Review: The Deca Drive 1500i Is Lezyne’s Most Powerful LED Light And Is Nearly Perfect Out Of The Box

by Wil Barrett 8

I don’t think there’s any more stressful bike-related experience than trying to get ready for a group night ride.

You know the drill. It’s a school night, you’ve gotten home from work and there are hungry mouths to feed. You get cracking with dinner while you dart away from the stove to go hunting for those warm socks and that waterproof jacket that seems to have gone missing after the last night ride. If you don’t burn your dinner, it’s then a frantic mission of attempting to wolf down what you can while replying to angry text messages from impatient riders. You try to hold them off for a bit longer to bide for time while you scramble for your night light and battery pack, which is (oh please Lord) hopefully charged up. Eventually you get all your gear on and get out the door, only to be greeted with the crunching sound of a parched chain that’s gone a little bit orange after the last wet ride, and the realisation that you donated your last spare tube and you’re now carrying an empty saddle bag that’s pointlessly bouncing around underneath your arse. Ah well, you’ll sort it out next time right?

Don’t get me wrong – I do love night riding. Because once you’re actually out on the trail, there’s always that ‘what a horrible day, but I’m so glad I did this’ moment where all of the stress almost seems worth it. Almost.

For this reason, I really like the simplicity of all-in-one lights such as the Lezyne Deca Drive 1500i. There are no cables to worry about, no battery pack to velcro onto your frame, and no fiddly clamps to bolt on. You just fit it to the bars, press the button, and away you go. But what if you’re worried about runtime given your mate Daveo is always getting a flat tyre on the weekly group night ride? Well, the Deca Drive 1500i has one other trick up its sleeve for that very reason.

lezyne deca drive i1500 led light handlebar
The Deca Drive 1500i is the most powerful light that Lezyne has ever offered.

Lezyne Deca Drive 1500i Light Features

  • 1500 Lumen maximum claimed output
  • CNC machined alloy casing
  • 3 x ultra high output LEDs
  • Optimised Constant Lumens system
  • Built-in side visibility
  • Internal rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery
  • USB charging port
  • Compatible with external Infinite Light Power Pack battery
  • Claimed runtime: 1 hour 40 minutes (1500 Lumen Overdrive mode) to 148 hours (15 Lumen Femto mode)
  • Recharge time: 2-3 hours (High Efficiency USB charging), 4-6 hours (standard USB charging)
  • Optional Race Mode
  • Claimed weight: 345g
  • RRP: £140 (light), £210 (light w/Infinite Light Power Pack)
lezyne deca drive i1500 led light handlebar
Three LEDs contribute to the 1500 Lumen power output.

All-In-One Power

The Deca Drive 1500i we have here is the most powerful light currently on offer from Lezyne. It’s an all-in-one light that’s designed specifically to mount to your handlebar, and – as we’re sure you’ve already guessed – it pumps out a maximum power output of 1500 Lumens. It does that with three high-powered LEDs that sit inside a classy CNC machined alloy casing, with a rechargeable Lithium Ion battery providing the juice.

lezyne deca drive i1500 led light handlebar
The ‘Loaded’ pack includes a separate battery pack that can be used to double the runtime.

You can get the Deca Drive 1500i light on its own, or in the ‘Loaded’ pack that we received for testing. The Loaded version comes in a neat mini-gun case, with an additional Infinite Light Power Pack battery that can be plugged into a port on the underside of the light body, which doubles the run time. This is a useful feature, because normally all-in-one lights can be a bit limited on run time, purely because of the space limitations that necessitate a smaller sized battery. For those of us who like to get out for a good few hours in the evenings, this is a nice addition that affords a little more insurance for being able to run the maximum power setting, without suffering from range anxiety.

lezyne deca drive i1500 led light handlebar
The ‘i’ part of the name stands for Infinite Light.
lezyne deca drive i1500 led light handlebar
A rubber cover shields the port underneath the light body where the batter pack plugs in.

Setup

Using a rubber strap that wraps around the handlebar like a big fat watch strap, the Deca Drive 1500i is designed to be easily mounted and removed from the bike without need for any tools. It’s also compatible with nearly every handlebar diameter (unless there’s been a new one introduced this week…).

On top of the light body is a rubber button that offers several powered modes, a flash mode, a pulse mode, plus a super-low mode that’ll give you about 148 hours of burn time. Because I mostly tested the Deca Drive 1500i for mountain biking, I made use of the sweet-sounding ‘Overdrive Race Mode’. With the light off, you hold the main button down for about five seconds, until the light starts flashing – now you’re in Overdrive Race Mode. This leaves you with just two modes to toggle with; Overdrive (1500 Lumens), and Economy (250 Lumens). This makes the light much easier to use on the trail, and because Lezyne has built in mode-memory, the light will always turn on in the same mode that you turned it off with. Neat.

lezyne deca drive i1500 led light handlebar
USB charging port on the back.

