The Blackburn DayBlazer 800 front light is one of the most compact torches I've used – at least one packing 800 lumens. It represents excellent value and is a great option if you generally ride in built-up areas but fancy letting rip along the backroads after work, although run-times in the higher settings are relatively short.

The DayBlazer 800 offers a lot of bang for modest buck. The first thing that struck me was how much smaller it is than the DayBlazer 1100. It's well made, stylish and rugged, made from anodised 6061 aluminium alloy and able to resist falls onto hard surfaces. It also has a waterproof rating of IP67, and neither exposure to the occasional heavy shower nor blasting it at close range using my garden hose has revealed any obvious weaknesses. Blackburn's limited lifetime warranty adds further confidence.

Behind the Total Internal Reflection (TIR) lens sits a single Cree diode, and it's fuelled by a rechargeable lithium polymer cell. Pretty standard stuff these days but very well executed, especially for this price point.

There are five modes, which are sensibly staggered for general riding. Three steady: Blitz (800 lumens), Medium (500 lumens) and Low (300 lumens); plus pulsing and strobing at 200 lumens apiece. Some might argue the low and pulsing/strobe settings are perhaps a little tall for town, and a more frugal 100-lumen flashing might be useful.

The switch is a centre-mounted, rubberised affair. It's very positive, so no danger of accidental power-ups or unwanted changes, yet easily operated mid-ride wearing full-finger gloves. Its integral 'fuel tank' battery life indicator is useful: fully juiced, it'll register green when full, but rather than turning amber as expected at 75%, it was clear, though thankfully it had the manners to turn red on cue (25%).

In common with its bigger brother, there is the standard watch strap type bar bracket, which accommodates all diameters easily and securely, and it also comes with a GoPro mount for attaching to a helmet, which is a nice touch and similarly secure.

Output and beam quality are impressive. Unleashing the full 800, I was able to navigate pitch black lanes to around 20mph with decent warning of potholes, ruts and similar hazards. Along straight sections, oncoming traffic dipped their beams at around 50 metres. At 20-22mph I had 10, maybe 15 metres' swerving notice of anything nasty looming up.

The hybrid spot/flood pattern is superior to some designs in identical contexts, such as the Xeccon Spear 900 which I have also used for extended periods. The DayBlazer's wide, pure arc provides plenty of presence at junctions, roundabouts and similar danger spots. Given their size, the side windows have less impact but are welcome enough.

Atop a helmet, it's proved a very effective backing singer to the 800-lumen Exposure Revo dynamo lamp on my Univega, providing a good overview of conditions, with the Revo picking out the detailed stuff.

Its compact design also means it occupies refreshingly little bar space, and if paired with a dynamo can prove a godsend in rural contexts when output from the dynamo lamp can dim – on a very steep or blustery climb, for example, not to mention when checking/tackling roadside mechanicals.

Predictably, 800 lumens guzzles reserves, but the 90 minutes cited is accurate to within a few minutes. Dipping down to the lower settings where possible and appropriate is key.

Medium is 500 lumens and bright enough for partially lit, semi-rural work at a steady 18-20mph, with advanced warning of lumps 'n' bumps. Oncoming traffic typically dipped their lights at 15-20 metres in these contexts. Although overkill for suburban work, this setting isn't overly abrasive should you forget to nudge down to 300 through built-up areas. Again, run-times have been within a few minutes of those quoted.

Low (300 lumens) is a funny fit in some respects; 200 would have been a better choice on the frugality front, but it has plenty of bite around town and economy is pretty good: 4hrs 54mins from a full charge, when used exclusively. That's enough juice to fuel a week's middle-distance commute, or a few training rides.

Pulse and strobe are 200 lumens apiece and very distinctive, even during the day. In common with the DayBlazer 1100, oscillation is unusual enough not to get lost against competing neon malaise, even that of seafront arcades. It certainly seems to have caught drivers' attention and made a few think twice before chancing it at roundabouts. It's just good enough for navigating suburban roads too.

The super-frugal strobe arguably delivered the best balance of presence and economy, returning nigh-on 12 hours from a full 4-hour charge. Visibility is to around 150 metres along unlit roads, dipping to 100 or so in built-up areas.

Blackburn cites 4 hours to charge, which is accurate, guzzling from a laptop/PC. Experience suggests you can save 20 minutes or so charging direct from the mains, and a little more using a higher power cable.

The DayBlazer 800 performs very well on value too. True, some boasting the same maximum output are brighter and with longer run-times, but you're paying a fair bit more: Cateye's Volt 800 is £89.99, for example, and Kryptonite's F-800 is £64.99. You can also pay more for lower max output, such as Knog's 450-lumen PWR Rider at £57.99. There are cheaper options boasting more lumens, but their build and output quality do not compare with the DayBlazer 800, such as the Magicshine MJ-900 at £49.98.

This genre of lamp favours those riders who tackle various environments on their commutes/training rides, who want something tuneable and capable but not overly specialist. Intelligent use of the settings will deliver decent run-times.

I'd like to see an emergency kickdown, inducing a strobing/SOS pattern when reserves dip too low, but otherwise the DayBlazer 800 is a great light for the money.

Powerful and versatile compact light offering great value for money, bearing in mind genre-typical limitations

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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?

Blackburn says, "'Blazing On A Budget" is how we should describe this light. Featuring 800 lumens of perfectly-focused night time illumination, our eye popping BLITZ mode to grab the attention of cars, a Go Pro Mount, IP-67 submersability and ample side visibility. The DAYBLAZER 800 is going to get you noticed without breaking the bank."

DAYBLAZER lights feature Total Internal Reflection (TIR) lenses that efficiently focus the light beam with a hot center and cool edges that allow the rider to see clearly down the road.

Intuitive to use. Memory function welcomed, positive switch easy to operate even in full finger gloves.

Simple but robust strap that accommodates all diameters of handlebar. GoPro helmet mount is another nice touch.

Output is very good thanks to the clever optics, which combine spot and flood beams. Daytime presence is best in the strobing rather than pulse settings. The beam shots indicate a darker spot, which is most obvious in the lower settings. However, this hasn't been a noticeable hindrance in practical terms.

It's a very capable option for general riding, and versatile enough that I've paired it with my dynamo, primarily in the strobing and flashing settings, to give some additional presence at unlit junctions.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on

Very competitive. Cateye's Volt 800 is £89.99 (though output is noticeably better) and Kryptonite's F-800 is £64.99, while £57.99 gets you the 450-lumen Knog PWR Rider. There are cheaper options boasting more lumens, but their build and output quality do not compare with the DayBlazer 800, such as the Magicshine MJ-900 at £49.98.

Would you recommend the light to a friend? Yes, for general riding and/or as a companion to more powerful/dynamo units.

It's very well made and good value, with sensible settings and enough clout for sections of unlit road.

I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb Frameset  My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Most days  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking

Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets. Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)

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Every product is thoroughly tested for as long as it takes to get a real insight into whether it works or not. Our reviewers are experienced cyclists that we trust to be objective, and we strive to ensure that all opinions expressed are backed up by facts, but reviews are always a reviewer's informed opinion, not a definitive verdict. We don't intentionally try to break anything (except locks) but we do try to look for weak points in any design. The overall score is not just an average of the other scores. It reflects both a product's function and value. Good scores are more common than bad, because fortunately good products are more common than bad. Here's what they mean:

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