If you’ve heard of Fenix, it’s likely for their tactical flashlights that are very well respected among flashlight connoisseurs. Now, they’re entering the bicycle light market with a pretty good looking, unique offering.
The Fenix BT20 brings a couple of new ideas to the game. The main one is the dual distance beam, which uses special optics to shape the light pattern much more so than we’ve seen from other brands. The pattern paints a broad crescent over the front wheel, then a broad beam pattern farther out for overall visibility. When aimed properly (on the handlebar, anyway), it cuts the beam off below eye level of anyone in front of the bike, so it shouldn’t blind oncoming traffic or pedestrians.
The other interesting feature is the battery. Or, rather, the lack thereof…
The BT20 comes with an empty battery case. The standard model fits two 18650 batteries or four CR123A batteries, but doesn’t include them. Fenix’s Bob Hsieh says this lets the customer pick their own, which isn’t a bad idea for a couple reasons. First, it keeps the cost of the light down. The BT20 retails for just $97 and pumps out 750 lumens for some pretty good run times:
- High – 750lm for 2 hours
- Medium 1 – 450lm for 4 hours
- Medium 2 – 300lm for 6.5 hours
- Low – 100lm for 21 hours
- Flashing mode – 350lm
The second reason, Hsieh says, is that it’s targeted toward their existing flashlight customers who already have their own rechargeable batteries. Regardless, you can pick up 18650 batteries (which are essentially the same size as AA but more powerful) online pretty cheap. With charger, they’re generally well under $40.
Why is this a good thing? Because those run times are based on a 2600mAh battery pack. We spotted batteries with 3000, 4000 and 5300 milliamp hour ratings, which should give you a LOT more run time for only a couple bucks more. That, and they’re small and light, so throwing a couple extra batteries in your pack or pocket carries no penalty.
Fenix also sells batteries and chargers if you want to keep it all in the family.
The Fenix BT20 uses a neutral white Cree XML LED bulb for a color temp that should make for good contrast on the trail. The video below has a few pretty good examples of the beam pattern and brightness:
The case and battery compartment are highly water resistant, rated to withstand “heavy rain”. Another nice feature is a color-coded power button that lets you know when the batteries are getting low. It’s green when everything’s good, blinks red when they’re below 50% and turns solid red when remaining charge is under 20%. Inside, they use intelligent memory circuitry and heat management to shut things down if they get too hot. Outside, the back half of the light is a heat sink to prevent that from happening.
If you, like us, prefer mounting the light on your helmet, here’s the last best part: System weight is just 115g without batteries!
Don’t need quite this much light? There’s also the BT10, which has half the lumens (350 max) and comes with a 4-AA battery case.
Both models include three quick-mount O-ring handlebar mounts for different size bars, a helmet mount, battery case and mount, and extension cable. Later this year, they’ll release the BK series, which will include batteries and chargers, but they’ll cost more.
For now, their bike lights will be distributed through their regular flashlight distributors, which means you may see them in REI, among others. In the future, they may look into specialty IBD distributors.