Let There be Light! – Bontrager Glo & Ember LED’s Reviewed

Bontrager Glo and Ember LED lights

Bontrager Glo and Ember

Bontrager Glo and Ember

As the nights have become dark we all need to make sure we can see and be seen.

Bontrager’s Glo and Ember lights might not be quite the thing if you want to see but they will certainly allow you to be seen.

For the last couple of years I have been using the cheap £2 frog eye lights that are available by the shed load on eBay. While they do a job there is certainly a question over the level of lumens they produce and to be honest there ability to withstand the elements is suspect. I thought it was time to try out something a little more up market, even though this might go against my cheapskate grain!

As soon as I picked up the Bontrager lights I could tell they where going to perform significantly better then the cheap frog eyes.

The marketing blurb on Bontrager’s website describes the lights as follows:-

Test lights supplier by Bikechain Ricci

Test lights supplied by Bikechain Ricci

Instantly add front or rear safety lighting with the Glo headlight and and Ember tail light. Used as a stand alone system in twilight conditions, as additional lighting or as an emergency back-up, these compact, bright and stylish lights can be run in either steady or flashing modes and provide over 40 hours of run time. Each includes two CR2032 batteries and an elastic strap for attachment to a variety of surfaces including helmets.

http://www.bontrager.com/model/11364

The blurb on the packaging is slightly more generous with the run times, 50/100+ hours (Glo front light) and 100+ hours (Ember). The Glo offers 5 lumens and the Ember 3 Lumens.

Ember provides a bright rear light even in daylight.

Ember provides a bright rear light even in daylight.

Fitting the lights is dead simple and the multi hole bands allow for very secure fitting to either seat-post or handle bars, as well as potential use as a helmet light.

These little bad boys are way brighter then any lights of this type I have used before, certainly making them worth the money. They really are great lights to allow you to be seen by but not so good for you to see the road ahead. I frequently use them as my road lights riding city streets to and from the dark lanes or off road ride areas, where I switch to my high power Cree LED lights.

If you are looking for something that will help make you visible on your town or city commute in these dark winter months then get yourself along to your local bike shop and pick up a pair of Bontrager Glo and Ember lights.

CyclingShortsBontragerGlowEmberReviewRatingA definte one to ask Santa to leave in your stocking.

 

A CyclingShorts.cc Star buy at 90%

Retails for around £25 – £30 per set (can be bought individually).

A big thank you to @bikechainricci for supplying these lights for test.

Review – Visibly Better – Two Zero TZ-3 Super Bright Flexible LED Light

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TZ-3 Super Bright Flexible LED
I’ve opted for the Red rear LED Light. The LED light is a great addition to your high-vis set up. This little light has a recessed button so you can’t accidentally switch it on by dropping it or resting something on it, it has a large button that is easy to use with gloved or cold fingers. It comes housed in a solid body with a stretchy flexible silicone mount loop. Press the on off button once and you get a solid light, press it again and it will flash intermittently (don’t use in flashing mode if on a bicycle or motorbike), press once again and it switches off… simple. There are two small recessed screws on the underside of the body to allow you to replace the battery (CR2025) which the manufacturer says should last you 100 hours.
I’ve tried the light on my bike frame and handlebars and because the light has a shaped underbelly it sits comfortably on flat or curved surfaces and with the silicone stretch loop it won’t slip or move against metal, handlebar tape, carbon fibre or painted surfaces and fabric. The loop can be pulled up and fully over itself depending on the diameter of the item you’re wrapping it around, you can put the strap over the front of the light body or further back over the casing and it doesn’t press or restrict access to the button. It’s coped fine with the scrapes and drops it’s had so far. It really is ideal to attach to your helmet, it neatly slots through the helmet vents and is a real upgrade to just using a reflector, because it’s so lightweight you don’t notice it’s there. I’ve also attached it to bags and backpacks and it works a treat. When you pair it with the Verso High-Vis Gilet by TwoZero (read our review here) it sits neatly on your back just above your shoulder blades and when you have a backpack under your gilet it sits up and faces behind you without being obscured by your backpack, it takes over from your helmet reflectors if they become hidden behind the bulk of your bag. It comes in a choice of white or red LED light and both provide a strong bright light. A great addition to you cycling safety gear, it’s small, lightweight, flexible and it fits neatly into a pocket when it’s not in use.

