Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

Review: C&B Seen 1200 lumen light package

Posted by Lee | May 15, 2013 | 17 comments so far

C&B Seen 1200 lumen light

Since early 2008 I have been served, rather faithfully, by a pair of Ay Up MTB lights. These have been brilliant. Compact, bomb proof, fantastic battery life and, back in the day, damn good value too.  Never the brightest though, so by today’s standards they are simply swamped by the floodlights that adorn various Moles’ bikes.

Whilst the Ay Ups won’t be completely put out to pasture (I still like a low profile helmet mounted light), I was in need of something a little more illuminating at bar level.

My world is a very different place from the free spending days of 2008 and so the criteria was quite simple really. A cheap, bright, reliable light that won’t fall apart after a few rides. What with sites like DealExtreme and the various Chinese lights that are available I knew I could meet the cheap criteria quite easily, but the pay-off tends to be fairly lengthy delivery times. I also considered the upgrade service offered by Ay Up themselves, but they look to have discontinued this offering. It was the weekly check on Singletrack’s Fresh Goods Friday that alerted me to UK-based C&B Seen Lights.

C&B Seen, based in Kent and not too far from where I grew up, seem to have a partnership with a Far East manufacturer, but stock is held in the UK and delivery, for me at least, was next day – brilliant service!

I opted for the 1200 lumen standard package, which with P&P comes in at around £45. For your money you get a box containing the aluminium alloy light unit (a rather nice blue one in my case), a standard (non-waterproof) battery, a 1 metre extension lead, a 3-pin charger with indicator LED, a head strap (not helmet mount) and various diameter O-rings for bar fastening. I can’t pretend to get excited or know much about bulbs or the technical aspects of a light, but for those of you partially aroused by such detail (or fully – I’m not here to judge!), the light comes with a CREE XM-L T6 LED. 

C&B Seen 1200 lumen light

The light unit comes in a choice of three colours and you can upgrade your package to include a waterproof battery, helmet mount and other additions. You can also purchase additional batteries for about £20.  If you fancy a little less output, there’s also a 1000 lumen package on offer. 

So initial impressions? Well, I’ve been using the light for about a month now and I’m impressed. The brochure blurb would suggest there are three running modes, but mine has four – full power, reduced power, fast flash and a slow/pulse flash. I have used the latter on my road bike for commuting and I can see its reflection (in good day light) in road signs about 100 yards away.

Full power in total darkness is a revelation and gives a good spread of light. The unit has a nice big button on the back – easily operable with a gloved hand – that glows green on full charge, turning to blue as battery life wanes. Battery life is a claimed 3-5 hours – I’ve had no problems after 2 hours full output so far and I’ve read of people getting 3 on full, which is comparable to my Ay Up lights.

Press the button!

The battery is a nice, compact  size and sits well under my 90mm stems. Whilst it comes with a long, thin velcro retaining strap, I’ve found myself using the extra security of my wider Ay Up strap as well (more because I’ve got it rather than needing to necessarily). The extension lead would also suit those running the light as helmet mounted and placing the battery in their back pack or jersey pocket.

C&B Seen suggest coating the connector ends with Vaseline, and this is certainly something I’d recommend. They snap together well, but without the lube factor you better have the grip of a mountain gorilla to disconnect them.

When I used the light directly mounted onto the bars, with appropriate O-ring, I did find it moved about a little – it would keep straightening-up to horizontal, from a slightly pointed down position, be that off road or over the pothole-strewn roads of Surrey. This was easily rectified with a rubber grip/spacer under the light mount. 

I also very nearly lost the light body completely when the small ‘grub’ screw that connects the bar mount to the unit came undone. No doubt shaken loose by the third world roads I have to commute on, though nonetheless unexpected after about three rides, so a mental note made to check that every so often. It’s been absolutely fine since.

Teething problems aside, what I’ve got mounts up to a very neat little package and eminently affordable. I guess the reliability factor has yet to be fully tested, but for now I’m really enjoying the trails that were once either tackled at less than full throttle or on a wing and a prayer if I wasn’t following someone with a floodlight!

Filed under Lights, Reviews in May 2013


About the author

As Baz Luhrmann said in his Sunscreen song: look after your knees, you'll miss them when they're gone. Well, until they do finally give up the will to live and screech to a halt like a knackered bottom bracket, I'm just going to keep riding because that's what I love.

Whilst I'm more full time parent and part-time biker these days, I still make the best of the time family life affords me, even if the fitness yo-yos massively.

I ride a Cotic Soul, which is currently single-speeded, and also a 2010 Trek EX-8 for drier times.

We are a pretty lucky bunch to live in such close proximity to the Surrey Hills, which gives us an embarrassing amount of trail choice. Some of my all time local favourites have sadly now been 'decommissioned', but with the likes of BKB, Summer Lightening and China Pig, there's still plenty to smile about whichever way you turn.

There are 17 comments on ‘Review: C&B Seen 1200 lumen light package’

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  1. tony says:

    That’s fairly amazing value for money. It’s getting increasingly hard to justify the really expensive lighting systems out there, especially for road use where the levels of illumination are now such that the highest settings are too bright. You know that is true when, last year, the police stopped us on a short road section of our night ride and asked us to turn down our lights 🙂

  2. paul901 says:

    I am hoping Tony that with low priced lights well and truly established, attention can turn to collimating. Something that understandably hasn’t cascaded down to this sector. Presumably not that difficult either and would be great if we could slot in front glass enabling the throw of light we now enjoy to be kept out of the eyes of oncoming road users. It shouldn’t have to take Exp… Money

    • stevend says:

      Or you could just turn it down, there is no need to use full power on the road. I just ‘nudge’ my V2 down to avoid blinding people.

