Portland Design Works
Cost: $32 MSRP ($25 retail)
Source: bike shops, catalogs, online
How obtained: purchased
RBR advertiser: no
Tested: 50+ hours
I Saw the Light
I commute year-round, and I am always on the lookout for the best possible rear light.
I think I’ve found it in the Radbot 1000.
Previously, I was using the Planet Bike Superflash, which I was always impressed with. It gave me great visibility on the road, and I felt safe using it. I was a confirmed Superflash user until I went on an evening ride with a group of friends and was introduced to the Radbot 1000.
This thing puts out the lumens. I was riding behind a couple of people who had this light mounted, and it almost hurt my eyes to look into the light. I decided that I had found my new rear light.
The Radbot 1000 (I know, sounds like a cheesy infomercial) is a one-watt red LED light. According to the manufacturer, Portland Design Works, it uses the same bulb as those found in the brake lights of modern cars. It has a claimed run time of thirty hours in flashing mode and fifteen hours in steady mode, and the manufacturer also claims the unit is waterproof. It comes with a backpack clip, as well as a rack, seat post, and seat stay mount. The light takes two AAA batteries, which were included. THere’s also a nice reflector under the light.
Operation is simple. The light comes on with one long press on the button, and it takes just one quick press to cycle between each of the three modes. THere’s a steady mode, a flash mode, and what the manufacturer calls a “zZz pop” mode, where the LED flickers quickly and then has a longer intense flash. it’s quite eye-catching — my cycling buddies have dubbed it the “Terminator” mode. it’s the mode I use most frequently for those lower light conditions where I want motorists to notice me in a way they may not with an “always on” light. The regular, steady mode can be seen half a mile away. My wife actually commented that it was hard to look at when driving home behind me one day.
I initially mounted the light on my seat post but was concerned that my saddle bag might obscure the light and so moved it down to the seat stay facing the road. Mounting the light was a simple operation which both times took less than five minutes. Both the seat post and seat stay clamps have worked well.
On the road
While I have not had the opportunity to test the light in heavy rain, it has held up through the occasional drizzle just fine. I have only had to replace the batteries twice in the approximately 50 hours of operation, so the manufacturer’s estimates look to be accurate. I did notice that as the batteries get low on power, the light output is diminished. This is confirmed by putting in new batteries and being shocked all over again with how bright the light actually is. Changing batteries is simple and requires just a small screwdriver.
I have had one occurrence where the light has become dislodged from the mount and gone skidding down the road, thankfully unharmed, caused by me crossing a higher than expected speed bump. After contacting the manufacturer, they advised using a zip tie on the bottom of the mount, which is an easy and worthwhile fix — plus it makes the light just a little harder to steal from your bike.
This light is so bright that I’ve started using it on shadowy, tree-lined roads in broad daylight, giving me added confidence as motorists driving in the sun have a better chance of seeing me in the shade. It is the first light I’ve felt was bright enough for this type of use.
The brightness may even be the one drawback to this light. Could it possibly be too bright? Might you risk alienating a motorist simply because the light is shining at them with such intensity? I’ve not found this to be the case yet, but it is a concern I have. And, to be fair, some cyclists don’t believe that brighter is necessarily better.
In sum, though, this is the best rear bike light I have used. It’s extremely bright and has modes that include the typical steady, regular flashing and eye-catching “zZz pop” flash modes. The distinct modes, combined with the super brightness, make it highly useful across a range of light conditions, including daylight. It comes with a good array of mounting hardware, but because of the chance of it becoming dislodged and falling off, I would recommend a zip tie for the mount. I believe this is one of the best available rear lights on the market.
Paul Smith regularly reviews products for RBR. He’s an avid recreational roadie who lives in thePiedmont area of North Carolina. He commutes often, and his car is worth less than any of his bikes. Click to read Paul’s full bio.