Bontrager encourages daytime running lights for bikes

They’ve been on motorcycles forever, and more recently cars have adopted them too, so why not bikes?

Daytime running lights can significantly improve your visibility on the road, Bontrager says, and the brand is touting its new line of front and rear bike lights as specifically designed for both day and night use. Bontrager says it is just the first step in a sweeping line of products to make cycling safer. Since safety concerns are the number one impediment to get new cyclists out on a bike, we think it’s a great move.

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Bontrager says the data it has collected show accidents decreased 25 percent after automobiles adopted daytime running lights, and cycling accidents could be reduced by a third. Because 80 percent of bicycle accidents occur during daylight hours, the brand feels there is a big opportunity for positive change. Just a few days ago I was driving on a twisty mountain road and the cyclists on the road were extremely hard to see as we went from bight sunlight into dark shadows and back again through the trees. A bright light really would have helped.

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Optimizing visibility is more than just raw lumens, Bontrager says. The key difference is being seen versus being noticed. It says its line of taillights have blink patterns that are specially designed to be more conspicuous during the day than just a steady blink. It says some are visible from up to two kilometers away.

The lineup

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Flare RT tail light

  • 65 lumens and 270 degree visibility.
  • Wirelessly controlled on/off, mode selection and more.
  • Visible from 2 kilometers
  • Two daylight modes, two night modes and turn signal compatible.
  • $80

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Flare R tail light

  • 65 lumens and 270 degree visibility.
  • Visible from 2 kilometers
  • Two daylight modes, two night modes.
  • $60

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Flare R City

  • 35 lumens
  • Visible from 400 meters.
  • Two daylight modes, two night modes.
  • $40

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Ion 800 RT

  • Wirelessly controlled on/off, mode selection and more.
  • 800 lumens and 270 degrees of visibility.
  • High, Medium, Low, Day Flash and Night Flash modes.
  • $120

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Ion 800 R

  • 800 lumens and 270 degrees of visibility.
  • High, Medium, Low, Day Flash and Night Flash modes.
  • $100

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Ion 350 RT

  • Wirelessly controlled on/off, mode selection and more.
  • 350 lumens.
  • High, Medium, Low, Day Flash and Night Flash modes. 
  • $80

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Ion 350 R

  • 350 lumens.
  • High, Medium, Low, Day Flash and Night Flash modes.
  • $60

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Ion 100 R

  • 100 lumens.
  • High, Medium, Low, Day Flash and Night Flash modes.
  • $40

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Ion 100 R / Flare R City set

  • Both models sold as a package deal.
  • $70

 

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Review: Bontrager Old Man Winter boots

Cycling-specific, cold-weather boots have long seemed like a luxury item to me. That changed when I decided to get a fat bike for riding on snowy trails and decided to suck it up and pedal around my Colorado hometown all through winter. Suddenly, no overshoe was warm enough and no casual snow boot stiff or snug enough. After spending a few weeks with Bontrager’s brand-new and rather svelte-looking Old Man Winter (OMW) boots, I am completely sold on the idea.

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If, like me, you have Raynaud’s syndrome (the cold-weather narrowing of the blood vessels in your extremities) keeping your fingers and toes warm sometimes seems impossible. The OMW helps allay that with a fleece-lined, removable inner bootie packed with 200 grams of 3M Thinsulate insulation. The stretchy outer boot is made of waterproof, breathable OutDry material and features sealed zippers. The inner bootie has a drawstring-type closure. Paired with two outer Velcro straps, the boots allow for a very snug fit and offer plenty of adjustment.

My only minor complaints are that it can be difficult to zip the ankle gaiter over the plastic pull tab on the laces and, if you don’t manage to raise the zipper completely to the top of the ankle, the pedaling motion will push it down.

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The liner is removable. I think the shoe would be much too roomy and not as comfortable to ride without, but I’m glad I can wash it. A rough material on the heel works as advertised to prevent the liner from slipping around inside the boot. The sole of the liner is not protected with any kind of grippy material, i.e. it’s not made to be removed and worn around your house as a slipper (which I would totally do).

Because of my Raynaud’s, I have been wearing these boots in temperatures as warm as 40 degrees, which is honestly much too hot unless you’re casually cruising short distances. Down to 30 degrees, my feet stayed plenty warm on a difficult fat bike ride through deep snow with only a thin pair of Bontrager’s Profila Merino wool socks. That particular ride involved a lot of grumbling and tramping around in ankle-deep snow without a hint of cold in my toes. The elastic pull tabs that tighten each boot’s ankle did their job, keeping snow out as I pushed a 40-pound bike up steep, un-groomed trails.

