Review: Planet Bike’s “Blaze 1W” Headlight

A few months back, Planet Bike sent us two versions of their “Blaze 1W” headlight to test. Russ got the dynamo-powered version, and I got the battery-operated model.

blaze 1w

The light is only a bit bigger than many of its cousins; a slightly wider body and about 3/4″ longer than other PB lights. Much of this extra length comes from a cast aluminum heatsink that separates the head of the Blaze 1W from the rest of the body. Here’s a comparison shot of the Blaze 1W next to two other PB lights, the Beamer 1 and the Beamer 5:


The light has two brightness settings and one flashing pattern. The flash setting is the same one used by Planet Bike’s class-dominating “Superflash” taillight, and it sure gets attention…two half-power blinks followed by a full-strength blast. A friend riding in front of me stated, “it’s like being chased by the paparazzi!”

Other similarities between the Blaze 1W and other lights in the Planet Bike line include power from 2 AA batteries (I use NiCad rechargeables) and the exact same handlebar mounting clamp. I’m not a huge fan of the mounting clamp; while it is adjustable to fit a wide variety of handlebar diameters, I’ve found the mount can slip if you don’t get it as tight as it’ll go. I learned a trick from our longtime reader and friend Quinn McLaughlin…his suggestion was to add a strip of hockey-stick griptape to the handlebar just under where the clamp sits. This works like a charm and eliminates any of the slipping gripes I have with the PB mount.

I was excited to try this high-powered light — having used only low-power LED lights for years, I’ve often “outrun” the beam as I ride home from work in the dark. And, truly high-powered lights can be tremendously expensive, keeping me away from them. PB intends this light to to split the difference between “to see” and “to be seen” lights on the market…with a 1-watt Blaze LED, this light cranks out an impressive blast of light.

Let’s compare that beam to the other PB lights I have on hand…my nighttime picture-taking skills leave a bit to be desired, but I hope you’ll get the idea. In the following photo, I have the Blaze 1W, the Beamer 5 and the Beamer 1 arranged from left to right. Using freshly recharged batteries and a white backdrop, I’ve got the following beam comparison:

beam comparison

Hard to tell which is the brightest, isn’t it? I thought so, too, so I set up another comparison between the two I considered brightest, the Blaze and the Beamer 1. These next two shots are from a distance of 25 feet in near-total darkness. First, we have the Beamer 1:

beamer 1

The bicycle the light is aimed at is barely visible (but my “yard art” shines nicely!). Now, let’s take a look at the illuminating power of the Blaze 1W:

blaze 1w

Perhaps still a bit hard to tell, but in real life the difference is pretty impressive! Details are far more visible than with lesser-powered lights…and this extra visibility is crucial for dark commutes on poorly-lit routes where cracks and road hazards loom.

It is possible to “outrun” this light, too…but you’ve got to be traveling pretty fast to do so. And, of course, this light isn’t suitable for offroading or 24-hour racing…it’s not THAT bright. For around-town riding, though, if you really need more light than this baby puts out, you’re looking at big bucks for another brand’s HID/LED lighting system.

For bike commuters on a budget, this light is totally worth the price and should be at the top of your list for affordable nighttime riding. It offers impressive performance at a fraction of the price of a really high-end light system. Even if you only use the Blaze 1W in flashing mode, you WILL get the attention of motorists — this light is well-neigh impossible to ignore.

Check out more information on this light and the rest of the line of commuter-friendly products by visiting Planet Bike’s website.


  1. jdmitch June 1, 2009 10:04 am 

    Yeah, I’m really liking that I went ahead and picked up the Superflash / 1W Blaze combo when I wanted to get a Supeflash for my wife’s bike. At $60 (amazon sells at a discount) the combo is a hard to beat price / performance point…

  2. Gordon June 1, 2009 10:18 am 

    Been using the Blaze 1/2 watt & Superflash for a few months and I have no complaints.

  3. Ghost Rider June 1, 2009 10:24 am 

    jdmitch…that’s actually what I got: the combo pack. That way I got the black-cased Blaze instead of white (and another Superflash…that makes about a dozen I have now)!

