Tag Archives: taillight

Niterider Sentinel 40 Taillight Winner


Eric Overton

We recently held a contest to give away a Niterider Sentinel 40 Taillight to some lucky reader. The rules for the contest were simple: just pick a number between 1,000 and 1,500 and leave it in the comment section for the review. The contest ended at midnight on Monday, December 28, 2015. The winning number for this contest was 1250 and Ohio resident Eric Overton hit the number exactly.

Eric is the organizer of a cycling group in the Cleveland Ohio Area called Long Distance Cycling Cleveland. The group has a series of long distance rides that prepares the group for events such as Calvin’s 12 Hour Challenge, the National 24 Hour Challenge and other organized tours. Eric has been doing the 12 and 24 hour races for 15 years.

1250As usual, we used a random number generator to select a number between 1,000 and 1,500 and that is how 1250 was selected as the winning number. The rules to state that the winning number has to be the number closest to, but not over, the number selected by the random number generator. However, since Eric guessed the number exactly it saved me a lot of time sorting through the comment section to find the closest number.


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Niterider Sentinel 40 Taillight with Laser Lanes (Product Review and Giveaway)


Over the past twelve or thirteen years I’ve purchased at least a two dozen taillights—some were brighter than others, but the new Niterider Sentinel 40 Taillight is in a class all by itself. I am not one to gush over new cycling gadgets, but this taillight is the coolest product I’ve ever put on my bike! The folks at Niterider sent me one for review and now I am going to give this awesome light away to some lucky reader (see the details at the end of this article).

The Sentinel 40 has a super bright 40 lumen output (and thanks to a well-designed lens it actually looks much brighter than that). The taillight has four modes (two flashing, plus high and low steady). I never use the steady (always on) mode because a flashing light is so much easier for cars to see (plus it saves battery life). In the fastest flash mode the built-in 1000mA LiPo (lithium polymer) battery on this unit will last an amazing seven and a half hours. The charge time for this light is only four hours and uses a USB cable which is included with the light. As for size, the light is approximately 3.5 inches tall, 1.5 inches wide and 1.5 inches deep. For the “weight weenies” among us, it weighs a mere 2.5 ounces (73g).

niterider-sentinel-40I’ve saved the coolest feature for last: the Sentinel 40 has Laser Lanes which project two parallel bright red lines onto the pavement to give you your own personal bike lane. I honestly don’t know how far back cars can see this feature at highway speeds, but in town it a obviously helps. One warning: you are going to have to be ready at every stoplight to tell motorists about the lights since it seems like everyone is curious about them. Did I mention how cool these Laser Lanes look? By the way, the Laser Lane lights are real lasers, so don’t look directly into them.

Like most bicycle taillights, this unit can be mounted to either the back of most saddlebags or attached to your seatpost with the included clamp.  While the clamp seems more robust (sturdy) than most clamps, I prefer to mount mine on the saddlebag so the light will sit up higher on the bike. I used to lose a couple of taillights every year because they would fly off my bike the first time I hit a big bump on the road (but I wouldn’t notice it until I got home). The simple solution is to mount your taillight on the saddlebag as usual, then wrap a zip tie (cable tie) around your light so it extends behind the clamp (I haven’t lost one since I’ve started doing this).

The Niterider Sentinel 40 Taillight retails for $49.99 and is available at your local bike shop or online for a couple dollars less (but be nice and buy this from your local bike shop).

I never keep the products that are sent to me for review, but I am going to really hate giving up this taillight! To enter the contest for the Niterider Sentinel 40 Taillight all you have to do is pick a number between 1,000 and 1,500 and enter it in the comment section below (you don’t actually have to make a comment). The contest ends at midnight (CST) on Monday, December 28, 2015. After the contest closes I will use a random number generator to pick the winning number. If no one guesses the exact number the person with the number closest to, but not over, the winning number will get this slightly used taillight. In case two or more people chose the same number the first person to pick the number will be the winner. This contest is for U.S. residents only and only one entry per household allowed. When the contest is over I will publish the results in the comments section of this article. I will send this product to the winner via U.S. Mail.


