Daylight Savings Time is just around the corner, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s time to put away the mountain bike lights just yet. For those who might not be able to get to the trails until later in the evening, want to extend their rides into darkness, or for the extra-motivated folks who get out early in the morning, light season continues well into the spring.
This offering from Lezyne uses the wireless technology that has become prevalent in every aspect of our lives to link together multiple lights, and the whole package can be controlled with the click of one button. The Connect Smart series includes 1800, 1600 and 1000-lumen front light options, which can be paired with the 75-lumen KTV Pro Smart rear light and customized via Lezyne’s proprietary LED Ally smartphone app. The Connect Smart Pair set I tested includes the 1000-lumen Connect Drive 1000XL front and KTV Pro Smart rear for $99.95 at online retailers including Amazon and others.
Connect Drive Smart Front 1000XL
- Lumens: 15-1000
- Weight: 153 grams
- Runtime: 1:30-87 hours
- Recharge Time: 5:30 hours
- 8 different modes — 5 steady, 3 flashing
- Heat-dissipating, machined aluminum body
- Maximum Optical Reflection lens that optimizes and evenly disperses light output
- Rubber strap mounts to a variety of bar shapes and sizes
- Charges via standard micro USB cable
KTV Pro Smart Rear
- Lumens: 3-75
- Weight: 45 grams
- Runtime: 4-19:30 hours
- Recharge Time: 2:15 hours
- 6 different modes — 2 steady, 3 flashing/pulsing
- Integrated cable-free USB stick for re-charging
- Wide Angle Optics offer up to 270 degree visibility
- IPX7 waterproof rated
While each light will work on its own, the whole point of connectable lights is to connect them, so step one was to download the app and pair it with each of the lights. The LED Ally app is free in the app store for iPhone and Android users. To pair it with the lights, Bluetooth must be enabled on your phone, the lights must be on, and they need to be within two meters of the phone. The process to pair went smoothly. Next step: customize modes.
Though the front light features 8 different settings and the rear features 5, once you connect it to the app and customize your modes, you can only set up to 4 combinations that can be used at any one time. This makes sense so that you don’t have to cycle through all 8 modes to get back to the one you want to use. If your needs change and you want to set up a different combination, that can be done at any time via the app.
Front light modes range from Overdrive at 1000 lumens to Femto at 15, as well as three different flash/pulse modes designed for daytime visibility. The rear ranges from daytime flash at 75 lumens (10 hour runtime) to an Economy mode that flashes 10 lumens for almost 20 hours. Any combination can be used and there’s also the option to have one of the lights off — for instance, a “trail riding” mode might turn the front light on to full blast but leave the rear off, and a “ride to the trail” mode might turn on the red blinky and dim the front light to conserve battery life.
Once the lights are paired together, turning the front light on will automatically turn the rear on as well (unless it’s set to be off in the current mode), and the front light’s power button can also be used to cycle through the different modes. One thing to note is that the light doesn’t remember the last mode you were on if you turn it off, so you’ll want to set mode #1 as the one you use most often. The lights can also be controlled via your smartphone, and the app provides real-time information on battery life down to the minute. However, all that requires a Bluetooth connection and in order to save my phone battery (especially in colder months), I generally opted to not leave the lights connected to the phone all the time. Connect Smart lights can also be controlled from compatible Lezyne GPS computers.
The front light mounts to your handlebars or onto a helmet mount via a rubber strap that is attached to the light. The strap is pretty heavy duty and holds the light securely. Even on chunky terrain, I didn’t have issues with it slipping and pointing down, which is a problem I’ve certainly had with other strap-mounted lights. However, whether or not this happens may be dependent on the exact thickness of your handlebars because of the fixed positions of the holes in the strap.
The helmet mount sits quite high and the light itself has a bit of heft to it, resulting in a noticeable top-heaviness. I was also concerned about whacking it on one of the overhanging branches that are prevalent on my east coast home trails because it stands a good three or more inches above the top of my helmet. For these reasons, my preference is to mount this light to my bars in combination with a smaller and lighter helmet-mounted one for nighttime mountain bike rides.
The rear light features a similar strap that easily wraps around your seatpost without the need for a separate mount. The downside is that there isn’t a way to clip the light anywhere else, like your helmet or a backpack or hip sack — sometimes it’s nice to be able to do that instead.
It’s clear that the rear light was designed with more of the road market in mind, as there’s a notch in the rubber backing of the light that allows it to stay put on aero seatposts. For use on a regular seatpost, there’s a little piece of rubber that fills the notch, but it doesn’t sit all the way in so there’s still a bit of play between the light and post. It’s secure and clearly isn’t going anywhere, it just doesn’t look that clean.
Update: the rubber spacer shown is not meant to be used with round seat posts like the one below.
At 1000 lumens, the advertised runtime of the light on Overdrive mode is only about an hour and a half, so unless you know you’re going for a relatively short ride, it’s likely best run it on a lower setting. “Blast” mode at 500 lumens has a run time of 3 hours and is sufficient in most cases with the exception of speedy downhills or especially technical bits, and “Enduro” mode at 250 lumens lasts for five and a half hours. During my testing, I ran the light on Overdrive for some night laps at 24 Hours of Old Pueblo (of which my longest was an hour and 25 minutes) and it lasted the whole time. I also did a couple two-ish-hour rides with a combination of Overdrive and Blast and again, and had no issues with the light dying. The on/off button indicates battery life — green equals 50% or more, yellow means 10-50%, and red indicates below 10%. The button will flash red when battery life drops below 5%.
Lezyne’s 1800 and 1300 lumen Smart Connect options do offer longer run times at a higher brightness. For instance, the Mega Drive 1800i will keep shining for 2:50hr at 1000 lumens and 3:45hr at 600. Like the $39.99 the KTV Pro Smart rear light, these can be purchased a la carte, so if you like the concept but need greater illumination, Lezyne has you covered.
The front light beam itself has a round shape and a solid, steady white beam with good coverage side-to-side and down the trail. The rear definitely is visible from its claimed 270 degrees and is super bright in its higher settings.
The final word
If the majority of your night riding is purely on singletrack, there are other lights out there that would serve you more effectively. Due to its weight and the less-than-ideal mount itself, there are better lights out there for helmet use, which is what most of us want for riding trails at night. And if you don’t have much need for a rear light, there’s little need for the Connect Smart technology.
But if you do a lot of urban mountain biking that involves riding through town on your way to the trails, or if you also do a lot of gravel and road riding, the ability to switch modes on multiple lights with the click of one button is advantageous. This feature, paired with so many mode options and a solid, quality light at an affordable price makes the Lezyne Connect Smart series worth looking into for the rider who does a little bit of everything and needs bike lights that are as versatile as they are.