Rural club cycling in the winter months can be tricky at the best of times, however if you are determined to rack up the training miles, yet like most of us, unfortunate enough to work during the daylight hours, the only option is to tackle the pitch blackness of country roads. For a lot of cyclists the dark evenings bring their external weekly activities to an end, the turbo trainer is dusted off and outdoor miles exchanged for in-door garage miles. But for those night owls among us it’s another excuse to purchase even more bike kit, this time in the form of lights.
See.Sense are a local Northern Irish company that are doing things a little differently, they have brought the humble bike light kicking and screaming into the twenty first century with some extremely smart innovations. Backed by an initial Kickstarter campaign, See.Sense created an intelligent light that took surroundings and conditions into consideration, automatically adjusting brightness and intensity when required. The initial 2.0, was a really ingenious piece of kit producing 120 lumens but with their new ICON they have just upped the game to a whole other level.
Being an owner of the original 2.0 light, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this new and improved version, just how much better could it be? I had of course read the online hype; smarter, brighter, slicker design but as we all know, marketing hype can be just that, hype. When I eventually got my hands on the new ICON the first thing I noticed was the much sexier packaging, it almost looked like some intergalactic visage suspended in a cryogenic capsule. Once opened the futurist looks and subtle detailing of the light are most certainly an upgrade on the more industrial appearance of the 2.0 but it’s when you start using the light that you realise the stylistic changes are more than just cosmetic.
If you are familiar with the 2.0 you will be aware of just how tricky it was to programme brightness, check the charge levels, in fact, even to merely turn the unit off and on. There is no such trickery with the ICON. See.Sense have added Bluetooth connectivity so it simply a case of downloading the free See.Sense App and pairing with your Smartphone. By offering this level of intelligence you are effectively creating a range of customization never before seen on a bike light. As with the 2.0, the intelligent sensors automatically adjust to suit your surroundings, just wave your hand in front of the unit and it will increase brightness and strobe faster but when the ICON is Smartphone connected it really comes into its own. Open up the slickly designed app and you can customize brightness, flashing patterns, sensitivity and even turn on a crash detection function that automatically sends an alert to a designated phone number, and that is just a few of the thing this light is capable off.
This new ICON has been refined beyond belief; it’s easy to tell that this light has been tested with cyclists for cyclists. The previous 2.0 certainly had a few niggles, for example the side charging port for one thing, if the small rubber insert wasn’t carefully replaced it was prone to taking on a little of the wet stuff and a bit like a good Volvo, it was quite boxy when it came to the actual design although still highly efficient. However, I think the biggest grip was also the cleverest, the 2.0 didn’t have a ‘normal’ off/on button, it was monition sensitive and therefore used this function as an alternative to a standard button, great for the tech geeks among us, not so much for everyone else. See.Sense have taken everything that was good with the 2.0 and improved it but more importantly, they have taken every last niggle and corrected everything in the best way possible, kudos to them.
I can honestly say there isn’t just one stand out feature with the ICON, rather it’s the sum of all parts that makes this light so exciting. The ICON is an incredible piece of kit that has pretty much nailed every aspect of what a great light should be, sure the technical features may or may not be a little too in-depth for the average rider but take this aspect away and you still have an amazingly intelligent bike light that will be used for more than just the dark evenings.