$99 'Rear Red Blinky' Bike Light

By STEPHEN REGENOLD

The car headlights were surging up from behind. I was on my bike, and it was 10pm in the city. I glanced down and back toward my rear wheel, the pulse of my seatpost-mounted light a reassuring red glow on the road.

Bike taillights are requisite items for anyone who rides in traffic after dark. Most often, this means blinky LEDs that cost $10 to $20 at a bike shop. A new entry, the Light & Motion Vis 180 costs ten times what a cheapie blinker might cost (at $99), though its upgrades make it worth the change for committed riders of the night.

light and motion vis 180 light.jpg

Two views: Light & Motion Vis 180

To the point, this bike light makes you more visible to cars. Its quoted 35 lumens of brightness is almost comparable to a taillight on an automobile. Bonus: A pair of blinking amber-color lights on the sides of the Vis 180 give the light its namesake 180 degrees of glow.

It has built-in batteries that recharge via a cell phone micro USB cord. You can plug it into your computer for a charge. The company cites a run time of 4 hours on high and up to 8 hours of red light on pulse mode.

Light and Motion - Vis 180 (charging).jpg

Laptop-chargeable bike light

The Vis takes about 4 hours to recharge in full when plugged in. A battery charge indicator light on the base of the unit lets you know power status, an appreciated extra touch.

To fit on a bike, the light cinches onto a seatpost with a rubber strap. It has a tilt function to let you position it best on back of the bike. A push-to-remove feature allows you to take the light off without removing the mounting strap.

This spring, on late-evening commutes and into the night, I have clipped the Vis 180 on my road bike and immediately felt safer. Its $99 price tag is a stinger, no doubt. But if you can afford the price, this light will likely keep you safe for the long haul.

—Stephen Regenold is founder and editor of www.gearjunkie.com.

Posted by Warren Long - 05/30/2011 10:24 AM

I have the Light&Motion VIS360. This is a helmet mount headlight and taillight combo. Like the VIS 180, really expensive ($170). But I am really happy with it. Bright, lightweight and charge lasts a long time. But, with the helmet mount, I will never accidentally leave it attached to my bike.

Posted by Plinko - 05/31/2011 08:53 PM

Wow.

Princeton Tec Swerve on the rear will be nearly the same brightness and save you $70.

On the front it’s a MagicShine 900-Lumen LED Headlamp, http://www.dealextreme.com/p/ha-iii-cree-ssc-p7-c-sxo-3-mode-900-lumen-led-headlamp-set-4-18650-included-29489

Posted by Brider - 06/08/2011 04:33 AM

Looks like the Swerve has a mere 7 lumens compared to the 35 lumens the Vis 180 has, and it doesn’t have side lighting. Somewhere on the Light and Motion website you can see the beam tests from both lights, i think http://www.bikelights.com/vis180.html. And the swerve doesn’t have rechargeable battery system :(
MagicShine? Huge recall on their poor quality units: http://www.geomangear.com/index.php?main_page=recall
Lights are expensive, but I just consider it buying riding time and it’s money well spent.

Posted by Phoenix - 09/22/2012 09:28 PM

I have to agree with money spent on lighting. If you will be riding mostly at night (like those of us with dark days up north), I’d take a $200 bike + $300 lights over a $1000 bike with $50 lights. If you can possibly afford it, get hardware, not accessories.
See the road or crash. Be seen or be run over. Lights have to do the job…period, or you’re toast.

Posted by The Flying Camera - 12/15/2012 09:33 PM

How much is safety worth? I’d say spend as much as you can, not spend a little as an afterthought!

Prior to stumbling across this art noveau trinket, I used a NiteRider CherryBomb, itself powerful enough to assert a presence on the road, then along came L&M…

Side visibility of a cyclist’s presence is just as important as being visible from the rear. I have the Vis180 and it is by far the brightest, most intense light I have used in 35 years of cycling. The flashing amber led is a major bonus to side visibility, even if it has a funky look to it: who else has this function? Granted, $100 sounds a bit extreme (correction, it is extreme!) and an initial worry about theft, but hey, you don’t leave your deadly treadly on the street unlocked, so don’t leave it out on the street, locked up, with the Vis180 tempting fate! My sister drove up behind me from about 1km away and said the presence of the bike was unmistakable, and she said she was a bit ‘frazzled’ in the eyes by the very intense glow (which was on LOW setting!). So it has done it’s trick, even though Siss didn’t know who it was until we both got home!

Round where I live, there are road cyclists using $700 front and rear light systems, on during the day, not just the night, getting equal visibility treatment as motorcyclists do (who are required by law to drive with headlights on).

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