The Bookman Block Front Light is a basic, simple and incredibly lightweight light for getting yourself seen. It's easy to operate and quick to recharge, its size makes it ideal for cluttered bars, and it even does well resisting rain despite Bookman making no claims of showerproofing. You can get more powerful lights for the money, though.
With many people now opting for bikes over public transport, the Bookman Block Front Light is a great option – even with its (few) shortcomings. All modes make a huge difference to your visibility during the day and at dusk.
That said, it isn't just for commuters. It will appeal to serious roadies and triathletes too – its size makes it exceptionally discreet, and at 13g it's hardly going to slow you down. There are white and black-cased versions for those keen to get everything matching.
The four modes are navigated via the large button, and it's easy to operate even in gloves.
A prolonged press switches the light on or off, and quick clicks cycle through 100% (power) steady, 100% flashing, 25% steady and 25% flashing. There's no memory mode – it always starts at 100% steady.
At 100% it fires out 50 lumens, which is much brighter than many be-seen lights. At 25% it's 14 lumens. I rarely opt for the steady states; with such a small light, I find flashing more eye catching.
Actual run times have all exceeded Bookman's claims, by a good way in some cases. I got just over the claimed 1.5 hours in 100% steady, and four hours in 100% flashing against a claimed three.
At 25% output I got 6.5 hours steady (claimed five) and 27 hours (claimed 25) flashing. These times stayed consistent throughout the test period, too. The options are ideal and so easy to flick between.
The lens distributes the light evenly, and while there are no claims on Bookman's site regarding the angle, when contacted they told me it's 180 degrees. Light is certainly visible from the side, but I'd say it's not as effective as some, such as the Vel 100 Lumen, for example.
The low battery warning could be better. Turn the light off or on as it nears empty and you get a flashing orange warning, but in order to see it (it's very small), you have to look directly into the light.
The plug on the rear does a good job of protecting the USB port – it's a well-sealed unit that can handle rain – but you do have to ensure it's fully secured, and its size makes this fiddly. I found it consistently recharges from flat in under two hours, either directly or via a computer, which is ideal for commuters and easy for everyone.
Mounting is via a silicon band, and the Block sits snugly on the handlebar without marking anything. The whole thing is exceptionally minimalist and idiot proof in terms of functionality.
I was initially sceptical about the mount – the channel isn't that deep and it feels like the band could jump out, but I tested it on a variety of bars and it never shifted. It also remains secure when you adjust its position, and while the band looks thin and can't be replaced, silicon is impressively hardy: I'm still using similar bands that are seven years old!
The Bookman's minimalism has advantages – it can squeeze into small gaps on cluttered bars very easily, and it's very discreet. The disadvantage is that its beam may get overshadowed by other stuff on your bar.
There's obviously plenty of choice in these kind of running lights, and unfortunately the Bookman Block doesn't stack up so well here. The £20 Vel 100 Lumen Front Light is also small, light and simple, yet it's twice as bright. Meanwhile the Moon Meteor is a bit bigger and £5 more expensive, but shoves out ten times the power at 500 lumens.
However, the Bookman Block does offer that tiny form and extremely low weight, so if that's your priority then the value looks better.
As a 'be-seen' front light for anything bar full nighttime running, the Bookman Block Front Light is simple and effective. Its long run times and quick recharges make it very easy to use, and the tiny size and weight suits anything, from a commuter hack, to your regular road machine, right up to a full-on carbon race bike.
Simple, small and surprisingly powerful – though it could be cheaper
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Bookman Block Light Front
Size tested: 50 lumens
Tell us what the light is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Bookman says the Block Light is "a strong, compact, rechargeable bicycle light. The design is based on the now classic, well-known Bookman Light – with the addition of a sleek lens to distribute the light perfectly."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the light?
-Up to 25 hours
-2 hours from flat
– Block Light Front
– Micro USB cable
Couldn't be simpler.
The mounting band can't be replaced if it breaks, but as it is it works well without issues.
No claims, but well sealed and has stood up to some very heavy showers.
Matches or exceeds the claims, and charges from empty in under two hours.
It's bright, but lateral visibility isn't as good as some. It will get you seen by oncoming road users during the day or twilight.
Unreplaceable mounting band would render the light useless should it snap.
13g – you'll struggle to beat this.
You can get brighter options for the same money, but for its simplicity, output and run times, I think it's well priced.
Tell us how the light performed overall when used for its designed purpose
As a visibility light during the day and dusk, it does a brilliant job of getting you seen.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the light
Easy to use, bright for its size.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the light
Did you enjoy using the light? Yes
Would you consider buying the light? Yes
Would you recommend the light to a friend? Possibly
Use this box to explain your overall score
It packs a punch for its size and is not just limited to commuting – it's a useful safety light. It would get an eight, but the limited side visibility, non-replaceable mount and price hold it back.
About the tester
I usually ride: Road My best bike is: Carbon road.
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, general fitness riding, Getting to grips with off roading too!
Emma’s first encounters with a road bike were in between swimming and running. Soon after competing for GB in the World Age Group Triathlon Championships in Edmonton in 2001 she saw the light and decided to focus on cycling.
After a couple of half decent UK road seasons racing for Leisure Lakes, she went out to Belgium to sample the racing there and spent two years with Lotto-Belisol Ladies team, racing alongside the likes of Sara Carrigan, Grace Verbeke, Rochelle Gilmore and Lizzie Deignan. Emma moved from Lotto-Belisol to Dutch team Redsun, then a new Belgian team of primarily developing riders, where there was less pressure, an opportunity to share her experience and help build a whole new team; a nice way to spend her final years of professional racing.
Since retiring Emma has returned to teaching. When not coercing kids to do maths, she is invariably out on two wheels. In addition to the daily commute, Emma still enjoys getting out on her road bike and having her legs ripped off on the local club rides and chain gangs. She has also developed an addiction to touring, with destinations including Iceland, Georgia and Albania, to mention just a few. There have also been rare sightings of Emma off-road on a mountain bike…