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Serfas Thunderbolt Headlight and Taillight

If you have not shopped for new bicycle lights in a while you will be surprised at how much things have changed in the past few years. Modern bicycle headlights are far brighter and lot less expensive than the were just five years ago. Not only are the lights brighter, but they also weigh less—and most lights now have rechargeable batteries as well. A few weeks ago the folks at Serfas sent me a pair of their new Thunderbolt USB rechargeable lights to review and if you are a commuter these lights will be of special interest to you. Thunderbolt is the name given to both the headlight and the taillight, but they are sold separately.

Serfas Thunderbolt Headlight

Serfas Thunderbolt Headlight

The Serfas Thunderbolt headlight is very compact (3.5″ long, 1″ tall, and 1.5″ wide) and provides 90 lumens of light. The light pattern is non-directional, i.e., the beam covers a wide area (just the opposite of a spotlight). The Thunderbolt headlight has a silicone body and is highly water-resistant, as well as being extremely lightweight (just 50 grams). There are four light settings available: high beam, low beam, high blink and low blink. You should be able to get about 90 minutes of use in the high beam with a fully charged battery. However, cold weather negatively impacts all batteries—when the temperature drops below freezing don’t expect a full 90 minutes of use. The high blink mode is what I used the most and was able to consistently get almost four hours of use per charge (Serfas only claims 3.5 hours). The headlight can be seen from a mile away, but at 90-lumens it is intended for commuters, not mountain bikers.

Both the headlight and taillight attach to your bike with a pair of silicon mounting straps (included) and should fit most bikes. These lights attach quickly—a trained monkey could do it in under five seconds. If you use the lights to get to work you are going to love this feature!

The best part about these lights is that they are USB rechargeable. Using the included USB cord you can charge these lights by plugging them into your computer (I used the wall charger for my iPhone instead). If you buy both a headlight and a taillight you will have two USB cords—you could leave one at your office and the other at your house so you can recharge the lights at either place.

Serfas Thunderbolt Taillight

Serfas Thunderbolt Taillight

The Serfas Thunderbolt taillight quickly became one of my favorite taillights! At 35 lumens it outshines most of the taillights you will find at your local bike shop, and since it is USB rechargeable you will never have to buy batteries for it. The taillight is primarily designed to attach to your seatpost (3″ of exposed post required), but you could also mount it on your seat stays. Like the headlight, the taillight has four operating modes (high beam, low beam, high blink and low blink). I never run taillights in the high beam setting—I believe the blinking mode makes it a lot easier for motorists to see you. In the high blink mode this light runs for three hours on a full charge.

As I mentioned earlier, the Thunderbolt lights are not designed for mountain bikers. However, Serfas has a wide selection of other lights available, including their brand new TSL-1500+ (1500 lumens of light with a three hour run time).

The Serfas Thunderbolt headlight and taillight retail for $45 each and are available in seven different body colors (Black, White, Red, Blue, Pink, Green, Yellow). You should be able to buy this light at any bike shop—if they don’t have it in stock they can order it for you. These lights are also available from and many other online retailers.


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Cateye TL-LD610 Rear Bicycle Light

The long days of summer have passed and a lot of us now find ourselves still out on the road when the sun has gone down. Without a good taillight it is hard for motorists to see cyclists on the road (and it doesn’t help that some cyclists ride in black gear at night). Fortunately, there are many good bicycle taillights on the market and Cateye, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of cycling products, has several great taillights and they are available at almost any bike shop in America. The Cateye LD610 Taillight is an affordable taillight that should suit the needs of most cyclists.

Cateye TL-LD610 Rear Bicycle Light

Cateye TL-LD610 Rear Bicycle Light

The Cateye LD610 Taillight has five bright LED lights and is powered by two AAA batteries. This taillight has four different operating modes (constant on, flashing, random, and side-to-side). Cateye claims the batteries will last up to 30 hours in constant mode or 60 hours in flashing mode—I have found this to be accurate in warm weather, but battery life in cold weather always suffers.

