Blackburn System X3 Lights

3.63/5 (16 Reviews)
MSRP : $150.00


Product Description

At 85 lumens and over four hours of run time at full power or up to 14 hours dimmed, this light provides ample light for any after-dark adventure. Luxeon III emitter with 30/70/100% run modes plus a flash mode. The lightweight, 5-cell NiMH battery is designed to strap to various tube shapes, fit in a bottle cage, or slip into a hydration pack. Includes SuperCharger 3.5 hour smart charger along with helmet and handlebar (standard/oversized) mounts.
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Reviews 1 - 15 (16 Reviews Total) | Next 15

User Reviews

Overall Rating:3
Value Rating:3
Submitted by pdxkurt a Cross Country Rider from Portland, OR USA

Date Reviewed: October 27, 2009

Strengths:    Small lamp, bright light, good weather-proofing, thick cables, sturdy metal casing on the lamp, easy to put lamp on and take lamp off the handlebars.

Weaknesses:    The beam is a rather small symmetrical spot, so aiming it results in a bright area near your wheel, and a dimmer area further up the road. The smart charger doesn't keep the battery charged up if you leave it plugged in over the summer - every year I have to unplug it the day before I put it on the bike so that it will have charge when I want to start using it regularly. Charges fine for daily use.

Bottom Line:   
Reasonably bright and durable light, if you can overlook the charger quirk. Haven't pushed the run-times to the limits, but it seems to last for my daily commute (an hour each way). A good first serious light; if you commute daily you might want to consider a light with better optics that give more even illumination of the road, with a wider spread.

Expand full review >>

Duration Product Used:   2 Years

Price Paid:    $149.00

Purchased At:   River City Bicycles

Similar Products Used:   TurboCat 15W

Bike Setup:   Trek MetroTrack 750 commuter bicycle

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Terry Kvigne from Minot, ND, USA

Date Reviewed: December 14, 2007

Strengths:    Bright Light - Smart Charger - good run time

Weaknesses:    None

Bottom Line:   
I have read reviews and specifications of other lights and yes, there are brighter(and more expensive)lights out there. But the 2007 X-3 is bright enough for me. I feel comfortable doing 20 mph on dark country roads with it. On the trail, whether you use this light on the bar or the helmet you still need a 2nd light. I just have a bright Petzl headlight and this setup seems to work fine but I'm thinking of getting a DiNotte also.

Some of the other reviews had me a little nervous, so I purchased mine from a local bike shop. That way if any problem developed I'd have a "real" person to discuss it with but so far everything has been excellent.

Summary: Great Light - Weird looking but smart battery - Good Value

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   Black Butte / Bison Plant

Duration Product Used:   3 months

Price Paid:    $120.00

Purchased At:   Val's Cyclery - Minot

Bike Setup:   I use the X-3 on both the Road bike (Allez) and the MTBs (old Moab and the older High Plains)

Overall Rating:1
Value Rating:1
Submitted by Chuck from Mi

Date Reviewed: August 24, 2007

Strengths:    hard to say when the battery was faulty right out of the box...

Weaknesses:    the battery refused to take a charge....oh ya, its made in China..

Bottom Line:   
...Blackburns answer was to have me send them the batter(on my dime)for an exchange..totally unacceptable, I had already spent $100+ and now they expect me to pay to ship them THEIR defective product for an exchange...WTF!...I had high hopes for this light, but seeing what has transpired has left me vowing never to purchase another Blackburn product again..

Expand full review >>

Duration Product Used:   Less than 1 month

Price Paid:    $110.00

Purchased At:   Price Point

Bike Setup:   1X9 Specialized Enduro.

Overall Rating:3
Value Rating:4
Submitted by Joe Miller a Racer from Benicia, CA , USA

Date Reviewed: February 18, 2007

Strengths:    The lights are bright...

Weaknesses:    Blackburn lies about run times - they are only 2 hours on full power. The overal unit is pretty heavy... But, all the weight is in the battery. Also, the mounting is awkward.

Bottom Line:   
It is frustrating that Blackburn lies about both the X3 and X6. I owned 4each X3s and 1 each X6 and only ever got 2 hours runtimes, even after about 20 cycles thru the batterys. The light mounting is cool, the battery is heavy and awkward, and the lights are bright. Helmet mount is really the way to go, but becomes even more of a problem because you can't fit the battery in a jersey pocket. REI's great return policy allowed me to return all lights.

