Blackburn Central Smart Light Review – Kevin Sparrow

Blackburn Central Smart Light Review
Words and photos by Kevin Sparrow

Tis the season for summer to come to an end and the days to become shorter. Having a good light is the key to riding all year round, especially if you are a commuter who ends your day at 5 or 6 pm. Over the last month or so, I’ve been testing out the Blackburn Central Front Smart Light. “What makes this light so smart?”, you may ask. Well, Blackburn has developed a light with a sensor that measures how much ambient light there is around you. The sensor then auto adjusts the brightness accordingly. This not only saves on battery power but is also really nice when you are riding through a city where light is constantly changing.

Rear dials are simple and easy to change modes on the fly. Each mode lights up and changes from green to red according to how much battery life remains.


With the variety of lights on the market, it is nice to mount a light that feels solid without being too heavy or bulky. The mode dial on the back is a refreshing alternative to your standard button, making it difficult to accidentally turn on when in your bag. The dial controls three different modes: Smart, and high beam, low beam and seizure (strobe) mode. Each mode is illuminated indicating what mode you are in.

Blackburn Central Front light - On the bike

This feature also doubles as a “fuel gauge” letting you know how much juice is left in the battery by changing from green to orange, then finally to red when you are really low. In my experience with it, the battery lasts for about eight hours on smart mode before the gauge turns red. That’s riding a perfect mix of city streets and unlit bike paths. The Blackburn Central Smart Light also features side lights for safety as well as a Micro USB port on the underbelly, which is protected from the elements by a rubber cover. And since this light is Micro USB rechargeable, you can plug it into a charging stick while it is mounted. I found it especially useful if you forget to charge it fully before a long evening ride.

The Smart sensor on the top of the light.


The Smart feature works noticeably well. Without hesitation, the light dims down saving on battery power every time the light around you increases. This is incredibly handy especially if you are riding in various lit and unlit situations like I normally am. Since I am constantly switching from well-lit streets to unlit bike trails, I almost always have it on smart mode.

Rider view down a pitch black bike path

When you are riding on a dark trail, this thing kicks up to 500 lumens! It is easy to forget how bright this light really is, so you have remember to point it down while passing people going the opposite direction. The light is bright enough for trail riding but is also really smart for a city environment when illuminating a path is less important than being seen by traffic.

Overall, Blackburn is really onto something great here with the Central Smart Light. The design is solid and the smart feature is valuable in more ways than one. Its definitly one of the better lights out there, functionally and structurally. Definitely keep this light in mind if you want more than your standard on/off type of bike light.

The Blackburn Central Smart Light retails for $119.99 and is available at your local Blackburn dealer.


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  • Chrue

    nice feature, but they need to work on the design. it just doesn’t looke like a 120$ light…

    • John Watson

      Mind expanding on that? I’m being sincere.

      • Chrue

        if i pay 120$ for a bikelight, i expect it to be well made and precise. it must have the right weight compared to how heavy it looks etc. this light doesn’t look precise or well made to me. check out how the clearance between the alloy heat sink and the plastic (?) body varies on the sideview. these giant screw-holes on the front O.o. the surface of the heatsink doesn’t look too fancy, either. paired with trapeze-like front and these sometimes round and sometimes hard edges it looks rather random the well thought out and sharp. then, why stay with the standard stick-type in the first place? sure, this type works so so, but if i have an innovation, why not innovate all the way? the dial funkion is nice, but then again it’s just a knob that doesn’t communikate with the rest of the light (first and last picture).

  • colavitos_ghost

    i, for one, am into the design. looks rugged, urban. less precious than certain brands.

  • Brian Sims

    Nice write up Kevin, thank you!

    Question regarding “And since this light is Micro USB rechargeable, you can plug it into a charging stick while it is mounted. I found it especially useful if you forget to charge it fully before a long evening ride.”

    Does this mean you were charging the light while it was on or just charging it while mounted (and off)?

    To me this is a huge difference. Neither the Light n Motion or Niterider lights I’ve used can be charged while the light is running. Which sucks if you want to run the light a long time.

    If Blackburn has managed to allow us the ability to charge while running the light this is a huge advantage for riders.

    I would like to see a 700 something light from them for fast road descents and mountain biking.

    As an aside I just picked up the Central 100 front blinky yesterday. Nicely designed product, hope to use soon.

    • Kevin

      Thanks! YES! I was able to charge and ride with it on at the same time! My charging stick got really hot though! haha

      • Brian Sims

        Wow, that is great!!! I’m not sure why other companies don’t allow this! This opens up the ability to run full power for night rides over ~1.5 hours. Great for endurance MTB events or lower power for doubles/brevets/etc.

  • Jan-Erik Lindroos

    Just wondering why manufacturers still produce these lights with “flash” lights optics that dont distripute and focus the lightbeam just on the road and not up to someones eye. The germans have already done this for years now with their StVZO standard. There is little use for lighting the skies, unless riding in the pitch black forest where you need to be aware of braches ect and then headlamp would be better anyway.

  • Dr. Cycling

    NO comparison to a SON or Bosch&Müller if you ask me. NO batteries = NO worries. I’ve been using it for a year now and I will never go back

    • John Watson

      Also a 1/10th of the price. I have SON on my tourer. Couldn’t imagine having one on every bike of mine…

      • Dr. Cycling

        chateau ;)

  • Sox

    Just bought one. The bracket covers the charging port, so it can’t be charged when it is mounted to the bike.