      Lee, my V2 came with helmet strap but if the headstrap has a similar mount, then, if required,.you should be able to remove/cut the straps off and mount the bracket onto your helmet using cable ties.

      • paul901 says:

        On the one hand I agree Steven but on the other hand the power of our modern lights really comes into play on fast riding and descents in the dark Generally you are okay with road position even on unlit lanes and bends but its more the invisibility of objects on the surface. Potholes, cans and various debris can be hard to spot and our road wheels and tyres are vulnerable. This is when bright collimated lights would be of great help in my view.

      • Matt says:

        I notice C&B Seen do sell a diffusing lens for these lights which might be worth exploring if you ride on-road mainly, although I would think they are aimed more at avoiding dazzle and spreading light near the wheel for commuting rather than a low spread of light with a longer throw for riding lanes at night.

        I always recommend a directional helmet light in addition to a handlebar lamp – which appears to be Lee’s ideal set up – as this kind of light from a higher source helps reduce the shadows which making assessing the surface ahead quite difficult.

        Same as off-road really. It’s just that a handlebar lamp on road needs to cut out the upward throw of light that causes dazzle. Some manufacturers (high end) make road-specific lights but of course they lose out on versatility.

  3. Andrew AKAK says:

    Nice review and it’s on my radar for when I buy some lights. Mount does not sound very good though.

  4. tony says:

    I don’t run my 1300 lumen MTB lights at full power on the road unless I’m doing a fast downhill and I angle them down more than I do on the MTB. In fact I find that my lumicyle helmet light isn’t as easy to use as my Exposure Diablo on the road. Lumicyle also do “glow ring” diffusers that you can add to their lights for side visibility. It’s a fairly simple addition.

    It’s a pity that the bar mount isn’t just a little bit better otherwise these would be killer value.

  5. Bob says:

    Hi, great review, thanks.

    Any recommendations for a helmet light to run along with this 1200 Lumen bar mounted light?

    And also I assume a basic red rear light is all you need for any road sections you have to do…or do you find a powerful rear light is also needed on the trail?

  6. KevS says:

    Lee. After seeing yours in action on the trails I got me one of these little beauties, though mine is red, so obviously better than yours! 😉

  7. Steve Geraci says:

    Hi Guy’s
    There are cheap Chinese lights but don’t be fooled, it may say 1200lm but that baby could not push 600lm certainly not at that price. I have had cheap light fail on me out Mountain biking dead of winter middle of no where it is not fun.
    I have been designing lights since 2005, as a contract design Engineer I travel Europe, work long hours so evening rides tend to be late & as a result started looking into lights.
    The very best bin XM-L will only just push over 1000lm & that will cost you!
    but to achieve this you will be running 3000mA & most battery packs that come with these are infact recycled Li-ion batteries generally 2500mA 7.4v packs.
    You will need at lease 14.8v pack to get any sustained light at 3000mA.
    The higher the voltage the more efficient the driver (the brains), a 14.8v driver with lower mA drain. hence longer use.
    Only snag a 14.8v 5200mA Li-Ion pack is about £75 & this requires a 2500mA smart charger £35

    So don’t be fooled by cheap lights with outrageous statements!
    I have developed a 7000lm Bike light but decided this be better put to use as a runway light replacement 🙂
    Only snag say

    • Dave says:

      Steve, I’ve dabbled myself with various LEDs, batteries and chargers and know what you mean. The proof is really how well it casts a shadow on the rider in front with their Exposure on full beam! (I jest!)

      But having said all of that I can buy a light from China for under £20 and it might work well for 6 months or it might fail. I just think you need to go in with your eyes open and the excess you pay C&B for is the warranty and backup etc. With a set up like yours or indeed Del’s from Four4th lights you are paying for something much more custom to the UK riders needs.

      Anyway, I wish you well with your venture.

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  9. Jon says:

    This is an old post, but I would like to make some remarks on C&B Seen, for the benefit of readers assessing the company in 2019 and beyond.

    I am a long-standing C&B customer, and have foolishly stuck with them for far longer than I should have done, given the many woes I have had with their products. I suspect that I have not wanted my lights to end up in landfill, and at one stage their customer service was very good, so every time I encountered a new frustration, I would stick with what I had rather than spend time writing off existing spend and buying better equipment.

    I suspect the turning point was November 2017, when the company emailed its customer base to say that they had been bought out, and a new management would be running things from that point on. It is noteworthy that following the company sale, emails were not signed by a real person as they used to be – instead everything was signed anonymously as the name of the company.

    The main problem now is that their customer service has completely tanked. Not only did I have another product failure in the summer of 2019 on top of the many I had tolerated previously, but now getting customer service was like getting blood out of a stone. This left me with an inadequate spare front light just as autumn was setting in, when I was riding around in more dusk/night than in the summer. I estimate that I was without my front lamp unit for ten weeks, despite much emailing and leaving answering machine messages (they do not seem to actually answer the phone).

    I get it – the units they sell are not going to be the same as high quality UK or German units – and now that I have bought an Exposure Race it is hardly a fair comparison. But their primary USP is a UK warranty on Chinese products, so if it is hard to claim on that warranty, their main advantage fails. I feel that potential customers should know about this, so I have written it up on my blog. I should be interested to hear if others have had the same experience.

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