Colour: Red LED or White LED
RRP £9.99 with free UK delivery
Available from: www.two-zero.co.uk for delivery worldwide
also available from other online and high street retailers

What TwoZero say about their product:
Easy fit silicone loop LED
Flashing or Solid State
Long Battery Life 100hrs (replaceable)
red and white LED version
easy to attach to TZ bags, Verso Gilet and rucksacks

 

Reviews: Visibly Better – Verso High-Vis Cycling Gilet

 

 

Visibly Better

It’s time to pull out the high vis winter cycling gear for the commute so we thought we’d take a look at a couple of products, these two items caught our eye as they work together or individually, the Verso High-Vis Gilet and the TZ-3 Super Bright LED Light (read LED review here). They’re a new addition to TwoZero’s range, the award winning company is already known for it’s range of cycling and motorcycling bags. I own one of the cycling bags which I’m mightily impressed with so I thought we’d try some of their other products. I enrolled the help of my hardcore commuter cycling pal to road test them.

Verso High-Vis Expandable & Reflecting Cycling Gilet
I’ve chosen the black gilet in size S/M, even the style conscious cyclist wants to be visible but not in your face and to be honest I can’t quite pull off the 1980’s neon rave look, maybe back in the day but not now… and to be honest the black doesn’t look too much like a high visibility jacket when you’re off the bike in daylight.

First impressions upon unpacking it… looks well made, lightweight, quality stitching and fabric, with good finishing, piped edges in both normal and stretch fabrics. It has a slight tailored shape to it, it’s not just a box shape, it also has stretchy lycra side panels these stretch a further 3cms on each side. The bottom edge of the gilet is elasticated to stop it flapping around. The yellow version has black stretch fabric vents with reflectors and black stretch side panels. It will pack away into the sort of space a pair of below the knee socks would take up…. no idea why I used that comparison but it’s what sprung to mind, so I’m going with it!

The full length zip down the front has a fabric pull loop for when gloved or cold fingers can’t quite manage fiddly fastenings. The high vis panels on the gilet are well designed, there are two soft reflector fabric stripes across the front and back of the shoulders, below that on the front and back of the gilet there’s a bonded or possibly screen printed abstract triangular design in reflecting flexible ink, it’s very well applied and I’ve not seen any signs of wear yet, it doesn’t look like it will flake off over time as I’ve found with similar products, I’ve had a good old pick at the edges of the ink and it’s tough. The collar edge isn’t rough against your skin unlike other high-vis wear I’ve purchased in the past, once out in the cold damp night air you often find collars chafe but the piped edging stops this.


Click on the images above to view them in detail.

The back of the gilet scoops down over your rear like a regular cycling jersey but the main feature which makes it perfect for commuting by bike is the ability to unzip the two concealed back vents, these vents are also elasticated and covered in even more reflectors, they allow you to put the gilet over a backpack, this means you don’t have to trundle around town during the day with a particularly neon or reflector spattered bag just to be prepared for your dark journeys to and from the office or trip into town. The vents really do give plenty of room and because it’s stretchy you don’t find it rides up as you move, nor does it flap around behind you like a cape in bad weather even with a bag underneath. The extra reflectors in the vents do also mean you’re more visible side on at junction as the reflectors continue all around you.

If you put your hand behind the none elasticated areas you can see through it, it’s certainly breathable something that generally is a problem with high-vis winter products, they tend to be a bit industrial, bulky and make you look like you’ve walked off a building site. The Verso is designed to be worn over your winter clothing it’s only to provide you with visibility with the option of putting your bag underneath. It allows you a full range of movement thanks to the lycra side panels. It’s also easy to wash but I’ve found running it under the tap and wiping and mud spatters off is just as easy and quicker than using the washing machine, because it’s such a fine fabric leave it to dry overnight and it’s ready for your next commute.

Verso & light Combination:
On the back of the gilet there is a loop just below the shoulder reflector stripes, this is for you to attach the other product in the TwoZero range, the Super Bright Flexible LED Light, you loop it through and back over itself and then set it to the desired mode. If you don’t have the Super Bright you could use other lights and reflectors but the way the light is designed combined with the position of the loop means the light sits perfectly. Read the full TZ-3 Super Bright LED review here.

