Review: Fenix PD30 Flashlight

A couple of months ago, Michelle Lei, the marketing supervisor for Fenix Lights, sent me a courtesy sample of their new PD30 flashlight to test. While this isn’t a bike-specific headlight, it can easily be pressed into service as one.


Here’s some of the information from Fenix:

• Cree Premium (Q5) 7090 XR-E LED with lifespan of 50,000 hours
• 2 modes with 6 types of output
• General Mode: 9 lumens (65hrs) -> 70 lumens (8hrs) -> 117lumens (4hrs) -> SOS
• Turbo Mode: 220 lumens (1.5hrs) -> Strobe
• Digitally regulated output – maintains constant brightness
• Low Battery Indication
• Uses two 3V CR123A batteries (Lithium)
• 118mm (Length) x 21.5mm (Diameter)
• Made of aircraft-grade aluminum
• durable Type III hard-anodized anti-abrasive finish
• 49-gram weight (excluding batteries)
• Waterproof to IPX-8 Standard
• Toughened ultra-clear glass lens with anti-reflective coating
• Push-button tail cap switch
• Capable of standing up securely on a flat surface to serve as a candle
• Included accessories: holster, lanyard, two spare o-rings, and a rubber switch boot

The light itself is solidly-made and feels like it…quality materials and finishing. All parts are sealed with o-rings, so it is weatherproof (I tested that by being caught in a couple of late-season downpours…no problems with the light). The light is compact, so it is easy to stow away in a pocket or bag when not in use.


I especially like the recessed lens — since the lens is glass, it could use some protection, and the light head has a built-in “lip” that keeps the lens away from scratches and other potential damages. The only drawback to the recessed lens is that there is ZERO side-visibility of the light. Since this light isn’t specifically marketed as a bicycle light, it’s probably no big deal, but many municipalities require front headlights on a bike to be visible from the sides as well as the front. Something to think about, in any case…

recessed lens

Let’s talk about the light modes…while there are six different settings, we’ll concern ourselves with the two settings in “turbo mode”. The first is the full-strength steady setting — a full 220 lumens (the Fenix website now shows that the lumen rating has gone up to 235). This intensity completely outpaces all but the expensive bike light systems on the market, and that light is easily enough to see clearly on dark streets. The beam itself has a fairly wide spread with a good “hotspot” in the middle for distance illumination. Here’s a shot of that pool of light (hotspot at top center of photo):


I’m concerned that the wide spread of light may shine into oncoming motorists’/cyclists’ eyes — some of the more expensive bicycle lighting systems have lenses and vertical cutoffs that help eliminate that possibility, and again the Fenix really can’t be compared to them. No matter…I haven’t received any complaints from anyone yet!

Here’s another shot of the light pattern — the bicycle is about 25 feet away from the camera:

The other “turbo mode” setting is the flashing strobe…and this is the setting I use most often. The Fenix PD30 flashes at somewhere upwards of 120 flashes per minute (probably closer to 200), and it flashes with the full 220 lumen wallop. The flash is so bright that it will illuminate a reflective street sign from two blocks away in DAYLIGHT. I use this setting in the mornings on my way to work and it definitely gets motorists’ attentions…nobody is turning in front of me! At night, the intensity and speed of the flashing can be disorienting as it lights up everything around me in stark relief. I used the light during a recent Critical Mass ride, and one of my fellow riders said, “wow, that light is obnoxious!” It gets attention, that’s for sure.

Fenix indicated that they may develop a mounting system for this light for bicycle/sports use. Since it didn’t come with such a mount, I used a Twofish Unlimited “Lockblock” with great success. The light’s body is hexagonal, so it won’t slip in the rubber Twofish cradle. Using such a setup means that the light is quite portable and can go from bike to bike without a fuss. And, it doesn’t take up much handlebar real estate.


My only real gripe with the PD30 is the battery situation…the light uses two CR123A batteries, and they’re not as cheap and as easy to find as AA/AAA sizes. Also, good-quality rechargeable batteries in the CR123A size can be hard to come by. Luckily, I found some great online deals on disposable batteries for this light. Battery life wasn’t an issue with the light, at least — I used the strobe setting every workday for 3 weeks (25 minutes per ride) without seeing any degradation in the strength of the light. I haven’t been able to test Fenix’s claims of other runtimes as I don’t ride so much at night anymore (no more late hours at the library!!).

Overall, I like the light — it does what I need it to do and it provides enough light to handle fast rides on dark streets. I don’t recommend the turbo-mode strobe setting at night, though — there’s another lower-intensity flashing setting built into the light that is a bit more friendly on the eyes.

The Fenix PD30 retails for around $60.00 USD…that’s a pretty good deal for a strong, well-made light that would be a valuable addition to the nighttime commuter’s arsenal. Check out Fenix’s full line of lights for every possible need by visiting their website.


  1. Tinker November 3, 2009 12:24 am 

    Amazon stocks and sells the rechargeable batteries for this light. They also carry chargers., You can get similar lights, that use an 18650(?) battery, if you prefer. This is a rechargeable form factor only. (does not come in store bought batteries). This is just a bit larger than AA batteries, and you can substitute the AA cells in it. These lights work better with the 18650, and run longer with a set of them than a set of AAs (they do not rattle either).

    I have a couple of lights that use 3 AAA cells to provide light, but they do not flash, which is a shame.

    I think this light system is great, but the 2watt Planet bike single LED is preferable, and costs less.

  2. Clancy November 3, 2009 10:03 am 

    I believe you can use either 2 CR123A’s or one 18650. My Dealextreme light uses on 18650. They sell batteries and chargers. I have had good luck with mine, others have reported no so good.

