Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Portland Design Works RADBOT 1000: A Review

With a name like the RADBOT 1000 you might think this device has been sent from the future to wipe out mankind's best hope in our upcoming battle with the machines. In fact, the RADBOT 1000 is actually designed to protect humans, specifically bicycle-riding humans, from rear-end collisions. Yes, it's a tail light. It's the brightest damn tail light I've seen to date. Yes, it's brighter than the previous holder of the brightest damn tail light title, the Planet Bike Super Flash.

The RADBOT 1000 has both an EU conforming reflector and a 1.0 Watt LED. Like most modern tail lights, the RADBOT 1000 has a couple of blinking modes plus a solid option. The modes are described as "zZz" and "zZzPOP!" and "rock steady" and those are pretty good approximations of the light. The "zZzPOP!" is by far the most attention grabbing and the most obnoxious for those of us who do group rides after dark. Randonneurs will opt to keep the light running in "rock steady" mode and will want to make sure the light is pointed straight back and not into the eyes of your riding companions. In the photo above the light looks yellow, but that's just because it's very close to overwhelming my camera. In real life, it's very bright red. Dazzling. If you look straight at it, you'll be seeing spots.

The RADBOT 1000 comes with a seat post clamp, several sizes of rubber shims, a seat stay clamp and a rack clamp. It also comes complete with two alkaline AAA batteries. The packaging assures me the batteries will power the light for 50 hours, but I haven't owned it long enough to test that out.

Some lights have the annoying habit of turning on or off when they get jostled on bumpy roads or trails (or in a pack) but the folks who designed the RADBOT 1000 have solved that problem in a clever way. You have to hold the switch for two seconds to turn the light on or off or change its mode. Random jarrings are quicker than that, so they shouldn't affect the light.

So far, I've had no water issues with the light. One problem with the otherwise excellent Planet Bike Super Flash was the bottom-mounted switch and a few randonneurs had problems with water shorting out the switch. The RADBOT 1000 has the interior electronics and switch mounted fairly high in the light so even if water does seep in, the chances of a short are lessened.

If you've read this far, you can probably tell I like this light. Now here's where I put in my disclaimer. We sell these lights at the shop where I work, the Bicycle Center of Issaquah. We sell 'em 'cause we like 'em. I liked one of 'em well enough to buy it (yes, I get a shop-worker discount). If you buy one at my shop or via an Amazon link here, some of the money goes to me.

It's a good light, it's bright as heck and I think it's a good deal.

Keep 'em rolling,


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