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The Veglo Commuter X4 is a unique, wearable safety light designed to accommodate rucksacks up to 35 litres. Reckoned to give other road users a much better gauge of rider speed and distance, it was conceived following a nasty accident and I for one am suitably impressed by its design and output.
The system is essentially an adjustable harness impregnated with 3M reflectives and fibre optics, which feed from a big central hub containing a single LED, lithium polymer cell, charge port and switchgear. LED life expectancy is a claimed 10,000 hours, while Veglo say the battery will give 500 charges at full capacity, whereupon it drops to 70%, so even with daily use you should get several years out of one.
Unlike traditional lights, this doesn't employ a reflector in the literal sense, rather it's integral to the three tier polycarbonate lens. A concave dome amplifies the LED, while diffuser and outer components project light at 45 degrees, theoretically eliminating blind spots.
Ours was one of the first 120 and the charge port flap proved a little tricky to access and charge initially but this has been rectified on production models. Aside from introducing a pea sized blob of silicone, it's never missed a beat during several, very wet rides. There are two rubberised switches sit either side, safely out of harm's way. One commands the LED, its counterpart the fibre optics.
The switches are positive enough that accidental engagement's a moot point, though they're trickier than some to locate in gloved hands. Pressing for two seconds gives a choice of six settings.
There's no doubt all are extremely effective and steady modes induce a glow reminiscent of those 1970s Ready Brek TV adverts. Perhaps unsurprisingly, running flashing LED and fibre optics simultaneously reaps best rewards both in terms of impact and run times.
All six modes live up to Veglo's smarter not brighter mantra, not only in my experience nailing driver attention from 400 metres (nearer 300 in town) but 180-degree visibility means you'll stay firmly on their radar when negotiating roundabouts and other turns. Anecdotally, it seems to improve driver perception of wearer speed and distance too, reflected in more generous overtaking distances and this has obvious benefits for road runners and motorcyclists too.
I found the pulsing and sequential flashing modes most effective through sticks and suburbs respectively but the ability to switch between steady, pulsing, flashing combinations ensure you'll never worry about going unnoticed. Indeed, for the last word in retina tickling, try coupling it with a day glow rucksack.
Run times are pretty favourable too, returning 3hrs 47 minutes in 70 lumens constant (compared with four quoted) while flashing/pulsing combinations all returned 5hrs 52. Strict compliance with the law requires a secondary bike mounted light in any case, so serious nocturnal mile munchers could always switch to fibre optic only and get 19hrs 51 from a full charge.
Putting it on yourself or luggage is plain sailing. I've honed it to thirty seconds having watched their online video and I've easily been able to get it over a 30 litre rucksack.
Speaking of which, there's no need for its removal when accessing pockets/sections; simply uncouple one side and dive in as normal. Alternating between this and lightweight shell jackets, I've barely noticed it when turning or glancing over my shoulder and the straps' webbed texture means they double as decent blinky mounts for the ultimate 'Christmas tree gone berserk' effect.
Incredibly effective, yet unobtrusive wearable safety device but you'll still need front and rear lights to be legal
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Make and model: Veglo Commuter X4
Size tested: n/a
Tell us what the product 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?
Arguably aimed at commuters first, the Veglo Commuter X4 is a wearable safety device designed to accommodate riders, or rider mounted luggage up to 35 litres. Reckoned to improve driver perception of speed and distance, it's an extremely intelligent, innovative design that genuinely delivers.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Fits over rain covers
Multiple flash and fade settings
Silver reflective straps
Combination of LED and fibre optic technology. Expected LED life 10,000 hours, lithium polymer cell reckoned to achieve 500 charge cycles before capacity dips to 70%. Said to accommodate luggage up to 35 litre capacity-30 litre examples posed no problems. Choice of 70/30 lumen outputs.
Very good in the main but ours was one of the formative production runs with a slightly fiddly charge port cover-this has been addressed on contemporary versions.
Captivating in every setting and with decent run times too.
Port aside, ours seemed very well made and has resisted heavy rain and everyday use with no obvious weaknesses.
Barely noticed it and design ensures easy access to luggage compartments-there's no need for removal, simply uncouple one strap.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Overall, I've been extremely impressed with its design, performance and economy. A distinctive hue and several settings means there's little risk of dropping off the radar- at any point, though particularly when turning or negotiating roundabouts. Visibility to others ranges from 450 metres on clear, starry nights to 250 in neon saturated town centres. Run times are extremely commendable too, catering for short scoots round town to Audax and similar endurance events.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Unobtrusive, user-friendly concept that meets it's design brief handsomely.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
My one minor gripe is that changing modes is not easily achieved on the fly but the same is true of rucksacks/covers/jackets and other wearable technology.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Definitely.
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
Brilliant concept and well executed but no substitute for rear, bike mounted lighting.
Age: 40 Height: 1m 81 Weight: 70 kilos
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb Frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)