Budget Bike Light Review: SingFire SF-539 1000 Lumen

Having your only source of light on an unlit country road go missing in action is not an experience I personally cherish. My trusty old light had become another victim of the roads I ride. It seems the rough roads had shaken the connections inside loose because every time I hit a decent bump in the road, the light intensity would go from high to non-existent.

I am a commuter, plain and simple. I am constantly being told that I am mad and crazy for the roads I ride and for the fact that I ride in all sorts of weather. However, I feel that I am lucky enough to be in a position which allows me to ride to and from work and on average I ride between 400 and 500 kilometers a week, and this on a combination of country and city roads. I need a good light.

I was in the process of sourcing another light when the good people at Bicycles Network Australia (BNA) promoted the chance to win a SingFire SF-539 1000 lumen bike light to test. Obviously the blurb I wrote about how I would test the light, and the reasons why I should be the one to test it, won the people over at BNA since here I am writing about the light.

I had never heard of the SingFire brand or company before, so a little bit of googling to try and find more about them and what they offered led me to the Shenzhen SingPad Technology Company Ltd. page on Alibaba. The actual company website seemed to be advertising gambling (perhaps a placeholder website?), but the company specialises in aluminium LED lights.

The SingFire SF-539 that I received came in a nice box and on first sight looked a quality product. An initial inspection of each item did however cause me to dampen my enthusiasm a little. The battery pack is not a sealed unit and has exposed cardboard looking ends. Given that I ride in the rain, I immediately thought this battery pack is not going to last the distance if I keep using it without protecting it in some way.

Cheap Chinese Cardboard Battery
A cardboard battery threatened to put a dampener on my commuting plans

Cardboard battery waterproof

SingFire SF539 1000 lumen waterproof battery
The oldest trick in the book, a plastic bag to protect the battery from water

The next source of my unhappiness was in relation to the power adapter charger for the battery. The power adapter is not designed for Australian power points as it has a 2 flat pin head and not the 3 flat pin head used here. I looked at getting a conversion adapter head for the charger but the cheapest that I could source came in around the $40 mark, roughly the same price as what the light itself is being marketed for. The solution that I found and ended up using was that of a Toshiba laptop power adapter, which fitted perfectly with regards the connection point on the battery pack. The thing that I had to be mindful about here was that my “adapter solution” was compatible with regards to the amps/wattage of the original charger, so that I didn’t damage either the fuses at home or the battery pack itself.

The mounting and securing of the light itself is done via an O-ring; the box set comes with two, a small and a large. The small would likely only be used for a helmet connection, it’s too small for handlebar mounting. As mentioned earlier, I ride pretty rough roads, but in the time that I have been using it the light has not moved once using the large O-ring, and the light beam has always pointed to where I have set it to be. Securing the battery pack is done via a simple Velcro strap.

Singfire light bike handlebar mounted
Solid O-Ring mounting

Singfire 1000 lumen battery pack mount
The battery pack mounted below the stem

As an easy to use helmet mounted light, the whole system fails badly I believe. The “headlamp” mount is not designed to easily mount to a helmet. The straps that come with the headlamp mount need to be cut off first, then a secondary solution to fix the mount to the helmet must be found. Cable ties would meet this need easily, but would prevent quick detachment of the mount when not using the light itself. I also found that the length of cable between battery pack and the light is nowhere near long enough to allow the battery pack to be easily carried, as in a back pocket of a cycling jersey. Yes, you could use a backpack to overcome this, but should you really need to have a backpack simply so you can have a helmet mounted light? These facts alone prevented me from even attempting to use the light as a helmet mounted solution.

Actual use of the light is very easy. It has a single silicon button which turns the light on and off and allows you to switch between the different modes. The button is lit at all times, even when not switched on, so in complete darkness you are not struggling to find the button. The modes are High (100%), Low (20%), Strobe and off. The product blurb about run time states that the light will run in high mode for 3-4 hours. I purposely ran the light on high for an entire morning and afternoon commute and found that what they are stating is pretty spot on. The light was still providing plenty of light by the time I got home in the evening after 4 hours of riding.

