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.
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.
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.
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.