The Deca Drive 1500i light is charged via a USB cable, though take note on the source. A standard USB port will require up to six hours for a full charge, while a high-powered USB port will fill you up from empty in as little as two hours. Underneath the light body is another rubber port, which is where you can plug the cord in for the external battery pack.

On The Trail

During my very first ride with the Deca Drive 1500i, my original suspicions were confirmed. A rapid plummet down a bumpy zig-zag descent on my local test loop left the light unit pointing directly down to my front tyre, after the rubber strap failed to maintain a tight enough fit on the bars. Another issue I discovered was that the lack of a pronounced hood around the LEDs meant that while climbing out of the saddle, I was being blinded by my own light. Gah!

lezyne deca drive i1500 led light handlebar
The stock rubber mount is fine for commuting and road riding, but it slips while mountain biking.

Given that Lezyne describe this as “the finest high-performance LED cycling light designed for all forms of serious night riding“, I was disappointed at its off-road capabilities. I spoke with James at Lezyne’s UK distributor, Upgrade Bikes, who suggested trying out the aftermarket alloy bar mount. Using a CNC machined hinged clamp, this alloy bracket can replace the stock rubber strap, providing a much more secure mounting system. In practice, it did exactly that, and still without need for tools thanks to its big plastic adjuster wheel.

But not only did the alloy bracket keep the light safe and secure, it also helped to push the light body further out in front of the bars, and away from my eyes. We’re only talking about 30mm here, but surprisingly it made all the difference for avoiding any distracting glare. For the extra £12, it’s well worth it, though really the light should come with an off-road worthy mount as standard.

lezyne deca drive i1500 led light handlebar
For £12, you can get the alloy bar mount, which is much better. No 35mm diameter clamp yet though.

As for the quality of the light output? It’s fantastic for a 1500 Lumen light, with a really nice spread that doesn’t have any noticeable hot spots or weird rings going on. Lezyne makes good stuff, and the engineers have clearly spent some time on the Deca Drive 1500i’s optics to ensure it delivers a consistent throw of light – something that you often don’t get with the cheapie lights.

Admittedly the beam pattern is more spot than flood, which is understandable given the Deca Drive 1500i’s broad range of intended applications, but it’s still a decently broad beam pattern that’ll illuminate plenty of action on either side of the trail. I rode with it plenty of times just on its own, in order to see what the limits were with how fast I could go and how tight the singletrack could be before I started to want more light. Certainly on faster descents, there were moments where I was wanting more lumens with more spread, and so for more technical night riding applications, I’d recommend pairing this one with an additional helmet light. For steadier group rides though, the Deca Drive 1500i was often all I needed.

lezyne deca drive i1500 led light
There’s plenty of throw for the Deca Drive 1500i’s light output.
lezyne deca drive i1500 led light
Beam pattern at a distance of about 3m.
lezyne deca drive i1500 led light
The main button glows green, yellow then red to indicate battery status.

The light is designed so that the rubber button illuminates green while the battery is between 50-100% charge, then it turns an acid-yellow when the battery drops down to 10-50%. It’ll then go red once it dips below 10%, and finally the button will flash red once you’re under 5% – so you get plenty of warning. I never really encountered the flashing red button of doom, because I was either on shorter solo rides with a test bike that are normally only 1-1.5 hours long.

I did run a few simulated burn tests to measure runtime on the full-bore Overdrive setting. Like clockwork, the light would give me all 1500 Lumens for one hour and forty minutes. Instead of going off at this point, the power just steps down to give you another 15 minutes of run time. If you’re still trying to make your way home at that point, you’ll get another 15 minutes in the super-dim emergency mode, which carries you through to about 2:15 in total.

lezyne deca drive i1500 led light handlebar
The discreet battery pack doubles run times, and is a superb add-on to eliminate range anxiety for longer group night rides.
lezyne deca drive i1500 led light handlebar
Plug it into the back. The battery pack can also be used to charge your phone via an external USB port.

Of course you can double all those figures if you’re running the extra battery pack, which I’d recommend for those group rides that often blow out closer to 3-hours. Using a single velcro strap, the compact battery pack is smaller and lighter than the main light body, and easily attaches to your top tube or downtube. It’s a fantastic add-on that means you can just run the light on full power, without having to worry about toggling the power settings to conserve juice while you’re standing around eating Haribo and talking shit. One super-dooper clever aspect of the battery pack is that it has a USB port that allows you to plug other devices into it to charge them off the battery – like your phone, or another light.

lezyne deca drive i1500 led light handlebar
With its all-in-one design and tough alloy casing, the Lezyne Deca Drive 1500i is a great bar light. It just needs a better mount as standard.

Overall

Lezyne has been ramping up its electronic program in recent years, with a growing range of GPS computers, digital pumps, and LED lights. As the most powerful light from Lezyne yet, the Deca Drive 1500i is a great bar light that offers excellent versatility – especially with the additional battery pack. Personally I’d like to see the light included with the alloy bar mount, because once you’ve got that fitted, the Deca Drive 1500i is sturdy, easy to take on and off, and provides a great quality of light for proper off-road riding.