I did find that when the battery power gets really low, the projected light beam dimmed quite dramatically. I wondered what was going on when this happened the first time, and when I looked at the silicon button I found that its colur had changed from blue to a light red. As the battery power dropped, the intensity of the red lighting increased. On high, it took the light nearly 50 minutes before it was dead.

Singfire sf539 1000 lumen medium beam
The low beam of the SingFire SF 539

Singfire sf539 1000 lumen high beam
The high beam of the SingFire SF 539

Whilst on the battery pack I must mention the connector between the battery pack cable and the light cable. Wow, is it good! It has a great seal and there will never be an issue with rain getting into it. However, trying to get it apart with dry fingers, let alone wet fingers, is a challenge. I found myself disconnecting the cables by pulling on the actual cables, as the plug ends simply don’t allow for a good grip to pull them apart. It’s a small thing, I know, but over time I would be worried about stretching or even pulling out the wire cables from the connectors.

I didn’t find out about a key feature of the light until after a week or so of use. The “manual”, if you want to call it that, simply states: “Focus adjustable design” and nothing else. The red band on the SingFire is not just simply there for its looks, but it is used for adjusting the sharpness/focal point of the light.  The sharpest focal point of the light has the beam in the shape of a diamond and I found this to be a clear white light, and very mesmerizing. The other end of the spectrum has the beam very wide but the intensity of the projected beam is very watered down, and in pitch darkness not very useful. I think it is just a matter of fine tuning the beam until you find the sweet spot that suits you personally.

Singfire sf539 1000 lumen concentrated beam
“Focus adjustable design”  creates a bright diamond when the beam is focussed

Since getting this light and using it for a couple of weeks, I have come to actually like it. Finding the “focus adjustable design” feature made this light very usable. The light is very easy to setup or remove and has a small footprint on the handlebar. The battery has more than enough life in it for a very long early morning ride or a couple of commutes. Visually, it isn’t too bad on the eye and the quality of design and production is up there; it certainly doesn’t look the price that it is currently being marketed for.

Dirty Bike Light Commuter Commuting Light
The SingFire after some commuter cycling action

The negative points about the SingFire SF-539 1000lm bike light are that the battery pack isn’t 100% waterproof and the power adapter, the one I received anyway, isn’t designed for the Australian market. The other small issues I found with the light I think most people can live with.  If the SingFire company can overcome these two points, I think they would have a winner on their hands.

I can recommend this light to cycle commuters after a budget priced reliable light and who can turn a blind-eye to some of the deficits.

The light was provided by DX – Deal Extreme who sell the Singfire SF-539 1000 Lumen bike light available for $38.15 (incl. shipping).



Product Details:

Singfire SF-539 1000 Lumen Bike Light (RRP $ 38.15)

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10 Responses to “Budget Bike Light Review: SingFire SF-539 1000 Lumen”

  1. sarina says:

    Hi Christopher,
    I laughed reading this. My training buddy excitedly bought some lights almost identical to these on Alibaba really cheap. I found the same problems as you: he bent the 2 pronged straight plug so it fit into our sockets with a pair of pliers. works fine! :)
    We too have wrapped our batteries in gladwrap.
    It’ll be interesting to see how long they last. Otherwise for the price they’re unbelievably good.
    Cheers,
    sarina

    • Andrew says:

      Even better than gladwrap is the “silicone rescue tape” that sells for under $10 a roll online and bonds to both the wire and the plastic cover of the batteries. One roll would do many of these.

  2. Thomas Houseman says:

    I think this would fix the charging issue: http://dx.com/p/compact-australia-travel-plug-converter-black-68135

    Sold by the same seller.

    T.

  3. James says:

    So this light has a symmetric beam? Not really well suited to road riding then. If it really produces 1000lm there is a good chance of blinding other road users, depending on the focus and aim.