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   n/a

Duration Product Used:   6 months

Price Paid:    $150.00

Purchased At:   REI

Similar Products Used:   Blackburn X6 / Dinotte (ended up going with Dinotte).

Bike Setup:   Lights are used for 24 hour racing / night mountain biking / double centuries...

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Bert from Lehigh Valley, PA

Date Reviewed: January 3, 2007

Strengths:    Bright white light, looong run time, plug and forget charger

Weaknesses:    None

Bottom Line:   
This is a follow up from my earlier review... I've now used this light on two rides. The first ride was a mix of ups and downs, twists and turns, fast and slow, all with a ton of rocks. The second ride was a bit faster with a little less rocks, but los of twists and turns.

I have not had any issues with the light not being bright enough to ride technical singletrack. I have the light mounted to my helmet, and it is very secure, stable, and bright. It illuminates the trail for a good 25 feet, and casts enough light further out to be able to anticipate what's coming up.

I got this light to use mainly as a secondary light to a bar mounted 30W halogen system, but I can use this light with or without the bar mounted system turned on and still ride at the same speed. I'm not flying, but I'm not dawdling either (slow is boring).

That said, when combined with a bar mounted light aimed down the trail, it is no problem to go full speed. The bar mounted light gives fair warning to trail obstacles, turns, etc, while the helmet mounted X3 is aimed wherever my eyes are pointing so it lights the way ahead, scans the trail, whatever. A separate bar and helmet mounted light are the way to go as far as brightness, but the X3 will more than get you buy on it's own.

A note on the battery and charger... The owners manual says to fully charge the light before using it. I plugged it into the charger after I bought it and it was ready for use within the claimed 3.5 - 4hrs. The manual also states that full run time is achieved after 3 or 4 cycles of fully charged to fully discharged (the light turns itself off). My first ride did not last even half the claimed 4-5 hr run time. It was still light out when we got underway for the first ride, so I only used the light for about 1 hr, 10 min. I turned the light on a couple minutes before or after 5pm.

I wanted to fully discharge the battery so I could fully cycle it and get the full run time later, and I didn’t want it going out during a ride, so I left the light turned on in the passenger seat on the drive home to drain the battery. Just before 9 PM the LED on the battery started flashing RED and it automatically dimmed itself down from 100% output to increase the run time. It was on almost a full 4 hours on 100% output (brightness) after only the initial charge. It didn’t go out until about 9:45 PM. I don’t know how long it will last after it’s cycled a few times, but I’ll never be on a ride that long, even if I get lost or have a couple mechanical issues…

After it went out I plugged it into the charger and didn’t worry about it again until the afternoon before my next ride a few nights later. It was nice not worrying about unplugging the battery to prevent damage from overcharging.

I didn’t bother draining and charging it after the second ride. I’ll probably ride with it two more times before I try to drain the battery again. I don’t want to wait 4 hours again for it to go out…

The bottom line is…

This is a great light. Sure HID’s are brighter, but this light is bright enough to ride singletrack at moderate to fast speeds. The smart battery and charger have great features that make it easy to charge, and prevent damage without any hassles. You won’t find these features on other lights for this price. Expect to spend 2 to 3 times as much if you want these features. If you need lights bright enough to land an airplane, or light a football stadium, buy a HID, or buy two X3’s and mount one on your helmet and one on your handlebar. You still won’t have spent as much as you would for a HID, and you’ll have a more flexible setup with a better battery and charger.

The only bad thing is not being able to switch back to 100% brightness after it autodims to conserve battery. If you’re almost finished with your ride when it dims, you could switch back to full intensity and finish the ride at full speed. Of course you will have to ride for 4 hours before getting to the point it autodims, so it shouldn’t be an issue… The Nimh battery can be charged after every ride without getting a “memory” and shortening the run time, so just plug it into the smart charger after every ride and you’re almost guaranteed never to see the light dim.

I’m increasing from four to five flaming terds because the weight of the battery is not an issue like I thought it was originally.

Get an X3 and go ride in the dark!

