With maturity, usually comes knowledge – and Lucas should have that it spades, having been trading since 1872. The company has its roots in Birmingham, where the HQ is still based, and they started out creating ship’s lamps, and eventually the “King of the Road” cycle lamp, designed to be used on a Penny Farthing.
In 1996, they merged with the American Varity Corporation to become LucasVarity PLC – and they re-launched their range of King of the Road lights in 2013.
The brand claims their longevity represents the consistency and durability of their products, so when they sent me one of their lights, I was pleased to test the theory.
The King of the Road comes in two grades, the 500 which gives out 565 lumens, and the 300 that provides 330 lumens. I received a KOTR300.
The light comes in a pack with two mounts, for varying handlebar width, a USB cord for charging (always useful) and plug socket.
My initial reaction was that the packaging looked a tad dated compared to what I’ve seen from market leaders Exposure and Lezyne – this isn’t particularly important in terms of functionality, but Exposure do provide some useful hard cases with their lights. I could make a point about the arguably sexist name, but since the company have been making King of the Road lights since before women were even allowed to vote, I can’t be too harsh.
The KOTR300 comes in at an RRP of £59.99. For comparison, the Lezyne Powedrive XL gives 475 lumens and retails at around £84.99 RRP, but is currently on sale at Wiggle for £55.24. On the other end of the scale, the Exposure Sirius MK2 provides 360 lumens for an RRP of £110, currently £98.96 on sale.
The light & mount
The light itself is CNCed from alloy, and looks fairly sleek. The USB socket is covered with a watertight rubber plug, and the entire unit is obviously watertight. Overall, it’s quite a plush looking item.
The mount is attached to the bike with one metal pin, which twists into the bottom of the mount allowing you to fit it to your bars. One selling point mentioned is that you can slide the light off the mount to use it as a torch. I suppose this could be handy in the case of a puncture – but I’ve never had a problem simply detaching my light in the past.
A metal clasp holds the light into place firmly when on the bike.
At 103grams, the Lucas isn’t featherlight, but it isn’t that heavy either.
Use on the road
The Lucas has 5 settings, three different brightness settings, a flashing mode and an SOS mode (for when you’re very low on battery and need to get home).
The brightest mode can run for 2.5 hours. If your commute each way is longer than 2.5 hours, I’ll applaud you before offering to help find a light that will last longer – but I expect the majority of people will be ok with this battery life.
My commute takes me down a mixture of street lit roads, and unlit roads that are completely dark – and I usually use a light that gives me 1,000 lumens for the unlit areas. On the lit roads, I obviously felt 100% confident in the light omitted by the Lucas – it was bright and I knew that drivers could see me.
Reaching the unlit areas, the Lucas gave me just enough light to see a spot-lit section, and I could use it to get me home safely. The beam showed me the path in-front of me, and provided a fairly wide beam. However, I wouldn’t be confident hammering it down dark country lanes, as the beam wasn’t bright enough to show me the road a few meters ahead. At 330 lumens, and the price point, this isn’t a surprise, or a criticism, as the light isn’t designed for that sort of riding.
The light did everything it promised – giving me top notch security lit areas, and enough to get me home in unlit environments. I did find that on one occasion, a pesky pot hole did cause it to jump out of the clasp – thankfully no damage was done, but this did remove a little bit of the shine from my opinion of it.
As a 330 lumen light with a light and sleek body, and generally good mounting system, the KOTR300 does the job. The quality is easily competitive with the major players, and the original price is competitive, but sadly not with the sale price of some alternative brands on the market.
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.