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Cycling app of the week: Better Bike Light

This Android-only app turns your phone in to either an emergency front or rear light, useful if you're caught out with flat batteries

What is it?

Ever forgotten to charge your light and it’s gone flat on your way home? This app gives you a useful solution in this situation, allowing you to turn your phone into either a front or back light. You need a flashlight on your phone for the front light settings to work, and it requires access to your camera to control it. The back light actually just takes over your main phone screen, turning it into flashing red arrows that are surprisingly bright and visible. This is also adaptive, so when you're slowing down it will hold steady like a brake light. You can also use a bluetooth headset to indicate turns so you needn't take your hands off the handlebars.

App of the week: Donkey Republic
App of the week: what3words 
 

better bike light 2.png

How can it help me?

Obviously, this app could get you out of a pickle if one of your lights has gone flat on the way home. In the photo above we see the phone mounted to a flat rear light inside a clear case, which brings us to its main shortfall... you'd think cyclists who are prone to memory lapses by not charging their lights might not always carry the necessary equipment to do this! I found it is visible enough to be seen through a clear rain jacket in a back pocket though, and with the brake light and bluetooth turn indicators, perhaps it's good enough to be a viable replacement for a back light in some cases. The front light option is more readily useable providing you have a phone mount fitted to your bike. 
 

What makes it unique?

While there are other apps that turn your phone into a torch, this is the first we've seen that also has a back light option. It's impressively visible but as previously mentioned, you'll have to be organised enough in the first place to find somewhere to mount or carry it. There are multiple front light modes, making this a pretty comprehensive replacement for a flat light when needs must. 

Where can I get it?

The app is completely free and is only available on Android. Download it here. 
 

 

Arriving at road.cc in 2017 via 220 Triathlon Magazine, Jack dipped his toe in most jobs on the site and over at eBikeTips before being named the new editor of road.cc in 2020, much to his surprise. His cycling life began during his students days, when he cobbled together a few hundred quid off the back of a hard winter selling hats (long story) and bought his first road bike - a Trek 1.1 that was quickly relegated to winter steed, before it was sadly pinched a few years later. Creatively replacing it with a Trek 1.2, Jack mostly rides this bike around local cycle paths nowadays, but when he wants to get the racer out and be competitive his preferred events are time trials, sportives, triathlons and pogo sticking - the latter being another long story.  

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12 comments

Avatar
Nick T | 6 years ago
0 likes

My phone flash in torch mode barely gets me down the stairs to the kitchen for my midnight protein shake, what exactly makes this Better Bike Light any “better”

Avatar
Trickytree1984 | 6 years ago
1 like

Always carry a spare. I've learned this the hard way

Avatar
Yorkshire wallet replied to Trickytree1984 | 6 years ago
1 like
Trickytree1984 wrote:

Always carry a spare. I've learned this the hard way

I changed to a USB rechargeable one because of battery failure one day. At least with the USB as my commuting lights I can give them a top up once I get to work. I've also got another rear in the bag as a backup just in case.

 

Avatar
LastBoyScout replied to Yorkshire wallet | 6 years ago
0 likes
Yorkshire wallet wrote:
Trickytree1984 wrote:

Always carry a spare. I've learned this the hard way

I changed to a USB rechargeable one because of battery failure one day. At least with the USB as my commuting lights I can give them a top up once I get to work. I've also got another rear in the bag as a backup just in case.

But with spare batteries, you can change them mid-ride - not so easy with a dying USB light. In desperation, you can usually buy a pack of batteries at a garage or shop.

LED lights are so small and cheap these days, I've got into the habit of carrying 2.

Avatar
handlebarcam | 6 years ago
5 likes

Or just ask a passing cyclist with a working LED if you can shoot a three-second video of their one, flashing if preferred, and stick it on loop mode.

Avatar
BarryBianchi replied to handlebarcam | 6 years ago
1 like
handlebarcam wrote:

Or just ask a passing cyclist with a working LED if you can shoot a three-second video of their one, flashing if preferred, and stick it on loop mode.

Nugatory effort.  Better to download dashcam footage of a sharp left turn, put THAT on loop mode, and wait for the problem of airholes who tailgate you solve itself...

Avatar
CygnusX1 | 6 years ago
4 likes

Oh dear. Words fail me.

 

Avatar
Prosper0 replied to CygnusX1 | 6 years ago
3 likes
CygnusX1 wrote:

Oh dear. Words fail me.

 

why? If you need to get home and your lights die halfway. Frankly I’ll take anything. 

Avatar
rix replied to Prosper0 | 6 years ago
0 likes
Prosper0 wrote:
CygnusX1 wrote:

Oh dear. Words fail me.

why? If you need to get home and your lights die halfway. Frankly I’ll take anything. 

Have been there... due to two punctures returned home much later than planned, in dark with no lights. OK, I had hi-vis... but still was $!£$ing myself.

Avatar
CygnusX1 replied to rix | 6 years ago
0 likes
rix wrote:
Prosper0 wrote:
CygnusX1 wrote:

Oh dear. Words fail me.

why? If you need to get home and your lights die halfway. Frankly I’ll take anything. 

Have been there... due to two punctures returned home much later than planned, in dark with no lights. OK, I had hi-vis... but still was $!£$ing myself.

Why?

1. The biggest advantage of having a mobile phone is that you can use it to - wait for it - make a phone call to ask for help (spouse/partner/mate/taxi cab). Using your phone as a light is going to drain the f*ck out of it, rendering it useless for its original primary purpose (yeah, I know, who phones these days? Mobes are for Strava and Snaptwitbook or something or so my kids tell me).

2. How do you mount the thing?  If you use your phone as a GPS cycle computer and happen to have a mount on your handlebars which you might possibly be able to reorientate so the camera flash is facing forwards. Otherwise you're screwed.  If you haven't already jerry-rigged a rear facing mount out of a clear pouch and a rear light as in Jack's photo above, you're screwed. 

3. If you can somehow mount the phone at the front then why not just use the flashlight app on the phone?

4. If you can somehow mount the phone at the rear why not use the flashlight app combined with some red cellophane held in place with a couple of rubber bands - probably less of a drain on the battery, longer throw on the light output, and gives you a reason to carry some Cadbury's roses around with you just in case.

5. Or just carry some spares FFS.

Avatar
Deeferdonk replied to CygnusX1 | 6 years ago
3 likes
CygnusX1 wrote:

Oh dear. Words fail me.

 

You've posted more words in these comments than anyone else!

Avatar
CygnusX1 replied to Deeferdonk | 6 years ago
2 likes
Deeferdonk wrote:
CygnusX1 wrote:

Oh dear. Words fail me.

 

You've posted more words in these comments than anyone else!

They failed me because I couldn't sum all that up in a pithy one liner.

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