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   Lehigh, Salisbury, French Creek

Duration Product Used:   Less than 1 month

Price Paid:    $128.00

Purchased At:   Beyond Bikes

Similar Products Used:   Niterider, Performance, and Schwinn

Bike Setup:   SC Nomad

Overall Rating:4
Value Rating:5
Submitted by "Bert" a Cross Country Rider from Lehigh Valley, PA

Date Reviewed: December 28, 2006

Strengths:    Price!, smart battery charger, smart battery, battery charge indicator, handlebar mount fits oversize bars, light output strength and color

Weaknesses:    Weight (sort of)

Bottom Line:   
You will not find a better lighting system for this price! This system has features you normally don't find on a lighting system unless you spend $300+.

I got this light as a supplement to my handlebar mounted dual beam halogen system(30W total output), to use as a helmet mounted light, for finding side trails and being able to scan the trail independently of my bar mounted lights. Since it was an LED system I wasn't expecting the light output to be all that great... But, the X3 put my old lighting system to shame. Maybe the battery on my bar system wasn't fully charged, but I think it was. The X3 was at least twice as bright. The beam was nicely focused, but not too tight.

I've been using the bar mounted system on tight, technical, rocky singletrack here on the East Coast for two years, and have been able to ride at 80% of normal daytime riding speed. My plan for the X3 was to add a 3rd beam and boost my riding speed so I could ride just as fast at night as during the day.

I have no reason to believe this won't happen using the X3. To be honest, I've only used the light on a trail in my yard (which has rocks, logs, and a 85% complete ladder bridge with a teeter) and on a short quad trail near my house. I haven't had it on a full blown ride (that'll change in a few hours), but from what I've seen so far I disagree with other's complaints about the light output being too weak.

I don't know what their riding style is like, but I like to go as fast as possible, and I love rocky, root infested trails, that used to rattle my teeth out on a hardtail. And the more tight turns and switchbacks the better!

Unless you're riding North Shore style skinnies and doing crazy big drops in the dark, these lights are more than bright enough! They overpowered my 30W bar mounted system to the point I couldn't even tell it was turned on.

I have the X3 mounted to my helmet, with the battery pack in my hydration pack, and there are no issues with the light bouncing around or being pulled by the cord even while bombing down a rough section of trail. Besides... If your helemt mounted light is shaking uncontrollably, either you need new suspension, or you are having a seisure! Your head should not be shaking violently while you are riding your bike!

Maybe the other complaints came from people who didn't have it set up properly, or didn't cinch the velcro mounting strap tight... They don't make sense to me...

The battery is a bit on the heavy side, and it's a little larger than the battery of competing systems, but who cares! How many people ride without a hydration pack? The battery fits just fine in the pack (even with that pesky velcro strap), and there's plenty of room for tools, food, body armor... If you ride at night and don't take tools or at least a flashlight with you for emergencies in case you crash and break something (like your bike lights), you could be in trouble.

Even now, a lot of racers except the girly, lycra wearing, gram counters, with the shaved legs wear hydration packs these days, so I don't see an issue for most people to put the battery in a pack. This is the most comfortable place for a battery pack of any size. Stuffing jersey pockets with anything is not real comfortable...

In my opinion, the battery and charger are top notch. The competing systems don't offer any kind of indication to tell you it's time to charge the battery, or when to take it off the charger. Many battery types except the new Lithium Ion batteries are damaged if you overcharge them, so unless you run them until the light goes out, there's no good way to tell how long you need to re-charge them. That sucks, especially when the light dies in the middle of a great ride because you unplugged it before it was fully charged!

I'll be riding tonight, and the trail is littered with baby heads for a good three miles straight, and then sporadically with boulders here and there. It's tight and twisty, and I can't think of a better place to really put the light through the ringer and see how it performs. If anything changes my opinion, I'll be sure to let you know.

Right now I'd recommend this light to anyone who likes to ride agressively on singletrack. Downhillers and free riders should look somewhere else, but XC types, and agressive trail riders would like this light.

The only thing preventing me from giving it 5 chillis for the overall rating is the weight of the battery pack, and that's nit-picking. This is a great system!

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   Mouse Branch at Tsali in NC

Duration Product Used:   Tested or demo'ed only

Similar Products Used:   Performance Viewpoint EVO Dual Beam
Schwinn dual beam system
Niterider Evolution


Bike Setup:   Sant Cruz Nomad, 36 VAN RC2, DHX Air, Juicy 7's with 7" front rotor, Nevegal 2.3 rear, Weirwolf Race 2.3 front, NO SHIMANO except the front Deraileur, Mavic 321's laced to DT Swiss 340's with thru axle front hub.

