Best Tail Light on the Planet?

BY DAVE SCHLABOWSKE, COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR
POSTED ON MAY 9, 2012

Source: Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin

Planet Bike Superflash Turbo. You can see my older regular Superflash out of focus in the upper left. I had it mounted to my seat bag for easy comparison.

Our friends at Planet Bike have every reason to be proud of their quiver of blinkie lights. Their 1/2 watt Superflash is pretty much the industry benchmark by which all other battery-powered tail lights are judged.  I have Superflash tail lights on all our family bikes that don’t have dynamo powered lighting. So, clearly I like their lights, but is the Superflash Turbo “the best tail light on the planet” as their website claims?

I know some of the guys at Planet Bike, which is based in Madison, so I figure their head marketing may have had his tongue in cheek when he wrote that.  The Superflash Turbo looks very similar to the regular Superflash.  The only difference visually is the lens on the Turbo is clear, while the lens on the Superflash is red.  Both are small and come with a handy quick release mounting system that allows you to remove the light so bike bums don’t steal it, or clip it to a bag or belt as an alternative to the rack and seatpost mount included. Here are the full specs on the Turbo with the regular Superflash specs in parenthesis:

  • One Watt Power LED (1/2 Watt) plus 2 red LEDs for visibility up to 1 mile (same)
  • New attention-grabbing Turbo flash pattern (different attention-grabbing flash pattern)
  • Turbo flash mode is highly visible, even in daylight (so is the regular Superflash)
  • Ultra compact vertical design is weatherproof, lightweight and durable (same)
  • Includes bike mounts and clip mount for multiple mounting options (same)
  • Soft-touch power switch accesses flashing or steady mode for up to 100 hours of run time on two AAA batteries (same)
  • weighs 75 grams with batteries (same)
  • 180 degree visibility (same)
  • $33.99 retail (28.99)

The 1 Watt Superflash Turbo on the bottom and the 1/2 Watt Superflash on the top set to constant on mode in which the two lower LEDs are not on..

As you can see, the biggest difference between the two versions is power. The Turbo version has an LED that is twice as bright as the regular Superfash.  Now I thought the original version was WAY bright.  You really can see it in daylight. But I have to say, the new light is even brighter.  I didn’t pull out the Lux meter to check if the Turbo emits twice the lumens as the non-turbo version, but I can say that the Turbo is noticeably brighter.

So, is it the best battery powered light in the world?  If it’s not, it comes pretty close. The closest competitor is probably the Portland Design Works Radbot 1000, another 1 Watt battery powered light. I don’t own one, but I have read some other reviews and while it seems like a nice light, based on other reviews I have read, I thing the Superflash Turbo wins out.  The one feature I really like on the Radbot is the built in reflector as some European countries require both.Knog makes some very cool looking tail lights and their website makes some claims about 60 lumen output at a price of $34.95.

The Knog silicone lights are definitely interesting looking.

I am pretty loyal to Planet Bike because they have great; proven products; they are a local company, and because they donate 25% of their profits to bicycle advocacy, That said, I must admit to liking the looks of the Knog lights. I think Knog swags my buddies over at COG magazine, so if one of their lights drops in my lap, I’ll test it out and let you know how it compares (hint).

There are certainly other brighter battery powered tail lights out there.  The Dionette 300 R for instance, but at $199, I guess you get what you pay for. It is really in a different class of lighting.

All-in-all, you simply cannot go wrong with the Planet Bike 1 Watt Superflash Turbo, or the 1/2 Watt Superflash. They are the industry standard in blindingly bright tail lights with a long history of proven durability.  I think of them as the CSMO Pizza.  There are other kinds of pizza out there, but the standard is so good, why try anything else?