Hard to Miss: Bike Lights Like You've Never Seen Before

Along with over half a million others, I was in awe watching the short video that showed the lights in action. Ironically (and painfully), I had been hit by a car due to a lack of adequate lighting on my bike several days prior, so I was thoroughly elated by the prospect of what I was seeing, though I still had to wonder if the lights could possibly perform as well in reality.

Over the past two weeks, testing the lights on night rides throughout the Twin Cities, I have found the answer to be a definitive yes.

Newest Revolights video, featuring flashing brakelight

Revolights aren’t the brightest lighting system out there. And they’re not trying to be. The Revos provide a full 360 degrees of visibility, with side visibility, in particular, that is second to none. On each wheel, eight 35-lumen LEDs illuminate the rider at all times without leaving oncoming drivers and other cyclists with burning retinas.

The forward-facing white lights illuminate the ground about eight to ten feet ahead of the front wheel. On rough roads, I supplemented the forward visibility with a bar light to help spot oncoming potholes.

The electronics are fully sealed and coated, which allow the Revolights to withstand wet conditions. Though, like all electronics, exposure to salt or alkaline dust on the road (for those of us in colder climates) can create issues. Keep ‘em clean.

Revo pic3.1.jpg

Compatible with road and hybrid 700c wheels and 27-inch rims

How it works: The patented system consists of two narrow, polypropylene-coated aluminum rings of LEDs that mount directly to each wheel using clips and spacers. Removable, USB-rechargeable lithium-ion batteries mounted to the front and rear hub supply power to the LEDs. Run time is about 4 hours on a full charge.

A pair of small magnets and an integrated accelerometer provide speed and orientation data to the rings, which allow the LEDs to synchronize with your speed, creating forward- and rear-facing arcs of light.

The complete system weighs in at a 1.5 pounds. For commuting purposes, weight is much less important than in a performance setting, so the weight is inconsequential in my mind.

During the day, the Revolights add a bit of aesthetic bulk, which pales in comparison to the aesthetic awesomeness they deliver as soon as the sun goes down.

Revo supplies1.jpg

Revolights: the whole package

The installation process is tedious but straightforward considering the amount of science that went into producing the lights. With the help of a mechanic at One on One Bicycle Studio in Minneapolis, it took an hour and a half to install the full setup.

Professional assistance isn’t necessary in most cases, and Revolights offers a full-spread of detailed installation videos, in addition to the included instruction manual.

Overall, we’re mighty impressed with the Revo design. The visibility out-shines anything we’ve tested for this purpose, and after rolling now for a couple weeks on these magic wheels the utter fun (not to mention the added confidence while riding at night) has yet to wear off.

Lead time on orders is now three to six weeks at Revolights.com, with all orders placed now shipping before the holidays. Just consider yourself warned that Revolights on the road will upstage your neighbors’ holiday yard decorations and the Christmas lights hanging in the trees.

—Patrick Murphy is an assistant editor.


The author riding the Revolights; photo by T.C. Worley

Posted by traci - 11/06/2012 11:11 AM

Let me know when they come out with 650s

Posted by Carl W - 11/06/2012 12:17 PM

They’re really cool!
just a thought, if they run on accelerometers, would they end up pointing upwards when going downhill/pulling a wheelie or downwards when going uphill?
Fantastic stuff though, i’d love a set!

Posted by Foxshadow - 11/06/2012 01:43 PM

Bling with a purpose, very sweet.

Posted by Pat–GJ - 11/06/2012 02:41 PM

Hey Carl,

I just talked to Adam, the co-founder of Revolights, and here’s what he said in regard to your question:

“The accelerometer only controls the lights at low speeds (<3-4mph). So once moving quick, they run off the magnet by calculating the wheel’s period of rotation (using an electronic component known as a hall effect sensor).

So to answer the question:

a) when going up a steep hill very slowly, they will point forward into the road, or “parallel” to what would be flat ground.

b) when rippin’ a wheelie, as long as your tires are spinning, the arcs should remain pointing “bicycle forward”.

Posted by T.C. Worley - 11/06/2012 03:31 PM

Well when they come up with one that I can wheelie at will with, call me.
All joking aside, the price is not bad at all for the “don’t get run over” factor.

Posted by jaja - 11/06/2012 04:07 PM

sick! want some

Posted by KC - 11/06/2012 04:39 PM

The colors remind me of Tron.

Posted by Jill Fassler - 11/07/2012 05:35 AM

What is the price on a set of these lights?

Posted by Sean McCoy - 11/07/2012 10:08 PM

Those look awesome. Nice review.

Posted by Jean Baron - 11/09/2012 08:57 AM

Very cool – I want to get these for my husband who night rides. Great article too!

Posted by Carl - 11/12/2012 08:56 AM

Many thanks for your response. i find them genuinely interesting and would be a fantastic addition to a bike.
would look great on a mountain bike for longer exposure photography at the trails too!

Posted by Gearmunk - 11/12/2012 11:46 AM

What an excellent idea. It looked like, from the video, that the red rear lite blinks when you decel, which is a brilliant design.

Posted by testpilot - 01/09/2013 03:09 PM

just one nitpick:
you weren’t hit by a car “ironically”, you were hit “incidentally”
(and I’m sorry that you were hit, of course)

Posted by Bruce Schneider - 01/12/2013 03:15 PM

Pay really close attention to the measurements and the bikes that WON’T accept their product on their page. My girlfriend made the mistake of purchasing these for me as a Christmas gift only to find out afterwards that they won’t fit. I consulted with Kent via email and he attempted everything possible to get me riding, but to no avail. The lights are awesome to say the least and I’ve waited just like everyone else who had seen the video. I guess I’ll just have to wait a little bit longer until this company and it’s braintrust comes up with something that will fit my bike and others like. Nice guys with a very nice product nonetheless.

Posted by shyam dhruv - 01/29/2013 11:20 PM

i was recently in San Francisco and i saw a set of these roll down fisherman’s wharf, i did a double take after seeing them in person, they looked really good! i wish i would have caught up with the rider but he was gone!

Posted by sosa - 11/26/2013 04:47 PM

these lights do look really awesome! Buuuuut I opted out of buying them. they are very bulky, and you have to screw them directly into your rim, if I wasn’t mistaken, at the show I saw these at.. In other words you have to ruin a pair of rims to mount them. Not only that, once installed the way you have to wire them and the battery pack etc; makes your wheels spin lop-sided! NO BUENO. In other words they are great for show, and they are bright as all heck. you will look realy cool with these on. it will turn heads. but funcionality wise it is a bad idea. imho. cheers!

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