the question ? ) 




 Going for a ride :

 Yes , I think it is important to actually take the product for a test drive . Usually I take flashlights for a walk , see how they sit in the pocket and how easy they are to use when out and about as well as the lights performance . With a bike light I would assume you need to mount it on a bike and go for a ride , so that's what I did . 





    So lets dissect the ride . Brr it was cool , so I was wearing gloves .  Huffing and puffing ( I haven't ridden a real bike in years ) I made my way to the local park and I had the B3 in single emitter low mode . There was enough light to see the road and any obstructions , no one complained and certainly no car drivers were tooting at me or anything ( I had the light angled so that the center of the beam was between 5 to 10 meters ahead ) . People ( pedestrians - drivers ) could certainly see me and this was good , again I noted no anger or annoyance at the light . 

  Getting to the park one thing was apparent , wearing gloves made changing modes difficult . As well the factory mount ( as noted before ) did slip and slide a fair bit , even when depressing the top button . Some times I had to pull the glove off because I was not changing modes . Again changing modes changed the angle of the light , so as I was ridding I did adjust it several times . In fact just the vibration of ridding seemed to be having an effect on where it was pointed . If you watch the video , you will see the Dash Camera ( Viofo A118c ) is providing better video than the action cam and both cameras are not doing the B3 any favors at all . Both cams are highlighting the strongest part of the beam and diminishing the spill . To the naked eye the light would have been maybe twice as bright as what the video shows , and a hell of a lot more for the spill .  It was a cool evening and the B3 ran alright on 3 emitter high mode . It did get warm , but never went into thermal protection switching to medium .  I was expecting the B3 to switch to medium from the results of the static testing , but ridding a bike must have provided just that much more cooling . 

  A) Those switches are hard to manipulate with gloved hands

  B) The factory mount does slip and slide on the handle bars ( toward the end of the ride it was annoying )

  C) Ridding a bike does offer better cooling - that's for sure 

 D) On the road - Single emitter low mode looks to work just fine - just angle the light down ( not straight at people / cars )

 E) Parks - dirt roads - tracks - bush , I would run single emitter HIGH mode , two emitters medium or high mode , 3 emitters low or medium ( medium )

 F) You really want to prep the mount ( improve it ) or get another mount .

 G) Strobe - Made me nauseated .. Especially on 2 and 3 emitter modes

  F)   The ride did not go perfect , the break / gear / electric power cables got in the way of the light - This bike was not my first choice .  The night time performance of the cams was some what disappointing and don't do the B3 justice . 

 G)  It was a very cool evening ( 11deg C ) , so I am left wondering how the B3 would perform in warmer weather ?  ( This would be a reasonable concern I think ) as in the static tests it did get hot .  ( Let me expand on this - I am not suggesting the light will be damaged - simply that it will go into protected mode ) In the static test it took 90 seconds and 46 deg C surface temperature .

 H) Buttons don't respond well when the light gets hot .  ( Ok I need to expand on this as well - The light would not turn off when very hot - I needed to pull the battery - a few times it took several attempts to get the light to turn off , as well it would be nice if you could go into low to let the light cool faster )



- IPX67 waterproof


- Weather resistant







 Conclusion :

  Have I provided the reader with enough information to form a conclusion ? The B3 looks to be very well made ( excellent ) . It works . There are a few things I don't like ( I will let other people decide what they don't like ) , I really find the B3 to be a little too petite . It could have been larger with larger cooling fins etc to help with the heat from 3 emitters . The little buttons do create some frustration when one tries to manipulate them with gloved hands . The factory mount almost bites !  It is a neat design , the light goes on and off with little trouble and is not going to fall off . But it slips and slides and after 30 minutes on the bike I was pretty much done with the mount . The other thing I need to mention , when the light gets hot , it does not respond to button pushing very well , in fact just trying to turn the light off can be trying . ( A lot of trying ) .

 Some people will really like the fact that the light is petite / compact / stealthy / small and is capable of producing a lot of light for its size . Just bear in mind that there are negatives to such petitness . Also it has been relatively cool here in Melbourne Australia and that really makes me wonder how another 10 deg Celsius  might have effected the light ( or 20 for that ) . If you plan on running this light sensibly , then it just might be the scratch for your itch . On the other hand if your looking for insane power and want to run it for extended periods , I honestly can't say this is the light for you .  On the one hand I am impressed . and on the other I can see some issues ( Heat ) .  The mount can be tweaked or replaced , not much you can do about the buttons , and the B3 whilst very well made is just a little to petite for me ( That's my opinion ) . 


 The battery :

 Zanflare does have a 6000mAh 8.4v battery they recommend . I used two RC grade 2200mAh 2s ( 8.4v Fully charged ) Batteries .  Together they = 4400mAh and the bike ride took all of 38 minutes . Running the light in several modes over that time the voltage at rest after the ride was just over 4v per cell . I think it was 8.01 volt for the pack . So 8.4v fully charged and after 38 minutes of use it was 8.01 volt . So lets call that 0.4v for 38 minutes . Since this is the first bike light I have ever tested , is that good or bad ?  My best guess would be it's not bad .