Reelights Pedal Powered LEDs—KISSably good.12
by Dave R. on Oct 07, 2007 at 8:53 PM
I’ve been meaning to review my Reelights for many months now, but the lights are so damn good I keep forgetting. The Reelights follow the K.I.S.S principal – keep it simple stupid, and this is where their genius lies. The appeal of the lights is so simple you’ve already figured it out –any time you’re moving you’re lit.
Reelights are a novel take on pedal powered lights – no ‘bottle generator’ like on your Mom’s old Schwinn, no expensive hub generator. Just two rare-earth magnets, a coil of wire, some LEDs and a fitting bracket. The light bracket fits on your wheel axel, and the magnets go on your spokes. Whenever your wheels turn, the magnets pass the wire coil in the light and power the LEDs. The high-end model has a capacitor to keep the lights blinking for a few minutes when you stop. Incredibly simple? Yes. Incredibly good? Yes. Foible free? Well…
My friend and I both ordered reelights at the same time late last year. Mine (the SL100s from Amazon) arrived quickly and intact. My friend’s (SL120s from Reelight headquarters in Denmark) arrived broken.
The mounting brackets for Reelight are pretty good. Using the simple screw fixed adjustments I can get the magnets and lights very close to each other without causing them to rub (a tricky thing actually). So the brackets are good, unless you have disc brakes – they’re too short. Reelight sells an extended bracket to accommodate 160mm rotors, but I run 185s on my xtracycle and I haven’t ordered the 160 extension for my rain bike. So, I run my front reelight on the drive side of my bike, away from traffic. Less than ideal.
The lights are down low (axle height). This is OK for traffic far away, but the scary scenario is when an automobile pulls up along side in right hand lane and wants to make a right. Reeligts aren’t going to alert the driver that you’re sitting along side them before they pull right out on top of you.
Lastly, reelights are light weight by most standards, but heavy rotational weight. For you weight weenies out there this might make the difference for you. The heaviest part of the lights are the magnets, which go right on your wheel (spokes), so you’re pushing the magnets around when you’re pushing your wheels and tires.
All things considered, these lights are a fantastic addition to any commuting bike. Incredibly reliable, always on, never out of batteries, what’s to loose? Not much if you run these as backup lights. I feel safer with a higher mounted rear flasher and helmet mounted light as well.
Folks who plan on finishing first might consider a different set of non-rotational-weight-adding lights.