Overall Rating:3
Value Rating:4
Submitted by Sam Graves a Weekend Warrior from Knoxville, TN

Date Reviewed: December 20, 2006

Strengths:    Light is bright if used for directional (spotlight) use. Price to quality ratio is great if you can't cross the $200 mark.
Fast charge time.
Long burn time.
Quick release cable connection between battery and light - (handy for endo and surprise dismount)
Would be perfect for road bike application.
Flash setting is great for rescue teams finding you after you crash due to insufficient lighting.


Weaknesses:    Beam is too narrow - lacks peripheral illumination including what you are about to roll over, and overhead branches.
Helmet mount is loose and difficult to tighten. Beam bounces at the slightest bump (heaven forbid you find those off-road), giving a strobe light effect. I don't Disco downhill.
Bar mount will not sufficiently tighten on small bars, and lateral (side to side) adjustment will move with big bumps or any tension on the cord. There is a screw to tighten this, but at max tightness you still get considerable movement.
Battery pack - It's a terrible design both functionally and aesthetically. If a flat pack and canister battery had an ugly love child, this would be it. Velcro strap permanently attached.


Bottom Line:   
The Good:
This would be a great morning / evening commuter light or for distance road biking where lights would be needed. The price is good at retail (support your local shop whenever possible). You can usually find this online for a little over $100, which makes it a better deal.

The Bad:
As a mountain biking light, this alone will not do it. I bought this with intentions of using it for a 12 hour race where lights are mandatory for the last 3 hours. I did not feel comfortable riding the wide fire road trail (Concord Park) during my test ride, and when I turned it onto the technical twisting single-track portions, I had to rely on my memory of the trail. I couldn't see myself enjoying a night ride much less a race with this light.

The Ugly: (aside from the battery)
If you don't have confidence you will not enjoy the ride, and this light will do nothing for increasing your enjoyment. If you plan to ride off-road at night, you've already made a significant commitment. Save another $100 - $150 and get something brighter, lighter, and better designed.

Demo Returned: Fares at West Bikes is a great bike shop owner and accepted the Blackburn X3 for return without any problems. He was happy to receive feedback on the system and suggested an alternative kit: The Niterider Blowtorch HID. At $385, I'll be saving my pennies for a while longer, but considering the upgrade in quality, brightness, and beam, it looks like money well spent. If you need info or products for whatever riding you do, look up Fares in West Knoxville at West Bicycles. www.westbicycles.com I don't get any discounts for plugging his shop, I just like to recognize a good shop and mechanic when I find one.

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   Fast Single Track Anywhere

Duration Product Used:   Tested or demo'ed only

Price Paid:    $149.00

Purchased At:   West Bicycles - Knoxville, TN

Similar Products Used:   Mag-Lite + Duct Tape

Bike Setup:   Schwinn Homegrown frame
Misfit Cycles (www.misfitpsycles.com) Single Speed Conversion {32 (blackspire monoveloce)+ 18 gear ratio}
SRAM Single Speed Chain
SRAM rim brakes
RockShox Duke XC '03 Fork
Titec stem / flat bar
Thompson Ti seatpost
Selle Italia Flite saddle
Eggbeater SL pedals

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by GP from Wixom, MI

Date Reviewed: November 30, 2006

Strengths:    Long lasting power, up to 4 hours on full strength. Ample spot and flood lighting. Good enough for single track riding at night. Looking forward many more night rides even during winter. I like features like quick charge (only 2.5 hours to fully charge) and constant light output until the battery is almost dead.

Weaknesses:    Bulky battery pack. Good think there is a space in my camelbak to place this huge thing. This is the only drawback I have noticed.

Bottom Line:   
Highly recommend for single track, but make sure you use it on the helmet NOT on the handle bar. Therefore make sure that there will be a place in your back pack to put the bulky battery pack.

Expand full review >>

Duration Product Used:   Less than 1 month

Price Paid:    $112.00

Purchased At:   On-line

Similar Products Used:   None, this is my first night light.

Bike Setup:   Fantom Comp Motobecane - Hardtail XT version

Overall Rating:4
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Roland a Cross Country Rider from Stafford, CT

Date Reviewed: November 28, 2006

Strengths:    Excellent light output for a LED
Excellent burn time
Excellent price


Weaknesses:    Oversized battery case
screwdriver necessary for helmet angle adjustment unlike niterider


Bottom Line:   
Knowing that LEDs are the technology of the future, I was trying to hold out and keep my old systems working until LEDs bright enough were available given that I refuse to pay $350 - 600 for an HID system. I was concerned about reviews that said that the light was "not bright enough for serious offroad use". For the sale price I decided to give it a shot and return it if useless.

