Nitecore BR35 Bicycle Light Review

Preface
Official Specs
Versions
Price
Short Review
Long Review
  What's Included
  Manual and Packaging
  Build Quality and Durability
  Size
  Retention
  Power
  User Interface and Operation
  Modes
  LED and beam
  Tint vs...
  Beamshots, Runtime, etc table.
  Comparisons
Conclusion
  What I like
  What I don't like
Up Next
Notes

Preface

Today I’m having a look at the Nitecore BR35, a bicycle flashlight.  It’s meant for handlebar mount, and had all the parts required.  It has a built in battery, and on-board charging!  There’s a lot going on in this light, so read on!


Official Specs and Features

Versions

There’s just one version of this light.

Price

This light goes for $129.95 currently.


Short Review

This light impressed me practically all the way around.  It’s very well made for bicycling, and very capable.

Long Review

What’s Included

  • Nitecore BR35 Bicycle flashlight
  • Handlebar mount
  • Charge cable (USB to micro-USB)
  • Remote switch
  • Manual and paperwork

17_zeroair_reviews_nitecore_br35.jpg

Package and Manual

This light lives in what I consider Nitecore’s “flagship” package.  It’s a slip fit box, of very high quality, with a photo of the product and most of the specs on the back.  Fortunately it slips open easily; there are no recesses in the top to allow gripping the bottom.

Inside the box, the parts are held in place by some custom cut foam.  It’s a very nice package!

16_zeroair_reviews_nitecore_br35.jpg

Here’s a link to the pdf manual (which will download automatically if you click that link, I think.)  It’s a good manual, of usual Nitecore-manual-quality.  Thanks again to Nitecore for providing these manuals online!  (Especially helpful to me since I so often forget to fully photo the manual….)  But it’s very nice to be able to easily find an official manual!!

Build Quality and Disassembly

This light feels extremely solid.  It’s a heavy chunk of metal.  And since the battery is built in, it’s a heavy chunk of [complete light], too.

55_zeroair_reviews_nitecore_br35.jpg

It’s quite an interesting look, though.  There are two emitters, both in their own little reflector.  And fins running the length of the body, all the way to the head.

56_zeroair_reviews_nitecore_br35.jpg

The top of the light has all the switches, and a screen for displaying mode information, and battery information, too.

43_zeroair_reviews_nitecore_br35.jpg

It’s a bit unusual for this blog and in the flashlight world, but practically speaking, the BR35 looks like most handlebar mount bike lights.

Worth noting is the white panel on the bottom of the light.  While this looks like a light, (particularly in use), it’s not – it just reflects the small Short Range emitter down onto the ground.  It works well for that.

46_zeroair_reviews_nitecore_br35.jpg

The bottom is held in place by six TORX screws.  Each screw has its own little o-ring.

57_zeroair_reviews_nitecore_br35.jpg

Removing them is easy, providing access inside the light.

58_zeroair_reviews_nitecore_br35.jpg

59_zeroair_reviews_nitecore_br35.jpg

Unsurprisingly, inside are two 18650 cells.  These are in parallel, so the light is running on ~4V.

60_zeroair_reviews_nitecore_br35.jpg

61_zeroair_reviews_nitecore_br35.jpg

These appear to be 3350mAh cells, rated for standard 650mA discharge, but capable at up to almost 5A.  (I got that information from here.)

62_zeroair_reviews_nitecore_br35.jpg

The cells are soldered in, and I didn’t remove them past this.  That said, it should be fairly …. possible…. to replace them should the need arise.

63_zeroair_reviews_nitecore_br35.jpg

And with that, I’ve voided the warranty of this light (per the manual).  What do you think u/zak?

Size

Officially 109.3 x 48.9  40.9mm, and 234.5g in weight (battery included, of course).

It’s not really a small light, but considering it has two 18650 cells, two reflectors, and a bike mount attachment point, I consider it fairly reasonable.

Retention

Primarily this light will be held in place by the handlebar mount clip.  This isn’t a “quick release” type, but it has a thumb screw which allows fairly quick release.  As a counterpoint, the JETBeam I recently reviewed required an Allen key to remove.  Not only is this better for removing, it’s also a better mount in general.  Much easier to use.

21_zeroair_reviews_nitecore_br35.jpg

Nitecore includes four pads, which allow use on different sized handlebar.  Seen above, installed, are the two thinnest options.  They are rubber, and have “teeth” which do help grip the bar.

