BikeCommuters.com

Product Review: Flashbak safety light

Just in time for “dark season,” we received a FlashBak safety light. I’ve put this baby through the paces over the last few weeks.  This includes freakishly warm temperatures at the beginning of this month, lots of rain earlier this week, and snowy slush yesterday.

Let’s take a look, shall we?

Construction is simple, and use is straight-forward. There’s a battery pack, an illuminated pushbutton remote to turn things on and off, and the light rig itself: 10 bright amber LEDs embedded in a nylon strap. Several alligator clips are attached to the rig with paracord, so it can clip onto pretty much anything from jerseys and hydration packs to panniers and bookbags.

When I said the LEDs were bright, I meant it.  Aside from cropping, this image came straight off my camera without any other manipulation. Other cyclists and a few motorists have also commented on how bright it is. You will be seen.

The on-off remote can be clipped to your backpack strap, to the front of your shirt, or somewhere else that’s easy to get to and see. It has a matching LED in it as well, saving you the hassle of doing that probably-familiar “is my light on?” neck-crane maneuver.

Here’s a video of it in action. There’s only one mode, and it’s a pretty eye-catching pattern.

I don’t know how many hours I’ve gotten out of it so far, but it’s still running on the original 3AA batteries that it shipped with. The battery pack also holds the electronics “brain” (embedded in waterproof epoxy) as well as a hard on-off switch to remove any possibility of accidentally turning it on when you don’t want to.

All in all, this is a solid-built rig that seems to hold up well in all weather conditions. It’s pretty much the brightest rear light I’ve seen on a bicycle before, and the amber color is a nice touch. I still usually combine it with a steady-lit red rear tail light and DOT reflectors, though.  Some steady, bright-red LEDs and/or reflective piping added to this rig would be a great addition to the product line, in my opinion. Distance is hard to judge by flashing lights alone.

MSRP is $45. It can be purchased at a few bike shops in Austin, TX or on the manufacturer’s website: FlashBakOnline.com

Although this product was given to me by the manufacturer, I tried pretty much everything I could do within the parameters of my usual commute routine to break and abuse this product. The above is my brutally honest and unbiased opinion.

Please click here to read our review disclaimer as required by the Federal Trade Commission.

18 Comments

  1. Powerful Pete

    Interesting. Looks like a nice way of adding light a bit higher up (and therefore more visible) than the usual red light on the seatpost approach.

    Wonder if it will come to Europe and what the pricing will be…

  2. Mike Myers

    Bright, yes, but seems like a complicated solution to a simple problem. A Planet Bike Superflash clipped to a backpack would be just as visible for half the price.

    No mounting point? Sew one on. Easy.

  3. Noah (Post author)

    I use a PB Superflash as my main bike-mounted tail light, and I can tell you that it’s nowhere near as visible as the Flashbak.

  4. Ghost Rider

    I like the idea of throwing in another color in my “nighttime visibility kit” — amber lights in such a pattern may really help you stand out from all the red lights that surround us at night.

  5. Matt P

    That would be a great addition for my commute. I currently have a flashing reflective triangle on my messenger bag, a blinky on my helmet and my rack, but this would be very nice.

  6. Guy

    That’s a great idea. I just changed shifts at work and my ride home is dark with lots of traffic. When I was on my previous shift, the ride in was dark but didn’t seem as dark and definately a lot less traffic.

  7. Elizabeth

    I just wonder about those clips on a pannier set-up. Since I’ve started commuting sans-backpack, I would have to get creative with the mounting of such a device.

  8. Noah

    I did mount it on my Axiom LaSalle pannier one time. Basically, it has to either be a grocery-style pannier or a well-packed one to fit right. It will work, though. Also, you can wrap it around the corner of your pannier if you don’t mind some of the light going off to the side of you (not always a bad thing, mind you)

  9. Marrock

    This is a damn good idea.

    Add some velcro and it looks like it’d mount nicely to the cover flap of the Banjo Bros. commuter backpack.

  10. Grace and Tiffany

    Howdy!

    Great write-up. We’re both runners and can imagine using this on our Camelbacks when we have to run at night.

    We linked to your excellent post on our blog, *Product Review Round-Up* under the category of Unique Products. The link is embedded in this listing:

    NEW 11/19-Biking in the dark is safer with FlashBak’s safety light

    Again, many thanks!

    Happy Trails to you,
    Grace and Tiffany
    The Uncommon Cowgirls of Product Review Round-Up
    http://productreviewroundup.com

  11. ksteinhoff

    I’m a big fan of lights and reflectors and I wear a Camelbak with a relective Slow Moving Triangle on it.

    At some point, though, I wonder if there’s a point when you hit Too Much?

    Temptation is being resisted, but I feel myself reaching for my credit card.

  12. Noah

    I generally think it’s hard to be too easy-to-see. Wearing this (granted, with the Planet Bike SF on steady mode) is the first time people have really come up and commented on how lit up I am. Well, aside from when I’m rocking Christmas lights on the bike, but those aren’t so much comments on brightness as they are comments on style (or stupidity, depending on commenter)

  13. Raiyn

    Putting it on my X-mas list now.

  14. Liam

    Looks great, and would be tempted but these: http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.6488are far cheaper (post is included)

    Wrapped them around the frame of my bike, but could use to cover your bag etc.

    They do a just white version: http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.6483 less than $5 inc world wide postage

  15. Jay Rain

    I have seen these lights as I ride around Austin. They are nothing like christmas lights….these babies can be seen forever! I put xmas lights on my ride around this time of year, for fun. The Flashbak is the brightest rear light I have seen to date. I really need to get one too.

  16. Brad

    The FlashBaks do seem more complicated than a simple red blinkie light. But, I guess bicycles originally came with coaster brakes, no gears, and simple red reflectors; and people embraced the changes because of the gains in technology. Sometimes something better just comes along and creates a paradigm shift. I like the innovativeness of Americans. Finally, you can safely tell if your rear light is ON while riding.

  17. Pingback: A review of the Flashbak safety light for cyclists | Bicycle Design

  18. Jack Day

    As a cross-country rider, I have been looking for something to light me up in daylight. This appears to be it, but there is no daytime video available. Should I take a chance?

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