Topeak's Aero Combo USB 1W lightset packs a punch in its two small, easily removable units – which also keep the svelte lines of your road bike.
If you ride an aero bike – well, any bike for that matter – and have always felt bracket-mounted lights just get in the way, ruin your bike's lines or take too long to fully install or remove, then this Aero Combo set should be on your radar.
Both lights use a simple rubber-strap attachment that tethers to the light unit itself; it's a very easy system, and not unique to Topeak. You get a selection of rubber bands of varying lengths to achieve the optimum fit, as well as a rubberised bracket that helps with attaching them to bladed seatposts, narrow seatstays and thin fork blades. You're only out of luck if you have a D-shaped seatpost on your bike (think some BMC and Giant bikes), unless you fashion your own filler for the concave gape in the back of the light.
Once fitted (vertically, and the right way up), both lights shine directly forwards and backwards respectively, thanks to a tilted LED strip design that compensates for the natural taper of forks and seatposts, helping to boost your visibility to other road users. The lights use chip-on-board (COB) technology, putting out 110 lumens at the front, and 55 at the rear. Not exactly headturning figures, but more than bright enough for being seen by, which is the intention of these lights, rather than lighting a path ahead (or behind).
They're particularly effective when set to the fast or intermittent strobing flash modes, and the COB LEDs do penetrate fog and mist arguably as well as, if not better than, any 'standard' bright LED lights I've tested before. You can also have them on two static settings, high and low, and the strip design allows a good 180 degrees of visibility from both – though the front light is a little more focused forwards.
Battery levels are good considering the tight packaging of the light units – you get 2 hours at full high beam and 4 hours on low, as well as 15 and 50 hours at the blinking and intermittent pulse settings for both lights. Those are claimed durations – I found the front light to meet this pretty much spot on give or take five minutes, while the rear outstripped it slightly in the static settings, though both lost brightness as they ran down.
One initial worry I had was that the lights are only rated as water resistant, given the predominantly winter use they're likely to get. However, having ridden through a couple of pretty heavy downpours during the test period, I could spot no water ingress at all, including the rubber caps for the micro USB, which I thought looked a little flimsy; they have continued to sit flushly with use, so no worries there.
At £69.99 the Aero Combo lightset isn't spectacular value, but the sheer brightness from the strip array of LEDs – as opposed to the five-LED layout of the Lezyne Strip Drive set – is impressive and goes quite some way to justifying the price tag.
Used as attention-drawing blinkies that can be fitted and removed incredibly easily to all kinds of bikes, they're well worth considering.
Bright, highly visible lights that really draw other road users' attention
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Topeak Aero Combo USB 1W lightset
Size tested: 7.6x3.4x3.1cm
Tell us what the light set is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Distributor Extra says: "[This is a] Safety light combo including both Whitelite Aero USB 1W & Redlite Aero USB 1W."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the light set?
- Rubber strap allows tool-free mounting and removal.
- Low battery indicator
- Lamp: 3 Super Bright LED's
- Battery: 3.7V 640 mAh Lithium
- Modes: High Beam, Low Beam, Blinking, Pulse
- Burn Time (approx): 2hr (High), 4hr (Low), 15hr (Blinking), 50hr (Pulse)
- Charge Time (approx): 2hrs
- 42g each
The light units themselves are nicely made – only the USB charger caps strike me as a very slight weakness, though nothing untoward has happened to them.
One simple button to cycle through the modes and switch it on and off, with an attachment system that's pretty much as easy as they come.
It's a strap that simply tethers the light around the fix point and onto itself again.
No water ingress at all. I had reservations over the USB caps but they've been fine – though they could fit a little more deeply...
Good battery life and burn times – around about where they're claimed to be.
They do what they say on the tin with great all-round visibility, although the small claim on the back of the box that the front could be used as a beam-style light I think is overplaying its ability a bit.
No complaints here.
Can't say fairer than 42g per light, can you?
I'd say £69.99 is decent value; the lights do a great job of drawing attention to you thanks to the brightness of the strip layout. If you can find a good deal online, all the better.
Tell us how the lights performed overall when used for their designed purpose
Tell us what you particularly liked about the lights
All-round visibility, bright strip COB LED design, ease of fitting and use.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the lights
Did you enjoy using the lights? Yes
Would you consider buying the lights? Yes
Would you recommend the lights to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
There's aren't many situations (one, actually: D-shape seatposts) where this light set would be stumped; they have great brightness and do exactly as they purport to.
About the tester
I usually ride: Canyon Ultimate CF SL 9.0 SL (2016) My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding