Light & Motion Seca 800 ReviewComments
by Mark V on Oct 22, 2011 at 6:36 PM
Recently I’ve been commuting/training with the Light & Motion Seca 800 to brighten my path. The Seca 800 gets its name from the 800 lumens that it produces, a performance that the American manufacturer actually measures from the complete system, rather than quoting the theoretical potential of the LED/circuitry/power source like many other light makers. This is like the difference between saying a car has a 400 hp engine and actually testing the power from the rear wheels.
So what, huh? Bright is bright, no? Well, that’s the funny thing. If you are used to a high-powered light system with a single bulb or LED, or even if you have a dual system (spot/flood), your initial impression of this light’s absolute power might fall short of expectations. On my old system, those dual beams really seared the darkness; the intensity of the light was made obvious by the contrast of what fell within the beam and what lay outside. The light coming from Seca 800 just doesn’t burn holes into the night like my old dual light. Instead, the Seca 800 just makes EVERYTHING in front of you BRIGHTER, more visible…making it easy to see ground contours and objects at the periphery . The two rows of 3 LEDs nestle inside a bi-conic reflector, and the lower 3 LEDs have a diffuser for the lower half of their field. The Seca throws up a broad cone of daylight in front of the rider that gradually tapers out to the sides, so objects loom into your illuminated field of view rather than pop up dead in front of you. But don’t be fooled, the Seca 800 is bright as all get out. Oncoming car drivers frequently blink their high beams at me, and I don’t even have the light head aimed at their eyes. This light system has the reach for really fast riding. And I like the light’s strobe mode for bombing down a fast downhill rife with side street ambushes and oncoming left turn treachery. When someone faces the Seca 800, the light gets right up in their business even from far off, and drivers do take notice.
The head unit attaches with a rubber strap that fastens quickly and without tools. It seems to work decent on bars from 19mm up to 32mm, and the head can pivot laterally on the mount by 15 degrees or so. Light & Motion changed the design a couple years ago so that the Seca head sits down low on the mount, so that the head and consequently the beam stay steady and point at the angle you want. Yet the elasticity of the strap allows you to quickly change the angle, even as you ride. The Seca 800’s power button actuates with a relatively light touch, which is a boon when toggling between the different modes with gloved hands while riding, but you will want to disconnect the battery if you stuff the light in a bag lest you unknowingly turn the light on and run down the battery. The Seca 800 uses a Light & Motion’s 3-cell Li-on battery which gives 2hrs on high intensity, 4hrs on medium, and 8hrs on low. A tiny LED in the middle of the power button functions as a battery level indicator. It is pretty common to use the provided velcro strap to affix the battery under the top tube right behind the head tube, but I prefer to take advantage of the long power cord to put the battery in a bag under my saddle. My older system limited by a short cable, I had no choice to hang the battery under the top tube. I was always bumping the battery with my knees, and the velcro strap didn’t fit well with the top tube-routed brake/derailleur cables on my CX bike.
The Seca 800 comes with a helmet mount, but I really cannot imagine a situation for on-road riding where I’d want that. Sure, the head unit is fairly light and the cord is more than long enough to run from a helmet mount to a rear jersey pocket, but the head unit is kinda bulky all the same. Before that issue, the light is just way overkill for a helmet mount unless you are doing off-road singletrack, at least for my preferences. I could see using a small helmet-mount camera as an auxiliary to a powerful bar-mount, but to drivers and other cyclists a super bright helmet-mount is either annoying (shining in their eyes) or confusing (beam path not necessarily the same as actual direction of travel).
At 345gr, the system is heavy on power, easy on mass. The $499 retail price is certainly a more weighty issue, but the Seca 800 is top of the food chain for lights a rider would want for road use. It pumps out so much light that you get both good contrast in surface texture and deep projection for distant objects…and there aren’t a lot of road riding situations where you could outrun the Seca 800’s reach. This is a light that could handle off road endurance competitions as well, though you could utterly chase the night away with the Seca 1400 (1400 lumens, 500gr, 6-cell battery, $699). If you are a commuter on a budget, you can get away with less. Light & Motion’s Urban series of self-contained (USB rechargeable) headlights are attractively priced ($100-160) but still thoroughly outperform the typical AA-battery lights. But if you wanted the best light system to do fast road riding at night or on bad surface/poorly lit roads, this Seca 800 is it.