There are three things that make the Cateye LD610 worthy of your consideration. First, it has a tool-free universal bracket that should fit on just about any bike. Second, the mounting bracket allows for either horizontal or vertical mounting. Third, the side-to-side light pattern is one of the most effective light patterns I’ve seen on a taillight.

The Cateye LD610 is well-built and the batteries are easy to change (some taillights make changing batteries a real pain). I need to point out that when I ride at night I always use two taillights. Batteries die, mounting brackets break and anything attached to your bike can fall off.

The Cateye LD610 Taillight retails for $25, but it appears as though the LD610 has now been replaced by the LD650 so you might have to look for it on Since I have not used the LD650 myself I can’t recommend it (yet), but after looking at the tech specs I have to believe it is even better than the LD610.


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Trek Beacon Bar End Lights

I enjoy riding my bike at night and as a result I have a lot of cool lights, reflectors and assorted gizmos to keep me from getting hit (I don’t use them all at the same time). This past winter I bought a pair of Trek Beacon Bar End Lights for the road bike I usually use at night and while the product looked great at the bike shop it failed to live up to its potential.

Trek Beacon Bar End Lights

Trek Beacon Bar End Lights

As the name suggests, Trek Beacon Bar End Lights are lights that slip into the ends of your handlebar, and Trek offers models for both dropbars and flatbars. The flatbar model for mountain bikes has two rear facing LEDs, while the dropbar model for road bikes only has one LED. These lights operate in either a steady or a flashing mode. These lights run on a single AAA battery (per light) and Trek claims you should be able to get 30 hours of run time per battery (I only got about 25 hours, but cold weather hurts battery life). To install these bar end lights you just have to remove the caps on both ends of your handlebars and slide the Beacon Bar End Lights into the ends of the handlebar.

Trek Beacon Bar End Lights

Trek Beacon Bar End Lights

In my opinion, there are three main problems with these lights. First, they are not very bright—they might be good for 1,000 feet or so, but not much more. Second, on most road bikes the rider is going to be in the way and make it impossible for cars coming up behind them to see the lights (unless you are a really skinny cyclist). And third, these lights self-destruct the first time you take them out of your bar ends.

When I get new products that include batteries I usually toss the batteries out and never use them because more often than not they are old, off-brand batteries. I am not sure why, but I decided the install the batteries that Trek included with the Beacon Bar End Lights—and as expected they only lasted about ten hours. When I tried to remove the lights from my bar ends to replace the batteries the rubber seal around the lights simply shredded. The folks at the local bike shop kindly replaced the lights, but the second pair also ripped the first time I tried to replace the batteries. While these lights were a great idea, they are poorly designed. Therefore, I can’t recommend these lights unless you buy them with the understanding that they are disposable after the first use.

Trek Beacon Bar End Lights retail for $20 a pair and should be available at your local bike shop. However, you would be a lot better off buying a good taillight like the Plant Bike Superflash Turbo or the Portland Design Works RADBOT 1000. Another great option is the Fire Eye 2.0 Helmet Light from Illuminated Cycling.


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Topeak AlienLux Tail Light (One Cool Light)

When I ride on busy roads at night I always attach two of the brightest tail lights I own to the back of my bike. However, bright tail lights are not necessarily needed on off-road trails—you just need a tail light bright enough to keep other cyclists from running into you. If you are looking for a good tail light with a unique design then you need to get a Topeak AlienLux Tail Light.

Topeak AlienLux Bicycle Tail Light

Topeak AlienLux Tail Light

The Topeak AlienLux Tail Light is not the brightest light on the market, but what it lacks in lumens in makes up for in coolness. This alien shaped light has two red LED’s and is powered by a pair of CR2032 batteries (included with purchase). The lamp housing is made of engineering grade plastic and is water-resistant. There are only two functional modes on this light: Constant or Blinking. Topeak claims that in the blinking mode the batteries will last for 100 hours, or for 60 hours when the light is constantly on.

This light comes with a small Velcro strap so you can attach it to a seatpost or you can easily slip it onto most seat bags. The AlienLux is only two inches tall and weighs less than an ounce. If you look at the photo above you will see that the light comes through the entire body of the AlienLux, not just through the eyes. To turn the light off or on you just press on the alien’s forehead. Did I mention how cool this light is?