  3. Ghost Rider November 3, 2009 10:29 am 

    I’ve read conflicting reports on the quality/runtime/safety of rechargeable 123a batteries, but I’ll look into the 18650 type.

    I haven’t had the chance to try out the 2W Planet Bike light, so I really can’t compare the two. I suspect the Fenix puts out a brighter light, though (PB rates the 2W Blaze at 100 lumens, after all…).

  4. Guy November 3, 2009 11:59 am 

    I got a two pack of solar rechargeable flashlights from Costco for around $20 a couple of months back. Very powerful beam of light eminates. They’re LED and it makes me wonder why bike lights are so expensive. Granted that these are normal cylinder flashlights but they’re waterproof and with little modification will make great bike lights. Great in really dark conditions.

  5. Ian Stanley November 3, 2009 1:10 pm 

    Batteries … don’t talk to me about batteries :)

    I bought a SPIDER X-550 (550 lumens) a while ago and then balked at the £4.50 per Duracell battery price tag.

    After looking around for a while I found them easily available from EBAY. You can order them in large batches but do shop around (some are selling £38-00 for 50 whilst others a lot cheaper)

    … I bought mine for £12.88 with free postage from China! There great performing lasting virtually as long as a duracell cr123a

    You can also get a pack of rechargable cr123a plus charger for around £12.

    If you want any kind of special batteries I would recommend ebay’s sellers … particularly for those unusual camera or calculator batteries.

    Thanks for the review … I think I’ll pick up a PD30 for cycling

  6. Rollz November 3, 2009 5:36 pm 

    I use a different model fenix light (LD20) on my bike. On their web site they have a lot of choices and they also sell a couple of different types of mounts for bikes. This is a very nice product and has stood up to my 30k commute for 3 years. I ride all year around.

  7. Ghost Rider November 3, 2009 7:02 pm 

    @Rollz, I just saw that handlebar mount on Fenix’s website. That thing is SLICK!

  8. Iron_Man November 4, 2009 6:59 am 

    Headlights have got to be the one thing that I’ve had to buy over and over again. Dead batteries, dead lights and busted attachment systems mean I’m always in the market for a new light.

  9. Matt P November 4, 2009 9:09 am 

    This is the first I’ve ever read of anyone using the strobe/flashing mode on a front light. Does it really help? I never could figure out what it was useful for. It always made me feel like I was going to have a seizure!

  10. Ghost Rider November 4, 2009 3:42 pm 

    I use the flashing mode on every “be seen” light I’ve ever owned (usually in addition to a steady light for MY visibility). Normally, they’re not so strong that they cause problems, but that’s not the case with the Fenix…you WILL get dizzy, disoriented and a bit nauseous in “strobe mode”.

  11. Rollz November 4, 2009 4:01 pm 

    My fenix has a seizure inducing strobe but it also does a SOS signal which I use a lot for a be seen flasher.

  12. Raiyn November 4, 2009 5:52 pm 

    You might want to cut that out Rollz – you might have some former Boy Scout try to “rescue” you. Not to mention the “crying Wolf” factor.

  13. Ghost Rider November 4, 2009 6:28 pm 

    This PD30 also has the SOS setting. I wondered exactly the same thing…would some sailor on shore-leave try to rescue me?

  14. Ken Sturrock November 5, 2009 8:37 am 

    While riding in front of Ghost during Critical Mass, I kept getting the feeling that I was about to be pulled over.

  15. Guy November 5, 2009 10:40 am 

    I just wanted to let you know that the Lite I found that is bright is the Hybrid Solar Lite. Their web site is With lights like this, why are bicycle lights so pricy?

  16. Matt P November 6, 2009 8:39 am 

    Thanks for the tips on flashing! I’ll add another light for my ride to work in the mornings.

  17. BikeWhenYouCan November 6, 2009 9:12 pm 

    Surprised no one’s mentioned Dinottes. I run the 400Li on my helmet and a 200AA on my bars. A 140AA is mounted under the seat. The 400 and 200 give me plenty for commuting. The 140 runs as a flasher whenever I ride, unless I have a passenger on the back (Xtracycle). I run the 400 in flash mode during the day. I supplement these w/Superflash lights on the back of my helmet and on the back of the Xtracycle snapdeck. Dinottes put out a huge amount of light in a small package. NOTE: They are not for use as flashlights – they will overheat if not air-cooled by the wind while riding.

  18. JP November 8, 2009 9:08 pm 

    I have the PD30 and use the Turbo strobe most of the time when biking at night. It sure gets the attention of drivers! Very happy with it so far. For rechargeables, you’ll find great deals online.

  19. Rider November 9, 2009 8:45 am 

    Fenix makes excellent flashlights.

    I’m holding out for a version that burns 18650 batteries — that’s all I want to use anymore.

  20. Kona Commuter December 17, 2011 9:48 pm 

    Sorry to add a comment two years after the first post.

    I use the Fenix LD10 on my commute. It uses 1 AA battery. It’s plenty bright enough to provide “to see” level of light and it’s bright enough to be seen 500 meters away. The strobe function certainly is an attention getter. The LD10 is small enough to fit in the saddle bag when you’ve secured your ride.

    I also have the LD20 which uses 2 x AA batteries. It is brighter but not significantly so.

    I’m using the Fenix bike adaptor but I don’t like how it takes up a lot of space on my handlebars and it is a royal pain in the proverbial to fasten and unfasten. I’d really appreciate a fast on and fast off method.

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