I’m my opinion the Verso Gilet is perfect for commuters and with a choice of colours (hopefully more colours and designs will be added to the range) there’s a limit to what you can do with high vis, it can never be minimal because that would make it pointless. It’s certainly been designed with cyclists and motorcyclists in mind but if you run with a rucksack (if you’re mad enough) then it would work for you too.
From a safety point of view the side reflectors in the vents when expanded do really give you a better profile when pulling out of a junction. The Verso Gilet is endorsed by IAM (institute of Advanced Motorists).

It’s in the mid to high end price bracket of the market but it’s certainly better made and better quality than others I’ve seen and it has the added zipped vents to allow a backpack which I’ve struggled to find on other products, it also has the ability to add the LED light for extra visibility, it’s well worth the money.

Available in black or yellow
Sizes: S/M or L/XL
RRP £34.99 with free UK delivery
Available from: www.two-zero.co.uk for delivery worldwide
also available from other online and highstreet retailers

What TwoZero say about their product:

Dual purpose expandable high visibility vest
integrated rucksack cover
unique expanding back will unzip to fit over your backpack
stylish high visibility graphics for increased safety
tailored to hug the body
elasticated panels for comfort
lightweight fabric allowing your skin to breath
back panel loop to attach TwoZero LED flasher (sold separately)

The Good Old Off Season, As Confusing And Unsuccessful As Ever…

 

Avoiding the DIY - Image ©Copyright John Steel Photography - www.johnsteelphotography.com

 

So the season is over, the racing bike is back in the shed and the long winter months are upon us, but what happens now? Where do all these riders go to? If you’re a ‘normal’ member of society no doubt this change doesn’t seem a big deal, maybe you will swop your summer stead for the trusty winter machine, find the lights you hung up last year and carry on your daily lives like nothing much has changed, but if you’re a full time cyclist this change is much bigger and more disturbing than you could ever imagine.

The easiest way to describe this is to split it into stages, so here goes I’m going to let you into the unknown world, give you an insight to where everyone of ITV4 fame (sort of?!?) goes.

Stage one is best described as ‘unsuccessful social season’, it’s the same every year, the racing bike goes away, the phone starts beeping and large groups of cyclists gather at charity events or show’s where after a meal and some speeches are taken care of, everyone forgets they haven’t drunk much in the last eight months and gets stuck into a session they really can’t back up. It all gets messy and everyone makes big statements of intent for next season. It’s ridiculous and tends to go on for a good month or so before the realisation that cyclists although capable of putting on a good party are rubbish drinkers! This problem is multiplied if you have to go to a non-cycling related party in which case you try to keep up with people who aren’t built out of nothing like us cyclist’s and can drink you under the table, stay away from these gatherings they are dangerous!

Stage two is a combination of DIY and too much coffee, after the ‘unsuccessful’ drinking season hasn’t gone down with your other half too well, you will promise to fix everything in the house that has broken over the last eight months of the racing season to repair the situation. Although the problem with that is when a cyclist is left at home all day, the majority of that day will be spent thinking about fixing things and not actually fixing them as the permanent state of ‘coffee bonk’ takes hold as the coffee machine takes the full brunt of a day at home, you will end up with an ‘unsuccessful’ DIY season at the end of this stage, much the same as the before mentioned drinking merry go round!

After being caught up in Ian Bibby's & Geraint Thomas's Tumble in The Tour of Britain

Into stage three and by now most cyclist’s will either have started to beat themselves up about been unfit, got bored of destroying the house through DIY or waking up in the morning after having been drunk under the table by a rugby player again. Now they will have begun to think about starting some sort of comeback. The main problem of this stage is that it involves getting the winter bike together and no matter how well you looked after it before you put it in the shed last year it isn’t going to work. My own personal list of problems this year involved a stuck seat pin (that was 2cm to short? Work that one out), and a distinct lack of working brakes. This is the time of year you are most likely to see domestic pro’s in their local bike shops as they attempt to head off on rides but lose bits of the winter stead on route and have to bail into the shops for help, if your after your favourite domestic pro’s autograph this is the best time of year to be creeper and hang around in bike shops.

The light at the end of the tunnel will start to show by now though, the realisation that a comeback to training is required or more that it’s easier hiding out on the bike than having to attempt DIY SOS LIVE at home has hit all cyclist, you will start to see them come out of the stages as you read about where they and their team have taken off on a training camp to get ready for the coming season. These training camps are where the demons of the winter are thrown off and cyclists become cyclists again, back to reality and the safety of the bike!

Important! No cyclists were hurt in the process of this blog!

 

 

Minty

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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