If you ride with HID systems, you will think it is totally inadequate. It does not compare with the state of the art lights right now. It does match exactly the brightness of my 15 watt Niterider digital evolution, and much higher temp color (white/bluer). So for me, riding with 2 15 watt systems, it is a pleasant surprise with twice the burn time that my other systems ever got, and a fraction of the cost.

I share the same complaints about the needlessly bulky battery case. I was puzzled at how light it was for the size - it looks like it should weigh 20 lbs. Silly.

Being used to Night rider lights, I was disappointed to see that you need a screwdriver to adjust the angle on the helmet bracket. I constantly adjust the Nightrider angle while I ride with no problem. However I currently am using it with the handlebar mount which has excellent adjustability.

Bottom line? I am happy with the light for now - This should hold me over for a year or so when I expect to see LED lights on the market matching HID brightness with super burn time and cheap.

Expand full review >>

Duration Product Used:   Less than 1 month

Price Paid:    $110.00

Purchased At:   Performance

Similar Products Used:   Night Sun Team issue
Night rider cyclops, digital evolution


Bike Setup:   Canondale Super V

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Craig Brown a Weekend Warrior from Paducah, KY,USA

Date Reviewed: November 21, 2006

Strengths:    Great Visibilty,Light Weight, Long Battery Life

Weaknesses:    None

Bottom Line:   
Great Light for the money. Light weight makes using the helmet mount comfortable.

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   Tunnel Hill

Duration Product Used:   3 months

Price Paid:    $116.00

Purchased At:   WoodNWave

Similar Products Used:   NiteRider Clasic

Bike Setup:   Surly Cross-Check

Overall Rating:4
Value Rating:4
Submitted by Alex a Cross Country Rider from San Jose

Date Reviewed: November 11, 2006

Strengths:    Bright spot, very white light, smart charger, looks kind of futuristic. High quality aluminum head.

Weaknesses:    HUGE bulky stupid-big battery. How are you supposed to use this as a heltmet mounted light if the battery doesn't fit in your jersey? If you attach the battery to your frame and the light to your helmet, you are asking for it.

Dies in 2.5 hours. Not a problem for me, but it doesn't last very long...


Bottom Line:   
I use it as a helmet light and keep the battery in my backpack. It complements my Triple Shot well. Do not use this light a lone. It is a bright spot but has no peripheral lighting. Also, remember that the battery is HUGE.

Expand full review >>

Duration Product Used:   3 months

Similar Products Used:   Cateye Triple shot.


Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by moojo a Cross Country Rider from austin, tx

Date Reviewed: October 3, 2006

Strengths:    Very Bright, Great Charger

Weaknesses:    None yet

Bottom Line:   
As for the helmet mount, this thing is very adjustable. Just unscrew the screw under the lamp (on the helmet mount) and move it to where you want it. I rode around the trailhead parking lot for a few minutes and kept adjusting the angle (with a phillips screwdriver). Once I got the angle right, I headed off on a test run with a buddy with his HID. After a while, he just shut his light off and we both had pleanty of light. I was amazed at how bright the light was. The "focus" of the beam is perfect for trail riding (not too flood, not too spot). Blackburn did their homework and has produced a great light for those who can't stomach the $300++++++ for an HID. If you only have one light, I highly reccomend using a helmet mount. If you are wanting to trail ride, the X3 will give you all you need and the 4 hour run time on 100% output is awesome. It's great that the Supercharger is a "smart" charger and you just leave it charging. It goes to a tricklel charge after 90% complete and then "sleeps" for up to a week and then trickles again to 100%. This should be really great for battery life. I'll check back in after more rides (the days are getting shorter).

Expand full review >>

Duration Product Used:   Less than 1 month

Price Paid:    $150.00

Purchased At:   LBS Ozone

Similar Products Used:   Cateyes and Cygolights

Bike Setup:   '94 Bridgestone SS

Overall Rating:1
Value Rating:1
Submitted by Vance a Cross Country Rider from Potomac Falls, VA

Date Reviewed: August 11, 2006

Strengths:    East to mount

Weaknesses:    Does not produce sufficient light to be able to safely ride on single track.

