While browsing the Interbike show last week, I came across a handful of new, fun, and interesting bike lights. My time was limited (so this is not all-inclusive), but we thought it was worth a peek.
The first thing I noticed is that the whole category of lights has grown in depth and quality. Lights continue to get brighter, smaller, and lighter weight. There are new mounting options for bars and helmets. The batteries last longer. The only unfortunate downside is that prices are rising.
The first light booth I stopped by was Serfas. You may also know them for their tires, pumps, and other accessories. While Serfas has traditionally focused on the lower-end market, I sense that they’re changing their tune with some brighter, lighter, and higher quality designs.
Most notably, Serfas is now really venturing in to what I think will be the preferred light setup among most cyclists – self-contained (i.e. no external battery pack and cable).
The TSL-500+ above has an output of over 500 lumens. It isn’t as svelte as some of the competitors’ newest lights, but the $150 price is hard to argue with.
They also showed me a very cool USB rechargeable taillight called the Thunderbolt. It comes in a variety of colors, and puts out a solid 40 lumens. The best part is that the installation is super easy with the supplied rubber straps; Serfas even told me that the 2014 straps will be longer to accommodate oversize/aero seatposts. You can also strap them on to seatstays and fork legs.
We plan to do a full review of the Thunderbolt in the coming months.
The next stop on my light tour was Blackburn. We’ve already reviewed their 140-lumen Scorch (linked at the bottom of this page), which was previously their brightest option. For 2014, Blackburn is introducing a 500 lumen light with an auto dimmer, called the Central:
You can see the dimmer on the top of the light. If, for example, you ride in to a dark tunnel, the light will automatically make itself brighter to accommodate. There is also a full manual function for those who wish to select a constant level of brightness.
Blackburn also showed a handful of smaller accessory lights. These small red lights have a magnet built in to the strap, and may be clipped on to a shirt or jersey for any sport (i.e. running at night).
I also made a quick stop by one of my favorite light brands, Lupine. For 2014, they are introducing an even brighter version of their flagship Betty model. The latest iteration kicks out an astounding 4,500 lumens (according to Lupine, that is brighter than a xenon car headlight):
There is also a very cool wireless remote switch (the blue button in the following photo):
Note that all Lupine lights and batteries are interchangeable. You can use the Betty with a smaller battery than pictured above; it just won’t last as long.
For those that desire a really long burn time, the Big Ben battery has you covered:
The Big Ben is bottle-shaped, so it fits right inside a standard cage. It’s super heavy at over 650 grams, but is the longest-lasting Lupine battery.
Lupine also showed their newest self-contained headlights to me – the Piko TL Max (left) and Piko TL MiniMax (right):
Both lights are intended for primary use on your handlebars and put out a maximum of 1,200 lumens. The run times differ due to battery size (2 hours for the TL, and 80 minutes for the TL Minimax at highest output). They weigh 185 and 145 grams, respectively.
Finally, we’ll run through a few of the fun, interesting, and curious lights I saw at the show this year. Among the Asian vendors, it was par-for-the-course – a lot of wacky stuff…
If skulls aren’t your thing, you can also have an octopus light:
We have to think that this blue mountain bike bar-end light is intended for bike police officers:
One vendor showed this compact seatpost collar light:
The gang at Revolights was very friendly and showed their system to me. It attaches to any standard 700c rim, and acts as an active brake and headlight system.
A battery pack and accelerometer at each hub figures out exactly how fast you’re going and only shines light where you need it.
The front light is white and keeps a steady lumen output. The rear light actually blinks between standard output and extra bright as it senses you slowing down and applying the brakes.
While I don’t see many triathletes using the Revolights system for training, it is a very compelling product for serious commuters. The combination of light and motion together really makes it eye-catching.