Blackburn Central 650 light review

Light up your winter road rides

BikeRadar score4.5/5

Blackburn now has five different Central headlights in its ‘to see’ Vision line up, but the new 650 is a particularly great balance of practical illumination, easy universal fit and price.

  • Weight: 165g
  • Run Time (max power): 1hr 40mins

The curved silicone rubber foot with its broad built in, double back ladder strap fits on all bars from 25.4–35mm diameter. It’ll mould onto flatter aero bars and the rotating bracket that's embedded in it means you can twist it 90 degrees to work on stems too.

Unlike a lot of rubber band mounts where the foot is too small it gives a really secure, stable mount with no movement or distracting vibration on rougher trails.

The mount to light interface is GoPro compatible too which opens up a whole other world of potential positioning. The thumbwheel that tightens it all up is metal with projecting tabs for easy grip even with frozen fingers/fat gloves, and if you want to really crank it up there’s a Torx wrench fitting in the centre.

While 650 Lumens doesn’t sound like a ton of power (there are 700 and 800 Lumen lights in the range too) the actual lighting is excellent. Specifically, there’s plenty of distance reach for picking up major features such as bends, big holes, windy night debris etc.

That blends seamlessly into decent side to side peripheral light and outstanding ‘in front of the wheel’ coverage from its receding, diffuser lens ‘chin’. There are side slots that allow light to leak out sideways to increase traffic awareness and the soft touch button is backlit for easy finding.

The five modes that the button toggles through cover three constant settings plus pulse and flash modes to match different road/use scenarios.

Battery life of my sample was 20 percent less than claimed but there’s a rudimentary traffic light LED gauge to get you home safe. Run times are still adequate in real terms though as you can generally run it in a reduced output setting compared to lights of a similar listed power. The battery recharges quickly if it needs an extra top up and you can buy a spare to swap in and out easily if you like the light but need more time on the road.

All this makes the Blackburn Central 650 an excellent choice if you’re after a versatile self contained unit at a very reasonable price.

This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 45
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster than the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK

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