Bottom Line:   
The bottom line is do not use this light for single track riding. I charged the battery for about 4 hours, mounted the light on my handlebars and went for a ride on my single track along the Potomac river. Much of my trail winds its way through mature hardwood forest. It is mostly flat but there are numerous obstacles such as stream crossings, low lying branches and vines, sharp turns, and fallen trees. I'm very familiar with the trail and ride it frequently. I thought it would be fun to ride it in the dark so I picked up an X3 at REI. Even though I know the trail I found that the X3 generated insufficient light for an enjoyable ride. If I pointed the beam low to see where I was riding I could not see all the helmet level branches and anticipate turns or obstacles. If I pointed the beam further out then I lost the ability to pick out detail in the trail. If I had to quantify it, I'd say that I experienced a 35%-50% reduction in riding ability. In fact, the light was so bad that I bailed at the halfway point and pedaled home on the pavement. Even on the pavement, I noticed that I was able to easily overdrive the beam. Do not, I repeat, do not buy this light if you are planning to do single track night riding at day time speeds.

Expand full review >>

Duration Product Used:   Tested or demo'ed only

Price Paid:    $149.00

Purchased At:   REI

Similar Products Used:   none

Bike Setup:   2006 Cannondale Prophet 1000

Overall Rating:4
Value Rating:3
Submitted by Chris from San Francisco, CA

Date Reviewed: April 2, 2006

Strengths:    Bright light.
Appears to be durable.
Light and bracket connect cleanly and easily.
Indicator light on battery is useful while riding and charging.
Don't need to disconnect light to charge battery.


Weaknesses:    Poorly designed battery case and strap.
Appears to be difficult to open battery case for repair.
Manual a little inconsistent on the topic of dimness settings.


Bottom Line:   
I'll compare the Blackburn X3 to the Niterider Trail Rat. They have similar function and price.

I've been using Niterider lights for commuting for years. They work quite well, but even when something simple breaks, expect to buy a new light--they're almost impossible to repair. They keep changing the connection design so I can't just replace say, the charger, after a few years. And why do they have to use tamper-resistant bolts on the battery case--are they afraid I'll try to fix that loose connection inside myself?

So when the Blackburn X3 came out, I was motivated to give it a try. I've been using it five days a week for about three months. The X3 seems to be a little brighter than the Niterider Trail Rat.

My night-time commute is 40 minutes. The battery usually lasts about 4 days before the red low-battery light comes on. I guess it would last 4 hours on high, as advertised, but I haven't pushed it that far.

I've taken it in several full-on rain downpours, with no problem.

I really like the X3's indicator light, which warns me well ahead of time if you need to charge it. It also is nice to get feedback the charger is connected, and when the charging cycle is complete. The Trail Rat had none of this, and left me worrying that somehow it wouldn't be charged prior to next morning's commute.

I like that fact that I don't have to unplug the X3's light to charge the battery. There is a completely separate connector on the battery for the charger. This means that there will be less stress on the light connection. Repeated unplugging and replugging causes the tiny pins on the Trail Rat connector to fail over time. The X3's charger connection is a sturdy DC-type connection (no tiny pins), which seems unlikely to fail from repeated use. And the X3's light cable has a screw-on connection at the battery, which seems like it, too, is unlikely to fail.
The cabling appears to be sturdy, and is of a versatile length.

The light itself is small compared to the Trail Rat, which gives it a more sophisticated look.

There is something not quite right with the switch on the light. You have to learn to put your finger on it just right, or you won't get it to work consistently. I've found that by pushing down and toward the back at the same time is the best way to engage the switch. So far, this works. But I wouldn't be surprised if the switch is the first thing to break.

Now, the devil: They hired the Pontiac Aztec team to design the battery case. I can't imagine why they made the X3's battery so much bigger and uglier than its competitor, the Trail Rat. At Valencia Cyclery they told me that this was on purpose, so it could fit into a water-bottle cage. Make a bike accesory bulkier than it needs to be? Not a good idea. They could have made a special adaptor or something to provide water-bottle cage function. The large velcro battery strap is good for me, as I like to frame-mount it. But they didn't put on enough vecro. The strap flaps around flagrantly in the wind unless I use a rubber band to hold it down.

Also, I'm dissapointed that I see no way to open the battery case myself. Really people, we commuters need to use our bikes every day. We would appreciate the option to fix it ourselves today rather than sending it back to you and waiting four weeks. Not just now, but five years from now when this thing will inevitably break down.