These boots really shine in temperatures down into the teens and twenties with a thick wool sock, particularly if you’re exerting yourself. I can’t comment on their sub-zero performance as Colorado is experiencing a fairly warm start to winter.

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Sole stiffness is a 6 on Bontrager’s scale (the highest stiffness on any shoe the company offers is a 14). Walking around and driving are comfortable for short distances. I didn’t feel any bending nor did I feel the cleats poking through when mashing the pedals on steep, challenging trail climbs. While they might not be rigid enough for skinny-tire go-fast types, I am plenty happy with them on cold, wet road rides and they offer enough flex for all-day adventures that might involve espresso stops or setting up a campsite. Traction is good on dry land but, as to be expected, the lugs will get snow-packed if you’re trudging around in powder.

The boots come with substantial cleat covers for the flat-pedal community. If you plan to see more serious snow or ice action, the sole allows for two toe spikes (not included) and each boot has a gaiter hook just below the toe-box strap. Another nice touch are Velcro tabs on the rear ankles of the shoes that are designed as a place to put small red lights.

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I had to order a full size larger than expected in order to accommodate anything other than a liner sock and to get the zipper to close around my ankle when wearing tights, but I’m grateful to have room in the nice, wide toe box for super-thick ski socks.

Actual weight is 1,205 grams (pair, size 43). If you don’t think in grams, just know that they surprised me with their lightness when I pulled them out of the box. They don’t feel clunky on my feet and almost look like regular shoes if you’re cruising around town and pull your pant legs over the ankles.

If you’re planning to spend several months riding in sub-freezing temperatures—whether you’re commuting or mountain biking—consider these boots. I have enjoyed their warmth, comfort and adjustability, and no longer see a well-made shoe like this as just a luxury.

Price: $300

 

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Review: Bontrager Flare R Tail Light

Seven years ago, I rode my bike across the country with nothing but a $13 red bike light strapped to my seatpost. It wasn’t very bright and functioned more as hopeful optimism than a true safety device.

Now I’m pleased to see that daytime running lights for bikes are being taken more seriously. The Bontrager Flare R puts out 65 lumens in daytime random burst mode—an impressive level of brightness that completely outdid every other rear bike light on the last group ride I was on. Daytime steady mode is more modest 25 lumens. Night time output is 5 lumens in steady mode and 65 lumens in burst mode.

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What’s a lumen? I read somewhere that lumens are to light the way gallons are to milk; it’s a measurement of how much light is given off. A standard 25 watt lightbulb (the ones that are difficult to find nowadays) gives off about 220 lumens. Car brake lights are around 350-500 lumens.

Anyway, Bontrager claims this light can be seen from 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) away during the day and 5 kilometers (3 miles) at night. I couldn’t find a stretch of road to test that, exactly, but I was able to find out that if you look directly into this light while standing next to your bike, it will mess up your vision for a few seconds. The Flare R also has decent side lights and claims 270 degrees of visibility. Its four modes are easy to toggle through via a large button on the top of the light. That same button features a status LED light that displays battery life.

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The light easily unclips from the stretchy rubber seat post mount and charges using a micro USB cable (included). If the light gets down to 5 percent of life or less, it will need two hours to full charge. Thanks to not needing tools to mount this light, it only takes a few seconds to swap it to whatever bike you’re about to go ride and means there’s no reason not to. I’ve even stuck it on my mountain bike when riding from home to the trail.

Battery life is a claimed 5.75 hours in daytime flash, 23 hours in night time flash, 4.25 hours in daytime steady and 21 hours in night time steady. I left the light on in the house and hit those numbers almost exactly. When the battery dips below five percent of life, the light will automatically switch to flashing in a low-energy mode to conserve its life should you still be far from home.

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When mounted using the bracket with rubber strap, the light swivels easily. It’s too small to fit around a large aero seat post (sorry, triathletes) and a bit too large for super-skinny road bike seat stays, if that’s where you’d rather mount it. But Bontrager includes a seat pack clip for the light, which is much appreciated by this short rider who often has no room left on a seatpost when a saddle bag is attached.

Finally, the Flare R is neither bulky nor heavy (36 grams), so weight weenies rejoice. At $60 it’s not cheap, but the construction feels hearty and has so far proven to be weather resistant. Bontrager says it focused on a daytime taillight because studies show that 80 percent of cycling accidents occur during the day. So even if you don’t get this rear red light, consider getting one.

 

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Bontrager releases new taillight designed for daytime use

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Cyclists all know that bight lights and visible clothing can make them more visible to drivers and thus safer against collisions, and Bontrager’s newest tail light is designed to cut through the distractions of daylight driving and make it even more difficult for drivers to miss seeing cyclists ahead. According to studies, 40 percent of cyclists’ collisions with cars are from being struck from behind, and having a tail light on during the day makes perfect sense.

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The new Flare R light is a USB-rechargeable, 36 gram LED light that pumps out 65 lumens—that’s more than a car’s tail light. Bontrager studied flash patterns and intensity to choose exactly the one that will make it most visible to drivers in the clutter of urban lighting. Bontrager says it is visible in daylight from more than a mile away.

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The Flare R has four distinct flash patters: two for daylight and two for night:

  • Day Flash mode will utilize all 65 Lumens in a strategically placed random flash pattern designed to draw a motorist’s eyes. Fully charged run time is 5.75 hours.
  • Day Steady mode uses 25 Lumens of steady illumination and is great for group rides. Fully charged run time is 4.25 hours.
  • Night Flash mode uses an irregular flash pattern punctuated by short pops of increased intensity. Fully charged run time is 23 hours.
  • Night Steady mode provides 5 Lumens of steady light great for consistent nighttime visibility. Fully charged run time is 21 hours.

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One of the downsides to battery powered lights is that when the battery dies, you’re out of luck. The Flare R has a built-in safety system, whereby when 75 percent of the charge is used the LED indicator light on the unit turns from green to red. When it reaches 5 percent of its charge it automatically puts itself into a safety mode and dials back the intensity to give an extra hour or two of run time, just enough to get to safety. A full recharge takes only 2.5 hours.

The new Flare R light is available now in Trek and Bontrager retail stores for $60.

 

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This Just In: Bontrager Ion 700 headlight

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Daylight hours are shrinking, but for many cyclists that doesn’t mean our miles have to follow suit. Finding a decent and affordable rechargeable headlight is getting easier, and the five-mode $99 Bontrager Ion 700 is one to consider.

The high-power Cree LED kicks out a full 700 Lumens, which Bontrager says will run bright for up to an hour and 45 minutes.

What’s Cree? It’s the company that first brought the blue LED to market in 1989, and today Cree’s XLamp LEDs exceed industry standards for brightness and efficiency. According to the company, Cree XLamp LEDs were the first ‘lighting-class’ LEDs – LEDS bright enough to be used in general-illumination applications, such as desk lamps, ceiling fixtures and street lights.

In addition, Cree’s extensive line of high-brightness LEDs are also introducing new performance levels to outdoor video displays and decorative lighting. Seems like Bontrager did some proper vetting when deciding on LED technology.

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Five modes

If you don’t want oncoming traffic to flash their high beams, bump it down to 450 Lumens for three hours of runtime, or 200 Lumens for six hours, 45 minutes. There’s also a 50 Lumen flash mode and an ‘irregular strobe’ that comes in handy for daytime use. Dual amber ‘windows’ bookend the face of the headlight, which is primarily made of metal, not plastic. A full micro USB recharge takes up to five hours.

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A clever rubber bracket provides 20 degrees of adjustability, and fits handlebars from 22.2 to 31.8mm in diameter.

Check out this short YouTube video to get a feel for what the Ion 700 can do in real-world conditions:

Visit bontrager.com for more information on this and other commuting products from the mad scientists in Waterloo, Wisconsin.

 

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In Print: Mushroom Foraging with Keith Bontrager

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Editor’s note: If you own a Trek, Gary Fisher or LeMond bicycle, chances are a former motorcycle racer and tuner from Santa Cruz, California had design input on the tires and components on that bike. Not only is Keith Bontrager a whiz with engineering, he’s also an expert on mushroom hunting. We asked him for some advice on proper foraging tips to find tasty fungus for the kitchen.


By Keith Bontrager

I don’t have to tell you that there are a lot of good reasons to ride your bicycle: transportation, sport, fitness, head clearing, looking stylish, an adrenalin fix, pub crawls, whatever. They’re all good. One of my favorites is finding dinner.

The thought that comes immediately to most people when I mention wild mushrooms is “you’re insane” (and that’s certainly true in some respects) – there is some edge to this sort of thing. But with a little care you never need to put yourself in jeopardy. Here are some solid rules:

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