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review

Topeak Redlite Aero USB rear light

7
£29.99

VERDICT:

7
10
Simple but very effective rear light with decent build quality
Weight: 
24g

Topeak's Redlite Aero USB rear light is a simple yet surprisingly capable two-mode LED that delivers decent output and good run-times between charges. Ours returned over 10 hours on constant and nearly 40 on flashing from a full mains charge. That said, there's also an AAA battery sibling for those preferring not to be tied to PCs or similar power sources.

The Redlite has several mounting options, with round, aero and bag adaptors. In practice I've had no problems persuading the aero bracket to play nicely with round as well as aero seatposts or, at the other extreme, pencil thin seatstay tubing.

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Rubber feet hug the surface, ensuring that the light stays flat, while a choice of three rubber bands wrap around the light body's lugs and your tubing.

Topeak Redlite Aero USB - mount detail.jpg

While the aerodynamic advantage is little more than slick marketing, the slender profile has helped, especially when mounted low on the seatstays – I've never clouted it when mounting or dismounting cyclo-cross fashion.

Looking through the injection-moulded plastic lens and housing reveals three LEDs, which are carefully angled to project them in a straight line, irrespective of position. The dome shaped lens offers excellent peripheral bleed and a 220-degree arc of light.

Topeak Redlite Aero USB - side.jpg

The switchgear is located at the top, the USB port beneath. I've spared ours the hosepipe treatment but even when positioned just inches from terra firma and blasted with all sorts of dodgy wet stuff, it's never missed a beat.

At the opposite end lives a simple, rubberised switch that's easily operated in gloved hands and made even simpler by only having the two settings: steady or flashing.

While it's not the brightest light out there, steady is still bold enough to be spotted from 250m along unlit B roads, and the deep red glow seems more effective than some boasting 60 lumens or more on gloomy winter afternoons.

> Check out our guide to the best rear lights here

Flashing has been my default for the most part, primarily because it has more punch and uses less juice. Again, we're talking a very reasonable 300m in the sticks, dipping to half that through city limits. Experimenting with the straps enabled it to be mounted atop some helmets, which also improved visibility – friends reckoned 325m and 180 for flashing/steady respectively.

Ultimately, it's not the most potent light, and on paper looks like it would struggle to compete with more powerful and often cheaper models, but run-times and its actual presence more than compensate. So long as the battery is carefully charged before being placed into hibernation, it should enjoy a long and useful life.

Verdict

Simple but very effective rear light with decent build quality

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Topeak Redlite Aero USB

Size tested: 6.6x2.4x3.4cm

Tell us what the light 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?

Topeak says: "Slim, aerodynamic tail light fits aero / round seatposts, seatstays or Topeak bags perfectly. Rubber strap allows tool-free mounting / removal and multi mounting positions".

Certainly sleek and surprisingly effective but suggestions of aerodynamic advantage should be taken with a large pinch of salt.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the light?

3 super bright red LEDs

Battery

3.7 V 220 mAh Lithium Ion (integrated)

Control

2 modes

Constant / Blinking

Burn Time (approx)

2 modes

10.5 hr Constant /

40 hr Blinking

Light Output

30 cd

Reserve Time (approx)

0.5 hr

Charge

Micro-USB

Charge Time (approx)

2-3 hr

Lamp Housing

Injection molded plastic

Mount

Seatpost / Seatstay / Topeak bags

Added Features

Blinking mode

Low battery indicator

Size (L x W x H)

6.6 x 2.4 x 3.4 cm /

2.6' x 0.9' x 1.3' (Light)

Weight

22.2 g / 0.78 oz (Light)

Rate the light for quality of construction:
 
7/10

Decent quality materials and well sealed in the everyday sense.

Rate the light for design and ease of use. How simple was the light to use?
 
8/10

Simple two-mode design with user-friendly switch.

Rate the light for the design and usability of the clamping system/s
 
8/10
Rate the light for waterproofing. How did it stand up to the elements?
 
7/10
Rate the light for battery life. How long did it last? How long did it take to recharge?
 
8/10
Rate the light for performance:
 
7/10
Rate the light for durability:
 
7/10
Rate the light for weight:
 
7/10
Rate the light for value:
 
6/10

Good quality and effective but seems a little costly for only two modes.

Tell us how the light performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Overall, I've been impressed by the Redlite Aero USB. It's a surprisingly effective two-mode light. Two modes might sound low rent by contemporary standards but the surface area and light quality is very distinctive. Run-times are extremely generous - good enough for hardcore night owls and forgetful commuters alike.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the light

Good quality, clever, yet user-friendly design.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the light

While not outlandish, the lion's share of £30 feels quite expensive for a two-mode model.

Did you enjoy using the light? Yes

Would you consider buying the light? It has proved a pleasant surprise, so possibly.

Would you recommend the light to a friend? Yes

Overall rating: 7/10

About the tester

Age: 42  Height: 1m 81cm  Weight: 70kg

I usually ride: Rough stuff tourer based around 4130 Univega mountain bike 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, mountain biking

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)

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