Let’s get the initial reaction out of the way:
Holy Toledo, $125 is a lotta cash for a taillight!!! OMG, LOL, SMH, etc.
OK, now shake off the bad attitude and read on. Or don’t. I know I was curious what a $125 taillight offers.
The most interesting feature of this light is an accelerometer activated “brake light”. The light senses rapid deceleration and ups the brightness, much like the brake lights on your car or your 1983 RZ350. I’m pretty curious what drivers thought about the brake light feature, if anything at all. I didn’t notice a difference in drivers’ behavior, but without a real scientific study, it would be pretty hard to make a definitive statement about this. I can say with some authority that I don’t think the brake light makes me any less safe, and my gut feeling it that it is a great feature and one we’ll see on more taillights in the future. I rarely ride in groups, but can image this feature being a nice safety feature for those dudes (it is always dudes) who hop, uninvited, into your draft for a free pull down the bike path.
The Rotlight also has an ambient light sensor. As the night gets darker, the light drops its brightness down a few notches, but cranks it back up when it senses brighter lights, such as headlights. Pretty slick, and a good way to conserve battery life on long rides while keeping the safety factor high.
There are four modes to chose from: steady, flash, pulse, and steady-pulse. Steady and flash are self explanatory. Pulse is a less abrupt flash mode and steady-pulse adds the pulse (not flash) mode to a steady beam of light. I’ve quickly become a fan of the steady-pulse mode. It seems to be a great middle ground between the calmer steady mode and the attention-getting (and blood pressure-raising) flash modes of most lights.
And finally, the light can be adjusted to one of four brightness settings in each mode. At the brightest 2 watt mode you get 160 lumens of red light, the lowest 0.1 watts is 10 lumens. Run times are below. Changing all these setting with a single button interface isn’t the most intuitive thing. Day-to-day operation is fine, but digging deeper to adjust brightness or turn the light sensor or brake light features on and off requires the owners manual nearby. I just kept the pdf saved in my phone for reference.
Mode Steady Blink Pulse Wave+Pulse
0.1W 30h 60h — 25h
0.25W 12h 24h 24h 10h
0.5W 6h 12h 12h 5h
1W 3h 6h 6h 2:30h
2W 1:30h 3h 3h —
The light includes rubber straps in two lengths for any tube between 22 and 55 mm. The back of the light is angled to keep it straight on most common seat tube angles, but it isn’t adjustable for alternate mounting locations like seat stays. Lupine sent along a seat rail mount for the light as well, a $20 option. There are also options for blue or red light bodies, or a red lens instead of the stock clear.
I’ve been lucky enough to review quite a few Lupine products and each time I’ve come away impressed. For riders that are shopping for sturdy but feature-laden lights, Lupine is perhaps the best place to start looking. If price is the number one shopping concern, obviously there are plenty of less expensive options out there. Once set up as I wanted, the Rotlicht was no harder to operate than anything else on the market, but offers a level of customization second to none.
Lupine continues to release class-leading lights to the market, and the Rotlicht is no different. If you love riding with the latest technology, the Rotlicht is your huckleberry.
As LED lights continue to pack more lumens in smaller packages, the line between lights for road riding and for mountain biking gets more blurred. Case in point is this diminutive powerhouse from Lupine, the Piko 4. Its 1,200 lumens are plenty to see by when traveling down a dark trail, but its small size and setting options make it a versatile choice for street use.
The Piko’s German-made high quality and precision are evident right away. They’d better be, for $335. The machined aluminum light head is finished with shot-peening and hard anodizing to toughen the surface. The LEDs, lens and circuitry are similarly top-notch.
The Piko comes packaged ready for helmet use; while it mounted to my helmet easily enough, 1,200 lumens is a lot to shine in drivers’ eyes. (For trail use, however, helmet mounting would be great.) So I opted to procure an optional quick-release handlebar mount ($40), which scores points for being the most svelte I’ve used, just 4mm wide, while also being solid as a rock. The process of switching from helmet to handlebar is quite fiddly, though, involving tiny screws and O-rings.
Like other Lupine headlights, the settings offered by the Piko’s switch can be programmed from a multitude of choices. The beam has a brighter spot in the center transitioning smoothly to a wide halo. Runtime is at least as much as claimed (two to 58 hours, from 1,200 to 50 lumens)—one charge was good for a full week of evening commutes on the 470-lumen setting with occasional boosts up to 1200. The switch has blue and red LEDs to indicate how much juice is left, and there’s a reserve mode available after the low-battery warning blinks.
Lupine is like the BMW of lights, with a high level of design and construction, and a price to match. But it’s a great choice for those who use and abuse their lights, especially if you’d like one light to go from road to trail and back.