Below is a shot of the actual quick release.  The tab farthest right gets pressed down, and the light is released.

22_zeroair_reviews_nitecore_br35.jpg

Here’s the unit all put together.  Nice how the Short Range light blends into the mount very seamlessly.  Also note that I’m using the thicker rubber piece on the top side, and the thinner on the bottom.  These parts basically snap into place, and can be used in any combination.

23_zeroair_reviews_nitecore_br35.jpg

Here are some mounted shots.  Yes that’s a lawnmower.  It was close, and I figured why not.

The mount is very secure, and I’m very pleased with it.  However, unfortunately, it doesn’t swivel or rotate on the mount.  Once it’s where you put it, that’s where it stays.  That’s no strictly a problem, but it is a feature other similar lights offer.

Here’s some detail on the grippy pieces.  I don’t know if more of these are available separately, or if it’s possible to buy second mount points for attaching the light to multiple bikes.

Below, have a look at the spring that gets depressed when removing the light from the mount.

32_zeroair_reviews_nitecore_br35.jpg

Power

As stated above, the light is powered by two built in unprotected 18650 cells in parallel (also evident because Nitecore calls it a 6800mAh battery).  It’s theoretically possible to change the cells; so is an elevator to the moon.  These cells are soldered in, and if you’re inclined, could feasible be replaced.

My runtime apparatus doesn’t really work all that well with the emitter setup as it is, so don’t take these lumen values too seriously.  (Namely, the “Short Range” emitter is set back from the Long Range emitter, meaning it’s impossible for me to capture all those lumens into my sphere.

The runtime below is with both beams running.  The light has a fairly quick stepdown at around 1.2 minutes, and then declines to approximately half output, where it bounces around lightly (probably related to temperature).  Then it begins a steady decline, mostly likely tracking the cell voltage.

64_zeroair_reviews_nitecore_br35.png

Runtime on High (Level 3, the second highest mode), looks practically the same, without the beginning blip of Level 4.  The runtime is extended by an understandable amount.

65_zeroair_reviews_nitecore_br35.png

During use, there’s a battery indicator on the display.  The display also gives runtime estimates (calculated for each mode).

>90%: Full bars
<90%: 3 bars
<50%: 2 bars
<10%: 1 bar
~1%: 0 bars

The manual doesn’t state LVP – what it does say is that when the power level is <10%, the “output of BR35 will appear dim or unresponsive.” and to charge the battery.

01_zeroair_reviews_nitecore_br35.jpg

In both runtimes, the display said BATLOW as seen below (not “LOWBAT” like I have in the graph).  The light never actually shut off, but got so low that you’d take note anyway.

13_zeroair_reviews_nitecore_br35.jpg

Charging is built in, and happens over this USB to micro-USB cable.

18_zeroair_reviews_nitecore_br35.jpg

The manual says charging takes around 4.5 hours, and that’s with minutes of what I tested.  Charging happens at around 1.6A.

66_zeroair_reviews_nitecore_br35.png

User Interface and Operation

There are three buttons on the body of the BR35.  One, labeled “M” is the mode switch.  The other two move the modes up (“+”) or down (“-“).  These are clicky e-switches, and they all have a (or two, really) blue indicator LED(s).  These indicators don’t operate independently.  They’re either all blue, or not.

54_zeroair_reviews_nitecore_br35.jpg

During operation, there are a few things that are always displayed.  First (top left) is the mode group (in the case below, “TRAIL”) (more on that later).  Next is the mode level (“LEVEL [1-4]).  Below those two is the runtime, in H:M format.  This runtime continually updates, and seems to overestimate at first.

From on, holding the decrease button will enter the lowest level.  Likewise, holding the increase button will enter the highest mode.

The screen has a very slow refresh rate, which I find entirely too noticeable.

02_zeroair_reviews_nitecore_br35.jpg

There’s also an awesome remote switch.  It’s also an e-switch, and works exactly like the mode button.

28_zeroair_reviews_nitecore_br35.jpg

29_zeroair_reviews_nitecore_br35.jpg

It connects into the micro-USB port.

30_zeroair_reviews_nitecore_br35.jpg

Below, see the refresh rate of the display being picked up.  Also note that when the remote switch is being used, the micro-USB cover is out (obviously).  Nitecore has in other products (MH12GTS for example) a waterproof micro-USB.  I don’t know if that’s being used here (doubt it, but would be nice), but the plug fits into the opening fairly well anyway.  Waterproof when plugged?  Hard to say.

31_zeroair_reviews_nitecore_br35.jpg

Here’s a UI table!

State Action Result
Off Hold M switch ~1.5s On (Mode Memory)
Off Click any Battery check
On Hold M switch Off
On Click M switch Iterate beam options*
On Click “-” switch Decrease brightness
On Click “+” switch Increase brightness
On Hold “-“ Instant access to Low
On Hold “+” Instant access to Turbo
Off Hold M switch >1.5s Mode group cycle (CITY/ROAD/TRAIL)*
Off (In “CITY” or “ROAD” Mode) Hold + and – together Short Range Caution (flash)
Off (In “TRAIL” Mode) Hold + and – together Both Beams Caution (flash)

* Beam options depend on Mode.

CITY:  Short Range (SR) is default.  Clicking M activates Long Range (LR) for 3 seconds (and the OLED display counts it down.)
ROAD: Short Range (SR) is default.  Clicking M activates LR and deactivates SR.  Clicking M iterates these two settings.
TRAIL: Both beams are default.  Clicking M turns off LR.  Clicking M iterates these two settings.

Modes

Mode Mode Claimed Output (lm) Claimed Runtime Measured Lumens
Short Range Beam – Turbo 800 2h 375*
 Short Range Beam – High 465 5h45m 257*
 Short Range Beam – Mid 285 8h30m 153*
 Short Range Beam – Low 150 17h 84*
Long Range Beam – Turbo 1000 2h 763
Long Range Beam – High 550 5h45m 506
Long Range Beam – Mid 330 8h30 302
Long Range Beam – Low 180 17h 162
Dual Range Beam – Turbo 1800 1h 1150*
Long Range Beam – High 1015 2h30m 760*
Long Range Beam – Mid 615 4h 450*
Long Range Beam – Low 300 8h 238*

* funny emitter setup prevents accurate readings

LED and Beam

Both emitters are Cree XM-L2.  They both have smooth reflectors.  They aren’t terrible choices, but I think an update could be great.

40_zeroair_reviews_nitecore_br35.jpg

The beam profile is useful for bikes, and biking.  The SR beam really has a hard cutoff, which should help prevent blinding oncoming bikers.  And the LR beam has good throw of around 190m.

When both beams are active, the SR beam still casts quite a cutoff profile, but this isn’t really a problem.

Short range beam:

Both beams:

Long range beam:

The shot below is intended to indicate how the reflector works.  It really does reflect nicely, and give some ‘under-foot’ lighting.

67_zeroair_reviews_nitecore_br35

Tint vs BLF-348

Beamshots, Runtime, and Lux Measurements

Nitecore BR35
Emitter Cree XM-L2
Emitter Notes U2
Cell Internal
Runtime Chargetime
LVP? Yes
Claimed Lumens (lm) 1800
Lux (Measured) 267 lux @ 5.854 m
Candela (Calculated) in cd 9149.9
Throw (Calculated) (m) 191.3
Throw (Claimed) (m) 170

 

Random Comparisons and Competitive Options….

There are certainly other options like this light.  I haven’t handled those, and I can say definitely that this Nitecore is well built, and functional.  The Fenix BC30 is a very close competitor.  One noteworthy difference is the beam profile more suited to biking on the Nitecore.  The Fenix is able to swivel on the mount, something the Nitecore can not do.  It’s also possible to easily replace the cells, and it accepts 4x cr123.

Conclusion

What I like

  • Great build quality
  • Sturdy mount
  • Simple UI for all the options
  • I really love the remote switch!

What I don’t like

  • Cells aren’t replaceable
  • Can’t swivel on mount
  • Could have better emitter choices

Up Next

I have a big light coming – if I can get an open space big enough for some beam shots, I’ll have that review by Friday!  Stay tuned!!

Notes

  • This light was provided by Nitecore for review. I was not paid to write this review.
  • This content originally appeared at zeroair.wordpress.com.  Please visit there for the best experience!
  • Whether or not I have a coupon for this light, I do have a bunch of coupons!!  Have a look at my spreadsheet for those coupons. It’s possible to subscribe and get notifications when the sheet is edited!!

Comments are closed.

Create a website or blog at WordPress.com

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: