Over the past few years bicycle lighting has seen a phenomenal development.
Light Emitting Diodes and rechargeable batteries have been developed in both power and efficiency to the point where it’s hardly worth considering old school alkaline powered lights and devices.
Modern rechargeables are good for up to 600 cycles. Compare the price of a rechargeable light to 600 sets of Duracells.
The Cateye Rapid X rear light has excellent visibility over 180 degrees which means it’s clearly visible from the side, an important safety characteristic missing from many, otherwise excellent lights. It is recharged via a standard USB micro port which means it can be fed from virtually any android phone charger or USB port on your PC or Mac.
It has several modes which are accessed by pressing the switch on the side. A two-second press turns the unit on or off. Successive quick presses cycle the unit though full power steady, half power steady, full strobe, blitz strobe, pulse and speed strobe. If it’s not clear from my description, each one of these modes is very eye-catching. You would hope it would be very hard to ignore, even in daylight. Of course, that’s another story …
Another major feature is that the mounting system, um, basically two rubber bands, is adaptable to aero seatpins and seat stays. Some other rear lights require fitting to regular seatpins and a degree of real-estate meaning that vertically challenged riders have no room to fit such lights.
These lights aren’t just for the depths of a dark, dark winter’s night. Many riders around here use them in daylight, bright sun even.
I ride regularly around the lanes and byroads of central New Jersey and frequently find myself riding in the midday sun, then plunging under dense tree cover, opaque enough to interfere with GPS signals even.
An effective rear light give some confidence that the guy driving up behind you in his truck can at least see something going on in the shadows and takes steps to approach carefully. And given that the cost of keeping this light charged up is virtually imperceptible, it’s a sensible precaution to take.
Cateye have recently upgraded the Active X from 15 lumen to 25. I used v.1 through last summer and it stood up well to regular wear and tear. I now have the 25 lumen version which seems to be even more effective.
If you’re still using the best lights the 70s could provide, then look into your local independent bike shop and take a look at what’s happened in the last 40 years. You’ll not regret it.
Be safe. Be Seen!