Motorcyclists are required by law to have a headlight illuminated at all times. Daytime running lights improve visibility of the rider by other road users and increase rider safety. Makes sense… so if motorcycles are doing it, why aren’t we?
That was the question the folks at Bontrager set out to answer with the Flare R tail light. Armed with the desire to create a tail light that would increase rider safety, they made a light bright enough add visibility for day as well as night time use.
The idea behind the Flare R is simple enough: run the rear light all of the time. We’re all tired of hearing and reading about collisions with cyclists where the driver claims they “didn’t see the rider”. Until our communities all feature protected cycling avenues and bike ways, it’s a strong argument for adopting tail lights during day time hours as well as night. According to studies referenced by Bontrager:
- 80% of cycling accidents occur during the day
- 40% of US cycling fatalities hit from behind
- Studies show riders overestimate their visibility by 700%
It’s enough to make you want hang up the road bike and to stick to riding off-road. (Which we prefer to do anyway, but we generally get around by bike as much as possible when not driving to the trails)
Bottom line, running a tail light during the day is a good idea. Want a bit more? Here’s a bit on why motorcycles are required to run headlights during the day:
A 2004 study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that use of headlights led to a 23 percent reduction in opposite-direction crashes involving motorcyclists, as opposed to a 5 percent drop for those in passenger vehicles. Experts say that oncoming motorists are able to detect a headlight long before they can make out the motorcycle or its rider. The headlight provides an extra bit of warning, something that might be the difference between a dangerous accident and a safe journey home.
So, headlights good. Tail lights, also good.
After reading up on statistics, we’re sold on running lights full time. But enough on the fear mongering — how does Bontrager’s tail light actually work?
Well, it works pretty damn well. The Flare R puts out 65 lumens of light that is visible from the side as well as the rear. You can see it during the day, and at night you’ll definitely be seen by over taking drivers.
According to Inga, who is often stuck riding behind me on nocturnal excursions, the light is quite bright; in fact, it’s almost too bright. Enough that she has to be make an effort not to look at it when following as it cause one to see spots.
Weather sealed & USB Rechargeable
The Flare R is packaged with a USB cord that quickly charges it in about 2.5 hours. It features two day-time visibility modes and two night modes with run times ranging from 4.25 hours to 23 hours of use depending on mode and lumen output.
The light is weather sealed for use rain or shine and the nicely designed unit packs a hell of a punch for such a small package, easily fitting in a pocket when parked around town.
In fact, the only downside I’ve found with running the Flare R is that it is specifically meant (at least our specific model) for use on road and commuter bikes. The mount fits snuggly around the 27.2 post on my commuter bikes, but mounting options for my mountain bikes are a bit more challenging. Trying to stretch it around the seat tube was a complete no-go.
Fortunately the light is packaged with a seat pack clip for additional mounting options. I’ve had success mounting it on a Timbuk2 seat bag and backpack with a light mount, though I get paranoid of losing it based on previous experiences.
That said, the seat pack clip has proved to be quite secure, though I haven’t subjected it to extremely rough trail yet.
It comes in at over twice the price of other entry level rear lights, but it’s a significantly better light and you’re getting what you pay for. Being able to charge it via USB also means you’re not taking it apart regularly to change/charge the batteries and should help with the longevity of the unit. I’d expect the Flare R to provide at least a few years of reliable service based on how well the package is put together. Even just the feel of it is better than the dead lights in my tool box.
The Bontrager Flare R lists for $59.99. Check it out at Bontrager.com