A while back, ElectroStar sent us their Wireless Signal Pod Turn Signal for review. ElectroStar is an LED company by background – their parent company, Buztronics, manufactures LEDs for a very wide variety of uses (RL, you should get some scooter lights!) – so we were happy to test out the Signal Pod. The Signal Pod retails for $49.95, a price ElectroStar justifies given its wireless capability (a wired version sells for $10 less), and comes with the Pod unit, a control unit, a seatpost-mount bracket, and pre-installed batteries. With the controls, you can signal a right turn, left turn, or turn your “hazard” lights on by having everything blink (though I’m not sure I want people to start thinking of me as a hazard as I go down the road!).
Out of the box, things looked good – the LEDs were very bright, and the wireless signal works from well over the required distance (I tested it at up to 30 feet). It mounted to my bike fairly easily as well, and the signal buttons were pretty intuitive. I also liked that the turn signal was sequential – each chevron lights up in sequence, making it very clear which direction you’re turning! Unfortunately, that was where the good things ended (had I known this, I would have taken more pictures earlier on… sorry folks!).
One of the advertised features is that the Pod beeps when the turn signal is on. While some sort of noise is definitely a good feature since you can’t see it, the beep is incredibly annoying. It’s not bad if you’re taking a turn on the go, but sitting at a traffic light for a couple minutes is somewhat brutal.
The noise wasn’t the worst part though – the worst part was that it only has a seatpost mount, and when I got on my bike the backs of my legs hit the pod! I’d like to say it’s because I’m just so muscular, but I’d be lying… I’m sure it works for some bikes, but it didn’t work for my commuter… and I’d never thought it was an unusual design.
Determined to get this thing through a more extended test, I jury-rigged a setup (using an old piece of PVC and an extra stem I had laying around) to attach the mount to the back of my Burley trailer. I had trouble getting the signal mount off my handlebars though, and ended having to cut one of the bolts off. Before I could get a replacement bolt in, my kids (ages 9 months and 3) bumped into the signal pod (still mounted on the back of the trailer) a couple times and broke that bracket. SO… that was the end of the test for me – and somewhat of a deal-breaker, since if my 3-year-old can break something by walking by it, I know it’s not going to stand the test of staying on the trailer for a long time.
While I can’t give this a huge thumbs-up as is, I think there are 4 things that could make these some killer lights:
1. Different brackets. Almost everything else I buy to put on my bike (lights, fenders, computer, etc) comes with multiple mounting options or at least a flexible fit system – I think this should too. I’d especially like to see a rack-mount option – most commuters use rear racks, and what’s on the rack often blocks the view of a seatpost.
2. Durable construction. I won’t say I never break stuff… but I don’t usually break stuff unless it’s on my mountain bike and I crash. These lights are meant for commuting – they should be able to take a hit from another bike in a bike rack, for example. Currently, the brackets just aren’t durable enough.
3. Incorporate some bar-end signals for forward and side visibility. When sitting at a stop sign, I still had to use hand signals, since those coming from other directions couldn’t see the light. I’d be excited to buy something with that capability – and ElectroStar already makes bar end lights.
4. Change the beeping noise! Yes, it’s a minor complaint, but I was frankly relieved when I didn’t have to listen to it anymore.