Wanna check out some more lights? Then make sure you read our Combo Light Group Test for more reviews of helmet and handlebar lights designed for mountain biking!

Review Info

Brand:Lezyne
Product:Deca Drive 1500i
From:Upgrade Bikes, upgradebikes.co.uk
Price:£140 (light), £210 (light w/Infinite Light Power Pack)
Tested:by Wil Barrett for 2 months

Comments (8)

  1. Let’s hope they produce a 35mm clamp soon…

  2. How do you guys measure the lumen output during the runtime?

    Don’t really see how it can run 1500 lumen for more than 10 mins before you would get step down from heat buildup?

    Or is this just a quote of manufacturers spec and not actual tested output and runtime?

  3. @Trailrider Jim – Agreed! We’ll keep you posted if we hear of anything from Lezyne.

    @whitecitadel – While we’d love to run the Deca Drive i1500 through an integrating sphere, unfortunately we don’t have one kicking about in the office. If you find a spare £15k to buy one for us, let me know 🙂

    Without an integrating sphere, I can only compare the Deca Drive i1500 to other lights I’ve tested from the likes of Exposure, Light & Motion, Lupine, Gloworm, Hope, Cygolite, Nightrider, Cateye, ITUO, Ayup, Full Beam, Magicshine etc. Some of which are definitely more ‘honest’ about their claimed outputs than others…

    I can tell you that the light output on the Deca Drive i1500 is consistent through the length of the 1:40 runtime. However, as I mentioned in the review, the light output does step down at the 1:40 mark to 250 Lumens, to give you another 15 minutes run time as a backup. This is nice, as you don’t lose all the light immediately.

    As for heat management, the Deca Drive i1500 is pretty good thanks to the heat sinks that have been machined into the housing, though it’s also the way the LEDs are driven. Compared to some of the other lights I’ve tested, the body doesn’t get nearly as hot.

    That said, conditions in the UK are generally cold enough to assist with drawing heat out of the light. Having done a lot of night riding over Australian summers where evening temperatures can be in the mid-20s, that is a whole other story 🙂

    Oh and an interesting fact for you; Lezyne (and several other brands) used to send their lights to nearby Light & Motion, which owns an integrating sphere and offers 3rd party testing for verifying power outputs and runtimes. I’m not sure if they still do that now though.

    Hope that helps, though let me know if you’ve got any other questions!

  4. @singletrackwil – Nice write up, but which ones are the honest ones and which ones are not iro run time and outputs?! This is the info that makes a difference in a review – cutting through the BS.

  5. Good to see another all in one at sensible off-road power and a price that’s just about affordable. Let’s face it, Exposure have owned this segment for years.

    It does seem a bit silly trying to get away with the silicone mount for this though. I couldn’t even keep a macrodrive upright around town on my commuter with one, no matter how much inner tube I wrapped round my bar once I started hopping kerbs and stuff. A serious off-road light really needs a clamp mount even without the extra weight of the built in battery.

  6. @vincienup – especially with the extra weight of the Deca Drive i1500, the rubber strap just can’t provide enough tension to keep it stable. I like the strap that Light & Motion use for the TAZ light, which is much more secure.

    @dufusdip – I’ve had really good luck with Exposure, Light & Motion and Hope when it comes to realistic power outputs. As a generalisation, you get what you pay for. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is! It’s often the cheap lights that catch people’s attention with outrageous power outputs that are the let down – they may deliver the power, but it’s often concentrated into such a narrow spot beam that just isn’t that usable on the trail. It comes down to more than just the type of LEDs you use – you have to drive them in the right way to keep the power output consistent, you need a quality housing that is robust and effective at heat sinking, and you have to use high quality optics to disperse the light smoothly and effectively – and all of those things add to the cost.

    If you get the chance, there’s some good musings and results from our 8 light group test from earlier this year; http://singletrackworld.com/2017/02/combo-light-group-test/

  7. @singletrackwil – @whitecitadel – @dufusdip – We actually have our own integrating sphere on site which we use to test our outputs and runtimes. This allows us to verify our research and give customers the most accurate information possible.

    As you mentioned, @singletrackwil, our high performance LED lights are programmed to maintain a constant lumen output throughout the battery cycle. It’s common with most LED lights (which do not feature Constant Lumens) to see a continual decrease in output through a light’s runtime.

    @Trailrider Jim – @vincienup – Our silicone ladder strap along with the slip-on bar adapter is designed to work with a wide array of handlebars, including 35mm bars. If you twist the light sideways on the mount, you can pull the strap very tight on the bar which will keep it from moving.

  8. Rubber straps are not suitable for offroad use. Even when tight the light bounces around (I have a small 150LM light with a rubber strap for commuting and even that moves around). Bit of a cheek to ask for extra for a mount that works imo.

Leave a Reply