Is 1W Really That Much Better?

March 20, 2011


This week has been wonderful. The weather has warmed from freezing in the AM to mid-fifties in the afternoon. And I think we have finally seen the last of the snow. So I’ve begun spring cycling in earnest. This week, I’ve put in over 110 miles of bicycle commuting. That is the best total for the year. I can’t wait for this to be the low point!

Now that I am cycling in the dark once again (due to Daylight Savings Time), I’ve needed to get even more serious about my dawn/dusk lighting. My CygoLite Mitycross front headlight has been fabulous. But the rear lights were not sufficient. After using a Topeak Redlite UFO for a few months, I’ve come to realize that it is a fine light for my kids. I would have no trouble letting them ride on the sidewalks at night. But it just isn’t enough for my daily commuting needs.

So I have been researching and planning my tail light campaign. I started with a Serfas Seat Stay light.  This light is a very flexible light with seven LED’s (six small and one large).  I had problems with the light due to poor battery contacts.  But my local bike shop eagerly replaced the unit.  Bless their hearts.  I now use this as my secondary light assembly.  It is a good light.  And it can mount on almost anything.  I have it mounted on an elevated stay that is part of my rear bike rack.

But I really wanted something with a “Wow” factor.  So I invested in a Portland Design Works’ Radbot 1000 light.  This light is absolutely outstanding. The light itself is bright – blindingly bright. And the unit has three distinct operating modes. I like the zZz mode which provides a gentle transition between flashes in the cycle. The second mode is euphemistically called the “Retina Blitz” – and it earns that name. I don’t think I would use this – unless I really wanted to piss off the motorists that are behind me. The third mode is an “always on” steady-light function. Finally, the unit has an excellent reflector just below the light itself.

This light can be mounted on almost anything. With its stiff clip, you can hook it onto your panniers, the rear of a saddle bag or even the back of your jacket. The product package also contains mounting accessories for almost any fixed hookup. My unit is mounted on the 5mm mounting bracket of my Surly Nice rack.

The battery life will be a challenge for many riders – and it was for me as well.  Typical convenience store batteries won’t last very long.  So I decided to invest in some high capacity rechargeable batteries.  I chose Maha’s PowerEx 1000mAh batteries.  Coupled with a good charger, these batteries should meet my needs.  But since I can’t carry a tester with me wherever I go, I’ve decided to pack a spare pair in my saddle bag.  They will now be part of my normal touring kit.

There is a great video about the light over at Youtube.  I heartily recommend this light.  BTW, one watt doesn’t sound like much, but it is REALLY bright.  The “gold standard” that many commuters used to select was the Planet Bike Superflash.  But the Superflash uses a 0.5W bulb.  And the difference is really startling.  And for those who know me, I’m all about being “startling” in everything that I do!


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