  4. Sungsu June 1, 2009 10:53 am 

    I have the 1W and it really lights up the traffic signs, even before sunset.

  5. locus June 1, 2009 11:27 am 

    I’ve been commuting in DC for several years now. I have a long stretch of my ride that takes me down East Capitol St. The street is broken up by only a few lights, but every non-signal list block has cross streets (they have stop signs). Again and again while riding home from work in the summer (when it’s still fully light), I had cars pulling out in front of me trying to cross E. Cap. St. It was getting dangerous and seriously starting to bug me. Until I got the 1W Blaze. Now, everyone sees me–even in broad daylight. Thanks Planet Bike!

  6. Paul June 1, 2009 3:09 pm 

    I have a couple of lights that feel loose while mounted to the handlebar, another easy fix is to cut a section from a old tube (We ALL have at least one!) and fold it around the bar where the light will go, clamping over the folded tube so a tight fit is possible. I got to get myself one of those lights, too!

  7. Farmer Matt June 2, 2009 6:57 am 

    I have had lousy luck with battery powered headlights. I’ve gone expensive (Niterider Digital Pro 12E, Niterider Trail Rat) and I’ve gone through a bunch of sub-$40 models.

    Most recently I have returned three ViewPoint Flare 5 LED Headlights because their switch stoped working after two or three rides. I gave ViewPoint so many chanced because I really love the ViewPoint Flashpoint High Intensity Taillight. (Brightest double AAA taillight I have found so far.)

    Any idea how the Blaze holds up over time? I’m looking for a small headlight for my road bike. It’s too hot to ride in the daytime so I’m starting earlier in the morning or later in the evening.

    My SUB (Sport Utility Bike, a Trek 7300) has a dynamo powering a DLumotec Oval N Plus headlight and a Toplight Flat Plus taillight. For a purely utilitarian bike, a quality generator and light set is the absolute best way to go. It always works. I never have to worry if the batteries are charged. I just get on the bike and go.

    —Farmer Matt

  8. Ghost Rider June 2, 2009 7:29 am 

    My experiences have been favorable for the various PB lights. I’ve got two that have been with me for a couple years…the rubber switch cover starts to craze in the Florida sun, but neither have ever failed me, despite repeated rain soakings and being stored outside.

    The Blaze 1W has been through much the same, only for less time (5 months or so). Battery life is good…several hours on the high setting…and the case is fairly-well indestructible.

  9. David June 2, 2009 11:48 am 

    I’m curious how the 1W Blaze stacks up against a middle-ground light like Cygolite’s Hi-Flux II – I picked up the Hi-Flux for lighting my commute as the days got shorter last year and I nearly ran into a tree trying to convince myself I could see just fine.

    I’ve been really happy with the Cygolite, and the price point was hard to beat (~$75 with a bit of poking around online), but I can absolutely appreciate the simplicity of a light that takes replaceable batteries…

  10. scwman January 17, 2010 6:28 pm 

    Pros: Good mount, great light pattern
    Cons: Wimpy twist connection holding batteries in. Does not work below 35F.

    I would not buy again for $45 but would consider it at $30.

  11. Mike Myers December 15, 2011 5:20 pm 

    There are a lot of items in cycling where one can cut corners. I’ve used cheap panniers, I have a Bell mulitool from Walmart, and most of my bike clothes are Performance or Nashbar.

    Lighting, however, is one place where you should spend as much as you possibly can. I want drivers to SEE ME. Multiple rear blinkies. Reflective gear, and a headlight that’s bright enough to get their attention. In my mind, the minimum is something like the DiNotte XML. 200 lumens in a small package, for $119. Yes, that’s expensive, but having a bright light is worth the expense, especially if you ride in dark, rural locations.

    My main commuter has the DiNotte 600L—600 lumens. That, in my opinion, is the right amount of lighting. There are people who use brighter lights, but I think that’s overkill.

    Ideal setup is a generator hub and one of the new LED dynamo lights, but that gets really pricey, even for a light addict like me.

  12. Raiyn December 17, 2011 2:02 pm 

    Folks, this post is over 2½ years old. Sometimes it’s best to let the dead rest.

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