Bikerumor Review – Reel Light Commuter Bike Lights

reelight commuter bike light no battery magnet power bicycle cycling blinky front rear safety

Reelight is a Danish company that makes the first magnet-powered bike lights.  Yep, magnets…is there anything they can’t do!  Seriously, though, there are some great benefits to these lights.

Reelights are sold in a set, one for the front and one for the rear (more pics after the break). At first glance, the absence of batteries may seem like the biggest improvement over normal blinkies.  But, look at where these mount…once installed, you don’t need to worry about leaving them on the bike because they can’t be stolen.  This also means you won’t head out for a ride and forget them.  This is a big plus for convenience!

Reelight won a EuroBike Gold award for these innovative lights…but do they work as advertised?  Read “more” for our full review and see if these are the right commuter lights for you…

The Reelight works on the principal of electromagnetic induction. You mount two magnets on the wheel (the two black things on the spokes in the pic below), and as they pass by the light, the magnets create an electric charge in the wound copper wire inside the light unit.  It’s a simple, cheap way to create endless power.

The lights we tested also had a built-in capacitor to store some electricity so the lights will blink for a while after you stop.  To you, that means they’re still blinking when you’re sitting at a stop light or waiting to cross a street.  In my rides, they continued blinking for anywhere from 30 seconds to two minutes or so after I stopped riding. (NOTE: They offer a lower model with no capacitor, also)

I mounted the front on the drive-side so traffic and pedestrians on side streets would see me coming.  This was a compromise…it did less to alert oncoming traffic that might turn left in front of me.  The rear was mounted on the opposite side so it would be more visible to traffic coming up behind me.  Due to the placement so close to the hub, the peripheral visibility of the lights is sometimes blocked by the tires…putting two sets on your bike (one on each side) would actually be ideal.  Depending on your set up, they offer extenders and adaptors to work with disc brakes, roller brakes and derailleurs.  All of our testers put them on bikes with normal v-brakes or hub brakes, so we didn’t run into any issues.

 

If you want to watch this in HD, click here.

The video below shows the lights in action and illustrates the visibility limitations of mounting only on one side…HOWEVER, the bike ridden in the video is the same one in the pics, and it has really, really fat tires.  Most commuter bikes and those ridden by children and students don’t have tires this fat.  With that in mind, the lights are probably more visible on “normal” bikes than on my hog.

Reelight makes a few interesting claims about their products:

  • that “daytime” lights increased rider safety by 32% in a study done in their country.
  • Their rep, Thomas, claims they’ve sold about 800,000 units in Denmark since launching the product in 2005…and their population is only about 5 million.
  • They claim that over 10,000,000 batteries have been saved worldwide…there’s actually a counter on their homepage that tallies the batteries saved.

PERFORMANCE:

We had several people test these out, including some daily commuters.  Everyone appreciated the convenience and “set it and forget it” installation, but everyone commented that they did nothing to illuminate the path in front of them.

Indeed, the lights don’t really do anything to illuminate your path.  But they do blink plenty bright enough to be seen, which is entirely the point of these lights.  They’re promoted as a convenient, durable safety light that’s environmentally friendly and extremely easy to use.  In that regard, they live up to all of their claims and we award them 4.5 Thumbs Up.  If they were were a little more visible from both sides of the bike, they’d get a 5.

AVAILABILITY AND PRICING:

In the U.S., Reelight is available through J&B Importers, so your local bike shop can order a set for you.

MSRP is as follows:

 

  • SL100 – $52.00 (no capacitor, stops blinking when you stop riding)
  • SL120 – $73.00 (capacitor, blinking light)
  • SL150 – $73.00 (capacitor, steady light)

Comments

Gretchen - 03/02/09 - 12:28am

I have had these lights for almost 2 years now and I absolutely love them! I have the set with the capacitator and they haven’t failed me yet.

Flatfix - 06/10/09 - 1:03am

These lights are truly fabulous. I have use the system for at least a year in the city and they work as advertised, vehicles are more aware of me. Currently, one of the lights has stopped blinking and it seems that when the bulb fails the entire light will have to be replaced.

[...] and no components (meaning no magnets strapped to the wheel to generate power). We have a review on a Dynamo that is generated with a magnetic component, pretty nifty in itself. The Magnic Light avoids these components by harnessing energy created by [...]

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