LIGHTRIDER PHASE REAR LIGHT
The Lightrider PHASE USB rear light is a little bulky by contemporary standards and would merit a more tenacious mounting strap. However, generally solid, it offers a lot for little money.
Pros: 7 genuinely useful modes, impressive runtimes and output beyond town.
Cons: Strap could be sturdier, a little bulky for some tastes.
Available in four colours, the resin housing feels reasonably solid. Refreshingly, it also meets IPX6 - heavy spray. Suffice to say, ours passed my three minute garden hose “torture test” with flying colours. The USB port flap is a similarly precise fit, so I’ve felt no inclination to add a precautionary lick of silicone grease here.
Behind the lens, we have 16 LEDs capable of delivering 50 lumens all told. Overkill for some folks, perhaps but promises to burn through the darkest nights, without being aggressive. Being a sealed unit, this is slightly academic, but the diodes and 9000Mah battery are reckoned to perform in temperatures ranging between -20 and +60degrees Celsius.
Sensors are another big feature. They’re also likely to divide opinion. The first is an auto shut down, great for conserving power, or if you’re just forgetful. Registering no motion for five minutes, it will automatically power down, and promptly restart when it detects movement.
In common with “braking” functions, such as those found on Xeccon Mars 30 and 60 lumen rear lights, and my Nexus dynamo switch, these can be a little hit ’n’ miss. The auto on/off function also turns the unit off when it considers light too ambient.
Unlike my Nexus switch, there’s no override option, which could be a deal-breaker, if you like running lights during the day. In practice, this hasn’t proven annoyingly sensitive. Ours stayed on, during dull, overcast days typical of late autumn/winter.
This is a winter glove friendly, centre mounted affair that is easily found but not too easily engaged. A three second, sustained press brings it to life/powers down, subsequent single presses select mode.
There is one steady and several intermittent/flashing patterns, which should cater for pretty much every context. Little risk of blending in with the neon malaise. Mind you; I found the faster flashing options that bit more effective, when using the phase as my only rear light.
This is the simple elastic band type strap, which lacks the tenacity of some doughnut, or watchstrap designs. In practice, it seems perfectly secure on round 27.2 diameter tubing. I found a couple of “ladder” types, holidaying in the bodge box too, which also seemed more secure around seat stays, and similar tubing.
Charging is courtesy of the ubiquitous micro USB cable and times cited as 5 hours, zero to hero. In practice, this has been the case, when guzzling from a mains adaptor, bargain on another 25 minutes, from laptops/similar third party ports though. It’ll flick from pulsing to steady when fully juiced.
This is relatively subtle, so unlikely to excite the office snitch. Talking of charging be sure to charge at least quarterly. In other words, if its going to be hibernating for any period, ensure its fully juiced first.
Overall performance has been very good. Steady emits a decent glow, enough for overcast mornings. Dusk and beyond, 120 metres, along the open road 60-80 through town, depending on traffic density and competing neon malaise.
Feedback from other riders, when using the other, strobing modes suggests similar potency. That said; peripheral punch wasn’t always so convincing, in the slower settings. Especially when entering the flow of rush hour traffic; or negotiating concealed entrances.
Fear not, switch to fast flashing (if the phase is being used as your only form of rear light) and you’ll be seen-from all angles. Potency seems to be 150-200 metres along unlit roads after dusk 80-90 metres through sub/urban jungles. Subjectively, I felt more conspicuous using Oxford R50 or Xeccon Mars 60 COB rear light in the highest settings, when conditions turned foggy, or along pitch black country roads.
I’ve tended to alternate between the other, pulsing patterns, on overcast days, where its long before lighting up time and day-glow is overkill, but stealth is undesirable.
Again, judging by engine notes and braking distances, approaching traffic has clocked me from 30 metres, or so. Hardly the sort to earn bragging rights but a comfortable distance. The slower strobing frequencies are also bearable on group rides, provided of course, companions aren’t wheel sucking.
I was initially sceptical, of the 36 hours claimed. However, ours has come within a few minutes, of this. Enough for a month’s middle-distance, winter commuting between charges. It will begin flashing to denote 10% remaining, so 3 hours in real terms.
However, following the second charge and plummeting (sub-zero) temperatures, ours began flashing after 18 hours service. It then promptly powered down, along a dark lane. Thankfully, I had my Revolution COB Rear Light as a helmet mounted backup.
I’m pleased to report this has been a one-off.
Aside from a few minor improvements, the PHASE has a lot to offer and makes a particularly good option for commuting, utility riding and potentially, tagalongs/trailers. That said; I’d be inclined towards something like Oxford Ultratorch R50 slimline rear light for sleek, clutter-phobic bikes.
Verdict: 3.75/5 Bright and extremely frugal light with novel touches but mount could be improved.
PUBLISHED FEBRUARY 2019