    As well as that, charging batteries to commute must be a pain. I use a dynamo powered light that has never needed recharging.

    I would not buy this light, except perhaps for offroad night riding – but even then, the battery charging would annoy me.

  4. James says:

    In fact, this light would be illegal to use in Germany, AFACT. Australian road law WRT bicycle lighting is in dire need of review and enforcement. To many bicycle riders I see riding at night with either no lights at all, or quite inappropriate lights.

  5. Germany has tough light restrictions for bikes (and I should know), if you look at the recent Supernova review, it is the international version which is brighter than the local road leagal version. Even a bike ‘horn’ is regulated, you can’t use an Air Zound for example.

    Regarding a hub dynamo – they are great if it suits but these are simply not as common in Australia and it generally depends on the type of riding / bike. I love the convenience of the hub dynamo however on the road bike or MTB it is not suited and recharging lights is just something you have to do – no big deal.

    On the focus – if you point it straight ahead you are losing the value of having a bright light. Simply, other road users would also notice you with a 300 Lumen light – but the point of the higher powered light is to provide more light ahead so you should naturally have it pointed down to light you way. Not all cyclists are conscious of this however.

    Off road riding / MTBing is a different kettle of fish – this light alone would be insufficient for proper riding – I recently review MagicShine lights 2000 Lumens on the handlebars and 1000 lumens on the helmet, this combination lets you ride fast with confidence offroad.

  6. RickH says:

    Depending on the riding you’re doing and where will dictate what you NEED.
    If you’re riding regularly in the dark and on unlit roads then a quality light is essential and one that is equally reliable.
    In the dark, cold and wet night is the last place I want to be trying to fix a faulty light.
    I’ve used many types of lights and for me a dyno hub with a focussed beam is my choice for evening to night riding lasting more than an hour. “off road” lights are great if you need to see overhanging branches but you also want plenty of notice if Echidnas and Roos run out in front of you.
    Luckily for us there is plenty of choice these days. I call it cheap insurance no matter the price.

  7. kris says:

    Try coating with a brush the battery pack using epoxy I.e Arraldite, it will strain relief the cable, impact strengthen and waterproof the pack. U will all round.

  8. Gerrit says:

    Almost each high-power Chinese bike light violates German road regulations. There are good and also not-so-good reasons for these regulations.
    That’s why I ride a hub dynamo (Shimano DH-N70) with two Busch&Mueller Cyos on my road bike here in Germany. This provides more than enough light for descent night rides on (sealed) backcountry roads.

    This solution was also used on my MTB for several years. It worked very well even on narrow single-trails. However, the desire for a brighter lamp grew after colleagues told me about their new (cheap) Chinese lamps of reasonable quality which “blow” everything out of the way.

    So I decided to by a Singfire SF-607 for my MTB. Yesterday I did my first test ride. The two Cyos can’t compete with the illumination of the Singfire. However, I have to switch them off once I get back onto the roads leading me back home. For the few kilometers between home and forest I put on a tiny LED light to be visible for other traffic members.

    The Singfire works well despite the fact that after an 1.5hour ride the connector between the lamp and the battery pack led to a light failure due to a slack joint. I probably have to exchange the connector :-|

    For all AU-riders complaining about the power adaptor which is only compatible for Chinese and US plugs:
    => http://dx.com/p/singfire-5-5-x-2-5mm-au-plug-power-adapter-black-116cm-ac-100-240v-251514#.UySHWD95PxA

    Cheers from Germany, Gerrit

  9. On the German regulations it is purely about the light output so I have dynamo powered Supernova that is road legal in German and Supernova make a version with higher output targeted for off-road and international customers.

    I am not sure why bike in Germany a limited to sufficiently lower light output that cars however potentially as car lights on low-beam are directed down so don’t blind oncomers.

    Elsewhere, high powered lights on bikes is a relatively new trend which is why it isn’t regulated however there needs to be consideration for cyclists of not just being seen – but also to see.

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