The Topeak AlienLux Tail Light comes in six different colors (Red, Green, Black, Pink, White, and Yellow). The AlienLux retails for $14 and even if you never use it at night it will add a bit of class to any bike (unless you are one of those cyclists who take themselves way too seriously).


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Illuminated Cycling Fire Eye 2.0 Helmet Light

You already know that you need a good taillight if you are going to ride your bike at night. However, the biggest problem with mounting a taillight on your seat post or seat bag is that they are situated fairly close to the ground. While the motorist directly behind you can see your taillight, the cars behind them can’t. They best way to increase your chances of being seen (and staying alive) is to use a helmet mounted light like the Fire Eye 2.0 Helmet Light from Illuminated Cycling.

Illuminated Cycling Fire Eye 2.0 Helmet Light

Illuminated Cycling Fire Eye 2.0 Helmet Light

The Fire Eye 2.0 light consists of a lightweight (63 grams) control box and two flexible light pods. The control box attaches to the top or back of your helmet with Velcro (included with purchase). The light pods also attach to your helmet with Velcro. The Velcro attachment system makes it very easy for you to take the Fire Eye unit off of your helmet if you desire. Complete installation instructions can be downloaded from the Illuminated Cycling Website, but I think a trained monkey could put these lights on in just a couple of minutes. I have a special helmet that I use for off-road rides at night and, in addition to the Velcro, I secure the control box to the helmet with two cable ties (the trails are often rough and this way I don’t have to worry about the Velcro slipping). Just for clarification, I don’t have the cable ties on in these photos. You will also notice that this helmet also has a lot of 3M Scotchlite Reflective Tape on it.

The Fire Eye 2.0 is powered by two non-rechargeable 1/2AA lithium batteries (6.3 volts). You should be able to get around 100 hours of use from a pair of batteries. This unit is also totally waterproof—it still works even while sitting in a tank of water!

Illuminated Cycling Fire Eye 2.0 Helmet Light (side view)

Illuminated Cycling Fire Eye 2.0 Helmet Light (side view)

I bought the original Fire Eye 1.0 about a year ago and was fairly happy with it, even though I never liked the way the switch on the control box operated. Recently Illuminated Cycling came out with a new version, the Fire Eye 2.0, and this product not only switched to a rugged toggle-switch design but also doubled to brightness of the lights! The new taillight has three modes: High power solid beam, Low power solid beam, and High power strobe. The Fire Eye 2.0 is set to the strobe setting by default. Personally, I would suggest you keep it on the strobe setting since it draws a lot more attention than a solid light. The new toggle-switch is bulletproof—just one simple touch to turn the unit on or off. When I am on the trails I often turn the light off to conserve the batteries (no one is out there to see me anyway).

Now for the best part: these lights are incredibly bright, even in full sunlight. My photographs or the videos you can find online just don’t do justice to how bright these lights are! It has been my experience that the pre-dusk hours are the most dangerous time of the day to ride. Visibility is declining but most motorists don’t have their headlights on yet. If cars don’t have their headlights on then all the reflective clothing in the world won’t do you any good—you need something like the Fire Eye 2.0 to protect your life!

I have a pet name for cyclists who ride at night with only one taillight—I call them “future organ donors.” Even under the best of circumstances batteries die unexpectedly, electronics fail and mounting brackets break for no apparent reason. Even with a light as powerful as the Fire Eye 2.0, I always ride a standard taillight like the Planet Bike Superflash Turbo on my seat bag. And, if I plan to ride on a really busy road, I will also add a Portland Design Works RADBOT 1000 to my seat post.

Fire Eye 2.0 helmet lights are hand-built in the USA and are available from the Illuminated Cycling Website for $60. In my opinion, if you ride your bike at night this is one of the best investments you will ever make. If you have any questions about this product you can call Erik Shaffer at 1-888-406-7626. Illuminated Cycling also offers a light designed for use by bicycle patrol officers—a Fire Eye unit with fiercely bright blue lights (only available to Law Enforcement agencies).


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