So finally, the bottom line: For commuters, I think this is better than Niterider Trail Rat because of the indicator light, longer battery life, brighter output, and durable cable connections. It's only a little more expensive than the Trail Rat. But Blackburn really should make a sleeker battery with self-service features and fix the switch on the light. Is it good for bumpy trail riding? I haven't tried that, so I won't guess.

Note to Blackburn: don't change the type of connections. Having to buy a whole new system when just the cable wears out really makes your customers resent you.

Expand full review >>

Duration Product Used:   3 months

Price Paid:    $150.00

Purchased At:   Valencia Cyclery

Similar Products Used:   Niterider Classic.
Niterider Trail Rat.


Bike Setup:   Fisher hardtail, set up for pavement commuting with skinny road tires.

Overall Rating:1
Value Rating:1
Submitted by Chris a Racer from Orange County, CA

Date Reviewed: February 10, 2006

Strengths:    Long battery life, smart charger

Weaknesses:    Fixed position; VERY narrow spot; no brighter than a good flashlight; HORRIBLE bulky battery that does fits in neither jersey pockets nor a Camelbak; connections would come unplugged during rides.

Bottom Line:   
I bought this as a relatively inexpensive backup to my HID, handlebar mount Blowtorch and was EXTREMELY disappointed. I knew going in that it would not even come close to the brightness of my HID light but, for the price, I assumed it would, at least, be close to one of less expensive halogen models I used to ride; it wasn't. I tried using just this light on a couple of sections to make sure I wasn't being biased because of the HID and I wasn't; it was just adequate for climbing (slow speed) and practically useless for descents (faster speeds).

If that wasn't enough, the thing also has one of the bulkiest batteries I've ever seen...it's HUGE! It's shaped in somewhat of a squarish fashion but is wider on the top than it is on the bottom. What makes it "squarish" however are the four little rubberized "feet" that stick out from the bottom. This is where the wiring connects to the battery however, the way they manufactured them, they just get caught on everything. To make matters worse with the stupid "feet," the rubber covers that are supposed to protect the insertion points went missing after one ride: BOTH OF THEM!

You thought I was done with the battery but, no, I'm not. To top everything off (literally) the idiots that designed this thing did so by placing a NON-REMOVABLE, bulky velcro strap over the top of the thing. Great idea of you're going to mount the thing to your frame, horrible idea if you say...oh, I don't know...want to put the thing in your friggin jersey pocket like you're supposed to be able to!

In addition to the lovely battery, the connectors started losing their connections mid-ride. I triple checked everything multiple times but, no luck figuring out where the things were fouled up. The best I can figure is that the battery was so crammed into my jersey pocket that it was pushing things around in a way they weren't meant to be pushed. BTW, having your light go out whilst flying down a hill is sheer joy...really, you should try it some time!

The final nit I had with this thing was the fact that the light is mounted in a fixed position which means that the only way to adjust where the thing is pointed while it's mounted to your head is to either unstrap and move the entire unit forward or back by lacing the velcro through a different set of helmet vents or simply learn to ride with your head in a completely unnatural position...very useful. If, like me and, perhaps one or two other people world-wide, you have a Giro E2 you're pretty much screwed as the stupid light either points directly in front of your front tire (excellent if you really want to know what's going to happen to you in about one one-millionth of a second) of it points off down the trail which wouldn't be so bad if the light had any power whatsoever.

Bottom line: This light might be semi-useful for a road commuter who is planning on mounting the battery solely to the frame but, if you're planning on riding any kind of dirt that has say...hmmm...rocks in it, you should probably look elsewhere.

One torched terd for value since the worthless POS is extremely expensive for what it is and one flaming poo for "overall" since the thing is - all around - one of the worst products I've ever owned.

P.S. JensonUSA took the thing back - no questions asked - even after I used it for two months.

Expand full review >>

Duration Product Used:   3 months

Price Paid:    $139.00

Purchased At:   JensonUSA.com

Similar Products Used:   Nite Hawk Dual Beam Halogen model, Nite Rider Blowtorch


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Hacking a Blackburn System X3

I picked up a Blackburn System X3 this past April for a song. Worked great as a commuter light until DST kicked in. Put it back in the box and just got it back out. Plugged in the battery and let it charge till it blinks green.... Plug light head in and nothing. No light at all. Put the vol ... Read More »

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